Joel Mikell, Senior Vice President and Partner with Horizons Stewardship, sits down with Tim Stevens, author, speaker, and the Executive Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church to talk about leadership, church, and culture.  

Watch the Interview  

Highlights from the Interview

Key Statement: “I signed up for the dip.”

The current state of local church ministry can make you feel like you’re stuck. But being stuck can also reveal things to you that will help you prepare for your next season of growth. 

Tim knew that helping Willow Creek recover after a significant leadership event would not be easy. Add to that the elements of the pandemic and race relations, and you have a recipe for an exceptionally trying time. Nonetheless, Tim is hopeful about the future. 

Key Statement: “We need to stay focused on raising up other leaders and sharing culture with them.” 

Even during a pandemic, culture matters. In fact, culture matters now more than ever, and i should be one of the top concerns and priorities for church leaders. 

Tim believes transformation doesn’t come about just because someone, even a leader, says it needs to, yet culture has never been more important than during seasons of intense change.  

Willow Creek was already changing, the pandemic and cultural realities just magnified the conversations and decisions that needed to be made. It’s critical to develop a culture that fosters a shared vision and invites staff to participate in co-creating a better future. 

Key Statement: “We had to address our staffing realities.” 

Every church leader is having to make tough decisions. That’s inevitable given the current state of ministry—no matter where you are doing it from. 

When Tim first came on board, there were approximately 400 employees on the payroll. The PPP loans enabled the church to keep everyone employed for several months. But when summer came and the church facilities still weren’t being used, Tim and the leadership team had to make some very tough decisions, especially regarding staff. 

Tim was forced to furlough some staff, primarily those associated with facilities management. The current staff model wasn’t sustainable. That was true before COVID-19, but its aftermath just accelerated that reality. 

Strong Leadership Required 

While these are unusual times to lead, that doesn’t mean church leaders “get a pass” and can sit on the sidelines. The communities in which we do ministry need their spiritual leaders to stand strong in their faith, point toward the future, and ensure the current and future sustainability of their local impact continues for years to come. 

In spite of all the challenges, Tim is passionate about ministry, committed to the success of church leaders, and bullish about the future and what God will do through local churches moving forward.  

The next part of the interview will dig into Tim’s predictions for what’s ahead. Stay tuned! More to come.

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