7 Questions with Dr. Robert Griffith

Name: Dr. Robert Griffith

Current title: Teaching and Executive Pastor

Current organisation: Journey Church

With 20 years of ministry experience, pastor Griffith is a teaching pastor on the executive team at Journey Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He oversees the adult ministry in this multisite, multigenerational and multiethnic church of 3000. Pastor Griffith is also the CEO of www.1Hope.community, a local non-profit that supports foster care and organizes community transformation. He has been married for 21 years and has six children. Four of his children were adopted from foster care. He is a college professor and advocates for extreme poverty relief around the world.

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

One of the most challenging things I experience in ministry is the moving target of church communications/media. Just when we figure out the way social media works they change the algorithm. The knowledge needed to run an online campus is very complex. Churches are like small television stations with directors, video, audio, lighting, Communications is also where the buck stops with events. Good promotion is 50% of the success of an event. It can be planned well, organized, and even executed well, but if the promotion is poor the event will underperform and miss expectations. The challenge with this area of ministry is the speed in which it changes, and the ever-growing demand for media in the church.

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

I was called into ministry in college as a freshman. I was in a science degree and God called me to be a pastor instead. Through months of prayer and fasting, this calling was confirmed through various people and situations in my life. The Lord also put it on the heart of my wife as well during that time. We were still dating but God spoke to her heart about ministry as we began to see our lives coming together for His purpose in the future. Then within 30 days of completing my ministry educational classes, God opened the door for me to serve on staff at my home church for the first time.

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

I drink a protein shake every day and have a cup of coffee before heading to my study (office) at church. I spend the first hour of the day reading and writing. Currently, I am reading Isaiah and writing some thoughts about foster care ministry. What I love about ministry is that every day is different. Mondays are staff meetings, Tuesdays are production/writing days, Wednesdays are volunteer meetings and Thursdays are sermon writing days. Fridays and Saturdays are my days off.

Each day I typically have a variety of meetings at church and then head home for dinner and time with my family of eight. I read books usually at night when I put the kids to bed or after they are asleep.

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?

A Work of Heart by Reggie Mcneal is a book that describes how God shapes the heart of a leader. There are common ways that God has shaped the heart of many leaders in the Bible. Moses, Paul, Jesus, and David all were shaped by God in similar ways. This book was so profound to me that I quit a nice job I had when I read it to stretch myself into a new level of leadership. You know a book is good when you quit your job. Ha.

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

Trusting God never fails. But it's often hard. There are several things I am praying for and just continue to wait while I know He is at work on my behalf and will work all things out for good in His timing. It is just hard to wait. The lessons in the waiting times are so powerful and used by God for his purpose. So recently, when the results of a project were not being seen as fast as I wanted, I just had to trust God that we had the right people on the project and that He would guide us through with new lessons learned through the process. (And the great thing is... He did!)

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

I believe a healthy leadership pipeline is developed by listening to the people in your church. What do they need? What are they lacking? What is the ethos of your organization and what methodologies are embraced by the culture in your church. Take some surveys, walk around, and ask questions about how people like to learn. What books are people reading? Are they reading at all? Is ther time for people to develop during the work hours of church life or must that be done outside of work hours?
I believe that a solid pipeline consists of two levels: the volunteer pipeline and the staff pipeline. The volunteer pipeline will lead right into the entry-level positions of the staff pipeline if it is set up well. A volunteer pipeline would have elements of appreciation, validation, equipping, and evaluation. While a staff pipeline would have elements of training, conferences, vision meetings, prayer times, and possibly soul care days. Staff can be developed through personality tests and self-discovery as a part of team building activities. I do believe however that a missing piece to many staff development pipelines in mentorship. This is on the job training from a pro that will advance discipleship in ways reading a book never will.

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?

Last Sunday I talked about the need for Christians to answer the call in James 1:27 to help the widows and the orphans. Our community needs 40 more homes so that every child has a home so I put 40 foster care packets on the church altar/stage area and prayed for them. Then I asked the church to take them home as each packet represents a child and they did. We had 39 of 40 packets taken that day! We also have 47 people sign up to support a foster family in simple ways of encouragement. I was very excited to see the church respond to this need in this way.