Rob Lane (00:00):
I would say the most difficult thing is trying to navigate people's political agendas or people having a political side and, both parties being represented in the same gathering. It's more important to be unified. If we can't do that, then we lose any weight in presenting the gospel to anybody.
Welcome to The Modern Church Leader where you'll hear Executive Pastors share practical tactics and strategies that churches are using right now to thrive in our digital world and advance the kingdom of God. Here's your host, Frank Berry.
Frank Barry (00:38):
Hey, Pastor Rob. How's it going today?
Rob Lane (00:43):
It's going great. Thanks, Frank.
Frank Barry (00:43):
Yes, it's great to have you on the podcast. We were talking about, leading up to this, we love interviewing church leaders, pastors from churches, all over the place. Learning about what's going on in the church and what's going on as we're going through this pandemic and this crazy time in 2021 and I know you pastor a local church of about 100 people in a neighborhood and have had your crazy season of COVID. So, I'd love to learn more about all of that, but why don't you start off. Let us know a little bit about yourself and how you got into ministry and pastoring a church.
Rob Lane (01:21):
Well, I got into ministry when the Lord wouldn't let me say that it's okay for me just to write a check for a pastor. It's okay for me to write a check for missionaries and for kids to go to camp. He actually did work in me to sell my business, go into ministry.
Frank Barry (01:37):
Rob Lane (01:40):
That was great and it was a very powerful moment for my wife and I on a mission trip and haven't looked back. It's been a really great experience, even though it was later in life. [crosstalk 00:01:51]
Frank Barry (01:51):
When was it? So, you had your own business?
Rob Lane (01:54):
Frank Barry (01:56):
Rob Lane (01:59):
Construction. It was in construction.
Frank Barry (02:01):
Okay. All right and when did that all start to build up in you and when did you [crosstalk 00:02:06]
Rob Lane (02:06):
That was in 2004. All that happened in 2004 and then from there, my wife and I, as we were crossing the border of Mexico back into America, bawling and snot flying everywhere, my goodness, the Lord is doing something great. We've been praying for this for a long time.
Rob Lane (02:25):
We decided we'll do whatever is necessary to go and went into Bible College and Seminary and everything, then got plugged at a church, was doing men's ministry, youth ministry and things like that for a little over 15 years and then got plugged in at the church here where I'm at now, Woodlake Baptist.
Frank Barry (02:51):
Yes. Amazing. So you sold the business, you actually went to Bible College for a two year or a four year?
Rob Lane (03:00):
It was four years.
Frank Barry (03:01):
A four year thing. So you do that for four years. Did you have a church that you were already lining up attending position at?
Rob Lane (03:09):
Yes, I was already volunteering and doing different things and wherever I could serve, however I could help.
Frank Barry (03:19):
That's awesome. Then when you got the call to be a Lead Pastor?
Rob Lane (03:21):
I was terrified.
Frank Barry (03:25):
How'd you navigate that one?
Rob Lane (03:28):
I told the Lord just like Moses, "I think you got the wrong guy." I'm just supposed to be a guy that is there to facilitate and to help the senior pastor.
Frank Barry (03:41):
Rob Lane (03:42):
I really never thought that, that would be my role, but in ministry, things changed and demographics were changing and my wife and I were connecting more and more to adults rather than kids and college kids and different things.
Rob Lane (03:55):
So I started really developing and the Lord opened up some doors, some of those doors he closed. He opened up other ones. Then we walked through and through, I had some wise men inside my corner and some wise women in my wife's corner, it worked out very well.
Rob Lane (04:13):
Through prayer and praying and fasting, answered the call to come to a little church and help it, as a pastor had walked out on a Sunday morning out of the church, a lot of hurt in things inside the congregation there and it really devastated the church.
Rob Lane (04:29):
They needed somebody to come in and just bring healing and help and God's glory to be revealed to them and his grace is sufficient.
Frank Barry (04:38):
Yes, Amen. That's awesome. Wow. That's a cool and crazy kind of journey there. So when you took over or when you started working on staff, if you don't mind, it doesn't sound like it was, it was 2004.
Rob Lane (04:58):
Yes, I was working previously, I don't know. It was '99, somewhere in that ballpark is when I was- 98, really committed into a local church.
Frank Barry (05:15):
Rob Lane (05:16):
North Side is where I was serving at and doing anything. I could cut the yard, trim the trees, throw the trash, help with children's ministry, van ministry, children's ministry, team ministry, men's ministry, anywhere.
