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)?

5 DISCIPLESHIP COACH HABITS COHORT

ONLY 5 WEEKS TO GO!

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.

 

LEARN MORE

 

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

 

5 DISCIPLESHIP COACH HABITS COHORT

ONLY 5 WEEKS TO GO!

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.

 

LEARN MORE

 

 

 

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

 

5 DISCIPLESHIP COACH HABITS COHORT

ONLY 5 WEEKS TO GO!

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.

 

LEARN MORE

 

 

 

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

Benefits

  • 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

Challenges

  • 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 

Benefits

  • 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

Challenges

  • 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 

ONLY 1 WEEK TO GO!

 

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.

 

LEARN MORE

 

*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

VIRTUAL TEAM COMMUNICATION

VIRTUAL TEAM COMMUNICATION

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.

Models

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.

Benefits

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.

Challenges 

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

How to Make a Prayerful Decision

How to Make a Prayerful Decision

I was speaking to a friend recently about how we make life decisions. We discussed the importance of looking at a decision from God’s perspective vs. a human perspective alone. The difference is stark: when we make a decision based on the human intellect alone we might come away with a “good decision”; in contrast, when we consider God’s perspective on a matter we engage the spiritual dimension. This leads us down the path of prayerful decision making.

Early in our marriage, my wife and I were discerning where we wanted to live. At the time we lived in an apartment on the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. As time went on, we sensed God calling us to move downtown. We wanted to move specifically into a poor, multi-ethnic community where we could connect with people who were far from God. Little did we know where we would land.

I’ve been learning some things about discerning God’s voice from other voices. I want to share with you some of what I’ve learned in the hope that in the quiet, you can better hear God’s voice too.

Borrowing from St. Ignatius (1491-1556), I have adapted the process he used to discern God’s will when making a decision. This is a process you can use personally or apply to help others. Gina and I applied many of these steps when we were discerning God’s plan for our move from the suburbs into the inner city.

1.State the problem

When we can clearly and succinctly state a problem, it’s already partially solved. Take time here to thoroughly understand the problem so you can concisely articulate it. A clearly understood problem is a problem 80% solved.

2. Unpack options

You will almost always have at least two options, if not more. Understand each one and its implications so that you can make an informed decision. The energy you put here will be well spent and will pay dividends later.

3. Pray for inner freedom

For Ignatius, “inner freedom” meant “indifference” to the outcome. Not ambivalence, but earnestly desiring God’s will, whatever it may be. Once His will was discerned, he would be wholly committed to leaning in and following through.

4. Do you need any other information to make a decision?

To gather all relevant information needed to make a prayerful decision is an important next step. What do you sense Jesus wants you to know in order to make a prayerful decision? The answer to this question will direct you down a path that might lead you to an unexpected outcome.

5. Pray for inner freedom – again

This can’t be overstated. The goal is to begin at a place of indifference and arrive at a place of acceptance. It’s easy to slide back and forth from a human place to a spiritual place.

6. List advantages & disadvantages

Surprisingly, I’ve overlooked this step more times than I care to admit. A simple list of the pros and cons can reveal the wisest choice. Make certain you have taken ample time to slow down, pray, and reflect on this step.

7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages

Now – compare and reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of the options before you. I would encourage you to think through opportunities and threats when making big decisions. This can clarify nuances you may not have considered.

8. Test your reasoning with your imagination

Ignatius engaged his imagination in the Spiritual Exercises using the Gospels in particular.  Engage scripture and allow yourself to imagine that you’re in the scene with Jesus. Ask Him, “What do you have to say about this? Then ask yourself, “What was that like?”

This is where I am still learning. Use your imagination to project where you will be 3, 6, 9, and 12 months down the road with each option. What sensations are you experiencing physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in your “gut”? Check in with your body: what do you sense is going on?

9. Make a tentative decision

In a way, this is testing the water before you finalize your decision. You can apply different tools to help you at this juncture. One tool I use is called the Objective Prioritization Process. Simply take your options and compare them against one other. For example, if you have four options, number each one and “match” all the various combinations (such as 1v2, 1v3, 1v4 and so on). Then choose which option you prefer under each and total the number of 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s. You will then have your top choice(s).

10. Confirm the decision

Decisions can be confirmed in a number of ways. Individually, you might need to sit with the decision for a season to determine how it feels and whether it makes sense. You might want feedback from trusted friends. Or you might simply move on once you affirm this is the direction you want to take.

