Answering the Call

When You're the Second Pastor of a Church Plant

Episode Summary

Dustin Turner took over a successful church plant after the founding pastor moved to a new ministry. He talks about being a "systems guy" when the original pastor was a "visionary," and how that's helped their transition and growth.

Episode Transcription

Gary Myers: Hi, my name is Gary Myers.

Joe Fontenot: And I'm Joe Fontenot.

Gary Myers: And we're the hosts for the Answering the Call Podcast.

Joe Fontenot: This is the podcast where we talk to people who are answering God's call. Today, our guest is Dustin Turner, the lead pastor of Vintage Church in New Orleans.

Gary Myers: Dustin took over as lead pastor after the church's founding pastor moved to a different ministry. He talks about some of the challenges and insights for making a successful transition.

Joe Fontenot: So, here's Dustin. Dustin Turner, you are the lead pastor of Vintage Church of New Orleans, which is a church plant here in New Orleans. As we're recording this, we just had Easter, and you guys had record numbers for Easter. So you're doing really well, but what's really interesting to me is that, this is a church plant, but you were not the church planter. You're actually the second pastor, second lead pastor, and to me, that's a very interesting concept, like how you did that, how that went off, and everything that came with that. So that's really what I wanted to talk with you today about. First of all, before we get into that, you're a grad of us, NOBTS. You did your master's and your Ph.D. here. How did you come to New Orleans? Was it for school? And why did you stay?

Dustin Turner: So I came to New Orleans because of school. It's a funny thing. I grew up in southwest Ohio between Dayton and Cincinnati so I bypassed Southern Seminary. Honestly, the reason was I had two people in my life, one was ... My best friend's uncle was a grad from here, and he had nothing but incredible things to talk about. Then I had an interim pastor in my life that recommended New Orleans. I've always been kind of a heady guy to begin with, bent toward academics. So I knew, no offense to Southern ... I love Southern. But I knew that's kind of their natural bent, right?

Joe Fontenot: Mm-hmm.

Dustin Turner: So I wanted to come somewhere where I knew I was going to get practical training. So my wife and I didn't visit anywhere else. We came here. I loved it. I'll be honest, she hated, not the seminary, the city.

Joe Fontenot: Right. It's a big change.

Dustin Turner: It is a big change. Everybody that I've ever talked to, you either love New Orleans or you hate New Orleans. There's no in-between.

Joe Fontenot: It's kind of a polarizing ...

Dustin Turner: So, yeah, that's why we moved down here. We moved here August 1, 2008, and no plans of staying. It was like, do the three-and-a-half years ... Rachel, my wife, was hoping it was going to be much shorter time than that ... and head back to Ohio to family as fast as we could. It was a mixture of things. I mean, it was my time here at the seminary. It was the city itself. It was our time at Vintage Church, really, that called us to stay. Our first Sunday visiting Vintage Church was its launch Sunday.

Joe Fontenot: Nice.

Dustin Turner: For the official launch, we're there, end of September 2008, and we're checking it out, and we've been there ever since. It took about a year for my wife to really warm up to the idea, but I remember I went to Israel with the seminary in like December, January of 2009, and I was joking about having an epiphany in the Holy Land of whether we were going to stay or leave or not. My wife was like, "You know? I could see us settling down here." I was like, "I don't know if I should be concerned."

Joe Fontenot: Right. Are you okay?

Dustin Turner: The rest is history. We've been here ever since. So, yeah.

Joe Fontenot: Right on. That's cool. Let me ask you this question now. Did you plan, or in your mind's eye, did you see yourself as a lead pastor?

Dustin Turner: No, and that's one of the things that there's two pieces to that. No, I didn't want to do that at all. I hate to be that guy that says, "Don't tell God you'll never do something," but that's the reality. The other piece for me was, part of the reason I said no to that, was because there were two things. When I came to seminary, I knew I was called to ministry, but I had no idea what that actually looked like. I had probably the stereotype of like, well, I've got to do this or I've got to do that, and it really was ... It was my time at seminary that was instrumental. I was taking classes, and the classes that I was taking at the time were great. There were the practical classes. There were the super academic classes, you know, biblical studies, languages, theology, those sorts of things.

