Matthew Robinson


Always. Moving. Forward.

Matthew Robinson is the Executive Pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Originally from Tampa, he's married to Rachel, was a college professor, is a baking genius, and loves spreadsheets.

Not Wasted

In a moment of complete isight this past weekend I figured out how having a PhD in mathematics is useful in being an Executive Pastor.

I mean there’s some obvious connections with the numbers and spreadsheets and budgeting and finance predicting and monitoring and such.

But there’s also something so much more.

Having a PhD means I earned a Phd, and the earning of that degree…the coursework, the research, and the writing of a dissertation, was one of the major “figure-out-how-to-do-this-and-make-it-happen” projects in my life.

Those kind of projects are my life now.

I love taking Dean’s vision and architecting and executing it into a reality.

I never thought I could pen a 200+ page dissertation.

But I broke the big idea (big idea = vision, which in this case was “finish the dang thing”) down into manageable parts.

I focused in on what I knew, figured out what I didn’t, learned what I needed to, and made it happen.

There was a lot of prayer along the way, too.

I got asked more times than I wanted to answer last year if going through all that school was “worth it” now.

Yes.  Totally.  More than I could ever possibly fathom. 

Staying Power

Since we moved to Leon on Sundays at City Church I’ve had a group of people who mean a ton, and who I think this has meant a ton to, in the back of my head.

I wasn’t with The Well in the very beginning days.  I never sat in Dean’s parents living room, but I caught the vision just as preview services were about to begin in May 2007.  The original 24 folks had grown to a couple more dozen, and at our Five Year Anniversary party last August I got to recognize a group of about 20 people who had been in that living room who are still with us today.

That group and the rest of us in those early days, who prayed huge prayers about just the taste of what we’re experiencing now, have seen so much transition with this church.  We’ve grown from 24 to 86 to 112 to 196 to 403 to 597 to 946 to 1193 in crazy form and fashion.  People who met for what we called “Operation Godby” in the summer of ‘07 had no idea what it meant to setup basic production and kids in a school (this was pre Moon and pre Civic Center…it was pre everything!)  We had a Goliath size dream and a David sized budget and a load of safety pins and duct tape holding it all together.  Yes, there was buy in and huge commitment and a sense of urgency to what we were doing.

And yes, there still is.  But there’s a difference when you walk into Pottery Barn for the first time after you’ve been shopping at WalMart all your life.  For me, walking into Leon on January 6th was just like that, and I know for many others, those that have faithfully served and given of their time and talents and resources, seeing how huge the Gospel’s reach is through City Church of 2013 is just crazy.

I’ll always remember when a confident Dean Inserra shared at our One Year Anniversary service how he was told we’d never make it 12 month.  With great gusto he said “And I want to wish you a Happy Anniversary” to a standing ovation.  When you know what’s happened can’t be turned back, you know you’re beginning to make a difference.  In lives.  In the community,  For the Gospel.  There’s power in staying power.

65 people proved that to me, filled with a new urgency, last Sunday at 4:30 a.m.  ”Operation Godby” was nothing more than the early branding of “Why Not Tallahassee?” The vision is clear.  The mission is focused.  And the sense of urgency is greater than ever.  And all along the way, getting to see people’s lives change because of Christ has made it so worthwhile.

Awesomely Overwhelmed

The past few months have stretched and challenged me like none other.  Mentally.  Physically.  Leadership-ily.  And through this, my faith has grown as I have had to rely on God for so much more than I could have ever thought I needed to ask him for.

Moving out of a warehouse.  Finishing plans for the Tallahassee Mall.  Setting up a portable church again.  Preparing for Easter, a Grand Opening, and the day to day business. I have no idea how I used to teach and do just a fraction of this.  No clue.

But all along the way I’ve been overwhelmed at people.  A wife who has shown me so much love and grace and patience.  A Pastor and best friend who has supported and trusted and had confidence in me like none other.  A family who has encouraged and cheer-led from afar. A staff who has given more than their all just for me to ask for them to give even more.  Volunteers who have showed up for moving, work, and demo days.  Groups of people filled with names I don’t know who have unloaded trucks and setup before dawn.

There have been moments in the past 5 1/2 years where I’ve known what we’re praying and giving our best towards could happen.  And there have been moments in the past 5 1/2 weeks where I’ve known what we’re praying and giving our best towards is simply the beginning of a movement where the eternities of hundreds and then thousands are altered that Tallahassee has never before experienced.

