Resisting Reactivity in a Divisive World : Rich Villodas

Resisting Reactivity in a Divisive World - Rich Villodas - 51 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

In our increasingly fractured world that’s just amped up with reactivity. How can we as pastors and ministry leaders create a calming presence in our churches and in our communities? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Rich Villodas lead pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens, New York. Rich has written several books, including Good and Beautiful and Kind, together, Rich and Jason explore nurturing a culture in our churches that provides an alternative to the mean spiritedness, and divisiveness that we see in the world all around us. Rich also shares some personal practices, including five questions that we can reflect upon in our own lives as pastors and ministry leaders that can help us overcome reactivity, and engage in conversations with people who may not believe as we do.

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Additional Resource Links – Rich’s website where you can find resources to equip and encourage pastors and ministry leaders, including Rich’s book

Book by Rich Villodas – Here you will find Rich’s book, Good and Beautiful and Kind. In Good and Beautiful and Kind, Rich Villodas offers a compelling vision of wholeness for broken lives and a fractured world.

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • As a pastor, it’s a very vulnerable thing to lead and to preach. If we are very defensive and have our walls up, it’s very difficult to pastor people well.
  • Humility is the gateway virtue.
  • When we get defensive, our ideal of ourselves is being met with some resistance, so we do everything we can to protect what we want the world to see in us, but humility says there’s nothing to protect, nothing to prove.
  • Cultivating humility is also lowering our defenses, and being open and approachable. 
  • Humility has been connected to the lowly work that we do, and that is not the proper way of understanding what humility is. Humility is not simply about doing something lowly, but it is the difficult task of lowering our defenses. 
  • Our culture is marked by superficiality and reactivity, not the depth of life, not following the way of Jesus
  • As pastors and ministry leaders, we are called to resist reactivity and live as a calm presence in our relationships and our communities
  • Anxiety manifests not only through excessive worry but also through anger, manipulation, avoidance, control, etc. To be a calm presence is to resist the reactivity.
  • When we feel anxious, it’s important to find a quiet place where we can reflect, think, and maybe write down our feelings. 
  • It is helpful to have a safe space where we can talk with someone about what is going on and what is making us anxious.
  • Our families and our upbringing are places where we receive both positive and negative legacies. Oftentimes we have internalized scripts that emerge from our families that stay with us for a very long time. Until we’re able to begin to recognize and name those things, it is a challenge to allow the gospel to do its full work in our lives.
  • As ministry leaders, fostering a community where there is mutual respect, thoughtfulness, and consideration for everyone, even when there are disagreements and differences, takes time and intentionality. We need to be patient and consistent over time.
  • When we are going through a hard season, we need to know that we are not alone. There are others facing similar difficulties. Remember, God is with us, helping us through our challenges.
  • The greatest gift that we give the people around us is our ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ, not the sermons we preach or the strategies and ideas that we leverage, but our ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ.

Questions for Reflection

  • What walls have I built up as a ministry leader? Are there any ‘defenses’ I have created that are hindering my ability to pastor well? If so, what are they?
  • Have I found myself in a constant defensive place lately? Why am I reacting this way?
  • Am I comfortable being seen for who I really am? Why or why not?
  • Would people who know me well describe me as a relatively calm person or more of an anxious person?
  • How am I doing with my reactions recently? As I reflect back over the past few months, am I helping create a calming presence? What can I do to grow in this area of my life?
  • Do I have a safe space, someone with whom I can talk and process my feelings? If so, who? If not, am I willing to find that safe person? 
  • What are the positive and negative legacies that I carry from my family? How are they impacting my relationships with others? My outlook on the world? My understanding of myself? My ability to minister well?
  • What would it look like for me to disciple my community to be curious rather than defensive? How can I better help others have a language for their own reactivity?
  • Is our church community marked by mutual respect, thoughtfulness, and consideration, even with those who are different from us? How can I help nurture this type of culture in our church?
  • Consider this statement: “The greatest gift that we give the people around us is our ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ, not the sermons we preach or the strategies and ideas that we leverage” Where is the majority of my focus as a ministry leader right now? Am I so focused on the ‘work’ of ministry that I am neglecting the spiritual growth Jesus desires to do in me? What changes do I need to make?

Full-Text Transcript

In our increasingly fractured world that’s just amped up with reactivity. How can we, as pastors and ministry leaders, create a calming presence in our churches and in our communities?