Dustin Turner: Then, at the same time as I was doing that, I was beginning to work at Vintage. First, I was like kind of a grunt worker, doing whatever they asked me to do. I later came on staff and like leading our Connect, guest services team, to then discipleship. It was my time at seminary and Vintage Church together, that began to narrow my calling. I even changed my degree program here because, for me personally, what I realized, was that the most important thing that I could learn here at the seminary was the things that I couldn't learn in the local church. That's why I did my master's degree in biblical languages, and then I did my Ph.D. in theology.

Dustin Turner: Then, I began to learn what it meant to pastor in the local church context. I'm thankful for this, our founding pastor, who was my lead pastor, Rob Wilton, our current and former executive pastor ... He's still my executive pastor ... Matthew Brichetto, they gave me a ton of freedom. And what that allowed me to do was test my gifts, see what my passions were. I think Keller has talked about this before, like, how do you know when you're called to something? Well, what are you passionate about? What are you gifted at? Where's the need?

Dustin Turner: It was really, without knowing that, it was those three things that they gave me a ton of freedom in, that allowed me to realize kind of where I was gifted and called. I became the equipping pastor, so everything from discipleship to our small groups to leadership development, those sorts of things, were kind of my niche. I honestly thought, so getting to the did you ever think you were going to be a lead pastor, I always thought that was my niche. I love it. I was finishing my Ph.D. here. I was teaching a little bit adjunct at the seminary. I loved it. I always thought, "This is my sweet spot."

Dustin Turner: This is where I'm going to be. This is it. So because of that, I never in a million years thought I was going to be a lead pastor, didn't even want it, wasn't even interested. It wasn't even like, "This is the next big move I'm going to make." It wasn't until, when Rob began to process his own personal calling and what was next for him, it wasn't until he shared that with me personally that, no lie, I remember sitting ... We were downtown in a meeting space overlooking the city, and he was sharing the possibility of him leaving and starting something new. I felt this internal stirring, which I think is the Holy Spirit, of saying, "You could be the lead pastor." That thought had never crossed my mind, wasn't interested. It was really from that moment where I began to process what that would look like.

Joe Fontenot: You weren't interested because, if I hear you right, you had found your niche, and you liked what you were doing, and you felt that you were kind of living out what you were supposed to do. Is that accurate?

Dustin Turner: Yes. Yes. And I think the other piece to that is, often, when I equated lead pastor, I also equated church planter.

Joe Fontenot: Ah.

Dustin Turner: Which is not always the case.

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: I do think that there was like ... I was perfectly comfortable with what I was doing, was using my gifts in a way that was building up the church, but I also felt like I didn't have the personality or the gift set to be a lead pastor. A lot of that was a misconception, I think, on my part to say, because I couldn't see myself as a church planter. I'll be the first one to tell you, I'm not a church planter. I think it takes ... That's a unique gift setting that not everybody has, and I don't have that. In my opinion, I don't have that gift set. I think it was a little bit of both of those things that held me from ever wanting to be a lead pastor.

Joe Fontenot: That makes sense. Let's switch gears here for a minute. I want to talk about the switch from Rob, who started the church, grew the church, and I'm sure there were a lot of relationships there, people liked him and all this kind of stuff. He felt God moving him to a different ... He's in ...

Dustin Turner: He's in Pittsburgh now.

Joe Fontenot: Pittsburgh, okay.

Dustin Turner: Yep.

Joe Fontenot: I knew it was Pennsylvania. So he's in Pittsburgh now, far away from New Orleans, and you took over as lead pastor. What was that transition like?

Dustin Turner: Actually, not bad at all.

Joe Fontenot: That's good.

Dustin Turner: Which is really weird and crazy and good all the same time.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: Early on, it was really difficult, and there were a lot of other circumstances outside of Vintage Church, with some of the transition, that were difficult. There were a few people inside the church that did not like the idea of Rob leaving. A lot of that had to do ... Because Rob, to his benefit, bleeds New Orleans. He was born here, spent most of his childhood here, came back here. So he loves ... To this day, he has a real hard time living in Pittsburgh. Steelers are black and gold up there.

Joe Fontenot: That's funny.

Dustin Turner: He thinks that's ridiculous, right?

Joe Fontenot: Right.

