City Harvest Church, Vancouver, WA, has a mission to impact its neighborhood and be a global church planter. A strong sense of mission prevails from lead pastor, Bob MacGregor, through the staff and congregation. Making a difference is all important.
Over recent history, CHC had become a church operating like a dysfunctional family. Pastor Bob felt like a fireman, always putting out fires among the staff. He dreaded coming to work each morning, not knowing what was waiting for him inside the building, and then dreading going home each night, knowing his wife would ask about his day.
Elders’ meetings were like tennis matches: two people advocating and arguing their points, while the rest of the team sat silently watching the contest. Some meetings could be compared to a WWF match with all the emotional drama.
We were stuck and struggling to move into the full potential and calling of God on our church. Peace Mentors empowered our team to see where there were weaknesses and to begin building a culture of trust together. The results of Bill's wisdom and insight and the energy that we have put into becoming an emotionally healthy team are beyond my expectation.
Pastors worked on their ministries in silos not knowing if there was acceptance by the whole team. Administrative staff felt marginalized, resulting in continual low-level strife and dissatisfaction. Change was threatening and resisted. Hallway conversations caused suspicion and fostered distrust.
CHC had tried one-time event solutions in the past without lasting results. An offsite retreat focused on changing their culture; bringing in a consultant with recommendations, all to no avail. Pastor Bob knew it was time to address the situation head on and in a manner that would result in lasting change.
Peace Mentors came in with a long-range plan to transform their culture. There was early disappointment with some staff members when the problems were not solved immediately. Change requires a process, not an event.
The road to transformation included three components. The first component was one to two days a month where Bill spent the entire day on campus. These would include a two-hour staff meeting focused on learning new skills for redemptive conflict resolution. A key feature of these meetings was helping the staff create their own answers as to what they wanted their culture to look like.
Dr. Graybill is a master communicator and facilitator of the materials. His ability, coupled with competency and compassion, was critical for our organization. He effectively navigated the leadership team and staff through some “choppy waters” and we're now in a place of health and stability we haven’t experienced for a long time.
On these days individual coaching was made available to the entire staff. Over the duration of working together, Bill spent several hours with most staff members helping them integrate the new culture.
In addition, Bill connected with Pete, the executive pastor, two additional times a month by phone. During these conversations, Pete brought the coaching agenda based on his current work circumstances and the needs of the staff and church.
The second component was working with the elders, individually and as a team. Bill spent a year going to leadership meetings, observing, facilitating and teaching. Outside the group meetings were coaching conversations with each elder. This component included an off-site annual retreat where Bill spent an entire day working with the team to create a new culture.
The final component was spending time with Pastor Bob, gaining clear understanding of his perceptions and desired outcomes. While these meetings were not monthly, they were regularly held over the two-year period.
Over the two years of partnership, the staff of City Harvest Church experienced a transformation of culture, and became a healthy team. The overall goals of the team are now primary over individual ministries. From the top leaders to the administrative staff, everyone is ready to extend grace when difficult situations arise.
Individual staff members have gained new awareness of how they are being perceived by others and how that perception affects the team. They see each other as people rather than obstacles to be overcome. Confidence has replaced stress when change is necessary.
The elder team now functions with renewed trust and respect for one another. It has become a true team rather than a workgroup with individual agenda and siloed responsibilities. Investigating for the best answer has replaced advocating for a held position when decisions are needed.
The entire team has come from a fractured culture to embrace and enjoy the fruits of a unified team mentality. Energy has increased, passion renewed and a new work environment greets them each morning.