Jason Daye
In this episode, I’m joined by Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens, New York. Rich has written several books, including Good and Beautiful and Kind. Together, Rich and I explore nurturing a culture in our churches that provides an alternative to the mean-spiritedness, and divisiveness that we see in the world all around us. Rich also shares some personal practices, including five questions that we can reflect upon in our own lives as pastors and ministry leaders that can help us overcome reactivity, and engage in conversations with people who may not believe as we do. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye
Hello, friends, so good to have you along with us. Welcome to another fantastic episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye. And I have the privilege and the honor each week of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader and we dive into a conversation on effort to help you, and pastors and ministry leaders just like you, embrace a healthy sustainable rhythm in both life and ministry. And we are proud to be a part of the PastorServe network. And our team does more than just create a podcast episode or video every week, we also create an entire toolkit that complements this episode. And so you can go to and download that toolkit. And there you’ll have tons of different resources that you can take your ministry team through in your local church, to dive more deeply into the topic that we discussed today. There are questions for reflection, some key insights, and a lot of other great resources. So be sure to avail yourself of that at And then we also love to bless pastors and ministry leaders, and we have a team of trusted coaches across the country, and we’d like to offer pastors and ministry leaders a complimentary coaching session for you to have a conversation with someone. And if you would like more information on that you can find that at session. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, give us a thumbs up, take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love to get to know our audience better, and our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe to follow to hit the notification. So you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And we have an amazing conversation for you today. At this time, I would like to welcome Rich Villodas to FrontStage BackStage. Rich, welcome brother.

Rich Villodas
Jason, so good to be with you. Thanks for the kind invitation.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I’m so happy that we have the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation today. And Rich, you share in Good and Beautiful and Kind about the value of living from a humble center. And as we all know, humility does not always feel great in the moment. Right? There are times when we find ourselves in a situation where maybe we have to step back or step down or you know, we’re maybe in the background or we’re in a situation where we have to apologize, we’re seeking forgiveness, we’re you know, we’re just in the in these situations. And it’s not always, you know, the most exciting thing, most fun thing for us. But Rich, I would love for you to share a little bit about what have you learned as a pastor about living from thathumble center?

Rich Villodas
Well, what I’ve discovered is, first of all, I think that humility is the gateway virtue. And that’s how it’s been captured by philosophers and theologians over the years that if we can get humility right, I think it opens us up to other areas of character formation that we desperately need. But the one thing about humility that’s interesting is, once we believe to have it, it’s often at that point that we lose it. And so it is this paradoxical thing where I would just say, I’m feeling more compassion. People would say, “Wow, that’s great.” Or if you say, “I’m feeling more generous.” I think most people would really be excited about that. But if you said, “I’m feeling more humble.” It’s like, oh, that just doesn’t, that doesn’t sound as good as those other categories. But it’s the gateway, I think, to other virtues. And I think I’ve had to, a part of the ways that I’ve wrestled with humility is by trying to get an accurate understanding of what it is. I think as a pastor, as a human being, as a follower of Jesus, it’s very easy to think that humility is about self-deprecation, or humility is to have a low view of one’s importance or humility is to be a passive or not to take up much space or to be a doormat, or humility has been connected to the lowly work that we do. And so I think I’ve had to work hard to really distance myself from those definitions, I don’t think that’s the proper way of understanding what humility is. Humility, as I write in the book is not simply about doing something lowly, but it is the difficult task of lowering our defenses. That humility is, at its core, I think, trying to live from where Jesus says in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit,” that there’s nothing to prove, nothing to possess nothing to protect. That there is a dependence that I have on God, and a realism that I have for my own life. And so I think it was, I think CS Lewis gets credited for this, and as I’ve been doing my research, Jason, I think it’s actually Rick Warren, who should be, but either CS Lewis or Rick Warren, one of them. That humility is not thinking of myself, thinking less of myself, is thinking of myself less. And I think that comes with that poverty of spirit mentality. But I think, being at a place as a pastor, where I’ve had to try to live and continue to wrestle in this way, where I’m lowering my defenses, I’m open, I’m approachable, I’m safe. I think in many ways, that has been the essence of how I’ve tried to cultivate humility. And in a community where there’s lots of differences, to be in a church where people are not going to see the same thing eye to eye, and be in a place where criticism is going to come. As a pastor, it’s a very vulnerable thing to lead, and a vulnerable thing to preach. And if we are very defensive and have our walls up, I don’t think we’re going to pastor people well, and so humilities, I think, beyond just what it means to flourish as a human being, I think, to really enjoy pastoral life as well, requires us to really grow in this area.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I love that. I love that idea of being able to lower defenses a little bit, especially in the time and age that we live right now which is becoming more and more of a challenge. And we see it kind of blowing up sometimes, you know, that lack of humility in that regard exactly how you described it Rich, and getting more defensive and getting more like, you know, that posture of “Hey, wait, I’ve got to put people in their place.” And I think it’s so true, Rich, what you said that kind of robs us of the joy of ministry, right. I mean, it’s this vulnerable place. But whenever we feel like we have to be on the defense, you know, the defensive all the time, that kind of takes away the joy and the blessing of pastoring.

