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Listening Circles

Listening Circles

When a pastor leaves a congregation, congregants can experience a diversity of feelings and questions.  This is especially true when a long-time pastor finishes at a congregation.  Given this reality, Elevation has invited Credence and Co. to lead two listening circles for all from Elevation who wish to participate.  Listening circles are led prayerfully.  Participants are provided with an opportunity to share the impact on them of the changes at Elevation.  The intention of the listening circles is to build understanding, deepen trust, and nurture hope.  Listening circles allow congregants to release the past and turn toward the future.

December 6, 7:30 – 9:30pm (virtual)

January (date and time to be decided)

Credence and Co.

Lead Pastor Transition

Lead Pastor Transition

LEAD PASTOR TRANSITION FAQ 

What prompted the governance changes that the Steering Committee proposed to the congregation? 

Based on feedback from staff and members of the congregation over the last few years, the Steering Committee (SC) and Staff Partnership Committee (SPC) realized that the governance  model on which Elevation was built was no longer serving a congregation of our size, maturity and diversity. It was becoming more and more evident that we need more than one voice to be heard at a leadership level, and to find ways to fully make use of the gifts people were offering in service to Elevation. Through feedback from people who had previously worked or volunteered, it was determined that changes would help us thrive and grow in the coming decades. From there, the SC commissioned Credence & Co to conduct a review and provide recommendations for moving forward. Credence & Co is a local team of consultants who provide services in the areas of leadership development and organizational culture. 

Why was the Credence & Co report requested in the first place? 

Before starting the hiring process of new staff in spring 2020, the Staff Partnership Committee conducted a review of past employee experiences and determined that employee retention was an area requiring improvement. One of the suggestions put forward to remedy this was for a third party consultant to review our governance and staff structure before bringing new people on board.  In addition, Elevation had grown from a small student church to a larger, family-oriented community. The SC wanted to ensure that the governance and staff management structure matched the size of the church. 

What work went into the recommendations that the SC presented to the congregation? 

  • Staff Partnership Committee check-ins with staff and exit interviews 
  • Credence & Co evaluation and report  
  • Interviews and facilitated sessions with staff, SC, and SPC; along with expertise from Credence & Co. 
  • Governance subcommittee  
  • Interviews with church leaders from across North America 
  • Extensive research of best practices  
  • Numerous SC meetings to review, process and determine next steps for the recommended changes  

What challenges come with a Founders’ Model of leadership? Why is it so bad for the lead pastor to have a significant voice? 

The Founder’s Model gives the founder or senior leader in an organization a strong voice and decision making authority at the highest leadership level. Although this model has advantages when an organization is small, there are challenges with it when the organization grows. Through the evaluation by Credence & Co, it was determined that the Founder’s Model in place at Elevation created a structure in which the lead pastor’s voice was often the only one being heard. Despite having a leadership team in the SC and various volunteer teams, communication and decision-making rested solely with the lead pastor. This is not sustainable for the leader or congregation, especially for a church of Elevation’s size. One of the objectives of the governance recommendations presented to the congregation is to shift away from a culture where the lead pastor has the only significant voice, to one that shares the responsibility of leadership across a team of people. 

How will the Steering Committee ensure transparency throughout the governance changes?  

There are confidential matters in any organization that are not appropriate to share more widely. For Elevation, these are the responsibility of the SC to manage in a respectful, thorough, wise, and professional manner. The SC is committed to transparency with the congregation wherever necessary and possible. The SC is committed to providing the congregation with updates throughout the transition process. Members of the congregation are encouraged to contact the SC at sc@elevationwaterloo.org with any questions or concerns they may have.  

How have the staff been impacted by these changes and this news? 

The Staff Partnership Committee (SPC) is a subcommittee of the SC. Their role has always been to provide support to the staff. Each employee has a representative on the committee that they can communicate with, and the SPC works together to handle broader staff issues. Both SC and the SPC are committed to our staff team, and have communicated our trust in them and their ability to continue their work. We will be working closely with the staff team in this transition period, leaning on them heavily for their support in navigating next steps and soliciting input from them on how we can support them and improve the Elevation employee experience. 

