7 Questions with Mark Conner

Name: Mark Conner

Current title: Speaker, Coach, and Author.

Current organisation: Conner Ministries Ltd (www.markconner.com.au).

I am currently engaged in freelance work as a speaker, coach, and author. I have had over 30 years of experience in the church and not-for-profit world. I enjoy helping people grow and change.

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

The most challenging role is the need to reposition team members when the role they are in has clearly outgrown them and training hasn’t increased their capacity or level of leadership still. If you do nothing, they and the church suffer, If you make a change, pain is always involved.

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

I never really saw myself as a leader. I was quite shy while growing up and benefited from other people who saw potential in me that I didn’t see myself at the time. I still remember as a teenager going out to lunch with a leader in our church who mentioned in the course of conversation that they believed I was called to be a ‘leader’. I was surprised and left that lunch feeling a foot taller than I already was!

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

Right now I am my own boss so I like to build my week around a variety of tasks and activities. I try to group similar tasks on the same day - e.g. coaching or message preparation or writing. It prevents the loss of time that occurs when you start and stop different types of activities.

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?

‘Managing Transitions’ by William Bridges is very insightful as it considers the emotion of change initiatives.

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

The importance of preparing for transition. Every role we fill is temporary. Someone else, someday will be sitting in our place. The best time to start to think about that is now.

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

First, it’s helpful to establish the various levels of leadership within our church. Then define what a person needs to be, know and be able to do at each level. Then plot out who is where so you can see your immediate training needs. Developing leaders is best done through a combination of apprenticeship (on the job experience), coaching, and training.

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?

My greatest joy has been to see people come to faith, grow personally, and develop their God-given potential for the benefit of others.