7 Questions with Adam Starling
Name: Adam Starling
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: Victory Family Church in Oklahoma
Adam and Kristy Starling took over a struggling church of 100 people in January of 2013. A year later this church became Victory Family Church and now serves as the home for over 4,500-5,000+ people in weekly attendance. In that time span it has become one of the fastest growing churches in America.
Adam and Kristy have committed their lives to create a place where people can come to know Christ, grow in Him, and find a family. The ministry philosophy is incredibly simple and effective.
They have two children, Beckham and London, who are along for every step of the journey.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Balancing the weight of hearing from The Lord, preparing messages, leading a staff and overseeing a budget.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
You hear of a lot of athletes that are "gym rats" I was just kind of a church rat growing up. My mom was a secretary at the church, I was really involved in the church, so I just fell in love with the work of the church. I went to college to become a pastor and started in youth ministry right after I graduated college. At 30 I felt like the Lord was leading me to become a senior pastor, so I took a leap of faith and began pastoring a church of about 100 people in January of 2013 and God has continued to bless us since then.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Every day I get up at 6:15, go to the gym, eat breakfast in the car and try to be at the office by 8:30. Every day from 2:15-2:45 we have staff prayer. After that each day is a little bit different. Mondays I have an executive team meeting for several hours, Monday afternoon, I go over the week with my assistant and prepare for the week and for staff meeting. Tuesday mornings we have staff meeting followed by staff lunch. Wednesday and Thursday are both writing days. Wednesdays I have lunch with a different staff department each week and Thursdays I have lunch with a different men's small group. Fridays and Saturdays I take off.
4. What one book had the most profound impact on your church leadership? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Leadership Pain by Sam Chand
Dr. Chand talks about how your organization will grow to the threshold of your pain. As difficult as that sounds, it's very true. The book helped me see a bigger picture, which helped me learn how to handle struggles, criticism and insecurities.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Flexibility is the key to growth and success in a season where everything in life is uncertain. We have to be able to quickly adjust, and never be married to a strategy. We have no idea what the church will look like in 2021, so we must remain flexible so we can be effective to continue to reach people that are far from God.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
First of all, everyone has to be bought in to the leadership culture of the church. A leadership pipeline only works if leadership is flowing through that pipeline. You have to have a structure where your team feels equipped, is empowered, and is expected to transfer the leadership DNA to those that serve with them. This doesn't happen on accident, it takes laser focused intentionality and an incredible structure. Here's how our structure practically plays out. Myself -> Executive Team -> The Staff -> Volunteer Coaches -> Volunteer Team Leads -> Volunteers. We strongly subscribe to the theory that no one should ever lead more than 8 people directly. You expand the pipeline.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a church leader so far?
The first week we were in our new building, we didn't have any money, and the electric company called and said we needed $14,000 in order to turn the electricity on in our new facility. While we were in the middle of praying for God to provide for us, someone in the church called and said they wanted to meet with me. I immediately left prayer and went to their office, they informed me that they were leaving the church because they were older and we didn't have many older people in our church at that time. It seemed to be a kick in the gut because I was believing for a miracle, not for someone to leave the church.
They then handed me a check for $15,000 and said they believed in what God was going to do in our church. It was a great reminder that this is God's church, not mine. That if He has called us, He will provide for us. It simply helped me understand, I just need to do my job the very best I can, and trust that He will take care of everything else.