Rich Villodas
It really does. And I think what humility does, at least in the way that again, I think there are multiple ways of thinking about humility. The way that I’m trying to approach it from a leadership, discipleship pastoring perspective is, where are the walls that are built up out of defensiveness? The most humble people that I’ve met are not simply the people who do the low tasks. They are the people that are curious, are the people that are open, are the people – you know, my predecessor, guy by the name of Pete Scazzero, I learned a lot from him over the years. And I’ve been in my role now for , this is my 10th year as the lead pastor of New Life Fellowship. But as I was in the transition with him, and five years under Pete’s leadership, one of the things that struck me most about him was his humility. But the kind of humility that was deeply curious. And so after our church service, we, you know, we preach a few sermons, and then we stand in the lobby, and we greet people and connect with those in our community, which is a very dangerous practice, because you open yourself up to those who might not have agreed with what you said, or are upset or offended by something you said. I remember one day in particular, I’m with Pete and someone comes up to him, and they just have.. – they’re giving it to him. They’re very upset with him. And his response, it shocked me. It was kind of like a Jedi mind trick. And his response was very simply, “Oh, is that right? Could you tell me more?” And I’m thinking, tell me more? I’m thinking, you know, Pete this is your time to just put this person in their place, you know, but his response was telling – and what it did was it disarmed, first of all, the person who was sharing. I think maybe that, I’m not sure if that person was looking for confrontation or for a deep sense of response. But Pete said, “Tell me more.” And I just found great curiosity, great humility. But more than anything, he was not trying to defend an idealized version of himself. And I think when we get very defensive, it’s because the ideal that we have of ourselves is being met with some resistance. And so we do everything we can to protect a particular self that we want the world to see, and we want to project out. But humility says there’s nothing to protect. There’s nothing to prove. There’s nothing to possess, which is why I think at the end of the day, the most mature and humble people are those who live in a deep abiding sense that they are loved profoundly by God.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good. I love that. What a great example to that Pete shared with you, and set for you. And, just that, that idea of just kind of stepping back. And that’s that humble center that you write about. And in Rich, that’s vital as we live in serve in a fractured world, without a doubt, right? And because people who have differences of opinion, they do have their own thoughts. And as pastors and ministry leaders, we often position ourselves of having the answer for our broken world. And we do, right, that’s Jesus. But churches and ministry leaders, we’re not exempt from those fractures that we see in the world, that that can allow ugliness to kind of seep in. And it seems in recent years Rich, at least, we’re seeing some of those fractures widen within the church. And this can distort how we minister it can damage our witness in the community. And it seems like this is one of the great challenges for pastors in our time, to not allow this mean spiritedness that we’re seeing in the world, to actually fracture the cause of Christ or the Bride of Christ, right, to seep in and cause those fractures. So Rich, I would love if you could share with us a bit from your experience more big observation, big picture observations on how you are seeing the fractures in our culture, impacting our church.