Dustin Turner: So he loves New Orleans. Rob is a visionary. He's got incredible dreams and incredible visions, and so we would literally say things like, "One day, we're going to fill the superdome." I still believe that, but then people would be like, "Hey, I thought we were going to fill the superdome. Now you're bouncing?" It took a little time for some of those people to, number one, kind of see the big picture and see that the work that we're doing, it moves beyond the city of New Orleans. But at the same time, it really was a seamless transition in that, number one, we were super honest and kept people in the loop of the process. It, no doubt, helped because they knew me. I'd been there since the beginning. I was a pastor. I was ordained and listed as a pastor at Vintage August 2011. So I'd been a pastor there six, seven years. I'd taught. I had led people, so there was already built trust. I think all of those pieces just made it very natural.

Joe Fontenot: Natural. Yeah.

Dustin Turner: No doubt, doubts.

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: Because if you know Rob Wilton, and you know me, we're like totally different personalities. Totally different. I think, because they had grown with Rob as the lead pastor, they recognized at the same time, Dustin has completely different gifts. Can he do this? Or maybe that's just what I'm thinking in my head the whole time, which is true, too.

Joe Fontenot: That's a question I had. Did you have any doubts?

Dustin Turner: Oh, yeah.

Joe Fontenot: What kind of doubts did you have?

Dustin Turner: Is the ship going down? I mean, serious, as a pastor ... This is part of Rob's strength that allowed that transition to go really well, is Rob's never been a micromanager. So a danger in a lot of church, an organization, whatever is for a leader to do everything. Rob was never that way, right? So he had handed off so much that when he left, was it a hole? Absolutely, but it wasn't like, what are we going to do with ourselves? Rob did an incredible job of leadership development in his own way. I'm the systems guy. Rob's the relational guy. So we had somewhat of a system, but it was more like, "Come with me. Join me. We'll do this together." For him, it worked. Because of that, he was able to develop leaders, including myself, and leave Vintage in a healthier place then when it began. At the same time, I've got, just massive fears, because I've never ... While I've been a pastor at Vintage, I've never been the lead pastor.

Joe Fontenot: And there's a big gap there in any place.

Dustin Turner: There's a huge gap. I'm leading our entire team. I'm fundraising. I'm making sure we're making budget. I'm a collaborator. The way that I lead is I do collaborate a lot, but at the same time, that weight and pressure is on my shoulders, you know?

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: And we had some, you know, early in 2018, when that ... That transition happened December 2017, and early in like spring of 2018, we also had some other staff transition. We were kind of preparing for that, but at the same time, if you're looking from the outside, you're like, "Oh my gosh, the wheels are falling off." For me, this sounds ridiculous, but I was just praying to God that it didn't all fall apart by the end of 2018, and it didn't.

Joe Fontenot: What did you think was going to fall apart? I know a lot of times with fears, they are irrational.

Dustin Turner: Oh, yeah. Most of them were irrational.

Joe Fontenot: Right. Right. But what was the logic there? Were you afraid that people were not going to respond?

Dustin Turner: Yeah, I think so. I think some of it was a fear of ... Again, it goes back to like Rob and I are just totally different people.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: I've always been ... As a leader, I'm very comfortable with who I am, and that was something, again, that Rob did an incredible job of. Anytime, raising up leaders, it was never, "Be like me." Just, people smell that out, and then they know it.

Joe Fontenot: Fake.

Dustin Turner: If you're fake, if you're inauthentic, they don't want to follow that, right?

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: He's allowed me, and I've always been myself, but I think the challenge for me was, "How do I be a lead pastor and do some things that I've never done before, but at the same time, be myself?" While the team that I lead now, I was leading then, loved me, believed in me, they had some ... I mean, transition, they have doubts. Can you really do this? The thing that I hate the most about being the lead pastor is worrying about our budget. So I'm just thinking to myself, "Are all of these people going to keep giving? What's going to happen? Who's going to lose their job? My salary is going to get cut," A lot of them are irrational. They're just, you know ...

Joe Fontenot: Has any of that ever happened?

Dustin Turner: No. No. We're bigger now than we've ever been. I think we're healthier now than we've ever been. Our budget, we're doing well. A lot of those were irrational fears. But my executive pastor and I were talking the other day, and I didn't see it, but he even mentioned it like last year about this time. I'm just trying to tread water, I think. I didn't feel that, but I'm sure that's what it was. It's just like getting my bearings for how am I going to do this, what is this going to look like? Yeah, a lot of it was irrational fear. I think one of the biggest things about leading a church, but probably leading any organization, is are these people going to keep being a part of this?

