In 1995 God led a group of Christians to start a church in Newport, Wales and Christchurch was born. Since then, the church has steadily grown as God has worked in many lives simply through the preaching of the good news.
Awhile back, while Christchurch Newport was celebrating its 20th anniversary, Dave Harvey sat down with Pete Greasley and Lewis Roderick to discuss the role team ministry has played in their church's history.
Dave Harvey: Hey folks. Welcome to the Am I Called? podcast. Today, it comes from Wales here in some unseasonably rainy weather, which is unusual I understand for this time of year. But we're not in Tallahassee now, we're in Newport, Wales. I'm sitting here with my English friend, Pete Greasley who is the lead pastor of Christchurch. And also my Welsh friend, Lewis Roderick-
Lewis Roderick: Not English.
Dave Harvey: Not English at all. And I am the American, gloriously independent American representing the states here.
We're here to have a conversation, and what we're going to talk about a little bit is team ministry. But I thought it might be interesting at first to just hear a little bit of the story of Christchurch where my two friends pastor. Because Christchurch has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and it's been 20 glorious years, and it would be good for all of us to hear a little bit. So Pete, tell us a bit about the origin of Christchurch.
Pete: I will do. Firstly, just say, yeah, thanks. It always rains, folks. It always rains in Newport, in South Wales, no matter what time of year it is. The rain just gets warmer in the summer and colder in the summer, but it always rains.
Lewis Roderick: And it's the way we like it.
Pete: Yeah, you Welsh like it like that. We don't.
The story, as you say, 20 years. It's been 20 years last month, or was it October, when we celebrated our anniversary from coming out here. And so it's a wonderful church. We've had the privilege to serve this church right from its inception when you were involved, right? Those 20 years ago.
Dave Harvey: Those are dear memories.
Pete: And yeah, the church has grown. The church has, I think, thrived in the Gospel. We have our ongoing challenges, the same as everybody else does.
Dave Harvey: So you started with how many people?
Pete: We ... I couldn't even tell you that. A number of people came over here from Cardiff to plant this church. It was a difficult start. It really started in a bit of trauma, but we don't need to go through all of that. Safe to say, we said we'd leave Cardiff and come to Newport, and a whole group of people in the church. If anybody wanted to come, they could come, so we came over here, met in a local college for a few weeks, and then found this building, which was an old stores for a telecom company, and have just been slowly doing it up for the last 20 years.
Dave Harvey: With the scales, the giant scales in the meeting room.
Pete: Yeah, you remember that?
Dave Harvey: I do remember that.
Pete: Well, we ripped the scales out, but the hole in the floor is still there covered up with some wood.
Dave Harvey: Very distinctive. What kind of church were you trying to build?
Pete: Well, we were ... I think to be honest, we weren't fully sure what we wanted to build. We know what we didn't want to build. We didn't want to build a church that was centered around a man, centered around an expansionism just for the sake of it.
We wanted to build something that had Christ at its center where the gospel and the doctrines of grace were becoming so clear to us. The gospel was central, not only in our theology, but in our practice. How we are with each other, how we are with the world in which we related. And I think over the last 20 years, we've just continued, by the grace of God, to grow in that gospel to love it more, to see it applied more to our lives, to take it out more effectively. So we just simply wanted a church that was about Christ and the gospel. That's why we called it Christchurch.
Dave Harvey: And coming over here, I was remembering the first time that we met. I was in Brighton I think with CJ, and you and Pete, Pete [Bowles 00:03:44], drove down to Brighton and picked me up, and then we drove back down to Newport and spent that night together, and then I preached on Sunday morning, and then we got in the car, and you drove me back to Heathrow, and I was just thinking the other day how that experience of all that we tried to pull into a 24-hour period became kind of like a metaphor for our relationship where we were always traveling fast and furious and catching deep fellowship in small bits of time.
Now Lew, when did you come to the church?
