Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Weight of Leadership

New Weight

I was in my second year at Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club when fitness coach Paddy Anson arrived. I was a squad player (which means I trained hard and never got picked) trying to get a breakthrough. Paddy introduced a series of new weight lifting exercises for each player to test his strength.

It was horrible. I'd never done these movements before. My body felt awkward, I was using muscles that I never thought I had and I was unable to lift much weight at all. It was painful in every way. Some of my team mates faced a similar experience.

New Growth

After only two weeks of training I found my body adjusted, my recovery between sessions increased quickly and I began to grow in strength and power. Everybody in the squad grew as well.

I've been leading a Church for six weeks. We carry a dream of a Church that rings out with the sound of people who have found the treasure of the universe. During this short time I have learnt more about myself, and more about leadership of others, than I have in my whole life. This new responsibility is certainly something that I feel. I would also say that I can feel myself growing each day. It's amazing how God has made us to be people who grow into new roles and responsibilities. I feel like I am learning to draw from different sources much strength and feel very motivated as I look ahead.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Leadership Learning

Learning about Church Leadership

I've been leading Frontiers Church Exeter for just a few weeks and I have already learnt loads! The rate of requests and questions coming my way has accelerated significantly. Being the person with final say in the leadership team has added a very different dynamic and excitement to decision making. I didn't sleep that well last night because I am particularly excited about a couple of projects. I once read someone describe Church Leadership as 'one difficult conversation after another'. I have certainly found even in this short space of time that each conversation is carrying increasing levels of challenge and significance. This excites and motivates me to want to keep sharp and fresh so that I can serve people well and make good decisions with people. Clearly my learning is only just beginning but I do feel built for this.

Learning about Team

As I am discovering exactly what needs to be done I am learning what kind of team I need around me. I do bring a fairly narrow set of gifts and my 'felt need' for team is growing by the day. It is a well used phrase, 'play to your strengths and staff your weaknesses'. Over time we are looking to grow a wider leadership team and bring different gifts into the mix to help fit around the lead which I bring.

Learning about New Frontiers

As the leader of a New Frontiers Church it has been an amazing privilege and blessing to plug in more directly to our wider family of Churches. Matt Partridge is continuing to coach me and has been quite frankly awesome in helping me in these early stages of my role. Last week I spent time with Guy Miller who leads our sphere. Guy invited me to shadow him, meet his team and get to know all that he is about. It was fantastic. Guy is kind of unassuming and understated but carries a depth of integrity and authority which makes him an inspiring man to follow. I'm looking forward to developing this relationship. Guy is with us Feb 26th and I'm looking forward to Westpoint more and more because of all that it represents.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

On Sunday I was appointed as a Church Leader...

What a Day!

Sunday was a day which I will remember for the rest of my life. I'm not very good at these occasions traditionally. I did not bother going to my graduation, I'm not one to have big birthday parties and I find events which I am involved with a difficult to enjoy. This was different.

Thank You Jesus

It felt like a great opportunity to reflect on what Jesus has done for me among all those who I love. Jesus has changed everything for me. Personal achievement was my main goal in life, following after people like Jonny Wilkinson, trying to make any talent I had go as far as it could. This was my greatest joy and my greatest cause of anxiety. Now my main goal is to know the giver of life himself, following Jesus, who gives me help and strength seeing where he wants to take me. I will go with all my might but I have have more of a sense of 'being alive' than I ever have been. Whatever vocation I have the goal will remain the same.

Family & Friends

I was deeply moved by the efforts of friends and family to travel to be with us for the service. School friends from Bristol, Uni friends from Birmingham, Guildford, Essex, Plymouth, and Andover made the journey. My sister and sister in law came down - both working hard at the moment but made the effort to come. Mum and Dad came down and so did my in-laws from Northampton. Chloe and I put on sandwiches for these guys who made such an effort - most of these would not normally go to Church but came to support me. These people being there made a huge contribution to making the day special for me. Thank you.

Brothers and Sisters

Our Church was amazing. Many volunteers put much effort in to make the service work. Music, Welcome, Sound, Visuals, Cupcakes. To all those who helped - thanks for making this day one of the best days of my life. :-) I was unable to chat to many people on the day. After the service we had a photo shoot for the paper and then I was mindful of friends who were leaving soon. I am so grateful for those who came to support Andy and I. 'Old boys' came from all over. People from Hailsham, Oxford, Bristol and Plymouth came up as well as many from Andy's family. Leaders from other Churches came to support us on the day. It really was very moving for all of us involved in Frontiers Church Exeter.

I have received many kind and encouraging messages from different people within our Church. People have mentioned how God seems to have used me to help them in life and faith etc. Others expressing there support for this new chapter together. There is nothing that I would rather do than lead and stand with those in my Church. I've had a few tears as I've read some of these messages. It's been emotional.

I'm looking forward now to gathering on Wednesday as we seek God and pray together. I know a few leaders from the region are planning on joining us for this evening. All this is quite overwhelming. Together on a Mission. X

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

40 Days - I'm hungry

So we reach day 8 in our 40 days series. Today is our second day of prayer and fasting.

Last week was pumping

Last week we prayed, fasted and gathered in the evening for a time of worship and corporate prayer. I think it was the best prayer meeting I have been to in my life. Matt and the band were pumping, people were more passionate than Exeter City fans and people brought gifts of the Spirit as willingly as they gave gifts at Christmas! I praying for more of the same this evening. We are in a critical season of transition and it is vital that we stand together and ask God for grace for all He is calling us to.

God is Holy

I'm really looking forward to another gathering this evening. Our theme this week is God and his greatness. I preached Isaiah 6 this Sunday. Tonight we gather to make our requests to the God who made all things, including the stars in the sky. Our readings have been connected to this theme. We will focus part of our evening on asking God for greater revelation of who He is.

Let's do it

This is our last meeting before the leadership handover moment. On Sunday Matt Partridge and Andy Arscott will lay hands on me and pray for me as I'm recognised publicly as the leader of the Church. As this new season begins I feel hungry to play my part well, hungry to build teams, hungry to empower others and hungry to make an everlasting contribution in our city. There is nothing like being a Christian.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

40 Days - Day 1 Let's go!

Today we begin our 40 Days of prayer and fasting.

Acts 14v19-23

Chloe and I read through the given text this morning. It's amazing how Paul was stoned, nearly died and then continued with all that God had called him to. No doubt he was quite a sight being so blooded and bruised.

In the context of extreme challenge after new leaders were appointed, the disciples, "with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord."

It was a moment of leadership transition and so the apostles spent a time of intense praying and seeking God. Richard Foster describes fasting as, "voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity."

Fasting Today

I will be among many today enjoying 'intense' prayer by using fasting. As I become the new leader of this Church we are looking for God to help us in what he calls us to. Though we do not face the same opposition as Paul we face our own challenges which we will need his help with for sure! I'm looking forward to joining with the rest of the Church tonight to be together to worship, pray and celebrate together.

If you are part of our Church and don't yet have your booklet, you can find one here. Alternatively grab one tonight.

Today I'll be particularly praying for:

  • For our Church family to 'own' this moment together.
  • For God to re-ignite hearts towards Him and His mission.
  • For a sense of His presence with us.
  • For grace upon our Eldership team as we face many questions together.