7 Questions with Adam Purcell

Name: Adam Purcell

Current title: National Youth and Young Adults Leader

Current organisation: The Salvation Army

Adam and Mel lead the national youth and young adults ministry team for The Salvation Army in Australia. They are based in Melbourne with their 3 kids - Bella, Sonny and Carter.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?

Great question! As a very young leader in my first "real" leadership position, I was called out for prayer at a regional leadership meeting. The visiting pastor delivered a word from God to me that I would "always walk a parallel journey between learning and leading". I've found this to be so true over the past two decades of ministry - I've never felt confident in any new leadership position I've stepped in. It's always been a journey of learning to swim in the deep end - but whilst this is a challenge, it also keeps me focused on God as the source of my strength for the journey.

2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Well, back in the days of the "overhead projector ministry" in Church I saw an opportunity to create a roster and build a team so that I didn't have to do it every week! I would have been around 16 at the time. The biggest lesson it taught me was to be obedient to the calling of God. Every time I'm asked to do something out of my comfort zone that aligns with what I believe is the call of God on my life, I simply say yes.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

This season of working from home and not travelling has been very different to the normal schedule we keep, however it works very well for us. I tend to break my day up into deep work in the mornings when I am fresh and focused (after my second coffee) and shallow work left for the afternoon. With so many meetings and workshops now being online we are also scheduling blocks of times without meetings, and holding them in the afternoon. It's a great wind down post lunch to sit on the couch and chat with our team for the afternoon!

4. What one book had the most profound impact on your church leadership? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

I have become a firm believer that there are a million ways to do things, but there's always one that works perfectly for you. Of all the books I've read on change and leadership this one just seemed to work perfectly for me.

We work with a lot of deconstruction, change and pioneering of different initiatives. A lot of it is calibrating and aligning people on the change journey. This book was revolutionary for me in that process.

5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

My recurring significant leadership lesson is the balance between execution and relationship. On a strengths assessment I am high strategic and execution in placement, but on a leadership assessment I fall into relational categories. This keeps me on my toes with a constant reminder that big people build big impact - not me and a long to-do list.

6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?

A lesson borrowed from Brian Houston that he shared at a conference quite a few years ago. Don't put your focus in the generation coming behind you, look at the ones behind them. This is why I may never escape youth ministry - I love seeing emerging leaders forming and stepping confidently forward.

7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a church leader so far?

I can't pick one story - the joy I have now of being in youth ministry for so long is getting to see the fruits of that work. Young people growing up, leading others, starting families and continuing to join God in his mission.