Lesson #6 – Challenge for Clarity

Lesson #6 – Challenge for Clarity

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves
  • Inspirational: Help people tap into their creativity

This week I shift focus to the strategic aspect of coaching.

Lesson #6 – Challenge for Clarity

There is a wonderful dynamic when a leader or team moves from:

  • confusion and perhaps discouragement to agreement on an issue
  • a rough idea to a vision
  • good intentions to action

In coaching, the moment when shifts occur, the leader moves to greater clarity.

Let’s talk about a real situation. I was coaching a team to help them navigate their vision. One of the big components of their vision was church planting. As I facilitated the visioning process with them God was doing something that forced them to clarify – He was preparing a team to plant a church in another part of the country.

As we met it became more and more obvious. Rather than talking about some day planting a church; this team began asking an entirely different set of questions:

  • Who will be going?
  • What commitments will we (the parent church) ask of the team planting the new church?
  • How will we communicate with the rest of the church body?
  • What resources will we provide?
  • How will we relate to the new church?

In this situation, the team realized that God was already at work, and the leader(s) needed to cooperate. They had a choice: would they support the work He was doing, or would they resist?

The more leaders are willing to put themselves in a posture of responding, to what the Lord wants from them, the more He asks of the leader(s) – according to their level of obedience.

Coaches can be immensely helpful. When leaders struggle to clearly see what God is doing, a coach can help clarify where they need to focus. As leaders clarify, they must be challenged to take action. Here are five tips a coach can implement to assist leaders to maintain an open posture to the Lord:

  1. Celebrate the “wins” (ways God is at work)
  2. Pray to thank God for His goodness
  3. Clarify current reality
  4. Brainstorm actions
  5. Challenge to take the next step

One resource I’ve found extremely helpful in clarifying vision for church planters and pastors is the vision frame. This is a great resource that defines the key components of vision. Check out Will Mancini’s book, Church Unique, for more information.

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #5 – Help people tap their creativity

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #5 – Help people tap their creativity

Lessons I’ve gleaned after coaching missional leaders for 30 years:

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves

This week I shift focus to the creativity of coaching.

Lesson #5 – Help people tap into their creativity

I’ve mentioned that I enjoy attending The Global Leadership Summit hosted by The Willowcreek Association every August. It is the gathering of leadership experts from the business (secular) and ministry (sacred) arenas. I would encourage you to attend this event with your team next year.

This year we heard Fredrik Haren speak on the topic of “creativity” from his bestselling publication, “The Idea Book”. I am taking the concept of creativity and relating it to the “core purpose” of coaching a leader.

Haren began by asking 3 questions in his global research:

  1. How many people think creativity is important to their job? 98% globally
  2. How many people believe they are creative? 45% globally
  3. Does your company/organization develop your creativity? 2% globally

Key Learning – based on his research, there is no correlation between 1 & 3.

It raises an important question for coaching: What role should a coach play in developing the creativity of leaders we coach?

Furthermore, Haren continues his examination of creativity by offering a definition for the word “idea.” According to Haren, an idea occurs when two abstract, seemingly unrelated concepts are combined in a new and novel way.

Another way of saying this is: Creative Idea = Person (Knowledge + Idea)

Let’s apply this to coaching.

Let’s say the church planter you are coaching has a vision for a different kind of church. I have been working with a planter for the last 18 months. Bruce Persons is planting The Table Church. The challenge for Bruce is to reach one of the most invisible, under-reached & under-resourced communities in the world: the Deaf and hard of hearing.

Here is how Bruce describes the unique vision of The Table Church:

  1. TTC is a church plant in Frederick, MD with a vision for rapid multiplication.
  2. TTC uses Facebook heavily, to reach remote locations of the world.
  3. TTC follows a sort of an organic, cell church model.
  4. TTC uses video because we are reaching a people group who uses American Sign Language to communicate.
  5. TTC’s goal is to make the gospel accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing community through ASL.

Bruce saw the opportunity.

  • Knowledge – isolation of the Deaf and hard of hearing community
  • Idea – leverage the internet to reach this “invisible” group of people

With a focus on smaller communities of faith, he discovered that the internet through the use of Facebook, could cast his net wide while meeting the relational needs in smaller gatherings. As a result of streaming his sermons, 1,500 people have logged-in to worship services. This is a great example of a creative strategy that meets people where they live and creates the relational support that is a desperate need, through smaller communities of faith. He has planted one faith community at Gallaudet University, while a second is on the way in Washington DC.  

What separates a good coach from a great coach? Good coaches help people reflect; great coaches have the ability to tap the creativity of a leader through listening and powerful questions.

Here are five questions to help you tap a leaders creativity:

  • If you knew you could not fail, what would your church look like?
  • What makes your church unique?
  • How would your church make the community a better place?
  • What sets your church apart from other churches?
  • What excites you about your church?

