Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Repeat? Repent?

Two questions I try to reflect on every day:

  • What do I need to repent of?

  • What do I need to repeat?

I was first asked these questions over fifteen years ago as our church plant was reflecting on our first seven years of existence. These questions helped our team to face some real issues of our past before we could follow God into our future.

I think it's easy to move through life without appropriate moments for reflection--especially reflecting on our sin and need for repentance.

Yet we need deep, honest, soul-searching reflection. Not for the sake of judgment, but for the sake of grace and living a transformed life.

One reason this is difficult is because we are afraid of what we will find there. Yet ignoring issues that demand genuine repentance because of fear will not change anything.

Another reason this is difficult is because we don't really want to repent. Simply asking the question, "What do I need to repent of?" forces me to face the reality that I do need to repent. There's always something that I need to repent of. And when I'm not ready to repent, asking this question is difficult.

I really love asking the repeat question. It helps me to remember to focus on those things that are positive and need to be continued, even if they are difficult.

As it's been noted: The Christian life is a long obedience in the same direction. As we follow Jesus, we need to keep doing those things that honor Him--even when it's difficult.

what if we trained every disciple of Jesus to not only obey Jesus and keep on doing what He says....
but what if we also trained every disciple of Jesus to reflect and repent daily of their sin and stop doing things that dishonor God?

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider taking some time to ask these two questions every day: "What do I need to repeat?" and "What do I need to repent of?"

Related Posts:
10 Powerful Evaluation Questions
Growing as a Leader
Internalize the Gospel
Obedience-Oriented Disciplemaking

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Journey Guide: Engaging Culture

In The Missional Journey by Bog Logan, I had the privilege of contributing my "commentary" as well as compiling Journey Guides at the end of each chapter to help groups of believers take further steps to live out the principles in the book.

If you want to take significant action toward engaging culture, the Journey Guide will help you accomplish this.

Here are a few highlights and questions from the journey guide that I believe have great value for you and your small group, missional community, launch team, church plant, etc.

Engaging culture checklist:
  • serving the least and the lost
  • building redemptive relationships
  • praying with and for others
  • discerning spiritual openness
  • sharing the gospel
Discussion questions for you and your team:
  • What are you already doing?
  • What's going well?
  • What do you hear God saying to you?
  • What reflections do you have about this chapter?
Guided prayer (ask God these questions):
  • How can we engage the culture around us?
  • Who would you have us reach?
  • How can we serve as Jesus served?
  • What needs to change in us?
Coaching questions:
  • How are you serving the least and the lost?
  • How are you building redemptive relationships?
  • How are you praying with and for others?
  • How are you discerning spiritual openness?
  • How are you sharing the gospel?

That's a quick "taste" of the Journey Guide. It also includes practical action points and follow-up questions for your team to help you get ready, get going, stay with it, and keep growing. 

Reggie McNeal notes, "The Missional Journey serves as a great guide book for everyone willing to live the missional adventure."

Ed Stetzer writes, "Whether you're planting a new church, re-orienting an established church, or guiding a movement, The Missional Journey is not just a book to read--it's a book to work through and process with your team."

Bob Roberts adds, "What I love about The Missional Journey is that it's not just a book, but something that you work through with other people."

Today's Missional Challenge: Take a group of friends through the Journey Guides at the end of each chapter in The Missional Journey book. 

Related Posts: 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Coaching is a Relationship with a Purpose

Here is a simple way to describe coaching to someone:

Coaching is a relationship with a purpose. 

Tom Nebel and Gary Rohrmayer describe the coaching relationship like this...
“What does the coaching relationship look like? It is relationship-intensive, filled with listening, caring, celebrating, and consistent encouraging. It is strategically challenging, asking good questions, thinking through critical issues, providing resources and ideas to go to the next level.”

Coaching is a relationship. In fact, without relationship there cannot be any helpful coaching conversations.

Yet, coaching is more than a relationship. It’s a relationship with a purpose. 

My friend and colleague Bob Logan points our two dangers that coaches need to avoid:
  1. Focusing so much on what the coachee is supposed to be doing that you neglect the relationship. 
  2. Focusing so much on relating and the relationship that you neglect what God is calling the coachee to do.

Coaching is a Relationship

Several years ago I began working with a new coach. She was confident and eager to be helpful -- but she jumped right over the relationship part of coaching. I was surprised how this impacted me personally. I hardly knew her and I needed to know that I could trust her before I was ready to move forward.

I actually stopped the coaching conversation and called a "time out." I asked her to pause and go back and tell me more of her story and how she began coaching. I wanted to know just a little more about her from a relational standpoint before we focused on the task at hand.

This experience serves as a good reminder to me when I start new coaching relationships. I take the time to share my story and how I began coaching and even why I coach. I share about my wife and kids and things that I enjoy in life. Then I ask them a lot of questions to learn their story. This is an important part of coaching.

