One mistake some people make in our tribe of Reformed Evangelicalism is to engage the culture only at a thought or worldview level. That is necessary and helpful, but we also need to draw out the implications of shifts in our culture’s belief systems and values to how we lead in the midst of them.
Resources from Tim Keller, James K.A. Smith, Russell Moore, and Mike Cosper have been tremendously helpful in examining, diagnosing, and engaging the fundamental shifts in our culture. But there hasn’t been much written connecting the dots from worldview to practical leadership -- how do we as pastors and church leaders lead in our contexts in the midst of these colossal shifts? Rob Maine and I gave it our best shot at the 2017 Leaders' Summit to give you a very practical look at how that has looked by explaining some losses and wins we’ve experienced in our first few years of planting our churches and inviting your questions at the end.
I pastor in Orange County, CA, a place that Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called “a laboratory for the rest of the United States”. Because much of the US has a ‘churched’ past and is largely suburban, the way that churches in Orange County engage with the culture here will have impacts around the rest of the country. We experience first what the majority of the US will later and what happens here has an impact on large swaths of America. The churches in Orange County need to be theologically, ecclesiastically, and evangelically strategic in the laboratory that God has called us to.
Because of the above, there is a sense in which our context is unique. However, it is also true that God’s mission is always hard and complex. The gospel will always be foolishness and weakness to an unbelieving heart (1 Corinthians 1:18). The difficulty of the mission will only prove that his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). As we lead, we can share our weaknesses and rejoice in God’s strength. Here is a glimpse of a few of mistakes and wins I’ve learned from leading in a post-Christian culture. Listen to the podcast episode [or read the transcript of the session] if you're interested in fleshing these things out a bit more.
What Has Not Worked
- Thinking I’m the exception.
- Making too many assumptions.
- Confusing a system for a biblical principle.
What Has Worked
- Knowing that technology will not solve your people problems.
- Training and practicing together as a team on mission.
- Leading in a complex environment requires leading with leading intent.
- Knowing and telling our church’s and city’s stories consistently.
Nick Bogardus is the lead pastor of Cross of Christ Church.
A native of Orange County, California, Nick spent a decade in the music industry. Eight of those years he ran New Noise Management, an artist management company that oversaw the careers of bands like Thrice, Cold War Kids, and Matt Costa.
He took his experience to Biola University as an adjunct teacher, creating and teaching the school’s first music management class which then went on to be adapted for UCLA's Extension Program.
Nick and his wife Kim then spent a year and half doing ministry in Mongolia, where they taught English and photography, produced a TV series, held their city’s first art show, and served in a local church. Upon their return to the States in 2009, they lived in Seattle where Nick served on staff and as a pastor at Mars Hill Church for four years. In August of 2013, Nick began gathering the core group for Cross of Christ Church in Costa Mesa, CA.
In 2015 Nick was awarded the Pastor-in-Residence fellowship from Biola University's Center for Christian Thought to study with a multi-disciplinary group of scholars. He previously completed the pastoral leadership program at the Resurgence Training Center and did his church planting residency through Fellowship Associates in Little Rock.
Nick loves to surf, 90s and early 2000's independent music, training at Team Oyama, and the grind of being a USC Trojans football fan. He, Kim, and their three children love pony rides at Irvine Regional Park, Bear Flag Fish Company, Disneyland, and digging for sand crabs.