7 Questions with Dave Blough
Name: Dave Blough
Current title: Executive Pastor
Current organisation: Wintonbury Church
Husband to Cheryl for over 36 years with 7 children and 2 grandchildren. I have been an Executive Pastor at Wintonbury Church since 2012. I have worked in the public and private sectors for 29 years with a strong project management and technology background. Long ago, I started out with programming, worked on mini systems and mainframes, moved to PCs technologies, and then onto infrastructure and internet related projects with various platforms.
As an XP, I am responsible for our staff, leading people, implementing vision, research, contracts, usage of various products including: 1Password, Asana, Monday.com, BluePay, Box, Verizon, Church Community Builder, Tithe.ly, EZ Texting, CCLI, ClickSend, Meraki Security and Access Points, Cisco Umbrella, Doodle, Logos, Guidestone, GuideOne, Lenovo laptops, Logitech Cameras, Nest Security Cameras, PTZOptics Cameras, Microsoft products, RealPlayer, ReMarkable, RightNow Media, Planning Center, Slack, Squarespace and others.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
This time we are in is the most challenging. Not being great at omniscience, I could not have anticipated church in COVID times. Each week, there seems to be a change requiring assessment and more change. We encourage a conversation with God and rely on His direction and how to get there best in the community. When you are not together like you used to be, you must figure out new ways for community.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had been working for a large insurance company and led a fellowship of Christians. In addition to this, my gifting was spending time discipling 1-1 or in small group studies. I just was led to serve Christ in whatever setting I was in. When God taught me about contentment in my work environment, I really began to grow and my attitude changed. It was about that same timing that Wintonbury began to explore hiring an Executive Pastor back in 2011. The church never had an XP and I really wasn't looking because I was content. This really became a time of listening for God's direction. People came up to me and asked me if I was going to apply and other such timely discussions occurred. The best part about entering into my leadership role was that my wife confirmed the next step for me. She was listening to a message at church and felt that God was confirming that I should apply, regardless of the outcome. I never could've entered into this role without Cheryl's support. The other amazing thing that happened was that my 29 years of experience really built the resume for becoming an XP. God is awesome like that!
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am a firm believer in both structure and flexibility. If you don't have a target to shoot for, an understanding of the protective guardrails, and a trust for God's work in and through you along the way, you will likely flounder in a bad way. My work days vary but essentially they involve:
1. Listening to God through His Word
3. Understanding what needs to be accomplished for the week and ensuring that the right conversations are happening.
4. People are essential so I need to welcome the calls, visits, and pray through the issues and concerns.
5. 1-1 Check-ins with the staff to understand what has been accomplished, where they will focus, and see if I can clear barriers
6. Planning for services on Sunday and have all the pieces in place
7. Look out a few months (used to be a year) and make sure we don't forget anything
8. Text, Call, and continue discipling
9. Support the Lead Pastor in any way possible. Not just me, but the supporting staff.
10. Keep in step with the Spirit each day. Check and make sure there is actual fruit you are bearing.
11. Be available, be honest, and understand that I am nothing without Christ.
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?
How can I possibly limit one book? I try to read two dozen books each year on a wide variety of subjects. I chose the following for different reasons so bear with me (these are in no particular order):
1. Making the Best of a Bad Decision: Erwin Lutzer. The content is appropriate as I have made some bad decisions. I have had to own that and this book helped me process that my pursuit is not perfection.
2. Normal Christian Life: Watchman Nee. Sometimes you need inspiration in your faith walk. This was one of those books.
3. The Heavenly Man: Brother Yun. Having been in situations that no one would care to be, God worked mighty miracles in Brother Yun's life. This gave me a greater appreciation for the bigness of God and that I have much to be thankful for.
4. The Way of the Shepherd: Dr. Kevin Leman. This, to me, is a great way for us to learn how to lead (shepherd) well. Very practical.
5. Good and Beautiful series: James Bryan Smith. There is much benefit in the training of your soul. This 3 book series covers the facets and how to practice.
6. Forgiven: Terri Roberts. A great book to gain depth into understanding about forgiveness.
7. The Cross of Christ: John R. W. Stott. I started reading Stott here and then read anything else by him I could get my hands on. He just has a great way of teaching foundational Christian beliefs.
8. The Hiding Place: Corrie Ten Boom. I just have to say, wow!
9. Choosing Forgiveness: Nancy DeMoss. This was the first book that helped me understand what forgiveness is all about. If everyone has a chance, start here and then see yourself transform, empathize, and experience the freedom you were meant to have.
10. Crazy Busy: Kevin DeYoung. Very easy to read in a couple of hours. I just happened to identify with this and had some laughs as well.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leadership is not a system or a process. Leadership is about your investment in the life/lives of others. What are you willing to sacrifice to bring people where God may want them to be? I have had more conversations this past year than ever before. I trust God to communicate and then courage needs to enter in.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Honestly, I am still working on that. I know where I would like us to be and I believe some of the essentials are in place. I believe it has to have a start, I have to be on top of it, and then be ready to assess and make changes.
1. Have a method for communicating regularly
2. Solicit for feedback, ideas, and improvement
3. Keep asking for other leaders to be on the lookout for someone to come alongside them
4. Have a learning avenue in place and look for those committed to following it
5. If you are discouraged at the numbers or participation, maybe God is leading elsewhere. Ask Him.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
I have found myself overwhelmed many times... situations beyond my wisdom and capacity. As soon as I started my job as XP, things seemed to be falling apart. Systems were crashing, people were dying, and I couldn't take on all the problems which caused me to lose sleep. I felt completely burdened and blamed myself for not being able to take care of everything. What God showed me in this and every other time was (check this out from The Message - John 15:5-8): “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples." I have learned to be honest about all my shortcomings. I don't feel bad anymore about saying that I cannot do it all. My identity is secure in Jesus and I know I cannot produce a thing without Him. I am more than OK with that.