Our Calling & Identity While Leading with Joshua Trombley

Thanks for joining in to this week’s unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Joshua Trombley with Life Boat Church.

Life Boat Church started four years ago outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia to reach the unchurched communities there.

Joshua is with us today to talk about the challenges of ministering in this type of post-Christian environment and how it’s shaped his leadership.

  • Get involved with the community. // Halifax and the areas surrounding it are very unchurched. However people are traditional in the sense that they identify with a certain denomination even though they have never attended church and neither have their parents. As a result, Joshua has found that it takes a lot of time to build credibility with people in the community before they will commit to anything or entertain the idea of visiting the church. So instead Life Boat Church has gotten involved in things that the community around them is already doing. Joshua, for example, joined the Chamber of Commerce and participates in their events. He also serves at a local school, and church small groups have serve events in the community. Participate with the unchurched in your community.
  • More than metrics. // In such an unchurched area, church growth is difficult. Early on in the life of the church, Joshua felt the pressure to do things better and make growth happen. The pressure became so much that he found himself very sick, stressed out and wondering how he got to that place. As Joshua did some soul-searching, he began asking himself where he was putting his hope and realized he had removed God from the equation in his focus on systems, strategies and metrics. Those things are important – they help us do our work more effectively, but they are not God, and we cannot attach our self-worth to them.
  • Get healthy. // From there Joshua began his own journey to get healthy personally so he could lead from a place of wholeness with his identity rooted in Christ. As Joshua was strengthened in his identity as a child of God who was loved for who he was and not for what he did, it gave him the confidence to risk trying new things. When our worth is no longer based on whether a system or strategy succeeds or fails, we find the freedom to be creative, innovate, and keep trying, even when things don’t initially work out.
  • Simplify services. // When it came to church services, Joshua learned that everything didn’t need to be perfect or elaborate. He began working to deconstruct and simplify the systems that were in place, and relax about the imperfections. If weekend services feel too much like a performance based on people rather than God, simplify things, get your own heart right, and then start to slowly add the systems and strategies back in a healthier way.
  • Explore identity. // Joshua found that his experience of embracing his identity in God rather than his performance resonated deeply with his congregation. This led to a sermon series at his church that explored identity and where people place theirs, as well as a book that Joshua wrote called Hidden Faces: Discovering our true identity in Christ.

You can find out more about Lifeboat Church at and read his thoughts and teachings at

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.