You have an idea. A really good idea. But before others have a chance to even test it, your idea is adamantly rejected.
Some time passes, maybe a year or so. During that time, the group that rejected your great idea stumbles on a very similar idea and tries it out for themselves. That group experienced the power of your idea first hand. And now they are on-board, fully engaged and supportive of “their idea” – with a vision to build on, expand and grow the idea.
This is not surprising, is it?
The very people who rejected the idea initially are now the ones who own the idea today because they discovered the power of the idea for themselves.
Experience. When people discover a new way of doing something and have a positive outcome, they can internalize an idea.
Co-creating a vision with a leader has a similar dynamic.
Think of a time when you came alongside someone and helped them flesh out their vision. You listened carefully. You asked thought-provoking questions. You were empathetic. You demonstrated genuine excitement. What difference did that make?
Probably a significant difference. In both scenarios, when people discover something for themselves, they own it!
5 benefits when you help leaders develop vision
Allows leaders to grow in their leadership
Encourages leaders to trust Jesus and exercise their faith
Helps leaders to understand their own vision with greater clarity
Communicates that the leader’s vision is worth your time and attention
Reinforces the principle that the leader who creates the vision owns the vision
Questions you can ask to facilitate the visioning process
What brings you joy?
What makes you angry?
What makes you excited?
How do you see your strengths being used?
What is a problem that you feel called to solve?
How do you sense God leading you in the future?
What unique experiences have you had that are shaping your vision?
One of the keys to engaging people you are developing is to understand them. Get to know their story. Understand their gifting, strengths and weaknesses, and how they learn. Help leaders understand the key skills they need to develop, problem solve, and clarify their vision.
Have you been on the giving or receiving end of this?
It’s one thing to discuss the future and the potential steps to take to grow as a person or to achieve goals, but it’s quite another thing entirely to take action from these conversations. As a leadership or ministry coach, you aren’t satisfied with talking about dreams and struggles – you want to support people you coach through an intentional process that moves vision to a reality! When it comes to coaching, our conversation is only as powerful as what it leads us to do. Without taking action your clients’ dreams, their plans, the Holy Spirit’s direction, simply sit dormant as good intentions. But how can you empower your clients to take action? The first step is to partner with God. Tuning into the Holy Spirit’s voice will help you as the coach as well as those you are coaching.
Goal: The primary emphasis is to help the new disciple or leader discern the voice of the Holy Spirit, acting upon His voice to turn coaching conversations into intentional plans of action.
Why is it important to turn conversations into action?
Growth is only possible when people take action
Progress can only be measured when people take action
Celebration is so much more meaningful when a goal or milestone is met!
Adopt a comprehensive coaching process that is spiritually anchored in Christ
Relate: Start an empowering coaching relationship.
A healthy relationship between coach and client is essential. The client must trust their coach and feel safe enough to be honest and vulnerable. They must know they can count on their coach for wisdom and for support as they take risks.
Reflect: Dig deep to discern the key issues.
In order for your clients to know what steps should be taken, it’s important for them to understand the deeper reasons behind their goals. Why are these goals important? What stands in their way? What is God saying to them?
Refocus: Facilitate holistic plans that will work.
Even the most well-meaning and passionate dreams will not work without some planning. Is the goal possible? What is needed to make it happen? How will it impact your client’s life should it come to fruition?
Resource: Leverage what’s needed for effective implementation.
This is where you can support your client as they begin to gather what they will need to move their good intentions forward: finances, connections, or emotional strength.
Review: How to build capacity for the ongoing journey.
Now that the process has begun and action steps are in motion, what is needed to make your client’s work sustainable? What struggles might arise in the future and how do you aid your client in creating safety nets and alternative options for the future of their goals?
Three Mini-Shifts to Turn Conversations into Action:
Build a trusting environment.
Make their agenda your agenda and help them clarify their next step.
Engage your clients by helping them tap into their spiritually-directed motivation.
Adopt a simple process that is spiritually anchored in Christ
What happens when your client takes action?
What could they do differently to make their actions more effective?
How can you help them hone their action plans?
Where is God prompting you to grow to help your client take action?
As we gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we find ourselves reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve shared with our cherished readers and clients over the past year. In the spirit of thanksgiving, we want to take a moment to express our deepest appreciation for the trust you’ve placed in us and the enriching connections we’ve built together.
Our hearts fill with gratitude as we reflect on the support, love, and encouragement you’ve shown us. We are genuinely thankful for all your love and support and are truly excited to see what God has in store for you.