Did the Steering Committee ask Brandon to leave? Did they expect he might leave? 

Brandon has been involved throughout the process of reviewing and determining the governance changes; his voice and opinions have been valued. All of the work and planning the SC has done was with the intention of creating a healthy structure for Brandon to remain as the Lead Pastor of Elevation for the foreseeable future. At no point did the SC suggest, or even anticipate, that Brandon would decide to leave.  

Why couldn’t the Steering Committee just work with Brandon over the next little while and see if the new model could in fact work? 

When Brandon first contacted the SC about his departure, we asked whether there was anything we could do to support him in staying on staff. The SC offered to provide outside coaching or counselling if that would support his continued work in the lead pastor role. However, Brandon had come to the decision that this was in the best interest of Elevation and himself. 

What is the SC doing now to get us through this transition period? 

The SC has never navigated this kind of thing before, but we are confident in our ability to move forward together as a church and to thrive. We are getting support from other pastors, our membership with the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities, advice from Credence & Co, and many volunteers.  There are also resources through the Jesus Collective that we can make use of and we will be looking into what other kinds of support we can get. Together with these resources, we’re making steady progress towards our new future. The SC has committed to a standing weekly meeting where we will pray together, address congregation questions and concerns, and plan necessary action. Our plan is to update the church regularly on where we are in the process.  

Are we going to have a new lead pastor? 

Elevation has always done things a little differently, and we are looking at different models of shared leadership, which might include a team of pastors with various portfolios rather than a single lead pastor. Our team is currently considering hiring an Interim Lead Pastor to take us through this transition period.  

Does this mean that the core values of Elevation will change? 

These next 12 months are going to be a time of transition in governance and staff structure at Elevation, but we do not expect that our core values will change; these are our foundation and remain a stable cornerstone for decision-making and visioning. We value the voices of our congregation, and will continue to invite anyone that is called in service to join us in our work. We will be asking for your input and insights as we go forward, and our hope is that any decisions we have to make around core values will be directly informed by this. We invite your suggestions, your concerns, and most of all, your prayers. Elevation exists to serve God and we continue to believe that He is guiding us and taking us where we are meant to go. 

When will we discuss the governance changes next and address unanswered questions? 

While the SC still intends to move forward with the process of updating our governance structure, our focus now is on a healthy transition for Elevation and Brandon. Once many of the more urgent details of the next couple months are figured out, we will resume the work we’ve started, which will include sharing more information about the process and decisions. 

What can I do to help Elevation during this time? 

The greatest thing any of us can do is pray. We believe that God is with us, and is answering those prayers, taking Elevation down the path we’re meant to go. Aside from prayer, we ask you to engage with us and with the community. Participate in your Neighbours groups, email us at sc@elevationwaterloo.org with thoughts, comments, and concerns, and if you have the desire, join our teams that will be doing the important work to keep Elevation thriving. We are thankful you are with us. 

How is Brandon being supported during this time? 

Brandon will be working with Elevation until the end of November. We are committed to supporting him as he finishes well, and to providing financial support to the Malos as Brandon transitions to new work. A celebration of Brandon’s ministry with Elevation is being planned and there will be more details to come.  

LEAD PASTOR TRANSITION FAQ 

What prompted the governance changes that the Steering Committee proposed to the congregation? 

Based on feedback from staff and members of the congregation over the last few years, the Steering Committee (SC) and Staff Partnership Committee (SPC) realized that the governance  model on which Elevation was built was no longer serving a congregation of our size, maturity and diversity. It was becoming more and more evident that we need more than one voice to be heard at a leadership level, and to find ways to fully make use of the gifts people were offering in service to Elevation. Through feedback from people who had previously worked or volunteered, it was determined that changes would help us thrive and grow in the coming decades. From there, the SC commissioned Credence & Co to conduct a review and provide recommendations for moving forward. Credence & Co is a local team of consultants who provide services in the areas of leadership development and organizational culture. 

Why was the Credence & Co report requested in the first place? 

