7 Questions with Todd Dugard
Name: Todd Dugard
Current title: Lead Pastor
Current organisation: Harvest Bible Chapel Barrie
Todd and his wife Cheryl and their three (now adult) children came to Barrie, Ontario in 2001 to plant Harvest Bible Chapel with a group of eight local families.
Todd became a Christ-follower at the age of 15 through the ministry of The Salvation Army and Youth for Christ. A few years later, he was baptized at Faith Baptist Church in St. Thomas, Ontario where he would later serve as the adult ministries pastor and be ordained to pastoral ministry. He is a graduate of London Baptist Bible College and Heritage Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario.
Born in Montreal, Todd continues to enthusiastically support the Montreal Canadiens, and is also a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan because he only cheers for classy teams.
Todd and Cheryl have been married for 31 years. Their three children are all married, and they have one granddaughter and two more grandchildren on the way!
Todd has a deep passion for the church and the preaching of God’s Word. and he knows through his more than 25 years of pastoral ministry that what counts most is finishing well. Based on Galatians 2:20, his life mission is to, “Live and lead others to live by faith in Christ.”
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Handling conflict and living with what seems to be the inevitable relational break-ups that happen in ministry. Sadly, with almost 20 years as a lead pastor (and 7 more as an associate pastor prior), there have been several incidents where conflict could only be resolved with people leaving. Despite attempts to reconcile, these often remain unresolved. I don't find that comfortable.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Almost from the time I was converted at age 15, I felt a call to vocational ministry. As a child, in an unbelieving home, I had already shown leadership ability that others had observed. Thankfully, all through my early days of walking with Christ, I was exposed to great leaders (pastors and mentors) who provided positive examples of leadership. I was well-discipled and given early opportunities to exercise leadership in various settings. The decision to attend Bible College was an easy one, and again, I was exposed to great examples of Christian leaders in the professors who taught me. My first pastoral role was at my home church which prepared me well to leave there and plant years later.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am an early riser and spend the first hour or so with the Lord (and a cup of tea) doing non-work related reading in the Word and a couple of devotional type books. I journal my prayers during this time.
Breakfast following that and personal prep for the day. Since the pandemic lockdowns started in March 2020, I have been working from home, so my private study is where I work at home. I spend the mornings and afternoons on various tasks depending on the day: study, reading, email, meeting prep and meetings, vision/project work. I do not do any counselling.
I will freely confess that I take a power nap at some point either late morning or early afternoon. 15-20 minutes of rest completely re-charge me. I generally finish my day by 5 pm, but, of course, I keep up with email and texts in the evening.
I rarely have evening meetings: bi-weekly elder meetings from 5-8pm, and bi-monhtly finance team.
Fridays are "cave day." I go in the sermon "cave" in the morning and don't come out until the manuscript is done. I don't take meetings or answer email on Fridays.
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?
I have read and taught Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders repeatedly over my years of ministry, taking dozens and dozens of leaders through the book. I love and appreciate its simplicity and impact.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I'm not sure that it is recent; probably more of an ongoing thing, but it is becoming clearer and clearer that endurance is an indispensable characteristic of leaders and that those who fail to endure may not have had the strongest calling to this vocation.
The Greek word for endurance is hupomene, meaning "to remain under," and that describes in perfect detail what is needed when (not if) ministry becomes difficult. Every pastor knows that the temptation to quit is strong and the only thing that holds us in place, if we're truly called, is this persevering spirit. That lesson has played out time and time again. Most recently in the COVID-19 lockdowns.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
It has to start with a basic discipleship path. If we're not making disciples, there's no sense trying to make leaders. Our church works hard to help every member worship Christ (believe, be baptized, participate in weekly worship gatherings), walk with Christ (personal spiritual disciplines, part of a small group), and work for Christ (serving according to gifts and passions). From this basic discipleship model, leaders emerge and are regularly trained with our Uncommon Leadership series 100-500 levels. Tied into all of this is our Biblical Soul Care model with encompasses both discipleship and counselling. From this, as leaders take on responsibilities in small groups as leaders and coaches, we find those who could serve in staff or elder roles. In addition, we run The Leadership Series, which brings leaders together to hear from established leaders from outside of our church. These are now hybrid in-person and livestream events that run on occasional Thursday evenings.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
If I can come back to the issue of crisis in the church. We experienced a devastating one several years ago that threatened to ruin the church. As many as 40 families left, including many key leaders. We lost 25% of our giving. The church that remained was discouraged and broken. It took us a good 2-3 years to feel like we had truly moved past it.
In the midst of those difficult days, the Lord was so kind to us and regularly reminded us that it was his church. In that season when our church was so wounded, we still had new people showing up and staying. We saw people come to faith in Christ and baptized them. We grew up a bunch of new leaders and, in time, we healed. Seeing the Lord work while we felt so defeated was a kindness that leaves me in awe of him to this day.