Lewis Roderick: I came in 2009 after having spent three years in seminary and doing a church apprenticeship for a couple years before, and I think I was 26 when I came to do an internship, first.
Dave Harvey: You know, your story is really cool. I mean, I think about how you were running this, not a podcast, but you were running a blog. And you were enjoying writing, and so you came to Christchurch to interview Pete. Am I getting that right?
Lewis Roderick: Yeah, absolutely.
Dave Harvey: Okay, tell that story. Cause that's [crosstalk 00:04:51]
Lewis Roderick: I'm always vaguely flattered every time I hear an American talk about the ministry that we were leading. Really, it was just a bunch of ... We were about five guys at seminary who were inspired by the young, reformed, and restless phenomenon in the states, and we really wanted to make a difference, so the way that we thought that we'd make a difference for the Kingdom of God in the UK is by getting angry at Joel Osteen over the internet. Sat in my pajamas, blogging. We thought that would make a big difference, and for the nine people that used to read the website, I'm sure it changed their lives.
Pete: It's a bit of an exaggeration. Nine.
Lewis Roderick: Maybe nine. Once you take out my family, it's not many.
Yeah. My first encounter with Pete was ... You got to understand the context here in Wales. We're not used to big churches. Christchurch, at the time, I think was a congregation of about 400. Maybe we're a little bigger now, but at the time, we were about 400, which was mega church size in comparison to what I was familiar with. I was saved into a church of 30 members, maybe.
Dave Harvey: Which would be the most common size for a church.
Lewis Roderick: Yeah, a very typical size over here. We had this, I think, twisted understanding of the Scriptures, that these are the days of small things. In other words, let’s not have great expectations to what the gospel can do. So, when I saw a church that I was large, I just had this assumption that they must have sold out the gospel. They must have abandoned something true, because there's no way that you can build a church of that size in this country. So, I turned up with a film crew to try and do and exposé and expose Pete as a charlatan and a fraud.
Dave Harvey: How old were you?
Lewis Roderick: I was 26 years wise ... 25 years wise.
Dave Harvey: Okay.
Lewis Roderick: Yeah. I really had all the answers, and I was blown away. What struck me was Pete's commitment to, "We want to take nothing seriously but the gospel of Jesus Christ, which we want to take very seriously," on the sort of guy who was in the conversation, even committed to not taking himself seriously. It was illustrated by one of the team walking in and mocking Pete for drinking Coke Zero, because that's not what men drink.
I remember thinking, "Who leads a team and allows his team to mock him like that?"
Pete: Don't men drink Coke Zero?
Lewis Roderick: Well, you were then, and it's on film. I remember leaving and telling my wife when I got home, "I want to lead a church like that guy leads a church. He doesn't take himself seriously." And I was starting to settle in the conviction that at what I need to do is just bury myself in the body of Christ, and God would have me in leadership, he's going to make it impossible for me not to be in leadership. So, [Jen 00:07:41] and I just resolved, as I was coming to the end of seminary, to not even pursue any of the possibilities, the options that were on the table. We would just commit ourselves to a local church.
I came to see Peter. I remember turning up at your house in January and saying, "I've got no intention of being a church leader. I'm not going to make myself a church leader. But, I'd love you to consider me. And if we became part of this church, could you keep me in the frame? Could you assess me?"
Almost there and then, I think maybe the following morning, you rung me and said, "If you are that serious, come and do an internship." And by the grace of God, I haven't been fired since.
Dave Harvey: Pete, one of the experiences that I remember about you is that even in our first meeting, it was evident to me that you were committed to team ministry. In other words, when Christchurch was presented to me, it was presented in the form of two men, not one man. Even in Lewis's story, you're inviting him into a team. All of my experiences over here -- we moved over in 1999 for a few months, I've traveled over here a number of times, we've spent a lot of time together -- your whole orientation is about team ministry. So, talk a little bit about that. What does that mean, team ministry?