As we look ahead to the coming year, we extend a heartfelt blessing to each and every one of you. We pray that you find inspiration in every corner, strength in times of challenge, and grace in moments of reflection.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Oftentimes, when we think of leaders, we think of the person in the front of the crowd, the teacher at the white board, the pastor on-stage, the person at the center of the action and making all of the choices. However, practiced leaders know that while a leader occasionally needs to be center stage, there are also times when a leader should step aside and allow for other voices to be heard and for others to step up and take new responsibilities. This is especially true with coaching new disciples and leaders.
There is the risk that the more you strive to be the expert and remain the source of information, the more likely you are to disempower people – instead of becoming dependent on the Holy Spirit, the new disciple or leader becomes dependent on you. It can be tempting to want to direct them towards what you think they should do, but ultimately, a coach is there to be a gentle guide, not to force their own agenda. A coach needs to follow in the example of Barnabas, working alongside new disciples and leaders rather than controlling them.
Remember: the primary aim is to take the focus off yourself and place the focus on God.
Goal: The primary emphasis is to help you move from being the central figure in the conversation to be on the periphery facilitating the conversation.
Why is it Important to Coach from alongside?
Allows your newest disciples and leaders to take more responsibility in their spiritual journey
Promotes more self-awareness
Lets your newest disciples and leaders know that you trust them
Gives you a clearer idea of where they need help and where they are thriving
Easier to sense God’s will when personal agendas are set aside
Three Mini-Shifts to Help to Move alongside:
Sacrifice your need to be the center of the conversation and make the other person the focus of the conversation.
Support the other person to discover their next step by facilitate the discovery of a step so that they own it and are committed to it.
Put your assumptions, opinions, and biases in the background by resisting the temptation to make judgements and remain curious.
Determine the best approach to take:
Modeling – demonstration of a skill
Coaching – facilitating a self-discovery process
Releasing – giving responsibility
Mentoring – training in a particular area
Where do I see opportunities to give away more responsibility?
What personal agendas do I have that might be getting in the way of those I am raising up?
What approach would be the best approach to take at this time?
How can I resist the temptation to force my agenda and be attunedto the other person’s agenda?
Do people know you as empathetic and caring? Do they feel they are being heard? Do people under your leadership honestly believe you are a great listener?
Empathy doesn’t come easy to all of us – but there is good news! I want to share a simple shift you can make to become more intentional and effective in your community. Let’s talk about what it takes to move from being a talker to a listener and how to integrate that with a spiritual foundation that empowers you and the people you coach to abide in Christ.
Most leaders natural tendency is to talk rather than listen. As a leader, it can be tempting to always provide an answer, to fill silence with advice or stories, or share every drop of wisdom that has been gained through years of experience. However, as much as new disciples and emerging leaders learn through your experience, they will learn much more through their own experience. Of course, part of being a leader is explaining, sharing and advising, but the best leaders coach people they are developing by spending more time listening than they do speaking.
Goal:To help leaders stop speaking and begin to listen.
Why is it important to listen?
You can only understand the needs of the disciples or leaders you are coaching by creating the space that allows them to share their struggles, ask questions, and process their thoughts/emotions
You create trust by refraining from instructing, judging, or offering advice, and allow the disciples and leaders you are coaching more agency to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes.
You empower the disciples and leaders you are developing to become better listeners themselves through your example.
You create the space that allows your disciples to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly and rely on God’s direction.
You talking gives opportunity for the disciples and leaders you are developing to “tune-out”
You listening redirects the focus from yourself and puts the focus on the other person and ultimately, God!
(c) Gary B Reinecke, 2023 – for use with permission only
3 Mini-shifts to become a better listener:
Take the posture of a learner. You must believe that God speaks to the disciples and leaders you coach just as He does to you.
Remain silent. Challenge the disciples and leaders you coach to push their thoughts further by inviting the Holy Spirit to speak.
Be patient. Give the disciples and leaders you coach time to form their own opinions and to arrive at the place God wants to take them.
Summarize. Without interrupting, reiterate the main points of what your disciple has said back to them. This lets them know you understand them and gives them the opportunity to correct you and explain themselves in more depth.
Ask the disciple, “Is there more?” After a person shares their thoughts out loud on an issue, see if there is more that they need to process.
Take a moment to reflect on this shift from talking to listening. What new insights do you have about yourself as a coach?
Do I speak more or listen more?
Do my disciples feel heard by me?
What would my disciple want me to ask them?
