What do birds have to do with making disciples?

What do birds have to do with making disciples?

What do birds have to do with making disciples that make disciples? Bear with me for a minute–I promise there’s a connection.

You may have heard of the term “imprinting”. Famous zoologist Konrad Lorenz famously describes the process of imprinting occurring when an animal forms an attachment to the first thing it lays its eyes upon after hatching (McLeod, 2018). This is most often associated with geese when the farmer becomes its “parent”.

If the gosling is not parented by a goose, then the farmer will take the place of the parent. Because of this, the gosling will never learn how to fly. The farmer is imprinted upon the bird, thus preventing the goose from learning how to become what it was created to be.

Let’s go back to the beginning: what do birds have to do with making disciples that make disciples? Maybe you already see the connection. When a Christian begins the process of discipling a new believer, they run the risk of imprinting themselves onto the young disciple. The one who is new in faith may begin to follow everything their discipler is doing and begin to look more and more like them. This poses a danger to the developing believer because it takes away the focus of Christ and replaces it with the one who is leading.

This is not always done on purpose. Yet without maturity and discernment, a disciple maker may end up creating mini versions of themselves instead of creating followers of Christ. This prevents disciples from maturing into who they were created to be. We are not meant to be like those around us, but we are meant to become more like Christ. So how do we avoid this process of imprinting?

Whose imprint are you leaving on the newest disciples in the ministry you lead?

In the church where I grew up, there were two influential leaders under whom the church flourished. Skyline Wesleyan Church was planted by Orval Butcher. He planted a thriving church and pastored the families that were drawn to this “Christ-centered family church.”  Pastor Butcher was a people’s pastor. The church grew under his leadership to over 1,0000, which is quite an accomplishment given the personal nature of his ministry. His successor was Pastor John Maxwell. Many have read his books or heard John speak and been inspired by his ministry. John’s mantra is “everything rises and falls on leadership”.

Imagine being under the leadership of two very influential church leadership and discipleship models. Regardless of the other models you’ve experienced throughout your faith journey, the imprint on your mind and spirit remains to this day. The models of Skyline Wesleyan Church gave me someone to look up to, emulate and aspire to be like as a follower of Jesus and as a leader. At some point along my journey, I needed to discover and (eventually did) lean into who I was as a follower of Jesus apart from the models that left their imprint on me.

How do we imprint Jesus on the newest followers?

We must first always point people towards holiness. We must pursue and model the life of Christ in every aspect, to the point that nothing in ourselves is taking the throne, or, keeping with the imprinting analogy, the “first gaze”. One of the truest ways to disciple a young believer is to show them who Christ is. That requires continually bringing them back to scripture and modeling a life of holy living. 1 Peter 1:16 states: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As we take on the disciple maker role, it is important to be reminded that others are always watching. So we must ask ourselves who they are seeing: us or Christ?

Secondly, it is important to look at who has been discipling us and where our influence is coming from. Has there been anyone upon whom we have “imprinted” when we were young in our faith? Looking back and reflecting upon our own discipleship journey can help us become more aware of the pitfalls we find ourselves in. We often repeat what was imprinted on us, thus creating a pattern – healthy or unhealthy.

Lastly, when we disciple, we must help people see for themselves who they were created to be. If we are faithful in our leadership, stripping away our own biases, then we must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in the formational process. Our job is simply pointing people towards Jesus and allowing Him to work in the transformation towards becoming more like Him.

Church models, whether prevailing or micro, may not be as critical here as long as leaders don’t create a dependency on their leadership. What matters when a person enters a large group gathering versus a small group gathering is the direction they are pointed. Are they walking towards Christ, or are they emulating another individual?

Following are reflection questions to help you discern the imprint you and your church community are making on the newest disciples.

Reflection Questions:

Whose image are you imprinting when you disciple a new believer?

How can we challenge church leaders to make disciples without making mini followers of ourselves?

What role do small groups and formational communities play in your disciple making process?



October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.







Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

What You Win Them With Is What You Win Them To!

What You Win Them With Is What You Win Them To!

I heard this statement a while ago. I’m not certain, but I believe it is attributed to Neil Cole.

