Ben Willey: Well, you made it here is DNA statement number seven, which concludes our fellowship podcast series on the DNA statements. I’m with the authors of the statements from eight years ago, pastor mark, pastor Mike, and I am pastor Ben. And we’re going through these statements and this is the final one on leadership.
Simply put it’s this. We are committed to raising up leaders in all that we do. Mike, I’m going to you first, because this is a DNA statement that looks really nice on a poster in our lobby, which it is at this point, but this is not just a poster in a lobby and it’s not just in the culture of fellowship. This is deeply in the leadership culture of everything I have seen you do.
I’ve been on staff here with you for over 11 years. And as I have seen you lead you have always led this way, raising up leaders alongside of you. How do you see this lived out of fellowship? And how do you, why do you see this as important to our church community?
Mike Candy: Two ways the first is Because that was the example that was shown to me and the second is out of absolute necessity.
The idea of this is how I was raised in this. I know through the years, many people have been part of internships, especially youth internships under pastor Jim, who was a pastor here for many, many years as youth pastor and gave back to the community of youth that were there not only gospel truth and principles, but opportunities to step out in leadership in ways that probably we had no business doing, but he believed in us and we kept walking in ways that God was empowering us to do.
I think the idea that culture of discipleship comes into this, it’s not really an optional thing. It’s a necessity that we would continue to pass on. These gospel shaped truths in us to other people and give them opportunity to lead and shape. I think that was how the disciples, they were not only taught how to be formed and shaped, but given opportunities to lead and grow and to, to guide other people to him as well.
So thinking about summer internships through the years, that was how I was brought in with things. Dip my toe in the water of ministry, I think back many years ago and started here at our church’s youth pastor in the idea of doing youth ministry with a ton of students, without other leaders just seems impossible.
And so it was out of necessity that I had to think about ways God was moving and shaping in certain people in our, in our own community church here and allow them to shape other kids’ lives as they walked alongside of them in ministry, especially in youth ministry. One of the phrases that God gave me, I’m not even sure when this was, but this phrase that I just kept thinking because after a few years of doing youth ministry, students move through and they go off to college and a couple of years into college, they kind of come back around and either want to become a youth leader or a apart of this journey again. And I just felt as though God wasn’t taking them out of my life, it was just a way that he kept building. And so this long-term relational ministry is the call that God gave me years ago and just continue to stay involved in people’s. lives. I think about first Corinthians three, where Paul’s writing this idea of giving spiritual milk, not yet solid food, but that would come in the, in the distance the future for they weren’t ready for it. And I think about just kind of building into people in small ways and then as they grow and consume deeper truth in the things of God.
Yeah. We’re going to pass things off and allow them to lead in ways that in the similar way I was given the opportunity to do so as the whole person develops, not only the, the heart but also some of the hands of how you practically would do these things in, in the church and leading and in lots of different ways.
So it was modeled for me and for sure out of necessity and obedience to making disciples.
Ben Willey: And pastor mark, you’ve talked about this on a number of different times and you’ve been pastoring since like the 14 hundreds or something here at fellowship. There’s you’ve been in contact. I know with lots of pastors in our area and various other areas.
How have you seen this commitment of raising up from within? Why is this important? How have what feedback have you received from people who do it differently? What are your thoughts on this?
Cause this is very much a part of your passion as you have led and developed staff throughout the years.
Mark Willey: Yeah. To go back to ancient past when God led me and Marian and I to church plant here at fellowship, we actually came with the plan of starting a church here in New Jersey learning, as I said at the time at the expense of the Americans, how to do a church plant. And then we were going to go to either Hong Kong or Romania. That was our plan. When the church had been going about two and a half, three years God really began to move in our hearts that he did not want us to go. And it was actually, it was confusing and hard, but we really were clear that God wanted us to stay and almost audibly I felt this calling you’re to be impacting the world by sending other people, raising them up and sending them. And so that was, that was really built in our DNA from the very beginning. Pastor Ralph came, who was a friend of mine and became a, was in the ministry, became a part of our church.
And we then just had a growing sense that as we were raising up people to go towards missions, why wasn’t that same model, which felt very biblical, that you were raising up from your own, not just getting other missionaries to come and support them from other churches. We just the concept of continually trying to raise up people from within our church to serve in whatever capacity, including pastor, as God led that way, felt like the most normative natural biblical concept of building church.
