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7 Questions with Ivan Yoder
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Jonno White
7 Questions with Ivan Yoder

Name: Ivan Yoder

Current title: Pastor

Current organisation: Bible Baptist Church in South Dakota

Saved out of the Amish at age 10 years old. Then joined the Baptist church soon after. I went to Christian school for High School and to Ambassador Baptist College for ministry training. I was a Youth Pastor for 12 years and then an Associate Pastor for 4 years. In 2014 I took the Senior Pastorate at Bible Baptist Church in Brookings, SD.

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

The change of heart people have about others - My best friend today can be my worst enemy next year. I have experienced this and it is a painful thing! I wish people could keep their eyes on the Lord and not other people. The constant "refereeing" that pastors need to do is fatiguing and discouraging. My biggest challenge has been to get everyone to embrace the vision of the church.

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

I have known since I was about 12 years old that I was going to be a preacher. From then, it was a progression - Bible College, working as a layman in the church, then getting the title of Youth Pastor, then going on staff, and finally going on full time in 2008. Bible Baptist called me to be their Pastor in 2014.

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

I am in the office by 8:00 am. I have my coffee and get to work, studying and reading. I preach four times a week, so I have to do a lot of preparation. At about 2:00 pm I will leave the office and make a visit or two. Sometimes I will simply make phone calls to check in with parishioners. On Mondays I will send out birthday and anniversary cards for anyone in the church that is having one that week.

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?

I read the book "The Spiritual Leader" by Paul Chappell and that helped me formulate my priorities. I like to read of other leaders who have much more on their plate than I do, to see how they do what they do. For preaching, most helpful book for me was "Preaching and Teaching with Imagination" by Warren Wiersbe. That was a tremendous help to my preaching style.

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

People will be People. Learning that everyone has weaknesses, fears, and shortcomings, has helped me develop patience with them and not rest my satisfaction on them. Pleasing God first of all and not people has helped me center my ministry. Finally, a quote from my first Pastor: "Love your people and they will love you back, Fight your people and they will fight you back" has been my guiding principle.

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

Using people that are already faithful and respected in the church, rather than giving positions for the purpose of growing people. I do not put someone in a position "so they will be more faithful", rather I use Christ's principle "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much."

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?

When I arrived there were three deacons, two of which were movers and shakers. One was a timid man who did not have any confidence. Unfortunately, it was designed this way, as the two were related and liked to have control. I saw as I gave a voice and sought the opinion of this third man, how he flourished and became much more vital to the organization. I learned that men whom I invest in will in turn invest in the ministry.