11. Make your decision even if you aren’t certain about it

When I choose to make a decision I like to think I’ve made it prayerfully based on the information I had in the moment. Situations do change; but when I do my due diligence I can be sure the Holy Spirit has also done His.

Gina and I employed much of this process in discerning where we would move. Eventually, we landed in a townhouse in the middle of an immigrant community. People from all over the globe would settle there as a means to establish some stability in their lives with the hope of moving up and out. Over the 12 years we lived there, we started our family and found wonderful opportunities to see God work.

Discerning God’s will using a prayerful process made it possible for us to recall why we had moved there, especially during tumultuous seasons.

 

 

 

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

5 SIGNS THAT YOU COULD BE A BETTER COACH

5 SIGNS THAT YOU COULD BE A BETTER COACH

You’ve been coaching for a while now. You may have even completed coach certification, but you feel there is something more… Are you coaching at your optimal level or could you be a better coach? How do you really know how well you’re doing?

First published on CCT

Sure, there are always some obvious red flags when your coaching isn’t effective. But don’t wait for your clients to start dropping off the face of the earth; instead, consider these 5 signs that you could be a better coach.

How to Know When Your Coaching Needs to Improve

1. People aren’t knocking at your door.

If you are functioning well as a coach and helping those you serve, word will spread. People you have coached will start sending others your way because they know how helpful you can be. The influence you have will be expanding because of the quality of what you’re offering. If you’re not experiencing those word-of-mouth referrals, it’s time to assess how well you’re really functioning as a coach.

2. You don’t ask for specific feedback.

If you don’t regularly receive specific feedback from clients, you aren’t getting the constructive critique you need to grow. Most coaches are afraid to ask for feedback about how they can be. Those who do ask are the ones who keep improving. Even for those who are good at reading the room, no one really knows how clients are actually experiencing them. To really find out, you’ll need to ask–and you’ll need to ask for specifics. A general, “How’s everything going?” is unlikely to yield anything constructive. Don’t let insecurity prevent you from continuing to grow as a coach.

3. You’ve stopped checking your mirrors.

If you think you don’t have blind spots, you will eventually crash. Thinking you already know it all or you have nothing left to learn is the classic trap of overconfidence. Even if you’re at the top of your game, there is room to grow and sharpen your skills. In fact, coaches who are prideful often receive the most negative feedback from those they have coached. Be sure you’re not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought (Romans 12:3). Overconfidence leads directly to complacency…and then to lower and lower performance levels.

4. The thrill is gone.

Sometimes when we’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, we experience a drop in our level of excitement or our enthusiasm plateaus. If you’re not looking forward to your coaching sessions or they begin to feel burdensome, it’s an important indicator that you’re going through the motions and need to find a way to effectively fill your tank.

5. You don’t have time to grow.

If you haven’t participated in intentional growth training of some kind in the last 18 months, you may not be prioritizing your coaching. Practitioners in almost all fields are required to engage in ongoing training–and for good reasons. Working with people has profound implications, and when you try to improve and learn by yourself, it doesn’t have the same effect as doing it with others. It requires humility and intentionality to keep stretching and growing.

Feeling uncomfortable?

If one or more of these signs have hit home, it’s time to renew your commitment to grow as a coach.

The good news is that we have the perfect way to get you back to coaching at your best—the Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack!

This GrowthTrack utilizes the only research-backed Christian coach assessment on the market to identify your strengths and areas for development. Learning is customized to meet your needs as you meet one-on-one with a highly qualified coach mentor as well as peers in a cohort format.

It’s time to be the best coach you can be!

The Fall 2022 Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack  starts September 1st! Get the best deal by paying in full before 8-15-2022 for a 10% discount!

Register for the Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack today!

Written By CCT Team

Robert E Logan and Gary Reinecke Christian Coaching Tools Co-Founders.

 

 

 

Photo by Kalle Kortelainen on Unsplash

What to Do When Plans are Stymied

What to Do When Plans are Stymied

What do you do when your plans are stymied?

Even the best of leaders will discover their limitations when circumstances are challenging. I’m not talking about when the thrill has waned or when you lack motivation; I’m referring to the times when you are working hard but not getting the results you’re envisioning.

How you navigate those seasons in your life and work is a testament to the way you lead yourself.

The English Premiership (top soccer league) launched the start of the new season this weekend. The best of the best know how to grind out a result, even when things are not going favorably–or at least they can figure out how not to lose, walking away with a tie. While not ideal, a tie earns 1 point for a tie versus 0 points for a loss and 3 points for a win. Last year, Liverpool came in second by the slimmest of margins to Manchester City – they had one less point over the course of the season.

