leadership,
leading,
22m 48s

Episode 29: Raising Greater Leaders, Not Just Great Supporters

August 08, 2017

Episode 29: Raising Greater Leaders, Not Just Great Supporters

Handing over ministry is a tricky task. Jesus models it well in the gospels, and guest Wes Davis talks about how he was given a similar opportunity.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. www.newlife.tv
  2. Facebook: @wes.davis.351
  3. Facebook: @bryan.lindgren

Episode Quotable

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Episode 29 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

Welcome to the Touring for Purpose podcast. My name is Mingo. I’m your host, as always.

Our whole goal with the podcasts has always been to start a dialogue and facilitate a dialogue that helps solve the tension points between seasoned leaders and emerging leaders and, for whatever reason, that massive gap in the middle that seems to keep us going as far as we should be going as the local, one body church. So we always try to grab people and influencers and pastors and emerging leaders and planting pastors and ask the questions, for whatever reason, that are hard to ask in the executive room.

Hopefully while people are listening to this podcast in their ears on the way to work or at the gym or at their desk when they’re supposed to be doing work but they’re not doing work, my goal is that this conversation would compel people to ask questions inside their own camp. I love it.

We’re at Thrive. We’re actually parked outside. Sacramento is surprisingly not 212 degrees, so we’re actually outside. It feels good.

Ray Johnston has obviously set an incredible example in how he leads his church. We heard the word “flatten the organization,” and what that does is creates this amazing ecosystem of collaboration and forward motion that’s not hinging on one persons.

Today we’ve got a couple of really great guys on the podcast, teammates in this thing. Actually, I didn’t even catch whether or not you’re on staff or not. Is this true, Bryan?

Bryan:

Yep. On staff as a youth lead.

Mingo Palacios:

And then Wes, you are the senior pastor of New Life Church. You said that’s the only one. Incredible. I literally love it. That’s so good. So tell me this: where’s your church located? Just for our viewers, so they know a little bit of context about the church and when you planted it. Give me some backstory.

Wes Davis:

The church was planted in 2000 in Bremerton/Silverdale area. There’s three military bases. If you’re living in the United States, enjoying freedom, you’re welcome.

Mingo Palacios:

Thank you. I salute you.

Wes Davis:

Well, San Diego is helping.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, come on, we’ve got our fair amount.

Wes Davis:

We’re not doing it alone. So yeah, I was a youth pastor. I was asked to start a church with seven friends and our families, and we started a church.

Mingo Palacios:

You said you were asked to start a church? Your friends were like, “bro, it’s time, Wes”?

Wes Davis:

No, no, I was a youth pastor, enjoying it, and my senior pastor – they’d had a consultant come out, and they were like “you guys are doing great, but if a new church started they’d be bigger than you in five years.” That leadership team had the foresight to say “well, let’s just launch that church then.”

Mingo Palacios:

Whoa, that doesn’t happen very often, I feel like.

Wes Davis:

No, it doesn’t.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s a huge trust move with an executive team to say “let’s propel them forward and not wait.”

Wes Davis:

We started off as a church within a church, kind of as a ministry. Did that for four years. At some point you’re 25, full-time job, they’re like “hey, maybe you should move out and pay your own bills.”

Mingo Palacios:

We’ve all been there, guys. We’ve all been there. Maybe not Bryan, but we’ve all been there.

Wes Davis:

So we did. We moved 14 miles and launched. I think you were part of the first season?

Bryan:

Yeah. I was 11 when the church launched. I remember my parents said “Hey, we’re going to go check this thing out.” We showed up. I was going into sixth grade. Then we spent four years, and then we launched into a high school, and that was really the first time we took off. I was 16. I remember I invited three friends, guys I still pray for today. I invited three of them and they came, and there was this moment – I remember I had taken a t-shirt and I spray-painted on it, and I was like “New Life.”

Mingo Palacios:

How progressive.

