The Unstuck Group continues to grow! Tammy Kelley, one of our newest ministry consultants, has served in a number of different ministry roles and environments for more than 20 years, including serving on the senior leadership team at Willow Creek Community Church, as an executive search consultant with Vanderbloemen Search Group, and now as leader of the Creative Arts Team at Christ Community Church, a multisite church in the Chicagoland area.
I caught up with Tammy to get a little more of her story and wisdom on leading creatives from her experiences in her current role.
TIFFANY: Tell me how you came to join The Unstuck Group team?
TAMMY: I’ve had such an interesting journey in ministry and have worked with some truly amazing churches. In the 90’s, I was a volunteer at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio leading the first impressions teams, driving youth to serving events, just helping wherever I could. Eventually I was asked to join the church’s leadership board. During that season God clarified my calling to ministry. I eventually went on staff at Ginghamsburg, held several different roles, and ended up being the executive pastor.
I transitioned to Willow Creek in 2001, serving on the leadership team overseeing Human Resources, Communications, Local and Global Compassion, and the Hispanic Ministry. In 2010, I was invited to join Vanderbloemen Search Group and served as a consultant for four and a half years.
TIFFANY: How did you discover you had a passion for helping churches get unstuck?
TAMMY: I never pursued any type of consulting opportunities, yet early in my ministry career God seemed to send church leaders my way for advice, coaching and strategic thought.
I remember one specific event in the late 90’s — it was a two-day training for senior pastors, and oddly enough, I was the main speaker. (I say “oddly enough” because it is still a bit unusual for a female to be working with senior pastoral staff.) On the second day, many of the pastors thanked me, and several said they had stayed up late into the night discussing what I had shared. Quite honestly, that stunned me, but it also helped me understand that I needed to be faithful to continue to come along side church leaders and help them get unstuck.
TIFFANY: What has transitioning to leading creatives in your current role taught you about leadership?
TAMMY: My personality profile always tested high in creativity, but I always thought of my creativity being more with designing org charts than designing weekend services. As I jumped into my creative arts role two key words have been drivers for me: collaboration and consistency.
As the leader of a creative team vs. a more operational team, I find I need to create lots of venues for collaboration – lots of conversations with multiple people in each conversation. My office door is almost always open and has a constant flow of people in and out discussing ideas.
I have learned to appreciate the leadership voice of worship pastors and tech teams who dream and think in visuals and song. At the same time, I have learned that especially in the Arts, we need consistent systems and processes to keep our ever flowing fountain of ideas in control and to make sure we deliver excellence each weekend.
TIFFANY: How would you encourage pastors who are trying to build or improve the creative arts capabilities in their churches?
TAMMY: I would encourage pastors to invest in relationships with their creative teams. Treat them as partners in ministry. Great things happen when there is synergy between the senior pastor and the creative arts team.
I would also say that just as much responsibility is on the shoulders of the creative arts team members for that relationship with the senior pastor. They need to listen and learn from the senior pastor, not rush to judgment or defense when the senior pastor gives feedback or requests a change to the service. It is a two-way street, a partnership, and the senior pastor is the top leadership voice.