“What you win them with is what you win them to.”

What does this statement mean?

In the previous 3 blogs I suggested there are two primary church planting models on the landscape today: the prevailing church and micro-church. For the sake of comparison, these are at opposite ends of a continuum described as attractional (come and see) vs. missional (sent out). I can get a little “geeked-out” here, so my apologies in advance.

Let’s return to the question. How do you interpret this statement?

“What you win them with is what you win them to!

(I borrowed this infographic from another blog.)

It might be helpful if you view this as an objective analysis rather than a critique. My intent is not to portray one model superior to the other, but each distinct from the other.

Let’s begin with the prevailing church approach.

In its simplicity, this model is keenly focused on launching the corporate gathering, in many cases using small groups to assimilate people. When done with intention, the small groups continue the disciple making process. The other opportunity that this approach offers is service. This type of service is church-centric, at least in the beginning (aka “set-up and tear-down”). It’s a great way for people to use their gifts and abilities. When done well, these environments can form the basis for a disciple-making culture.

What you win them with is what you win them to!” The priority with this model is attracting people to a large group gathering. When done with excellence, people will come. Case in point: I am involved in the launch of The Refinery Church which was highlighted in our recent blog on the prevailing-model church. The planters, Casey and Aimee Graces, have been working through the launch process and one of the steps was a series of practice services. As a member of the Welcome Team I was observing a woman walking by the elementary school where we rent space. She cautiously approached one of the members of our team and began to ask questions about the church: how long it had been meeting, service time, childrens’ programs, etc. She then paused and began to share that it has been a long time since she had been in church. The next thing I observed were tears streaming down her face. We escorted her into the auditorium and that morning she received Christ. The presence of a new church in her community was new and attractive. She returned the next week with her daughter. That is one reason why church planting is so powerful in the disciple making process. The corporate gathering was attractive and instrumental in helping this person take the next step on her spiritual journey.

The tendency I’ve observed this time and time again with planters using this approach is that because of the rush (emotionally and practically speaking) to get the corporate gathering dialed-in and launched, disciple-making environments like small groups tend to come later. A common problem that arises is that the energy and human resources required to keep the corporate gathering running can detract from developing disciple-making communities. At some point, the church planter needs to back-fill and could be setting themselves up for, in many cases, a re-launch.

The micro-church approach creates a different dynamic.

The starting point is with every-day Christians engaging with people in their neighborhood, place of work, or community as they “do life” (shopping, sports, or school, for example). Once they have relational trust, the planter begins to gather in various locations where people most naturally come together. Whether in homes, parks, or offices, these groups form the nucleus of the disciple-making DNA.

What you win them with is what you win them to! The priority is establishing relationships as you go about your daily activities and engage with people on their disciple-making journey. If and when it is appropriate, you invite them into a small group gathering. This is a powerful church-planting strategy for people to take the next steps on their spiritual journey because of the strong sense of belonging that small groups can cultivate.  This is how One City Fishtown has seen God at work through their micro-church strategy.

For example, one evening as Shaun was walking, he approached his neighbor simply to say hello. When Shaun asked him how he was doing, he confided in him that his partner of 17 years had randomly left him with no warning. Feeling broken and confused, he asked Shaun to let him know when One City would be having a prayer night so that he could join. It was in this moment the Solidays realized their presence in the neighborhood was beginning to establish trust and build bonds among the people living right in their midst.

The tendency with small gatherings is that people can become inward focused. It is a natural phenomenon: when a group of people gather, it is natural to allow the comfort that the group achieves to drive the group so the focus becomes the needs of the individuals in the group to the exclusion of outsiders. Like the prevailing church model, the mission to make more and better disciples must be held high to remind people again and again why they exist.

So how do you interpret this statement: “What you win them with is what you win them to”?

Both of the interviews we shared for the prevailing church and the micro church models face the same challenge: holding the banner “make more and better disciples” high and above the other agendas that groups, large and small, fall prey to. The challenge: keep the main thing the main thing!

