7 Questions with Chris Mulhare
Name: Chris Mulhare
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: New Hope Church Toowoomba
Chris & Sue Mulhare have been the Senior Pastors of New Hope Church Toowoomba since 2001. Their focus is reaching communities with the Hope of Jesus Christ, and this is reflected in the multi-site aspect of the church.
They are passionate about empowering like-minded churches to partner together to release people and mobilise resource that will practically meet need and touch lives right across the state.
Both Chris and Sue are dynamic, down to earth communicators who will challenge you to make every day count. Chris is passionate about equipping people to be effective disciples in their everyday environments, building strong relationships and seeing the church engage the community in practical ways that meet need and demonstrate the love of Christ.
Both Chris and Sue’s experience in a wide range of ministry environments and their commitment to equipping the next generation enable them to impart on all levels of church life.
Their son Levi married the amazing Talitha and now have a beautiful granddaughter called River Rose. Chris & Sue are also so proud of their daughter Bethany & son Reuben who are fun loving and caring young adults.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Staying fresh with Jesus and not letting my leadership drive push me toward burnout.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
In short, I was asked! From the moment I received Christ in '86 I knew I wanted to make an impact for Jesus. So basically I just started saying yes to every opportunity to serve. Eventually I learned to say 'no' too - after a costly burnout!!! But I guess I learned early that leadership was serving others rather than a positional thing. Everything I've ever done I've been invited to. Firstly an internship under my Senior Pastor. Then to take my first church at Crows Nest in country Qld in 1994. Then to Pastor New Hope seven years later. Then to lead an ACC region and currently on our State Executive team. All of these things came as a bit of a surprise to me and I said no to a few of these opportunities initially until I was sure it was the Spirit's call.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Haha that's funny. Which season? I have so many good plans and structures - that all tend to work for a week or two at least... Honestly, on a good week I try walk 5-6kms at 6am. Worship and pray spontaneously throughout the day for my soul and body. I'm no prayer warrior - that stuff wore me out early in my ministry and then i found if I put the same effort into simple, relational discipleship I was far more fruitful - and happier. And so were my team. So my week is structured loosely to enable people catch ups. I used to try structure time to prepare messages etc, now I structure time for people and I find I have no shortage of messages. I also am a committed bible journaler! I don't know how anyone does ministry without that simple regular input. We've based our whole discipleship model on it. Throw in overseas missions trips, conferences, volunteer roles, a beautiful family, a passion to hunt wild pigs and restore Australian muscle cars and it all gets beautifully messy. All this is based on a revelation I got when I had a stress related heart attack at 52 after flogging myself for decades - you gotta live! And funnily enough my ministry seems to be the most fruitful it's ever been. God is good in the midst of an active life.
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?
"In Good Company" by Gary MaKay. Gary was a bank Johnny in Sydney when he was called up for national service during the Vietnam War. From memory he was 23. At basic training he was identified as officer potential and attended a crash course at Scheville that condensed a two year officer training school into 6 months using a father / son model. (What an original idea!?) I think it was less than 18months after joining the army he was a 24 year old in charge of a rifle platoon of 30+ young men In the life and death reality of the jungles of Vietnam. It has inspired me as to just what young people can achieve if they are believed in, intentionally moulded and given high responsibility. So my wife and I find ourselves with a staff team who the oldest beside us is 28 and the other nine are younger. We credentialed 3 young pastors 22yrs and under last year and they are amazing. I have heard that average life expectancy in Jesus day was 33? If that's true, God used a lot of very young people to get this thing off the ground, and they are the rocket fuel of the kingdom as far as I'm concerned. A close second is "WikiChurch" by Steve Murrell. if you haven't read it, repent. :)
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Give feedback early. I call it "sail toward the storm". It's tempting as a leader to leave sleeping dogs lie, hoping that time will improve things. that rarely happens. Tough conversations are best closest to the point of issue. Second is guard you heart - control self talk or it will control you.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Discipleship. If you're aiming at leaders you're aiming at the wrong thing. Jesus didn't say make leaders, he said "make disciples" Actually I think its the ONLY thing he told us to do. I don't see any instruction, commandment, suggestion or incident in the New Testament that doesn't fall within the frame of discipleship. Developing leaders is easy. just get everyone an excellent John Maxwell book and go through it chapter by chapter together. you'll get leaders for sure. But my firm conviction is that "you can develop leaders without necessarily developing disciples, but you CAN'T develop disciples without getting leaders" Pastors wonder why their leaders hurt them and split ministries etc. To me that's a discipleship question, not a leadership issue. A heart issue not a skill issue. Get the heart right and skills will be applied in the right direction. Simple. Our leaders come through our simple discipleship model and are sustained by it.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
Wow - one! Ok, I'll go recent. Just last weekend a young lady in her 20's approached me and thanked me for what she had encountered when she came to Church through one of our life Groups. She had a legalistic and super spiritual church upbringing and as a young teen blew out, living poorly and became an entrenched atheist. And I mean, she was totally happy to bat for the other team. When she first turned up through a friendship link she was aggressive and on the prod. She got me a few times after I preached with "But what about?" She was vocal about her wild lifestyle, using it to goad church people. But she did ask legitimate questions. She did really want to get answers, at first to justify her disbelief, but then gradually the image of God she had had changed. We happily walked with her because even as a convinced atheist she was the simple definition of a disciple -"teachable". She even started her first year of internship (advanced discipleship) with us before fully committing to Christ. When she spoke to me she was so thankful that she'd had an opportunity to journey. She had never felt judged or considered by us to be on the outside of Church life. That people had loved her in spite of her prickly demeanour. Now here she was before me, a wonderful, vibrant, joyful young woman determined to follow and serve Jesus. That and hundreds of stories like it make what I do meaningful to me. It's all about people.