3 Reasons for Protecting Your Lead Pastor

I asked a question recently of a church leader that I respect greatly, ‘What can I do in my role to make sure that I am helping my Lead Pastor do his job the best that he can?’ 

The answer came like this. ‘Great question. Make it easy for him to lead, so that he only has to focus on the things that only he can do’.

My heart is to serve my Lead Pastor and be the best help to him possible. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I don’t protect him enough, other times I’m sure some think I overstep. The key is to have some agreement between us – what are the things that only he can do. As one church leader once said to us ‘Why are you both at this meeting?’ And pointing to me said, ‘If he’s here, you (Lead Pastor) don’t need to be.’

I love my Lead Pastor. He is not only that, he is also my friend. We have known each other a long time. That can have it’s advantages in that I know him very well, how he works, what he needs to know. It can also be difficult too as familiarity could easily breed contempt.

My heart is to honour my Lead Pastor and to do this well I make sure to do my very best to not take the lead in the areas that I believe are the things that are his primary concern. It’s a short list but huge in its impact. There is a lot more in these 3 thoughts than you probably imagine, plus I’m sure others would place other things in here too.

Be the Primary Leader and Vision Caster. To have the time to pray and think about the future of our Church. To seek God and then to not stop talking about it.

Be the Principal Communicator of Gods Word. Bringing the Word for the Church. Out of the prayer and thinking time with God comes the revelatory preaching and ’those’ words from God moments.

Be a Developer of Others. We can all impact and influence others. Personally, I really enjoy the coaching and development of other leaders. Yet the Lead Pastor has a unique role to play in the spiritual and leadership development of others, along with empowering and releasing people into ministry opportunities.

There is a tension here, and I hope I am not speaking out of line. How far is too far? How far is not far enough? To become the Church the Lead Pastor sees means protecting him and his time. He doesn’t need to know some stuff and that’s not because he doesn’t care, it’s because others can handle it. That’s why I have the conversation or send the email sometimes and not him.

I hope this makes sense and you don’t mind the share. We are a team but ultimately I work for him. What he sees, what he wants, what the vision requires, that’s what creates my role and determines my priorities for each day. I believe that we all have a part to play in this, but rightly or wrongly, in my own position, I do see this as one of my own primary roles.

If you are part of a local church, why not take a moment to pray for your Lead Pastor and all that they have to carry on our behalf. Then send them a message of encouragement and let them know that you are with them and will do whatever is needed to help see the vision come to pass.

What Do You Actually Do?

One question I get asked on a regular basis is this: ‘So, what does an Executive Pastor actually do?’ Great question. Sometimes I wonder that myself. Not many days are the same so it can be tricky to answer.

Here’s a good list for starters having checked my recent to-do list ~ people, meetings, budgets, discussions, strategy, organising ministry opportunities, identifying leaders,  looking at the detail, more meetings, process, systems, helping other leaders, asking questions and then continuously repeat, in any order. All covered by keeping my relationship with God as strong as possible.

As far as I am concerned, one of the most important aspects in my role is knowing the vision of my Lead Pastor and then helping others grab a hold of it too. For me, it’s about taking everything that I have to think about or plan through the filter of the big picture, the overarching vision that we have in our church.

People are passionate about what they do, seeing what they get to do as the most important thing in the world and that’s a good thing. Yet it can also be dangerous, as it is easy to become blinkered to anything else or how what one part is doing impacts on another. That’s where my role comes in, helping them keep the big picture in mind. After all, it’s no good one part winning at the detriment of another part.

In rethinking my writing and the resource it can be, unpacking some of the journey as an Executive Pastor might be useful. I’m no expert but I have been giving it my best endeavour for the past 5 years now. I’m hoping I have learned a thing or two worth passing on.

I love what I do.
I’m not sure how I got here but I feel like I am in the right place.
I love building local church.
I love helping others to love what they do.
I feel privileged that God would have me do this.
I want to help others feel empowered in their roles.

I know I’m not perfect in this. I get it right. I get it wrong.

If you could ask one question of someone in a role like mine, what would that question be?

Is It Only Tuesday?

Been a jam-packed couple of days. Lots going on. I’m sure your week may have been the same.

I realise that the life of Pastor might not seem that fast-paced to most but it’s definitely never dull with lots of variety. It is not all sitting, reading my Bible and praying. Sometimes I wish it was.

