Forge Leadership Podcast. Episode 6 : Paul and Becky Harcourt from New Wine
Paul and Becky Harcourt
New Wine Network
All Saints Woodford Wells
Paul and Becky Harcourt, leaders within the New Wine network speak with Simon Barrington about how they lead together, the challenges, joys, mistakes of that and the issues that leaders need healing and releasing from.
Simon Barrington: [00:00:25] So this week we’re joined on the Forge Leadership podcast by husband and wife team Paul and Becky Harcourt. Both Paul and Becky are on the New Wine leadership team where Paul serves as the national leader and both Paul and Becky are the church leaders at All Saints, Woodford Wells which is thriving congregation in northeast London. Paul and Becky welcome to the podcast.
Paul Harcourt: [00:00:44] Thank you. Becky Harcourt: [00:00:45] Thank you. Paul Harcourt: [00:00:45] Thanks for having us.
Simon Barrington: [00:00:47] So Paul can you just tell us a little bit about New Wine especially for people who maybe don’t know what it is or are not familiar with it would be great if you could explain that for people.
Paul Harcourt: [00:00:57] Yes, sure. So New Wine is a family of leaders and churches that grew out of the ministry at St. Andrew’s Chorleywood and over the years its given birth to things like Soul Survivor and a worship movement with people like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes essentially New Wine is a network that believes in charismatic renewal in the local church and we believe that local churches change nations. So we believe in equipping God’s people for the work of ministry and then for them to be in their local churches impacting in their communities with the love of Jesus.
Simon Barrington: [00:01:30] Fantastic. Most people maybe know it for the summer conferences but Becky it’s more than that as it is.
Becky Harcourt [00:01:37] Yes the hash tag this year for the New Wine United conference in the summer was “other 50 weeks”. So really we gathered together in the summer have impact in our lives and Churches and communities for the other 50 weeks of the year.
Simon Barrington: [00:01:53] And is that a big challenge in discipleship at the moment to see people actually living out their faith in the spheres which God has called them.
Paul Harcourt: [00:02:02] Yeah I think it is. I think a lot of Christians over the last few years probably found it really really easy to come in a more consumerist manner. You know we often we wanted live a Christian life but we were finding it increasingly difficult to know what that looks like in the workplace or in our local churches and therefore it’s easy to come to church and have the attitude that we come to receive and maybe if people serve they serve in the local church. But there’s a big disconnect between that church part of their life and then the other days of the week and the other context in which they live and work. So one of the things we always try to do is to equip God’s people to extend the kingdom not just about building the church but extending the kingdom into every sphere of human endeavor.
Simon Barrington: [00:02:48] That’s great. I Love that hashtag the other 50 weeks. What else apart from that are you excited about in New Wine currently.
Paul Harcourt: [00:02:55] Well we’ve really felt that in this season we wanted to restate the centrality of the ministry of the Holy Spirit which is a New Wine distinctive from the beginning and it’s been really good to see that being worked out. We wanted as well the leadership of New Wine to be more representative in terms of age and gender and geography. We’ve been developing more work amongst the emerging generations and seeing younger leaders come up and it’s just really exciting the way that people are catching that vision for local churches changing nations and for being part of something that’s not just a conference but is truly a movement.
Simon Barrington: [00:03:33] That’s interesting that you talk about diversity. How have you tried to address that both at the conference and in the leadership team, Becky?
Becky Harcourt: [00:03:41] Well I know Paul’s been really conscious as he was forming his own leadership team and he was asked to take over he wanted to, it was his first thing to expand the team and make it more representative of the people who are part of the network. So consciously looking out praying about people to bring in from the north that he needs to bring in who can represent and speak for the younger generation and looking to bring that balance of male and female that strength to the team. So just you have to be conscious about it and really pray for God’s wisdom for the right people not just to put people in because they are young or female or whatever but the people that God is pointing out that can be pioneers in that area for us.
Simon Barrington: [00:04:24] Because otherwise it becomes just a token doesn’t it.
