After a decade serving and leading in a turn around church, God has taught me several lessons. They keep in spirit with the lessons I wrote about five years ago, but have more focus. Here they are:
The most important life I lead is my own. Self-leadership has pushed itself to the top of my priority list. W.W.J.D. ,‘walking with Jesus daily” (Dr. Siang Yung Tan in his book Full Service), is my priority. My morning time of solitude, Bible reading, journaling and reflection are non-negotiable. Exercise and rest have to be “big rocks” in my calendar. Tending to my marriage, my children and now my aging parents are near the top of my list. Ministry flows from these priorities. I did not live life this way ten years ago.
Ruthless honesty is essential to maintain health. Ten years ago, I had to be honest with our leaders about our sorry condition as a church. Ten years later, we are much healthier, but still under construction. Having some ministry success brings with it the awful potential of losing your critical edge. We cannot rest on the laurels of the past. We must stay diligent.
Stay risky. We have grown by 500% in worship attendance in ten years. There is an unchecked possibility to “circle the wagons” and protect what we have got. This is deadly. Staying risky keeps us focused on God.
We have new metrics for success. Ten years ago, it was all about butts in the pews. Later, we started measuring giving then small groups and finally people in ministry. We still keep close watch over these numbers. But our new measuring stick for success is “does the crime rate go down in our city?” I learned this from you Bill. Thanks.
It’s all about team! For the first years at Grace Church in the midst of turn around, I had to lead like a focused, benevolent dictator. It was all about direction. Now that we are turned in the right direction, it’s all about alignment and I cannot do that alone. We have brought a seasoned pastor on board with us, Wes Olds, to lead with me. We are sharing the teaching load 50/50. We have a management team that leads the day-to-day stuff. We have developed a Lead Team of nine highly vested leaders who give oversight to the ministry of Grace Church. Decade number two is all about team.
Jorge Acevedo, Pastor
Cape Coral and Olga Fort Myers Shores, Florida