New Seats on the Living Word Bus

Many years ago, leadership expert Jim Collins used the language of a bus and seats on the bus to talk about staffing an organization.

Collins said the most important thing you can do is get the RIGHT PEOPLE on the bus. Once they are on the bus, then you want to get them in the RIGHT SEAT on the bus. Sometimes there are seats already open and waiting. Other times you create new seats. And you adjust the seating as you need to.

We have been adjusting the seating quite a bit, seeking to get the right people in the best seat possible.

That means we have had a good deal of role transition. 

Changing Roles on Our Executive Team

Here are the changes that have taken place on our Staff Executive Team.
Pastor Brian Newman is now spending the majority of his time leading our REACH ministry. He is spending more time traveling globally, and focusing a lot on the Middle East HUB, in particular with our work with N2N and the Kurdish peoples. Brian has really re-energized our local reach focus. He also heads up the Communication Team at Living Word.
Pastor Aaron Kunce continues in his role of Congregational Life Pastor, but has turned much of the Pastoral Care ministry over to Connie Milchling's leadership. He is also our Ethiopian HUB champion and coordinates all our work in Sendafa, Dire-Dawa, and Djibouti. Aaron is also our point pastor for weddings, funerals, baptisms, communion, healing services, and Life at Living Word. Finally, he continues to be the lead mentor for leaders in the men's ministry at Living Word.
Connie Milchling has moved away from leading the women's ministries and jumped back into the very area for which she was originally hired. Some churches refer to it as assimilation ministry. At Living Word we call it First Steps and Next Steps. Connie is the one responsible for creating all the pathways to welcome people and help them get integrated into life at Living Word. She has also taken on the leadership responsibility of pastoral care and works closely with Jeremy Shank and other pastoral staff to make sure we are caring for our people. Oh yes, in her "extra" time Connie also works with our prayer ministry.
Chris Smith is our worship pastor AND Chris is the leader for our Digital Ministry team. Churches everywhere know how strategically important it is to have a growing digital ministry to reach the large number of people who are online by preference. Now that Eunhee is with us, Chris will have more time for leading our Digital Ministry team.

Kendall Potter is probably the staff person who has been playing musical chairs the most on the bus. With all the changes taking place, Kendall had to jump into a variety of roles. What is emerging for Kendall's role is primary leadership (Sherri Keller is collaborating with her on this) for women's ministry at Living Word, and then working with Chris Smith on our digital ministry. Kendall now has a lot of experience working with digital communities and helping us do digital discipleship.

Becky Rice not only leads our Counseling Center ministry and works as a therapist, but with the launch of Rooted last year, Becky picked up leadership responsibility for LifeGroups. That ministry has really grown again under her leadership.

Steve Grames has worn a lot of hats over the years and continues to wear most of them, but during COVID, Steve also picked up a lot of responsibility for administrating our global missions program.

Finally, I, Pastor Brian Rice, continue to do just about everything I was doing, but now supervise the Next Generation team as well. Fortunately, that team is so awesome I mainly exist to be their number one cheerleader, as well as make sure they have all the resources they need to disciple kids and teens.

Wait, There's More Changes...

I am not going to cover the adjustments and refinements our Tech Team Crew is constantly doing, but BIG THANKS to Kevin, Bryan, Austin, and Mike for their gifts and expertise. I must give a special thank you to Bryan Doersom, who is designing our new website and continuing to refine our church app.

Here are other significant changes in roles, some which you may know about, and a few which are probably new.

Jess Rufle is now our Fusion student::life Director, leading the team that works with students.

Jay Baer, formerly Youth Worship Leader (and who had his hand in student::life in general) now divides his time among three areas: 1) Jay is a part of the adult worship leadership team, 2) he works with the Young Adult ministry (picking that up from Pastor Garrett), and 3) he is involved in our digital strategy team, and some local reach ministry... and... and... and... You get the picture. We have several staff members who wear multiple hats. Jay also finished his seminary education and will be ordained later this year.

Donavan Bratton was our Fusion student::life Director. That has been turned over to Jess, and now Donavan is wearing a collection of hats. First, he continues to be a part of the Fusion teaching team and working as a mentor of young leaders. Second, his big role is giving time to Local Reach. Donavan has a real heart for the community and mobilizing Living Word to be involved in the community. Donavan also keeps us focused on increasing our diversity and representation at Living Word. And third, he is also helping out as part of our pastoral team and, most important, will be a part of the Sunday morning preaching team starting this summer. Donavan will be ordained this summer.

I am excited for the contributions we will see from the younger, emerging, and already emerged staff leaders at Living Word.

I am sure I have neglected to mention other changes in roles on the part of our kid::life team. They are amazing in the work they do.

Our administrative team keeps us organized and does so much of the behind-the-scenes ministry you never see. 

A Great Team of Staff Is Not Enough!

As skilled and dedicated as they are, our staff is not enough to keep the missional ministry of Living Word advancing.

We need YOU. Our staff needs YOU.

What does our staff need from YOU?

Ministry Partnership: We need you to be one of those people who are committed to doing as much as we can, in as many places we can, in as many ways we can, for as many people as we can, and for as long as we can.

We need you to find a great place to serve at Living Word as a dedicated ministry partner. At times you are able to find a great spot where you can really use your gifts. Other times we need many people to jump in at the areas of need. 

Prayer:  We need you to pray for our church. Pray for specific departments or areas of the church. Pray for specific staff members of our church. Pray for the mission of our church.

Please take with great joy and seriousness OUR need for YOUR prayers.

Encouragement: From time to time, be an encourager for a staff person. Whether it is through a personal conversation or through a note, your encouragement means a great deal.

Financial Partnership:  We need you to be one of those financial partners who supports the ministry of the church. We have a great core team of financial partners. We are trusting God to raise up many more who will love Living Word and invest their resources in this people, this place, and the purposes of Jesus in and through us.

It is our great privilege to be the lead servants at Living Word.

We know your trust must be earned and kept, and it is our commitment to do that.

For Your Flourishing,
Pastor Brian Rice