Dustin Turner: And that's probably a danger for every church leader because the danger is ... Yes, and it's a weird balance. There's something to be said for being a leader. And people do follow ... If people aren't following you, you're not a leader, right? But at the same time, they're not completely following me. They're following the Lord. They're there at Vintage because they're following the Lord. So it's a tension for me of like, "They're not there because of me, but they are there because of me." That's a tension I've got to constantly wrestle with.

Joe Fontenot: Sure. Navigate it.

Dustin Turner: The challenge for me as a pastor, I need to be following ... If I'm not following the Lord, then they're probably not going to be coming because they see that I'm not following the Lord.

Joe Fontenot: Especially, yeah, especially from a platform position, your life is just kind of opened up, and people are watching it much more carefully.

Dustin Turner: Yep.

Joe Fontenot: How did you know you were doing the right thing through this process? You had doubts, of course. We all have doubts. How did you really know to keep pushing through those doubt, through any issues that came up?

Dustin Turner: Well, I think one was I'm quick to receive feedback. So a lot last year, every time we met almost, I would ask Brick. We call him Brick, our executive pastor. I would say, "Just tell me. Am I messing something up? Am I missing something?" He would be honest with me about whether or not I was missing something or not seeing something.

Joe Fontenot: How long has he been with Vintage?

Dustin Turner: Brick's been with Vintage longer than I have, so he was like around ...

Joe Fontenot: Pre-launch and such, yeah.

Dustin Turner: ... pre-launch. And he was like the first intern.

Joe Fontenot: Nice.

Dustin Turner: Again, a lot of what Rob did early on set Vintage up to where it's at now. Because he identified leaders, poured into them, we're able to be where we're at now. So I would ask Brick questions like, "Am I seeing this the right way? What am I doing wrong?" I think that was a big piece. I think the other piece that's still the case is I ask for a lot of feedback from all of our team. I'll take one of our other pastors out, our staff guys out, and go to lunch. How are you doing, but how can I serve you better? A lot of that helped. I think just seeing the health of the church, the fact that we're growing numerically, we're growing in baptisms, we're growing spiritually is an indicator for me that I'm doing something right. So, yeah, I think for me those were a lot of those things, and I think one of the things that we did a lot last year into this year is really begin to put some systems in place. So like leadership development, like I told you, Rob was very relational, right, which is excellent but will only go so far.

Joe Fontenot: Only scale so far, right.

Dustin Turner: Yeah. So we put in an entire system for leadership development, and people just loved it.

Joe Fontenot: Really? Which is more of your personality anyway.

Dustin Turner: Yeah, I'm a systems guy.

Joe Fontenot: So it's almost like this all just kind of came at a really good time for the growth, for the personalities.

Dustin Turner: Yes. I think, looking back on it, I think Rob realized that as well. This is the strength of self-awareness, of a good team, is like we were all beginning to process these things, and that's when Rob, while he didn't want to leave Vintage New Orleans, recognized his skill set and his gifting. I kind of understand that kind of apostolic gift as a self-starter, kind of an entrepreneurial mindset. I don't have that. Rob does. Rob can literally walk into an empty room and start something. That just terrifies me. But what I have, the gifts that I have, is the ability to take what is started and really organize it and make it healthier.

Joe Fontenot: When did you recognize that in yourself? Is that something you've kind of always known since you were young or is that something you realized later in life?

Dustin Turner: Yeah, I think so. I think I've known it for a while. I've always been super organized. You know, a joke is, my wife, when we first started dating, she walked into my bedroom, and my bed was made and my room was clean. She was just like, "This is so weird."

Joe Fontenot: Weird.

Dustin Turner: "Guys don't act like this." I've always been like that, very detailed, very organized. Being at Vintage, it's helped me identify that even more.

Joe Fontenot: Practical, just getting your hands dirty and practicing and doing things. Yeah.

Dustin Turner: Yeah, and just naturally gravitating toward. This is absolute chaos, and if we don't put some sort of system around it, I'm going to lose my mind.

