The 4 Es of Ministry Development w/ Amiyo Bacher & Richard Ablordeppey
Welcome to the GC Podcast. A podcast to help you develop into the healthiest ministry leader you can be by sharing practical ministry experience.
Cara: Hello friends, and welcome to today’s episode of GC Podcast. This podcast is devoted to exploring best ministry practices in the context of Grace Communion International churches.
I’m your host, Cara Garrity, and today we are going vignette style once again. I’m so pleased to introduce you to my first guest for this episode, Amiyo Bacher. He is a pastor and church planter in Khulna, Bangladesh. He is married to Christina, and they have two children.
Welcome, Amiyo. We are so thankful that you are willing to join us today for this episode.
Cara: Yes. And I’m excited for our conversation today because we’ve been talking about the 4 Es, engage, equip, encourage, and empower as a guide to our process of development. And I know that you’ve had an experience being mentored and developed in GCI Crossway, in the Philippines.
I would love for you to share a little bit of your experience with us today and maybe we can learn a little bit about what it looks like in real life to be developed as a leader and to develop others as leaders in our local churches as disciples and as a priesthood of all believers.
Amiyo, my first question that I’d love to hear from you is, when was a time that you felt engaged in a meaningful and transformative way while you were at GCI Crossway?
Amiyo: Thank you, Cara, for this wonderful question. Maybe I can say a little bit. Before GCI Crossway, we are all studying in Philippines at lnternational Graduate School of Leadership. So, I got invited by Dr. Eugene Guzon because I’m looking for a church to attend. Then I attend GCI Crossway. So, when we attended GCI Crossway, we observed that people are very friendly and welcoming for the newcomers. That impressed us to continue attending GCI Crossway.
After a few weeks, we observed the worship service, sermons, fellowship, and intentional personal care that are very meaningful for us to influence joining GCI Crossway.
Cara: Yeah. I love that you shared that there was an intentional invitation and that they were welcoming. That’s so important to feel welcomed into the body, in the local community of the church. That’s really important.
After you were welcomed in, and you connected through those first few worship services and connected with some people, how did you get equipped as a leader while participating at GCI Crossway?
Amiyo: I felt it was like another practical training in the church, besides our seminary school. GCI Crossway is team based and pastor led ministry. It is a very good model that reflects the God we believe in. I felt the pastoral team has built a team of ministry leaders and have an advisory council in place to make sure that the congregation is being equipped, listened to, and going in the right direction in the journey of Jesus.
Besides, they have many training sessions like discipleship training, a small group after service, pastoral meetings, mentoring, outreach program, retreat, and elder convention. GCI Crossway invite us to join all of this. We are privileged to join those sessions which is very helpful in our ministry practically. So that helped us to equip and fully participate in the life of the church of GCI Crossway.
Cara: And I think what you said about the practical aspect is really important, that you got hands-on and practical ministry equipping. That’s really great.
Was there an aspect of equipping that really impacted you the most while you were at GC Crossway? Because it sounds like there was a lot of different things that you had the opportunity to be equipped with.
Amiyo: Yeah, they have a lot. Their session for equipping the believers who already want to live their life as a leader. So, I feel that personally, the worship service is really amazing and applicable in our country’s context.
And also, the church fellowship. And also, the intentionality of pastor Aron [Tolentino] and also Dr. [Eugene] Guzon. Their fellowship with my family many times, also other believers, is really amazing for me, for equipping and encourage our whole family.
And I also observe my area superintendent pastor Dan Zachariah. He’s also doing the same things. He is really available when I need to contact with him or any suggestion. So, I really love and motivated by their service.
Cara: Yes. And I want our podcast listeners to catch a really important thing in what you said about your experience, Amiyo. The availability of the leaders of Danny and Eugene and Pastor Aaron, the relationships, that they would fellowship with you and your family—that is so important in the development of leaders, and that is the foundation that we can equip one another from.
And so, without those relationships, equipping is okay and it’s important, but that makes the equipping just so much more important and so much more alive, because we’re the church. So, we’re supposed to be in relationship with each other because our God is in relationship— Father, Son, and Spirit. So that’s a beautiful thing about your experience. That’s incredible. I love to hear that.
