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7 Questions with Jeremy Johnson
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Jonno White
7 Questions with Jeremy Johnson

Name: Jeremy Johnson

Current title: Family Pastor

Current organisation: Emmanuel Faith Community Church, Escondido California

For the last 7 years, Jeremy has been developing people and programs in church context. The goal is to help people understand and fulfill their calling wherever it may be. Prior to being a pastor, for over 10 years Jeremy worked in various business industries helping organizations grow.

Jeremy is married to Cara and they have two teenage children, Bella and Jay. Jeremy and Cara have the privilege to work and minister in their hometown where they have spent most of their lives. Cara is an elementary teacher and loves teaching kids. Jeremy has stepped into a new role recently to help minister to families and he gets to lead youth and student ministries teams developing the next generation of leaders. Their church has been a pillar in the community for the last 80 years and is taking the next step in living out the gospel locally and globally.

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

What I find most challenging as a leader is time management. Everything the church does takes time, discipleship, relationships, planning, prayer, gathering, fellowship, lament, confession, praise, etc. All of it takes time and we only have so much time each day. Some aspects of leadership have to be constantly shifted, prioritized, or delegated so the vital aspects of the church can happen and produce fruit. While we serve and infinite time bending God we are subject to the rules of time that constrain us. If we are not careful we find ourselves always in a time crunch, busy, hurried, stressed which takes away the effectiveness of the work we do.

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

Growing up my parents, my grandparents, and generations back all followed and loved Jesus. My grandparents cleaned the church when I was a little kid, my mom served in various ministries for 35+ years, so loving Jesus and being involved in church was a part of life. The cool thing is that it was not forced on us, so it could become my own relationship with Jesus and his church. In high school I got the opportunity to serve, disciple, teach and go on some mission trips and it opened my eyes to a calling to minister. However, the responsibility to lead in a church setting really scared me and for years I ran away from it. This also led to a little period of wrestling with God, but he miraculously showed up and called me back to him. I was grateful to walk with him again, but I wasn’t ready to explore being a pastor or church leader really because I didn’ think I was good enough.

Obviously God knew the journey and led me to some great organizations that gave me vital training and experience. In college I got to be part of a leadership training program for a high end retail store, I moved to a high pressure role which challenged me to grow daily, and then I got to spend the majority of my career working with local, national and international companies helping them strategize and hire the right leaders for their organizations. I learned so much. It was about 10 years ago now, God called me to follow him again into the church world and it started with seminary, then leaving a successful career and then stepping into a leadership role at my local church. Outside of these experiences I have had many leaders pour into me which has helped me get to the point where I am at. Sorry it’s kind of a long story!

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

Of course 2020 has changed some of the way our days are structured, but for me it is pretty healthy to try to keep some consistency spiritually and mentally. Typically I am up early and my first hour to hour and half is spent in the word and prayer. This keeps me grounded, focused and in tune with the Spirit. Then I have a little video devotional on instagram which is a great way to connect with people.

I try to have a little family time (wife, two kids, two dogs) before heading into the office and meetings. Mornings are typically either staff meetings, leadership meetings, or counseling appointments everyday which run to lunch time. Afternoons are typically focused on people’s needs- encouragement, prayer, counsel 4-5 days a week. However 2-3 days a week I try to set aside some time at the end of the day for planning and goal setting. This way I am not getting lost in the day to day and can keep track of the things to come. Evenings and nights are spent with people either family or at church.

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 two leadership books that have had a huge impact on me. Good to Great by Jim Collins and Lead by Paul David Trip. I highly recommend them both.

The book outside the scripture with the biggest impact on how I lead and do things has to be Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt. I had a friend invite me to a seminar that Jeff was leading, got to know him a little bit and it helped me grow so much. Gospel Fluency put into context and words much of what I was studying at the time with also how I was living on mission and trying to lead. Essentially it helped me put into context leadership around the gospel and then practicing with others. Simple and life changing.

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

My mentor when I first stepped into the leadership at church didn’t have lots of time, but he made time for people. Maybe it was a few minutes, maybe it was more, but he made time for people. I watched him care for people, pray for people, lead people in those little moments that changed the course of their day and I saw how God used that for a much bigger purpose.

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

I love this question and I am really excited about the next season we are stepping into. I partnered with one of our other pastors and we created a intern/protege development plan. It is a pretty intense 1 year cycle to grow someone who has a calling/desire for church work and in a year's time frame, get them valuable training, hands on experience, and mentoring so they could be ready to lead on their own.

For people who want to serve and lead, but maybe not in a vocational setting it’s discipleship. I know that word has lost some of it’s meaning, but it is so powerful. I believe every believer is called to lead in some aspect of their life, so training them is vital. I enjoy setting up groups of 3-4 possible leaders, spending time in study, prayer and life and then challenging them to lead in the areas God is calling them. It can’t stop there, they need to then follow the model and help others in the same way.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?

A few years ago a friend and fellow leader came with a big vision of what God was calling them to do. It was outside of what our church would normally take action in. So we prayed and talked more and asked God to lead. This allowed for doors that were normally closed to using our resources to start discipling adults and kids through sports. I have got to support my friend in his leadership and calling and watch God bring thousands of people to a richer relationship with him through sports. It has been an unexpected blessing and I am really excited to see what God will do next through it.