Meetings ~ of all kinds. Finance. Operations. Diary. Xcel Bangalore. Key Leaders & Congregational Pastors. Goodbyes. Catch ups. All about moving toward the 2020 vision. Asking the right kind of questions, hopefully, that challenge the process and make sure we always remember ‘why’ we do what we do and do it as well as we can.

Happy to do all of these with some amazing people who share the same determination to get the job done. To do all we can to help set up the opportunity for someone to connect with their Saviour. It may sound cliché but nonetheless true.

So, it’s only Tuesday. That just leaves me 5 more days of this week filled with more catch ups, discussions about ideas and the future, conversations about life, praying for people, lunch with good friends from Australia, Friday night prep, and then Sunday with my Xcel Church family. Always excited for a Sunday and this one is extra special as we have the wonderful Steve & Rachel Mawston with us.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I love what I do and why I get to do it. Building local church is my passion. Serving my Saviour is the most exciting thing I think I could spend giving my life to. How about you?

God is…

After last weekend and Influence 2015 let’s continue building what God has already begun.  

If you are wondering how Church can be as great as last week, then here’s some reasons to be there…

1. It’s good for us. When we meet we get to encourage one another. You can’t do that and you won’t get that if you stay at home. Hebrews 10:24-25

2. We get to praise God together. God inhabits the praises of His people. When He inhabits the place where we are praising then miracles can happen.  Psalm 22:3

3. New ‘God is…’ series. Excited about the opportunity to unpack the character of God. Our view of God has to be based on more than our experience of Him. 

4. God is good and God is great. That alone should be enough. Psalm 62:11-12a

5. God is MY Father. That’s a tough one for some people. If you struggle then come on Sunday ‘UNITED’ night and hear Rachael Mawston talk about her journey with this view of God. It could change your life. Galatians 4:6

6. Opportunities to invite & bring people. This new series affords us the opportunity to bring friends & family to church. People are curious. We might say ‘God is’ but they might ask ‘Is God?’  Tell them we are answering some of these questions. 

7. You want to progress in your walk with God. Philippians 1:6

8. Last week we saw people give their lives to Jesus. It’s the greatest decision a person can ever make and we are expectant that more of our friends and family will do the same this Sunday. 

9. We get to bless a bunch of people we will never meet. Don’t forget to bring you new, fresh towel as we look to support a couple of local Refuges. 

See you in Church. Pray for all that is part of what we do. It’s gonna be a great day. 

A Day Off?

I don’t get up as early as some but I do like to try and grab 10 minutes to pray before the kids are up and about. I have kept a journal of prayers for just over 2 years. It’s great to be able to look back and see what God has done. It might not be a day in the office but this part of my daily routine doesn’t stop.

Wednesday is usually a more restful day. A chance to do some of the household stuff like cleaning the house and putting some washing on. Contrary to popular belief angels don’t come and do that, which I think is a shame. Most Wednesdays I will do a bit of reading. I always have a pile of books on the shelf. Also I’ll do some writing too. This goal I set myself of blogging every day throughout September is challenging but a good discipline. I have a desire to write a book, so all this is just the practice.

If I’m preaching on Sunday I will take some time for study, gathering thoughts and ideas for the message. I don’t know how others put a preach together but I am slow burner on ideas. I am pretty much always making some notes, collecting illustrations and stories, ready for use in the future.

Even on a day off I did call into the office briefly to pick up the papers for the Grace Series I was working on yesterday so I could do my best to them finished off at home.

Church never stops. Tonight was Girls of Xcel. Whether you were there or not the top secret news was about the change of its name to DAUGHTERS and fresh, exciting future for the women’s ministry within Xcel Church.

Don’t forget that in the morning we are praying between 7-8AM. If you can join as the Centre that would be great, otherwise why not just pray at home. As a team we are coming together, praying and fasting every Thursday, We believing to see some healing and miracles.

Life as a Pastor…

Had the Connect Group [CG] leaders round last night. They brought loads of food, lots of conversation. We squeezed them in.

Spent a lot of the day putting the final pieces in the CG puzzle as we make some changes to the structure. Change is never easy. It has to be for the right reasons not just because we can. CGs have been a huge success for Xcel this year, growing by nearly 20% in attendance. From our perspective they are how we measure the health of the church. People connecting, doing life together, sharing the journey, caring for one another, encouraging, supporting and praying – it’s priceless. It’s church at its very best.