And that has been the way that God has led us here at FCC all these years. And I think one of the great advantages is you don’t get surprises. You, for the most part, you have seen people in a process of how they handle stress, how they handle disappointment, how they handle criticism, how they handle success.
And you, you know each other and with national averages, still saying that one out of every two church hires for pastor does not work out more than three years. Usually because, and they say the three years is a honeymoon period. So at the end of the honeymoon, they found out the marriage didn’t work.
I just think not that others follow a different pattern and that’s wrong, that, that we could never follow a different pattern, but I think there have been incredible advantages. Most of all, because I think ministry is out of relationship and I think, So, I mean to be a lot of practical reasons, but those, I just feel it is a model that God has blessed both in us, raising up missionaries and us raising up church leaders, us raising up pastors.
Ben Willey: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for the thoughts on the leadership and the way you guys have both lived that out deeply in our community. I think one, one thing that we could ask if you’re only developing leaders from within, or are you just repeating the same blind spots? That’s homogeneity sometimes can be simply that like begets like begets like, and I know we’ve talked about this.
A lot of, we do believe in raising up from within leadership wise, but how, how has fellowship also intentionally included other perspectives and other people in leadership while maintaining the DNA.
Mike Candy: Couple thoughts I had where, and we’ve kind of had this modeled Mark through you. We really emphasize reading authors that maybe we intentionally, no, we might not agree with or going after perspectives that might push us in directions that we didn’t think we could learn in.
Reading in ways that don’t feed our own thoughts, but really do push us and cause us to really evaluate what the scriptures say and allow us to be shaped by the scriptures as we read in some of those differing ideas. I also think one of the beautiful things that we have in the, in the type of support that we give to missionaries.
We often have at staff meetings and regularly having missionaries come back from all over the world who spend months with, with us. And I think of even recently, Harold and Sean, who through some sickness the Ebersol’s were in our area for a long time. And we learned so much from what life in the church looks like in Bangladesh.
That really has moved and shaped us in ways that we wouldn’t have known had we not been shaped by them. And so that way, and also a number of interns opportunities we have for interns that come in and. It’s subtle, but when they start to ask questions, why do you do it this way? Or what have you tried this way that make us scratch our head and say, you know, why do we do it that way?
It’s, it’s a great thing to have outside perspective and we invite it and often intentionally in some internships.
Mark Willey: I really agree with that. I, along with the, the going to conferences. Getting seminary training or actual specific ministry training, other places, which we really have tried to encourage to the years of all of our staff.
I do think the model of raising up missionaries does have a real byproduct as Mike was just talking about. It’s always struck me. As an exciting concept that when the early church in acts 15 had this tremendous conflict of, of perspective of what to do with the Gentiles now that we’re embracing Christ, who they turn to the church of Jerusalem, who they turn to was their first two missionaries that had gone out, experienced ministry on the field in a different way, and came back and Paul and Barnabas spoke into the, the, the whole Jerusalem council. And really it was their counsel that prevailed. I think that is a beautiful picture. I mean, right now all eight of our pastors and three interns are going through a training program. Twice a year, we’re going to seminars preparing for it that is provided by Dave Merkhe’s ministry in Brazil, the seminary there.
That are focusing on expository preaching. It’s actually impacting Brazil more than other of the seminary there in that regard. And now we’re getting their fruit that is building into our staff by an international ministry that was empowered partly by our sending Dave Merkh there. And so God has creative ways of bringing fresh perspectives to you.
Even as you try to raise up from within.
Ben Willey: And one of the gifts of being in a world where people move around and that’s sad whenever someone moves to a different state. But it’s also been a gift when people have moved from a different area into our area and started attending our church and given us invaluable perspective from their church background and in our raising up of leaders, we’re always intentional to raise up leaders that are within our church.
But then maybe it didn’t start in our church. And so that while they’re learning what we’re doing here, we’re also receiving lots of wonderful, informative feedback from their previous experiences as well.
Mike Candy: Yeah. I think there has to be something said about the nature of Mount Laurel versus Collingswood too in the two campuses.
There’s just some things that work in Mount Laurel that do not in Collingswood and vice versa. And so learning strategies and connection with leaders. They’re just different in these two contexts. And we love that and embrace it. And it’s a joy to have to be impacted in a broad way in our, in our area.
Ben Willey: Well, you made it congratulations. You made it through the seven DNA statements. Thanks for sticking with us and we are signing off.
Mike Candy: Thank you.
Mark Willey: Thank you.
Ben Willey: God bless you guys. Bye.