Putting the Pieces Together

Jul 16, 2019

Have you ever tried to put a puzzle together?  It seems like the most important part of the puzzle isn’t even part of the puzzle.  It’s that big picture on the outside of the box.  The picture tells you where you are going, defines your goals and helps you to know when you are on the right track.  I have never tried to put a puzzle together without looking at the box. Even the idea just seems ridiculous.  And yet, in the Summer of 2007, it felt like that’s exactly what God asked me to do.  I was asked to help plant a church whose mission was to reach a community that was highly impacted by incarceration.  I was in graduate school at the time and working in student affairs at a local university. Planting a church was the farthest thing from my mind, and I said no fairly quickly. As soon as the word came out of my mouth, I felt an impression that my quick answer was not just inconsiderate to those who asked but also dishonoring of the Holy Spirit. I realized that I had only given my answer, forgetting to seek God’s answer. Although, I am sad to say it wasn’t my first instinct, in that moment, I remembered that this wasn’t my puzzle to put together.  Instead, I would be a piece in the greater work that God was doing.  I decided to ask for some time to pray and seek God’s wisdom. During that time, I felt a clear calling to serve in this ministry, but I had no idea that part of God’s big picture would be 12 years of service in capacities I could never have imagined.

These last 12 years have been spent developing followers of Christ, sending out and supporting over 20 global partners, sending out 3 church plants and teams domestically, and supporting multiple local partnerships in our community. We are beginning to see more of God’s puzzle come together.

While I believe God ultimately controls the pieces to our church’s story, I also believe He empowers us with wisdom to place the right staffing pieces in our ministry puzzle in the right times.  That’s where Stadia and the Church Staffing Assessment specifically have become a vital resource for Gospel Community Church.

We first engaged with Stadia in order to assess a church planting candidate we were considering back in 2014. The process was extremely thorough and gave us a tremendous amount of insight. It also helped us to identify areas of potential growth within our candidate that proved fruitful down the road.

At the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, GCC again worked with Stadia, but this time, we took advantage of the church staffing assessment in order to evaluate the readiness of two pastors on our staff to lead multi-site locations.

I’m happy to say Stadia does not take the assessment process lightly. Before candidates arrive for the multi-day onsite experience, they have already completed personality, cultural and psychological profiles. They have been given biblical literacy tests and have been required to do hard work including looking into their inner lives all the way back to their family trees. All of this information is available to the church leadership. This is important for the assessment process because for our churches to move forward in health we need pastors and staff members who are not just careful with their doctrine but with the way they live as well (1 Timothy 4). The pre-work required for the process provides valuable jumping off points for the team of assessors when the candidates make it on-site for their evaluations.

Although the pre-work is excellent, the on-site evaluation provides even greater clarity. Candidates are usually working with team members they have never met before, spending many hours a day working together and preparing for the tasks at hand. They are being challenged on their methodologies or working outside of their areas of gifting, but by the end of the on-site experience, these challenges primarily lead to multiple eyes on each candidate that help to identify strengths and weaknesses that could have otherwise gone unnoticed. In the end, candidates, and churches come away with solid recommendations on competence, character, culture, and readiness to support and fulfill a mission. The reports also include individualized development plans that provide candidates with a path towards growth and health instead of leaving them with identified weaknesses but no practical ways to address them. This tool helps the candidate to walk away with forward momentum toward positive growth.

Each of our ministries is a puzzle that God is putting together, and in His time, God allows us to be a part of choosing some of the pieces and placements for those who would join us in ministry.   Our experience with the Stadia’s staff church assessment process helped us to identify the right piece for the right time, for the puzzle that God has given us. Leading the men and women on your staff can be difficult.  Sometimes, we are too close to see the obvious needs of our staff. Stadia and their staff assessment helps churches to keep their focus on building the puzzle that is the Kingdom of God, the puzzle that only He has designed. If you are in need of a way to evaluate and confirm your current staff members I highly recommend Stadia’s Church Staff Assessment.

Nate is one of the founding Pastors of Gospel Community Church and has served with GCC since its inception both on staff and in unpaid capacities. He currently serves as Executive Pastor. He and his wife Rebekah have been married for 11 years and have two amazing, rambunctious children, Scarlett (3) and Jackson (8 months). They have called Lynchburg, VA home for 17 years. Nate received his BS in Psychology, and his MBA from Liberty University. He is an active learner who enjoys discovering all he can about all kinds of things and is especially interested in his family, traveling and the Cleveland Indians.

Nate Taylor

Executive Pastor, Gospel Community Church