Time to Get Excited

One day in Bangalore is almost done. The sun is shining, the sky is clear and it’s a beautiful 35°. 

We have enjoyed our first taste of curry too. The traffic is just ridiculous, 3 lanes filled with 7 lanes of cars, mopeds and bikes. 

There is building work going on everywhere, this city is moving forward and the next 5-10 years will see it change markedly. 

That’s exciting for us as Xcel Church as we get to go on that journey too. 

Check out my little video and keep an eye on social media for pics too. Tell us why you’re excited about Xcel Bangalore…

(By the way, I realise now it’s Traff not Immy on the video)

Ready For Lift Off

Just sat in the airport waiting, enjoying a coffee before heading off to Bangalore. Excited for the adventure, if not a little nervous because it’s a new experience. 

But I’m ready for lift off. Not just in the literal sense, also in the spiritual sense. Surely the adventure with God is about making your life available to Him and then going along for the ride. 

My trust is in Him for the next 5 days as I step off a plane to be part of making history with my fantastic Xcel Church. 

Things I know I will experience this week…

New culture. 

New foods. Might even get to eat with my hands too. 

New people. 

New Xcel location. Moving things forward. 

Mission trip preparation. Getting stuff ready for the team coming out in August. 

More than all this, I get to hang out with Immy. To encourage him, help him and pray with him for the future of Xcel Bangalore.

Please play your part and pray for us as we travel, for favour, for protection and for no dodgy tummy. We will see you on Sunday with a whole bunch of stories to tell.

Leaders Keep Learning

Great leaders look for ways to keep on learning.

These last couple of days in Berlin with church leaders who do what I do has been really good for that.

Everyone has shared something on a variety of topics ~ time management, structure, honouring your Pastor, loyalty, what you have learned from difficult moments and so much more.

It’s been a sharing of ideas and thoughts, it’s not been a competition.

There has been a willingness to be honest and be able to chat about those things that challenge or frustrate.

It’s been about learning from others on the same journey, just in a different setting.

It has been really encouraging with lots of great conversations over coffee and food. It has reminded me of the importance of people being confident in their role, empowered to build the local church and how communicating this is essential.

Finally, it has reminded me of the privilege I have, to do what I do every day, to never settle but to keep on learning so I do it the best I possibly can.

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.

Five First Day Priorities

First Monday of 2016 = first day back in the office.

Here are 5 things I did to help me set off on the right footing:

Catch up with my Lead Pastor over a coffee. Most important thing today. No agenda as such but a great opportunity to set ourselves up for the year. The first four weeks of the year can often set the rhythm for the rest of the year. Setting the right focus and agenda will have a big impact on how I approach my role. I need to know what’s important as it influences my other conversations.

Reminding myself about what I am responsible for.  I have written before about giving myself permission to be an Executive Pastor. Every now and then I need to remind myself. I am in this role for a reason. Knowing the heart of my Lead Pastor and what he wants to see helps to remind me why I am doing what I do.

De-clutter. Clear the space. Get rid of the paper off the desk. Create an environment which will help the thinking process. We actually rearranged the office.

Check the metrics. Start getting the right information in front of me ready for future conversations. Metrics don’t run things but they do demonstrate some progress. How do we know if we are heading in the right direction if we don’t know where we are coming from?

Get some BIG questions written down. What should we be doing? Ultimately it’s all about reaching people for our incredible Saviour, extending the kingdom and building local church. So it’s important to ask the right kind of questions ~ where should our energies be put? What is a win? The right questions can help with our thinking, which helps keep us focused.

And now to relax. It’s too easy to be overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, but after a full day, learning to relax with family and friends is vital. Plus good food helps too.

How about you? How did your first day back go?


Other Stuff Too

I have shared a few things I am wanting to see in 2016 – more WOW moments, digging into the Word and seeing my family flourish.

I want have some fun too. You know when you feel like you should be learning or doing something new. I want to improve my cooking skills. I am no masterchef but I do like to cook, just want it to be more than all the usual stuff, so here’s to introducing some new meals to the repertoire.

Praying for some BIG breakthroughs that I am full of faith for. To lead people to the Lord. To see family become Christians.

And I will get the book finished. Ill-discipline and procrastination are to be exchanged for focus and good old-fashioned determination and hard work. It’s a sad old state of affairs when your goals get stuck, so 2016 is the year to get unstuck and see some of them fulfilled.