Amiyo: Also, empower and encourage. Also, the sermon has much empowered and encouraged for me and for my wife. We’re also very blessed each Sunday when we attend Crossway. Also, the doctrine sometimes is really hard to understand, but when we attend at Crossway church, they’re teaching about Trinity is very easy to understand and meaningful for me. So, I am also blessed to attend that and also empower and encourage and motivate myself and to attend the Crossway church.
Cara: Yes. And then, you mentioned that empowerment and encouragement—as you and your family have moved back to Bangladesh. In your church planting and pastoring there in Khulna, what are some more ways that you have felt empowered and encouraged because of the experience that you’ve had in GCI Crossway?
Amiyo: Based on my experience when we’re attending Crossway, I understood that a Christian leader is a servant with credibility and capability to influence brethren in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction. I observe also in Crossway, the leaders, the pastoral teams, that they’re very good at doing this.
So, I’m also following and learning from the Crossway church and also their leaders’ lives.
Cara: Yeah. That’s excellent. That’s excellent. What else about your experience shapes how you lead and how you pastor today?
Amiyo: For me, I am also really following what I learned here in Bangladesh. So, we have also a pastoral team. Also, we have a team who are really motivating our brethren in our five house churches.
So, we are really passionate, but we are learning that this is not our ministry. This is God’s ministry. So, our believers, and also our leaders, are really doing voluntary as a servant to serve our brethren in different [inaudible]. So that’s the model I am really following.
Cara: Ah I love hearing that and I love how even the way that you saw pastoral leadership happen in GCI Crossway and the ways that you were able to participate there has shaped that because that’s a beautiful thing when we realize that our ministries are not our ministries, right? They’re God’s ministries because that frees us to participation in his ministry.
And I think that is really one of the most important things in developing leaders, right? Yes. Ourselves as leaders and as we develop other leaders, is that we lead only as participants in what God is already doing. Oh, that’s excellent.
And so, what I hear there that I really praise God for is not only has your experience being developed as a leader at GCI Crossway shaped your leadership, but it’s already shaping how you are developing leaders in Bangladesh. And that is a really cool thing to see, that now you are developing leaders in this particular way according to this model because you believe that this is—from your experience—that this is the Christ-centered way to develop leaders in the church. That’s a really amazing thing. I praise God for that. Amen. Amen.
When you’re thinking about your experience being developed as a leader and as you continue to—that’s the other thing that I think I heard that’s really important is that you all are continuing as a leadership team to learn and grow. That’s an important thing. When we think about developing, we’re always learning and growing. We like to use the phrase a lot of times, lifelong learner. We never learn everything that we need to know to participate in Jesus’s ministry because that is so amazing and so vast and so incredible, that how could we ever learn everything that we need to know, right?
So, he’s always teaching us and we’re always learning. So, I thought that was an important thing too. And so, as you guys are continuing to learn, as you are continuing to learn, as you pastor, what would you want our listeners on the podcast to know about developing leaders?
Amiyo: I think lot of things I can say for our listener, but I’ll advise the first thing is faithful. So being a leader, we have to faithful to God and family. So sometimes we really deny our family. We give more priority to God, but we need to maintain balance, faithfully to God and family.
And secondly, available. We have to be available to serve our brethren and team. So being a leader, so we should always be available when we need or anything to do. So, we should go there, then our leaders can feel more comfortable with our presence.
And thirdly, is teachable. So, we should teach our brethren the word of God correctly so that they can bear fruit for our Lord.
And last part, not the least, is personal responsibility for learning opportunities. I love this. I love to learn from word of God and other teachings to serve our Lord. It is very important for all the leaders to [have] personal responsibility for learning some new things that we can serve in a creative way to our church to learn and also our team. Yeah, these are the things I really want to advise for our listener.
Cara: Yeah. Yes. And what I really appreciate about your advisement is that the foundation of ministry leadership, because it’s not our ministry, as you said. It’s God’s ministry. The foundation of our development as leaders is discipleship. And in what you’ve just shared, that’s, I think, the key in what you shared is, we’re faithful in our discipleship and we have that responsibility in community with one another where we continue to learn and grow as disciples.
And I think that’s an incredible thing because first and foremost we are disciples. And then secondarily we are leaders in God’s church and participants in his ministry. So yeah, I think that’s really wise advice. Amiyo.
Anything else? Is anything else that you would love to, to share with our listeners? Any final encouragements that you would like to share from your own experiences?
Amiyo: I think I love GCI in whole world—the team-based, pastor led ministry. So, I really love this model that we are also following here and is really working here actively. So, for our listeners, I think all our churches—even in the family also—we need a good team.
