Episode 075: Creating a Culture of Ongoing Leadership Development

In this episode we sit down to talk about how senior leaders can create a culture of ongoing leadership development—both values and methods.

It’s so important in ministry to never stop growing… oftentimes churches get a bad rap for using and using up people… our hope is to actually leave people better than when they joined our team…   

Pastoral ministry is so diverse and requires a really unique toolbelt… people pick some of those tools up naturally, but struggle with others… if we just assume that they’ll pick everything up on their own, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot…  

We used to do a once a month training time for our staff, but we realized it just wasn’t enough… so not we’ve switched to three, eight-week runs of gatherings where we can spend longer on topics and get more return…  

Part of how we’re deciding on topics is that we’re putting our finger on the pulse of our staff and saying, “What is it that we NEED?”

At a very basic level, culture is shaped by the stories, practices, and language we share… these meetings are not just about information transfer but about learning a shared language and developing shared practices…  

The conversations we’ve had have tended to breed a lot of compassion and connection among our staff… we’re sharing about our stories, our families, and the things that have shaped us… it’s helped develop relationship and connection…  

For our volunteers we do three big events a year… one is a huge celebration, one is a vision event, and one is investment… that model gets replicated at a smaller level across our ministry teams…  

The truth of this is that if you don’t invest in other leaders, it dies with you, or is limited by you… your limitations will become the boundaries of your ministry… if you invest in others, you increase the Lord’s work exponentially…

Start small… find an initial group of key leaders and do what is manageable and life-giving for you… start there and let it build and flow naturally… don’t try to do too much at first…

Episode 074: A Conversation with Amy Julia Becker

In this episode we sit down to talk with author Amy Julia Becker about her book White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege.

I was planning on writing a book about children’s literature… I began to notice that the books I read to my kids were the ones that were read to me as a child… but I saw that they were all mirrors: they were all about white suburban families who had nice lives and similar problems to ours…

I began to recognize that we did not have books about people of color, which set me on a journey to find them, and to realize that a lot of them just hadn’t been written… which led me to ask some serious questions about my childhood…

Eventually I realized that I wasn’t writing a book about children’s literature; I’m writing a book about privilege, about what it means to be a person born into relative affluence, access to opportunity and education, and whiteness… what does that mean and how do I reckon with it?

My image of my (southern) childhood was idyllic… it was somewhat horrifying to look back and realize that I went to a private school that was founded because of desegregation… I loved that school, but as an adult I needed to recognize that that was an injustice…

Trying to hold grief and gratitude about my past together was where I ultimately landed…

Many people feel as though they are forced to either reject their parents and their childhood in order to reckon with injustice, or simply tow the party line and ignore it all…

One of reasons we shouldn’t demonize privilege is that we need to recognize that we are born into a social location… as Christians we need to ask what is God doing in me and through me in this place? God blesses us to be a blessing…

As my daughter (who has Down Syndrome) grew up, I began to recognize my own impoverishment… getting to know people with intellectual disabilities helped me see what I needed… the ways in which I didn’t understand love or relationships being more valuable than productivity… I desperately needed them…

What I am hopeful for is a holistic response to the harm of privilege… we need to do the intellectual work of reckoning with our history, learning about our cities, etc.… we need to engage our hearts in lament… and after that work, we need to, in community with others, determine what we will do to participate in God’s healing of the world…

Pick up Amy Julia’s book White Picket Fences here.

Episode 073: Discipleship and Spiritual Formation

In this episode we sit down with Sarah and Jason Jackson to talk about discipleship and spiritual formation and what we can do in our churches to encourage it.