Questions for your Reflection

  1. What do you resonate with from these two models?
  2. What is confusing?
  3. How are you keeping disciple making the main thing?
  4. How would you describe your philosophy of ministry?
  5. What can you do to develop and maximize your strategy?
  6. Who do you need that can help you make those changes?
  7. What is your next step(s)?



October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.




Photo by Akira Hojo on Unsplash

Micro Chruch Model – One City Fishtown

Micro Chruch Model – One City Fishtown

Discerning the Call

“‘We’re going to Philly, aren’t we?’ I asked. ‘I think we are,’ Krissy said, with tears in her eyes as we flew over the skyline of Philadelphia. We knew at that moment God had placed a love in our hearts for the people of this city.”

Let’s back up for a little context. Shaun and Krissy Soliday spent several years in Kentucky,  discerning what God may be calling them to. After finishing seminary at Asbury, they took time to deeply pray about what was next. It was clear God was asking them to follow Paul’s lead to “Preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that [they] would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20).

Shaun and Krissy had been married a little over a year when they first felt the call to plant a church. Fast forward to year 5, one toddler and twins on the way, they are now living in the city of Philadelphia in the neighborhood of Fishtown.

Discerning where to plant a church was just the beginning of seeing God at work in their lives. From the start, they boldly asked God to lead them to a place where their hearts would break for the people around them. God generously answered this prayer and led them to the community of Fishtown, where they are slowly building deep relationships with their neighbors.

Discovering the Context

With a history of deeply-rooted community, Fishtown is a unique subsection within the city of Philadelphia. The old streets speak the stories of those who came before and the new structures shed light on where the city is headed. Through the hustle and bustle of the rising area, there sits a city caught between an old community and an upcoming movement.

Knowing this reality has helped Shaun and Krissy discern what type of church plant the community of Fishtown needs. As they prayed through what model God wanted them to build, they never felt peace with the idea of starting a traditional church.

The idea of a house church was never something at the forefront of Krissy’s mind. She and Shaun had only known a traditional (or prevailing) church model, and it was hard to break away from it. After spending a year living in Fishtown and getting to know their neighbors and coworkers, God began to widen their vision and break down the barriers that existed in their minds.

More specifically, as Shaun and Krissy were praying one evening, God brought to mind a specific neighbor to Krissy, about whom she said, “I know our neighbor has experienced a lot of pain in her life. She hates religion and anything to do with spirituality. She would never walk through the doors of a church; however, she would come over for dinner and spend time with us as a family.” It was then that God revealed to Krissy and Shaun the church needed to start in their home.

The city of Fishtown is filled with many people searching for meaning while fleeing from a painful past. Often these stories have led people to distrust the church and anything associated with it. This is the precise reason Shaun and Krissy are starting a micro church in their home. They know God wants them to enter into the lives of those around them on a deeper level and build trust in order to share the gospel with them.

Mapping out the Journey 

Although the model is small, Shaun and Krissy expressed that God would be nevertheless doing great things. They will still gather weekly for worship, a message, and prayer, but the time will be more intentional as they have more room for conversation. They will meet to break bread with one another and see how they all have a place at the table in God’s Kingdom. There will be no programs or additional services but a simplified time to gather and experience the presence of God with one another.

Small groups, mentoring, and one-on-one discipleship will still occur, but unlike the 15-20 member Sunday gathering, these groups will be even smaller in order to help people build bonds of trust and go deeper in their faith journey. The goal is to have intentional conversations and gatherings in every ministry setting they offer.

It is the hope that One City will begin the process of building house churches all over the city of Philadelphia in the years to come (i.e. One City Arimingo, One City Kensington, etc). From the start, it has always been Shaun and Krissy’s desire to plant multiple churches. Within the next two years, they hope to disciple another couple or individual to start a church in their home, beginning the ripple effect of multiplication.

Once more churches have been planted, they plan to establish a monthly corporate gathering where all One City churches can gather under one roof to worship together. The goal of this will be to know they are a part of something larger while also belonging to a smaller community of believers.

Preparing the Heart 

Throughout Shaun and Krissy’s journey it was apparent to them God was directing their steps along the way. One thing they have both learned from this process is to always be committed to prayer. They knew that without the power of the Holy Spirit they would fail. There have been many times in their journey where they didn’t know what the next steps were or what God was doing – but in everything, He gave them the wisdom and clarity to do what they needed to do at the right moment.