The above story is used with permission – see The Table Church for more information.

Exhaust all resources, then ask permission before giving feedback

Exhaust all resources, then ask permission before giving feedback

The conversation goes something like this.

Coach asks: “Who is doing effective ministry in your area?” 

  • Leader responds: “Everyone is struggling with the same issues.”

Coach asks: “What other models of church are you familiar with in your region or in other parts of the country?”

  • Leader: “I’m not aware of other models.”

Coach asks: “Who do you know that could introduce you to a different way of doing church?”

  • Leader: “I don’t know anyone.”

Coach asks: “Would you be open to learning about one leader who has an effective model?”

And the conversation continues.  I use that question as a last resort so that I don’t short-change the self-discovery process. The guiding principle I follow when I provide feedback is:

  1. The leader must exhaust all their resources.
  2. There is the possibility the leader could do some real damage.
  3. Permission has been given by the leader to the coach.

Honestly, the temptation to give advice is always present.  But I know deep down that “struggle” is the best teacher!

What do you do when you come to that juncture in your coaching?  Under what circumstances do you give advice?  I would love to hear what you do.

If you are interested to hear about a different approach to doing church, watch this 17 minute video with Dave Ferguson interviewing Ralph Moore.  Ralph discusses some of the tensions accompanying church planting as a movement leader.  Learn how a church committed to reproducing disciples, leaders and churches keeps the main thing, the MAIN thing!.



Leadership Tip #2 – measure what matters

Leadership Tip #2 – measure what matters

What about you?  

It is easy to measure the low lying fruit.  For instance, church leadership will measure things like worship attendance, offerings, and baptisms.  But what if you looked below the surface.  At my home church an important metric we track is the percentage of adults who regularly participate in a small group.  Annual engagement in 2016 was 94% (click Crosspoint Church for report).  The church launched over a decade ago with the goal of focusing resources (time, energy, people) to do a few things well; which has paid off at Crosspoint – a church of small groups vs. a church with small groups!

Consider the following challenge:  

  • Reflect on the measures below the surface that will have the greatest impact on the health and growth of your:
    • leadership
    • team
    • organization
  • Then tie those to outcomes you are striving to achieve e.g. making small groups a priority in my example.
  • Brainstorm ideas of how you can impact that area over the course of the next 30-60-90 days.

Effective leaders understand the principle: “Say No – to say Yes to What Matters!”  Leaders who focus their time, energy and people; regularly assess their ministry, make adjustments and forecast the future with a high degree of accuracy.  This surfaces the strategic question: What are you measuring?

Remember – you measure what matters!

What is your Return on Investment for coaching and training?

What is your Return on Investment for coaching and training?

It is easy to get excited about coaching or a training initiative without understanding the true impact.

How many times have you heard colleagues discuss a new training process or coaching resource?  And then get partway through the experience without understanding the impact on you or your organization.  Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to consider the potential Return on Investment (ROI) before you start?

Consider a coaching relationship.  When you or I establish a coach agreement we ask the leader to create goals.  Over the course of the next year we work towards achieving those goals and assess the progress at the conclusion of our time together.  Using the six levels described below you can see that we moved from Level 0 (scope, in my example) to Level 1 (reaction to the coaching process) to Level 2 (learning that occurred) to level 3 (applying the knowledge to the leader’s ministry).

There is a process to measure the ROI on training and coaching.  Most of the coaching and training done in organizations settle for Level 1 or Level 2 evaluation – a few take it to Level 3.  Here are the six levels:

  • Level 0: Inputs 
  • Level 1: Reaction 
  • Level 2: Learning 
  • Level 3: Application 
  • Level 4: Impact 
  • Level 5: Return on Investment (ROI)

Review the descriptions above and consider a coaching or training process you are leading.  Let’s say it is a leader development process that involves quarterly workshops with coaching in-between.  Whatever it is that you are currently working on (developing small group leaders), or anticipate in the near future – what level of measurement are you incorporating in your process.

I’ve discovered that leaders are eager to know the ROI on some of the training and coaching that they are engaged.  When they realize that it is possible to calculate and monetize the impact of their investment, it transforms the significance of the training/coaching because they are clear “why” they are making the investment.

Places where ROI is helpful:

  • Organization-wide leader development training
  • Coaching pastors, church planters, regional network leaders and movement leaders
  • Coach training for church planting, parent church coaches or disciple-making movements

A helpful book on ROI, entitled “Show Me the Money” provides a more complete explanation.  If you have questions, please e-mail InFocus for more information.




Coaching Question for January 2017

Coaching Question for January 2017

To kick-off the New Year, I propose a guiding question for you and those you coach to further the work of catalyzing disciplemaking movements:

What is your most fruitful activity this year to catalyze disciplemaking movements in your community?

Reflect on that for a moment.  What is your strategic focus for 2017?  …for those you coach?

I look forward to reading your response below.