7 Questions with Mark Dean

Name: Mark Dean

Current title: Worship Pastor

Current organisation: Gateway Baptist Church

Married to Eden and dad to Harrison (10), Luca (7) and Joey (1), Mark is the Worship Pastor at Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane. Mark was a carpenter in a previous life and still enjoys hitting things with a hammer when he needs to. He loves watching sport and a good buffet.

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

I think the hardest thing can be the (and I hate this word) relentless nature of Sundays. They just don’t stop coming :P It can be hard to stay fresh in your personal faith when you’re always trying to develop corporate content to help people engage with Jesus and hard to be creative when the turnaround seems so short.

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

I was on worship team, but never really considered myself a leader and certainly never considered that I would enter full time ministry. My Senior Pastor asked me to think about a part time role (beginning with a year long internship) leading our worship team and I accepted. It was two days a week for about 5 years whilst I was also running my construction business. I was then asked to come on in four-day, then full-time capacity about 5 years ago.

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

I’m not as good at work structure as I want to be in vocational ministry (it was so much easier in construction where there was a logical method to building). I hear all these great church leaders like Groeschel and Nieuwhof talk about their rhythms and structure and I’m so jealous! Although, I do recognise that I’m in a different stage of life (young kids) than those guys are. All that said, one of the wonderful things about my role is that I get plenty of flexibility to drop off and pick up my kids from school and be way more present with them than I was in construction. The downside of that flexibility means that I’m always catching up at night and generally work until I’m ready for bed.

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?

Oh wow, how do you narrow it to one!?! I might cheat a little….

The Anonymous Leader by a good friend of mine, Ralph Mayhew, really helped me solidify my thoughts around and put language to why humility and a servant heart are such important superpowers in ministry.

Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof helped me see how I was walking the tightrope of burnout (probably just in time). Great book on the warning signs and road back from burnout.

How To Lead When You’re Not In Charge by Clay Scroggins really helped me deal with my discontentment of not feeling ‘in charge’ and to understand that great leaders lead even when they‘re not at the top of the org chart.

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

That I can’t do it all… Man, this bites me hard every so often, but God really spoke to me again during this COVID season about delegating more to others and being at peace with the fact that they might not do it like me or even to the same level as me (I know, I sound like a control freak… and that may be true to a point...).

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

I think it starts with having something healthy for people to want to be a part of, then creating opportunities for them to lead within that. Having emerging leaders standing with you at every opportunity is a great way to cultivate organisational DNA and have them lead in a safe and supported way. We talk about the leadership ‘square’ a lot in our team - I do, you watch; I do, you help; I help, you do; I watch (or celebrate), you do.

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?

Another very tough question to answer - ministry is full of stories because it’s full of people. I still reflect on the time that God prompted me with a specific word that He wanted to heal someone as I was leading worship in one of our services. I had never ever spoken a word like that, but when I obeyed, God was faithful to His prompting and healed a lady’s chronic back pain. I recall the incredible feeling that God would use me to play a part in someone else’s story. He’s so gracious.