Meet Matt Wright: IC Coach & Lead Pastor
Meet IC Coach Matt Wright. Matt is the Lead Pastor for Willow Creek Community Church’s South Lake campus. After working in the marketplace, Matt began vocational ministry in church leadership and would often use his marketplace background to help the church move forward through strategic planning and direction. Matt previously served at Willow Creek as Executive Pastor for Willow’s North Shore campus, and as a Creative Arts/Worship pastor before that. Matt has a passion to partner with churches and nonprofits to help them walk with maximum effectiveness. He has coached many churches and nonprofits across multiple denominations, both in the US and abroad.
IC : Tell us how your experience in the marketplace prepared you for ministry and serving churches?
Matt: Before God called me to vocational ministry, I worked in the marketplace for a few years in a large corporate environment. I was in one of those leadership development programs where they rotate you throughout the organization in order to train and prepare you for future positions. Interestingly enough, I started to see some patterns in each of the organizations where I was placed. I saw some of the things that worked and didn’t work from a management perspective, and I saw the way that the successful teams chose to do strategic planning. It was fascinating to me how many groups had an attitude that strategic planning was like an inoculation: just go and take your medicine for this year, and then we can go back to normal life and not have to think about this stuff for a while! But the teams that really figured how to move things forward did the hard work of making strategic thinking a part of our weekly discipline. It was the marriage of vision, strategy, and execution that struck me. When God called me into the church world, I realized that many of the same patterns happen in most churches.
IC : What have been the highs and lows of serving churches through IC and Willow Creek?
Matt: The highs and lows are all around the implementation of the process. Almost always, the 2 day “Install” of a GrowthPlan is a high. It’s exciting, fresh, and eye-opening. Often times, groups feel like the perspective they gain in those 2 days alone are a game changer. I believe that the 2 days is the start to a great process, and the key to long-term success is to implement the system into the organization, making it an operating system for the entire church. It’s the marriage of vision, strategy, and execution. Often times, the lows come during the tough times of making the strategy a reality. It comes down to people and culture change, and those can be hard. That’s actually why I love working with IC. I feel like IC does a terrific job of pairing coaches and churches to help walk through that process of organizational system change.
IC: How did you become a part of IC?
Matt: I had been doing strategic planning at Willow and other churches for several years, using a similar tool to IC’s GrowthPlan tool. A great friend of mine was an IC coach and introduced me to Doug and Bart. Their vision to come alongside churches and partner with them to double their Kingdom impact resonated with me. The rest is history!
IC: Share some wisdom or encouragement you have learned from being in the trenches of ministry.
Matt: The trenches of ministry is an exciting, and yet exhausting place to be. It seems like in order to be successful, we have to learn to manage the constancy of an excellent weekend service, manage ourselves, and find time to move the church forward. God has given us the greatest calling and vision imaginable, and the only way for us to realize that vision is to find the structure and process that works for us. Having an operating system that focuses our energy and resources can provide us with enormous discipline and accountability to keep marching toward that calling that God has given us. This applies to our churches, and to our lives!