Joe Fontenot: Right.

Dustin Turner: So that's what I'm naturally ... I'm just naturally geared toward that.

Joe Fontenot: What kind of person do you think would not be a good person in your position? So you've got the church planter, starts it, in this case Rob, grows this thing to a certain size, you, from a more systems point of view, takes over. What kind of person would not have worked out well? Maybe not just in this case because there's particularities to Vintage, but in general.

Dustin Turner: I think that it would probably be someone that was just like Rob. If you get the visionary, another visionary kind of guy in, that would have been partially unhealthy for two reasons. Number one, Rob did such an incredible job of laying a foundation and vision for us, like we know what we want and we know where we're going. We know where the Lord's leading us.

Joe Fontenot: And he was there for like 10 years.

Dustin Turner: Yeah, almost 10 years.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: 10 years counting before the launch.

Joe Fontenot: Right, right.

Dustin Turner: Had you got another visionary leader in, they could have been like, "Okay, we've been going this direction. Now we're going this direction," which would have given the church kind of whiplash. Then the other thing that I think we all recognize that the church needed was, "Okay, we have this vision, but we've got to organize it. We've got to systematize it." So had we identified and hired another person like Rob, that would not have been the best leader for that time. I think the danger in saying that, though, at the same time, is that doesn't necessarily mean that person might not be a right fit in the future.

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: [inaudible 00:26:08].

Joe Fontenot: You got systems in place. You need more vision.

Dustin Turner: Yeah. Yeah.

Joe Fontenot: Something like that.

Dustin Turner: So that could be the case. I think it's just a matter of determining the health of the church at the time and the needs of the church. Then that helps you identify who you need next.

Joe Fontenot: That makes sense. What would you say were the biggest lessons that you learned, unexpected lessons or just kind of things that were hit home to you in a special way through this process of taking over?

Dustin Turner: The power of team.

Joe Fontenot: What do you mean?

Dustin Turner: In my opinion, you have to surround yourself by a strong team. I'm blown away by the other pastors and leaders that I serve with. They make me a stronger leader, and they make our church a stronger church. Some of that is high character. Some of that is calling and gifting. They have different gifts that come alongside the gifts that I have. I'm big right now on personality profiles and stuff so we've been doing things like StrengthsFinder and Kolbe A Index, and those things have recently been very enlightening for our team, of like how we work together and those sorts of things. The power of teamwork, for me, is just huge. Like I said, that's part of just my natural bent. My natural bent is to collaborate, so I don't want to do it all. Or, if I'm doing it, I want your input. That's a big one, I think. One that I am learning, that I have not mastered, is the art of listening. I don't listen enough. That tends to be a problem with pastors, in general, probably, because we talk. People, they pay us to talk.

Joe Fontenot: Right.

Dustin Turner: And so we think we just have this incredible message that we need to keep sharing.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah, and I think, as a stereotype, guys generally are fixers anyway, and listening is not fixing.

Dustin Turner: Yes.

Joe Fontenot: You know, as this saying goes ...

Dustin Turner: I'm learning that with my wife. We've been married for like almost 12 years this year. Nine times out of 10, she just needs me to shut up and listen. She's telling me something, not because she needs me to fix it. She just wants me to listen, and I think, more than ever, I need that as a lead pastor as well. Part of that is because my desire to fix is ... I come into the situation, and I've got the answer, but if I, as the lead pastor, answer the question first, that shuts down my entire team.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah, because they're following the lead.

Dustin Turner: That's right, and if they have a similar answer or even a different answer, they're, "I don't need to give that now. The lead pastor has spoken." I don't want that. I want to be quiet, let them listen, because they might be hearing or thinking or seeing something that I'm not hearing, thinking, or seeing.

Joe Fontenot: I think this is a really good point because they talk about active listening where you are engaging with the ideas. You're not just kind of sitting there. What are you learning so far? Because this is definitely something that I'm trying to learn as well. What are you learning, as far as listening is concerned? What does that mean? What is listening?

Dustin Turner: Yeah, for me, I've got ... It's really hard because I know the opposite is like, "Okay, maybe I'm listening, but I'm listening to respond."

Joe Fontenot: Right, right.