That it works very good way. Not only in our church battles, I always felt that in a family also, we need to work teamwise. And I read about team-based, pastor led ministry is a really, very good way to leading our lives, our family lives, and also church life. Even when we go to church plant in new areas, it’s also working.
I feel that as a team, so without team, we cannot do good things. But as a team, we can do many good things. Even why we’ll go, how we’ll go, but is this really nice? That’s the things I really want our listener, that we’re team-based and serve God, that our Lord can see the fruit and throughout our life, our team efforts, then our Lord can be glorified.
This is the things I really want to say.
Cara: Amen. Team-based leadership. Absolutely. I think that there’s a power in it and I think that it works. It’s a great way to be a relationship and leadership with one another with his church and ministry.
So, thank you. Thank you so much, Amiyo, for sharing that. That’s about the time that we have today. So, I really appreciate you willing to share out of your own experience and share the insights and wisdoms that you have gained, one from your experience at GCI Crossway, but then secondarily and maybe even more importantly, your experiences in Bangladesh after you have taken your experiences being developed in GCI Crossway and now, you’re passing that on to other leaders. And you’re developing other leaders. I think that’s an incredible thing.
I think that shows we are disciples who are called to make disciples, and I really praise God that you and your family are saying yes and amen to participate in that. And my prayers are with you guys as you continue to do so. It’s an incredible thing. And what God is up to you in your midst is a wonderful thing. I thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us today.
And we will hear from our next guest in just a moment.
Hi, friends. I am so glad to introduce you, our second guest for this vignette episode of GC Podcast, Richard Ablordeppy. Richard is a bivocational pastor of two congregations in Ghana, has a family, is father of two children.
Richard, I’m so thankful that you’re willing to join us today. So, thank you so much and welcome to the GC Podcast.
Richard: Thank you very much, Cara. It’s a privilege to be here. Yeah.
Cara: And in this episode we’re hearing experiences of being engaged and equipped, empowered and encouraged, developed as leaders and disciples. And so, I’m really looking forward to you sharing your story with us.
And so, the first question that I have for you, Richard, is when is a time that you have felt engaged in a meaningful and transformative way in GCI Ghana?
Richard: That’s a very, very big question because my entire life has been spent in GCI. I was born in GCI, so I’ve had many opportunities to be engaged. But I think the most meaningful one to me was after I graduated from the university and was wondering what to do next with life. Then the opportunity was given by the church, by the head pastor at the time, Pastor Emmanuel Okai. And he said there’s a seminary that GCI Ghana was partnering to train upcoming leaders.
And he asked if I was interested in participating in that training. It was it a surprise to me because I didn’t think I was supposed to be considered for that. But the trust and the way he brought it up, the trust he had in me and the way he brought it up, encouraged me to just say yes, that I would participate.
And so immediately after school, I had that opportunity to go into training at a Christian seminary, and that, for me was the most impactful or the most important intervention in my life as far as ministry is concerned. It brought my mind to the ministry. It brought my mind to the service of God, and I began to follow the tracks towards leadership.
So that is for me, when I had the most meaningful engagement.
Cara: What I think is so incredible about what you share in your experience too, is Pastor Emmanuel, he was intentional, right? He saw you and what God was at work at in your life and he purposefully engaged you and invited you into that opportunity.
That intentionality, it sounds like, has been really meaningful, and has had that impact into how you’ve participated in ministry since then. And I think that’s an important aspect of engaging one another is to do it with intention. And I praise God for your willingness to say yes. So that’s an incredible thing. It’s an incredible thing.
And so, you mentioned Richard, that when you received this training at the seminary and that, that was part of the formative experience that you had. What other ways were you equipped while participating in GCI Ghana that were meaningful to you?
Richard: So, I think the environment that was created by leadership was one that empowered us as youth at the time. It gave us room to operate. For me, the first thing that stood out was the fact that leadership was willing to allow the youth to participate in things that earlier on, only the, in quotes, the elders or the older ones were doing.
And so, at a very young age, we’re pushed into service in terms of doing sermonettes, split sermons. We were already doing worship leading and all the other activities in church. But that environment for me was very important—an environment that encouraged everyone to participate.
And then the next thing, after the environment that was created, was the fact that opportunity was intentionally given to us. For example, when Pastor Okai is traveling to speak somewhere, he would select some of us and then travel along with us. And on the way he talks to you, he asks you questions, you respond. And in that way, he was mentoring us.
