Life and Leadership – Tracee McAtear – 4
Interview series from 2019 with church leader, Tracee McAtear.
So you’ve been here 10 years. As you look back over that timeline, have there been some defining life turns along the way, either good or bad, that have shaped your leadership now?
In some ways our philosophy of ministry hasn’t changed. We were hugely influenced by the book ‘Simple Church’, as well as the Natural Church Development ideas that the healthy churches which grow have their main influence on discipleship. From day one we have tried to create a healthy environment with good nutrition, nurture and room to explore and grow, just like parents do with their kids.
When we first started pastoring the church we certainly felt out of our depth at times. I remember early on especially praying for wisdom on how to lead. Not long after that some consultants got in touch with us about their work areas of governance, finance, structure, strategy and leadership development. These people were literally God-sends to us and helped us avoid making some major mistakes. We have stayed in contact and they have been great sounding boards when it comes to making major decisions – as have our network back in Australia. We all need people that we trust to examine our work, cheer us on for what we’re doing well, challenge us in the areas that need growth or change (even if we don’t like to hear it ), and to remind us of the bigger picture to which we belong.
Our church was turning 70 years old when Kirk and I first started to lead it. It was pioneered in the second world war and was very effective in children’s ministry throughout the years. It was also influential in raising up leaders. Since we started leading the church we have made many changes; we renovated the building twice, started an extra service, rebranded the church to ‘Connect Church’ and started Sunday services at St Andrews Football Stadium.
After a year at St Andrews we sold the old church building and began the design process for our new ‘Home and Hub’ just next to the Football Stadium. We commenced building in July 2017. These are just the physical changes. There have been many more as we have repurposed the church into this new season of influence and mission. In all the change we have always tried to link where we’re going to where we’ve been, so that it’s not just change for change’s sake but rather the next chapter in the story of this great church.
The whole building process had been a huge stretch and taken a lot longer than we ever expected. It’s like living our own episode of Grand Designs. Along the way we had several defining moments where the project looked like it could not progress during the planning stage, then the mortgage process, and at times during the build – and this was after the church first bought the site in 2000.
We have learned about the power of praying, of speaking vision to town planners, of the resurrection power at work in finances, and that the mission activity of the church does not wait for a building but proceeds anyway. We would like it to have been a lot more straightforward, but we have learned that Jesus has seen the building finished and He’s with us in the waiting, we can be certain of that.
Tracee is a senior pastor with her husband, Kirk, at Connect Church, Birmingham.
Life and Leadership
–is an interview series with leaders involved in the Global Leadership Network and the Global Leadership Summit. It takes inspiration primarily from The Guardian’s, ‘This Much I know,’ as well as interviews in Alpha Life, New Wine Magazine and others.
Interview by Will Salmon.