Bryan:

Yeah, and it also smelled horrible. [laughs]

Mingo Palacios:

And when you hug people you ruin their clothes too. Like “Hey, bro!”

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Bryan:

I’m about to be at church in an hour. I was like, “This is going to be a great promotional idea.”

Mingo Palacios:

“I’m going to be so cool.”

Wes Davis:

Were you wearing the shirt?

Bryan:

I wore it into the gathering. But here’s what I remember – there was this ownership of “this is mine.” I felt like the street team.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s super legit. So with that, did you see that? Are you aware of this at this point?

Wes Davis:

I don’t remember the t-shirt, but I’m super interested in seeing it. [laughs] I have a memory – I can’t even remember where it was from, but we were in a van – I’ve got to keep telling the story, hang on. [laughs]

Mingo Palacios:

Please do continue. [laughs]

Wes Davis:

We went on some kind of outing, a bunch of us, and we went to go see a church. I think your folks were sitting in the second seat, a bunch of us there, and I was driving. I think you were sitting passenger. We just went out and I remember looking over and I was like, wow, this is Bryan. We were just talking. So it’s super weird to go from that moment to here and now you lead all our student ministries. That’s really cool.

Bryan:

Yeah, I remember that day. It was summer. I loved to skate in middle school, like skateboarding.

Mingo Palacios:

You’re in good company.

Bryan:

My parents said “We’re going to go to this church thing,” so I was skating in the church parking lot. I fell and I ripped up my hands and my elbows. You know, you get the road rash. I just remember sitting there looking like the idiot kid. I’ve just got blood all over me and I’m sitting in the church van. [laughs]

Mingo Palacios:

Bleeding all over. They’re like, “Who’s this kid bleeding out right here?” [laughs]

Youth seem to be the gateway drug for great leaders. It’s a place where obviously that was your origin, and you probably did a few things leading up to that, but youth was your first official position where it was your job to shepherd and lead and manage a budget and have to deal with layers of leadership.

How did you posture yourself as the senior pastor, having origins of a youth pastor, knowing that you were now going to create a pathway for the next generation?

Wes Davis:

Probably one of the hardest things transitioning from being a youth pastor overseeing – because we had staff, we had interns, we had a budget. It was a few years before our church budget was as big as our youth budget.

Mingo Palacios:

Wow.

Wes Davis:

Probably one of the hardest things was trying to be someone else. The first thing, I was going to go be super serious, teaching pastor, really be that person. Early on I had a good elder in our church come up to me and he said, “Wes, you’re kind of like a poor imitation of other people. Just be yourself. Just be the way you are all the time. We all know you.” That freaked me out.

So one of the things I’ve tried to do with our young leaders is not try to have them be the senior leader – I don’t know the music he listens to, I don’t understand the shirts he wears.

Mingo Palacios:

But you know he spray-paints them. [laughs]

Wes Davis:

We’re not asking them to one day grow up and be a leader that wears the khakis that we wear, or a suit or whatever it is. Be yourself.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s really good. That sounds super trivial that you would be told to be yourself, but…

Wes Davis:

But it’s pressure.

Mingo Palacios:

It is. You felt it. I hear constantly from conversations around the country that there’s such a dynamic change when you go from being a guy in the ministry to the guy in the ministry, where all of a sudden that weight is on your shoulders.

Wes Davis:

What hits me is this: think about if you’re one of the 12 disciples. Jesus did, seriously, young adult ministry.

Mingo Palacios:

This is good. I like where it’s going already.

Wes Davis:

Look at who he was with. They’re all 18 to 29. Most of them actually more like 16 to 20. Peter’s the only one that had to pay tax. Jesus told him, “Go pay your taxes, catch a fish, me and you.” Everybody else didn’t have to do it. Why? They probably weren’t even 20.

Mingo Palacios:

Did you ever even think of that, dude?

Wes Davis:

Peter’s the only one who was married.

Mingo Palacios:

Pastor me, bro. Pastor me right now, dude. Teach me. You’re preaching to me right now, dude.