In addition to prayer, one way Shaun and Krissy prepared their hearts for the journey was making sure they were healthy from the start – spiritually, mentally, and physically. They were committed to being mentored, counseled, coached, and to remain in accountability groups as they prepared for this next step in their lives. They knew the importance of taking care of their marriage and individual selves while doing God’s work.

Looking back and reflecting

In retrospect, it’s easy for them to see the areas they could have approached in a different way. For Shaun and Krissy, this would mean practicing a posture of patience. They were both eager to start a church once they moved to the city but it has taken them over a year to discern what God actually had in store for them. A year of waiting meant a year of building intentional and trusting relationships with those around them, which revealed to them the model God had for them all along. Without that year of uncertainty, they wouldn’t have known the path God wanted them to take. Patience can be one of the most difficult things to walk through, but if we lean into prayer, it becomes clear when God is preparing something special for us.

Celebrating what God is doing 

As much as we can reflect on the ways we would go about our paths differently, it’s important to celebrate what God has done and is doing currently. The Solidays are making great strides in building God’s church in Fishtown. They are establishing relationships and gaining trust with the very people that live next door to them. God is opening doors for more spiritual conversations and breaking down barriers that felt impossible to move before. What seemed like a far-off dream and unclear picture is now a reality of God birthing something new.

Three ways to pray for One City Church

  1. Launch Team – That God would call and raise up leaders to join the team
  2. Receptive Hearts – For those the Shaun and Krissy meet to be open and receptive to the Gospel
  3. Spiritual Warfare – For God’s protection over their family as they reach the dark places




October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.






Photo by Terren Hurst on Unsplash


The Prevailing Church

The Prevailing Church



In the next two blogs, we’ll be discussing two types of church plant models: the prevailing church and the micro-church network. This week, our focus is on The Refinery Church with Casey and Aimee Graves.

Preparing to launch in late September, Casey and Aimee are currently making disciples through the approach of the prevailing church model. Their call is nothing short of extraordinary as God has been weaving their story to reach the lost in the city of Temecula, California.

Discerning the Call

Casey and Aimee have been married for 19 years and have been faithfully serving in ministry together since the start. They are originally from the Pacific Northwest and were most recently serving at an established church. In 2019 both of them felt the call to church planting. The church where they served desired to plant other churches, and they partnered alongside Casey and Aimee to send them out into the mission field.

As they were discerning where to plant, it was very clear God was ordaining their steps along the way. Their call led them to San Diego and, eventually, to the city of Temecula situated between San Diego and L.A. As they prayed through the process, both Casey and Aimee felt their spirits were aligned and experienced a different level of peace. As Aimee states, “We felt God opened the door more than closed it.” After sitting on the steps of City Hall, they made the decision to go home and pray about the city of Temecula. It was then they felt a confirmation this was where God was sending them.

Discovering the Context

Temecula sits right in the middle of San Diego and Los Angeles. Unlike the major surrounding cities, Temecula has a more traditional feel. It is more suburban-like with many families (especially young ones) and many events for the community. Church is also not a foreign concept in this area, and many of the people they are trying to reach come from church backgrounds where they attended a weekly service.

Because of a context that’s familiar with the faith, it helped Casey and Aimee to discover their model and how they could best make disciples in their community. It was clear that the type of model this city needed was an established place to meet and one that would provide a place for families to join alongside one another in a corporate setting. In their community, Sunday church is a cultural piece. If they chose to go outside these bounds and create a “new” model, it may not have been received well, potentially hurting their witness. They knew they needed to meet the people where they were.

Currently, The Refinery Church is meeting in a local elementary school, which their kids attend. This prevailing church model speaks to the heart of what this city needs. By meeting in a central location like a school, it helps not only to create a space for people to gather but enables more families to find connection to one another in a place that is personal to them. This is one example of using a space as a tool to further reach people for the Kingdom of God and help them be transformed into His likeness.