Rob Lane (05:29):
Try to help out wherever I could and wherever the pastor would allow me and being discipled and encouraged. I think a continual growth is always needed for everybody.
Frank Barry (05:38):
Rob Lane (05:38):
Lots of people that were very willing to come alongside a guy that asks a lot of questions.
Frank Barry (05:46):
Yes. I was just trying to get the timeline. When did you take over the pastor role at your current church?
Rob Lane (05:56):
Frank Barry (05:57):
2017. Okay. So you were there for a few years.
Rob Lane (06:01):
Frank Barry (06:02):
Before we hit the pandemic year.
Rob Lane (06:06):
Frank Barry (06:06):
So you had a couple, that's where I was getting, it sounds like he might have got there right before the pandemic or something like that, but you had a couple years before things went a little bit wonky.
Frank Barry (06:17):
You had to deal with a pastor walking out and kind of really helping the church through that transition and through that kind of tough period and then, pandemic hits, so you got a couple years under your belt.
Rob Lane (06:31):
Frank Barry (06:32):
Rob Lane (06:33):
We were thriving. Things were going great. I was so frustrated when the pandemic hit, because there were so many things that were just rocking the way that we had planned, that God was just having favor.
Rob Lane (06:47):
Things were just moving, people were getting saved, there was baptisms, there was people being discipled and then all of a sudden, a screeching halt, just slam and then fear and panic sets into a lot of people.
Rob Lane (07:04):
We had a lot of gathering things together, even times, just a pizza party or we're having gatherings in the fellowship hall, things like that.
Frank Barry (07:15):
Rob Lane (07:15):
Potlucks, those things seemed to just go away with everybody. For several months and people just were really yearning to get back to that. So praise the Lord that over time we were able to move in that direction to, "Hey, do you want to come and have a picnic on the front lawn or anything like that?"
Rob Lane (07:41):
Just start to be able to do that with people, to think outside the box instead of always have to be inside the house or even inside the Lord's house, but we could get together and gather just in backyards, in front yards and still be visible to the community, that Christ people are gathering. I think that's very important.
Frank Barry (08:06):
Yes. I've talked with a lot of pastors about what it was like when the pandemic hit and early on. I'd love to get your thoughts as a Senior Pastor. You're the only person on staff at the church there. You kind of shoulder a lot of the responsibility.
Frank Barry (08:23):
What's been the most difficult thing for you, going through the last 18 months or so?
Rob Lane (08:30):
I would say the most difficult thing is trying to navigate with people's political agendas or people having a political side and both parties being represented in the same gathering.
Frank Barry (08:44):
Rob Lane (08:45):
Being able to help people, also me being sensitive and not trying to get frustrated because people don't want to listen, but all they want to do is speak and say their side of the story.
Frank Barry (09:00):
Rob Lane (09:02):
That's been the hardest. I would say the most difficult part is being able to come alongside brothers and sisters in Christ and say, "It's more important to be unified as brothers and sisters than it is for a political party."
Frank Barry (09:16):
Rob Lane (09:17):
I think that because once again, if we can't do that, then we lose any weight in presenting the gospel to anybody.
Rob Lane (09:29):
Why would anybody outside of the church want to have anything of what we have? Why be influenced by Christ if his children can't even get along? His children should know how to act like children of the King.
Rob Lane (09:47):
If we can't do that, then it's very problematic. That has been the most difficult thing for me, is to learn temperaments of different people that I haven't seen before. Be able to get a little bit more personal level on each member, be able to understand a little bit more of how they're processing information that they are gathering and where they're gathering their information from.
Rob Lane (10:15):
Once I started to get that information, then I could have at least a starting point on where I can carry on conversations, but instead of just saying, "I have no idea why you're talking like that. I have no idea why you're doing this."
Frank Barry (10:33):
Rob Lane (10:34):
So that's been the hardest thing for me.
Frank Barry (10:37):
Yes. I love your point about, if the church looks like the world in terms of the political divide and that kind of fighting and picking , then why would anybody look to the church for something different? Because it just looks like what they see every other day.
Rob Lane (10:56):
Frank Barry (10:56):
That group looks like everything else that they're seeing.
Rob Lane (11:00):
Looks like an ugly mess.
Frank Barry (11:02):
Rob Lane (11:03):
There's no beauty.
Frank Barry (11:05):
None, but it's hard, right? It's very hard. Even in my own church, that I've been a part of for a long time, watching the leadership kind of lead through all this. Obviously I'm not the pastor or anything like that, but you see what's kind of going on and you kind of feel that it's really hard to pastor through and to lead through all the craziness.
