7 Questions with Tim Giovanelli

Name: Tim Giovanelli

Current title: Senior Pastor

Current organisation: Manly Life Church

I am the Pastor of Manly Life Church - a Baptist church on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. My wife and I planted the church 8 years ago and have loved the journey of seeing it grow and develop into a thriving community. My passions are evangelism and church planting and we hope to see leaders raised and church plants happening in the coming years. Previous to ministry I worked in Business Consulting in London and my hobbies are swimming at Manly Beach, watching too much cricket and spending time with my wife and kidlets.

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

The thing I find most challenging as a church leader has been finding a healthy demarcation between ministry and relationships. I am the kind of leader who likes to be in the midst of my congregation and doing friendship with people in my church. Inevitably in church life people move on or get their nose out of joint. This can hurt when you feel you are invested in people's lives. I've seen church leaders who can keep their personal lives separate from their ministry, but this is not something I could do. I think that means it's a more fun journey, but also potentially more bruising when things go wrong.

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

I became a church leader really out of my love of the local church. When I was living in London and working in business my life revolved around the local church (youth leading, Alpha Courses, church services). I just loved the local church and seeing it at it's best. A minister spoke on that passage in Revelation on being neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm and being spat out by Jesus. The insight was the hot healing springs and cool running water in that city where life gave... while lukewarm water was stagnant and full of disease and literally would make you vomit. He then challenges us to do something with our lives that was life giving and for me that was ministry. So I quit my job, went off to Regent College in Vancouver... and the rest is history!

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

I often do a big group ocean swim in Manly called the Bold and Beautiful in the morning. It is awesome being in nature and having time to think and pray. Then it is usually getting kids to school, and the start of the work day. This usually involves sermon prep, meetings with my staff team and members of the church. Then the evenings are usually time with family, some kind of ministry or out with friends. But if there is one thing I know in ministry, there is no such thing as a normal day. Just this week I am conducting a funeral, a wedding and getting ready for our Christmas services. It's rarely dull...

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?

Probably David Bosch' book Transforming Mission. I felt like it was on the reading list for most courses at Regent College... maybe they were trying to tell us something! Part of the reason it was so helpful was it shaped my thinking away from a salvationist theology (still important) to a kingdom theology. It helped me see my role not just in terms of getting people to heaven but seeing heaven come to earth... ok that was a bit cliche... but you get the idea. It meant the Gospel story became bigger and we had a role to play, whether in media, politics, the family, business, human rights, sports, community... let your kingdom come!

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

There are always lessons going on for me about not getting caught up in 'performance' around ministry and my self worth and my relationship with Jesus. It is hard in ministry not to ride the rollercoaster of attendance and giving... and yet that is what we all too often do! There are often so many encouragements happening in the church and ministry and yet it is easy to focus on the criticisms or people's sparse attendance. It is why we always start our staff meeting sharing good news stories and testimonies from the previous week. It is easy to focus on the negative, so I always try and keep the good news spurring us on.

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

This is something we are reviewing at the moment. We are part of a very healthy church, so I want us to be producing leaders and ministers for the next generation. Obviously this happens through becoming youth and young adult leaders, life group leaders, Alpha Course leaders and so on. We have leadership nights and I really try and give people a go at preaching and leading ministries. My encouragement is always, if you can grow a life group to 30+ people, then maybe you should think about ministry. In other words I am always watching for those with the character, competency and charisma for leadership.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?

One of the things that I am always trying to encourage our church is the old phrase from John Wimber - everyone gets to play. So I try to share stories from my own life in sermons to encourage people that seeing someone come to faith is not for super spiro's but all of us. Recently I had a muslim tiler working on our bathroom reno. We became friends and I admired his servant heart. I shared with him about Jesus washing his disciples feet and gave him a Gospel of John. My wife and I then invited him and his wife around for dinner and had a great night. Two weeks later they turned up at church and gave their lives to Christ. It was a great story... and I shared with the church - you can do that! It's just hospitality, friendship and having some courage to mention Jesus... and then see what will happen. You can do that!