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7 Questions with Tucker Fleischmann
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Tucker Fleischmann
Name: Tucker Fleischmann
Current title: Worship Leader, Location Pastor
Current organisation: Central Church
I’m Tucker, I’m 26 years old, and I’m married to my amazing wife Lauren. We’ve been married for 3 years and have been together for 10. I’ve been at Central Church in Las Vegas for 3.5 years and I do a little of everything. I lead worship and song writing for our worship band Central Live. I creative direct and lead worship for our youth ministry. I’m currently launching our newest location in Flagstaff, AZ which keeps me on the road about half of the week, and I’m wrapping up my MABTS at Western Seminary. Love my family. Love our ministry at Central.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
I come from a ministry family, so I was blessed to grow up, not only in and around the church, but in a family that loves the church. So, naturally, I love the church—I love the church corporately, I love being a part of life change and community impact, and I love the professional side of church. There’s nothing I’d rather do than spend my time planning and preparing different ways to reach and impact more people, as well as help grow and develop people that are already in our community.
Because of that, the biggest challenge as a leader in the church has been keeping my marriage my number-one ministry. My wife and I don’t have kids (yet) and both love what we do, so we’re predisposed to becoming workaholics. It led to a challenging first year of marriage as we straightened out our priorities, and we’ve grown a lot.
In ministry, we can so easily justify the neglect of our most important relationships “for the sake of the kingdom.” The ministries we serve have eternal impact, and that’s a calling and burden I don’t take lightly. However, much like Luke 16:10, God knows that if he can trust us to be faithful in the small things, then we’ll have the capacity to be faithful in the big things. Jesus obviously isn’t talking about marriage in that exchange, but the principle of stewardship remains the same. I’m constantly reminding myself that my responsibilities as a man and as a leader are to God, to my wife, and to my ministry… in that order.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
For me, church leadership isn’t tied to a career, or a job title, or a salary. Some of the best leaders around me are volunteers… they’re students, and mothers, people in recovery, you name it. In that sense, I sort of fell into church leadership when I was in high school. I just knew that if I had free time, I wanted to be at the church. I started playing guitar on Sundays. I’d run the sound board for weddings and funerals. I was building and practicing with the youth worship band, or pulling weeds at church work days.
When I was 18 or 19, I got the opportunity to become an interim worship leader at my home church and I took it immediately. About 6 months later, I took a job at another church—partly leading worship for our youth, but mostly as a production assistant and I fell in LOVE. I started doing stage designs, mixing monitors, and learning how to design lighting.
At that point, I went out to Las Vegas for a lighting convention and met a bunch of people, including the lighting designer from the church where I work now. We chatted for a few and then went our separate ways. After a couple hours, I was walking and texting when I came around the corner and physically ran into the same guy.
Long story short, I ended up going to service the next night before flying home. When I got home, I had an Instagram message from the executive worship pastor at Central asking if I wanted to talk about a job.
The way I tell the story is that if I had stopped to tie my shoes and hadn’t bumped into him at the convention, my life would be drastically different. Definitely the divine appointment of my life (so far).
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
What does “structure” mean? (Kidding). My weeks are all over the place. Some nights of the week I’m in bed at 11, and other nights I’m up until 3. I guess the burden of being creative is that when my mind starts going on an idea—a song, a service element, an awkward conversation I desperately wish went differently—it’s hard to turn it off. But I love it. There’s nothing like creative momentum, and it’s a train you don’t want to get off of once you’ve boarded.
There are two main elements of structure I’ve found to work well for someone who has a chaotic schedule like myself.
1. I categorize the focus of each day. For me, that means Mondays are for our global movement—what’s going on corporately across all of our locations (as it relates to youth, or events, or music, etc.) that needs focus or communication. Tuesdays are dedicated to my involvement in Youth. Wednesdays are for our worship movement—what’s on our upcoming writing or recording schedule, what tasks are on our upcoming music release strategy, merch, or worship nights. Thursdays are for school. Fridays I’m traveling down to Flagstaff and spending time with my wife. Saturdays and Sundays are for church and executing the week’s planning.
2. The other main area of structure is my work vs. rest balance. Sometimes this is a weekly thing. Sometimes it’s a monthly thing. Just yesterday, I ended a busy run where I had something every day for 30+ days straight. In a perfect world, we avoid that, but sometimes those perfect storms happen. Knowing I had that coming up ahead of time, I’d planned several different groupings of days where I’ll be doing nothing but spending time in the world, sitting by the pool, catching up on movies I’ve been watching everybody else brag about seeing, and answering surveys about church leadership.