Spiritual formation language can be helpful because it helps direct our attention to the holistic aspect of discipleship…

In my mind, I see discipleship as the process which you avail yourself to that helps to you know God more fully and make him known… spiritual formation is the lifelong journey of surrendering to the love and will of God, which includes the practices that help us conform to the image of Christ… 

One of the things that hurts the cause is that we tend to see this [only] as a mechanical process… that if we just do the right things or tick the right boxes, we are producing real Christians…  

I think what I wish for in the church is a better integration of spiritual and emotional maturity, emotional health and physical health…

The paradox of all of this is that it feels like hard work… it would be easier to silo our lives… but to really be sold out to the love of God, that’s harder…  

I picked through the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship (EHD) material with a fine-toothed comb, and couldn’t find anything I’d want to remove… they really do a good job boiling down discipleship and spiritual formation… what I love about it is that it helps us with integration…  

The whole idea behind the EHD material is that we cannot be spiritually mature but emotionally immature… this is a revolutionary idea for many… this material helps us to attend to our emotions in an integrative way… this isn’t just information, it’s about practices, too…  

The big recognition for our people has been that there is a space in their personal lives where Jesus wants to come to meet with them and speak to them… when people have opened up those spaces to Jesus, something has happened…  

Find out more about EHD at https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org

 

Episode 072: Evangelism: What and How

In this episode Andrew, Glenn Packiam, and Jason Jackson sit down to talk about how to tilt the culture of our churches towards evangelism, and how they’ve seen the Spirit use the ministry of Alpha to help.

Barna did a study about evangelism and while there was agreement that Christians should be witnesses for Jesus and that it is good for people to come to know Jesus, there was more ambivalence on whether or not it was wrong to try to convince someone to become a Christian…  

It seems that many people would like folks to come to know Jesus, and they believe that it’s the best thing that could happen to a person, but at the same time they think it might be morally wrong to “impose” their beliefs on another person…

Part of this is that we’re trying to figure out what “tolerance” means… so, when I start talking about my beliefs with you, is that a form of intolerance? For many, especially millennials, it’s easy to get hung up on that…

There might be a righteous impulse here… underneath our fears, the righteous impulse is that we believe that evangelism works best when Jesus is presented in a way that creates maximum space for the Spirit to work…  

Evangelism is living in a way that embodies the reality of Jesus in the world so that it is something that the church does in their life together… 

Alpha is a great example of this… in the 70s or 80s a church on the west side of London called Holy Trinity Brompton created a new believers course… what they discovered was that it was a great way for nonbelievers to enter the conversation about Christianity in a safe way…

Its values became focused around hospitality… creating a space where people could ask questions and just be heard…  

What I love about it is that it checks all the boxes… there’s space for the Holy Spirit to do something through prayer and worship, there’s a talk that presents an idea in a winsome and compelling way, and then it makes space for wrestling and questions… somehow it all works… 

They recommend that all of this happens around a meal… meals are great equalizers… where I’m getting to know you and you’re getting to know me…  

Learn more about Alpha at https://alpha.org/

Episode 071: A Conversation with Tim Lucas and Warren Bird

In this episode we sit down with Tim Lucas and Warren Bird to talk about their new book Liquid Church and what they are seeing the Spirit do both on the east coast and across the country.

We call our church “bapticostal”… we are open to the Holy Spirit but we keep our seatbelt on and have guardrails built in… 

The east coast is very post-Christian… the church is viewed with a great deal of suspicion… the tip of our evangelism spear is the good deeds that we do in the community—which open the door for the gospel…

In the early days of Liquid Church, we didn’t just teach about the Holy Spirit, but created space to experience what we taught… it was scary…

The congregation cannot go somewhere the pastor hasn’t gone personally… for anyone wanting to explore the role of the Spirit in their congregation, they’ll have to take the first step…  

The premise both of the book and our church is based on Ezekiel’s vision of the river coming from the Temple… the farther Ezekiel goes away from the Temple, the deeper the water gets… we think that the farther you go outside the walls of the church, the deeper in the Spirit you’ll go…  

The people we’re trying to reach are spiritually thirsty people… they may not care about traditional church, but are open to the things of God…

One of the ministries that God is blessing right now is the ministry to people with special needs… it is a magnet to those in the community… one person said to us, “For my child, everyone who cares for him is paid to do so, except for this church; here their primary motive is simply to care for my son…”  

This segment is the fastest growing segment of our church’s population… we see the Holy Spirit moving in a unique way through special needs ministry…

Something else we’re seeing the Spirit breathe on is the development of lay talent… commissioning people to lead ministries… one-third of Liquid Church’s staff is volunteers… they’re not just doing ministry, they are leading ministry…

At our church, we even have volunteer associate pastors who give 15-20 hours a week doing things like weddings, funerals, marriage mentoring, etc…

Grab a copy of Liquid Church HERE.

