Welcome to the first week of Lent! This blog aims to serve as a resource for leaders to use and guide their faith community through this meaningful season.

Lent offers a crucial opportunity to deepen the spiritual journeys of your faith community and cultivate a vibrant sense of curiosity for not-yet-followers of Jesus as well as Jesus followers. However, sustaining engagement throughout Lent can present its challenges. This coaching guide draws upon principles from “Christian Coaching Essentials” to empower you in leading your community through a meaningful Lenten experience.

A Defining Moment

As you guide your faith community through the Stations of the Cross this Lent, the first station – Jesus carrying his cross – presents a powerful opportunity for contemplation and deeper understanding. Today, I want to share some reflections on this poignant moment, not only as a spiritual event, but also as a lens through which we can examine your own leadership, your ministry, and your community.

“Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha).” // John 19:16-17 (NLT)

Carrying a cross at the time of Pontius Pilate was meant to humiliate and torment those condemned to death. To us these many years later, it has come to mean something very different.

In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus said to the crowds following him:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it”.

Carrying a cross is symbolic of surrender and submission to our Lord. It is laying down what the world tells us is important and instead taking up the burden of our faith. Carrying our cross requires deep trust in our Lord, and, like Jesus’s trek toward the Place of the Skull, it can feel harrowing, overwhelming and even hopeless at times. However, we also know that Jesus did not carry it alone; Simon of Cyrene was made to carry his cross once Jesus’s body began to fail him. 

Every human needs the help of others to bear our cross. 

Internal Reflection:

Before embarking on this journey, engage in self-reflection. Consider:

  • Community Needs: What burdens, anxieties, or challenges do your members face? How can Lent address these concerns beyond mere ritualistic observation?
  • Cross-Bearing Interpretation: What does “carrying your cross” signify within your community? Does it involve volunteering, prayer, or internal struggles?
  • Safe Spaces for Sharing: How can you facilitate environments conducive to authentic vulnerability and mutual support?

Engaging the Spirit and Senses:

Move beyond traditional methods and ignite enthusiasm through:

  • Sensory Experiences: Craft a contemplative prayer labyrinth, host a silent meditative meal, or organize a service project that promotes action and reflection.
  • Interactive Elements: Foster small group discussions, invite guest speakers with personal testimonies, or incorporate dramatic or musical elements into services.
  • Social Media Integration: Share daily scripture verses, Lenten recipe suggestions, or inspirational quotes from your community. Encourage online discussions and challenges.

Community: The Cornerstone:

Cultivate a sense of community:

  • Small Group Formation: Establish Bible studies, book clubs, or service-oriented groups for meaningful connections and shared growth.
  • Mentorship Programs: Pair seasoned Jesus followers with seekers to offer guidance and friendship, fostering intergenerational support.
  • Intergenerational Activities: Plan events that bring different age groups together, promoting a united sense of purpose and belonging.

Inspiring Action:

Sometimes, the most significant step is the first. Motivate your congregation:

  • Practical Challenges: Encourage specific actions beyond mere “giving up” something. Suggest reducing negativity, dedicating time to specific prayer practices, or engaging in mindful consumption.
  • Milestone Recognition: Celebrate individual and collective achievements throughout Lent, highlighting progress and dedication.
  • Real-World Connections: Demonstrate how Lenten practices can translate into real-world impact by supporting local charities or causes relevant to your community.

Leadership with Authenticity:

Remember, “Christian Coaching Essentials” emphasizes the power of vulnerability and genuineness in effective leadership. Don’t hesitate to:

  • Share Your Own Journey: Openly share your personal Lenten journey, fostering a sense of shared humanity and vulnerability.
  • Utilize Your Team: Lean on your leadership team, delegate tasks effectively, and leverage individual strengths.
  • Embrace Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to try new approaches, learning from successes and failures along the way.

Lent Challenge:

Practice Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:3 & 9-11)

  • Solitude: break the power of busyness, haste, isolation and loneliness
  • Silence: allows the reality of God to stand in the midst of your life (Ps 46:10)
  • Fasting: finding the actual kingdom of God present in our lives (Matt 4:4)

“Oddly, through intentional times of practicing spiritual disciplines my walk with Jesus has become more spontaneous.”
The Key to the Keys of the Kingdom by Dallas Willard

By applying these principles and drawing upon the wisdom of “Christian Coaching Essentials”, you can guide your congregation on a transformative Lenten journey. Through this shared experience, faith will be strengthened, connections will deepen, and your community will emerge closer than ever before.

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Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash


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