Wes Davis:

They’re all young adults, right? Why else could they just leave everything? Because they didn’t have bills. So they go with Jesus. Along the way, he’s apprenticing them. One of the things he does is so cool – we talk about this all the time – John 14:12. He says, “my disciples will do the same things I’m doing and even greater works. And I’m going to go be with the Father. I’m going to leave.”

Every senior leader in America is going to one day be gone. Our goal is this: how can these young leaders serve us really well and really grow up and be our number two?

If Jesus could say that to his disciples, then don’t you think we have to do ministry in a way where we’re looking at younger generations and saying “listen, we think we’re going to invest in you and you guys are going to do twice” – because if you look at it, the mission’s bigger, the darkness is more. We need them to do twice. We don’t need them to take over our ministries. We need to hand ministry over to them, and that’s what Jesus did.

Mingo Palacios:

Dang! [laughs] So how long have you been pastoring the church currently?

Wes Davis:

Seventeen years.

Mingo Palacios:

What? That sounds like a church plant with how fiery it is.

Wes Davis:

We are stoked. I feel like in 17 years, we just built a launch pad.

Mingo Palacios:

Dude, 17 years is a monster run right now. In the life of most churches started – you said 2000, that’s when you began, so I should’ve known the math there, thank you. But 17 years is…

Wes Davis:

Well, we’re really slow.

Mingo Palacios:

Slow how? [laughs] I just think that posture does not come from a guy who’s only been at the wheel 17 years.

Wes Davis:

We have a ton of amazing young leaders. Bryan’s one of them. The way he thinks and leads – I can’t even think – in my mind, I try to think outside the box. He doesn’t know there’s a box. I’m not even going to coach him on any of that kind of stuff.

I just know this: people like Ray Johnston and others, this is what I watched them do, this is what I want to do. I want to take a season and apprentice as well as I can young leaders, and then spend the last two decades of my life raising money to fund their dreams.

Mingo Palacios:

We always hear about this idea of passing the baton. You know what that means? That means that somebody has it and somebody’s waiting for it. I think that’s actually a terrible analogy, because I probably spent a good chunk of my ministry life – I was a pastor for 10 years at a local church in San Diego, waiting for a proverbial baton to be handed to me, a mythical unicorn.

Then I felt like the Lord – I don’t know if it was in a dream or whatever, but this picture shows up in my mind. He’s like, “If you spend the rest of your time waiting, you may lose the best season of what I’ve built you for.” Just pick up a stick and it’s good enough. You know what I’m saying? Go make one, and while you’re in the process, make about 11 more and hand them to the rest of the guys that are waiting.

What I’m really hoping for is I’m hoping to reengage with senior pastors in a way that says, how do we erase the myth of the baton going? You had a call that said “it’s time to go launch,” and that was like “whoa, let’s go!”

But I think that we need to clear the air on this whole baton pass. What do we do to articulate to the generation at hand – this is not the future of the church; I think we need to stop talking about the next generation of the church and we need to start talking to the next generation of the church. What do we do to erase the false expectation? It could be the enemy’s greatest fallacy.

Bryan:

Let’s take back the baton, the track analogy. The problem with the analogy is there’s one thing. It’s a baton. You could do a football game or basketball game, it’s still one thing. Let’s take skateboarding. You don’t have one thing. To be able to participate, you can all participate at once. I think the thing that I felt as a young leader was there wasn’t one baton; there was a skate park, and we were all going to participate.

Mingo Palacios:

Thank you, dude! Thank you. Fire, bro! It’s like surfing. There’s the whole ocean.

Bryan:

That’s a good analogy.

Mingo Palacios:

I surf. When there’s no surf, we skate. So you have the whole ocean. You don’t need the one break, the one peak. There’s enough for everybody.

Bryan:

So it’s like the ocean and there’s always the next wave. The energy of the ocean is consistent. As a youth pastor, I’m looking out and I’m like “there’s waves coming.” We’ve got this momentum and you can feel it. He can sit on his board and be like “I’ll skip a wave. I’ll get in later.” There’s still that energy.

