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.
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.