Dustin Turner: Which is, you almost have to do, but I'm trying to be ... I think in my listening, the biggest thing for me, and it's such a simple thing, but it's so big for me, is just stopping before I talk, to just identify that moment where it's like, okay, I need to pause, not say anything, and then just listen. That's, unfortunately, a very difficult lesson that I'm continuing to learn. But I think in that, it's then actually hearing the idea and then responding, so not hearing it and immediately in my mind being like, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," right? Or, "Oh, yeah, I love that. Let me figure out how I can spin it so I can say that's what we're doing because it's exactly what I'm thinking." So I think, number one, pausing to listen, number two, really listening and identifying what they're saying. Sometimes, one, I can't remember where I read it, but part of, I think, active listening, is being able to repeat what they've said to you in different words to verify that that's what you just heard. That could be a good exercise for anybody. It's like, "Okay, tell me, what did you hear?" "Okay, this is what I heard," and then begin to dialogue about the idea.

Joe Fontenot: You said something, or alluded to it, with sitting around the room with staff members. I think listening is also validating, right?

Dustin Turner: It is.

Joe Fontenot: Which is what, I think, you were alluding to, where when you're listening, you are basically giving them the floor and saying, "That's valuable. Your thoughts are valuable to me."

Dustin Turner: Yep.

Joe Fontenot: Kind of going back to the power of leadership, I think that's a very powerful idea.

Dustin Turner: Yep. And dangerous at the same time.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: I do that for a lot of our church. I said on multiple occasions, and sometimes I regret it, but I say my literal and my metaphorical door is always open. You know what that means? That means some people email me a lot, and they email me with stuff they're not happy with. That's like a fine line, but at the same time, I want people to know that I'm approachable and that I care. Now, they might not like my answer, but I'm willing to dialogue about it.

Joe Fontenot: Have a relationship.

Dustin Turner: Always.

Joe Fontenot: How many hours a day or how much time a day do you spend on your email?

Dustin Turner: Oh, geez, I don't know. I don't get that many emails, about controversial things.

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: But I got one today. Long email.

Joe Fontenot: Gosh.

Dustin Turner: But it was a good ... I think part of it is because I'm open, people aren't attacking in their email. They know, because I'm wanting to dialogue, that they're willing, that lowers the armor.

Joe Fontenot: They don't have to have the swords out kind of thing. Yeah.

Dustin Turner: Yeah. The same thing with my staff. If my team has a problem with something I've said or done, they don't have a problem approaching me, and again, number one, it's just kind of like out of respect. But number two, because I've demonstrated that I want to hear from them, they come to me with things that they have questions about or, "Hey, I saw that we did this or you did this. Was that the best thing to do? Was that the best way to go about it?" Like a lot of these things, there's a balance in trying to figure out how to maintain an open door policy while, at the same time, being like, "I can't talk to everybody."

Joe Fontenot: Yeah, right.

Dustin Turner: But that's the power of leadership development. It's funny because Vintage Church is small enough right now where a lot of people still know me, which that's fine. But they assume that because of that, that I know everything that's going on in the church or I have my hand on everything. So people will come to me, and they'll say, what am I supposed to do with this? What am I supposed to do with that? I have not a clue. I gave that to them. Go ask them because they're handling it, and I don't need to worry about it. So yeah, teamwork, listening, I think those are two really big ones. I think the other thing that I would say is just I am, more so now than ever, learning. At seminary Ph.D., it was all theology for me. It was always growing in those things, and now, I still read a lot of theology. I strive to stay up on that and publish things and those sorts of things, but I'm probably a more active learner right now than I've ever been ...

Joe Fontenot: Interesting.

Dustin Turner: ... just because I've stepped into a world that I realized I wasn't, I just wasn't as well read in or as prepared, so I'm constantly reading. I'm a reader, so I'm constantly reading books. I'm constantly listening to podcasts, trying to just grow in my craft. Theology, for me, theology comes easy because I've spent so much time doing it. Now I feel like I'm growing in my leadership ability because I have to, and because I'm doing it so much, it excites me.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah. Last question on leadership I have. You said Rob was a visionary, started the church. It's kind of, I think, apparent how a visionary plans for the future. Think big and then, "Let's go do it, guys."

Dustin Turner: Sure.

Joe Fontenot: We get the people, and we go execute. How does a systems guy plan for the future?

