Mike Bonem has a resumé that would impress any Fortune 500 CEO.
He has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Rice University. He has an M.B.A. degree, with distinction from Harvard Business School. He is a former manager with the renowned McKinsey and Company global management and consulting firm. He is a distinguished author, speaker, consultant, and successful business owner.
But for dozens of clergy and lay leaders, Mike is much more than an executive with an extraordinary resume. He is a teacher, coach, sounding board, guide, resource, mentor and ally. That’s because Mike is the facilitator for two TMF Learning Communities, the Executive Pastor’s Learning Community and the Deep Change Learning Community.
After Mike felt God’s calling, he pivoted his career to serve the Church, eventually spending more than 10 years as the Executive Pastor of West University Baptist Church in Houston. Today he uses his deep and extensive professional experiences to help other Executive Pastors fulfill their potential as they serve their congregations and the Church.
Executive Pastors serve a vital role in their respective churches. As the first assistant to the Senior Pastor, an Executive Pastor is usually responsible for managing church staff and operations. It’s also a job that requires a range of skills from handling human resource issues to managing the church’s finances.
The Deep Change Learning Community focuses on issues of leadership, courage, and transformation. Executive Pastors in this group work with each other to understand how to effectively embrace change, seek new solutions to tough challenges and find ways to continually grow and evolve through their careers.
As a facilitator, Mike understands what his professional experiences and insights can bring to the groups, but he also understands how important it is to let the groups find their own paths toward being more effective leaders.
“As a consultant, some times it’s challenging to stand back and allow the group to make the decision,” he says. “But my role is not to tell them how to accomplish this goal or that objective. It’s to listen, learn, interact and help the group to find a solution that they feel is the right path.”
While Mike enjoys contributing his insights, what he really values is how members of each group have helped one another.
“We give members of our groups the opportunity to talk about the most difficult challenges they face in their roles as Executive Pastors,” he explains. “When they understand that they are in an environment where they can discuss tough topics frankly and honestly, members feel comfortable enough to seek help in dealing with some very important issues. In a lot of cases, it’s the first time they’ve ever talked about these challenges with peers.”
For all the preparation, time and hard work Mike puts into facilitating two different Learning Communities, it pales in comparison to the sheer joy and sense of accomplishment he gets every time he meets with either group.
“I get to spend time with exceptional people who have all stood up, raised their hands, and volunteered to take on some very difficult challenges, both within their congregations and in the Church as a whole,” says Bonem. “The leadership, courage, and camaraderie I witness again and again continue to amaze me. It’s why I’m always looking forward to the next meeting.”