Today we’re talking leadership and Biblical hospitality with Jersey’s own Terry A. Smith. God has done some incredible things in Terry’s church over the years. Terry A. Smith is the Lead Pastor of The Life Christian Church (TLCC) in West Orange and Paramus, New Jersey. Over the past 27 years, TLCC has grown from 54 members to a church family approaching 3,000 people. A non-denominational Christian community, TLCC is known for its vibrant diversity and robust leadership culture with people from more than 132 distinct communities in the New York City Metro area who are regularly engaged in the life of the church.
Terry is with us to discuss church diversity, hospitable environments, and what it was like to move from the Midwest to a suburb of the Big Apple.
- Diversity among better-life-seekers. Terry came to TLCC from Indiana in the early 90s and started pastoring what was a small church of immigrants at the time. They welcomed him into their midst and the lessons he learned from them have helped shape TLCC’s culture tremendously. Today TLCC’s congregation continues to be diverse, coming from different communities, political backgrounds, and ethnicities, but what ties them together is the common thread of being hungry to get better at life. These folks tend to be leaders and respond to a message of leadership, so Terry and his team have worked to build a culture of leadership within their church.
- Hospitable leadership allows for a more inclusive viewpoint.//Terry finds so much power in Hebrews 13:2, and a major part of his message focuses on what it means to value loving people who are strange to you and to whom you are strange. He believes that strong leadership and church diversity both stem from this idea of absolutely loving people who are different than you—whether ethnically, politically, racially, etc.—and learning that those people often become messengers from God.
- The key is to create a hospitable environment in every way.// True hospitable leadership creates welcoming environments that attract a broad range of people, and Terry sees Jesus as the prototypical hospitable leader. Scripture begins and ends with pictures of hospitality – Adam and Eve were welcomed into the Garden when God created them and Christ’s Church will be invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. During the Last Supper, Jesus is extremely intentional about where the meal will happen and the details surrounding it, such as the washing of his disciples’ feet. By examining the details of Christ’s final act of hospitality here on earth, Terry demonstrates how Jesus provides the framework for creating (physical, spiritual, attitudinal, emotional, and communicative) environments that are welcoming in every way.
- You can’t influence someone you don’t welcome.//Terry is undeniably passionate about hospitable leadership. That passion, combined with the distinct diversity of his congregation, has prompted so many questions over the years, so he wrote his newest book, The Hospitable Leader: Create Environments Where People and Dreams Flourish, as an attempt to answer those questions. Terry returns to Hebrews with the understanding that you can’t influence someone that you don’t welcome, and that hospitable leadership exists to win people for Jesus.
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Helpful Tech Tools // Evernote
Ministries Following // Redeemer Presbyterian, Christ Tabernacle in Queens, and Liquid Church
Influential Book // Contagious Holiness: Jesus’ Meals with Sinners by Craig L. Blomberg by Dr. Blumberg, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown, Paul: A Biography by N.T. Wright
Influential Leader // Jack Welch
What you do for fun // Hanging out with family, Boating, Reading, Exercising, Sports
Contact // website tlcc.org or terry_a_smith on social media
Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Leadership Pathway