What does transforming leadership look like for Pastor Noah Filipiak?
Noah Filipiak, founding pastor at Crossroads Church in downtown Lansing, MI, shares how his Transforming Community® experience has impacted his ministry.
I love seminary.
I have one seminary degree and look forward to going back for more.
With that said, my experience in a Transforming Community® has been the most important ministry leadership training I have ever received. For years, I struggled with being a human doing rather than a human being, struggling with performance-driven leadership and a performance-driven relationship with God. Always more to be done and nothing was ever good enough. Church planting was the perfect environment for this virus to prosper. Entering the blogging and author world was even worse! I wanted freedom from this slavery so badly and could preach sermons and write articles about it, but had no equipment, rhythm or methodology to actually internalize it. There was no pathway for this truth to get from my head to my soul.
My background told me if I just thought about this truth harder (it’s God’s Word after all!), it would eventually become reality. It wasn’t becoming reality, no matter how much I prayed for it or read about it in Scripture. Like a praying invalid unaware there was a hospital in town (or possibly just unwilling to go), I began doubting that my cycle of performance-driven identity could ever be broken.
Freedom from a performance-driven relationship with God
I knew there was freedom in the gospel of grace, but kept feeling more and more I could only have freedom if I left vocational ministry. I am so grateful for the Transforming Community and can’t imagine where I’d be without it. Ruth didn’t just teach about the truth of the gospel’s freedom, she showed me practices, rhythms and boundaries I could put in place to actually get to live in it!
I’m not fully out of the woods yet and know I’ll be on this path for the rest of my journey with Christ on this earth, but I’ve found the path and I’ve found many guides.
“…my experience in a Transforming Community has been the most important ministry leadership training I have ever received.”
The trickle down effect
It’s only natural in a church tradition where leadership development happens almost exclusively in the mind, that this emphasis would trickle down into our congregations as well. Going through the Transforming Community has opened my eyes to the many ways my beloved congregants are stuck in the same ruts I have been. They learned their patterns from me, after all!
Now I can guide my church through the same rhythms and paradigm changes that have brought me so much freedom. One of the most notable issues the people in my congregation face is how they interact with Scripture. In a tradition that values theology so much, it’s not surprising that we approach the Bible like it’s a textbook. And in a tradition that also cultivates performance-based faith, it’s not surprising that “doing devotions” often feels like plowing through this textbook with great strain. What’s sad is as much as “daily devotions” or a “quiet time” have been emphasized in my tradition, we don’t know how to spend time with God. We are learning again how to spend time with God.
A new chapter in ministry
I love watching the light bulbs go on in people’s eyes when I explain to them how spending regular time with the Lord in solitude, soaking in his love, will fuel them for everything else in the Christian life.
For the first time, their engine is becoming relational (and supernatural!) rather than being fueled by human striving. As an 11-year veteran of church planting, concluding my Transforming Community experience is like beginning a whole new chapter of ministry at my church. We’ve seen God do a lot of amazing things, but now we have a brand new playground to explore and enjoy, a playground where the pressure is on God (I think He can handle it…) and off of us. Praise be to God!
Speaking to other pastors and ministry leaders
I recommend the Transforming Community more than I do any other ministry training, seminary course or conference available to a ministry leader. To be honest, most of us have already had more than our share of head-knowledge and skill training and even if you haven’t, those things can wait. The health of your soul can’t.
I’m reminded of a line from the old hymn “What a Friend We have in Jesus,”
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
I forfeited so much peace and bore so much needless pain over the years. Not because I wasn’t praying, but because I didn’t know how. It’s beyond words to have found a path of discipleship where I get to truly experience the closing line of that hymn:
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.
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