Have you ever gone through a tough set of circumstances when things out of your control went sideways? Did you feel your world caving in or everything going against you? Did you find yourself struggling to enjoy life?

As I’ve moved through these seasons (and helped others do the same), I have discovered four important aspects of self-leadership. Focusing on these during times of crisis can help recalibrate us and can help us move more purposefully through challenging circumstances.

4 signs of self-leadership

  1. Remember your purpose (Why)
  2. Be clear on the end game (Win)
  3. Embrace the responsibility of leadership (What)
  4. Surround yourself with people that care for you (Who)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1904-1945) was a model of someone who led well. He understood his purpose. He was clear on the win. He embraced his leadership role. He surrounded himself with people who cared about him and with the things he cared for: establishing the Kingdom of God and the fall of the Third Reich!

Few people have had such an impact on the world as Bonhoeffer. It was his ability to stay calm and resolved in the midst of a life that was disrupted by arrest and imprisonment in concentration camps–and eventual execution–that inspired his fellow prisoners. His writings on discipleship, community, and ethics are classics. His views were tested in real-life circumstances not in an academic institution.

He had this to say about the church:

“The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount. I believe the time has come to gather people together to do this.” 

His was a radical call to discipleship.

Here are three questions you can use for your reflection (or to help others) when confronted with challenging circumstances:

  1. What is the worst-case scenario?
  2. What are the most critical things I/you need to do in this situation for success?
  3. Who can I/you lean on during this time?

How can these questions guide you when you find yourself in need of grinding out a result?

 

 

 

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

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The Disease of Busyness

The Disease of Busyness

In our society we tend to think of a busy schedule as a badge of honor, rushing from one activity or event to the next. We work long hours. We have family obligations. There is an ever-growing list of chores and errands in the back of our minds. We see busyness as productivity but in reality, it does more harm than good. As coaches, we can see when a client is struggling with busyness and can plant a seed for necessary rest.

I recently returned from a four-week holiday (mini-sabbatical) in Melbourne, Australia to spend time with my family and friends. If you don’t know, I am married to Gina, an Aussie; her parents and extended family live “down-under”. It was an amazing time! We took a couple of overnight trips, went to the Broadway production of Hamilton and enjoyed some needed down time. I came back with a greater appreciation for the necessity to periodically, completely unplug from everything possible connected to work and ministry. This allowed my soul and mind to sabbath.

The Need for Rest

If you need proof that we all feel busy and are in need of rest, conduct this experiment: ask ten people how they are doing and just keep track of the responses. How many times out of 10 do you estimate you will receive an answer involving their crazy day or week? 60%? 70%? Most of the time, the answer I get sounds something like this: “I’m so busy – but everything is good.” I would estimate that I hear that response at least 90% of the time.

Self Reflection Questions:

  • How would you answer that question: “How are you doing?”
  • Did you respond with some form of the answer above?
  • What is keeping you up late at night or waking you up in the middle of the night?

How did we get here?

But why are we so busy? Are we taking the time we need to rest, reflect and enjoy the present? Most of us push ourselves harder than we should; we say yes to too many things, we overstretch our time and energy. I put together this list of potential reasons we stretch ourselves beyond our capacity:

  • Unaware of our limitations
  • Addiction to busyness
  • Unwillingness to stop
  • Stress
  • Faithlessness

This final reason might require some explanation. Faithlessness is something that I struggle with. I like to keep my world under my control – or at least live with the illusion that I have control. When I am at my best, I sleep well. When I try to make things happen in my own strength, anxiety wakes me up in the middle of the night, worrying me about things that are out of my control. What it really comes down to is that I am not trusting the Lord. I’m relying on my own ability to get things done and not resting in the fact that the Lord is active in my life.

Where there is trust, there is rest

Exodus 14:14 states, “The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still.”

Here is the context for the verse:

But Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the LORD’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

You might be reading this today and need to hear these words. However, being told or encouraged to rest is one thing; internalizing the need for a break and taking action is quite another. I encourage you to take some time every day this week to rest.

Try both Passive and Active Rest:

 Passive Rest includes:

  • Power naps: 6-20 minutes in length
  • REM naps: 90-plus minutes.