Frank Barry (11:33):
What kind of things are you doing to lead your folks, your people through this time? How are you, practically speaking, trying to help them rise above all the political stuff?
Rob Lane (11:49):
That's a good question. One of the things I'm trying to do or am doing, is to not take their opinions on how I'm approaching things personal.
Frank Barry (12:00):
Rob Lane (12:01):
Because that can be very divisive as well.
Frank Barry (12:03):
Rob Lane (12:03):
If I am thinking that people's response is directly at me, then that's something. So by having some thick skin, walking through, being able to still make those home visits with people that are not in agreement, still make those phone calls, be there for people, support them and their families in the things that are very, very important to them.
Rob Lane (12:30):
Be a leader that shows what it is that we're supposed to be representing. No one's going to be in unity if the leader is not walking with that as well.
Frank Barry (12:41):
Rob Lane (12:41):
It just because we speak a vision, if we're not leading that vision or walking in that vision, then it's worthless.
Rob Lane (12:51):
So practically making phone calls, being with people, still being invested inside their lives. It doesn't matter if it's a side of wearing mask or not wearing a mask or every time you walk into a doorway, you've got to put hand sanitizer on.
Rob Lane (13:08):
I mean, there's all different types of positions that people in the church have, but the bottom line is just continually going back to its work, to praise the Lord and we are to represent Christ to the world. If we're not acting as Christ's children or God's children, then we're making the gospel ugly and unattractive and no one's going to want to turn, no-one's going to want that.
Frank Barry (13:36):
Rob Lane (13:36):
So just being able to do that on a daily basis, a weekly basis, monthly basis, just continue to talk with people, plug into people and then I ask a lot of questions to practically asking questions. "What is it that really frustrates you about this? Why does Mr. So-and-so, or Mrs So-and-so frustrate you in where they sit or how they communicate to you?"
Frank Barry (14:03):
Rob Lane (14:03):
Then being able to be the moderator between different people.
Frank Barry (14:08):
Right. Have you seen in your community as you guys have kind of come back to meeting in person and sorting some of that out, how has it been going just on the kind of community outreach and evangelism and bringing people in?
Frank Barry (14:27):
Have you seen your community want to be connected to a community of believers and church and those kind of things? Or has that been hard?
Rob Lane (14:38):
Yes, it has been hard. It has been hard of people slowly coming back And of course, I would say any pastor or staff, any church is disappointed at the slow growth of people coming back. I think that they would want it to be a lot quicker than what it has been.
Rob Lane (14:56):
I don't think I'd be out of bounds in speaking for everybody in leadership on that part.
Frank Barry (14:59):
Yes, you're right. Everyone I talk to is like, "Oh, we're at 40% attendance or maybe 60% attendance", but I've not heard anybody say, "Oh yeah, everyone's back and we're back to normal."
Rob Lane (15:13):
So with that, being an impact into the community, if we can't be an impact within our neighbors, that's huge but one of the things that we've done is, is through door knockers, door hangers and we know people are not coming to the doors and things like that.
Rob Lane (15:31):
There's a few that would and so I've actually stopped going up, knocking on doors to try to address with people that way. I think over the last, year, pretty much put a stop to that.
Frank Barry (15:44):
Rob Lane (15:44):
But going and dropping off information on someone's doorstep or on their door, as long as there's no trespassing sign or no soliciting sign there, make sure, drop that. That's been a big thing for us because we haven't just been trying to force people, "Hey, come to church", we've been saying, "We are praying for you and if there's any specific need that we could be praying for you, we would really like to do that."
Frank Barry (16:14):
Rob Lane (16:15):
You can do that through our webpage, go to our webpage, go to the prayer request and drop that. For our particular group of believers for our church, praying for our community because of what the community has been doing, has been the greatest outreach, if you will, for people within our church, haven't gone out before and done things, have been very timid or shy or because of physical elements that they're not able to do.
Rob Lane (16:49):
They've been able to really engage in a time of prayer. We have a prayer room that's set up within the church and we have prayer needs of the community that they have put out and we have had people come in periodically throughout the day, or on a particular night and just spend time in prayer.
Rob Lane (17:08):
We also lift it up every time in coming back. One of the things that we've done through this and engaging prayer in all of our gatherings is even on Sunday mornings, taking a time of just a corporate prayer time.
Frank Barry (17:24):
Rob Lane (17:24):
That's very specific about everything.