Key Question: How can I ignore my tendency to share my wisdom and seek to listen?
Guiding someone on their discipleship journey or developing another individual as a leader are opportunities to use basic coaching tools like asking questions, listening, and focusing. Coaching can help people advance and accelerate their development.
What does Scripture say about coaching?
Ephesians 4:11-12 has a lot to say about coaching! Coaching is a subset of equipping people that bleeds throughout the empowerment process. Think about the processes through which you take a new leader of a small group. If you broke down your equipping process, would it look something like the following?
Orientation – discuss the why, what, and how to understand the essentials of leading a small group
Apprenticeship – experience a small group while working alongside a small group leader
Just-in-Time Training – an apprentice learns the necessary skills by building confidence through on-the-job training
Empowerment – less direct supervision becomes less and less important
For maximum impact throughout the equipping process above, a supportive relationship with a coach is absolutely necessary. The trainer might also serve as the coach – however, one without the other is not going to empower the new small group leader. And the more the trainer can lean into a coach approach in their role of trainer, the greater the impact!
Five coaching steps for developing a leader
1. I do.You watch.We talk.
In this leadership development process, I act as the coach and “Jason” acts as the apprentice. The first time we meet, I tell Jason to simply come to small group with me. I will lead the group, and all Jason has to do that first week is just watch me–see how I interact, what I say, what I do, how I lead the material. Then Jason and I are going to talk after that group is done. Maybe it’s a Wednesday night after the kids are in bed, and we go up to the local coffee shop for an hour.
2. I do.You help.We talk.
In the second step, I’m going to do, Jason is going to help, and we’re still going to talk. In that next small group (or maybe just a couple weeks later), Jason is going to lead the prayer time and gather the prayer requests. I’m going to make sure that Jason and I meet that week and talk about it. This is Jason’s opportunity to process what he’s learning about leading the group, leading the material, and so on. Leaders are available to and for each other, so for whatever is on his heart or what he’s challenged with, I’m available to him.
3. You do.I help.We talk.
In the third step, Jason does, I help him, and we talk. You see how it’s just starting to switch on us? As time goes on, he’s taking more and more of the responsibility for the group.
4. You do.I watch.We talk.
In the fourth step, Jason does everything, and I simply watch. And don’t worry – I’ve got his back because I want Jason to succeed. Leaders invest in other people. We want other leaders to win. And we still talk afterward. Never forget that part. It’s really important because leaders are often made over a coffee table.
5. You do.Someone else watches.
Then in the last step, Jason does. But now, he’s the mentor and he has his own apprentice, and the cycle continues on from there.
So what’s the time frame for each of these five steps? It could be as little as a week or as much as a month or more. It’s all about how fast the leader develops, and that process will be unique to each person.
The Five Steps of Leadership Development is a simple but effective tool that doesn’t overcomplicate leadership development
The ultimate goal of coaching is to help clients change their lives for the better and grow their ministries. We want to help them discover a path that will take them closer and closer to their goals, personal growth and transformational learning. This process begins with a conversation, and it ends with action being taken. Christian Coaching Essentials (the book I co-wrote with Bob Logan) says, “Through increasingly focused questions, the coaching process moves a person from simply talking about life or ministry issues to actually doing something (Essentials p. 34).”
From rehearsing the story to reflection
This first step begins with the client sharing a story about their life; something that happens all the time. As a coach, you asked questions pushing them and spurring them to think deeper about this story and why they did what they did, or felt what they felt. By the end of the conversation, they will have gained new insight into themselves through this reflection.
For example: you are working with a young man who has enjoyed fruitful years of ministry.. However, over the course of several conversations, he begins to realize that he can be a more effective disciple of Christ in a role where he has the freedom to connect with people far from God as they go about their work and lives.
Questions for rehearsing to reflection:
What did this conversation reveal to you?
How has your curiosity been sparked?
What are you sensing the Holy Spirit wants you to explore further?
From reflection to action
Reflection is so helpful, but not worth much if it is not used to make positive changes! The next step is to take the information the client has gathered about themselves from the reflection, and take action.
For example: the young man decides to leave his position in a vocational ministry role and begin his own house-painting business. He employed young adults; this gave him opportunities to connect with them he wouldn’t have in a local church setting.
Questions for reflection to action:
What would you like your impact to be?
How can you create an environment where that is possible? – What is your next step?
From Action to Transformational Learning
The final step is coming together again to discuss the results of the action. Once more, this step revolves around conversation and you asking probing and thoughtful questions. The goal is to use the results to help your client understand their growth and see the transformation that has taken place.