Going to keep praying and working to see Xcel Church grow too. I love what I get to do as part of the team. 2016 has to be a year where we help grow BIGGER people who will own and carry the vision.

How about you? What do you want to do in 2016?

A One Question Survey

This question comes from a desire to help build the right kind of church. To present the Gospel and the good news of Jesus to as many as possible but to do so relevantly and appropriately to those within the local community.

It also comes from a desire to engage everyone in the process of identifying and spotting cultural trends and needs. We all have a better understanding of what is actually happening in our own lives and in the lives of those closest to us.

When we recognise them together, we are more likely to act on them together. To become better at not just pointing the finger at what isn’t right, but to actively serve as part of the solution. We might know that Jesus is the answer but how do we bring that answer to the right people, at the right time, in the right way.

To best meet needs we need to know the needs. We cannot seek God for answers if we don’t see the problems. I realise some are obvious but I think that’s why I am asking a question that requires a more thought out response…

Question: What are the basic needs of the community and those within it, that will drive us to serve in new, innovative, creative and God-given ways?

Or put more simply: what do you think are the basic needs of people of the local community, or the region maybe, that the local church should be addressing?

I hope you will not just read this but leave a comment with some thoughts too. Thanks

3 Things That Help Me as an Executive Pastor

Reflecting on my life as an Exec Pastor and thinking about the things that have helped me, it can be difficult to articulate them as the role can be so full and varied but here’s 3 things to start with….

1. Permission

Contrary to some opinions, I am not a pushy person. I am naturally a quieter personality, an introvert, someone who doesn’t mind systems and process, as long as they are not strangling the life out of the people involved in making church happen.

I like to have permission to act, to speak, to give opinion, to ask the awkward questions. As in all things though, even with permission, I still get it wrong occasionally.

It took a while for me and my Lead Pastor to get there, and we are tweaking it all the time, but a good, clear understanding of the role required, what you are being asked to do, being given permission to do it, and then others being informed of that, really helped. It’s not about title but that moment when it was explained why I was here and what I would be doing was extremely important for me. How?

I was able to relax into the role. I was no longer speaking just for myself but on behalf of the Lead Pastor. Knowing I had the full support of my oversight was a big deal for me.

It made us stronger as a lead team. My desire has always been that you couldn’t get a piece of paper between us. Playing us off against one another won’t work.

People knew why I was talking to them and asking the questions I was. As mentioned in the previous post, when you know what you are actually supposed to be doing, it can help you to help others to flourish in what they are supposed to be doing, which ultimately sees the vision fulfilled.

2. A simple idea of the role

Exec Pastor, it’s a grand title that most people don’t understand or don’t want to understand. You are a Pastor in that everything is about people and helping them to grow in their journey with Jesus, yet it’s different too. It’s a strategic role, one that means being mindful of the big picture, knowing the vision and how everything that we do as a church fits in with this.

If people ask me about my role I have simple one line. I don’t know if it’s right but it works for me, ‘I have oversight of those who have oversight.’ It’s probably too simplistic but it’s a starting point.

A different answer but equally clear is that my role is about helping take what’s in my Lead Pastors head, the vision and the future of the Church, and then, alongside a whole bunch of other great people, help to make it a reality.

3. Regular time with the Lead Pastor

You cannot get to the place of being on the same page and understanding each other if you never catch up. I value the time I have with my Lead Pastor. It is essential. When it can’t happen, that’s when things can become confused, unclear and that then affects productivity.

Time to talk things through is when I get to know what’s on his heart, what is exciting him about church and the future or alternatively, what’s causing him concern. It’s an honest exchange of thoughts and opinion at times but thats alright, it certainly helps me to know where mine and the teams focus should be.

It also helps that we actually like one another. Plus, after 5 years or so years in the role and 22 years of church life together, I know his heart and I’m fairly certain that he knows mine. I’m not after his seat but I will do all thats needed to protect him, support him and gather others to do the same.

Ultimately I am just playing my part in helping to grow God’s kingdom. I may have a fancy title but I still need to be about the same things as everyone else. I do not get a free pass. I still need to be about loving God and loving people, and in that sense I know I have a lot to learn from everyone else.

If you are in a similar role to mine, what would you add? What has help you to find you feet in this privileged role?