What Kind of Leader Am I? Well, It Depends

When people hear that I’ve been the pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church for twenty-five years, they want to know how I’ve managed to stay at one church that long. My honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I went into work every day, and there was always something to do. We just did the next thing we knew to do, and before I knew it, twenty-five years had gone by. It’s not quite that simple, but almost.

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In reality, I’ve have been the pastor of about five different churches and all of them have been at the same address. I came to a community church and now, I’m the pastor of a multi-site megachurch (just going by the definitions of the “experts”). Each “church” I have led has required a different type of leadership. Sometimes, I was very hands on. Sometimes, not. Sometimes I was deeply involved in the pastoral care expressions of our church. Now, we have a highly trained counselor and a deacon ministry that handles most of our pastoral care ministries.

Each time the church grew and changed, I had to grow and change. If I hadn’t, one of two things would have happened. Either the church would have stopped growing, or I would have had to leave and let someone with the necessary leadership skills come in. The process wasn’t always smooth. Sometimes I’ve been ahead of the curve and anticipated the necessary changes in the church and in me. Other times, things got a little rough because I was clueless to the new realities of the church, and therefore, the new leadership that was needed from me.

The irony of all of this is we’re going through another transition right now. In the last two years, we’ve gone from 2 campuses to 6. That’s a lot of change and of course, another change for me. We’re still working through the process of trying to understand this new reality and the appropriate response from our campuses and our leadership.

Being a pastor is lot like being a parent. I love being a dad. When my boys were little they needed me in one way. As they grew, they needed me in different ways. Now, they’re grown, and they need me in even different ways. They still need me, but they need me very differently now than they did when they were little. Good parents adapt.

So do good leaders. Every day, another book on leadership comes out and promises that if we learn to lead in this way or that way, we’ll be able to lead our church from now on. That’s only true if our churches don’t change. The world has a word for things that aren’t growing or changing—dead.

But if you’re serving a growing, thriving church, change will be the only constant. That means your leadership will be constantly changing as well. Great baseball pitchers always have more than one pitch. Great leaders do as well.

Why I’m Stepping Down from Kairos [Podcast]

Today on Creating Real Marriages that Last, I discuss some of the reasons I’ve chosen to step down from my role as the leader and teaching pastor of Kairos. I’ve been part of this young adult ministry since it began 11 years ago. However, a few years ago I began to realize it was time to pass the leadership on to another person. Now, Chris Brooks has transitioned into the role, and he’s already doing a great job. In this episode I also share my advice to leaders as they consider the future of their ministries and determine when it’s time to pass the baton to someone else.

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Why I’m Stepping Down from Kairos

Eleven years ago, a group of single adults took me to lunch to pitch an idea for an evening of worship for young adults. They had demographic studies, growth trends, and model services from other cities; it was a very impressive meeting. Of course, I told them I would help get it started, but I didn’t have time to do it.

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Famous last words…

Eleven years later, I’m still spending every Tuesday night teaching several hundred young adults who gather at Kairos. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love these young adults. I love their rawness, their honesty, and their courage. Of all of the things I’ve had the chance to be part of, Kairos has to be one of the highlights of my ministry.

But things change, and Kairos is changing. There is a different and exciting future for Kairos. I can see that future, but I’m just not the one to get Kairos there. There are several reasons for this.

  1. My life has changed. We’ve moved my mom to Nashville, and I’m responsible for her care.
  2. The Middle Tennessee Initiative means Brentwood Baptist Church has 5 campuses, and we’ll be adding more campuses in the near future. This will demand more and more of my attention and time.
  3. There is a generation of Millennials coming into Kairos, and I’m separated from them by almost 3 generations. I don’t understand the world they live in—not like I should to effectively teach them well.

For the last several months, I’ve been sensing Kairos was coming to a necessary time of transition. I talked with friends I trust, and my thoughts were confirmed. Confident of God’s leading, I asked the leadership of our church to initiate a search for the new Kairos pastor. I’m glad to write that Chris Brooks joined our staff in December. He’s going to bring a lot of good things to Kairos.

And he’s different than I am. Of course he is! The whole point was to find a different style of leadership and teaching that could bring Kairos to a new future. He has skills, experiences, and gifts I don’t have. That’s why we called him to come! Already, in big and small ways, I’ve seen his leadership and pastoral leadership confirmed. I’m confident we’ve made the right decision in bringing Chris to Kairos.

I’ll still be around. I’ll be teaching from time to time and counseling the Kairos team as they need me. I’m still committed to Kairos and its success. I just won’t be involved in the day to day ministry.

This has been my decision and mine alone. I made this decision because of my great love for Kairos. It’s time for you to fly. You’re ready, and I’m going to be your biggest fan…

Kairos, you will never know how much you mean to me.

I do love you, guys. God’s best to you all.

Mike

Preaching in the Multi-Site Church

I was recently featured in Preaching Magazine. You can read the article in full by clicking here.

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Here’s an excerpt:

We decided early on that it was important for the way that we wanted to do it (multi-site churches), that we have a live preacher. There are times when we do the all-state, as we call it—the state of the church vision—[a time when] we want everybody to hear the same message. Once, maybe twice a year, we do that. The other times, we all preach from the same text, we preach the same message, we have the same rocks. We call it the big rocks; everybody gets that. From there, the pastors are free to contextualize that message.