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7 Questions with Jonathan Dove
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7 Questions with Jonathan Dove
Name: Jonathan Dove
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: Gracecity (formerly Greenlane Christian Centre)
Jonathan is the senior pastor at gracecity (formerly Greenlane Christian Centre), a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in the heart of Auckland. Jonathan is a life-long learner, visionary, and teacher. He chairs the Auckland Church Leaders, bringing churches around a vision for the wider city.
He is passionate about seeing all followers discover and step into their unique call with no line between faith and life, and a gospel that renews people and places.
He is married to Robyn and they have 4 active children.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Criticism. It was especially true in the early days of leaders … the anonymous notes (which I don’t receive anymore or, at least don’t read!) …the second hand comments, and the unfiltered words.. It took me a while to develop tougher skin, and to realise my identity and calling was secure in my relationship with Jesus. From that place, I can listen and lead.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I grew up in a conservative church and made a personal response of faith at the age of 10. My parents were behind-the-scenes people and modelled a service ethos. Within a few months of coming to faith, I started taking leadership. Prior to my conversion, I was a shy quiet kid. But, I became a school prefect, the initiator of projects etc. Something had shifted in me coming to faith (in hindsight, spiritual gifts). The compulsion to pastor and lead was further sparked by an older youth mentor who met with me weekly between the ages of 13-17. He encouraged me and gave me teaching and leading opportunities beyond my age. From there, I went to seminary and connected with first-rate leaders who have coached me and enriched my understanding of church.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I’m a morning person. So, I like to begin a day before anyone else is up with coffee, word and prayer. Then, I hit sermon prep for 3 hours before any meetings. We stop as a staff for 30 minutes each work day at 10.30am for coffee, catch-up, and some table-tennis (it’s helped with a dynamic staff culture). I’ve learned to take a short walk to grab some lunch. My afternoons are typically fully of meetings and planning around the key focus we have, with a couple of afternoons dedicated to wider city influence. Friday is my sabbath. I protect it and seek to refresh through reading, rest, and cooking something for the family. I tend to move around a bit - working from the office, home, and cafes. It helps with creativity and energy management.
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’m a leadership junkie and avid reader. An early book that influenced me was ‘the seven habits’ by Stephen Covey. A real classic. This past year, ‘the ruthless elimination of hurry’ by John Mark Comer has helped me slow my pace and be more present to the moment.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
2020 certainly taught me that God does His best works in moments of disruption. I returned from a funeral for my father in late February 2020 and then (like all of us) plunged into the disruption of COVID-19. Needless to say, I was exhausted and emotionally deflated. Through all the changes, I re-read the story of the early church – The Book of Acts. I had never noticed just much the theme of disruption is such a big part of the story of the mission. But there it was - God using disruption, disappointment, arguments, prison, and confusion – yet there were new ways of doing things, a new work of God, and expanded mission opportunities. This has provided a complete lens change on the way I see problems as new possibilities.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Short answer - Take on the approach by "Empowering Leadership" by Michael Fletcher. It’s clear and compelling.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
I’m a fan of God at work in the ordinary and love it when people delete the line that too often exists between faith and work. 18 months back, I took our staff to visit people from our church in their work contexts -- a bus trip to 6 different sectors. I loved the way these Christian leaders had a gospel lens that changed the way they led their staff, the HR practices they had in place, the sustainable practices, and the way they were giving people a glimpse of the kingdom in their day-to-day context. There was a taste of the kingdom in the here-and-now, in places nobody expected.