Mapping out the Journey 

The amazing benefit to having a public space to meet is the ability to plan for future steps. Casey and Aimee desire to care for everyone that walks through the doors of their church. Because of this, they see future movements happening within The Refinery Church in several months. On top of moving to two services to help members stay connected, they also plan to launch small groups this upcoming January. This will enable them to take their members to the next level in order to meet their spiritual needs. Their goal is to have a process in place to travel alongside them in their spiritual journey.

However, to create a culture of discipleship they are integrating simple, reproducible disciple-making communities to support the corporate gathering. They seized the opportunity to innovate and support the corporate gathering through groups of 2-3 that meet throughout the week in schools, restaurants, coffee bars, parks and homes with the flexibility larger groups lack. These groups will be strategic as we launch Life Groups in the new year.

Preparing the Heart 

As Casey and Aimee have demonstrated, staying in step with the Spirit is vital to their health and well being – for the church and for themselves. They have learned several lessons along the way that can benefit any planter, regardless of the model they choose.

First, they’ve learned the power of being able to pivot. When it comes to planting a church, there needs to be room for flexibility. God can give us a vision, but we may not know how that vision is going to be carried out. This is being open to whatever and wherever the Spirit is leading so that when the time is right, we have the ability to discern where God is calling us to move. While interviewing Aimee she expressed the importance of “coming in with a plan but being ready for God to show us another way to carry out that vision”. 

A second lesson has to do with trust. “Trust is one of the most important aspects when journeying alongside people in their faith.” They have learned they have to be willing to gain the trust of those around them and meet them where they are. This mentality has helped many people to learn how to commit and join them in making God’s Kingdom known.

Looking back and Reflecting 

Whenever we look back at our journeys, it’s easy to see the things we could’ve done differently. However, everything plays a role in our transformation and in coming to see how God has been moving in our lives from the start.

One piece of advice Aimee would give herself at the beginning of this journey would be to “create space for the Holy Spirit and ask ‘where do you want me to go today? What do you want me to do?’ We need to leave more space for that.” This is a posture every church planter and ministry leader should take as they are sojourning this world and working alongside others. Without the work of the Holy Spirit and yielding to his leading, we will find ourselves outside of where he called us to be.

Celebrating what God is doing

It is great to plan and exciting to envision a future ministry, but one area we must not let pass by is the ability to see what God is doing right in front of us. Aimee and Casey have expressed how much they love seeing how God is changing the lives of those around them and building a team. They celebrate the deep relationships they’ve built with their team members and often get sentimental when thinking about them. This is a beautiful picture of how God birthed a desire in their hearts 3 years ago and brought forth a team they always dreamed of having.

Three ways to pray for The Refinery Church

  1. Launch is September 25 – pray that the Lord would bring whom He has invited
  2. Team – continue to forge collaborative, meaningful and effective relationships
  3. Discipleship Culture – that everything we do results in disciples making disciples




October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.






Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash

The Prevailing Church and Micro Church

The Prevailing Church and Micro Church

In the fall of 1986, at the age of 26, I entered seminary. I remember vividly a retreat that was held for incoming first-year students hosted at the epic Forest Home Christian Campground founded by Henrietta Mears*. I had a conversation with a fellow student who invited me to participate in an exciting new church plant he was envisioning to reach 18-25 year-olds. I was intrigued to learn more; that began my journey into church planting.

Have you felt the call to plant a church? The invitation to begin this journey can be intimidating and thrilling at the same time. With this exciting call typically comes the process of discerning what type of church model you and your team will pursue. The array of models can be overwhelming, but one of the most important decisions you will make as a leader. Choosing a model comes down to knowing your community, its culture, and your giftings.

If you ask any church leader, you may get several responses when it comes to the different types of models for a church plant. Regardless of their title, you will find the most models fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Launch a large corporate gathering
  • Satellite/Multi-site Campus
  • Virtual Church
  • House Church (5-20 people)
  • Marketplace/Missions Church
  • Disciple making movements
  • Life Transformation Groups

Although each model is unique, there are some key similarities that help us place them into two categories; micro and prevailing. Below we will examine the pros and cons of each model and how to embrace your giftings not only to where God has called you but to whom God has called you.