Frank Barry (17:29):
Right. That's awesome.
Rob Lane (17:31):
Outreaches and doing stuff on the front yard of the church or on the side yard of the church, just presenting ourselves to people, putting stuff as far as water or whatever on tables as people walk by and just say, "If you'd like a water, we have a walking trail, like through a green belt, that's behind our church."
Rob Lane (17:52):
So, just taking the time to go out there on a Friday or a Saturday and not even have to invite people to church, but just be there for them.
Frank Barry (18:01):
Right. Great way to meet people in the community and be around. I love that.
Rob Lane (18:07):
And that has been the one that's drawn people to the church.
Frank Barry (18:14):
Yes. You're around and people need some water and it's a social outdoor type of thing and just running into people. It's amazing. Real quick. On the digital side, maybe we kind of wrap with this. You mentioned your website, you mentioned submitting a prayer request on the website. What's it been like for the church just to evolve from the digital and tech side over the last 18 months?
Rob Lane (18:44):
It's been very difficult for us and different at the same time. There are many people in our church that are tech-savvy. I am not one of them and so that's been something for me to really wrap my head around and say, "This is important. I can't ask somebody else to do it if I'm not willing to do it", that type of thing.
Frank Barry (19:03):
Rob Lane (19:03):
Investing and researching on equipment and upgrading equipment. So it is a lot better than what we had. That was really important, trying to find the difference between in person sound and sound through somebody listening online. I was putting more focus on what was in person sound and really giving a second thought, or a third thought way back in my mind of what it sounds like online, right?
Rob Lane (19:32):
That completely changed. Now trying to really focus on our sound and everything that processes through, how is it coming about to those people that are not inside the building, but are just joining us online?
Frank Barry (19:45):
Rob Lane (19:46):
A lot of emphasis put on that. A lot of emphasis also put inside of, even our Wednesday prayer service is now online. We started that during the pandemic and we've just continued and we've had a lot of people ask, "Why are we still doing this?"
Rob Lane (20:03):
We still get people from other cities, family members of people within our church that their particular church that they go to, doesn't have a Wednesday service or something and so they're able to jump in and be live, not just a recorded something.
Frank Barry (20:20):
Rob Lane (20:20):
For some on [crosstalk 00:20:21]
Frank Barry (20:21):
Zoom, do you do the prayer meetings on Zoom?
Rob Lane (20:23):
No, it's just through our webpage.
Frank Barry (20:27):
Rob Lane (20:27):
Through our webpage and Facebook, those type of things is how we do it.
Frank Barry (20:32):
Rob Lane (20:33):
Yes. So they can go to our webpage on Wednesdays or Sundays and click on the live and it pops up, it's there, or they can go anywhere and listen or look at and listen to a recorded one.
Frank Barry (20:46):
Rob Lane (20:47):
So trying to use technology as much as possible, that I did not put a lot of emphasis in before and now. [crosstalk 00:20:56]
Frank Barry (20:56):
Do you have a volunteer? Do you have someone on the team that is helping you with a lot of the texts, since you said, "Text's not my thing." You have someone there that's like kind of stepped up.
Rob Lane (21:06):
Yes. Matter of fact, we've had several people that have, "This is huge. This is in my wheelhouse. I want to do this." That's been encouraging. There've been some older people which really surprised me and then there's been some younger ones. Of course, you would say, "Well, of course, you're going to be great at this."
Rob Lane (21:24):
They get in there and they do it and the Lord had been so generous and so much favor put upon us to be able to bring specific people with great talent and wisdom. He even brought a Sound Engineer just a few months ago.
Rob Lane (21:42):
Gentleman had a past, traveling with rock bands and different things and he got saved was looking for a church home. We connected and he has been instrumental in helping us just overall with technology everywhere within the church.
Frank Barry (22:02):
Right. Yes, that's amazing. God is good right?
Rob Lane (22:05):
Amen. His grace is sufficient all the time.
Frank Barry (22:09):
Yes. Well, Pastor Rob, this has been great. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us.
Rob Lane (22:15):
I really appreciate it. Thank you for the opportunity.
Frank Barry (22:18):
Real quick before we close, where can folks go to just check you guys out online and learn a little bit more about the church there?
Rob Lane (22:24):
Sure. We're at wwodlakebaptist.org.
Frank Barry (22:29):
Awesome. Love it. Well again, thanks Pastor Rob and thanks for everyone that's listening. Appreciate you guys.
Rob Lane (22:35):
Have a great day.
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