Pete: I mean, it's, in the one simple hand, it means that it's not about me just doing it all, of course. But it's so much more than that. It's, if it's not good for man to be alone, Genesis, hence the woman comes along, it's not good for a pastor to be alone. I don't trust myself. I don't think I have ... Not only do I not have all the gifts, I don't have all the wisdom. I need men around me. So, it's not just a good idea to have a team ministry because it can be most effective.
It comes, I think, firstly from me thinking, "I can't even begin to think about serving this church on my own. I need men with me that are not just different in gifts, but are as committed to this local church, love this local church, and that we can build together." So, it’s always been the priority, right from the start of the church. Even though it was just Peter and I, we were always looking. Then Dave Taylor came onboard, and now Dave's planted a church in Sydney. Then others came on board. So the team has fluctuated, but the principal of a band of brothers, really, who love one another, who are friends, and we spend a lot of time just as friends, as well as working together, carrying the weight and burden of ministry together. Which means we can help one another personally, but also, we serve in the church together.
So, I talk to so many men who are on their own, and I feel for them. These guys happen to be full-time. But even when we didn't have full-time men, we still had a team. So, tonight, we're getting the old team back together. We're in the church. [crosstalk 00:10:48]-
Dave Harvey: I'm looking forward to it.
Pete: ... when you arrived, that was the team, even though they were working jobs. So, it's always been an absolute priority and a joy.
Dave Harvey: It's not like you're ripping off an idea from the corporate world that just seems to work, that you pull people together, and they work better together. It's a Biblical principal found in plurality, pulp plurality, where when we study leadership in Scripture, leadership in the New Testament. For instance, the world elders, never used in a singular way, it's plural, and this idea that leadership in the churches of the New Testament was shared. It was never just one person.
I think it's important to make the distinction between plurality is a theological idea. It's a constitutional idea, in other words. It might be in your bi-laws that you have to have shared leader. But there's a difference between plurality and team. Plurality is the constitutional reality or the Biblical reality, but a team is much more than that, isn't it?
Pete: No question. Of course. So, when we look from Genesis, and we look from the Trinity, all the way to Jesus. What's the first thing he does? Call 12 disciples. To even what you were talking about this morning, Paul with, I think somebody worked, it was 160 people that Paul was relating to. And some, in particular, part of his team. So, it's not just we believe in the plurality of elders, because I see a number of churches like that. But you've got the pastor, and you have an eldership. But they're just very functional.
Team is about more than just being functional. It is about a shared love for the church, carrying a burden together, working together in that. So that, as we've had some of the pastors here today, I'm just aware that some of them are very much trying to create that. If I were to write about it, I'd almost write about the loneliness of the long-serving pastor. And it can be lonely. But it's not just about me not being lonely, it's about us building something together so that this team is more than just a functional arrangement because we believe in plurality. But it is, as I've said before, a band of brothers that are carrying the weight and burden of ministry together.
I can't imagine not being in that situation. Hence is why, Lewis, when I first met Lewis, even though he came to stitch me up ...
Lewis Roderick: I don't hold those feelings anymore, by the way.
Pete: No. Nonetheless, the reality is I am worse than you thought, and you found that to be the case.
Lewis Roderick: We just have different reasons for thinking that.
Pete: Yeah, different reasons for thinking that, now. Far worse than you thought.
But, when I first met Lewis, again, it was just recognizing the grace of God upon him. Seeing the love for the gospel that he had. Seeing his passion to take that gospel out. His passion for local church. I remember, I went home after that. I said to [Jen 00:13:58], "I've just met a guy today. I want him on the team."
Not only for what we could receive from him and what he could bring to this church, but sometimes you recognize someone and you just think, "I could build with this man." So, I'm glad he didn't go off at that point.
