Q&A with Pete Scazzero

Q&A with Pete Scazzero


Pete Scazzero is founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, a large multiracial, international church representing 73 countries. After being senior pastor for 26 years, he now serves as a teaching pastor / pastor-at-large. Pete and his wife, Geri, are the founders of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, a ministry that equips churches with a discipleship paradigm to deeply transform people transforming the world. He is author of two bestselling books, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church, and most recently released The Emotionally Healthy Leader. His next project, The Emotionally Healthy Relationships Course, will release in late summer 2017.

Q: In your experience, what are the roadblocks that keep spiritual leaders from finding time to invest in their own spiritual growth? 01

The greatest roadblock, I believe, is a lack of good models. As evangelical leaders, we have inherited a history of activism that goes back more than 200 years. Our great gift is mission: mobilizing believers and leading people to Christ. But this great gift can also be a liability. Spiritually indispensable concepts like silence, slowness, solitude and being (instead of doing) are difficult for most of us who are heirs to evangelicalism’s activist impulse. That is why I’m convinced we must learn from the wider Church tradition—Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant—and mine the spiritual riches of our shared history

Q: Why is it important for public spiritual figures to find time for private spiritual practices? 02

Being a leader for Christ without practicing spiritual disciplines that enable us to abide with him is a contradiction. How we can we give what we do not possess? How can we offer the life-transforming message of Jesus if he is not continually transforming us? Regularly practicing prayer, silence, solitude, meditation on the Scriptures, worship, community, Sabbath and simplicity is the door we open to receive Jesus and be transformed by his presence.

Our first work as spiritual leaders is to live congruently, which means we are the same person on and off the stage. Our roles and our souls must remain connected; this is our primary work and the greatest gift we can give to others. Without it we have little, if anything, to offer the world in the name of Jesus. And so, the most loving thing we can do for those we lead is to say no to people’s incessant demands in order to cultivate a deep personal relationship with Jesus. For this reason, I recommend pastors adopt a personal “Rule of Life” to structure their lives in such a way that they keep being with Jesus as the foundation of all their doing for him.

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