From guest blogger Pastor Keith Albert, Pastor of Missions for Family Church, formerly Pastor of Jog Road Baptist Church for 26 years
On December 14, 2014, Jog Road Baptist Church voted unanimously to enter into a strategic partnership with Family Church. Here are some of the leadership principles I used to lead our congregation to that decision.
What do I Believe?
Before I could lead others, I had to do decide if God was leading us to make this decision. Was this God’s will and would it build His Kingdom? After 26 years of ministry, if I was going to die on a hill, it was going to be the one that I wanted to climb and not the one someone else chose. I was going to lead with the best of my ability, a heart seeking God, and a sincere desire to do what was best for God’s Kingdom.
I also had to decide if I trusted and respected our potential partner church. I had to be convinced that the vision and values of Family Church were the same as our vision and values. I had to trust the relationships that I had established.
Some might say we really did not want to change—that we were forced into it. However, there is something critical to understand: change was inevitable. We could either keep the status quo and be changed by default into meaninglessness and insignificance; or we could actively partner with others and be changed to expand the Kingdom in meaningful and measurable ways.
Leading our Leaders
It wasn’t enough for me alone to believe that a partnership was the right decision. Our leaders, and then our congregation, would also need to believe that the decision was right. This required time and trust. Leaders were long-time friends, volunteers, deacons, and staff all rolled up into a few families. There needed to be accurate and timely communication given in stages. This included information about attendance, giving patterns, and the changing demographics in the neighborhood. The goal was to follow and honor God, not any selfish ambitions. Prayer, fasting, and trust in God’s grace and mercy are the foundations of our life in Christ and we engaged in all of them.
Several months prior to our decision, I came across the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High. I quote, “At the core of every successful conversation lies the free flow of relevant information. People openly and honestly express their opinions, share their feelings, and articulate their theories. They willingly and capably share their views, even when their ideas are controversial or unpopular.” This is not easy. We have all been in meetings where we observe that not everyone is telling us what they are thinking or feeling. It took several meetings for our leaders to finally say what they really thought about this decision. Once they expressed their true thoughts and feelings, we were able to discuss our options thoroughly. It took time. These conversations were indeed crucial. Once we were able to talk openly and assess expectations, God began to give us clarity.
God reminded us that He was in charge of this whole process. At the close of our first formal presentation, after a lengthy dialogue, a young Latino man came in and asked if we were having a Spanish service. We all left amazed at God’s timing. Just as the young man entered, we were discussing the need to reach those who spoke Spanish in our community. We sensed that God was smiling on our discussions.
I Am Thankful
I am thankful for a people who were united in wanting to follow God. At the meeting to vote on our decision, everyone had an opportunity to speak about it. By the time we voted, we really didn’t need to vote; everyone knew it was the right decision because of God’s grace and leadership. Our unanimous vote simply affirmed that God had given us His clarity. Some may have dissonance today, but no one can deny how God’s Kingdom has expanded because of our decision.
My last blog will be the message I gave at the last service of Jog Road Baptist Church.