Dave Harvey: As you're thinking, or as you're talking about just the vision of a team, and the importance of doing it as a group rather than as an individual, I think about a quote that I heard a guy say once where he said, "Part of what's assumed in a team is that the wisdom of the team is better than one man's genius." It occurs to me that part of what's implied there is you're going to build something that in and of itself is going to militate against the kind of celebrity pastor development that's so prominent in many parts of the world. Of course, I'm from the states, and that's a regular, ongoing discussion. So, why don't you guys think and talk a little bit about how you see the experience of team and the application of team militating against, or checking the tendencies towards celebrity or self-exultation?
Pete: You could probably better speak into this, because I could never be a celebrity pastor because I just don't have it. This man's the celebrity pastor.
Dave Harvey: I'm glad we included him, then.
Pete: So, what team does for Lewis is ties him up, throws him in the back, and tells him he's not allowed to become a celebrity.
Lewis Roderick: Yeah, the dangers are on two sides, aren't they. The dangers are in, well, let's string it up like a piñata. The dangers are in me, but the dangers are in us all because I want to be seen as the center of attention. There's something of team that constrains that, which in such a helpful way it reminds me there is only one who is all-to-all. And it is not me, it is Jesus. So, I don't want people referring ... It's an awful thing when somebody is referred to as Christchurch's pastor, because Jesus is the only sole pastor. The rest of us, we're just playing our parts. We're just filling in the parts.
So, the dangers are in me, and the team constrains. But the dangers are also in the congregation, because of the way that we're made. We're wired to follow a king. We're wired to follow a man. So, there's something in just me as a member of a congregation which wants to look to a figurehead, and says, "He's the man." So, team, a variety, a plurality of faces and voices reminds us that there is no one man save Jesus that leads this church.
Dave Harvey: Yeah, talk about that a little bit more. How does Christchurch, how do you men in leading Christchurch prevent them from looking to a man, and encourage them to look to a team?
Lewis Roderick: Well, I think in the history of our church, it's been an ongoing progression. I think our church was born into a very Pentecostal, strong leadership view of church government. Then, gradually over the years, I think you have reformed them. We have reformed to introducing plurista, a plurality of eldership. I think it was, gosh, the last members meeting we had, instead of having you up there for 40 minutes just monologuing to the church, at one point we had all three of us up on the stage, discussing together, and allowing the church to listen in.
I think little things like that might be just subtly suggesting, "We lead this together." You know, practically, Pete's been a pastor for as long as I've been alive, so it would be very stupid for me to think that I lead in the way that he does. I listen to him, governmentally we're the same. But, pragmatically, he's got 30 years on me. But, I think that's one way that we try to do it in the church. Can you think of any others?
Pete: I think they'll probably be lesser examples. But, you're talking about a philosophy of ministry, really, and I think that's changed in me over the years. Yeah, I've been 30 years in pastoral ministry, and if I look back, my philosophy of leadership was, "You lead, everybody follows." Which has its advantages, but great disadvantages. Now, we do have a plurality of elders, but we have different roles within that eldership.
Yet, over the years, I think I've become more aware of my weaknesses, more aware of my inabilities, more aware of my requiring other with grace. So, my philosophy of leadership has changed. As that has changed, it's become far more, "I cannot do this alone. I cannot do it by myself. I don't just want a bunch of guys to be running behind what I'm saying."
So, we were out last week for a team meeting, and the guys were gently reminding me of something that I was going to do, some changes that I was going to make, which I've just failed to do properly. So that they enabled ... I went back that night, lay awake half that night. The next morning, "Fellows, you're absolutely right. I just need to repent here." That's what team does. We're holding each other accountable, not because we have an accountability meeting, but just because we're in it so much together.
So, my philosophy has changed to the degree I would never, ever, I couldn't go and be the guy that just says, "Right. I'm off on my own." So, to leave this place, if I can't be here in the pastoral role, unless God clearly calls me somewhere, I don't want to be anywhere. I'd prefer to just be in the church as a member in the church.