Mingo Palacios:

Dude, that’s so good. You know what’s funny is Rick wrote that same analogy like 30 years ago when he wrote Purpose Driven Church. He was like, we get too caught up in trying to make ministry waves. We can’t make ministry waves. It’s our job to know how to read them and to be proficient enough and ready to ride them when they come.

I think for his generation, the problem was trying to manufacture ministry. I think for our generation, it’s trying to figure out when it’s our turn. I love that you just blew that idea out of the water. It’s not a one-thing culture. It’s not a one-thing economy. The whole skate park is waiting for you to discover how you play your part in it.

Come on, senior pastor! Get at me.

Wes Davis:

Okay, I don’t surf or skate.

Mingo Palacios:

[laughs] So my khaki pants tell me, in the world of…

Wes Davis:

I play basketball.

Mingo Palacios:

Oh, we’ve got another basketball player right here.

Wes Davis:

There’s just one of them. But the thing I’ve been thinking about is this. For Thanksgiving – you guys go somewhere for Thanksgiving?

Bryan:

Yes.

Mingo Palacios:

The kitchen.

Wes Davis:

Family stuff?

Mingo Palacios:

Yes.

Wes Davis:

Growing up, I’d go over to these people’s houses. I thought I was related to them because we’d call them “Grandma Luder [sp]” and all this different stuff. I thought we were related. My grandpa’s from Sweden; he actually came over. He was born a bastard child in a small village.

Mingo Palacios:

I don’t know if you can say “bastard” on the podcast. If it beeps out, that’s why. [laughs]

Wes Davis:

I was using it in context, and it’s in Scripture. I’ll show you the verse. [laughs]

So he actually came to America as a young adult. The only family he knew was a family that, from his village, had moved over. So we would go over there – I thought we were related for the longest time. I was maybe 15 when I found out we’re not related.

Mingo Palacios:

Devastating, dude.

Wes Davis:

But what’s interesting is they had the table where all the adults sat, and then in a totally different room they had the kids’ table. For Thanksgiving as a kid, you grow up, you’re at the kids’ table. But we were the youngest cousins of everybody on that side. Everybody was older. Well, here’s the thing: I was 40 years old, I was still sitting at the kids’ table. My knees don’t fit. And you’re always looking over at the other room, like “I wonder what’s in there.”

Mingo Palacios:

Wondering when you’re going to get invited, yeah.

Wes Davis:

I just think when somebody’s upset, they’re saying “there’s not enough millennials in our church,” it’s because they’re tired of sitting at the kids’ table. When I asked our young adults, “What’s something that we do that you go, ‘good’? Because we don’t do everything good, so what do you think is good?”, one of the young adults said to me this: “Thank you for letting us into meetings that we have no business being in.”

Mingo Palacios:

That’s so good. Yes. That’s so good. Keep talking. Preach, preacher, preach!

Wes Davis:

That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to them and go like, hey, listen – like with one of our young adults, I just said this: “You’re going to say three thing, okay?” Because I take them into a meeting, they’ve got like a hundred ideas.

Mingo Palacios:

Right. You’ve got to kind of throttle it a little bit.

Wes Davis:

It’s like, you just ruined the meeting. [laughs] Yeah, you can say three things. You can say them all in the beginning, you can say them all in the end, you can spread them out.

Mingo Palacios:

A-one, a-two, a-three – okay, I’m done.

Wes Davis:

I think people appreciate – if they know someone and they know they’re loved and they trust them, it’s like, tell me the truth.

Mingo Palacios:

I love that. That was good. That’s the second person in the same day that’s talked about trust being a core essential, a necessity between generations if there’s going to be progress, forward motion together.

How do we capitalize, how do we maximize the opportunity that we’re in where the millennial generation is becoming quickly the biggest generation as we see a massive amount of Boomers retiring out? Who knows what that translates to even in senior pastors as far as their retirement; they may be holding on longer, I don’t know. But what do you tell the other senior pastor that’s navigating the issue?