As we talk vision, it’s important to recognise those things that work in accomplishing that vision. CGs help us do this. As we grow larger, the community of CGs grows in importance. I’ve never been great with names and with new people joining Xcel all the time, I don’t suppose it will get any easier. CGs provide a way for people to belong to Xcel and find their place. To feel, connected.

We are excited about the future of CGs.
Changing the structure will facilitate growth.
Changing the structure will grow those who are part of a CG.
Changing the structure will help us focus on equipping the leaders
, pastoring people on their journey with God. This is a culture shift for many church-goers who only count a visit or prayer from the Pastors as genuine pastoral care. (Doesn’t mean we don’t do this – just in case you were concerned)
Love that the leaders embrace it wholeheartedly. That certainly makes the change easy.

Begs the question why some people who could be part of a CG aren’t. Don’t get me wrong – that’s not a criticism, just a question. We can only encourage everyone to get involved – the choice then is up to you.

[What do you think?]

What Next for Xcel Darlington?

Vision month is always a great time around Xcel Church. You can almost sense people becoming more aware, a heightened sense of expectation of what could be, of what God can do through us.

Yesterday at Xcel Darlington was great. Good buzz. Atmosphere was tangible. Good community, people connecting. Signs of health.

The challenge: to not draw back from this and enter maintenance mode but to keep encouraging, keep believing God for more, to exercise our faith, to reach out and for our potential to be realised. This is our moment. Hope you get the sense that God is ready to do something in Darlington.

It will not happen by chance.
It will happen as we step out of our safety and take some risks.
It will not happen just through prayer.
It will happen as we become the answers to someone else’s prayer. As we enter into another’s world and meet needs, demonstrate love and do something.

What next for Darlington?
In some regards, that is up to us.

LEAN IN to something over the next 3 months – Xcel Church, Connect Groups, Discovery Course, the Homeless initative, serving on a Sunday
LEAN IN to new friendships, connecting with people, making yourself available
LEAN IN to your prayer life, your devotional times, your worship
LEAN IN to your personal development – sign up for an Xcel Training Course
Choose 1 thing and give it all you can.

BACK OFF from distractions, from habits (good & bad), from destructive relationships
BACK OFF from self-inflicted interference and LEAN IN to your God
Take an inventory of what you do with your life.

DON’T DO NOTHING
Don’t rely on others to do it. You do it.
Don’t assume someone has it covered. You cover it.
Don’t wait until everything is in place. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

If we all did something.
If we all reached out to one person.
If we all discovered something new about God.
If we all made ourselves more available.
If we all did what we could…

…think what a difference that might make. The potential. How God might use us?

[What do you think?]

Live With a Long Term Strategy…

‘We may not need as much church planting if we had more church cultivators’.

This came from someone I follow on twitter. It certainly gets you thinking. And I responded too.

‘Do you not think though it’s easier to plant than it is to cultivate/care for & grow something’. I can relate to this. I can plant flowers but I cannot grow them. Not like my dad – he is a gardener, takes cuttings, pots them, cultivates them in the greenhouse, feeds, waters, grows them, then plants them in the flowerbed.

Such action takes time.
Such action takes dedication.
Such action takes thought.
I guess you have some failures along the way too.

Maybe that’s why people opt for Christianity-lite. The No-Frills type which demands only a little but will produce a lot. Think I’m learning that it doesn’t work that way. To be a cultivator is definitely a long-term strategy not a short term one. There is no ‘miracle-grow’ formula – just the usual, old-fashioned, dare I say forgotten aspects…getting on your knees, praying like peoples lives depend on those prayers, connecting, fighting for people – all the non-glamourous stuff.

Some of us love to plant seed.
Fewer though like to put the effort in required to grow the seed.
We all love to see the full bloom though – we can all appreciate that.
Challenge is you can’t have one without the other.

When it comes to people – well the effort can seem endless. It can seem pointless at times too. Investing what you know into another individual not knowing when anything may flourish. It can be frustrating, messy, hard work – even demoralising at times. Key is to remember – that as we play our part – as we plant, as we water – it is ‘God who brings the increase’. The rewards are incredible and make the sacrifices so worthwhile – nothing beats a changed life! Especially a God-changed life!

Hope my jumbled thoughts makes some sense. I have a real desire to be a grower not just a planter. How about you?