Dave Harvey: I'm curious how you would answer this question, Pete. Does a team need a lead pastor?
Pete: I believe so, yeah. We've-
Dave Harvey: How come?
Pete: We've thought about this off and on. I think it needs a lead pastor, but it depends on what you mean by lead pastor.
Dave Harvey: How do you define your role as lead pastor?
Pete: My role is to initiate. So, part of my role would be to initiate in direction in where we're going. But that doesn't mean I do it all, it just means I initiate that. I try and care for the team. I chose who's on the team, then as the team grows, we do that together. I have, maybe, specific roles in public ministry. But essentially-
Dave Harvey: You're more of a spokesperson for the church?
Pete: Frequently, I do that. But, I speak on behalf of us, and not on behalf of me. So, we need that. We've even worked around, just of late, me realizing that I need to lead clearer in some things. My reticence is sometimes, "I don't want to lead," and that can create frustration.
So, you guys are saying to me, "No, in this you need to be taking more responsibility."
Dave Harvey: So if somebody was saying to you, "Man, where do you find the justification for a lead pastor in Scripture?" What are you saying?
Lewis Roderick: I think we've got to be realistic haven't we? You can cut the scriptures in a number of ways when it comes to, "Who was Timothy?" or "What was Timothy?" You could go apostolic. You could go senior pastor. But I think it's very difficult. I think there's certain things in the Bible that are just deliberately ambiguous. I think there are just certain areas that are gray, and I think the working out of eldership is one of those things, where I think God just gives men the freedom to say, "According to the wisdom that I've revealed in Scriptures, what's the best way of doing this What's the most servant hearted thing you could do for the church?"
As I look at you over the last few, and having worked with you, with so much more experience than I've got, you bring a certain senior ... Your old.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:22:19]
Dave Harvey: Look at him.
Lewis Roderick: Seniority-
Dave Harvey: You're an old man, now.
Lewis Roderick: You know, were you to have any hair, the wisdom of gray hair. That's what you bring. I guess, then, the way that you lead is more like a father, coaching and coaxing your team to lead the church. That's the way you lead. You're steering the ship. As opposed to a younger guy who's maybe saying, "Come on, guys. I'm leading the charge, but I'm in line with you."
I think both have got their strengths, both have got their weaknesses. But that's what I've appreciated. You're looking to other guys, really, to sort of ... You're looking to other guys to bring the stuff you don't have, and you're able to just pinpoint weaknesses in all of us, and just pastor us like a father. That's how I experience Pete's leadership.
Dave Harvey: Yeah, it's not like we have some kind of killer passage that we turn to to justify the existence of a lead pastor.
Pete: Some [inaudible 00:23:17] through James and Acts, but ... the best we've got.
Dave Harvey: Yeah, I think we have patterns, we have a rhythm in Scripture, where when you see co-equality, there's often ... I mean, you could begin with the Godhead. We certainly wouldn't equate a lead pastor to headship of a husband, or the headship of the Father, as the headship of a lead pastor. But, the trinity, but the family, the church, beginning in Genesis, all the way through Revelation, there are these rhythms, these patterns, where God elects to allow men to be co-equal. Or civilization, or family, whatever organization takes place. Co-equality but still leadership within the co-equality. So, I think about the lead pastor role as being based more on those general principles and patterns in Scripture. But still, very necessary to the healthy effectiveness of a team.
Pete: Yeah, and we've found the same. When we've looked back through, as you say, when you look back through the whole tenure of Scripture, the principle of leadership, and servant-leadership, in there from Genesis through to Revelation. So, we try, first of all, to act in a way that's servant-leadership, that he who would be first, must be last to become the servant of all. So, I am trying to serve. Sometimes better than others, sometimes poorly, by helping lead this team, this church. Their serving, in some ways by being led, but also as elders together. When we're speaking as elders together, we are all completely equal. No one's leading-
Dave Harvey: So, who are you accountable to, Pete?
