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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading 
7 Questions with Joel L Rissinger
helps you in your leadership.
Jonno White
7 Questions with Joel L Rissinger

Name: Joel L Rissinger

Current title: Executive Pastor

Current organisation: LifeWay Church

Pastor Joel L. Rissinger is the President of The Rissinger Resource Group, LLC, a certified speaker and coach with the John Maxwell Group, and the Executive and Co-Founding Pastor of LifeWay Church in Newington, Connecticut. More importantly, he has been married to Karen Rissinger, for more than 36 years. Together, they have two adult children, an awesome son-in-law, and two beautiful granddaughters. Pastor Joel started his career as a Management Consultant to companies like Johnson & Johnson, Eastman Kodak, and Saft Battery where he did personality assessment, motivational assessment, outplacement counseling, and recruiting. He also served for several years as a Marketing Executive, consulting and providing information technology solutions to companies like Bell Aerospace, Xerox, Kodak, Marriott Corporation, the State of CT, and Welch Foods. Since 1992, Pastor Joel has been in vocational ministry, but has kept his hand in business as well. Joel has been ordained by Converge USA, as well as two other organizations. In this capacity, he has led several congregations through major transitions prior to planting Mill Pond Church in 2007. In addition, Joel has served as the Director of Church Multiplication for Converge Northeast, the New England Regional Coordinator for The Antioch School of Leadership Development, Seminar Presenter for Life Innovations, Inc., and as a Chaplain for several local companies. Pastor Joel has been a regular speaker at the Northeast Regional Iron Sharpens Iron Conferences, the Liberty University Church Planting Emphasis Week, the Newington, CT Chamber of Commerce meetings, numerous Rotary Clubs, the CT Better Business Bureau, corporate clients such as Coorstec Corporation, and other venues. In addition to his John Maxwell Team certification, Joel is a graduate of the Bill Gove Speech Workshop. He has a BA in theology from Ambassador University, and MAs in both religion and religious education from Liberty University. He is the author of several books including Champion That Change, The Crucified Church, Communicate to Lead, and Whole 4 Life.

7 Questions with Joel L Rissinger


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

I think this is a two-fold answer for me. On the one hand, it's the challenge of wanting more fruit. Not just, (or even primarily), salvations; but real lasting change in people's lives. The other, more painful element of this is feeling responsible when lives don't change or don't change "enough." The guilt or feeling of failure when people backslide, etc., is overwhelming at times.

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

My mother dedicated me to God's service before I was born. Her pregnancy and my birth was a miracle. I ignored this story and call until I felt God using me in sharing his Word in a public setting at age 15. I went to Bible College at 18, but worked in business from age 22-30. I helped-out in local churches, but didn't go fulltime in ministry till I was called to a church in Springfield, MA in 1992. Have been in vocational ministry in one form or another since then.

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

I wear multiple hats now, so Monday-Friday, I'm at work from 8-4:00 as a Hospice Chaplain. I also own my own Chaplaincy Company serving nursing homes in Central CT. Evenings and Weekends, I serve the church by speaking, teaching, coaching, etc. I'm also an EdD. student at Liberty so every free moment, I'm reading, writing, or studying to that end.

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?

I think Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church made the biggest difference in my ministry because it spoke to things I had felt and tried to articulate for years. Much of my church planting and leadership work since has taken advantage of several of Rick's systems.

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

Leadership is Influence. Thus, all of us are leaders to one degree or another since all of us influence others. The question is whether we influence toward positive, lasting change (see my book "Communicate to Lead").

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

I believe in always sharing responsibility and opportunity. People--especially young male leaders--learn by doing. Sure, there will be lots of trial and error...more error than trial sometimes (lol). Still, life lessons and leadership gold comes from these experiences.

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

I was doing a weekly Bible Study at a local prison. One week after church, a man who had been a proverbial "wallflower" came up and sheepishly asked if he could visit that study with me. I said "of course!" Slowly, I got him involved by having him pray, read the passage for study that week, etc. I eventually found out that he had been a former gang member and felt guilty that some of his friends had gone to jail, but he'd never been caught. He worked through this and eventually took over that ministry. A few years later, after I had moved away, I heard that he had been ordained and was serving as a bi-vocational pastor. This was a real II Timothy 2:2 victory for the Kingdom of God!

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