Becky Harcourt: [00:04:27] Yes. And you really don’t want that for a person or for their network.
Simon Barrington: [00:04:32] Now you are both on the leadership team of New Wine. In what ways do you lead together and in what ways are your roles within that team distinct and separate?
Paul Harcourt: [00:04:44] Well I think it’s very clear in that context that I’m the national leader and Becky is a member of the national leadership team. Now we both feel that was but that was something that was right because of the gifting that she brings. But also I think with something like this that being a couple in ministry it was important to us that we were both fully involved in it so that our worlds didn’t sort of drift apart. So there are lots of opportunities and responsibilities that that I have that will lead to me going out and about or going to certain sorts of meetings. But Becky is fully involved and has her own ministry there as well. So for example when I’ll be in the office for New Wine on a reasonably regular basis because I’m involved more in the logistics and the admin side of stuff whereas Becky would come in primarily to the six times a year for a national leadership team which is more the spiritual and prophetic strategic gathering where we’re looking at some of the big picture issues and then both of us will be out and about doing ministry in the family of New Wine churches all the time.
Simon Barrington: [00:05:55] And do you minister together when you are travelling around. Or does it depend on the situation.
Becky Harcourt: [00:06:01] It depends on the situation. So Paul and I do some things together. We’ve done quite a few things get the last months teaching together. We’ve recently written a book together. But I can’t do everything that Paul does we have a demanding family life. Now we have two children one with extreme special needs and one with mild special needs. That’s a lot of juggling on the home front. So Paul has been doing a lot of traveling around talking about the book we wrote together but he’s doing it on his own. However I like to think I’m there in spirit because he’s sharing my testimony and bits that I’ve written on so we don’t do everything together but when we can get the opportunity we do.
Paul Harcourt: [00:06:43] Yes so with the book it’s better if we can both go and speak but the logistics of our stage of family life that isn’t always possible but you know we like to do things together when we can.
Simon Barrington: [00:06:55] Tell us a bit more about the book Becky and role that you had in writing that.
Becky Harcourt: [00:07:01] Well Paul told me we’re going to write a book. And I kept shaking my head. Now I’m not sure about that. And he kept saying I’m going to do it and we did it. So that’s often how things work. Well no seriously we’ve been doing some teaching together over the years. And it just worked out Paul had a sort of brain wave of how it all came together. And so we decided to write down the wisdom that we’ve been collecting about living the supernatural life with God and we based it on Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water. So the book is called “Walking on Water. And it’s Paul’s journey of issues of the mind that can get in the way of stepping out of the boats and joining in with Jesus when he says come. So what if Peter had insisted that he could understand how he could walk on water before he gets out of the boat. So Paul talks about those struggles that he’s had of needing to understand him being in control to have a rational explanation and how he’s had to let that go and not lean on his own understanding to step into the supernatural things of God. So those were his chapters and then I wrote chapters which were from talks that I’d done about issues of the heart. What if Peter instead had said well I’ve been hurt so much now I’m not sure if I can face being hurt again? I’m not sure if I can trust you Jesus. If I do this I need to know I’m going to be safe.
Becky Harcourt: [00:08:33] So if he had that attitude he would have never got out of the boat because Jesus promises to be with us. He doesn’t always promise it’s going to be safe or easy. But he does promise his presence. So I had I wrote about my story issues of the heart from my own testimony. And so dealing with things like guilt and disappointments and feeling let down by God but he actually is always pursuing us to bring us healing and wholeness. And then as we turn to him he heals us so that we can you know we can trust him. So that’s really what the book is about.
Simon Barrington: [00:09:06] Those are two fascinating insights aren’t they into moving into the supernatural. I mean I studied physics but I also play the piano clarinet as well so I have a musical side and a creative side and not pursue my logical side of my creative side come together and therefore I find it relatively straightforward to listen to what I know people who are very logical. I find that really hard. Yes you are very great to me and the heart issues. There’s a fascinating combination that you’ve brought together.