Active Rest includes:

  • Physically: deep breathing, stretching
  • Meantally: meditate, gratitude, listen to soothing music
  • Socially: family, friends
  • Spiritually: prayer

Dr. A’s Habits of Health (pgs. 407-408) by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen

One habit I have found helpful in putting my mind at ease is physical activity. When I combine physical activity with meditation, my soul is fed and my body processes the stress that has built-up. An activity I’ve engaged in over the years is Holy Yoga. Did I lose you? Actually, my wife Gina is a certified instructor and has a platform that provides guided meditation throughout the practice. This has been life-giving during Covid. I look forward to my early morning practice on the back patio with the hillside as my backdrop. It gives me a chance to settle my heart and mind, focus on movement and meditate on the Lord’s goodness. It makes my devotional time in the morning more interesting than simply sitting and taking in scripture – it allows me to knead the Word into my soul.

5 Tips to Make Rest a Priority

  • Commit to 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Begin to wind-down about 30 minutes before going to bed
  • Take a health assessment with a health coach
  • Turn off all devices 1-3 hours before going to bed
  • Ask your spouse to support you or get on the same time schedule if possible

Coaching for Rest

It is one thing to tell a person that they need to get rest – it is quite another to help them discover it for themselves. Here are 7 coaching questions to help guide a person through their physical health journey:

  1. Describe “why” it is important for you to focus on getting adequate rest.
  2. How is your “why” compelling?
  3. What does success in your rest look like?
  4. Identify your greatest challenges?
  5. What changes do you need to make to reach your goal?
  6. Who do you know that can help you on your journey?
  7. What is one simple thing you can do that will help you get started?

The 4th Commandment

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

What does the 4th Commandment teach you about work?

I finish with this response to the question above, taken from The Anglican Catechism:

“My work is a gift of God that can grant me provision and satisfaction, and serve the common good, but neither defines my life nor rules over it.”

Who or what defines you?

 

 

 

 

Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels

Photo by Jackson Jorvan from Pexels

Habit # 5: STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS – Inviting Others onto the Journey

Habit # 5: STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS – Inviting Others onto the Journey

One of the things I’ve observed over the last 30+ years is that there are many ways to make disciples.

You are limited only by your imagination. From organic to highly programmatic, new approaches are being developed as you read this blog.

I am focusing on the absolute minimum support a discipler or disciple maker requires to make disciples. Specifically if the discipler has adopted a coach approach because the people the disciple coach is engaging with have aborted absolute Truth, are highly individualistic and secular. Because of this dynamic the disciple coach must help the people they engage with discover Truth for themselves.  The disciple coach does this through listening and asking questions.  It is not a one size fits all approach.  Over the previous four weeks, I have been addressing the bare essentials a disciple coach needs to sustain their ministry–I call these essentials the habits of a disciple coach.

Here are the first four habits of a disciple coach:

  1. Missional Values
  2. Active Prayer
  3. Relational Connections
  4. Disciple Making Cycle

The fifth and final habit is Strategic Partnerships.

Partnerships that support disciple-making relationships are multifaceted and help keep the disciple coach on mission:

  • Partnership with God
  • Partnership with those the disciple coach has engaged with on their spiritual journey
  • Partnerships with trusted mentors

It would be easy to focus on any of these to the exclusion of the other two, or to focus on two and exclude the third. in the best case scenario, all three would be exercised at the same time. While that is optimal, it can be difficult to prioritize all three simultaneously.

Here is a simple example:

As a disciple coach, you and I are doing life in the community of a small group of other disciple coaches who are on mission loving God, loving their neighbors, and making disciples. Partnerships within the group encourage and support the three values. When a disciple takes the next step on their spiritual journey to find and follow Jesus, it is celebrated!  This might take the form of an act of service, a generous gift of one’s resources, or taking a step of faith to pray for the very first time.  Whatever it is, the group synergistically supports the work of the disciple coach.

The other Strategic Partnerships the disciple coach nurtures is with not-yet Christians. Right now, at the tail end of a global pandemic, developing new relationships can be complicated. Creative ideas are necessary. A church planter that I work with has launched a virtual “Youth Alpha”. This has provided an opportunity to form small pods of young people to emerge where redemptive relationships are being formed. that will growth as the church transitions to in-person gatherings.  The youth Alpha not only sustained the plant but grew the church to the point now the plan is well on its way to reaching the vision to launch 5 missional communities.  Whatever the needs, the Lord instills creative ideas in the minds and hearts of disciple coaches – even during the most challenging times.

This completes the list of the five habits of a disciple coach! I wonder if you have some thoughts of what else a disciple coach needs to support the work of making disciples. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

 

 

Photo by Savvas Stavrinos from Pexels