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What we learned from 24 leaders of various ages and different races all serving in scattered places

podcast Aug 11, 2022

As J.C. Worley steps in to take a more active leadership role the Courageous Pastors movement-- and, as he preps to take over the podcast-- we decided to "catch him up" on where we've been. Nothing like a quick crash-course to do it! In this talk we divide the content from the past 23 talks into 7 “buckets,” that is, 7 repeating themes we noticed over the past 23 conversations with church and ministry leaders.


#1 = Be you

Be you (not a knock-off of some other leader).

  • Andy Heis (14) = the hot dog church, the Dollar General of churches
  • Clay Smith (22) = I’m not here to fill Bryant Wright’s shoes
  • Sam Chand (6) = God ordained the times + seasons you would live, and He believes in you more than you believe in yourself
  • Jordan Ducote (8) = also followed a legacy leader like Clay… his dad, still on staff
  • Brandon Goff (10) = nothing is ever as bad as it seems— or as good as it seems. All is temporary. Learn from others, but be you… and do what you CAN in this moment. You can control everything, but you can take care of you, get the right perspective, and then bless than person in front of you…


#2 = Take care of you

You can’t pour from an empty cup, serve from dry well, run on an empty tank… you get the idea.

  • Clayton King (1) = do you and then do the ministry. Enjoy the life you’ve been given.

  • Jordan Ducote (8) = pastors need coaches and counselors

  • Johnathan Moore (21) = take time to rebuild yourself, just as you rebuild the church

  • Nick Newman (11) = take care of you. $30 oil change vs $3,000 engine, live in rhythm (two people mentioned rhythm, Jonathan and Nick)

  • Michael Turner (20) = empowered his staff to take care of themselves, giving them all Fit-bits, to monitor steps + sleep

  • Rodney Gage (13) = the drift, take care of you and your family, because it requires healthy leaders to create healthy churches


#3 = Race relations

Race relations are tough— and are worth the work. And they’re tough. And they’re worth the work. And tough. And worth it. And they are part of bringing the presence of the Kingdom.

  • Chris Johnson (3) = multi-racial congregation, centered on Christ
  • Ken Claytor (12) = had a black congregation, wanted to be diverse… changed to integrate and invite white people in
  • Quovadis Marshall (19) = don’t take it personal, but make it personal (time + space + illusion of innocence must all be overcome, by ALL races)


#4 = The pandemic

Regardless of where you stand politically or medically or on any other issue, culture shifted and that radically changed how we do church.

  • Brandon Goff (10) = his church actually GREW during the pandemic. Others launched campuses during it…
  • Johnathan Moore (21) launched a campus during the pandemic
  • Chris Brown (5) = launched a church during the pandemic
  • Ken Claytor (12) = expect things to be hard
  • Bil Cornelius (4) = the numbers you have ARE the numbers, just build it again
  • Mike Burnette (2) = wasn’t even looking at weekly numbers BEFORE Covid… but wanted to pay attention to the ONE person in front of him
  • Sam Chand (6) = says this gave us the opportunity to focus on what matters, that is, prioritizing the people who will visit your headstone
  • Rodney Gage (13) = the drift…


#5 = Church outside

One of the changes is that church moved out of the building. For sure, we don’t want to stay out of the four walls— as if it’s an either-or decision. We want to do both, gather and scatter.

  • Brandon Bilboa (19) highlighted how a disaster offered them the opportunity of open hearts, open doors
  • Michael Turner (20), spoke about “care equity,” even visiting people in their homes, sending birthday cards, gift cards
  • Jesse Bradley (5) was on GMA, talking about the end of his professional soccer career and how that led him to embrace his true call as a pastor. He also reminds us to always go where the people are.
  • Brandon Goff (10) = it’s a perfect day to love the person right in front of you


#6 = Look back

Look back to the past— not to see failures and frustrations but to see the faithfulness of God. When we see our history with Him, and where He’s brought us, we gain confidence to keep stepping forward.

  • Chris Brown (5) = overcoming Covid is small compared to the victories God had in the Bible. Trust Him, even with all the chaos.
  • Jeff Leake (16) = Look back, to see God’s faithfulness… example the church planter 10 years later, going back through the city where they drove and prayed before anything existed
  • Bil Cornelius (4) = we’ve built the church before, God can do it again.


#7  = Coach-ability

It matters. Never underestimate the value of an outside voice to speak into your life and give you perspective, unleash new potential, and push you beyond what you dreamed possible.

  • Adam Bishop (9) (one of the 4 legacy leaders, i.e., Clay followed Bryant, Jordan followed his dad) = there’s so much you don’t know… learning while working UNDER others and then continuing to learn… is key
  • Scott Wilson (15) (also a legacy leader, following his dad like Jordan) talks about coaching… his giving his life to help the next generation of leaders
  •  eff Leake (16) = a network throughout the northeast, even launching church planters in groups of 10, tracking numbers AS A COLLECTIVE… as a team… and walking that process together
  • Nick Newman (11), created a pipeline to train teachers… and has a step-by-step path they can learn


Finally, tie it all together…

A lot of people think the church is in trouble, that it’s going to disappear. Don’t believe it.

J.I. Packer was asked years ago, “Who’s the best preacher?” He replied, “You don’t know him.” When pushed, he replied that not even he knew him because God has people all over, everywhere— just like

Elijah didn’t realize there were 7,000 more prophets besides him… that is true today. You're not alone.

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