Rich Villodas
Yeah, you know, big picture, I pastor a church in Queens, New York City. A church where we have over 75 nations represented in our congregation, in an area where National Geographic called our zip code, the most diverse zip code in the world. 50% of Queens is foreign born. And so with that diversity, we see and have the potential for lots of fractures and tensions. And so this is even before the previous, whatever, four or five, six years of intensity that has almost seemed to continue every year, with greater levels of intensity. And so what I what I’ve discovered is, number one, the convergence of three large powers and forces has really done damage to our communities. I call that, you know, we had lived in a CPR world and we’re still receiving or in the residue of that here, it was the CPR world in which our hearts are ailing. It’s, we’re having a hard time breathing. And for me, CPR was this acronym for a world that is fractured by COVID, by political hostility, by racial tensions. And built that the convergence of those three things – listen, it’s enough to have racial tensions in our society, it’s enough to have just political hostility, it’s enough to have a global pandemic and public health crisis. But when you get three of those realities, three of those forces to converge at the same time, it’s going to lead to a lots of problems. On top of that, when we have a world and a church that’s often marked by cable news discipleship, and not gospel discipleship, when we have the kind of mediums like social media, where everyone is able to say whatever they want, at any given moment, without repercussion. The gift of social media is that everyone has something to say, the curse of social media is that everyone has something to say.

Jason Daye

Rich Villodas
And so big picture when you have all of the forces and the mediums, and the ways that we’re being discipled is going to lead to all kinds of anxiety and reactivity. And I think that’s what we’re finding in our culture. It’s a culture as marked by superficiality and reactivity, not depth of life, not following the ways of Jesus. And as a pastor, I would love to say, “Oh, that’s the world out there.” And what I’ve discovered is, that’s the world in here as well. And, so when I read statistics from Barna and other folks that are putting out that says, pastors are leaving the ministry at an unprecedented rate, I resonate, and I have not come to that existential place where I’m like, I gotta get out of the church, I gotta find something else to do. But I’d be lying if I said over the last few years, “You know what, let me daydream for a second here and see what would I do if I were to do that.” Prior to the last few years that thought never even came to my mind. And so I empathize deeply with those who are in that space. But I do think all of those things have led to a level of reactivity that has contributed to many of the fractures we see in our world and in our churches.

Jason Daye
Yeah. And that reactivity, I guess, as pastors and ministry leaders, there’s several ways that we can respond to what’s going on the world around us, right? Especially when it comes to ministering relationally with people. We can choose to just ignore the conflict intention, you know, bury your head in the sand or whatever, we can be very reactive.

Rich Villodas

Jason Daye
We can kind of cling to this idea of righteous indignation, and really kind of go after it, you know, or we can focus on what you Rich refer to as this calming presence. Can you touch on these different options and help us better understand this concept of calming presence and what that looks like in our lives as ministry leaders?

Rich Villodas
Yeah, you know, this idea of being a calming and calm presence, for me, is a response to an anxious culture. And when I say anxiety, I’m not talking about this underlining feeling of dread or excessive worry. I think that’s part of what anxiety is, because I’ve asked many people, “Hey, do you experience any anxiety in your life?” And lots of people will say, “No, I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.” But if anxiety is about reactivity, that it is a automatic response to a real or perceived threat. That at the core of it is anxiety, it’s marked by reactivity, not by prudence, not by self regulation, not by thoughtfulness, not by response, or responding. But by reactivity. There’s this automatic response in me, and if that’s the case, if that’s how we’re defining anxiety, and that’s how I tend to define anxiety, then anxiety manifests not simply through excessive worry. Anxiety can manifest through anger. It can manifest through manipulation, through avoidance, control, all the ways that we try to respond to something happening in our bodies and in our minds. And so to be a calm presence is to resist the reactivity that’s within us. And this process, I mean, I’m borrowing from family systems theory, this idea of differentiation. And my definition of differentiation is that it’s this process of remaining close and curious to God, close and curious to myself, and close and curious to others, in times of high anxiety, and resisting the polar opposite pull of cutting off from people or being enmeshed into them. That is, when anxiety surfaces, when conflict emerges, when disagreement arises, we can either cut off from people emotionally, physically, we don’t know what to do with it. Therefore we distance ourselves. People leave churches, people cut off relationships, people ghost others, and it’s out of that’s their automatic response to distress, or we tend to disappear into someone. And so we don’t feel like we have the ability to lift our voice and name our values, name our preferences, state what we’re concerned about, what we’re puzzled about. And so either avoided altogether and disappear into someone, or we just cut people off in relationship. And so for some of us, there’s a desire for togetherness, deep togetherness, and for others, we have a desire for a kind of individuality. I’m going to go over here. What a calm presence is a recognition that anxiety surfaces within each and every one of us, that it manifests in different ways. But I have what it takes by the grace of God and in community in some interior work, to remain present. Present to God, present to myself and present to others and there’s some practices and tools, Jason that I help people with and I’ve helped myself with over the years. But that is the invitation I believe, for pastors especially and leaders to model this and not go down the road of reactivity and emotionality.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I love that Rich and you perfectly queued up my next question because I would ask you, what are some of those practices that we can incorporate into the rhythms of our lives that will help us you know, stay in this calming presence, instead of, you know, fluctuating into the either burying our head in the sand or, you know, isolating ourselves or kind of blowing up and reacting?

