Coletta and I were privileged to be able to spend a couple of days last week with the former pastor of Mission Hills Church, Mike Romberger, and his wife, Jane. They were both very gracious in welcoming us and spending a very sizable chunk of their valuable time telling us their story and answering our questions.
I was nervous asking if they would be willing to have us come out to see them, but I was vastly relieved when they seemed genuinely glad to spend the time with us. I felt compelled to make this trip because it is clear to me that Mike and Jane had a huge impact on Mission Hills and I wanted to know more about them so as to be able to build on what God has already done through them.
Both Mike and Jane were very forthcoming about both the joys and struggles of their time at Mission Hills, so we learned a lot. It will probably take me a long time to process it all, but there was one thing in particular that struck me as invaluable. Mike talked about the importance of spending your early days in a new leadership position doing two things: loving and learning.
That really resonates with me and I hope to make those two words central to my first season at Mission Hills: loving the people (staff and congregation) and learning the culture.
That piece of wisdom goes hand in hand with something that I’ve been thinking a lot about: earning trust. See, it’s been a long time since I had to earn trust in a new place. After 20 years of serving at my last church, I think I enjoyed a fairly deep-seated trust from the majority of the staff and congregation.
But the thing is, I’m not entirely sure how I came to have that trust. When I started at the church, I wasn’t really intentional about earning trust, so it’s not entirely clear to me how it happened. But now that I’m in the position of needing to earn trust, and as quickly as possible, I’ve been thinking a lot about how that happened at Ridgeline and how to replicate it at Mission Hills.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think that earning trust in a mega-church is fundamentally different than earning trust in a smaller church. As I reflect back on my years at Ridgeline, I think earning trust was largely a matter of character, consistency and love. I think when people know that you love them, and that you will do what is right (even when it’s hard), time and time again, trust comes naturally.