You get to the place. He would allow you to speak, and then he’ll evaluate you afterwards. And so that was one of the ways.
But he was not the only one doing it. Anytime I had the opportunity to speak in church, there were senior pastors who were like fathers to me. I could walk to any of them and ask for feedback, and they were glad they will gladly give it.
So, the environment and the intentional way of pushing us, who they saw potential in. They pushed us into this part of leadership. By God’s grace, we were able to find our feet and also to participate and come all the way to this point.
Cara: Yes. And I hear in your story the importance of relationship.
You mentioned that you were mentored by Pastor Okai, and I think that’s an incredible way to experience being equipped—that it’s hands-on. It’s not just the head knowledge, but it’s actually, come along with me and see.
Yeah, I praise God for that experience. I think that’s really where that equipping comes to life. And we see that actually reflected in the life and the earthly ministry of Jesus as well. He says, come along, do what I’m doing. That’s incredible.
Then, you’re talking about those specific opportunities that were intentionally opened up and provided to you and the other youth in that environment, in GC Ghana. What were some of the maybe most important or key ways that you were empowered and encouraged that really impacted how you developed as a leader?
Richard: I think, first of all, identifying the strengths that we had. For me, the leadership identified in me some strengths and would give me assignments in that direction.
For example, there was a convention, and that is, in those days, we’re just doing F.O.T. [Feast of Tabernacles] But it had been. We now called it convention, annual conventions. We were drafted into organizing those programs.
So a couple of us were put together and asked to go and design a program and bring it up, get a budget, put together, and bring it up, and then feedback will be given. Go and add this. Have you considered that? And gradually that kind of hands-on approach, we were able to learn, we were able to get a skill. And they were able to pass on to us things that we didn’t get from school or from studies.
And so, for me, those were some of the ways. I valued those means of empowering us more than even the seminary opportunity I had.
Also, we had what we called leaders’ or new leaders’ seminars. And in these new leaders’ seminars, you would go and you are supposed to speak on a particular topic. You go and speak, and then there are many leaders there who evaluate what you’re speaking on.
So, I enjoyed the hands-on approach to doing things that were church business than the academic ones that we did, which brought us the knowledge we that was required to save.
So those were the ways I think, were the most impactful means I was empowered or I was brought up.
Cara: And not only that “hands-on” that’s really important, as we’ve even already mentioned and how it reflects even the ministry of Jesus and brought you into participating in his ministry.
Not just learning about the Ministry of Christ, but I hear also that you said they, the leaders that were pouring into you, saw and identified and called out your strengths and the giftings that God has given you. And I think that’s a really important thing for us as the body of Christ to think about and to practice because that whole image, even of the body of Christ. We’re different parts of his body.
And so to see you personally as God has created you, and to draw that out so that you can respond to your own calling as whatever part of the body God has made you to be instead of, kind of “factory setting” making leaders, and we just make a bunch of hands instead of what is God doing in the life of this person?
I just really think that’s an important thing that I heard you say that I want our listeners to hear is that personalized way that the leaders who poured into you were able to come alongside you to name that.
Leaders poured into you in a personalized way. How did that help you respond and even discern more specifically your calling as Richard, instead of just a generic leader?
Richard: I think that when I went to the seminary, and I started to study more about the theological or the theory behind scriptures and some of the topics that were treated there, it whipped up a certain interest. And of course, I was baptized already. I had a love for the Lord already, but I think that exposure just clicked something in me. And I began to read a lot, do my own kind of research, my own Bible studies.
And I realized that I was developing a deeper relationship with the Lord, and so I found for myself that fulfillment, that I was getting to know the Lord better day after day. And it came to a point where I’ve now wanted to serve. I now wanted to become engaged more in serving wherever the opportunity was within the GCI environment.
And so, it came more or less as an easy thing, something that I desired for. And so, it wasn’t a difficult thing to take up the role when I was one day offered the opportunity to become an elder. Earlier to that I was a deacon. I had served as a deacon for some time in one congregation, and I was then made an elder about seven years ago.
And so that is, for me, the core of it—was just the interest and of course, the Holy Spirit working in me and through me to bring me to the point where I had a natural interest to be in ministry.
Cara: Yes. And thank you so much for sharing that experience and even your own way of recounting how you responded to a sense of calling.