Rich Villodas
Yeah, there’s one in particular that has become my go to, and even before I give this set of questions, this reaction inventory, what I call it, I just need to say that, to experience reactivity and anxiety is what it means to be human. We’re all going to experience this. And so it’s, I don’t think we ever get to a point where we’re so zen like, and it’s just like, nothing ever fazes me, I’m stoic, I’m not bothered by anything. No, to be human is to feel, to be human is to get anxious, to be human is to get angry. And so I think we often have to reframe some of the hard difficult emotions that we often tend to ignore. But it’s along those lines, where I developed the reaction inventory that I talked about more in my book that deeply form life, that whenever there’s a disproportionate response in me, I’ve learned to ask myself, these five questions. And whenever you find yourself or whenever someone who is listening, finds himself in a situation where they’re feeling their heart racing out of nowhere, they’re feeling that their breathing is constricted, their minds are wandering, they find themselves avoiding others. The question is, what’s happening? What’s, what’s this reaction about? And so whenever that happens, whenever there’s a disproportionate reaction in me, I asked these questions. Number one, “What happened?” Number two, “What am I feeling?” You know, dread, embarrassment, fear, anger, whatever. “What am I feeling?” Thirdly, “What’s the story I’m telling myself?” And it’s usually always a story that’s associated with a reaction. The fourth question is, “What does the gospel say?” And the fifth question is, “What’s the counter instinctual act that’s required of me in this moment.” And so for me, the counter instinctual act is usually, I need to invite someone else into where I’m at, because I have a way of just closing in on myself, and not really giving words and expression to what I’m carrying. And what happens is I ended up carrying things by myself for too long, as opposed to inviting others into that. It’s more than just catharsis. I think we’re encountering the presence of God and community when we do that. And so whenever that emerges, Jason, those are the five questions for me. And I usually, sometimes I need to find the spot in my home or in a local park, in a coffee shop with my journal where I can just say, let me just flush this out a little bit, and then find someone I can process what happened, what am I feeling, what’s the story I’m telling myself, what’s the gospel say, and what’s the counter instinctual act that’s required of me.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good, Rich. I love that little inventory. And can you talk to us a little bit more about that third question, what’s the story I’m telling myself? What are we really, what are we trying to uncover with that question?

Rich Villodas
I think what we’re trying to uncover is the false messages, the internalized scripts that either we have interpreted through life, or have been handed down to us, often by our families of origin. And so, you know, our families are the people we grew up with, are the places where we receive some really positive legacies and many negative legacies. And it is those internalized scripts that often emerge from those families that stay with us for a very long time. And until we’re able to begin to name those things, we can’t allow the gospel to do its work. And so in my case, for example, some of the stories that I often tell myself are stories of my need to know everything. Why? Because if I don’t know everything, I’m a bad leader, or the story that, you know, I better not, I’m responsible for any kind of problems that are around. This story that says, I have to hold everything together. And so I do think there is this underlining story that many of us live with. The story, the messages, the scripts, the things that if you open us up on the inside, these are the things that are really driving our decisions. These are the fears that we carry that if we were to confess these things, we would feel some maybe some great shame and some guilt around it. So that story is really the messages, the scripts, the under lining motivations, that often shaped the way we show up in the world.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s so helpful, man. I love that inventory. That’s incredible. As we look at this reactivity, right? And these things that we’re faced with again, and again, and again, we see this kind of growing polarization, you know. And you describe that was amplified because of CPR, which I love that acronym, you know, all these things kind of coming together over the last several years. So we see this in the world, but we see this in our churches, as well. As pastors and as ministry leaders, how can we move close, as you say, you know, move close and get curious? With people who have very different beliefs of what human flourishing actually looks like, then what we do from a gospel perspective?