Dustin Turner: Well, planning's easy because that's what we do. It's hard, I think, a systems guy, it's hard to see so far ahead. One of the things that ... Rob had no problem seeing 10 years out. I just, I don't know if I can. For me, it is thinking about the big picture, thinking about where we want to go, and then it's putting a plan in place. I read a book, probably last year, called Traction. He talks about ... It's like a car, leading an organization. You have a dashboard, and you have all of these pieces to the dashboard. And he talks about this, and then, if you're familiar, there's a group called Auxano that's like a church leadership consultant.

Joe Fontenot: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Out of Nashville? Was it Nashville or Atlanta?

Dustin Turner: I think it's Houston.

Joe Fontenot: Oh, right, here we go.

Dustin Turner: But, all the same, and they talk about a Horizon Storyline. It's kind of this idea ... And businesses do this. What are the four things that you have to accomplish in the next 90 days? Then, in the next year, what's the big thing that you're pushing, you're driving? Then, in the next three years, what are the four things that you need to accomplish? And then, the big picture, what's the next thing that you need to accomplish in the next 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. So that tool is like gold for me, right?

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: Because I can't see the big vision of like 20, 30, 40. Or, as a systems guy, because I lack that kind of vision ability, if I can't see how we're going to get there, I really struggle to believe it.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: Thinking about it in chunks, for me, has been incredibly helpful.

Joe Fontenot: Which is what a system is, taking it byte by byte.

Dustin Turner: Exactly. So like the next 90 days, we know we've got to accomplish this, and if we accomplish this, this will get us to our year, this will get us to our three years, this will get us to the five year.

Joe Fontenot: Right on.

Dustin Turner: That, for me, has just been tool that is huge. You still have to dream, right?

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: That five years, that 10 years ... Our five-year dream right now is unattainable right now. So that's a pretty big vision for us.

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: It's attainable if we run the play that we think the Lord's calling us to. Over the next five years, we'll get there. If we don't run the play, all we have is a pipe dream. So it's running that play to get to that dream, and that system helps me.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah. That's good. You're a reader. What book is your favorite in the last six or 12 months or something like that? And this is a hard question for a reader because there's so many books. Or, to ask that a different way, what is the book that you've just kind of mentally come back to you over and over a few times or it's left a different kind of impression?

Dustin Turner: Yeah, so I'm pulling out my Goodreads because I'm not going to [crosstalk 00:40:09]. I think, you know, one book that I've read recently that I just, I keep coming back to, is Atomic Habits.

Joe Fontenot: Who's that by?

Dustin Turner: James Clear.

Joe Fontenot: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dustin Turner: It's a book on building habits.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: For me, it was such a clear, helpful book for me. I've been processing habits in light of being a leader, so trying to cut junk out of my life that I don't need, so I can be a more efficient and effective person. But I've also thought about it ... We're going to preach a series on the spiritual disciplines in the summer, in relation to habits, because that's what the disciplines are.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah.

Dustin Turner: They're habits.

Joe Fontenot: Right on.

Dustin Turner: That book, for me, was pretty significant. There was another book that I read recently called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

Joe Fontenot: I love Cal Newport.

Dustin Turner: I have not read Deep Work.

Joe Fontenot: That is amazing.

Dustin Turner: I know I need to, but Digital Minimalism was a book that kind of spun off Deep Work.

Joe Fontenot: I haven't read it yet actually.

Dustin Turner: I mean, this guy's nuts. He's mid-thirties, and he's never had a social media account.

Joe Fontenot: He's nuts in a lot of ways. I think he wrote Deep Work, I think, while he was getting tenure or working towards tenure ...

Dustin Turner: I think so.

Joe Fontenot: ... at Georgetown or something like that.

Dustin Turner: Yep. He basically talks about some of the things that were missing in life. He talks about cutting or minimalizing. So he's not like on a whole nother level of, you know, cut all your social media and quit. He basically says, and I think this is so helpful for anybody, "What do you value in life?" Based on what you value in life, that's what will determine how you use social media.

Joe Fontenot: Or anything.

Dustin Turner: It's just technology, right?

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: Netflix. Social media. Your phone. And then he goes through the book, and he talks about things that were missing in life, things like solitude, things like relationships, things like recreation. If we would put our phone down or turn Netflix off, we would be able to build those things in, and we would probably be healthier people because of it. That's what I read recent ... Those are two books I've read recently.

