I think God is creating a family in the midst of this very busy city
Newly appointed as senior pastor of Elim’s Kensington Temple network in London, we caught up with Mark Ryan to hear his vision for the role.
How did you come to take on the role of KT’s senior pastor?
My wife Kathy and I were very committed in Birmingham, but I was woken up in the middle of the night a few times and felt the Lord say some very specific things about KT.
Then I had a dream about a wineskin and felt the Lord saying “Help me put new wine in there.”
I knew it was about KT. When I told my Regional Leader, Paul Hudson, he said the national leaders had been wondering if I’d be prepared to leave Birmingham and go to KT. It progressed from there.
Tell us about your new role
KT is large, so the role is very varied. It involves leading the main KT site and the London City Church network, which has 35 branches.
KT also has a TV channel, recording studio and 35 staff, so I’m getting to know the different departments.
We want to increase our community outreach and develop the staff and ministers. We want to develop a contemporary urban church that is accessible and known for its generosity, love and commitment to God’s Word.
Tell us more about your vision for KT
I don’t want to develop an independent coffee shop-style church with its own flavour – KT already has a strong cell vision and discipleship community which give it individuality.
I want to develop a Starbucks-style church network that is accessible to everyone and where people know what they’re going to get – help, love and healing.
Another of my priorities is to ensure the worship services are meaningful for everyone.
What do you sense God’s direction is for KT?
I think God is saying that urban inner-city churches can still be family, community and disciple-making places, even though cities have a big turnover of people.
Some people think an inner-city church is somewhere where everybody just comes to a worship service then leaves, but I feel God is saying, “I’m creating a community in the midst of this very busy city; a family in the city.”
What’s your leadership style?
To be approachable and accessible and strong in the Word.
In Deuteronomy 17:20 the Bible says the king should not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites.
I’m not saying I’m a king, but that leaders are supposed to be shepherd leaders. I’d like to lead in a shepherdly way so people feel valued and honoured.
You wrote a book on soul care for leaders last year. How will soul care feature in your leadership at KT?
After a period of great change at KT, I’d like to bring a settled season of growth and leadership.
I want to make sure our staff are OK. I also want KT to be known as a place where leaders can be looked after, developed and encouraged.
We already have a Bible school but we want to make it more open so leaders can come here and be refreshed.
What’s most excited you about being at KT?
Kathy and I really feel like we’ve been called here and we’re excited about releasing the true strengths of KT – its people.
We’re also excited about London because as a city it’s growing. People have stopped moving out and started moving back in and we’re expecting a huge harvest.
Lastly, give us some of your highlights of life in the capital.
The other day I went to the bookshop where Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts filmed the movie Notting Hill, and I went to the Kray twins’ pub in Whitechapel too. We’re loving the mix of it.
Mark’s book offers keys to help leaders be stronger.
In his book, The Pastor’s Soul Care, Mark explains the steps leaders can take to become stronger and more resilient for the long haul of ministry.
At Elim’s Leadership Summit, Mark gave the following tips from the book for ensuring effective soul care in an era of change and uncertainty:
Accept the tension we’re living in
Some people won’t agree on certain issues. That doesn’t mean that you as a leader have to make everybody’s world perfect – you won’t be able to.
You have to listen to different points of view and accept there will be a tension around your ministry for the foreseeable future. Some people want to go back to the way things were. Others can’t wait to move into a new digital future.
Instead of trying to heal the tensions, call people to faith and discipleship.
Craft a new rhythm
We thought the season we’re in would be over by now, but it’s not. So let’s create new rhythms and ways of working to adapt to it.
In your personal life, you need to build rhythms that form a solid base socially, physically, emotionally and strategically.
For your church, you need to help people connect; show compassion, reach out and disciple them. You also need to ask how you’re caring in this season. We need to take care of people who have suffered loss.
Go back to your original calling
It’s important to go back to what God said to you about your life, your calling and the reason you first got into ministry. You need to refine it.
What are you adding to it? What new things has God put in you?
Accept your identity
This is a time for us to deepen our relationships with God and become more defined as leaders.
To do that, you need to become more self-aware. Younger leaders are perhaps more concerned about identity, older leaders maybe have more issues about relationships and intimacy.
We need to become more self-aware, more self-defined, more aligned to what God is doing in our lives and calling us to do. Stop playing down your strengths and playing up your weaknesses. It’s good to accept who you are.
Live life with others
A really important caveat to these elements of soul care is that we need people to process things with. You’ll never get identity issues sorted unless you talk them out with trusted people.
We need to get past the idea that opening up is a weakness. Let’s allow people into our lives whom we can receive from.
Copies of Mark's book The Pastor's Soul Care are available from Amazon here.
This article first appeared in the November 2021 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered directly to your home.
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