One of the extra benefits of many of my coaching relationships over the past nearly ten years of coaching is how many of my "clients" are now my friends. In fact, my very first coach that was assigned to me when I planted a church in 1990 is still one of my close friends.

As you coach, don't neglect the relationship. Always take time to connect personally before jumping on to the agenda for each appointment.

Coaching is a Relationship with a Purpose

Be certain to focus on the coachee's agenda for each conversation. When I first started coaching, I used to think that I could just guess what the coachee wanted to focus on. Many times we'd near the end of the coaching conversation and I'd hear these dreaded words: "Now Dave, what I really want to talk to you about is ___________________." And we'd be out of time to address the real issue.

Somehow I had mistakenly believed that good coaches just know the outcome for a coaching appointment without having to ask. That's just dumb. I'm not that smart. So now I do the one thing that I know will assure my client gets to focus on what is most important to them - I ask the coachee to determine the outcome for the session. It's that simple. I don't have to guess any more.

And the exciting benefit of taking the time to ask and work with the client to determine the coaching agenda for each and every conversation is that I always know that we are working together to focus on what's really important to them. No more guesswork.

To attain the intended outcome of coaching - you have to work with the client to determine the goal from the outset of the coaching relationship. Take the time in the first coaching appointment to set three-four big goals for your coaching to address. This helps to frame the purpose.

I often ask questions like these:
"What would be important for us to talk about today?"
"What result would you like to take away from our coaching conversation?"
"How will you know that we used our coaching conversation in a way that is valuable to you?"

As you coach, keep the purpose of the conversation in mind. You can even check-in before the end of the call and find out how the client feels about the progress being made toward the goal.

Coaching is a Relationship with a Purpose

Today's Missional Challenge: As you coach disciples and leaders, don't neglect focusing on the relationship AND don't neglect focusing on the coaching purpose. 

Related Posts:
The Power of Coaching
The Value of Coaching
Seven Benefits of Coaching
8 Ways to Become a Better Coach
How Will You Keep Growing as a Coach?

Are you looking for a coach or needing to further develop your coaching skills?
We can help! Visit to learn more.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

5 Ideas for Parent Churches

My children are now in their twenties. I love the ways that our relationship has changed over the past 20+ years. And I love being their dad. My role has changed - but I will always be my kid's dad. What a blessing!

When my children were younger, my role as parent required lots of energy and attention, training and disciplining, instructing, protecting, and telling them what to do. I still get to do some training - and they do require energy and attention. But it's not the same. 

I haven't stopped loving them, caring for them, praying for them, and occasionally providing financially for their needs - but my role as parent is much different now that they are adults. 

This relates to my thoughts on parenting new churches. The role of the parent church has to change as the daughter church grows, matures and begins to reproduce. In reality, this role must change at a much faster pace than it does with children. Within the first few years after a church is birthed, the daughter church may be in an adolescent phase that doesn't acknowledge the parent church has anything to offer that's of value (except money of course). 

Steve Ogne has described this process as if you are leaving the hospital with your newborn baby and driving straight to the church for your daughter's wedding where you immediately have to walk her down the aisle and give her away. 

While it may not be that extreme, this metaphor can serve as a powerful image of the need to "get out of the way" as quickly as possible while taking on a new role as a parent church pastor. When a father gives away the bride, he doesn't stop being her dad - but it's a different role now. 

Parent churches need to understand this role shift. 

I've seen parent churches that have controlled the daughter church for way too long by using money as a way of getting the new church to conform to their wishes (demands). 

I've also seen parent churches neglect the daughter church altogether - as if to say, "I brought you into this world, but now you are on your own. I hope you make it."

If your congregation takes on the role of birthing a new church, you don't have to choose one of these extreme examples to define your relationship with the daughter church. However, you do have to define the relationship from the beginning. Consider what you expect from the daughter church and ask the church planter what is expected of you as the parent. This can help in avoiding major conflicts in the future from unspoken and unmet expectations. 

I remember when we birthed a church in Southern California several years ago and the church planter expressed his frustration that we had not sent more people with him. While I encouraged people to join our daughter church, I couldn't force them to leave. I was also frustrated that more people had not joined the new church, but I realized that they were God's people (and I was not going to manipulate them to go to the new church). This was an important learning opportunity for me as a parent church pastor. 

I expected that because I was excited about "having a baby" - everyone in our church would be just as excited. They weren't. My passion for church planting was not enough to motivate people to leave our established church family to become part of a new church family. 

Parenting a new church is one of the greatest joys in the Christian life, in many ways similar to a parent's joy of having a baby. But it also can be messy. And it requires growth in both the parent and the child to successfully navigate those growing up years. 