As you share a little bit of your story with us, Richard, it sounds like you had a number of people that really poured into you that really walked alongside you, not just as a disciple, but as you were developed as a leader.
And when we talk about in GCI, the four E’s engaging, equipping, empowering, and encouraging you had it, it sounds like a robust experience of that in GCI Ghana. So how have those experiences shaped who you are as a leader today, as you pastor these two congregations?
Richard: I think what they have done—the upbringing or the training and the mentoring that I received has made me develop into an experienced person.
It has made me develop into one who has learned to work with teams. So, the drive from the national pastor is that we work as teams in our local congregations. So yes, these are two different congregations I am pastoring and I have other colleague pastors that I am working with. And then we have Avenue champions that we’re working with.
But because of that team-based kind of leadership that we are being encouraged to work in, it makes the work easier. And so there are two separate congregations that I’m able to share my time with both sides. I am able to get feedback. I’m able to really enjoy the work because it’s not burdensome.
Any job you’re doing or any work you’re doing has its ups and down, but it’s not burdensome because you have people who also love the Lord, people who also share the same passion, and together you are able to do the work of God without much stress. And indeed, when the love of God is at work in everyone, life becomes easier because everyone bears a little bit of the burden of the other.
And so in all of this, back to your question, I think when it comes to equipping us, there were intentional efforts made available for young leaders to get equipped. So, there was a seminary training. There was the monthly upcoming leaders’ seminar for speakers or speaker seminar. There was the opportunity to be to join the national pastor, go out and preach somewhere.
There were intentional efforts put in place, and so at the end of the day you didn’t find yourself stranded. If you had a challenge, you just reached out to your lead pastor or whoever was supervising you, and you had that support.
Again, I’ll touch on the environment. The fact that there is this brotherly and loving environment, for me, it’s one of the best things that we have in GCI. That our leaders are friendly, fatherly, or brotherly (and sisterly for lady pastors we have), we are able to relate very well. And no one despises you because of your age, that you are a young one.
Everyone is helping you rise up. And for me that is very important for our environment here. I had the opportunity to become the board chairman for the Ghana Church, and it was a big surprise. I didn’t see it coming, but somehow it came. I got nominated onto the board.
And I was a member of the board, served a couple of years, and then I got elected as the board chair. And the faith and trust that senior pastors had in the youngest member on board there, was very encouraging. And I think it’s something that I thank God for, that people far more experienced than you can be patient with you to listen to you and help you become molded into someone better. And that is the privilege I have enjoyed.
Cara: Amen. I join you in praising God for that. And as we come to the end of our time on the podcast today, what final words would you, or advice, what do you want our listeners to know about developing leaders?
Richard: Number one, we must be intentional. Number two, we must take away the barriers or possible barriers that can hinder people with potential from moving up or coming forward to participate in the service or in leadership. And number three, we must make sure that the environment is loving. It’s having the Spirit of God at work, and we must allow the Spirit of God to work through us.
And I think when the Spirit of God is at work, it’s obvious that a loving environment will begin to be seen. And people are able to operate best when they know they are not going to be crucified for their slips and their errors.
And so for me, those are the important things I think any congregation or any team needs, especially a church organization needs the intentional drive and then the removal of barriers. In my case, paying for some of the courses I had to attend was taken up by the church. It was a barrier to me. I couldn’t have afforded some of them. And so, the church offered to help me knowing that I was not in the position to support myself in that way. And over the years, it has yielded the benefits that the church wanted or God wanted to come out of me.
So those are the things that I think are important. And I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to share my experience. Thank you.
Cara: No, I’d like to thank you. This has been some wonderful insights. I really am thankful for you to share your experience and I praise God for the experience that you’ve been able to have and for those final words of encouragement and advice to our listeners.
I join you in continuing to be in prayer for our congregations in Ghana. As well as, for our younger leaders that are coming up and that we create environments of love and intentionality for them to step into the spaces and the people that God has created them to be.
Thank you so much, Richard, for joining us today. It has been an absolute pleasure.
That’s all we’ve got for today, folks. Until next time, keep on living and sharing the gospel.
We want to thank you for listening to this episode of the GC Podcast. We hope you have found value in it to become a healthier leader. We would love to hear from you. If you have a suggestion on a topic, or if there is someone who you think we should interview, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, Healthy Churches start with healthy leaders; invest in yourself and your leaders.