7 Questions with Ken Lee
Name: Ken Lee
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: Nations Church
Ken Lee is the Senior Pastor of Nations Church. Ken and his wife Chrissy were sent to plant the church 16 years ago by his then Senior Pastor David Storer, with a small core of people. Today the church is thousands strong with 4 physical locations in Perth (Australia), 1 in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and 1 in Cork (Republic of Ireland). Ken was a Certified Practicing Accountant in his past life but is now a credentialed minister with the Australian Christian Churches. Ken and Chrissy have two boys, Jentezen (16 years old) and Isaiah (14 years old).
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
There are many things that are challenging as a leader! Probably the one that springs foremost to mind is keeping up with the rapid rate of change (and the corresponding uncertainties that come with that) in society and having to lead effectively in that context. I also find leading the complexities of multiple campuses all in different stages, sizes and in different communities very challenging.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have served in church since I was a teenager, mostly in praise and worship. I'm a musician and worship leader and my parents always encouraged me to use my musical gifts... through the years, I guess leaders that I served under identified leadership (or at least my potential) in me and did their best to develop me and give me more opportunities to lead.
Eventually whilst on staff as a worship pastor, my senior pastor saw that I had the potential to lead a church and he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to plant our church! So, my story of church planting is quite different to most. I didn't approach my leader and tell him 'I had a church in my heart'. He saw the potential in me, called it out of me and sent me out to plant our church.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My preference is to have some kind of routine, in most spheres of life whether it's work, family time, recreation, exercise and holidays. This is challenging in a ministry/leadership role where things are uncertain from week to week. However, I try and distil my life down to the 'non-negotiable' and structure my days and my week around those key things that 'must be done' in any given week.
So, I don't delineate between what is 'work' and 'the rest of my life'. My life comprises of my work (ministry), my family, and my God. I just make sure these three key pillars are represented in the structure of my life. My philosophy around structuring my life is to be principled but not rigid... routined but flexible.
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?
Without a doubt, it's 'Courageous Leadership' by Bill Hybels. I read that book in 2004 and it radically impacted my leadership life. I read that book a month before we planted our church and it just so inspired me for what would be the most challenging thing I have done in my life.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
My previous pastor taught us that 'the best you is a WHOLE you'. Though not specifically with the intention to apply this to leadership, my wife and I have found that if you pursue wholeness as a leader (ie deal with your dysfunctions, your hang-ups, your blind spots, your character issues, and all your areas of brokenness) it will bless every sphere of your influence that your leadership life touches. I've come to realise in 16 years of senior pastoring that there are very few things that do more long term damage to people than unwhole people in positions of influence.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
I'm far more interested in making disciples than training leaders. Leadership training is too narrow a focus. Disciple people and you will inevitably be discipling leaders. Leadership focuses on the technique. Discipleship focuses on the person. So... develop the person holistically and you will find yourself producing healthy, whole, fruitful leaders. After all, wasn't this Jesus' approach with His 12?
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?
Oh my... this is a hard one... there are many stories pertaining to miracles and events where we've seen God come through for us...but I think the greatest story for me is the story of God at work in my own life. 16 years ago, I was a 29 year old worship pastor, with a wife pregnant with our first child... who never preached a day in his life...that was asked to plant a church by his pastor... and to see God taking a very ordinary and insecure, untrained, migrant kid from the southern suburbs of Perth and use me to lead a church ... it says very little about me but everything about the grace and kindness of God.
In many ways I still can't believe that God continues to trust me with His people and I hold it in such high honour that He would. The day will come when my time in leading Nations Church will be handed to others but until then, I'm surrendered to allowing God to continue writing the story of my life.