Episode 070: A Conversation with Ray Johnston

In this episode we sit down with Pastor Ray Johnston of Bayside Church in Sacramento to talk about church health, growth, and the kind of leadership both require.

Health is more important than growth… I always wanted to pastor a church that the closer you got to the core, the healthier it would be…

People are attracted to health… we don’t have growth goals and have never set growth goals… if something is healthy and visionary, it will likely grow… 

Our secret is our team… team ministry is important to us… we spent years praying and talking about our leadership model and now each of our campuses has two senior pastors… because we believe that team ministry is healthier and more sustainable…  

I believe that the solution to everything is the right person… anything going well in our churches is going well because we have the right person there… you can have the right plans and right strategies but without the right person it will fail… 

You need to hire slow and fire fast… and if you hire slow enough, you usually won’t have to fire… we look for character, competence, and chemistry… the older I get, the more important chemistry is to me…

The most important thing I do personally as a leader is to make sure I stay encouraged… discouragement precedes destruction… it is the anesthetic the devil uses on a leader just before he destroys their ministry…  

Years ago some people encouraged me to become more public in my ministry… so we met with an agent… they developed a plan for building my “brand”… and I felt like God said to me, “If your goal is to build your brand, I’m out…”  

We’re here to build Jesus’s “brand” and not our own… I told my team that God doesn’t want me to build my brand… that we needed to go home and bury ourselves in our ministry, and that’s what we’ve done for the last 15 years… and we’re having a ball…

Episode 069: An Interview with Sean Morgan

In this episode we sit down with Sean Morgan to talk about some current trends among leaders in the North American church.

The number one thing I am encouraged by is the caliber of leaders I am meeting in the church today… I am very encouraged by their obedience of these leaders…  

The sad part about the “A-game” leader is that they can get used and abused very quickly when the church gets off mission…

A lot of churches have fancy mission statements, but the truth is that the mission is the Great Commission and the Great Commandment taken together…  

Top shelf leaders can prevent the whole church being about them by empowering others and building good systems… the larger church pastors are often the ones who have done a better job building a good team and really empowering them…  

One of the reasons we’re seeing more plural and co-leadership teams is that different people can bring their gifting and own a slice of the ministry even though they might be personally lacking in other areas…  

The church growth movement in the last forty years has left a lot of people feeling inadequate because of church size in some way, shape, or form… at the end of the day, you have to do all that you can do and trust God with the results…  

Sometimes the most mature people in the church are the most resistant to a movement to reach people if it is at the expense of their personal project or ministry…

A lot of pastors in their 50s are not ready to retire financially… which means that they become okay with leading stability which leads to their church becoming comfortable… which in turn can cost a church its life…

Elders often don’t have perspective outside their local church… in denominations, district superintendents can help churches with succession… one of the best ways to combat this is to have 3rd party outside influencers of some kind to help…

 

*Learn more about Sean and his work at ascentleader.org.

Episode 068: Blessed, Broken, Given

In this episode we sit down with Pastor Glenn Packiam to talk with him about his new book “Blessed, Broken, Given.”.

Jesus didn’t give us a theory of the atonement; he gave us a meal… bread is the most common food item around the world… the commonness of bread speaks to us of how God takes the common and fills it with his glory…

 The Holy Spirit meets us through all kinds of means… the Lord’s Table is called a sacrament because it is a visible sign of an invisible grace… the bread and wine are meant to speak to us of God’s presence…

I wanted the book to address three longings of the heart… the first is whether my life really matters… the second is, is my life too messy… the third is, does my life have purpose?