5 Ideas for Parent Churches to Consider

1. Once you parent a church you are always the parent. 
You cannot abdicate that responsibility. This is something to consider before having a baby. Are you in it for the long haul? Will you not only be concerned enough for your daughter church's survival that you stay nearby and involved in the infant phase, but will you stay connected for the life of the new church? Will you celebrate their victories? Will you pray with them through their struggles? Might you contribute financially when they are purchasing their first home? 

2. Babies don't always come when you expect them. 
Sometimes there are unplanned pregnancies. Would you abandon a baby you had not planned for? What support might you need if your church faced an unexpected pregnancy? Would you try to give the new church up for adoption, or would you assume the role of parent in spite of the challenges? Rise to the occasion. Trust God and His timing in the process. 

3. Preparation for parenting is important. 
Don't just prepare for after the baby is born - also pay attention to all that you can be doing to ensure a healthy birth weight (for both the mom and the baby). Nurture the growth of the baby before it's born. Have regular check ups on the parent church to discern what would help ensure both a healthy mom and a healthy baby. I've seen too many churches focus on what's going to happen with the baby, but they fail to even consider the impact of having a baby on the parent. Pay attention to both. 

4. Having babies will cost you more than you expect. 
Often I'm asked, "How much does it cost to plant a church?" Typically my response is that it costs just a little more than you have budgeted. The reality is that you can set aside money for your daughter church, but it will cost more. And the cost is not just money - it costs time, people, energy, emotion. Plus prayers, resources, relationships, and more. Count the cost. It's worth it - but it will cost more than you expect. 

5. Teaching to love and obey is most important.
Of all the things I've tried to teach my own kids, I believe that teaching them to love and obey Jesus is the most important thing that I can teach them. I've devoted my life to loving and obeying Jesus, and I want them to do the same. Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, "teaching them to obey." As you disciple people to make disciples who make disciples, those new disciples will likely become a new church. We don't start churches to make disciples, we start churches by making disciples. Make disciples and teach them to love and obey Jesus. This is the greatest thing you can do to help a daughter church. 

Which of these five ideas resonates with you? 
What would you add to the list?
Share your thoughts below...

Today's Missional Challenge: Healthy organisms reproduce. Having babies is natural. Start preparing for parenting. 

Related Posts: 

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Why Does the Church Exist?

Greg VanderMeer
Fair Haven Church
Followers of Jesus need to know the answer to this question.

Followers of Jesus need to live out the mission of the church.

And we need to not just talk about living out the mission of the Church - we need to do it.

We need to measure the success of any church based on whether the church is fulfilling the purpose of it's existence.

Pastor Greg VanderMeer (Lead Pastor, Fair Haven Church) wrote about the answer to why the church exists in a weekly email to the church he leads back in March 2014...
C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest theologians of recent times, took a crack at answering that question. He said, "The Church exists for nothing else but to draw people into Christ. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became human for no other purpose." That is a bold statement. Many of us were taught to be careful when using words like always or nothing. There always seems to be exceptions. Never, only, and nothing are defining words. Clearly, C.S. Lewis meant to draw a line in the sand.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts all have a charge that was given to the Church. In each case it sounds slightly different, but it remains the same. We exist to make disciples. Our life as one family is meant to bring the transforming power of Jesus Christ into our community, region, and world. It is far more than attempting to share the gospel with as many people as we can. It is more than attempting to get as many people as possible to say the "sinners prayer". It is about making disciples who in turn make disciples. It is about being so touched by the gospel that the gospel in you touches others. Who is your gospel touching?

Curry Blake said, "If your gospel isn't touching others, it hasn't touched you!" I suppose we could say the purpose of the gospel touching you is two-fold. First, God became human for no other purpose than for His gospel to touch you and me. His plan was to touch you and make you His. Second, that gospel in us is now meant to touch others. The purpose of every sermon you hear, every book you read, and every encounter you have in the scripture is not simply to give you enough for the day or week so you can make it through. That would mean the whole purpose of the church is about you. It is not. The purpose is to strengthen you for the purpose of serving Christ in this world. Touched by the gospel we have the opportunity to touch those around us.

Lord, give us eyes to see. Show us where you are at work. May the gospel that has so touched us now radiate through our words and actions to touch those around us!

"The Church exists for nothing else but to draw people into Christ." - C.S. Lewis

"If your gospel isn't touching others, it hasn't touched you!" - Curry Blake

"Who is your gospel touching?" - Greg VanderMeer

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider how you have been touched by the power of the gospel. Take action today to touch others around you with the gospel. 

Related Posts:
Aquarium Life (a.k.a. Church Life)
The Real Work of the Church
From "Doing Church" to "Being Church"
Defining Ministry Success
Make Disciples!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...