Tag Archives: second chair

Coaching 101

I’ve recently started a journey to gain some ministry coaching skills with the eventual goal of becoming certified as a coach. I’ve searched several websites, friends, and organizations to find the process that seems to fit me best and have landed with CoachNet Global. Their website is filled with resources and online classes. Their emphasis on coaching as ministry resonates better with me than the coaching for income emphasis I’ve come across at others sites.

The centerpiece of CoachNet’s basic training is the book Coaching 101 by Robert Logan and Sherilyn Carlton  which I’ve just finished. In this book the authors focus on the basics with an opening chapter defining what coaching is and isn’t (it’s not counseling, advising, instructing, or managing) and then developing their “Five Rs” of a good coaching process. Here’s their summary of the coaching process from page 29 – each of which are developed in appropriate detail in chapters 2-6:

  • Relate – Establish coaching relationship and agenda
  • Reflect – Discover and explore key issues
  • Refocus – Determine priorities and action steps
  • Resource – Provide support and encouragement
  • Review – Evaluate, celebrate, and revise plans

The final two chapters help the prospective coach by presenting several guidelines for developing effective coaching relationships (chpt 7) and steps to getting started as a coach (chpt 8).

This short volume (120 pages) would be an extremely valuable first step for those exploring a coaching ministry or those who just want to develop some foundational coaching skills. I found the book to very helpful in establishing a personal plan of action that will lead to certification and an effective way to fulfill my ordination charge – to equip God’s people for works of service.

The next book that CoachNet recommends is Developing Coaching Excellence. Other coaching books that are in my reading stack include: Co-Active Coaching, Becoming a Professional Coach, Christian Coaching, and Coaching Questions. They will all eventually be reviewed here.

I’m convinced that coaching is a tool that all second chair leaders should have. It’s a very effective way to help leaders (especially volunteers) find success and fulfillment in their personal lives and in their role in your organization. Coaching turns the conventional autocratic management practice on its head through the use of questions rather than directives. Those questions are not, “Did you do what I asked you? Why not? When will you get it done?” But are more like, “What are you working on? How is that going for you? What obstacles are you facing? What resources do you need to finish? Where can you find those resources? What are you going to do next?”

These are skills that I have lacked over the years and would have served me well in a variety of postions I’ve held. I’m excited to begin this journey, but like most adventures I wish I had started earlier!

I Am A Follower

It is rare when a book comes along that is truly transformational. Leonard Sweet’s I Am A Follower is one such book.

Sweet is part prophet (both foretelling and forthtelling), part annoying eccentric, part wise sage, and part poet. You can’t read Sweet without a reaction and that is certainly true in this current volume. The main subtitle is: The Way, The Truth, and Life of Following Jesus. The tiny subtitle of I Am A Follower is: It’s Never Been about Leading. That should tell you a lot abut what you will read between the covers of this book.

Sweet identifies (and I think, correctly) that for the past 3-4 decades the church in N. America has suffered from an obsession with leadership.  How many books, seminars, conferences, articles, sermons, have we heard, taught, written, or preached on the subject of leadership? I myself was a charter subscriber to Leadership Journal 35 years ago. I have embraced a mantra of creating “More disciples, more leaders, and more churches.” Everywhere you turn in the church today there is cult of celebrity around ‘successful’ leaders. And have you noticed that “successful” always means “bigger”? Always.

“One of the greatest myths about leadership is that bigger is always better. I predict that future societies will recognize the fallacy of this myth and that the three mantras for the society will be these:

  • Live more with less.
  • Make little large.
  • Upscale by downsizing.”     (p. 151)

I found that much of Sweet had to say resonated with my own recent personal pilgrimage. Over the past several years I have intentionally pursued the title of Executive Pastor. I have skills and experience that would seem to indicate that I could perform XP functions with ease. Recently I came to realize that the greater role would be to do something less! (I think this fits with Sweet’s second point above.) I am now working to spend more of my time in discipleship coaching rather than ministry administration. I will be investing in men and women to coach them to become better equipped to carry out their ministries and to grow as followers of Jesus. I don’t really see this as a diminished role – except where it would appear on an organizational chart! My desire is to return to my original ordination charge, “…to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

If you are a church leader at any level you should read this book. If you are a Christ follower at any stage in your journey you should read this book! I believe that this would make a great book for group study for church staff, board, small groups, or even couples together. I just finished reading I Am A Follower and I plan to read it again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Generous Justice

A century ago the conservative “fundamental” believers in the church came to believe that social ministries were at best a distraction from the spiritual ministry of the church if not a sign that these more liberal believers in the church had traded the true Gospel for a watered-down social gospel. This divide continued well into the 1980’s and 90’s but has recently shown signs of reversal.  Through a variety voices a new commitment to “seek justice” is emerging in churches. Timothy Keller is one of those voices.

