7 Questions with Luke Williams

Name: Luke Williams

Current title: Lead Pastor

Current organisation: Follow Baptist Church

Married to Kim
4 Kids: Adele, Tayla, Anika & Lenny
Qualified Carpenter but now been in full time ministry for 14 years
Planted Follow Baptist Church in 2015
Follow StKilda Football Club

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

I think the most challenging thing as a leader is the constant weight of responsibility. There is always a pastoral concern, a sermon to prepare, a conversation to have and family to care for. It is hard to switch off in a ministry position and to always know the wisest way to lead people in the midst of a myriad of competing priorities.

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

My grandfather was a pastor and I grew up in and around Churches from the time I was born. All this lead me to conclude that ministry was NOT a path for me. God had different plans...In my young adult years I had a season of significant spiritual growth, which coincided with attending a new Church with role models in ministry that challenged my perception of what it was to be a pastor.

In that season I felt a clear call from God which was confirmed in many ways and by significant people in my life, and it culminated in me enrolling at Bible College. A couple of years later I was offered my first full time role in Church ministry. I think it's that sense of call that has been the only thing that's kept me going throughout a couple of difficult seasons. God has given me leadership ability and I believe this is what he has for my life!

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

The times I sense God's presence most profoundly are late at night, so in a sense each day ends for me in the Word and prayer, but I also see it as the preparation for the next day.
Most days start with prayer, a coffee, a check in with the staff and then a time of reflection to establish the priorities for that day. I am very much a list guy (achiever on the enneagram) so I have a list of things to do for the week that I tick off as they are complete. I try and mix my days up so there is a blend of office time, pastoral and staff interaction, prayer, Word and times of reflection and fresh air.

I have an app on my phone called "the one minute pause" which reminds me at various times of the day to pause and refocus on God in prayer and meditative reflection.

Over time I have identified that between 4-5pm is my most productive and clearest thinking time, so I tend to block that out wherever possible for sermon writing. It all seems to flow at that time of the day!

I try to limit my commitments to a couple of nights out a week to prioritise family and rest. Early in ministry this was not established but has become one of my most important practices. We are no good to anyone if we are exhausted and have nothing left to give. I am convinced that Jesus ministered from rest, where we often rest from exhaustion. We need to flip the script to more accurately align with Jesus example.

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?

It's unfortunate what happened with Bill Hybels, but early on in ministry I found his book Courageous Leadership to be so helpful as a leader. There are so many practical bits of wisdom that I could really relate to and was challenged by.

More recently I have found Hero Maker by Dave Ferguson to be influential in my leadership. It is a book that excels in simplicity and points towards genuine movement. It has really practical steps to take, and things to implement in order to create a disciple making, Kingdom building culture as a leader.

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

Not so much a lesson I've learnt recently, as much as it is something I learned a long time ago but have been reminded of it's importance recently. The lesson is that transparency builds relational trust, even in times of disagreement. I have previously experienced a Church of constant secrecy and perpetual gossip and it is a toxic and damaging culture to be part of. The key to avoiding that is transparency.

If you are a secure enough leader, you will be able to model transparency in a way that it becomes the norm in your culture. The Church should be the most transparent organisation on the planet!

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

First of all by prioritising it. The greatest limitation on the Church now and in the future is a lack of genuine discipleship and leadership development. You endorse what you celebrate, so it is important to celebrate multiplication of leadership anytime you possibly can. Craig Groeschel says that "culture is a combination of what you create and what you allow". It is one thing to create a culture of leadership development, but if you allow leaders in your organisation not to prioritise developing others, that's the reality you will end up with.

The Hero Maker book has a great pathway model of multiplication thinking (Acts 1:8), Permission giving (Matt 4:19), Discipleship Multiplying (John 3:22), Gift Activating (Matt 28:19) and Kingdom Building (Matt 6:33), all with practical ways of how to accomplish this. One of our main priorities as a Church is to keep growing to excel in these areas.

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?

There are so many to choose from, particularly since we planted Follow 5 years ago. God has been so faithful to us in that time and has provided in miraculous ways, however the personal ones always mean the most. Our daughter who was 16 at the time was baptised a couple of years ago in a rented spa, in our community centre car park, surrounded 360 degrees by 100's of people from our Church family.

I have a photo of that moment, with me baptising her in the spa, with my 93 yr old Grandfather in the photo. My parents, brothers and other kids were all there and for me that was incredibly special because of the generational blessing of faith. My Grandfather is a world war 2 vet and often doesn't express his emotions, but on that day after the service he said to me with tears in his eyes, "I nearly didn't come today (he was unwell), but I’m so glad I did, because if I didn't it would've been the biggest mistake of my life". Those kinds of moments are hard to beat!