Rich Villodas
Yeah, you know, that is the great challenge, and which is why whenever I meet with pastors who want to go down a sermon series or a series of Bible studies, where they’re going to talk about some very difficult things, whether we’re talking about matters of race and racism, whether we’re talking about matters of larger public policy, political issues, and what the church’s response is to that. Before they do that, I’m gonna, “Wait a second. Before you go down that road, what would it look like for you to disciple your people to be curious, and to disciple your people, to have a language for their own reactivity?” This is one of the reasons at our church, why we talk, you know, one of the kind of baseline courses we offer at our church that we expect all of our kind of rooted members and our leaders to go through is our emotionally healthy relationships course. Because what that course does, and it emerged from our congregation and has been taken root in churches all around our country and around the world. What it does is it gives people number one, shared language around healthy speech and healthy listening. You know, if Jason, if you want to narrow down why do people have a hard time navigating our differences? It’s often because we don’t know how to speak and we don’t know how to listen. And if you want to, if you want, what’s the common denominator? And so much of our formation at New Life, is around training our leaders and training discipling our people, what does it mean to speak in such a way that promotes goodness, what promotes humility, promotes love. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have deep convictions about certain things. And also, what does it mean to be eliciting presence? You know, we talk a lot in our context about being incarnational with our listening, that Jesus, this is out of the story of Jesus, he leaves his world he enters into someone else’s world, he holds on to himself, and he takes on what it means to be human, yet he remains God. And as we listen to others, we leave our world we enter into someone else’s world, we allow their perspective to shape, how maybe we might see the world. But that doesn’t mean we lose who we are either. And so I think before anyone tries to go down pastures, before you start going down the road of talking about some very complicated things, I think we have to create a culture in a context in which healthy speech and healthy listening become possible. I’ll give you an example. After Easter of this year, Jason, we’re gonna have a 10 week series on sexuality. That issue is probably in the top two, or three of issues in our culture, that have created fractures and polarization. There’s racism, there’s politics, and there’s sexuality. I don’t know if there’s anything else that’s going to cause this level of fracture. And we’re going to do 10 weeks on it. And initially, I was like, “Am I crazy?” And most of my pastor friends have said, “Are you crazy?” And but this is what I thought. We have spent a lot of time in many years trying to work through what does it mean to be emotionally healthy? What does it mean to be a calm presence? Does everyone in our congregation do this? No, it’s to varying degrees. But I think we have a culture overall. And pardon if you hear any ambulance, we’re in Queens in New York City. So we have I think, established a culture for many years at our church. In which we have the capacity to have these conversations in ways that actually promote goodness and love and humility, while having particular ways of seeing the world. And so we’ve worked really hard over the years that we can do this. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone though, before doing that work.

Jason Daye
Yeah, yeah. No, I think that’s huge, because it’s about building that kind of foundational level and creating a culture, right, in your church where these conversations are welcomed. And they’re you know, kind of gospel centered as far as not just the oftentimes the gospel centered, we think of like, the theological implications, but the almost the gospel personality around it, our posture, right, a gospel posture probably is a good way to say it. Rich, that seems like that’s something obviously it doesn’t come overnight, right? To kind of create that culture. So if a pastor or ministry leaders watching along and they’re thinking, man, we don’t have that culture right now, or I inherited another culture, right? What are some ways that they can begin to lean in and help develop that sort of a culture? You know, what were some first steps they could take?