Pete: Firstly to God. I could go off on that. It seems a silly thing to say, of course, but I do think elders are firstly and powerfully accountable to God. I live with that terror.
Lewis Roderick: I don't think I go a day without thinking about that.
Pete: Yeah. I will stand before him and give an answer. So, I'm accountable to God. I'm accountable to the eldership. So, within our eldership, I am accountable to them, of course. I am also accountable to a group of trustees that are in the church as well, for decisions that are made. Then I am accountable to the whole church, and we try to create a church where people can speak, and can speak freely. So, there is that. Outside of that, there are a number, from my wife to my children to a whole stack of other people, I am accountable. My whole life is accountable to so many different folks in so many different ways, which is probably the case for all of us. But, as far as this is concerned, I, as a lead or senior pastor, I'm primarily and firstly accountable to the elders. And we, whenever government's involved, whenever decisions are involved, it's never just me.
Dave Harvey: Let's look at that more generally, kind of move it out of Christchurch, and just talk about and think out loud about what should it look like for a lead pastor to be genuinely accountable within the local church. I don't mean the reality that he is accountable. What could that look like? What would be a healthy kind of accountability for him to experience.
Pete: It's a great question and I'm not sure I can fully answer it, because it would presuppose that I know what healthy accountability looks like. I know what it doesn't look. It doesn't look like me saying, "I've heard from God. This is what we're doing whether you like it or not." It doesn't look like me living in secret, having a team of guys to whom I just give instructions, and they either follow them up or just take them and off we go.
I think it looks like Jesus. It's in his humility. I think senior role should be leadership, but it should be humble leadership. It should be accountable leadership in the sense that I'm drawing. My job is not to come up with all the ideas, to have all the answers. My job is to try and bring people together, get the right people in the right place so that the gifts that God has given to them and the wisdom that they have all may be used towards the common end of serving the church.
Dave Harvey: One of the reasons I wanted to press on that a little bit was just because I think accountability is one of those words that we traffic in as Evangelicals, but it doesn't always have substance, and definition, and context behind it. So, one of the things I would love for a lead pastor watching this to come away with is a sense of, "Well, this is how it might look."
Like, you talk about context. I think there's got to be some kind of intentionality where the lead pastor has created some defined context, where the people to whom he is accountable are defined, and they know what's expected of them in that role, and that there are certain contexts in which that ... Whether it's the pub, like you guys do it, or like Wednesday night, once a month, or whatever. Or even, if it's just going to be in the rhythm of life, you know, catching up. That it's defined, though, and it's not just left vague and ambiguous. What do you think, Lew?
Lewis Roderick: I do wonder if you do need to go a little bit more. There are certain things that you can prescribe, and there are certain dynamics of that relationship that you can facilitate in bullet points. So, yeah, we might have a scheduled time to meet once a week, but the truth is unless I love you, and I know that you love me, it doesn't matter what questions you work through. If I don't want to tell you the answer, I'm not going to. So, accountability is limited, or is determined by the depth of relationship that exists. Which makes me really-
Dave Harvey: It's humility, in the men that are experiencing it.
Lewis Roderick: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I guess we could use an even less common word, really. An underused word. We just call it friendship. Biblical friendship. One of the things that I'm really, really grateful to God for are the friends that I have, both in the eldership, you know, two of my best friends, Pete and Bob. Then guys who, some of them are pastors of churches, guys that know me well enough to not let me off the hook when I'm hiding stuff, or to not call me out on something that maybe I need to be made aware of. I think it's just friendship.
I could think on one situation that I know of. A good friend of mine, who is a pastor of a church and who regularly meets with his elders, once a week. But then who told one of us very recently, or who told me recently, "I'm lonely." Now, if the answer's structure, well, he shouldn't be lonely, right? There's got to be a dynamic at play that isn't just structure and bullet points.
