7 Questions with Jonathan J Gouthier
Name: Jonathan J Gouthier
Current title: Associate Pastor
Current organisation: First Church Torrington
Jonathan Gouthier is…
A lover of Jesus
A student of His Word
Pastor and a passionate teacher,
Change-Maker and Vision Caster.
Just over 33 years ago, Jonathan Gouthier professed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Since that time, his life has been a journey of victories and defeats. Seasons where his heart was for God and His way and periods where he was not aligned with God’s purpose and chose to live a life based on his terms, not God’s.
During this time, Jonathan achieved levels of success in business that many yearn for, but few achieve. Throughout it all, he has come full circle and has generated a passion and desire to have a deep and intimate relationship with God.
Jonathan received his MDiv at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is the Associate Pastor at First Church in Torrington CT. He also is an author releasing his first book, “All Ways Good: How God Will Make All Things Together For Good.” and writes periodically on his personal blog for JoGo Ministries. In all of this, his mission is to see that all hear, receive, and respond to the Good News God has for them.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Our environment is made up of volunteer leadership and so the struggle comes to get everyone to face outward instead of inward. That means change. Everyone wants change, wants to not be status quo as long as everything remains the same. My challenge has not been to define our vision or mission. It is helping all our volunteers understand that their calling, their gifts are to be used for others, to draw people into the family of God. I know every leader is presented with the statement, “We’ve always done it that way.” When that comes out of someone’s mouth you know it is time for a change. It is time to evaluate what the church is doing and is it going to bring people into a relationship with Jesus.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I grew up in the church or going to church I should say. My mother was a church secretary and so we were at church what seemed 24/7/365. That soon changed when I moved to Florida and started a communication design business. I hardly attended church and felt God owed it to me to take care of me if He meant what He said. I soon found myself severely sick and that became my return to Christ. I got involved in a mega-church where I volunteered in Adult Ministries and soon felt the call to return to New England where I grew up. It didn’t take long after arriving back north that God called me to Seminary and through that experience, I held several volunteer teaching and spiritual growth positions. After receiving my MDiv and seeking a full-time position within a church, God called me to become the Associate Pastor at the First Church of Torrington, CT.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I’ve always been an early riser and so I get up around 5:00 a.m. every morning to begin the day with devotions and prayer. I also write a Daily Dose E-Devotion that goes out through email and does this after my personal devotion time. Depending on the week, my tasks at the office entail preparing for teaching, organizing Youth functions, writing scripts for our Faith First Podcast, updating our website, and writing for a blog and book. I am also heavily involved with our media team and assist them where necessary for the organization and outline of the Sunday morning services. I am not an extrovert, so my evenings are rather quiet. My evenings include reading and additional study time unless there is a church meeting that I have to attend. I am usually in bed by 9:30 or 10:00.
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’ve read many books on leadership and it amazes me how the majority of them are just worldly concepts tweaked for the sacred space. Very few of them actually talk about leadership is servanthood. So, it’s not a leadership book I will offer as one that has impacted me, it is not even a mission development book, it is a book about life. It’s by Richard J. Foster entitled, “Streams of Living Water: Essential Practices from the Six Great Traditions of Christian Faith.” It was required reading during my time at Bethel Seminary and it has stuck with me and has dogged edges from reading and re-reading it. We might view traditions as old and useless, but Foster talks about these separate and diverse streams of the spiritual life coming together in the believer so that they can overflow out onto the others around them. Why did we come to Jesus? Because maybe at one time in our lives Jesus captivated our imagination because he was, and is the very Son of God. He came to transform and empower our lives. To become like Him. And, to become like Him is to walk in His steps, to live His life. To have abundant life means we have the various streams of living water flowing through ours that include: prayer-filled, virtuous, Spirit-empowered, compassionate, world-centered, and sacramental life.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The lesson I have learned the most is to invite the individual to take ownership. We have all been in churches where they say get involved! It was just a month ago when someone came up to me and offered to get involved and my standard reply was, “We’ll find you a place.” That’s not the right answer! The answer is to invite someone to do one thing. To set up the candles or to bake some brownies. People need a specific task and a task that aligns with their gifts. To just invite someone to get involved might mean you end up with the right person on the right bus in the wrong seat. Discovering the gifts and abilities of our guests and members will strengthen the church and grow it in ways we have not yet seen.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
I kind of alluded to the answer in the previous question. Healthy leadership starts with developing healthy leaders and knowing where their abilities will help the church. My recommendation is to give each volunteer and hired leader a Spiritual Gift Assessment. It shows their heart and assists in where they would be best suited to serve. A church might also be interested in assessing leaders through the Strengthsfinder assessment. Being able to understand where people will drive in ministry is important not only for the health of the team but it impacts the health of the church.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
One of my duties is to oversee and teach the Youth Group at my church. You never know when the next generation will catch fire or understand the love of God. I guess it was about a year into the role and one Communion Sunday after church several of the Youth came to say goodbye and there was one guy who always acted tough and cool while in the group. He came up and gave me a hug. That meant the world to me— still does. How we walk out our lives as leaders are being seen by everyone around us. The Apostle Paul says to the Ephesians, “Watch how you walk, walk wise, figure out what pleases Christ and then do that.” It makes an impact and influences others and their walk of faith.