Keller’s Generous Justice is a brief volume (189 pages) that serves as a clarion call to followers of Jesus to extend grace and justice to those in our communities who are impoverished and oppressed. In this book Keller presents a thorough and balanced study of scripture to support that call. “Like Isaiah, Jesus taught that a lack of concern for the poor is not a minor lapse, but reveals that something is seriously wrong with one’s spiritual compass, the heart.” (p. 51).  In other words, if you don’t care about the poor your spiritual health is in serious trouble!

Especially helpful are two chapters (5 & 6) that provide a strong argument for why we should do justice (Chpt 5) and how we should do justice (Chpt 6). Ministry leaders will find these two chapters to be immensely helpful in shaping and clarifying their own journey of doing justice. Second chair leaders will be able to tap into a good resource to use when coaching and mentoring. There is also good material here for small groups to wrestle with.

I personally found the final chapter – Peace, Beauty, and Justice – to be the most helpful and motivating. As one who has used the simple word “Shalom” to sign off on most of my correspondence for the past 30 years, Keller’s description of four forms of shalom breathed new life into my use of the term. He identifies physical, emotional, social, and spiritual shalom. (p. 174).

Why should you read Generous Justice? Consider Keller’s final sentence: “A life poured out in doing justice for the poor is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.” (p 189). The rest of the book serves as his basis for making that claim. Read it to find out if you agree or disagree with his. conclusion.

For a more extensive review of Generous Justice be sure to check out joelws.com

My 2012 Reading List

More than anything else, I use this blog to review books – especially those that I find particularly interesting or I think will most significantly benefit those of us who occupy the second chair. I have assembled quite a large stack of books that will be on my 2012 reading list. Here is a partial list – in no particular order:

  1. Becoming a Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavay
  2. The Litigator, John Grisham
  3. I Am A Follower, Len Sweet
  4. Search & Rescue, Neil Cole
  5. Coaching 101, Logan & Carlton
  6. Bloodlines, John Piper
  7. Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell
  8. Switch, Heath & Heath
  9. blink, Malcom Gladwell
  10. Leaders Who Last, Kraft
  11. Real Marriage, Driscoll
  12. not a fan, Idleman
  13. Made to Stick, Heath & Heath
  14. Reimagining Church, Viola
  15. Foregiveness Formula, Hitz & Hitz
  16. War Room, Dawson
  17. Gracenomics, Foster
  18. Spiritual Conversations, Rohrmayer
  19. The Way of the Wild Heart, Eldridge
  20. Dug Down Deep, Harris
  21. Generous Justice, Keller
  22. The Reason for God, Keller
  23. Assured of Heaven, Ricker
  24. Connect, Perry

There are a few others that I am looking at but haven’t put in the stack just yet. Any suggestions?

Average Joe

Since my name is Joe I was intrigued by the title of this book and requested a copy through Watermark’s Blogging for Books program. I’m glad I did. Troy Meeder does a great job weaving real-life stories (several from his own life) about everyday, ordinary men who make an extra-ordinary impact on the lives of those around them. In a real sense, these men are heroes for today – not because of their profession or popularity – but because of their single-minded commitment to core values of honesty, integrity, and loyalty.

Average Joe is a book that all men (and especially second chair leaders) should read. If they do, they will read stories about men who work with power tools for a living, men who can navigate s small vessel through storms, men who defend liberty on the battlefield, and men who sit high in the saddle. All of these men define what it means to be a friend and brother. These are not the stories of the successful leaders of high corporations or enormous churches. These are the men you see every day in your neighborhood, riding the bus, or sitting in from to you at church. Many of them have pretty remarkable stories of what it means to lead successfully – often two or three steps behind the man or woman with the title and the corner office. Men who are living lives of “normalcy and ‘never enough’.”

I was pleased to see a brief study guide included in the book that will help small groups of men discuss these ideas and encourage one another in their pursuit of honesty, integrity, and loyalty. These are values that seem to be universally appreciated by men and so often appear in our literary heroes. However, they also seem to be universally absent in our pop-culture heroes (i.e., celebrities). That may be the main reason that this book will resonate with men. It would be a good book to use in a men’s small group or with some friends. It’s only 148 pages long so it is a pretty accessible book – even for most men.

Meeder does a good job relating these stories to the character of God and how he values (based on the biblical narrative) the ‘average Joe’s’ of this world. If you struggle with feeling ‘good enough’ for God, this book may help give you some insights to challenge that concept. If you are a second chair leader who struggles with being the guy two steps outside of the spotlight this book may help to correct your thinking and empower you to serve with a renewed sense of worth and passion.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Church Diversity

I only know Scott Williams from a distance but due to the wonders of the internet I feel like I’ve known him for years. He has a great story – one that continues to be written. In Church Diversity Scott shares much of his story with his readers. Central to that story are the complexities of the lack of diversity in the vast number of American churches. It is a point that is worth making and worth fighting to change.

