16th February 2017
I will never forget my first day of full-time Christian ministry. I had begun to sense the call of God on my life some six years earlier, whilst still in my early twenties. Over that time, God had taken me on a journey and taught me much, and at last I was free to begin serving Him as a youth pastor in my home church in Bedford. I clearly remember the day I left my job in sales and marketing - leaving the keys to my BMW on my desk, handing back my brick-sized car phone and saying goodbye to the handsome pay packet. I didn’t mind the 80% drop in salary because I was about to devote myself to the real work of preaching the gospel and seeing people saved.
I spent my first day in my new role as a pastor putting out chairs for a funeral and welcoming the people coming through the door. This was not quite what I had imagined! It seemed a very long way from my sales and marketing job, a world of meeting directors of large companies and ad agencies in London. I had left all that to spread God's word and found myself serving as a steward at a funeral! This was just the first of many reality checks about what a pastor does and does not do week by week.
Last week I saw the following tweet from Pete Greig:
It was a statement that resonated with me. My experience has been that while I love to preach and teach, a large amount of my time is spent in building team, meeting with people, poring over spreadsheets and getting through essential administration. Very often what people imagine the primary work of a pastor to be is what they see happening on Sundays: preaching, anchoring meetings and leading ministry times. But the reality is that for all those things to run well and effectively, a lot of time needs to be spent behind the scenes building the teams and systems that enable those things to happen, and investing in leaders. My experience, like Pete’s, is that churches that prosper are both well led and well taught - health comes from both these key areas. The truth is that if you aspire to preach the word of God, you will have to do a lot of stewarding and putting out chairs as well.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
3rd November 2016
‘The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.’
‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.’
Romans 12: 6-8
A few weeks ago, Deb and I had the pleasure of attending the 25th wedding anniversary of a couple of friends from our youth group days. It was great to meet up with people we hadn’t seen for a while and inevitably conversation turned to reminiscences about our younger selves. They were formative years, when we were all fairly new Christians, and I remembered the time my friend Nigel and I decided to complete Selwyn Hughes’ gift discovery form. It was the first time I had ever given that much thought to who I was or what my particular strengths or weaknesses may be. I clearly remember being shocked when the results revealed that I was a leader. My initial instinct was disbelief until Nigel, who knew me well, responded that the results were undoubtedly right.
This last week has been all about leadership. I have just spent two excellent days with a number of the key leaders from King’s, attending a learning community for large churches. The event was hosted by Dave Smith from Citygate Church, Peterborough, who served us brilliantly. We spent much of the time looking at the important subject of leadership development and discussing how this can be improved and best implemented in our context. In a growing church, it is crucial to have an active and ongoing leadership development programme.
Then on Friday and Saturday, King’s will once again have the privilege of hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This has been held at King’s for a number of years now, and I never fail to be impressed with the quality of the speakers and the relevance of the input they bring.
What a feast of leadership input in just one week! It is a long time since I took my first steps in leadership, but I am keen to continue growing and learning. Churches need leaders and good leaders continue to hone their gifts in order to serve God’s people. So what are you doing to sharpen and develop your leadership skills? Are you placing yourself in contexts where you can be challenged? If you have not already booked in, let me encourage you to come along to GLS this Friday and/or Saturday. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
Speaking of feast…I’ve just heard that our King’s Christmas Trees website is now live, so why not check it out and consider supporting homeless people this Christmas through The Feast, our Wednesday night outreach at our Catford site.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
22nd October 2015
As a boy, I remember being taken to church every Sunday and wondering what the pastor did on the other six days of the week. Once he had delivered his sermon, what else was there to do? In my young mind I imagined he must spend most of Monday to Friday playing golf - it seemed like an easy life to me!
Of course now, after more than 25 years as a pastor, I am well aware that the reality is very different. As I was preparing this blog, I found myself thinking over just some of the situations I have been involved in this week:
• Delivering an afternoon’s teaching on church growth and leadership to another local network of churches
• An hour’s phone call to a fellow pastor advising on multi-site and other challenges
• An afternoon with Terry Virgo, founder of the Newfrontiers family
• Final preparations and then delivery on Sunday of the latest in our Follow Me teaching series, looking at the important issue of singleness
• Trustees and elders meetings - the agendas ranged from finance, buildings, health and safety, and our stance on divorce
• Reading and research for my next sermon addressing the subject of marriage
• Leading the weekly prayer meeting with our fantastic staff team
These are just a few of the things that occupied my time over the last few days. A pastor needs to be both a leader and a teacher. Over the years, I have had to develop and draw upon an amazingly diverse range of skills, from budgeting to pastoral advice, theology to health and safety, preaching to building matters. I am frequently aware of my inadequacies and shortcomings, and at times find myself offering up the ‘HELP!’ prayer. And I remind myself daily to keep drawing on the wisdom and strength of the God we seek to serve and honour.
The boy that I once was could never have dreamt that a pastor’s life could be so varied. I can honestly say that I am in a job in which no two days are ever the same - my life is busy, but I am never bored! I consider it both a joy and a privilege to be called to this role. But I have to admit, occasionally I look forward to the day when I will have a little more time to spend on the golf course...
Image: Golf silhouette by Brian Patrick, used under CC
Posted by Steve Tibbert
1st October 2015
‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ Oscar Wilde
Last week, I was fortunate to spend a few days at our ‘learning community’ in which leaders from several churches in the UK, the USA and elsewhere gathered for teaching and to spend time together as teams to reflect and plan for next steps. I particularly enjoyed hearing one of the guest speakers, Michael Fletcher. He leads a church of some 5000 people in North Carolina, USA, and I was eager to hear his insights on leadership. What would his advice be for taking your church to the next level? Powerful preaching? An effective outreach programme? Whilst all those are clearly important elements, it was reassuring that his first point was that good leaders know themselves.
The importance of knowing who I am is something I have been aware of for many years now. Of course, on first hearing it can sound a little like navel-gazing. Aren’t we in danger of becoming too self-absorbed, too introspective? Isn’t there a danger that spending too much time thinking about ourselves could prevent us from getting on with the real work of spreading the gospel and building God’s church? Naturally, if all you do is talk about yourself with others, you will soon turn your audience off. But I would argue that having a realistic awareness of who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, will make you a more effective leader in the long term. If spending time understanding yourself is part of an ongoing reflection on how you experience life and how others experience you, then it can lead to significant personal growth.
Recently, another leader came to talk to me about the options for his future. He shared some thoughts and possible paths for ministry and then asked for my comments. I paused for a while, wanting to give good counsel and then answered that at this stage in the process, self-awareness was crucial. To ensure a good fit wherever he ended up, he needed to consider who he is. These are some of the questions I suggested he ask himself: What season of life and ministry am I in? How do I process life? How do other people experience me? What are my primary and secondary gifts? What is my personality type? Having an understanding of all these aspects can ensure that we place ourselves where we are most likely to be effective for God and his church.
Perhaps you also have a sense of call on your life and would like to grow as a leader. Perhaps, like my friend who came to talk to me, you find yourself in a position where you are considering your future. If that is you, then why not think about applying for one of our trainee pastor roles? All details can be found here.
Image: Self Portrait in Vienna by Luca Sartoni, used under CC
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.