Simon Barrington: [00:09:41] As leaders who are married. How do you encourage one another and challenge one another how does that work in reality what’s the nitty gritty of that working.
Becky Harcourt: [00:09:53] Good question.
Paul Harcourt: [00:09:55] Well I think you have heard from the last answer that one of the strengths we I think we’ve discovered is that we are very different. And so I think the thing that has helped us most is understanding each other’s differences that we are complementary in our gifting and in our personalities and to a certain extent in our backgrounds and experiences as well. And I think probably we’ve been learning how to make space for each other and how to value the contribution the other one brings. And there are times as well though where perhaps in the safety of those boxes we’ve kind of stretched each other so I might challenge Becky a little bit more to be confident in her speaking and stepping out and leading which up until relatively recently was something that as a more introverted person she was not as willing to step out into and Becky has helped me develop some of my strengths around listening and.
Becky Harcourt: [00:10:55] I’ve tried.
Paul Harcourt: [00:10:55] So understanding the dynamic when we’re both in meetings is really helpful.
Simon Barrington [00:11:02] That’s fascinating. Are there any tools that you’ve used that have helped you discover one of those gifts and callings together?
Becky Harcourt [00:11:14] Well the typical things are personality tests and it was a real light bulb when we both did Myers Briggs and we realised we were opposites in introvert / extrovert and the big picture/ detail and in the thinking and feeling we were extreme opposites in each of those. So are you just think, ok, that’s why you do things so differently for me and why we find that a bit of a tension and that knowledge makes it easier to understand each other and then to work with each other. So that’s definitely been a tool just learning how we work ourselves and how the other one works. It gives you understanding also spiritually just praying and getting discernment about how we fit together and why God called us together. How do we balance each other. And as Paul said with complimentary gifts and just trusting that God’s done that for a reason it can be easy for me. Paul’s quite apostolic He’s an activist he’s outgoing willing to do things he’s got lots of ideas and vision. I’m really not like that. I’m quiet I observe things I take it really slowly. And so it could be easy for me to just say well he can do it without me which I did for many years because he can just get the job done. What I learnt by praying about it and listening to God as he was calling me out more and more was that yeah he can do it on his own and he’ll go a lot further with me alongside him because my wisdom, sorry that sounds arrogant. But having that sort of quiet reflective nature it does give you a different insight into things as well. I could bring that and that helps him. He’ll go further if I do it with him. So that’s just from listening to God being obedient really and he also has to be humble enough to then come and listen to me when I say actually I think you’ve missed that or you aren’t reading that situation right. We have to be humble. I have to let him do his thing and he has to listen to me.
Paul Harcourt [00:13:20] I think one of the key things is actually that we we’ve been able to do more and more of that as we’ve done it together. So it’s not sort of observing each other’s ministries as action it’s actually doing it alongside each other that’s been really helpful because we’re learning in the moment all the time make strengths of each other’s gifts and strengths. As Becky said actually she wasn’t’ wrong in using the word wisdom it’s just a by-product of her time with God and her character that she thinks and reflects deeply so I move very fast and I think very quickly and I can often jump into solutions. But Becky’s very good at reading the people side of things and maybe thinking through things in a more reflective manner. So we’re very good team.
Simon Barrington [00:14:09] That’s fantastic. I know I know from my own experience that actually I was resonating Becky there with you and what you are saying about you know encouraging Paul because he’ll go further you know because you know you can see he’s extremely gifted that actually he still needs affirmation and support and encouragement and I’ve experienced that myself as well in my own marriage and really resonate with that. What mistakes have you both made along the way, this is a more tricky question, ok, so in your journey together what do you wish you’d learned earlier or maybe what you wish they had taught you in Bible college in terms of learning how to journey together on that leadership journey.