For example: The young man’s business begins to take off. He is able to hire more employees in the area. He is even able to donate money back to his old ministry, as well as leading some of the young adults to take interest in the ministry’s work.
Questions for Action to Transformational Learning:
How has this experience challenged your thinking?
What do you need to change moving forward?
What insights do you have about your leadership?
4 Benefits to the Client
Guiding people through the reflection sequence allows them to come to their own conclusions. A-ha moments are far more powerful than simply telling a person what they need to do
2. Slow down to go fast
Life in real time rarely leaves space for deeper reflection and learning. The result is repeating the same mistakes. Helping your client to see the story frame by frame leads to greater awareness and effectiveness in future projects.
3. Prescriptive vs. Descriptive
Steps and pathways to growth are great—unless they don’t have an onramp where your client needs one or they are forcing the client to go in unnecessary directions. Prescriptive formulas don’t always fit the context. Instead, taking on a strategic role in a creative process allows your client to describe and process their own experiences, which leads to powerful insights.
4. Surfaces values
Processing conversations gives clients the opportunity to allow values to percolate to the surface. When a client has clearly defined values, they are able to make decisions with greater confidence.
It is so clear how this young man used each step of the sequence to great effect. He was given permission to reflect. To advance his thinking from reflection into action. And then from action into a plan for transformational learning that will change the trajectory of his own life and of those around him. This is a process that will push clients to think deeper, ask more questions, develop a strong vision and take action. Ultimately, this process produces results!
What can you learn from the way Jesus made disciples?
The Jesus way to make disciples always leads to “transformation”. Man and woman were created with a spirit. Jesus understood how the spirit interacts with the mind, and the mind with the body, the body with the social dimension and how these aspects were encapsulated with the soul. Dallas Willard created a helpful diagram to illustrate these elements.
Three ways Jesus engaged people in their spiritual journey:
Jesus used the miraculous to engage people in their spiritual journey.
Think of examples like the Woman at the Well (John 4).
Jesus used stories to engage people through his teaching and preaching to engage people in their spiritual journey.
Think of examples like The Beatitudes (John 5:1-12).
Jesus listened and asked people questions to engage people in their spiritual journey.
Think of examples like: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
At the core, making disciples is a relational process, and relationships are built on conversation. Discipleship conversations move the spiritual journey – either forward by building trust and challenging assumptions or backwards when a question is so powerful that it causes the disciple to “press pause” on their spiritual journey when they are unable or unwilling to follow Jesus.
Take a moment to reflect on what it means to be a good listener and ask powerful questions, and consider ways to grow and improve.
Making the time and space for disciple making relationships. You can intentionally create opportunities “as you go” about your life to allow for conversations of this variety. The opportunities are endless. The grocery store, gas pump or in more relaxed settings like a park or cafe.
Listening well begins with respect and empathy for the other person. When engaging in a conversation, approach them with curiosity. An open mind. Hold onto your assumptions and judgements. Be aware of what your agenda is and lay it aside. Be open to the Holy Spirit and His agenda for the other person.
Recently my wife and I were going out to dinner with another couple. They are people far from God. As we were taking a stroll before dinner, I remember the conscious shift I recognized I needed to take. I was overly focused on my needs in the moment and forgot about the bigger purpose for our night out together. Once I made the mental, emotional and spiritual shift – I was surprised what happened during our meal together. Read more below…
Listening well is a crucial skill and lets the person you are speaking with know they are seen, safe and heard. You need to be aware of opportunities to ask questions, probing questions to challenge. Asking questions allows you to gently encourage exploration. Powerful, open-ended questions elicit thoughtful responses that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”.
Continuing the story from above. During dinner I remembered the question the Holy Spirit had given me that morning to ask the couple. When I initially asked the question, everyone reacted with a verbal response like “Wow – that is a crazy fun question,” or something to that effect. The actual question is not important. But the reaction and ensuing conversation was amazing. By my estimation, that question opened up the relational flood gates and created a safe place to share personal thoughts to help us understand each other.
How do you rate yourself as a listener? How would your friends or spouse rate you??
How are you at asking questions? What would your friends say?
What is the Holy Spirit showing you about how you relate to people?
What changes do you need to make to be more effective at making disciples “as you go”?
We asked this question a few years ago: What are the essential habits to be a disciple that makes disciples?