Before starting the hiring process of new staff in spring 2020, the Staff Partnership Committee conducted a review of past employee experiences and determined that employee retention was an area requiring improvement. One of the suggestions put forward to remedy this was for a third party consultant to review our governance and staff structure before bringing new people on board.  In addition, Elevation had grown from a small student church to a larger, family-oriented community. The SC wanted to ensure that the governance and staff management structure matched the size of the church. 

What work went into the recommendations that the SC presented to the congregation? 

  • Staff Partnership Committee check-ins with staff and exit interviews 
  • Credence & Co evaluation and report  
  • Interviews and facilitated sessions with staff, SC, and SPC; along with expertise from Credence & Co. 
  • Governance subcommittee  
  • Interviews with church leaders from across North America 
  • Extensive research of best practices  
  • Numerous SC meetings to review, process and determine next steps for the recommended changes  

What challenges come with a Founders’ Model of leadership? Why is it so bad for the lead pastor to have a significant voice? 

The Founder’s Model gives the founder or senior leader in an organization a strong voice and decision making authority at the highest leadership level. Although this model has advantages when an organization is small, there are challenges with it when the organization grows. Through the evaluation by Credence & Co, it was determined that the Founder’s Model in place at Elevation created a structure in which the lead pastor’s voice was often the only one being heard. Despite having a leadership team in the SC and various volunteer teams, communication and decision-making rested solely with the lead pastor. This is not sustainable for the leader or congregation, especially for a church of Elevation’s size. One of the objectives of the governance recommendations presented to the congregation is to shift away from a culture where the lead pastor has the only significant voice, to one that shares the responsibility of leadership across a team of people. 

How will the Steering Committee ensure transparency throughout the governance changes?  

There are confidential matters in any organization that are not appropriate to share more widely. For Elevation, these are the responsibility of the SC to manage in a respectful, thorough, wise, and professional manner. The SC is committed to transparency with the congregation wherever necessary and possible. The SC is committed to providing the congregation with updates throughout the transition process. Members of the congregation are encouraged to contact the SC at sc@elevationwaterloo.org with any questions or concerns they may have.  

How have the staff been impacted by these changes and this news? 

The Staff Partnership Committee (SPC) is a subcommittee of the SC. Their role has always been to provide support to the staff. Each employee has a representative on the committee that they can communicate with, and the SPC works together to handle broader staff issues. Both SC and the SPC are committed to our staff team, and have communicated our trust in them and their ability to continue their work. We will be working closely with the staff team in this transition period, leaning on them heavily for their support in navigating next steps and soliciting input from them on how we can support them and improve the Elevation employee experience. 

Did the Steering Committee ask Brandon to leave? Did they expect he might leave? 

Brandon has been involved throughout the process of reviewing and determining the governance changes; his voice and opinions have been valued. All of the work and planning the SC has done was with the intention of creating a healthy structure for Brandon to remain as the Lead Pastor of Elevation for the foreseeable future. At no point did the SC suggest, or even anticipate, that Brandon would decide to leave.  

Why couldn’t the Steering Committee just work with Brandon over the next little while and see if the new model could in fact work? 

When Brandon first contacted the SC about his departure, we asked whether there was anything we could do to support him in staying on staff. The SC offered to provide outside coaching or counselling if that would support his continued work in the lead pastor role. However, Brandon had come to the decision that this was in the best interest of Elevation and himself. 

What is the SC doing now to get us through this transition period? 

The SC has never navigated this kind of thing before, but we are confident in our ability to move forward together as a church and to thrive. We are getting support from other pastors, our membership with the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities, advice from Credence & Co, and many volunteers.  There are also resources through the Jesus Collective that we can make use of and we will be looking into what other kinds of support we can get. Together with these resources, we’re making steady progress towards our new future. The SC has committed to a standing weekly meeting where we will pray together, address congregation questions and concerns, and plan necessary action. Our plan is to update the church regularly on where we are in the process.  

Are we going to have a new lead pastor? 

Elevation has always done things a little differently, and we are looking at different models of shared leadership, which might include a team of pastors with various portfolios rather than a single lead pastor. Our team is currently considering hiring an Interim Lead Pastor to take us through this transition period.  

Does this mean that the core values of Elevation will change? 