Paul Harcourt: [00:14:57] Well we got married not knowing each other very well really because we met while I was at theological college. We commuted for a couple of years with Becky in America and a meeting here. We got married eight weeks I think before I was ordained. And so our time together. You know our married life has basically been in ministry. So we’ve been learning as we go. And I think probably in the early days we didn’t understand ourselves and we didn’t understand each other. So there had been times perhaps were not communicated as well as we need to and in the busyness of ministry now that’s always a danger that we’re going so fast that we forget to tell each other things or we simply don’t sit down and have time to process things together and talk in out. So communication is one of the keys. Another thing I would say I think is that just allowing each other to have our own spiritual journey. In the early days, you know because I can see incredible gifts in Becky I think quite often I would be encouraging Becky to step forward. But at that point I think probably you would probably have received it more as I’m forcing you into a box you were ready for. And sometimes actually it’s been really helpful to have third parties. So a lot of the steps we’ve made have been the encouragement of friends and the other people we are working with who have said you know Becky you can do this or you know they’ve called us both into the into slightly different roles. So it’s not only our own relationship it’s being open to the voices of those around us who care for us and see things in us.
Becky Harcourt: [00:16:39] And probably for me I’m as I said it was a took a while to obey God when he was asking me to step out and to do more because again I would question how I don’t fit the mold of lots of leaders I see not just Paul but lots of leaders who are activists, who are out there doing who move really quickly I don’t fit that mold so therefore I must not be a leader. So God had to really challenge me on that. And I had to do a lot of dealing with myself on that. To say well, I just do it differently and I’m not going to do it the same way. It won’t have the same shape. But together we can do something. So partly it took me a long time to get to that point of being willing to step in. So I met Paul when he was training for ministry so I kind of felt that I describe it as jumping on a train that was already moving in a certain direction. I didn’t get to choose the direction of the train. I just jumped on it and it took me a while to accept that I was called as well as Paul. It wasn’t just his ministry and I just happened to be married to him but God had called us together. So I suppose I’m saying the mistake there was that I was slow in recognising God’s call on me and I am perhaps devalued what I could offer instead of valuing it and seeing the good in it.
Paul Harcourt: [00:17:53] I think probably my part in that was you know I could see things Becky could step into.[00:18:07] But it’s not enough for me to tell her in fact it’s really counterproductive because often if I say that you know you could preach then it might sound as though we’re putting an expectation on her. And I’ve got to be careful to make sure I’m saying not I think you can preach and I need you to do that fulfil what I think you should be. But much more I think there’s a gift of God in you that you can in his time and in your way express. That’s I think where we’re at now just in the last five years we’ve made real progress in in genuine partnership and I think flourishing in fact in our separate gifts as well.
Simon Barrington: [00:18:47] It’s great to hear you talk about the importance of reflection Becky for a leader and fascinating to hear you know that there is that stereotype that we have of leaders being superheroes and activists and being challengers and visionaries and strategists and yet what I found often is that it’s the reflection on action and the planning based on reflection and listening to the Holy Spirit is often lacking you know in a in a team so great that you’ve been able to bring that together as both of you, that’s really powerful, really, really powerful.
Becky Harcourt: [00:19:23] Yeah we definitely need both because if you just sit reflecting on all the time nothing gets done. So you do that’s in God’s wisdom why He has the five-fold gifts and things but you need both. Definitely.
Simon Barrington: [00:19:34] Sure. So one of the strengths of new wine seems to be the encouraging these leaders to stay rooted in local church ministry as well. Why do you both see that as important and how do you think the New Wine movement benefits from that.
Simon Barrington: [00:19:49] It’s unusual I would say to have a national leader Paul also leading a local church movement and one as significant as All Saints Woodford Wells.
Paul Harcourt [00:20:00] Yeah I mean I think the history of New Wine as it’s always been rooted in the local church. It came from the Ministry of St. Andrews Chorleywood. And so the leadership of New Wine has always been practitioners. [00:20:12] So it’s important I think because we’re a network of leaders that when those of us who are leading on a national level go and speak to leaders of local churches that we’re not bringing something abstract or theoretical disconnected from the normal experience of leading churches. And we found that there were seasons when that was being not expressed quite so fully and so we said OK well we need to step back into that. John Coles was National leader at the time was working full time for New Wine and no longer leading a church and so he started a church plant so that he was engaged in the coalface of ministry. But I think that’s really important because so often in renewal what we’re bringing is the story of what God is doing. And we never want to be disconnected from that.
