Tag Archives: discipleship

Are You Taking the Summer Off?

I write this on the final day of Spring 2017. Summer makes it’s entrance today around 9:30pm. With it comes hope of warm sunny days, vacations, and lots of time spent outside. It would be easy to get caught up in the celebration of summer while ignoring the reality of fall lurking just around the corner. We want to make room for kayaking, hiking, road trips, and back-yard barbecues. But a successful fall hinges on a productive summer. Taking time to establish some SMART goals and corresponding steps during this season will help prepare you for the next one.

For example, at Journey Church we launched fifteen Journey Groups (small groups) with 150 adults in September 2016. Journey Groups are essential to accomplishing our mission of “Helping people take the next in their spiritual Journey.” By September 2017 we hope to launch five more groups (for a total of 20 groups) reaching 200 adults. This goal is Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-sensitive. Several steps are required to successfully accomplish this goal. Here’s a sampling of some of those steps:

  • Evaluate each existing group with individual group leaders.
  • Determine each leaders commitment to lead this fall.
  • Obtain names of apprentice leaders who are ready to lead their own group.
  • Recruit new leaders.
  • Schedule and communicate leader’s training sessions.
  • Establish and promote the Journey Groups schedule.

What additional steps would you recommend?
What’s your SMART goal for this fall?

Take a few minutes today to begin thinking through your goals for fall and the steps you will take this summer to achieve those goals. Then go outside and enjoy the summer sun!

(Summer is a great time to get some coaching! Imagine how investing time in getting coached will pay dividends this fall. Contact me here and let’s start the conversation.)

 

Closing the Gap

mind-the-gap-tube-sign-hi

  • You’re facing a major decision you’ve wrestled with for weeks – maybe even months – and you’re still uncertain which way to go. 
  • You’ve been attempting to achieve a particular goal but no matter what you do you’re no closer to attaining that goal than when you started.
  • You seem to be stuck in a Ground-Hog-Day loop repeating the same mistakes day after day after day.

The distance between where you are and where you want to be is “the gap.” This gap looks different for different people. Some are fairly small and take just a little more effort to cross. Other gaps are huge and will take some pretty intense work to successfully navigate. Either way you’re going to need some help closing the gap.

Regardless of size, coaching is the best way to close the gap. With a coach you will set a course and begin to take specific steps toward your goal. With each coaching conversation you will begin to see real, measurable progress as the gap begins to shrink. Each step of the way you are the one identifying the best “next step” along your journey. Your coach will guide you with questions to bring clarity, effectiveness, and momentum to your steps but you decide which steps to take and whether you will walk, run, or leap forward! You will experience a new sense of accomplishment once you close the gap and step back to celebrate your much-earned success.

What’s the gap in your life?

Message me for a complimentary coaching conversation and begin taking steps to close the gap today.

Subway’s “Life Coach” Fail

subway life coachHave you seen Subway’s latest commercial? The one that features a guy in a football helmet who says he has a life coach? Whenever he starts to eat, drink, or do something that threatens his success at achieving his weight loss goals the life coach barks orders to him (through a conveniently located headset in his helmet) to keep him on the right path. There is a little humor here but it is a total failure at identifying what a life coach actually does! It’s a great example of one who leads by telling – which is the exact opposite of what a good coach does.

A good coach helps you identify the goals, behaviors, and results that are important to you and your personal, relational, and professional growth and development. A good coach helps you discover the best path forward for you and what the next few steps look like. Through that process you will explore potential obstacles, resources, and motivations to ensure your success. Take note of those italicized words: identify, discover, explore. They are words that describe forward progress on the journey you are taking. And take notice of who is taking the journey – it’s you! Your coach doesn’t tell you which path to take or how to take the next step. That’s your call. In the end you will find that you get to your personal destination both faster and better with the solutions, methods, and steps that you design.

Sorry Subway, but you got this one wrong.

If you would like to know more about how you could benefit from good coaching I invite you to explore my blog – epic coaching – or just reply to this post. I offer a limited number of complimentary, no-obligation coaching sessions each month where you can see if coaching is right for you. Contact me here and let’s start the conversation!

 

Why Telling People What to Do Doesn’t Work

 

megaphone-man

Actually, there’s a simple way to prove that telling people what to do doesn’t work. Here it is: Do you like being told what to do? Are you more likely to make a change if you’re told to do something or if you choose to implement that change on your own? In reality, no one likes being told what to do. And while we might comply with a demand that’s made of us, it will rarely result in any lasting change.