A group of people committed to being For the Gospel and For the City.  That I have an awesome responsibility of being a part of.

Pretty overwhelming.  Pretty awesome.

This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human, who gave Himself—a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

What is an Executive Pastor?

Dean sent me this.  Asked me if I wrote it.  I didn’t, but it’s spot on:

Serve Jesus. Serve your church. Serve your lead pastor.

This simple job description defines the role of the executive pastor. At Mars Hill, the executive pastor (XP) is the second hire we make for any new local church, after the lead pastor. Together, these two men complement one another to form the core of an effective church leadership team.

The lead pastor focuses on teaching, training leaders, and casting the vision. The executive pastor focuses on systems, management, and implementing the vision. Here are 10 ways this plays out in the ministry of a good XP:

1. An XP’s purpose is to spread the gospel and grow the church.

An XP loves to see lives changed by Jesus.

2. An XP serves.

He focuses on the success, needs, and experience of others.

3. An XP puts his lead pastor’s success above his own.

If the lead pastor is doing his job well, the church will grow and expand (see #1).

4. An XP handles all of the day-to-day operations of the church.

An XP must know how to run a business in order to ensure good stewardship of church resources and finances. His responsibilities also include all of the logistics for weekly services and other events.

5. An XP reinvents himself.

Depending on the characteristics and needs of the lead pastor, and depending on the size of the church, an XP must adapt over time in order to serve effectively.

6. An XP offers solutions.

An XP never presents a problem without at least one possible solution.

7. An XP covers the weaknesses of his lead pastor.

An XP knows what his lead pastor does and does not like to do. By covering the areas where a lead pastor is weak, an XP allows the lead pastor to operate out of his strengths.

8. An XP is not an assistant.

An assistant helps the lead pastor get his projects done while an XP actually completes more projects for the lead pastor, taking those projects off his plate. At the same time, an XP is not too proud to work on menial tasks as necessary. He’ll make the coffee, if necessary, in order to serve his lead pastor.

9. An XP loves second place.

A good XP is not a successor. He serves the lead pastor and doesn’t use him as a steppingstone. Though it may not always be easy, the XP gladly submits himself to the vision and leadership of the lead pastor.

10. An XP prays.

Outside of his family, nobody knows a lead pastor’s struggles, stressors, and schedule better than his second-in-command, which gives the XP a special responsibility to intercede.

Scripture sums it up best, and Hebrews 13:17–18 describes well the calling of an XP:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.


Here’s How, Tallahassee

Best thing I’ve read from a friend of Dean and I’s

Their motto is:

"Why not Tallahassee?"

and we need to help them with a

"Here’s how Tallahassee!"


Under a Sheet

The first month that Rachel and I were married we couldn’t sleep much.

We each had to get used to having the other human furnace person lying beside us, and my love of pillows at times crowded her out.  There’s only ever one under my head, but I do love a fortress of pillows surrounding me.

We were on a queen.  We have friends that after nearly 30 years still sleep on a full.  A month in we used Nana’s wedding money to go and buy a king.  Was the best investment in us we’d made to that point.  We’ve been sleeping fine ever since.

For 30 years I haven’t slept under a sheet.  I’m a blanket or comforter kind of guy.  When the air is down low enough and the fan is whirling around on high, the perfect weight cover to lay under is the best.

But Rachel likes sheets.  And I didn’t…well for no other reason that I’d never tried sleeping under one.

(It was kind of the same way with tomatoes for me.  For about 20 years I claimed I ddin’t like them.  No, I’d never tried them, but that didn’t matter.  I just didn’t like them.  Until one day I actually had a tomato.  And realized it isn’t all that bad.)

And after a week and a half of trying out sleeping under a sheet, I can say the same: I’ve realized it isn’t all that bad.

And it’s had me thinking: there’s a lot I write off.

A lot of things.  A lot of people.

And I’ve never actually tried them out.  Given them a chance.  Gotten over myself to see what could be.

Maybe it’s called being flexible.

Or maybe it’s called not being so darn stubborn.

Questions We're Asking

- How do we know who is revolving through our doors?

- How do we know how to care for someone?

- How do we match someone’s interest with the opportunities available to serve?

- How do we help a new believer build a foundation?

- How do we give people an opportunity to make new friends?

- How do we help growing Christians change?

- How do we help people solve their problems?

- How do we communicate what’s important?

- How do we build leaders?

- How do we help the Church serve the people?