Prevailing Church


  • Leadership – established staff/trained team
  • Critical mass – requires 30-60 members in the launch team
  • Stability – financial model requires partners to launch
  • Tools – “portable church”, equipment and resources
  • Centralized- depends on a facility of some sort to launch a worship service


  • Complex – worship services done with excellence requires a team of specialists
  • Upfront cost – equipment, facility, marketing, community events, etc.
  • Person power – need many people to help run the church
  • Mission drift – keeping the mission at the forefront
  • Change management – the pioneer team you start with will be replaced with the settlers

The prevailing church model has been the traditional model for ages. The church I was instrumental in planting was a prevailing model. We started in an apartment, grew to about 3 small groups and then launched a service in an elementary school cafeteria. I remember set-up and tear-down, meeting in apartments and homes for small groups, and coaching leaders. The prevailing church model is the most common strategy used in the U.S. to establish churches within communities. Having a large launch team enables you to reach a larger number of people. The ability to be well funded also enables a pastor/staff to be salaried and focus full time on the church. This is the ideal but, of course, not the norm.

Like with all churches, however, there are drawbacks and challenges along the way. The complexities of a large church can bring pressure. Leading a congregation can often feel like “herding cats” (e.g. managing many opinions of people with different views). Because of this, it is important to always have the vision at the forefront and convey that vision from the start, repeating and reiterating often. This will help you and your team to be aligned with one another in unity and remember that disciples making disciples is the goal.

Micro Church 


  • Relationally based – everything rises and falls on relationships
  • Missionally focused – to make more and better disciples with everyday Christians
  • Simplicity – minimal events and programs
  • Accelerate the mission – rapid disciple making
  • Low cost – the up front costs are minimal because leadership is co-vocational


  • Time – leaders need to be bi-vocational
  • Attitude – potentially draws people who are frustrated with the established church
  • Elitism – potential of exclusivity
  • Counter-cultural – in a culture that champions largeness
  • High expectations – amazing stories about how this works elsewhere

Micro churches have been on the rise for the last several decades. God has used catalytic leaders like Paul Yongi Cho** who introduced the cell-based church to the rest of the world, illustrating that churches can be large AND small at the same time. Both environments are critical to the health of a congregation. Whether micro churches are a response to the frustrations of the megachurch model or the desire to live out Acts 2, it’s clear there is a longing for simplicity in this world. The micro church model offers a simplistic approach that invites people into relationships with one another in order to grow in their faith. This centralized focus helps people feel known in a smaller setting and engage in deeper communion with one another. Because of this, disciple making tends to happen quicker than in larger churches.

Although the micro church is on the rise, there are weaknesses to look out for. There is a great benefit of being bi-vocational in regards to building more relationships with those who are outside of the faith. However, the potential for burnout can follow close behind if one doesn’t carefully manage their time. Additionally, because of its small nature, exclusivity can be a temptation as any group of people become close, especially ones that do “life” together so regularly. Just like we stated above in the traditional church model, it is vital to church health to remain faithful to the vision God called you to. Seeking the lost and sending out disciples must be at the forefront.

Most of us have a hard time breaking from the model we are most used to. As you journey on this call, it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Are you coming out of an experience that has left you biased?
  • What model best fits the context of the community God has called you to serve?
  • What model helps you to express the gifts God has given you specifically?

In the next two blogs I will be interviewing leaders from each of the models highlighted above that are in similar stages of launching their church. Join me as we explore the realities from the perspective of church planters and discuss the highs and lows of the church planting journey.


5 Discipleship Coach Habits Cohort 



September 12 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort in creating this training approach to disciple-making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on September 12, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.




*She had a profound impact on the ministries of Jim Rayburn (Young Life) and Billy Graham (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) with her clear Gospel message catered specifically to young people. She is believed by many theologians to have directly shaped Bill Bright’s (Campus Crusade), Four Spiritual Laws, which defined modern evangelism. Her What the Bible Is All About (Regal) has sold over three million copies.

** Yoido Full Gospel Church (Assemblies of God), the world’s largest congregation, with a membership of 830,000 (as of 2007).



