Success through Simplicity
Brian Proffit, Rev! Magazine Interview
Brian Proffit interviewed Dave Browning, founding pastor of Christ the King Community Church (CTK), now an international network of affiliated local bodies, at the National Pastor's Convention. Dave talks about how CTK's influence has multiplied through a simple change in perspective.
Dave, in your workshop here, you spoke about growth through relationships. Tell us more about what led you to that and how it plays out in your church.
My experience was in a fairly traditional church setting—pretty programmatic. I think we tended to take shortcuts instead of doing the hard work of relationships. I've got a friend who was a youth pastor in California. He comes in one day and in each of the 50 mail slots is a piece of paper that says from now on the policy will be no shorts on campus. Somebody had complained about the staff wearing shorts around the church. Well a lot of the youth staff wore shorts, especially in the summer. And what shocked my friend about that was that there was no conversation, no sit-down, hey, tell me about your ministry—what's going on, what are your values, why do you dress the way you do? They might have learned that those in youth ministry connected better with their people by dressing in shorts.
My son is playing basketball on a team down in Seattle and they had asked the parents if anyone could videotape the games. And so I said yeah, I'll videotape them. Through the church I've access to high definition cameras and this and that. I videotaped the game and then I had it edited, and then had it put up on the Web site where the kids can watch the games. Well, the coach comes to me after a couple of games and he goes, "Man, this is awesome what you're doing here." And he asks, "What do you do?" I said I'm a pastor and we use a little bit of video, so I'm kind of familiar with it.
The point is, there's more to people than we know—and that's the problem. We don't know people. We don't know who they are, where they're coming from, what they're bringing to the table. We're just trying to slot them into our program. Whether they fit or not doesn't matter—we just need somebody to fill that hole.
So you're talking about taking the time to find out what makes people tick, what God has wired into their story… what gets them up in the morning.
Yes, but that is a very revolutionary idea for how the church functions. The staff has to turn from doing the ministry to seeing that the ministry gets done and supporting people in ministry. Turning that around to say, "I'm here to equip you, I'm here to help you. What is it that God's calling you to do?" And many times it's not going to be something the pastor and staff are thinking about in staff meetings. It's something different, something we haven't thought of. And it'll be powerful, it'll be awesome. But the intelligence is out in the branches, it's not back in the home office. The home office doesn't know what's going on. And I think the more that pastors trust the people to determine what ministry should look like, the better off we'll be.
So you're talking about a different mindset. Instead of finding people to fill spots, you have that mindset that God called us to make disciples, so let's find out how He wired them. But to get to know that, you don't focus on assessments as much as personal interviews.
Exactly. We get more traction out of sitting down with someone and saying, "Tell me your story." And then asking intelligent follow-up questions as the story is told. "Tell me more about that. How did that work? Where did that take place?"
In fact, we've determined that our whole ministry is really about leaders. It's about identifying and deploying leaders. Well when you think about that, the leader deployment process really comes down to spending time with people. There's a systematic problem in the church in that we have so much time and energy going into our programming, trying to create and execute a program, that we have no margin to spend time with people.
Like I said in the book Deliberate Simplicity, part of the focus is to narrow the activities of the church to give more margin for the relationship-building activities that really need to be done. Activities like going for coffee or just hearing some new story, or getting to know them on a personal level. Because then we're not really recruiting people, we're spending time just finding out who they are and then steering them a little bit. "Based on what God's done in your life and how he's wired you, it seems like maybe you should be heading this direction. Is that where you're heading? Can I help you get there?" That sort of thing. It changes things up, and the staff has to redeploy a lot of their time from actually executing programs to being with people.
Next week we'll get into more detail with Dave on practical steps for moving in this direction in an existing church.
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