7 Questions with Karl Faase

Name: Karl Faase

Current title: CEO

Current organisation: Olive Tree Media

Karl Faase is a well known Australian Christian communicator, media presenter, leader and social commentator. He is the CEO of Olive Tree Media, the organisation through which he produces programs of excellence for Christian media and local church use internationally.

Previous to his role in Olive Tree Media Karl was the senior pastor of Gymea Baptist church for almost 20 years. Olive Tree Media’s latest production which Karl hosts is the documentary series, Jesus the Game Changer Season 1 (2016) and Season 2 (2019). Karl's radio spots, The Daily Nudge are heard across Australia and New Zealand. In the past year Karl also authored the book The Stuff of Life. He is the chair of the Australian boards of Samaritans Purse and BGEA.

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

One of the insightful comments on leadership is to never overestimate what you can achieve in one year and never underestimate what you can achieve in five years. Patience has never been a strong virtue of mine, I dislike waiting and have usually found myself to be in a rush. Mature, long term, stable and significant leadership takes time. It takes time to build trust, time to bring change, time to create culture, time to mould teams and time to leave a legacy.

A lack of patience does have positives in that those you lead can see the church, organisation or ministry moving towards your stated dreams and visions and doing so with a sense of urgency. But impatience can burn people in the process and can, at its worst, bring shallow change not a lasting shift in the ministry. There are many challenges in leadership but one of my great struggles was to learn to be patient.

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

Shortening a much longer story, after I completed a diploma in social welfare, I felt led to work in a Christian organisation with young people. The outcome was that I was given a role as a youth worker at Beecroft Uniting Church. This was not a call to vocational ministry rather an opportunity to work in a Christian organisation.

Over the three years I worked at the church I felt a deeper call to long term Christian ministry and church leadership. This was partly an internal leading of the spirit of God but it was also the outcome of seeing positive results in the ministry I was leading and a sense that this was my gifts and skills. In my mind God does not call us to roles that we don't fit or are not skilled for or can't function positively in. Ministry and call ought not be left to personal feelings of the spirit is saying, there should be some other grounds on which that choice is made. Over the years in ministry I have moved from youth ministry, to senior church leadership and now into media ministry. Each step has occurred at the intersection of call, opportunity and skill.

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

Over the years my ministry days have varied enormously depending on the focus of ministry. During the past few years we have travelled a great deal in production internationally as well as interstate travel for ministry in Australia. I would want to say that I have found several disciplines that have helped my daily and weekly routine.

First at the start of the year work out what you are trying the achieve. Make sure you define what success in ministry may look like in the year ahead. At the start of each month review your vision and outcomes for the year, try to remind yourself of what you are seeking to achieve under the grace and leading of God.

At the start of each week consider what the week ahead looks like, what are your time allocations and what needs to be completed. At the start of each day there are two actions that I prioritise. Time with God and exercise. I don't exercise everyday but I make it a priority at the start of the day because if it doesn't happen then it usually doesn't make it into the schedule. That can mean a 5.30am start to fit it in.

Secondly start the day in God’s word, in prayer and in reflection. Make it a priority. At the end of the week, the last thing you do before leaving your office or desk, look at your task list, consider the projects you have on and look through your diary for the next 3- 6 months. It is surprising when you go though this process how often you are reminded of whatyou need to get done in the weeks ahead.

Finally at the end of the year, review how you have gone against the God given outcomes you felt called to at the beginning of the year. Be honest and realistic. It isn't wrong or a failure not to hit all of the targets you set, just review how you went and what you learnt in the process. While this is slightly tangential to the question, I believe these habits help keep each leader on track over the long haul.

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?

Heroic Leadership - Chris Lowney

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

Organizational models and processes support ministry to people but they do not replace personal connection with people in ministry. If your key message as a leader, especially as a local church, is "go to our website" you may want to reconsider your approach.

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

This is about recruiting and modelling in ministry. Small churches often develop a higher percentage of leaders and people in ministry because there is nobody else, so young people start in ministry early. The danger in larger churches is that many of these roles are filled by paid staff.

Give young people an opportunity early. Develop a culture of service rather than entertainment. Have key leaders model excellent readership. Finally keep high standards in every area. From attitude, to punctuality, to morality and values, to Godly lifestyles, to being responsible to complete the ministry tasks they have committed to. A saying that is used in the general community is "the standard you walk past (allow) is the standard you set". That is true of leadership culture and leadership development

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?

This is a story of the most generous gift our church ever received.

Jasmine Perini (nee Langridge) was a part of our church in Gymea. She has done some courses overseas seeking to develop her knowledge and gifts in prayer ministry. She decided several years ago to spend some of her time serving friends she has met overseas. A fellow participant of her course was Nelson Sikweza from the rural areas in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

This is a small and poor church serving their community in Africa.

At the end of the week of ministry Jasmine and Pastor Sikweza were together in a gathering of this small, impoverished and faithful church. As the meeting closed and Jasmine was being thanked for her gift of time and ministry with this church Pastor Sikweza made a request of his church which stunned and disturbed Jasmine. Pastor Sikweza looked around his small church and said “Gymea Baptist Church in Australia has blessed us with Jasmine for this past week. We want to give a blessing to Gymea Baptist Church to thank them for Jasmine and her work with us. We are going to take up an offering today for Jasmine to take back to Australia and her church so we can bless this church by sowing into the work they are doing like they have sowed into what we are doing here”. Jasmine wanted the ground to open up and swallow her rather than to be part of this unfolding scene. She watched dumbfounded as the small needy group of people one by one came forward with cash gifts to send as a gift back to Australia.

So how much was this offering? What was the gift that Jasmine brought back as an encouragement to our church? Forty Australian dollars. We spend more than this most days on postage or phone calls. In the face of our church’s growing budget this is an insignificant amount of money.

As a generous and sacrificial act of love to our church, it’s the most generous gift we ever received.