Wes Davis:

Reading the Gospels through the lens of Jesus doing young adult.

I think another thing to think in terms of – I think there’s maybe even a fear in both ways. One of the great fears, I think, as a person that’s leading ministry and as you’re getting older is, am I going to get old at a point where all of a sudden there’s not a crowd to preach to? And will someone come and visit me? There’s that sense of “am I needed anymore?” When you build relationship, that relationship goes beyond a job.

Mingo Palacios:

It goes so much farther, right?

Wes Davis:

I think the strongest relationships aren’t those that are done because they have to, but out of trust and love because they want to.

Bryan:

Our generation has to get rid of the insecurity. Especially as millennials in a church. Jesus is the vine. Not the church, not the pastor, not your ministry. Jesus is the vine. It’s a long obedience in the same direction. If we want to stop people saying we’re flaky, it’s not getting out of the media; it’s we’re going to stop being flaky.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good. Man, that’s just straight to the point, bro. Cutthroat is what you are, bro. All these millennials listening right now are just burning coals right now.

If you were going to say something to the senior leaders – because we’ve got a lot of senior leaders that listen to our podcast – what would you tell one thing to a senior leader/executive leader on behalf of a generation that are probably wondering, “How come I don’t understand them? How do I get more of them?”, blah blah blah.

Bryan:

Just from my context first, a lot of us are saying “thank you.” We don’t give enough credit to those young adult millennials who are like “You know what? Thank you. You gave us a shot, you put us out there, you gave me an opportunity.” First you just need to hear “thank you” instead of beating yourself up.

The next thing I would say is I hate the term “millennials.” Start with the name.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s individualization, and that’s massive.

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Bryan:

It’s just somebody who’s at your church, who’s a real person, who’s not part of a generation – it’s just a name of a story of a person. You can be like “come with me.” The thing that Wes does – this is just brilliant, and this is something that I’ve learned – if he goes to get groceries, he’s like “Hey, hop in the car with me. Let’s get some time together.” It’s not intentional discipleship; it’s just life together.

Wes Davis:

And we get lost too, sometimes. [laughs] That’s true.

Bryan:

You didn’t have a car for a while too, so it was kind of like “let me hop in your car, let’s go get groceries.” [laughs]

Wes Davis:

And you had a skateboard.

Mingo Palacios:

Okay Wes, now I’m going to aim the same question at you as we close down the conversation: what do you say to a bunch of Bryans that are on the bench, waiting to get called onto the court?

Wes Davis:

Usually what I’m saying to Bryan is, “Go. You’re doing awesome.” I’m trying to think of people that I see on the sidelines. Maybe the question that Bob Goff asked last night – I was thinking about it. Jesus asked the blind man, “What do you want?” Like seriously, what do you want?

I was sitting with a young leader today, and they sat there and they sat for a while, and it kind of hit them like “I don’t really know what I want.” Then they said this: “I want to know what my one thing is. What’s the one thing I do that would be my full Kingdom impact?” I was like, now that’s a great thing to want. To want to know that.

So probably just saying to the young adults out there, if Jesus came up to you and was going to open your eyes to something, he’d probably say to you, “What do you want?”

Mingo Palacios:

To the people that are listening, I hope this really does compel you to open a dialogue between your senior leader. And if you’re a senior leader that’s listening to this conversation, I hope this compels you to wander into the space of the generation that you’re trying to find, not call them by a generation but call them by a name – and if you don’t know their name, get brave and ask them.

You just need to go, “Hey, there’s something that needs to happen here between my generation and your generation, and the faster we figure that out, the faster we get on to the ministry that God called us to.” That’s what I think.

To all of our listeners, we love you. We hope that this challenges you. To the crew, we love you guys. Thank you, Bryan, thank you, Wes, for sharing your time. We love you. We’ll talk to you guys soon.

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