Todd Hiestand

Todd Hiestand

Field Notes on Leadership and Community in Suburban America

I work full-time as a developer for Pure Charity. Before that, I was a pastor for 14 years at The Well in the Philly suburbs and now live in Portland, OR. I write about church, mission, leadership, faith & theology, life and other related things. Follow me on Twitter and stalk me on .

Pastors and All. The. Drama. Or, Why Pastoral Care Must Be Communal

November 6, 2014

I wrote a bit yesterday about how I have discovered that I don’t love the church just because I was a pastor. That said, the last few months of not being a pastor, has brought some areas of great relief. Let’s be honest, pastoring is not easy and I’m actively trying to pay attention to how I can support my pastors at our new church.  (Side note: It’s weird for me to say “my pastors” cause I haven’t necessarily had one of those for a long, long time. That’s a topic to unpack at a different date). One of the ways my life has changed is simple: There’s a lot less drama. I mean, a lot. less. drama. Which means there are a lot. less. people. talking. as. if. there. was....

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I am Not a Pastor and I Still Love the Church

November 4, 2014

So, for the first time in 18 years I have spent significant time not being a pastor, studying to be a pastor or hoping to one day be a pastor. Actually, let’s analyze the numbers and see how accurate this is: 3: The number of years I spent in high school youth group wanting to be a youth pastor. 4:  The number of years in Bible College I spent  preparing to be a real pastor. - 1:  The number years I spent doing whatever I could to not be a pastor. 13:  The number of years I spent actually being a pastor. So, for the first time in a long time I am a normal, non-pastor-church-going person. I pull no identity from some “ministry vocation.” I’m not in “full-time...

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We’re Moving to Portland, OR

June 23, 2014

For the last 14 years that we have been married my wife and I have been living in the Philadelphia area. If you count the 4 years at college, we’ve been here for 18 years. For 13 years we have been serving at The Well, our church here in Philly and its with a lot of bittersweet excitement that we are officially moving our family to Portland, OR.  We’ll be living in a town called Clackamas, which in the Southeast side of the city – I guess you could say we are “taking our talents to Southeast Portland”.  (See what I did there?) We have loved, loved, loved our community at The Well. With both of us originally being from out of town this community...

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Evangelism: Moving Beyond the Sex Talk

March 3, 2014

Now that we have a ten-year old boy in our house – and three more of his brothers coming after him – we’ve begun thinking about how to talk with our kids about sex, girls, puberty, etc. You know, the fun stuff of parenthood. One of our friends who has raised fairly-well adjusted adult boys told us a while ago that the best way to have the “sex talk” was to not make it a “talk” at all. That is, it shouldn’t be something that you approach as a specific, planned BIG conversation. It should be a natural part of the conversation in your home. Yes even at the dinner table if that’s how it happens. Sex isn’t something to be ashamed about and treated...

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Daring Greatly at BarCamp Philly

November 8, 2013

I’m revisiting Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly for a short talk I’m doing at Barcamp Philly tomorrow morning. I’m calling the session “Vulnerability Practice“. I’m going to  give a brief overview of the book and share my own story of my journey in to daring to live a more vulnerable life. Then I’m going to open up the room for people to take a chance and be vulnerable. Really, I’m not sure if it will work because the room will be full of strangers.  I think it could be a really powerful time, or it could totally bomb and I’ll stand there like a fool – I’m fine either way really. I’m not expecting people to share their deepest secrets with a group of strangers...

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My Prayer for the Church

October 23, 2013

My prayer for the church is that we would be a communities of people who understand the grace and peace of the only one who can truly give grace and bring peace. And that as we receive that grace, peace and the hope and salvation that comes with it, we would proclaim it boldly to a world longing for hope – knowing that it is God who works to make our best efforts successful and our worst efforts redemptive.

When God Gives You a Push

September 8, 2013

“Sometimes God calls you into new things, sometimes God pushes you into new things..” This was my dad’s response to me as I shared with him some of the questions I was asking related to my vocational and occupational life. It became clear that this was one of those instances where God was pushing, and he was pushing pretty hard. Since 2001 I have been on pastoral staff at The Well, our church community in Feasterville, a suburb of the wonderful city of Philadelphia. In 2006 I became the Lead Pastor and have been serving in that role ever since. Over the course of these last 12 years, I have been privileged to be a leader in a pretty amazing little church community. By God’s...

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Confession of Sin: cynicism boiled over with slander, criticism, prayerlessness, and pessimism.

May 12, 2013

From our gathering this morning at The Well:   Father, you tell us in your Word that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. We confess that we have frequently relaxed our faith. We have allowed ourselves to become cynical, and our cynicism has boiled over with slander, criticism, prayerlessness, and pessimism. How easily we’ve allowed ourselves to crumple under the stresses of our lives. Forgive us for our smallness of faith. In your mercy, hear us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen. – SILENT CONFESSION – ASSURANCE OF PARDON Leader: Hear these comforting words: If you repent and believe in God’s redeeming mercy, your sins are forgiven. Trust in God’s promises and begin anew your life with God and all people in the name of...

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The Problem of Western Cultural views of how to lead and organize

May 3, 2013

Yep.. Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (the majority paradigm in use in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. Western practices attempt to dominate life; we want life to comply with human needs rather than working as partners. This disregard for life’s dynamics is alarmingly evident in today’s organizations. Leaders use control and imposition rather than self-organizing processes. They react to uncertainty and chaos by tightening already feeble controls, rather than engaging our best capacities in the dance. Leaders use primitive emotions of fear, scarcity, and self-interest to get people to do their work, rather than the more noble human traits of cooperation, caring, and generosity. This has led us to this difficult time, when nothing seems to work...

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A Genuine Question about Teams and Committees in Churches

May 3, 2013

We’ve been forming some excellent teams at The Well, it’s been beautiful to see them flourish and work. At the same time, I always hear about how “bad” committees are in churches.  I’ve never really been part of one, but apparently there is something annoying about them. So, if teams are good and committees are bad. What is the difference between the two? What defines a team? What defines a committee? How do we keep our teams from turning into those awful things we call committees?

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