An Interview With Holly Brown

Holly Brown is our newest coach here at! Holly has extensive ministry leadership experience in some great churches: Elevation Church, Potential Church, Crosspoint Church, and now as Executive Pastor at Embrace Church. I threw out a few questions I thought of that might help those who might travel where she has been...and might benefit from her coaching! 

What is perhaps the #1 thing you have learned from serving on the Executive Team of a large ministry? 

"Yikes! Just one thing? Well, as a member of the team and not the lead pastor, my role is to understand the way the lead pastor is wired, how God is asking him to build the church, and then assist him with that. There is no perfect way to reach people and the worst thing I can do as an exec member is to put pressure on my lead pastor to do it 'so and so’s way.' This is a deadly trap. I love the resources and content we have available, and trust me, I am a podcast junkie, but I have learned each church is uniquely called and gifted. I wish we would spend as much time to discover the way God wired our team as we did watching others." 

What do growing ministries all seem to have in common? 

"Every growing ministry I’ve been a part of was led by someone filled with passion, a passion that is contagious and draws people in. A dream of what God could do through us—a vision so exciting it’s worth giving my time to for free. Growing ministries expect results. They expect people to perform and God to show up. I have actually seen growing ministries have crappy systems and a tough culture to work in—but at the end of the day, there has to be a team filled with passion. It doesn’t have to be the smartest group of people. Passion and basic competency go a long way." 

Where have you seen large ministries miss the mark? 

"There are a lot of 'small church' things that contributed to the growth of a big church. Things that didn’t feel organizational or a part of a huge system: phone calls, family room vision casting, birthday cards to attendees. Often, when a church gets big, it’s easy to drop those small things that made people feel like individuals and not part of a system inside a large institution. We must be intentional to keep the right small things, even as we get big. Churches need systems, but no one ever wants to feel a part of a system. We must stay intentional to teach the right attitudes that will affect our culture, even over the right systems." 

You are passionate and gifted at all things Multi-Site. What do Sr Pastors need to keep in mind when it comes to Multi-Site? 

"It is sexy to have multiple campuses right now, but for some churches, it’s not smart. Choose smart over sexy and you will sleep better at night. If your Campus Pastors are going to succeed and together you are going to reach more people for Jesus than either of you could reach without the other, you must choose to trust them. They have to build influence, as well. If you hired leaders (and I hope you did), they will challenge your idea at times and question if it will work at their campus. Don’t be afraid of these conversations and don’t shut them down with a heavy hand. More than likely, they see you as the expert communicator and leader. Help them get better. Show them the ropes. Observe their stage time occasionally and give them feedback. Allow them to lead a staff meeting and share leadership things they are learning. They want to get better just like you do—and they see you as the one to help them do that. The turnover rate among campus pastors is very high. Invest in helping your Campus Pastors get better even when it pushes on your security buttons and you will see that they often stick around. Together you can do exponentially more for the kingdom than either of you could do alone."

What do campus pastors need to know more than anything else? 

"Relationships build churches, not systems. You can not think like a staff member the size of your overall whole (ex: a 5,000 person church) when your campus has 200 people. You must think like a church planter of 200 people: lots of meetings, visiting small groups, backyard socials. Go back to what worked then, while maintaining the excellence in production in ministries like a 5,000 person church. You must have a burning passion for your community. You must desire to do life in your community more than with staff peers. You must know the deepest pains in your community…and they must break your heart. Is poverty an issue? Broken homes? Crime? Racial division? Complacency? What is the pain and does it break your heart? You have been called by God to your community for this time. You must lead and lead well."

Holly is currently the Executive Pastor at Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, SD. Holly previously served as Executive Pastor of Multi-SIte Ministries at Crosspoint Church in Nashville, TN; and was part of Executive Leadership Team at Potential Church in Miami, FL. She is passionate about all things Multi-site, as well as working with Executive Leadership Teams. She is married to Chris Brown, who serves as` nationally syndicated radio talk show host with Dave Ramsey. They live in Franklin, TN with their three kids.