There’s some pretty good science to explain why this is true. According to an article by David Rock in the Neuro Leadership Journal the approach (reward) – avoid (threat) response is a reflexive activity that occurs unconsciously and automatically.  We quickly perceive situations and stimuli as containing either a threat or a reward. Not surprisingly, the way we perceive those situations determines whether we engage or we avoid. According to Rock, “Engagement is a state of being willing to do difficult things, take risks, to think deeply about issues and develop new solutions.” (emphasis added). That’s the goal of coaching!

In the coaching conversation the person being coached is guided toward a reward-engagement response by asking non-threatening questions which develop awareness and stimulate growth and action. The coach will avoid judgmental questions, leading questions, or what I call “test questions” where there is only one correct answer. Questions like these will result in an involuntary threat-avoidance response.  Someone who asks questions like these neither understands basic human behavior nor practices good coaching techniques. Just ask someone who has received good coaching and they’ll tell you: there’s one reason why coaching works – the questions! Not your basic run-of-the-mill yes/no questions or those there’s-only-one-right-answer questions or I’m-the-boss-and-I-want-an-answer-right-now type questions. A good coach asks questions that help you discover more about yourself and more about the journey you are on – “to think deeply about issues and develop new solutions!”

That’s why I enjoy being a coach! I get to ask the type of questions that help people become more engaged in the issues that matter most to them and to discover new pathways of success, effectiveness, and enjoyment in the pursuit of those life issues. If that sounds helpful to you, contact me and let’s start the conversation.

I offer a limited number of complimentary introductory coaching sessions each month. Contact me here about scheduling a session with you.

What Charlie the dog Taught Me about Coaching!

Version 2Every summer we spend a week in our daughter and son-in-law’s home in Portland watching their dog while they take a family vacation. It’s really a win-win for everyone – except for Charlie! He’s a pretty chill dog – just lays around most of the time – but he can’t be trusted to be left alone in the house. So whenever we leave Charlie needs to be kenneled. Would you be surprised if I told you Charlie doesn’t like the kennel? Getting him into the kennel is a real challenge. It takes several commands, some begging, raised voices, and maybe a bribe or two!

This past summer I had a breakthrough. Charlie didn’t respond well as I stood at the destination and told him what to do, or when I stood several feet away pointing to the kennel and told Charlie to get in. So I tried something different: I walked up to the dog, stood next to him, and walked alongside him all the way to the kennel!  It worked!

In most areas of life we have people telling us what to do, where we need to be, and how to get there. In effect, we’re being commanded to “get in the kennel” when we really don’t want to! Eventually we surrender to this command and walk slowly into our own little prison with our tail between our legs! We don’t want to go there, we’re not going to enjoy being there, and we can’t wait to get out. The next time we’re supposed “get in the kennel” the process has to be repeated all over.

There’s a better way.

With coaching the coach walks alongside the person being coached, helping them discover the best process for them to get to their desired destination. Coaching works because the person being coached gets to decide the where, what, when, how, why, and who of the journey. No one is pointing to the destination and ordering you to go there. No one is raising their voices and barking commands at you. Instead, the coach functions as a guide who listens well and asks questions that aid your own personal discovery. In the end you will have designed the best next step for you along your journey.

Doesn’t that sound like a better way? It is. And there are thousands upon thousands of people who have discovered that coaching is a much better way to identify – and achieve – life’s next steps! I offer a limited number of no-obligation introductory sessions each month for people who want to give coaching a test-drive. Contact me and let’s start the conversation!

5 Practices That Eliminate Ministry Silos

silosFor those of you who are on paid church staff the term “ministry silos” is nothing new. The concept has been around for a long time and has been frequently commented on. Ministry silos are those ministry or programs in church that run separately from other programs. They have their own staff, their own space, their own budget, and their own culture. These ministries are compared to grain silos that stand alone with thick walls that keep other ministries from overlapping with theirs.

Lately, I’ve come to view these silos a bit differently.

Rather than grain silos that stand above ground I prefer to think of ministry silos being like missile silos that go down deep under ground. These ministry silos often operate in isolation from other ministries out of sight from the rest of the church. Buried in one corner of the church is the youth room. The older adults meet elsewhere and usually when no one else is around. Men often have early morning meetings or breakfasts and typically they are the only people in the building at that time. The children’s ministry is physically safe and secure (and separate) from the rest of the ministries. None of these groups are engaged with each other and they rarely even step foot into the same parts of the church – except for Sunday morning. If these ministry silos were standing above ground as monuments to their presence at least others in the church would know that they exist.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are five steps your ministry leadership team can take to eliminate ministry silos. In the absence of these factors ministry leaders will dig down deep into their unique area of ministry and create isolated structures, systems, and silos to fill that void.

1. Identify and commit to an overall unifying vision for the entire church – one that can be embraced by each ministry. What is your church’s unique purpose in your community that everyone can commit to? What has God called you to do together? Ministries go underground into their silos when there is lack of an overall vision for the church.