It’s not ideal to have runs as long as that, but knowing I had rest prioritized at the end of it made it easier to wake up every day with the energy needed to take on the next task.
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’m in seminary, and last year around the time the George Floyd shooting happened, I did a report on the book “From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race” by J. Daniel Hays. It’s a part of a much larger series of books, but it was such a timely read as the church was forced to really navigate and confront rampant division in our country and in our churches as it related (and I relate) to racial tension. I think on the whole, the church truly desires racial unity and reconciliation, and I’m so grateful to be at a church that is so out in front on prioritizing and talking about this. I think for the “Capital C Church”, there’s a lot of unknown and fear in approaching this topic, and I think some of that is rooted in not having a thorough grip on what the Bible has to say about God’s demand for equality. There’s a tension between “what is a true theology of race” and “what is a historical/denominational/church theology of race.” If you’re looking for a book that is approachable, but systematically and thoroughly tears apart scripture and speaks directly to what the Bible has to say about it, and looks at how the Bible has been misused to perpetuate racism throughout history, you won’t find a better one.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
“God’s light IN you must be brighter than the spotlight ON you.”
If you’re into enneagram, then you’ll know that as a 3w4, I’m the best. Joking aside, I’m a doer—I have no hesitation getting down and dirty to make sure that everything gets done at the level of expectation I hold myself to (spoiler alert: I can never meet that expectation. There’s a lesson about God’s sufficiency in here as well, I guess).
I’ve been in a season where the vast majority of what I’m doing is in the shadows—getting down and dirty. Leading worship is so life giving to me, and I’ve been doing a lot less of it. And that’s been super hard, especially knowing it’s the gift and calling God had placed on my life.
Having said that, like everything, there’s different seasons in life and I’m in a season that requires something different of me. God’s really been working on my heart and I’ve found so much contentment and joy in what I’m doing right now. I know it’s not forever, but I’m learning to enjoy the journey and the part I’m playing in the greater vision that’s playing out in our ministry.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
There are people in my organization much more qualified to answer this question, because I’d like to think I’m a product of the pipeline they’ve built. The biggest aspect of our pipeline that I think needs to be more widely accepted by churches is trusting people and giving margin to take risks and fail.
I work in youth, I’m a part of our young adults ministry, and I’m leading a new location—I really get to see the full range of life in ministry, and that includes the leaders that are moving in and up through our pipeline. Some of the best leaders in our organization (staff or not) were identified as having huge levels of servanthood and coachability. I know for the people I lead, I coach and train them, but then I give them the reins. For myself, micromanagement stifles my ability to create and innovate, so as I’m raising leaders, I want to give them guardrails, but then I want to get out of the way. A pipeline that gives freedom for people to take risks and fail is going to see leaders rise up that execute and find wins on a level I never could myself.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
Just last week, we had our summer camp for our Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers. It looked a lot different than years past—camp was local, it was only during the afternoons and evenings, and I was leading the creative process for night sessions from top to bottom.
It was simultaneously the most involved I’ve been, as well as the most I’ve ever delegated—I’ve talked of giving people the freedom to take risks and fail, but I really had to put the money where my mouth is.
All I can say is that as different as camp was, I can’t tell you how many leaders and students came up to me or messaged me about how this was the best camp they’d ever been to, even compared to years past, and that’s no credit to myself.
Those three nights were just such a beautiful picture of the effort of dozens of people using their gifts to create an environment and experience for incredible worship, teaching, and life change.
Last night, right before our last song and staring out into a room of about 700 teary faces, I broke down on stage—and remember enneagramme, I’m a 3w4 so for me, expressing emotion is what some might call a “weakness”. But man, the Holy Spirit showed up and just wrecked us that night.
At a team celebration after, I had a few different team members come up and express similar comments: “After tonight, seeing those kids break down, and after experiencing this week and that worship… I bought it. God’s doing something new and giving new life to our youth ministry. Whatever we need to do to make it more successful… I’m in.”
And man… I almost broke down again. As a leader, there’s nothing like having people come alongside you who are willing to put in the work and walk through the flames with you. Ultimately, I think it was the result of unity throughout the process. Trust people. Release. Let go. Allow people to fail. God knows I need the same.
More often than not, God’s going to use them to do more than I ever could on my own. For me, leadership isn’t about what I’m able to do, but it’s about what I’m willing to release and empower others to do.