Rich Villodas
Here’s what I do now. And in this way, this is something very fresh in terms of an approach that I’ve done. So number one, I do think, having an overarching philosophy of ministry, that prioritizes, this is really important. At the core, what I’m saying is, if we’re going to grow in this, we need to have a culture that prioritizes emotional health and interior examination. That’s number one. And you know whether, you know, there are plenty of resources out there. I mean, we use the content for my predecessor and the content that I’ve created out of the deeply formed life and emotionally healthy discipleship. And so but there’s plenty of stuff out there, you just have to figure out what works for you, and what’s going to move you in that direction. So that’s number one. I think having that as a theological, and formational and philosophical priority. Secondly, I do think how we process in stages is really important. When to talk about this matter on human sexuality, we’re going to do this series on human sexuality. I have been journeying through this for over a year. So we as a team as an elder board, for one year, we’ve been talking about this. And I lead our elders retreat by focusing – we had an entire day together, where we were going to talk about all of the things that are connected to a series like this and the implications and pastorally what needs to be in place and, and what are the forms that are required. So our process with our elders and our process with our pastoral staff team, and we did the same thing. And a couple of weeks, I’m gonna process with our core leadership community of people. And then we’re going to go to the community. And so I think this is very slow. So anyone who says I want to create a new culture, I have inherited something that is not as healthy as I would hope that it was. And now I have to make some adjustments. I do think philosophically, what’s the plan to move people in that direction from a discipleship perspective? And then what are the spaces? And in my case, it was elders, it was pastors, it was our leadership community. How can we create space where we’re all on the same page? It’s unhurried, it’s slow. There’s space for conversations, concerns, curiosities. But in summary, this is a long journey. And if we’re expecting overnight change of culture, we’re going to be sorely mistaken. My predecessor, established this culture starting in around 2002. And so we’re talking 20 years of this. And I’m not saying we have to wait 20 years before we do something big, whatever. But I think the principle is, over the years, we have been slow and methodical. And I think we’re bearing great fruit currently, as a result of that, especially as we navigate through some very culturally polarizing issues.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s awesome Richard, and just the intentionality of you know, thinking through, you know, and the consistency, both of those pieces, you know, like, intentionally thinking about, okay, how does this culture begin to be birthed, right? And then intentionally thinking, Okay, what steps do we begin to put in place? How do we stay consistent in that, and like you said, you know, things don’t change overnight so you have to be consistent over the long haul. You can’t be like, Oh, this isn’t working, and then try something. You know, that’s the ongoing consistency. So I love that. Rich, it’s been great conversation. So incredible, thank you for again for making the time. If people want to connect with you, learn more about about your ministry, your books, those types of things, and even some of the resources that you mentioned. And just so everyone knows I’ll everything that Rich is about to talk about. I’ll make sure is in the toolkit at for this episode. So if you’re jogging, or if you’re driving, you know, don’t get an accident or don’t trip. I’ll make sure they’re all there for you. But tell us, how can people connect with you your ministry in some of these resources?

Rich Villodas
Yeah, a few ways. If you want to check out what we’re doing in Queens, New York City, if you go to NewLife.NYC, that’s just what our local church and what we’ve been up to for the last 36 years. We can also go to to check out the various projects that I’ve written. I’m working on my third book right now. But you can see all the stuff that I’ve put up there and the other resources I’ve made available, and then on social media on Instagram, and Twitter, RichVillodas, as well. And so those are the places where I’m testing out ideas for books or sermons or talking about my love hate relationship for New York City sports. Yes, especially my teams. There’s some good teams in New York, and then some not so good team. That’s about that as well.

Jason Daye
Yeah. And I do want to thank you Rich, for your encouragement, via Instagram and Twitter. You put out some fantastic stuff that I have shared widely with people. So if you’re not following Rich, you definitely want to do that because you put some good thought into things. And I love it because it’s almost like, you’re just giving everyone a peek into your mind, into your study, into like, whatever you’re working on with your people, like you just like, share with us, which is awesome. So it’s much appreciated. Brother, I want to give you just a couple minutes as we close down this conversation. You’ve got the eyes and ears of brothers and sisters serving week in week out in ministry. What words of encouragement would you like to leave with them?

Rich Villodas
My first word of encouragement is, if this is hard for you, if this is a hard season, you’re not alone and there’s nothing wrong with you, or the experiences that you’re having right now. If you are finding yourself trying to recapture momentum, and you’re struggling to do that, just know that you’re not alone, that there are many others in that situation and that God is with you. I would also encourage you and say that the greatest gift that you give the people around you is your ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ. And so not the sermons you preach, not the strategy that you lead, not the great ideas that you leverage, but is your ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ. And if you get that right, or if you continue to move in that direction, I think the fruitfulness that what you’re longing for and your people to see will happen and there’ll be some great fruitfulness. And so pay attention to your soul, pay attention to your reaction, pay attention to your rhythms of prayer and your delighting in scripture, because that’s ultimately the greatest gift that you can give to people.

Jason Daye
Yeah. I love that brother. I love this. It’s been good. It’s been beautiful. It’s been kind my friend.

Rich Villodas
Very nice.

Jason Daye
Yeah. So good to have you with us. Rich, I appreciate you taking the time to hang out with us. And we just pray God’s blessings upon you and everything that you’re doing. I’m really gonna be praying for you post Easter. Because that 10 week series, man, I’ll definitely have to be watching those on YouTube. So awesome, bro. Thank you so much. God bless you.

Jason Daye 
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at That’s And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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