Photo by Nikko Tan on Pexels



It’s no surprise the world of virtual communication is becoming the prominent form of teamwork in today’s culture. From remote working to mobile offices and video conferencing, the trajectory of team communication seems to be heading towards–if not already arrived at– an entirely virtual world.

In January 2000 I joined a virtual team. This was my first experience working virtually. For the next 7 years I learned and grew to appreciate the integration of technology into my daily routine. One early takeaway was that I needed to build a strong social network as most of my working day was spent alone, connected to a phone or computer; unless I was meeting in person with clients. I still lean into some of the friendships I developed over two decades ago today. While there are certainly strengths and pitfalls to the virtual approach to ministry and work, it’s become our everyday norm.

The question we’re now faced with is this: how do we embrace this virtual norm while avoiding its pitfalls? Whether you lead a church plant, an established congregation or serve in a network role, I would imagine that your work utilizes technology differently than it did pre-pandemic. Let’s discuss some of the models and tools–as well as the challenges–that accompany virtual communication.


As a leader and coach, I’ve found it necessary to provide the tools for my team’s communication. Without a clear understanding and expectation of how we will communicate, details can get lost and messages can get crossed, especially when you’re not meeting face-to-face. It is important to establish the mode in which you plan to communicate with your team members and commit to using that specific method for internal communication.

Some of these tools include Slack, Trello, Asana, and Basecamp, to name just a few. Each of these platforms enables you to communicate internally, assign tasks with deadlines, and share project ideas in one space with your team members.


The appealing nature of the virtual world is the array of benefits that come with it. Some of those benefits include:

Flexibility: The ease of choosing your own schedule and working style from a number of different locations. This can boost your productivity and focus. When one works in the same space everyday, it can be easy to become mentally “stuck.” A lot of virtual and remote work can enable one to choose their own hours, thus bringing more balance to work and personal life – especially if one has other commitments with family or loved ones.

Fewer Distractions: Many people thrive when working with others, but others need to be able to work alone to complete tasks. Not being in a shared workspace can help some team members give their full attention to a project.

Cost/Time Effective: Without an office or on-site workspace, there is no need to pay for a building or office location. One can simply work from any location, including their home. Less time and money is wasted because there is no commute time to work, no overhead, and greater balance for team members, allowing them to work more efficiently.


Lest we forget the pitfalls, there are plenty of challenges that virtual teams face when it comes to working efficiently. Understanding these challenges ahead of time will help to prevent these issues from causing major disruptions in teamwork and productivity.

Some of those challenges to virtual teams include:

Decreased social interaction/team experiences: We noted above that many people work well in solitude. They have fewer distractions and can thrive when given the space to use their creative skills. However, some teams are more creative when people are working together and interacting with one another on a daily basis. Working with a team in a physical location helps to build strong bonds and strengthens the team as a whole. Many team members that thrive on social interaction can often find themselves feeling isolated and lonely as they spend each day working without people around them. It is essential to evaluate the needs of team members on a regular basis.

Accountability/self-discipline: Along with working alone comes the reality of unmonitored work time. Because of this there is often the need to self-motivate to get the work done. There is a tremendous amount of responsibility to be self disciplined when working on a virtual team.

Missed communication: Even with the most up-to-date platforms, there will be times when communication is lost or overlooked. When team members do not meet regularly, there is opportunity for deadlines to be missed and for ideas to be misconstrued. The dependence on technology can pose a challenge that limits teams from being consistently on the same page. Communication is a major factor in healthy teams and must be prioritized in order for teams to operate efficiently.

Let’s return to the question we asked at the beginning: “How do we embrace this virtual norm while also avoiding its pitfalls?”  

I believe if we commit to being aware of the challenges and take into consideration how team members operate on an individual level, our teams will thrive. When we see red flags and challenges that arise, addressing them immediately can prevent burnout and miscommunication.

Here are three questions to help you to reflect on and consider the best way to serve your virtual team:

1. What is your current team model?

2. What is the ideal team arrangement for your team and its ministry? 

3. What benefits do you see in working virtually? What do you need to watch out for?




Photo by Eduardo Dutra from Pexels