Q&A with Local Author John Chandler
BY DENISE HEIDEL
John Chandler is a local writer, pastor, and ministry leader who grew up in Greensboro. These days, John divides his time between Chapel Hill and Lake Norman. He’s been married to his college friend-turned-sweetheart, Mary for 36 years, and together they have two grown sons and two granddaughters. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary, John is a lifelong student, teacher, and mentor. John has been kind enough to answer some questions about his books and his ministry.
DH: “Praying New Beginnings” is a part of a series. How did this book come to be, and what can people expect from it?
JC: The “Praying” books came about unintentionally. I was challenged by a friend and mentor to embrace a new kind of discipline – to “win the first battle of every day” by engaging with the Word of God before engaging with technology. It was a challenge that took me on a journey to listen to God more deeply through the Scriptures. About that time, I was in contact with a very high-profile leader, and upon request, I began to send notes from every day’s scripture about leadership to encourage him. Eventually, my wife suggested that I put my thoughts into a book. That single book turned into four books as I worked my way through the entire Old Testament: “Praying New Beginnings,” “Praying the Kings,” “Praying Wisdom,” and “Praying the Prophets,” make up the series. I learned by writing that this sort of study of the scripture could strengthen not only own my faith, but the faith and leadership skills of others as well. My most gratifying reports about the books are from leaders who report that they have learned how to turn to Scripture for daily leadership guidance.
DH: Leadership has played an important part in your life and ministry. Please share how effective leadership can make an impact on the church.
JC: Without question, leadership is an essential ingredient in a church and congregation’s overall flourishing. It is something we need to nurture and develop in our emerging leaders. In our network, for every three pastors who are retiring, only one is entering congregational ministry. And within five years, half of those who have entered have departed are leaving. It is critical that we invest in these promising young leaders, and keep them “in the game.”
DH: How does Uptick factor into this?
JC: Uptick is a ministry I lead that is designed to form young adult leaders. It has two primary focuses – 1) spiritual competencies of learning to listen to and respond to God, and 2). Learning the “soft relational skills” of how to work with people. We found that many promising young leaders weren’t washing out due to lack of theological expertise, because they were suffering from discouragement from relational and spiritual issues. We teach leaders spiritual and relational competencies in Uptick – not classroom know-how, but real world ways of listening to God and people.
DH: How does Uptick work?
JC: It’s a one-year cohort of no more than twelve people who learn from world-class mentors and capable peers. We started Uptick in 2007, and it’s a recruitment-based cohort – we require a recommendation from a trusted leader and are looking for leaders of the highest upside. The structure varies among our 8-10 cohorts, but the main work happens through a series of in-person and online gatherings over the course of a year. Of course, with the world of COVID, we are adapting to accommodate with lots more online resources. The Uptick track is offered to our participants at no cost to them; it is entirely funded through donations. Since we began, we have guided over 400 young ministry leaders (who range between 23 and 34 years old) through Uptick. It’s very much about learning leadership through the lens of discipleship.
DH: Will you please tell us about your latest book, “Uptick,” based on the Uptick track’s success?
JC: I wrote and published “Uptick” in 2019 as a “field guide,” based the principles we teach, for anyone who wants to start an Uptick network in their own setting. The book’s subtitle is “A blueprint for finding and forming the next generation of pioneering Kingdom leaders.” We know from our years of guiding so many young adults in ministry the value of what Uptick offers, and hope that the book will help equip more leaders. All proceeds from the book’s sales go to support Uptick.
DH: How can someone learn more about Uptick?
JC: The book is available on Amazon, or in bulk through uptick.org. All proceeds from sales of the book are donated to equip future Uptick leaders. We love it when people reach out to us to find out how they can start Uptick networks in their own settings! We will help anyone we can in the effort to grow a new generation of confident, capable Kingdom leaders. It’s a track that has far-reaching implications and future impact on the Kingdom of God.