Simon Barrington: [00:21:03] Becky any reflections on that.
Becky Harcourt: [00:21:06] Yes just again I know that when Paul was looking at leading at and was being asked it was a real highlight for both of us that we stayed rooted in All Saints and again for the same reason that if you are not doing the local day to day stuff you quickly lose touch with what it’s like and you forget the joys and difficulties the challenges and the blessings. So it’s important to stay there to stay part of that scene so you can bring that experience and wisdom to others. You know we can say to other Church leaders, we know what it is like we’re doing it ourselves day to day. So that’s why it’s a high priority.
Paul Harcourt: [00:21:45] But I think one of the things as well is that when you are working in a way where you’re dividing yourself between different roles. It forces me as national leader to make sure that as national leader of New Wine that’s a team as well have you know I’m not giving myself full time to a ministry that could easily be full time and therefore I have to lead not as a sort of you know a sole hero figure. But I have to lead with others alongside me and I think that New Wine benefits from the drawing in of a multiple people working together as a team playing off their gifts and strengths again it’s about not recognizing that wisdom is in the tribe not in the individual.
Simon Barrington: [00:22:28] it’s community relationship building together.
[00:22:32] And you mentioned earlier about raising up emerging leaders in that context as well and building up with emerging leaders coming through how has that worked in New Wine.
[00:22:44] is there an emphasis on raising up married couples like yourselves or individuals and how does that all work.
Paul Harcourt [00:22:50] Well in terms of raising leaders up that’s a large part of what we’re about. So we have I think 65 networks of church leaders up and down the country that meet on a regular basis and in each of those networks we ask the local network leader both to provide an opportunity for people to come together who perhaps are just exploring what it is to be taking the journey of renewal. And in some way to provide a context to go a bit deeper as well. People who want to work this out in practice in their local church. And it can take lots of different forms. It could be one to one mentoring. Often its small group mentoring or leadership communities learning communities coming together. We’re always doing teaching training days and conferences and ministry specific conferences in certain areas of ministry that he might be interested in. I’m not sure that we’ve done anything specifically on raising up married couples in leadership but that’s a conversation. Increasingly we see couples leading together and feeling a sense of call together. And a lot of the denominational churches don’t actually know how to recognise that you we’re both in the Church of England. But you know a lot of Anglican churches they don’t know really how to appoint two people as Vicar. In fact they can’t they can’t do that. So usually what it means usually is that one person or one person maybe has the official or commissioned role as far as the denomination is concerned. So we’re having conversations with people all the time about how that works for us without trying to say to other people this is the model you have to follow.
Becky Harcourt: [00:24:34] Yeah no it’s not about just raising up people that are married because they when a raise up everybody whether they are single or married. But for us what we can model is marriage and leadership or leadership in marriage. So that is something we can model but we don’t ever want to limit that in who we raise up. We do. I do find myself encouraging how often actually the main leader who is saying ah I really wish my wife and my husband would lead alongside me. How do you guys do it? Just want to tell my story and encourage and say maybe they feel they can’t do it because they’ll do it differently from you, you know for things we talked about. To make that space for them. So that’s something we can speak into and we love to see people acknowledge and recognize when they’re being called together but we definitely don’t want to limit it to that.
Paul Harcourt: [00:25:28] We know quite a lot of couples as well where the call of one of the partners is outside of the churches gathered ministry. We know people where one will be called into a business or politics or some different sphere. But then the call is still that together they’re advancing the kingdom even if the context is different.
Simon Barrington: [00:25:48] And what advice would you have for married couples who are maybe seeking to be in church leadership together if they are seeking to kind of follow the path that you have both gone together and they are starting out or actually what would you wish you known back in those early days and what wisdom can you pass on.
