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7 Questions with Chris Kolle
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Chris Kolle
Name: Chris Kolle
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: Grow Church
From an early age Chris has been actively engaged in church life serving in many aspects of church life from children, youth, young adults, music, set-up teams, small group leadership.
Pastor Chris Kolle has served as the Senior Pastor of Grow Church since April 1996. His heart is to see people grow and reach their potential in Christ. With a passion for missions, he has ministered widely training pastors and leaders in in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, PNG, Singapore, India, and Malaysia. In recent years theyhave planted new campuses in Australia and the Philippines. I've had the privilege of serving on our State and National Executives for our denomation. Pastor Chris and Meriel live in Keilor Downs and have three adult sons Joshua, Matthew and Caleb.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The joys of leadership do definitely outweigh the challenges, but having said that, there are always plenty of challenges. One of the bigger challenges is learning to take people with you. As a leader, particularly if you are "visionary", it is very easy to blaze a trial, forging ahead through what others may view as insurmountable obstacles, and then to look behind you and wonder where everyone went. Navigating through varied levels of passion, acceptance of change, and ability to see beyond the here and now, takes skill, so that we all arrive together at the destination that Lord is leading us too. This is vital when taking over the leadership of an existing church (which we did), which has its own culture and practice. Once the currency of trust is well established people do follow and more than that, we journey together into the unknown and see the Lord bring about His miracle as He places His seal on what He is leading us too.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My parents become Christians when I was a toddler, so I had the gift of being brought up in a Christian home and have followed the Lord consistently all my life. Mind you, I wasn’t always a little saint. I remember one day at church when my father was particularly angry at one of the elders for having smacked me. The elder calming said, “after he kicked the teacher the third time, I thought I’d better do something”. My call to serve the Lord was solidified when I was eight years old. Having a bad headache, my father got the family to gather around me to pray. My father prayed but ended up prophesying about me serving the Lord. My spirit leapt, but knowing the story of Joseph and his brothers, I tried to keep it to myself. Growing up, people would often ask me, “are you going to be a pastor when you are older?” I knew the answer was yes, but I would always respond “I want to serve the Lord full-time, but I can do that at work or even as a missionary.”
My Pastor of that time was very encouraging and saw the call of God on my life. I become an elder at 22. He would let me preach on Sundays when most people were at the church camp. Gradually he let me start an evening service (birthed out of a growing youth and young adult’s ministry). After a few years serving as an assistant on the team, we got the call to lead the church in St. Albans.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
It’s funny, but for someone who trained and worked as an accountant, I am someone who really doesn’t like routine. Having said that, the church is well structured and ordered. I spent many years not having a day off (I know it is wrong - but now I do, and guard it with a passion). You won’t often find me at the office at 9.00am – I’m not early morning person and do some of my most creative work late at night. Longevity in ministry is important, so I am happy to take some take off in the morning if I have had a lot of nights. In the early years, I probably was out most nights, now I limit it to a maximum of three. I don’t take lunch breaks and would rather plough on through.
There is the constant juggle of things needing attention, leaders, campuses and some pastoral care etc. but in the midst of it all I have one rule I must be able to answer – “What did I do today that was Kingdom building” – by this I mean what did I do today that was developmental, visionary, creative, outside of administration and the maintenance of what is here and now.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Simple Church (Thom S. Rainer) has been a great book, as I am someone who can tend to refine things so they in fact end up more complex. This book helped us unclutter programming and helped us focus as a church.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
2020 was an interesting year to say the least. It forced us to learn to adapt more quickly to changing environments, but also made us hone in on what is really important in ministry - the people. While we very much consider ourselves to be a family (even across campuses) and have been blessed as visitors have often commented on the genuine love that is present, I think the spotlight has been shown even brighter that ministry is about people, everything else is merely scaffolding. Jesus died for people, not buildings, programs, or structures. People.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Our culture is one of Growing in God. We want to see everyone in the church serving or leading. We primarily look for a servant heart more than just giftedness. Our leaders are always looking to identify other who show leadership potential but also possess a servant’s heart. Our small groups are a key link for spotting potential in leaders. Additionally, youth are encouraged to work with children, young adults with youth, and in this process, servanthood and leadership potential is discovered and developed.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
There are many stories, but one really emphasizes how amazing God is, and how He just needs us to be simply available, not a super spiritual powerful house of faith. At and all-night prayer meeting, I found myself alone in the church building at about 3.00am in the morning. My prayer was interrupted by Clive hobbling into the building and asking me to pray for him. Clive had been though many traumatic events in his life, including falling down an open manhole that had left him hunched over, shuffling with a stick and in constant agonising pain. Ironically, I refused his request for prayer, telling him it was a prayer meeting, and after he had spent some time praying himself, then I would pray for him. After an hour or so I said I would pray for him. I laid my hand on him and simply said ‘dear Lord touch Clive’. He immediately leaped to his feet and staring dancing and jumping around. I was shocked. Me being a bastion of faith, yelled out, “Clive, stop it, you’ll hurt yourself.” Despite my lack of faith, he was totally and instantly healed. This event always reminds me even in my own weakness, and at a times inadequate faith, God is far bigger me and He moves not because of me, but because of who He is.