This week Paul Reid is back on the podcast. If you missed the first part of his story, you can catch up with it here. This week’s episode picks up Paul’s story from his appointment as pastor of CFC in Belfast.
Among the things Paul discusses during the podcast are issues of church autonomy and his approach to remaining open to outside voices; the influence of John Wimber and his own emphasis on a message of grace; his – and CFC’s experience of the Toronto Blessing; and how he has sought to maintain a balance of Word and Spirit in his ministry.
As you listen to the podcast, here are some things to think about:
If you are a church leader – especially if you are in an autonomous church set-up, how do you and your church keep your leadership open and accountable to others?
Have you thought through a theology of prayer and healing?
‘There is no small print in the message of God’s love and grace’: how do you respond to what Paul says about grace?
If you are a church leader, how have you gone about ensuring that your ministry is about both Word and Spirit?
In next week’s podcast, Paul will be reflecting on some of what he has learned through the course of his leadership journey.
This week’s guest on the podcast is Paul Reid who, along with his wife Priscilla, led Christian Fellowship Church in Belfast for over twenty years.
Paul talks about coming to faith in his teens and his early upbringing in a Brethren Assembly. He and Priscilla left this to start a house fellowship and their group eventually became CFC in East Belfast.
He talks about the influence of Spring Harvest – both in his sense of call to leadership and in his experience of the Holy Spirit, and of several notable Christian leaders, including Terry Virgo and Roger Forster.
He also discusses the controversial ‘shepherding’ movement and the reason why he and his fellow leaders felt they needed to resign from their leadership roles.
Some questions as you listen:
Paul talks about some key turning points in the early years of his life and ministry: what events and seasons do you look back on as being formative in your own journey?
What do you think about the idea of leaders admitting to their followers that they have got something wrong? Is this a sign of strength? How can leaders distinguish between a conviction that they need to persevere in a course of action and a sense that they need to retrace their steps?
Part 2 of Paul’s interview will available after Easter – this will include discussion of several other controversial issues that Paul’s journey has seen him tackle; and there will be a 3rd part, in which Paul will talk about some of what he has learned about leadership and what advice he would give young leaders.
The guest this week is Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore in the Church of Ireland.
In this first part of his interview Harold talks about his conversion experience and the early stages of his growth as a leader while involved in the Christian Union at Trinity College, Dublin (his years there coincided with a remarkable batch of future leaders and missionaries).
He also talks about the role of an Anglican Bishop and the importance of leaders having other people around them.
Here are some questions for you to reflect on as you listen to Harold’s interview:
Harold mentions a number of key mentors: what mentors are helping to shape you, and are you building into the lives of other, younger leaders?
Harold talks about ‘holes in the cheese’: as you think about your own church tradition, where are some of the gaps?
The guest on the next two episodes of the podcast is Dr Derek Tidball. Derek’s leadership roles have included ministry in a couple of Baptist churches as well as being Principal of London School of Theology: he is also the author of many books, including his most recent book, Lead Like Joshua.
Having spent time interviewing a number of seasoned leaders about their stories, while researching the theme of leadership crucibles (more of this another time), I noticed these elements that mark a leadership journey
Conversion. While all of the leaders I spoke to have had some kind of conversion experience, some of them talk about how radically life changing that experience was.
Call. Not everyone has an Isaiah-type experience of call: but some of the leaders I spoke to talked about a dramatic call experience as they listened to a speaker at a conference; another spoke more of a gradual awakening and eventually coming to the realisation: ‘This is what I was born for.’ Others spoke of significant happenings that preceded invitations into particular leadership situations.
Not unrelated to the first two themes is the theme of the sovereign providence of God. Sometimes leaders find that their steps are directed by an unseen hand, closing one door to open another.
Character and personality. Obviously these terms are not exactly synonymous, but leaders need to be aware of issues around each of them. Some leaders display very clear leadership traits in the way that they are drawn to problems. Character development is important and the leadership journey may also be a journey of character transformation.
Paradigm shifts. The average age of the leaders I spoke to was around 61. These leaders have lived and led long enough to experience a changing world and to undergo changes in how they view certain things, like, for example, the work of the Holy Spirit.
Crises and challenges. Sometimes these are personal or family related, sometimes they are spiritual and sometimes they have to do with leadership and ministry. Of course a leadership crisis can become a personal crisis as the leader begins to question himself/herself. One church leader spoke of how he discovered that the answer to his leadership crisis was not better leadership technique, but greater dependence on Jesus.
The leaders discussed a number of things related to their spirituality. For example, some talked about the love of God, some talked about their experience of the Holy Spirit.
The influence of others. Reggie McNeal has written about the significance of Jethro-like characters that cross the path of a leader and the leaders in this research spoke of fathers, of youth leader, and of others who have had significant roles to play along the way. Interestingly two of the leaders (one 60 and the other in his 70s) said that they wished they had had a mentor. (Note that the photo at the top of this may be misleading in this respect: the guy is on his own!)
Travel was not a frequent theme, but it was there. It could be negative, with the struggles that go with isolation and culture issues in a different setting; but it could also be positive – some of the leaders spoke of positive experiences as they spent time in other countries.
Transitions and progressions. Some leaders spoke of how God uses one situation to prepare you for another. A couple of leaders sensed a widening sphere of influence as they progressed along their leadership path.
Retirement is a ‘crucible’; while a retired leader can look back and see how God has been at work, the loss of structure can bring challenges and at the same time opportunities to experience new forms of spirituality.