Thank you to the 1,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
7 Questions with Ric
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Ric
Current title: Senior Pastor
Current organisation: Strong Nation Church
Born 1966 into a rural family, with one older brother, mum and dad (still together after 58 years).
Move to the city as a 6 year old and raised in Penrith.
Became part of Ps Gordon Gibbs' fellowship which grew to be Penrith Christian Life Centre (now Imaginations Church). As a teenager, I was born again and become one of youth leadership team, under the leadership of Ps Steve Kelly. Dad became the pastor overseeing Pastoral Care for 25 years, and becoming an adult I volunteered a day to assist him.
Married Naomi (nee Thornton) in 1989 and began our family 1992.
1997 the new pastor Ps Jack Hanes offered me the role of Youth Pastor; an office i held for 10 years.
Through a burden for true discipleship, our ministry grew to over 800 young people attending small groups and our Friday night youth service weekly.
2007 I was offered the Senior Pastor role at Hawkesbury Church in Windsor NSW. Hawkesbury Church was renamed Strong Nation Church in 2012 and in the last 7 years we have planted churches in Springwood NSW, Jordan Springs NSW, and Cambodia.
We have 5 children born between 1992 and 2004, 3 daughters in law, and 6 amazing grandchildren. Our adult children are all in ministry fulfilling pastoring and chaplaincy roles.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Taking over a church from a successful predecessor. He had held onto the church a little longer than he wished to, and I was the new guy from out of town. Also, the church had amassed a crippling debt, and this made decision-making very tough.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Ps Ian Wood called me and offered the role over lunch... I was in shock, and thought I would never accept; however, the Word of the Lord would not leave me, so we obeyed.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Early morning walk with the dog. Breakfast, then off to whatever ministry I have that day; team meetings, or visiting, or pastor catch-ups, sermon prep and study, or high school chaplaincy (one day a week). Each of these activities involve time for spiritual focus a day devotion. Leave office generally on time, have dinner with my wife and at-home kids, then relax through the evening... bed times are getting earlier these days.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
"Sidetracked in the Wilderness" Mike Wells.
Recommended by another pastor to avoid burnout...
This book brought me back to the basic and true theology I was born-again into. A very Spirit-filled way of walking in Christian ministry.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Unless someone has truly been Born Again, become a New Creation, their discipleship will merely be "behaviour modification", and ultimately they and I will fail... Romans 7
Discipleship must be from the Inside-out and not from the outside-in.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
I think Leadership is overrated and Fathers are what we need; All good fathers leads, but not leaders father well.
I love the side-by-side method of discipleship. It takes time for this. I like to think of it as a father-son relationship. The test of my parenting is not in my children, it's in my grandchildren. "How well did I teach my children to parent from their experience?". So, if my "son" can father his own son in Christ, I've developed a pipeline. True disciples make the best leaders according to the gifts God has given them.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
I remember Ps Jack Hanes sitting me down, as a young youth pastor, and saying, "if you want to preach in my pulpit, you must have a broken heart for lost people". I realised only Jesus can do this, so I spent the rest of the year seeking Him. He showed me how He sees humanity, and I am so glad He broke my heart for His burden.
What's one question you'd love to ask other leaders in our audience to generate discussion about leadership? Eg. 'How do you do difficult conversations well?', or 'What's one tip for leading a remote online team?'
"Other than Biblical and Leadership training, what are the vital steps to handing over your church to a successor?"