Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Seven Questions with Rev. Brian Hatcher

1. In most struggling churches the problem is one of leadership. In your view what are some of the principles that a church leader can apply to be more successful in leading their church?

A while back I wrote out a list of seven leadership “knows” for myself. They are essentially a combined list of things learned over years of study in the field of leadership. It is in some areas borrowed, some original, and in no way definitive on the subject. These seven principles are:

Know Thyself:
You are a unique individual with a personality and self. Knowing what your abilities, weaknesses, likes/dislikes, and limits will help you to emphasize your strengths, and support your weaknesses with other people.

Know What You Don’t Know:
It seems simple, right? Never be afraid to say you don’t know. Always be prepared to find out the answer. Be willing to take the blame and fault and never take the credit for what is accomplished as a group. By the way, it is all accomplished as a group.

Know Your Team:
Just like you, the team you lead is unique and diverse. If it is not, it needs to be and quickly. Each person has a special ability and personality. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each of them allows you to utilize them where they will succeed the most. In turn, you succeed because they succeed. You must spend time with each of them in order to get to know them.

Know the Mo:
The “Mo” is momentum, and it can be your greatest friend. Success will always breed more success. Evaluate the positive and focus on it, then look at how the negatives can be turned into positives. Learn from mistakes, because they will be made. When you fail, fail forward. Be honest about the mistakes and discover how they can be avoided in the future.

Know the “No”:
Know the limit of what you and the team can accomplish. Never be afraid to say, “No.” Doing one thing great is a lot better than doing many things good. An overworked, tired, and frustrated team will not survive long, and their work will soon suffer.

Know your Direction:
Getting from point A to point C is impossible if everyone just stares at point B. Satisfaction with where you are as a team is the first step down the road of failure. Always focus on the final goal and make sure it is realistic, attainable, and easily known when you arrive. Recognize the points along the way that get you there, but don’t dwell on them. Remember, water that is moving in any direction is fresh and usable, but water that is stagnating is nasty and useless.

Know Where You’ve Been:
Every group has a past that impacts the future. Remember the things that worked, and the things that didn’t. Remind the team of past success and encourage them that the same thing can happen again. People will rise to the level of expectation. Knowing the past will help you establish achievable expectation that will help breed continued success in the future.

Again, these are not definitive, and I honestly need to utilize them better, but I have found them helpful.

2. You are currently serving on a church staff in the area of men’s ministry. In your view why has the church had such a hard time of reaching men?

To be quite frank, in many areas the church has been sissified. It has catered and pandered to the female side of society for a long long time. To be honest, if not for the servant hearts of many amazing godly women there would be no church today. In contrast, without the risk, adventurous, and sometimes generally stupid spirit of men the church doesn’t have much of a future. Few churches operate in a man-friendly attitude and method. The vast majority of service roles in churches are orientated to women. We need to remind the church of the wild-eyed wonder of serving and following Christ. There is a great challenge in the gospel that truly needs men to fulfill it. In over 80% of the situations where the adult male in a family accepts Christ, the entire family does the same. That number drops significantly with any other family member. Most men want to leave religion to their wives. Churches keep letting them. It needs to stop.

3. In your opinion, what is the key to developing relationships with your membership?

I had to read this about 5 times to make sure it really asks what it asks. How could a minister not have relationships with his memberships? But it happens everyday. How sad. I guess I would say this: 1) Have a great assistant who can do all the office stuff for you so you are free to be available to people. 2) Be available to people. That seems simple, but it works. 3) Make your family priority in being available. I have a hard time with #3.

4. Southern Baptists are involved in the “Everyone Can, I’m It” evangelism campaign. What does your church do to emphasis outreach and baptism?

In my opinion, outreach presents the greatest opportunity our church has for growth. We are developing a cohesive strategy that leads a person from evangelism to discipleship to continued evangelism.

5. What is your greatest passion?

To be honest, this is a tough question for me. After a number of failed ventures in the ministry I am a bit gun-shy. But ultimately my passion is seeing people experience Christ and His mercy and grace like I have. I feel a lot like Bono in the Leadership Summit interview. I am really trusting in God’s grace because without it I’m screwed! Can I say that? Oh well. God interceded in my life in a major way. Severely depressed by 7th grade, suicidal through 8th and freshman, and attempting my sophomore year, I am here only by God’s grace and miracle. Few people really seek and experience the abundant spiritual life. We are too busy setting the rules to truly seek after God and His heart. I suppose that is truly my passion, helping people see and experience the abundant spiritual life.

6. There are many new trends in the area of church growth. What is one trend that has caused you concern and one trend that has caused you great excitement?

Actually, the emergent church movement would be my answer to both. I am totally stoked and excited over the growth and continued impact these churches have. I am all for pitching a lot of things we do in church and doing things that are relevant to culture. I will be honest also that I don’t feel I necessarily know everything there is to know about this movement. My fear comes when I see an emergent group moving from being culturally relevant to culturally influenced. These are two different things. I believe it important to be all things to all people and a person can be in the world, but not of the world.

7. You are also in charge of the recreation ministry of the church. How can churches use recreation to reach out to lost people? What are some things that are you trying to accomplish in your church over the next year so that my readers can be praying for you?

We are in process of converting our family life center to a full wellness and fitness center for the community. Think community rec. center on steroids. We are seeking to offer classes on time, stress, health management, computer skills, parenting classes, nutritional classes, cooking, dieting, and much more. Essentially we are trying to practically meet the needs of the people of our community so that we can share the love of Christ with them. They listen better if they think you really care about them. It’s funny how that works. We will also be offering numerous sports leagues and chances to be active. Our mission for this center is to provide the tools for whole life transformation. We want to promote the whole health of the individual. That is physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I would ask that the readers pray specifically for the opening of the center and the impact we can have for the Kingdom. I truly see this as the greatest connection point our church will have with the community and the greatest place of service for our members. I am truly excited for what God is going to do with this. It is so much more than just a place to play basketball and hang out. It will have full workout facilities, walking track, life skills classes, exercise classes, and the works. Besides this, I would treasure prayers for our men’s ministry. They need challenge, adventure, and risk. God has it all. Thank you for the chance to share some of my heart.

Rev. Brian Hatcher is the Minister of Wellness and Discipleship at North Richland Hills Baptist Church near Fort Worth, TX.


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