“Blessed, broken, given” is about glory in the ordinary, grace in the mess, and purpose in the everyday… I’m trying to say, “If you look closely at the Table, the message of the gospel is there…”

To be blessed is to be commended by God… but really it is to be re-storied… to be taken back to your good beginning and to give you the name that he has for you…

We often think that our story began with Genesis 3, with the fall… the story that God tells about us begins earlier… it is that God made us and saw that it was good…

Broken is a way of talking about our frailty… it is also a way to talk about our failure, and that’s where shame comes in… the Bible’s answer to shame is that there is a redeemer, a savior who can wipe away our guilt so that our faces are never covered in shame…

Another kind of brokenness comes when we experience pain… the message is that God’s redemption is more powerful than prevention…

Most of us think that our purpose has to be epic… but that’s not how the people in the Bible lived… there’s a long life of faithfulness behind each of the moments we read about in Scripture… purpose looks like faithfulness in the everyday…

*Be sure to grab a copy of Blessed, Broken, Given HERE! (And leave a review!)

Episode 067: Remarkable Pt. 2

In this episode we continue and conclude our conversation with Pastor Brady about his new book, Remarkable. Be sure to listen to Part 1 HERE.

Issues of race are deep-rooted in our culture, and we in the church need to step up and say that there is a better way…

All of us need to respond to issues of race, and we each need to know the condition of our hearts… are we being gracious and empathetic, are we listening to people’s stories and experiences…? 

The reason that slavery got abolished is because Christians got involved… it was so tied up with economics that very few people were willing to stand up… and finally a group of British Christians stood up and said, “This is not what Christ meant by ‘love your neighbor.’” 

We are living in a sexually broken culture… I want people to understand the biblical idea of purity… it’s not just about rule-following… it’s about glorifying God…

I love the passage where it tells husbands to treat their wives like Christ treats the church… Paul realized that marriage was an opportunity to show the watching world how to serve one another…

I think that this is why we celebrate long marriages… what an accomplishment, to give yourself away to another human being for their flourishing and their benefit…  

This has to begin in your city… we’ll never serve the poor in our city well if we can’t serve our spouses or children well at home… 

We have a prayer that we pray at New Life, “Come, Holy Spirit…” That’s where I start my day… these days I am ending my day by praying, “Holy Spirit, remind me where you were present today and where I encountered you today…”

It’s amazing what happens when you pray that… it creates space for the Spirit to show me where he actually answered my prayers…

If you’ll bookend your day with prayer like that, this won’t become works, it will become grace, an empowering presence to do God’s will… you can’t follow Jesus without the Holy Spirit—don’t even try…

Be sure to grab a copy of Remarkable HERE! (And leave a review!)

Episode 066: Remarkable Pt. 1

In this episode (part 1 of 2) Andrew Arndt, Glenn Packiam, and Daniel Grothe sit down with Pastor Brady to talk about his new book Remarkable.

Paul had the same challenge that we have when he went into Corinth… the city of Corinth was sexualized and entertainment-driven and violent, and people were grasping for power and cheap money… it looks a lot like our culture today…

The question is, are we going to oppose the culture, or are we going to influence the culture? It starts with our own decision to live out the teachings of Jesus in a remarkable way…

The church in Corinth had been pushed to the margins… I believe that the church is at its best when it is pushed to the margins, we become our truest self at the margins…

One of options we’ve taken in response to the culture is that we isolate ourselves… we put spiritual and physical walls up to protect ourselves… the problem with that is that Jesus told us to be salt and light…

Another option we’ve taken is the exact opposite: we immerse ourselves in the culture, where over time there’s not much difference between us and the world around us… most Christians fall into this category…

The third option is the angry option, to be the instigators: they believe that they can shout at the darkness and make it go away… the world around is shifting and changing and they don’t know how to make sense of it…

The most revolutionary and radical thing we can do right now is love our neighbors as ourselves… and not just the ones that are like us… this is the most radical thing that Christianity has always brought to the world…

Jesus confounded the religious leaders of his day by hanging out with sinners and tax collectors… they couldn’t understand why Jesus wasted his time with “those people…”

We can’t be Great Commission people if we aren’t Great Commandment people… Jesus never expected us to go into all the world and make disciplines if we don’t love them…

The “fourth way” is being consumed with love for God and love for people and let that be your motivation for everything you do…

Catch Part 2 next week, and buy Remarkable HERE! (And leave a review!)