Becky Harcourt: [00:26:11] Well while we’re still learning because we were fairly new it doing so much together we’ve always been in it together but since I’ve been coming to staff meetings and being a lot more visibly involved and then how to have time where you don’t talk about it. So it’s having that break from um let’s just watch a film now instead of talking about church because we could do that constantly. But we also have to have wisdom in in just having time to be family together and to not think about that. That’s something actually we’re still learning because we are in a new season of life where Paul has just been into this new role for a year so things have increased dramatically and speed in busyness so were finding that new rhythm. But that’s something you definitely have to do is not let your marriage become all about your ministry and the marriage comes first and then the ministry something you do out of that.
Paul Harcourt: [00:27:05] In terms of outside the house as well I think it’s I think it’s really helpful if as a couple you try to explain to others how you feel called to lead. So perhaps the denomination may not recognize the sort of co-leadership that we all called to model but it’s still good to try and articulate it. And one of the important things for us as a church is you know our local church context here. We’ve been really clear to be talking to the church about how we feel God is calling us to lead a couple. And of course the church usually recognises that particularly when you’ve been there for a while and they’ve got to know you. I think when we started articulating to our church here at All Saints much more clearly that we were going to lead alongside each other. Most people in the church, well nobody had any problems with it, most people said well about time to. You know we’ve seen you like that and they obviously recognised the contribution that Becky was making perhaps in informally and it was really helpful for them to recognize and honour it spiritually. I would say that it comes from the Lord doesn’t it. Yeah it is. I mean whatever the denomination says that there that it’s how we feel called by God and that it’s recognized by the local church whether the denomination has a box to put it down or not.
Simon Barrington: [00:28:26] Now Becky you’re involved in prayer and healing ministry in particular. What do you see as the biggest issues that leaders need healing for? What are you seeing that people are wounded from along the way?
Becky Harcourt: [00:28:44] What a large question.
[00:28:47] Probably the biggest temptation for everyone is to need affirmation. So whether you’re an activist or an introvert and a contemplative whatever it is we all long to be connected to something and to feel good about ourselves. So we just I think every leader has to be careful to get affirmation from God. And so we need to be healed in those areas where we’re looking for affirmation from people. So anywhere in your background where you felt rejected or overlooked or you were labelled in some way we have to deal with those things that we’ve done let them control us. We will then be looking for affirmation to get those positive feelings about ourselves from someone else. So we have to learn to see God as our healer and provider our source, our everything really so that we don’t look for it from people because then you become a people pleaser and that’s impossible. God we can please. Now if you’re very broken you’ll find that very hard because you have a distorted image of God and you think he’s a harsh taskmaster or you think he’s just is Father Christmas and that He would give you whatever you want or you know we’ll have distorted images that aren’t real. And then we’re not relating to God as we should. And we won’t be getting what we need from Him so really its security in God. It’s the biggest thing that every leader needs so that they can have confidence to do the things he’s calling them to without worrying about what people are going to think. That’s huge.
Simon Barrington: [00:30:32] But that was a brilliant concise answer to a massive question and certainly I would resonate I think resonate with the fact that the work that I do which is so much focused on dealing with issues of rejection and abandonment and that’s impacting their leadership now and their desire for affirmation and wrestle with those issues as well. So thank you. Just putting the spotlight on that for people it is a massive issue. But actually if we can find our identity in Christ and really lead out of who we are in Christ then that makes a massive difference pull.
Simon Barrington: [00:31:09] Paul and Becky, thank you so much for sharing part of your journey with us today. Thank you for being so honest and real about the mistakes you’ve made and the advice you’ve given as well. And we pray blessing on both of you as you lead All Saints Woodford Wells and New Wine as well. Paul and Becky Harcourt, thanks so much for joining us today.
Paul Harcourt: [00:31:27] Thank you Simon.
Becky Harcourt: [00:31:28] Pleasure.