Pete: Friendship is the issue. "How do we differentiate between plurality and team?" we were talking about earlier. For me, team is about friendship, so I use the term band of brothers. But it is having men together that want to be together, that enjoy one another, that enjoy the grace of God to each other in them. So, sure, we have an elders meeting that lasts for four or five hours once a week. But, we're at each other's home. We are eating with each other. We are involved with each other's family. We are a group of friends.
Lewis Roderick: You're babysitting for my son in a couple of weeks’ time. That's what it looks like.
Pete: I am. Or, "Hey, Lew, do you and Jen want to come around? We've got some extra food." So, I'm always looking to build a group of friends.
Then, when somebody comes into the team, or we together think, "We need to add somebody in here," we're not just looking for the best guy to do this particular job. We're also looking for the man that will be able to be joined into this team as a dear friend.
Dave Harvey: Does he fit?
Pete: And it seems, yeah, "Is he going to fit in here? And is this going to work?" Even if we have people that we think, "They're very gifted, but is he going to fit?" And also, we're not just looking for that, but I'm looking for people who love this church. So, you're looking for people who love this church, who are giving to this church.
That's different than most of the stuff out there, because I see guys who almost see ministry as a career, going from one place to the next. And it can be very isolating, and very lonely. We're saying, "No, we're a group of guys together who are doing this together," and deliberately and purposefully building those friendships and giving ourselves to one another-
Dave Harvey: One of the things that seems important to me when it comes to building a team and establishing the value of accountability and the experience of accountability is to ensure that the accent is upon self-disclosure in those relationship. So that the experience of accountability, the fuel of it is not, "Men need to come in and investigate my soul." It's that, "I have a responsibility before God, to engage Jesus and Scripture in such a way that the Holy Spirit is bringing forth things. Then I want to take those to the men." So that the whole system is rigged, not to find sin but to encourage humility.
Lewis Roderick: But our fear of God in Scripture is connected so often with community. So, when I'm by myself, when I am isolated, that's when I am most susceptible to living my life in the shade, living my life in darkness. But when I'm surrounded by people who are forging the way for Jesus, that reveals the light to me. That enables me, then, to knock on Pete's door and say, "I need to tell you something. I need to confess my sin. I need to make you aware of something. Will you help me?"
That's one of the things that really worries me when I think about friends who are by themselves, because I think in Wales it's a really common thing. Most churches in Wales probably can't afford a pastor. If they can afford a pastor, they can only afford one pastor. Then, by nature of the setup, these guys are working by themselves, and you know what it's like when you're working by yourself. It's very tempting to go live in the shadows and do things quietly.
Dave Harvey: And isn't that one of the benefits of defining this according to friendship-
Lewis Roderick: Yes.
Dave Harvey: ... and not formal function or being a full-time elder? Because, you're really experiencing, like if a guy is watching and he's in the situation that you're describing where he's the pastor of a church but he doesn't have other guys around him, that doesn't mean he can't experience team.
Lewis Roderick: No.
Dave Harvey: It's not about being paid. It's about developing friendships that are genuine, and enjoying a plurality not because they're in the bi-laws, but because you believe in the value and the principle.
Pete: It's one of the big missing things. I was with a pastor and his wife, not long ago. His wife, typically as wives do, decided to expose him in a certain way. She said, "So, tell Pete about your friends."
He said, "What do you mean?"
She said, "Tell him about your friends."
He said, "I don't really do friends."
I said, "Okay, okay."
Lewis Roderick: He looked around the room at his books and said, "These are my friends."
Pete: "Here's my friends. Here's my iPad, it's my friend."
I thought, "Well, mate, you're a pastor. You've got to do friends, and you need to." So, the issue of friendship, particular with things, the unknown. It's the unknown, and it is self-disclosure.
