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7 Questions with Chris Little
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7 Questions with Chris Little
Name: Chris Little
Current title: Minister
Current organisation: Albury Bible Church
I was not brought up as a Christian, but connected with church through friends. It took way too long to learn that forgiveness and life are a gift from God - not earned by me! Pretty much as soon as I became a Christian I knew I loved sharing in the Bible with people, and wanted to do it more and more. I had a period of time doing medical research, but then completed ministry training (with Ministry Training Strategy, and Moore College). Since then I've been involved in local church work, with touched of university ministry and emergency chaplaincy thrown in. And I have a wife and five great kids.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The challenges vary. The constant double challenge is in myself: inability to master all skills, and the daily struggle against my own sin.
There have been two major external challenges. Firstly, conflict takes its toll - not always in the moment, but usually upon reflection and re-living the difficulty. Secondly, church ministry needs so many different skills: admin, communication, budget, preaching, teaching, training, strategy, event-planning, prayer, counselling, etc.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
People encouraged my involvement in the church where I became a Christian. After one of the employed assistants moved to be the senior minister of another church, I became a trainee with him. This was under the ministry Training Strategy, which is an intentional apprenticeship model. We set training goals together for two years, knowing that we had a specific question to answer at the end: does this church recommend that Chris keep on the path to be minister of a church. I continue to learn, but here I am still in church work.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
There is a great deal of variation. A constant is starting the day with Bible reading and prayer. Later in the day works for some people, but for me I find that I am too easily distracted unless it's the first thing I do.
I start some sermon work on Monday mornings. By getting into the Bible passage early in the week, it is constantly ticking over in my mind (for me, late preparation usually means superficial comments).
For individual days, the structure is set in the diary (eg, Leadership Team on Wednesday afternoon), and I slot other activities around them. That might be ministry matters (calls, admin), or family and personal (exercise, meals, etc). We strive to have as many family dinners as we can, and not hurry through them but allowing time to catch up and joke around, as well as pray and read the Bible as a family.
Then there are the unexpected events. Chaplaincy call outs can come at any time, for example.
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?
There are lots of books I have stolen an idea or two from. But one that constantly helps me think about people and groups is 'Growing Yourself Up' by Jenny Brown. It's not explicitly on leadership - but it has great application there. It develops the idea that any group is a system, and every individual contributes to that system. It applies to family, church, one-to-one counselling, workplace, and more. It raises the question: what is the mature contribution I can make in this set of relationships?
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Character is of highest importance.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
The pipeline needs intentional work and priority. I think there are three parts: accurate knowledge of people; helping people stop doing something good in order to pursue something better; making explicit plans with people for their development.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
After being a ministry apprentice myself, I've had a dozen apprentices over the years. I think the most effective traineeships have included tearful conversations dealing with stress or worry or something similar. It's not that we 'sorted it out' together, but that we had safe personal conversations: confidentiality preserved, no shame, plenty of empathy.