I serve on a denominational board (Converge Worldwide) where we have worked hard to address the lack of diversity among our ranks. The makeup of our current board may be its most diverse ever. But with only one notable exception all of our upper level leaders are white males. The same holds true for regional directors. I’m also on a sub-committee that is planning our next national event. We are deeply committed to highlighting the diversity that exists in our churches throughout the event. But while this will celebrate diversity on one level it will not directly increase the diversity in our member churches. That is where Church Diversity comes in  –  or could.

Scott Williams very intentionally and methodically pokes a stick in the eye of the church on this topic. And he doesn’t just call out churches that are predominately white in their make-up. In chapter 3 Williams writes: “This is a wake-up call for the traditional ethnic churches, such as black, Indian, Asian, and Hispanic. The arguments that “we must remain separate because it’s about the community” or “it’s the only piece of culture that we have left” are not valid arguments. They are incongruent with who Jesus is and what the gospel is all about. Is your church preserving culture of some people or presenting the gospel to all people?”

Later Williams asks why churches use the Great Commission to justify international missions but so often fail to pursue the Great Commission (especially the ‘all nations’ part) in their own churches. He refers to this as the Great Omission.

Throughout his book Williams quotes heavily from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and for good reason. Dr. King addressed the racial disparity in the church decades ago. And while we would like to believe that the ethnic diversity within our churches has changed dramatically over the past 60 years, Williams argues that it has not. To make his point he re-prints a letter written in 1954 by Dr. King and provides commentary along the way. It is a letter worth reading and re-reading.

One of the primary strengths of Williams’ book are the challenges that he presents at the end of each chapter. They  are a kind of gut-check for personal diversity that takes the information in each chapter and asks, “So what are you going to do about this?” Another strength are the video links with each chapter that would enable the book to be used for a group study.

This book is not going to be for everyone. There will be some who see diversity as a non-issue, or a cultural issue, or even as a liberal issue that doesn’t apply to the church. There are those who may still cling to a “separate but equal” approach to church. “They have their church and we have our church. What’s the problem?” To that comment I would have to reply that if that’s your position then you are the problem. When it comes to diversity in the church we can do better. We must do better.

Second chair leaders can advance diversity within the church by advocating for and championing this cause with the rest of the staff and church. When you are looking for additional paid or volunteer staff be intentional about contacting people who are not members of the majority ethnic group in your church. Some key, high visibility positions like usher, greeter, or choir member are a good place to start. But your church leadership (pastors, staff, elders, deacons) should also reflect diversity. This may be harder to achieve but be persistent. Nominate those who will bring diversity to your leadership team. Make sure your website and publications include photos that reflect the diversity in your church – or the diversity that you want to see.

What specific, intentional steps are you taking to bring diversity to your church?

Back to a Mac

After a four-year absence I have switched back to a Mac laptop. My old Dell was just getting road-weary. I was afraid to turn it off for fear that it wouldn’t start up. It was heavy and clunky and could no longer perform at its peak. If it had been Old Yeller I might have taken it out to the back 40 and put it out of it’s misery. As it is, we hope to reformat the hard drive, re-install Windows and put it into rotation at the registration desk for our children’s ministry.

I’ve owned an iPad2 for a few months so I’ve become reacqauinted with many of the fine features that Apple has to offer but sitting at this MacBook Pro is simply an amazing experience! The touch pad is technological marvel – swiping pages in Safari is pretty cool. The multi-finger open and close motions, etc. And it’s all pretty intuitive, too. Once I partition the drive, install Windows and Publisher (the ONLY reason I need Windows) so I can continue to collaborate on Publisher-based projects I will be all set.  Perhaps the best thing about the entire Apple experience are the Apple store employees. I would love to get my hands on their customer service training manual (it’s probably available only in a digital version!). Every individual was very helpful. The purchase experience is unique. No schlepping your purchases to the check-out line – they just complete your order on their ubiquitous iPad’s, email you the receipt while the computer is being personally delivered to you by another associate – who just seems to appear from nowhere – and off you go. Even the bag they place your items in is unique.

I’ve signed up for the One-To-One service and will attend my first class soon. I’m anxious to have them help me create my first iMovie! Plus I just want to learn how to take full advantage of the features that are packed into this amazing device.

Perhaps the one thing that surprised me the most was the competitive pricing. WHile there are dozens of PC’s out there selling for under $1,000 it quickly became apparent that those machines would barely replace what I had. They were stripped down basic models. By the time I upgraded to an i5 processor and got the features my job demands the MacBook Pro was comparable. The service, warranty, and reliability of the MacBook made it an easy choice. Will it mean I’ll be posting to SecondChair more frequently? We’ll just have to wait and see!