2. Identify your irreducible core values. No matter what, who will you be and how will you live out that overall vision? These values have to be so much a part of who you are that they are obvious to those around you. They should seep out of your pores and flow out of your mouths. Every leader and volunteer should know what they are, how to define them, and be actively seeking ways to implement them. You must live these values.

3. Treat your staff and volunteers as valued members of a single team. Delegate tasks – and the authority to complete those tasks – to the lowest possible levels. Demonstrate your complete trust of each team member. Liberally shower them with praise, encouragement, and gratitude both privately and publicly – especially publicly. Affirm everyone’s role on the team and do it often.

4. Be forward looking. Set meaningful goals and review your progress toward those goals. Your conversations and energies must be forward-looking rather than constantly glancing at the rear view mirror to evaluate how well something worked or didn’t work. Sure, learn from past events, programs, or services in order to determine how to better live out your vision and values and to strengthen the ministry, but avoid lengthy purpose-less or critical post-mortems that fail to look forward.

5. Stop having meetings! Well, at least meetings that don’t contribute to the first four factors. But at all costs, stop having meetings for no reason! Giving reports or updates is not a reason. Making decisions, determining action steps, setting and reviewing goals – all are reasons to meet. Every meeting must contain elements of affirmation of your vision, your values, and your team. Pray for each other and their families. Pray expectantly for where God is taking you and your church. Dream together what your church will look like as your vision and values take root. Those are meetings that people will show up early to and be enthusiastically engaged in.

Implement these five practices and watch ministry silos disappear!

I’d be happy to coach you through the process of identifying and eliminating ministry solos in your church or organization. Just contact me here.

Coaching In Ministry

coaching in ministryThere is no question that the ministry landscape is undergoing significant change. If you went to seminary more than 10 years ago the nuts-and-bolts ministry training you received is becoming less relevant and less effective with each passing year. People’s engagement with the local church in terms of  attendance, serving, and giving no longer resembles the “twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday,” tithing-multiple-committee-member model from just a decade or two ago. Churches seem to be universally challenged with how to guide people toward greater ministry engagement. For many of those churches they need look no further than how they equip and empower their volunteers and ministry leaders toward meaningful ministry. In Coaching In Ministry, coaching pioneer Keith Webb charts a course that will help ministry leaders navigate this changing landscape.

I have received significant training and encouragement through Keith’s training programs and his previous work – The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. He has quickly become my primary resource for all things coach related. His latest book continues to teach, challenge, and clarify my understanding and use of coaching in ministry. I highly recommend Coaching in Ministry to anyone involved in ministry leadership. (Full Disclosure: Keith Webb provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Keith begins this short book with a concise working definition of coaching:

“an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” (p. 21)

He further explains:

“Coaching focuses on people’s learning rather than us teaching. Coachees (those who are coached) are in the driver’s seat. They choose their own goals, reflect deeply on their current situation, think through their options, and decide their next steps. All the while, the coach actively listens and asks reflective questions, supportively challenging limited beliefs and behaviors.” (pp 21-22)

Later Keith describes coaching as,

“a non-directive conversation in which the coach asks a person questions to prompt reflection into what God is saying to that person. The coaching process empowers that person to develop custom solutions for his or her problems or goals.” (p. 37)

One of the primary strengths of Coaching In Ministry is that it can serve as an introduction and call-to-action for the importance of coaching in ministry. I will order several copies to share with my staff colleagues and board members. I will also use this book when inviting ministry leaders to consider my coaching services. If you are unfamiliar with coaching (or think you already know what coaching is) reading Coaching in Ministry will bring further clarity to the immense value of coaching.

Unfortunately, many leaders still operate under the disingenuous definition of management as ‘the art of getting people to do what you want them to do while thinking it was their idea!’ Many of those same leaders think that coaching is ‘asking questions until you get the coachee to give you the answer you want!’ The lack of authenticity in both of these approaches destroys any potential for long-lasting growth and effective leadership development.

It is so much more fulfilling to hear a coachee formulate a solution to a challenge they are facing that they thought of themselves rather than reluctantly agreeing to try the solution you gave them! Coaching has enabled me to equip more people for effective ministry than any training program, class, or leadership development program I have ever used. Keith clearly and concisely establishes a solid foundation for biblical coaching that honors God, equips and empowers the coachee, and strengthens the church.

Finally, Coaching In Ministry will introduce you to: The Question That Moves People to Action. Keith claims this one question will,

“help get people into action that is non-threatening and open enough to work in just about any situation.” (p.78)

But you will have to read the book yourself to find out what that question is. I think it’s well worth the modest price of the book!