From our understanding of Jesus’ ministry, observations from others who make reproducing disciples, and studying disciple making movements – these are the habits we landed on in response to that question:
Habit #1 – Missional Values – knowing and understanding your personal values and living them out through consistent behavior
Habit #2 – ACTIVE PRAYER – utilizing prayer as a critical key element in the disciple-making journey
Habit #3 – RELATIONAL CONNECTIONS – building strong and authentic relationships with both Christians and non-Christians in your community
Habit #4 – DISCIPLE MAKING CYCLE – creating intentional and enduring disciples who, in turn, create intentional and enduring disciples
Habit #5 – STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS – forging strategic partnerships to keep you on mission in your disciple-making journey
The Discipleship Collective is a learning community to support, nurture and coach disciples to make disciples makers.
Sharpen Your Discipleship Effectiveness
Finish 2023 strong with a commitment to sharpen your discipleship effectiveness.
The first step is to identify your strengths and areas for development – there is no better tool for that than the Discipleship Quiz. Included in your report is a coaching guide with suggestions for the best resources to help you target growth in the identified areas. This assessment is truly the tool to take your disciple making to the next level.
“Gary Reinecke and the team from InFocus have created a crucial resource for leaders and churches who are serious about being with Jesus on His Mission. I highly recommend the Disciple Coach Quiz as a tool for shaping the future of your disciple making efforts. The five qualities it measures and the behavior it supports provide a solid foundation for helping people authentically follow Jesus.”
Steve Pike – President, Urban Islands Project
Harness the power of disciple making using a coach approach by enrolling in the Discipleship Collective. The Discipleship Collective is structured to maximize your growth and sharpen your effectiveness as a disciple maker. Collectives are limited to no more than 12 participants per session. Each session offers 10 hours of training including:
5 Habits of a Disciple Maker webinar – Monday, October 16, 2023 from 10-3 PST and
This Sunday we celebrated the one-year anniversary at the church plant Gina, and my wife, and I have been serving. With one year behind us, the congregation has out-grown the space we launched in and to commemorate our first year, we launched a second service. The high point of the services was celebrating baptisms of new Jesus followers as they took this important step on their journey of faith. Two hundred fifty people now call The Refinery their church!
How do we define discipleship?
Reflect on the different ways the term discipleship may be used in your ministry.
Some might use the term to focus primarily on the spiritual development of new believers.
Others will apply it in a more general way, to develop people in their specific area of ministry, like “discipling a small group leader”.
And still others will use it in relation to a curriculum that is designed so that the student graduates from the course as a fully-devoted follower of Jesus.
While all of these might have their place, what observations do you have about these various interpretations?
One observation I have is that the way we use the word “discipleship” blurs the intent behind the term. When Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to “Follow me…”, Jesus is inviting them into an apprenticeship relationship with Him (Matthew 4:18-20).
Later in Matthew 28:18-29 at the commissioning of the disciples, Jesus is launching the disciples into their apostolic mission. After three intensive years of apprenticeship with his disciples, Jesus equipped them to make other disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey God’s commands – love God, love your neighbor, and make disciples. He desired to shape their hearts to be aligned with the Father’s heart.
What can we learn from the early church?
The emphasis in the early church was to help people understand the commitments new Jesus followers were making to follow Christ. Two activities they would participate in that would mark, remind, and renew their commitment of course, included baptism and the sacraments. Foundational disciplines of a local faith community that they celebrated corporately (small or large groups) that made them distinct from other institutions.
The early church had a period of instruction and preparation for baptism. The goal was so that people would count the cost before taking the step to baptism.
I like the imagery that Colin Noyes provides in his work in Making Disciples – A Journey to Jesus. Notice the 4 transitions below. Each leads to the next stage in the journey of following Jesus.
Stage One – The potential disciple begins to explore what a relationship with Jesus will look like
Stage Two – The Holy Spirit continues to guide the discipler and disciple on the ‘Journey to Jesus’
Stage Three – The disciple is involved in a period of intense preparation for Baptism
Stage Four – The disciple participates in the Lord’s Supper, is welcomed into the Church and continues a lifelong growth in faith and obedience.
If you would like the Coaching Guide that unpacks the process above, CLICK HERE and request the doc: Making Disciples – A Journey to Jesus
How can you help people fully embrace the purpose, place, and power of baptism?
Every pastor and congregation has their unique views on baptism. In an effort to reconstruct what time and trends have deconstructed, here are 5 questions to consider:
Who is baptism for?
What should baptism mark?
What preparation and instruction should disciples experience?
What place does baptism play in our faith community?
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