These next 12 months are going to be a time of transition in governance and staff structure at Elevation, but we do not expect that our core values will change; these are our foundation and remain a stable cornerstone for decision-making and visioning. We value the voices of our congregation, and will continue to invite anyone that is called in service to join us in our work. We will be asking for your input and insights as we go forward, and our hope is that any decisions we have to make around core values will be directly informed by this. We invite your suggestions, your concerns, and most of all, your prayers. Elevation exists to serve God and we continue to believe that He is guiding us and taking us where we are meant to go. 

When will we discuss the governance changes next and address unanswered questions? 

While the SC still intends to move forward with the process of updating our governance structure, our focus now is on a healthy transition for Elevation and Brandon. Once many of the more urgent details of the next couple months are figured out, we will resume the work we’ve started, which will include sharing more information about the process and decisions. 

What can I do to help Elevation during this time? 

The greatest thing any of us can do is pray. We believe that God is with us, and is answering those prayers, taking Elevation down the path we’re meant to go. Aside from prayer, we ask you to engage with us and with the community. Participate in your Neighbours groups, email us at sc@elevationwaterloo.org with thoughts, comments, and concerns, and if you have the desire, join our teams that will be doing the important work to keep Elevation thriving. We are thankful you are with us. 

How is Brandon being supported during this time? 

Brandon will be working with Elevation until the end of November. We are committed to supporting him as he finishes well, and to providing financial support to the Malos as Brandon transitions to new work. A celebration of Brandon’s ministry with Elevation is being planned and there will be more details to come. 

Update from the Governance Subcommittee

Update from the Governance Subcommittee

My name is Susie Cochran and I am a member of our steering committee. Over the past couple of months I have also coordinated the governance subcommittee, which has been exploring potential changes to Elevation’s governance model, and I am joining you virtually this morning to share an update on behalf of the team. As a reminder, if you would like to learn more about the subcommittee’s purpose and scope of work, you can refer to this document on Elevation’s website.

 We are in the final stretch of our data collection and analysis phase, and will begin report writing this coming week. The report will then be presented to the steering committee in mid-June. Following presentation and discussion at the SC level, we will be organizing focus group calls to hear from you on the report and its recommendations. Your input will inform the steering committee’s discussions and ultimate recommendation to you as the congregation.Once this phase of consultation and discussion is complete, the steering committee will then present a motion to the congregation for affirmation of governance changes. 

We have selected this approach and timing for consultation with you to facilitate a more focused, meaningful conversation around the report recommendations- gathering your thoughts, concerns and questions on the report as opposed to seeking input on governance more broadly. While we are planning for this more formal consultation step, we also continue to invite and welcome your input and questions anytime throughout this process. 

A huge thank you for the time, insights, and expertise of everyone on the core and support teams of this subcommittee- Patricia, Paul, Katie, Annette, Brandon and Fanis- and thank you to everyone who has shared input and questions with us along the way. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime- you can contact me via email. Stay tuned for further updates from us in the coming weeks! 

June 6, 2021

Governance Subcommittee July Update

The report was shared with the steering committee in mid-June by the governance subcommittee team, and the steering committee is now in the process of review and discussion of the recommendations before sharing a proposed set of next steps with our church community.

I would like to reiterate my thanks to the core and support teams of the governance subcommittee for the incredible amount of work that went into this report- we are so grateful for the time, energy, and expertise that you shared with us!

As noted in my last update, following this review process at the SC level, we plan to hold focus group calls to hear from you on the recommendations and next steps. Your input will inform the steering committee’s discussions and ultimate recommendation to you as the congregation. Once this phase of consultation and discussion is complete, the steering committee will then present a motion to the congregation membership for affirmation of governance changes. 

As a heads up, if any of the changes require a formal vote (for example, bylaw changes), such votes will include Elevation members only. As we continue in this process, if you would like to engage by voting, feel free to head to the “Resources” tab on the Elevation website and click on “An Introduction to Membership with Elevation” to learn more about becoming a member.  

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the steering committee with any questions anytime- you can use our team email address at sc@elevationwaterloo.org. As we head into the summer months, work will progress at a slower clip, but please know that the SC is continuing this work and will keep you updated along the way. Stay tuned for more from us in the coming weeks!

July 11, 2021