7 Questions with Joel Bagnall

Name: Joel Bagnall

Current title: Pastor

Current organisation: Lyngby & Københavns Frikirke (Copenhagen Apostolic Church)

Joel is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, with his beautiful wife, Helena and two sons Mattias and Elliot where they are passionately serving in their local church and building Christian leadership development organisation “Lift Leaders”.

Originally from the southern suburbs of Brisbane, Australia, Joel "fell into" Youth Ministry while pursuing a fledgling music career. After some powerful encounters with God, Joel found himself on a leadership journey over the next 10 years which eventually resulted in him running one of the most significant Youth Ministries in the State of Queensland.

Joel has a passion for seeing young and promising leaders grow and influence the world through the local church, especially in Europe. He firmly believes that people don't just change through skilful preaching and pastoring but through encountering the presence of God.

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

In my context, the most challenging thing I have found is ministering in a cross cultural context. Even though the fundamentals of good leadership are the same, the leadership culture and progressiveness of leadership culture is a completely different experience in Denmark.

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

It all started by being invited by a youth pastor to be a leader on the youth team. From there I responded to God challenging me to do Bible College. I didn’t go into it expecting any particular outcome at all, so I was surprised to be invited on to staff after college (and a time of being a high school chaplain) to be a youth pastor. After more than a decade of ministering in that context I found myself responding to a new challenge and calling to minister and build churches across Europe. (That’s a much longer story)

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

After being fully itinerate for a few years, plus having a young family and my wife also working and studying in different seasons, I’d have to say that this has been dynamic for me. My preferred way is to get up around 5:30am and get a jump start on the day with devotions and then some administrative/planning tasks even exercise then after that heading into the office for meetings, catch-ups and working on projects or sermons. But to be honest, I’m still trying to tweak the rhythm on this.

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 keep finding new ones, so I’m trying to stay open minded rather than having one favourite. However, “Ideal team player” by Patrick Lencioni has really nailed some things for me when it comes to culture and leadership development, also “360 degree leader” by John Maxwell. I recently read "Crossing Over" by Paul Scanlon and “The Motive” by Patrick Lencioni and those have REALLY blessed me.

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

It sounds so fundamental when you talk about it in a short conversation, but I would have to say “open mindedness”. For a long time I had thought I understood leadership well enough to pretty much lead anywhere...but working in a new context with a new senior leader, I have learned SO MUCH by shutting up, watching and learning and trying some new ways of working with people. I can feel I am growing and maturing as I allow myself to to rethink certain ways of approaching challenging situations.

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

Now that is a sizeable topic to tackle! A bite sized answer would be:
- Have a vision worth following
- Make a culture that champions leadership development
- Focus on commitment, competency and character
- Be people focused but process aware
- Start younger than you think
- Make space for people to get on board and empower with clarity and support
- Place faith and trust as you give them responsibility to lead a specific area. (With Grace)

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?

These are the type of questions I struggle the most with, it’s tricky thinking back over all of the stories. But, I would have to say the transition from Australia to Europe and pioneering Lift Leaders would have to be right up there, not because it’s a more “fruitful” example than any of the others I could mention but manly because it has presented the biggest challenges outside of my comfort zone. Moving from a functioning leadership environment to step out in faith to virtually nothing, across many different cultures I think has required the most from me and my leadership to date.