Compendent is doing a series of interviews with the staff of Sunridge Community Church in Temecula, California. The purpose of this series is to get a sense of how a growing Christian church has put together a group of uniquely gifted individuals to help the church make an impact in its community, and who can also help their operations run more smoothly. For this interview we sat down with Bob Santy, Executive Pastor of Operations.
Tell us a little bit about how you came to be the Executive Pastor of Operations at Sunridge.
You might say that I am a product of the Sunridge philosophy of ministry. In 1996, my young family and I began attending Sunridge and quickly found community in groups, growth in the teaching and groups, and openings to serve. This led to opportunities to lead and eventually I became a lay elder. In late 2005, Sunridge experienced a rough patch which led to an open position at the church and I was asked if I would consider leaving my career at Callaway Golf to go into full-time ministry. After prayer—a lot of prayer—I stepped out in faith and accepted the position. Even after all these years on staff, I am still amazed that God uses my practical gifts to help further His kingdom.
What would you say takes up the majority of your time in this position?
I love that my role at Sunridge allows me to be a part of so many different facets of the operations of the church. Everything from finances, facilities, front office, IT, HR, security, and even pastoral duties, such as weddings and memorials. This means that I get to spread my time out as needed and there is never a concern of falling into a rut or getting bored. I have noticed that as my role has evolved over the years, I am spending less time “doing” and more time planning, organizing, and leading.
How does your job contribute to Sunridge’s mission of “Helping people find and follow Jesus”?
A church is a lot like many other organizations. In order to fulfill the mission, you need to have solid a foundation in areas like finances, planning, and processes and procedures. I believe my strength in helping to ensuring these areas are secure allows our church to pursue our mission with a humble confidence.
How has your job evolved since you first joined the staff?
When I came on staff, our church was in the early stages of what can best be described as an embarrassing division. In those early years, my primary role was to navigate the church through some very tough financial periods. I focused a large portion of my time on trying to renegotiate our commercial loan, which led to finding a new lender for our 54,000-square foot facility that sits on almost eight acres. In addition, it became clear that corrective adjustments to our budget were necessary, which meant a reduction in staff, compensation, and purposeful neglect in key areas. We still needed to do a lot, but do it with a lot fewer resources, both financial and human. I can recall a time when I was doing the setup and cleanup of the facility for a memorial I officiated.
As finances began to stabilize, it freed me up to move the church forward in areas like finding and implementing a new church management system, security system, phone system, website, and even oversee the recent renovations happening throughout our campus. I see my role at Sunridge continuing to evolve and allowing me more opportunities to use my strengths and practical approach to accomplish our mission.
What’s your favorite part of being on staff at Sunridge?
The Bible teaches that all members are important to a healthy, functioning body (1 Corinthains 12). To me, knowing that I get to be a part of something bigger than myself, and that my contribution is helping accomplish the mission of our church, that truly is my favorite part.
Over the last couple of years, you’ve been writing a series of blog posts called “Bobservations”. Tell us a little about those and what prompted you to write them.
On August 27, 2017 I was asked to give a budget update to the congregation on “Vision Sunday.” Because I didn’t want to just bombard the congregation with numbers, I made a conscious effort to make the presentation more about mission and vision, using stories to help those in our church see that our treasure and our heart are connected, and to help them understand the importance of stewardship. In that presentation, I shared some of my observations about our church’s giving trends and thought it would be fun to call them “Bobservations.”
After Vision Sunday, Britt Sipe, our Lead Pastor, and I discussed sharing more of these types of thoughts on a monthly basis via a blog post. I use it as a way to provide our church with a combination of practical personal finance advice, as well as provide updates on church financial matters. I had no idea how rewarding it would be to write down my thoughts. I get such a kick out of it when someone comments on a post.