Joe Fontenot: That's funny. I didn't have Atomic Habits on my radar, but I've had ... I've been kind of following James Clear for, I don't know, the last three or four years. He's always talked about habits, which is great, but I did have Digital Minimalism on my list just because I'm such a fan of Cal Newport. He has such good stuff.

Dustin Turner: Theology-wise?

Joe Fontenot: Sure.

Dustin Turner: I have been reading a lot of Thomas Oden. So, Thomas Oden, he passed away a few years ago, but he was a Methodist and a professor, I think, at Drew University, and he held to ... He was kind of a liberal Christian, and then kind of had this epiphany where he started going back to the original sources and a lot of the church fathers, what he called paleo-orthodoxy, where he basically ... He wrote a systematic theology, Classic Christianity, which is one of my favorites. He kind of ranks ... He tiers the sources, so the Bible is the foundational source. Then, the patristics are the second source, then the medieval, then the Reformation, then the modern period. So, literally, the sources in his systematic theology are tailored in that way. There's going to be more on the patristics than there are in modern theology because he puts more weight towards those. I read that a couple of years ago, and then I read his memoir over Christmas, which was incredible. It's called A Change of Heart, and he basically details his entire life, but also his shift from liberalism to paleo-orthodoxy.

Joe Fontenot: Interesting.

Dustin Turner: Right now I'm reading ... It was kind of the beginning of his shift ... his book on ... It's called Pastoral Theology.

Joe Fontenot: Okay.

Dustin Turner: It's like what it means to be a pastor. So, yeah, that's kind of what I'm reading.

Joe Fontenot: Awesome. Last question.

Dustin Turner: [crosstalk 00:45:19].

Joe Fontenot: This is a question that I've started asking everybody. You'd think based on the name of this podcast that it would have been from the beginning, but somebody's like, "You know, you should ask people this question," so I started asking this. How are you personally answering God's call?

Dustin Turner: I think, for me, it's ultimately ... It starts me following God. When I think about the mission for my life, it's love God, lead my family, equip my church, serve my city.

Joe Fontenot: Say that again. Love God.

Dustin Turner: Love God, lead my family, equip my church, serve my city. It starts with me just personally pursuing the Lord. It moves to my family. I have my wife. We've been married for 12 years. I have two kids. My son Gabriel is seven. My daughter Emmalyn is four. That's honestly ... Parenting my children is more scary than leading my church because ...

Joe Fontenot: I have a six- and four-year-old at home. I get the idea.

Dustin Turner: So you understand.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah. How fast things unravel.

Dustin Turner: Quickly. And how much, how one little thing you could do could like, in my mind, just destroy everything, you know?

Joe Fontenot: Yeah. Yeah.

Dustin Turner: Just thinking that I have the responsibility of raising children to follow Jesus, and you know, be good, moral people at the same time. I think about it, for me, like that. Equip my church, that kind of goes back to just this desire to equip the church. And that happens in many different ways. One of the challenges for me, this is coming from a theology guy, a heady guy, is equipping the church is not about giving the knowledge. Equipping the church is moving people's hearts to live a different life. For me, a challenge is, is my preaching moving hearts? Is my leadership moving hearts that their lives will look different? I want them to know things. I want them to be readers. But if they don't look any different in a year, then I failed. For me, as a pastor, that's part of my calling, is that I'm moving people farther along in the sanctification process, that hopefully today, they look more like Jesus than they did a year ago. So, yeah, I think for me personally, that's how I'm carrying out that calling in my life right now.

Joe Fontenot: Yeah, that's great. Well, this has been super interesting, super helpful, and I like the book recommendations. I love just this ... I'm just going to say it again because I love it so much. Love God, lead family, equip church, and serve the city.

Dustin Turner: You can't have that. That's mine.

Joe Fontenot: Oh, gosh.

Dustin Turner: I'm kidding. It's pretty basic, but [inaudible 00:48:29].

Joe Fontenot: Nobody's going to know I'm taking it. No, that's great. Thanks so much, Dustin, for coming on the podcast. This has been very, very wonderful.

Dustin Turner: Thanks for having me.

Joe Fontenot: All right.