On our team, it's whose week is it this week, it'll be. It could be Bob, again, or Gavin, or somebody saying, "I've got to talk to you." But, because it's gospel-based, it's grace-centered, because there's a genuine love, affection, and friendship, it's easy to self-disclose. It's easy to go, "here I am again, boys. This is me, again, struggling with this, again. I need your prayers. I need your help." And that's okay. So long as we've got a clear doctrine of sin, we know how it functions, we know how it works, then there can be grace applied.
Dave Harvey: Okay, so here's a question for you guys. It is not good for man to be alone. It is not good for pastors to be alone. Is it good for churches to be alone?
Lewis Roderick: No. No. No, no, no, no. But that, it doesn't play out in the way that we ... The way we play that out is going to vary, isn't it? Church leaders and church denominations, for centuries, have had different understandings of what it means to relate to one another.
Here's what I think is the non-negotiable: There is no such thing as there are independent churches in Scripture. That's where we land. We're an independent church. But though we're an independent church, I don't think there's any excuse for independence, or isolationism. There is only, when I look at the Scriptures, interdependence between churches.
The Lord has given us, in all of our make-ups, whether it is me as an individual, or us as a church, an inadequacy, a weakness, a need for others. It just reveals to us that Jesus is the only one that is truly sufficient. So, we're going to look across this city and say, "We can't reach these people without your help, Malpas Road Evangelical, or Immanuel Church, or King's Church." Or whatever the church is. We-
Dave Harvey: Right before we came to this interview we were in a meeting where the pastors of the community were being gathered.
Pete: Yeah. And from all different kinds of backgrounds. Yeah, I would agree. Again, it's just as we talk about leadership. You can have a man in leadership who holds to the principle of team ministry, or creates a plurality but it doesn't necessarily function. Just the same as churches. You can be part of a denomination because you believe you shouldn't be alone, but that doesn't mean it's going to function in the way it does. So, yeah, we happen to be an independent church. We're not part of a denomination, and yet, we are becoming more dependent, I think, now, on other pastors and other churches out of friendship.
So, this week, I was with Steve down in town for three or four hours, a pastor from Swansea, just caring for one another and talking to one another. And learning from one another. We're probably more dependent now on others than we ever were. So, it's not just the structure of which we're a part, it's the attitude you bring to it. Whether that's in a structure or outside of it.
Dave Harvey: Yeah, and the importance of that this principle of interdependence. It's not just a personal thing, and it's not just a pastoral thing, but to bring continuity to it, to be consistent, we have to recognize that all organisms need to be interdependent. So our churches, whether it's expressed in churches that are constitutionally autonomous and they want to retain that autonomy, and they're not part of denominations where they give any of that away, but they see the need of interdependence, such as yourselves, where you're very connected in with churches ... I mean, I'm here. [crosstalk 00:39:57].
Lewis Roderick: I really like the word network, so long as it doesn't become this structure upon which we depend. If it's not friendship, then whatever I call it, denomination or network, it's not going to work. If it's friendship, then it can be a cast iron, denominational structure. But if I've got friendship in it, then it's going to work.
Dave Harvey: You know, as I'm thinking guys, and I'm just listening to you talk, it just takes me back to the grace of God, and the way that God has been so faithful to Christchurch over the last 20 years.
Dave Harvey: And the way that he has worked in your lives and in the lives of your family, and through your leadership, Pete. And the kind of indebtedness that I feel to Christchurch, because of the way that they have been such a blessing to me, and been so generous to me and to my family, and the way that Pete has been such a dear friend. So, I'm just very grateful to God that I get to be here in Wales, around your 20th anniversary, and we get to share this video together. So, thank you for being part of it.
Pete: My pleasure, and thank you for being part of it as well, as you have.
Dave Harvey: And, I want to encourage you, if you're interested in additional information on leadership, we have a website, amicalled.com. There's other podcasts with other leaders. There's articles. There's an assessment test that you can take. Good news is is it's all for free. At the moment. So, I hope you join us, and we'll be doing another podcast soon. Thank you.