Through the inspiration provided by his youth minister and his soccer coach, Todd Spain pursued a career in ministry starting from a young age. After his education at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, his spiritual journey would take him across the country to Texas, Indiana, South Carolina, and eventually New Hampshire. During those years, Todd took online courses through Liberty University, where he would earn his master’s degree in Art and Religion. Eventually, earning his doctorate in Church Leadership from Louisiana Baptist University—all of which was done while pastoring full time and serving his congregations wherever he happened to be serving at the time.
Todd Spain is now the lead pastor at Crossroads Church. Founded in 2001 with the vision of creating a church that will continually influence new generations on behalf of Jesus Christ and his teachings, the methods of Crossroads Church have evolved over the years, but the mission has always been to lead people to be fully committed followers of Christ.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I think it started when I was a youth pastor. When I was young, my mom would always tell me that God wanted to guide me and helped reinforce that idea. Then I became a youth pastor. Back then, the pastor I worked under was often gone, so I had to preach in his place a lot of the time. That planted the seed of the idea in my heart. It took a few years to achieve my goal once I wrapped my head around it. I even had to wrestle with God for a few years because I would’ve rather worked with youth than adults. Over time, God sent his word to me through messages and through other people, and I eventually accepted that he was calling me to this profession. One Sunday, I got on my knees and said, “Lord, if that’s what you want, I’ll do it.” And my career took off from there.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as a typical day. I normally get to work between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning. One of my good friends—who’s also my executive pastor—and I typically go to a coffee shop, enjoy breakfast together, and talk things through. It’s usually nothing serious, aside from the times when it is serious. Then we go into message preparation for the weekend, staff meetings, planning for any given future event. It varies from day to day. It’s pretty exciting in that way.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I will bounce ideas off my staff, my wife, and other people whose opinion I value. If they’re taken with an idea, we can bring it to life by gathering a team to help plan and execute it. If it’s preparation for a message, I’ll normally just do it myself, but it really depends on the scale of the idea. Sometimes an idea takes only one person to realize and sometimes it takes twenty.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One thing that does excite me is that there seems to be a return to what I call a ‘realness with the Lord.’ Yes, some churches use flash and flare, but I think that people are starting to move away from sensationalism and back to an authentic relationship with the Lord. They want to know what God says is real, that he is real—they don’t want more smoke, mirrors, and flashing lights. There is currently a deeper pursuit of Christ across America, and that really excites me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try not to be led by feelings. I also try not to do things based on waiting for tomorrow at the expense of action today. I try to accomplish things mentally if possible, which leads me to systematically complete things on a day-by-day basis. This habit helps to keep me disciplined. It’s not always easy to stay regimented, but the results of a regular cumulative effort pay off in the long run. Success does not consist of big moments, but little moments that add up over time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You don’t know everything you think you do. Learn from as many pastors as you can.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I know that the Gospel is real and that Jesus is real. Few outside the church would agree with this, but the ramifications of his teachings and the crucifixion are also real. If I’m right—if he was real and he walked out of that tomb, and we find evidence that he did—that affects every aspect of human life. It affects the identity of the human condition and current cultural issues we face. He is God and he sets the standard. Unfortunately, what I’ve just asserted is not a popular thing to say. But if all that is true, then we are held to a much higher standard and are accountable for our actions. The only truth is God’s truth.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I work out. It sounds superficial, but that helps me keep my sanity. So many pastors live such stressful lives. I can’t quote the exact numbers, but you can easily see it. Once you sign up as a pastor, that takes seven to ten years off of your life because the profession is just so overwhelming. I see many other pastors take care of their congregation, but not their own health. I’m not saying to go overboard with it, but it’s helpful to have an outlet to release all that energy and stress. It’s amazing what thirty minutes of exercise can do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I get up and preach every Sunday. I lead Bible studies and youth groups, but I also have to be led. I have to watch other pastors and take advice from them on how I perform my work, as well. I can’t be too proud to ask questions. Also, I never think that I know everything, because I don’t. I try to pursue knowledge so I can keep growing as a person and as a model for my congregation.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a dream of starting my own church. However, after four years, we had to close our doors. I’ve talked to others and they’ve tried to console me, saying we didn’t fail, but when it came to establishing a church, we did fail. We could not get it off the ground. But through that failure, I was able to learn some valuable lessons that I have since applied to other churches and other congregations. So, it wasn’t a total failure because I learned from it. I feel for those who try to establish their own church because I know what it’s like. I have experienced the challenges. Since then, where I practice my calling may have changed, but what I do and why I do it have not.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think any venture that founds itself based on the principles of integrity and honesty is an honorable one, no matter the industry. While I don’t really have a great idea for a new business off the top of my head, I celebrate anyone who tries to provide for themselves and their family.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My wife recently graduated with her Ph.D., and I was struggling to get her a little something to congratulate her. I wanted to buy her something sincere and from the heart. The necklace I chose cost right around $100. When I gave it to her, it seemed to resonate and have a real significance to her. It brought her to happy tears. It was the best $100 dollars I think I’ve ever spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I really don’t use the web for my job. I just use a laptop, really. I do like the YouVersion Bible app. I also use search engines and Google calendar, which really helps me keep appointments, but that’s about the extent of my relationship with technology.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
A.W. Tozer’s The Fire of God’s Presence. It ignited my faith in a real way by helping me to understand what the holiness of God is and what our response to it ought to be.
Another is called Everyone Always by Bob Galf. It really teaches you to navigate this unpredictable world by loving the people you interact with.
What is your favorite quote?
“I am the resurrection and I am the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, shall live.” — Jesus Christ
- Mistakes will happen. Learn from them.
- Don’t miss out today in favor of looking forward to tomorrow.
- Big moments are built up through many smaller ones.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.