Meet Jesse Tink, one of our newest ministry consultants here at The Unstuck Group. Jesse is the Pastor of Campus Development at Prairie Lakes Church, which currently spans across six campuses in northeastern and central Iowa.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with him and hear about his experience leading in a rural multisite church, and discover what areas he has consistently seen churches get stuck.
CAROLINE: How did you get started with the Unstuck Group?
JESSE: I first got connected when our church selected them to help us walk through some issues we were running into as we had gone multisite (check out an article on that here). But, we actually had a couple of touch points with some Unstuck consultants prior. We had such good impressions of the team that when their recommendation to utilize The Unstuck Group came, it was kind of a no-brainer.
As we walked through the 4-phase process (and especially as we implemented their suggestions), it really changed the trajectory of our church and solidified a relationship. Our church eventually jumped in as a member of their multisite coaching cohort, and served as a resource for churches seeking to go multisite in a rural context. After all of those touch points, Amy and Paul asked if I’d be interested in joining their team as a consultant. I figured they had plenty of opportunities to see why that might be a terrible idea. But they still asked. So I said “yes.”
CAROLINE: When did you discover your passion for helping churches get unstuck?
JESSE: I’ve always found myself playing a specific role on any team I’ve been on – I’m able to see where we want to go and lay out a path to get there in a way that others aren’t able to. God has definitely refined that passion and ability over time. However, prior to Unstuck, I never really saw that skill as anything other than “value added”.
This changed when I spent some time with the Unstuck consultants and walked through our process. It was the language I spoke, the ideas that I thought, and the dreams about the church that I dreamt. Just being around people who felt called to leverage their particular strategic gifts for the local church (and seeing its effect on my church) had an impact on me and helped me realize this is something I care deeply about.
CAROLINE You’ve worked in a lot of different roles in the church. Where do you feel that churches could develop most?
JESSE: Because of my wiring, I’m really tempted to answer that question with a question: “Where can’t the church develop?” Truthfully, I think the church is generally doing well in several areas: excellence, cultural relevance, and practical biblical teaching, to name a few.
But if the question really is where churches can develop the most, there’s a few areas that consistently rise to the top:
- Clear Vision: prayerfully discerning where God is calling us to go, and what that practically looks like.
- Strategic Alignment: doing the hard work of aligning our resources around the ways we are going to lead into that God-given vision.
- Engagement: giving more staff and volunteers higher levels of responsibility, authority, and resources.
To add one more thing, I think a lot of racially homogenous churches have a great opportunity to lead the way in reconciliation if their leaders would simply start getting to know each other. I think that’d be huge for the gospel in our communities these days.
CAROLINE: You’ve worked in churches of all shapes and sizes. How do you see these different churches getting stuck in similar ways?
JESSE: No matter how big or small of a church you are, making the necessary changes to reach your preferred future can be simply terrifying. When any church is confronted with that fear, there is always a pull to stay right where you are. And, don’t get me wrong, sometimes staying put is absolutely the right call. But typically, the decision to avoid change masquerades itself as wisdom, patience or prudence. In reality, it’s simply fear.
Church staff teams are made up of people, and people have limits – all of us do. This includes a limit on the amount of change we can tolerate. But the future – God’s preferred future for his church, his kingdom, and his world – always requires change. His truth doesn’t change. But his mission of carrying his truth to the ever-changing world demands change. As leaders, we live in that tension, leading change that needs to be made, while acknowledging the realities of those we’re on mission with and to.