Archive for Coaching

Reaching Millennials (1 of 5)

There is no magic to reaching the Millennial generation.On the other hand, if we hope to get them, we simply need to do and be what God’s word has called us to be about all along.

Sometimes working with the millennial generation is about as frustrating as nailing Jello to a tree. The truth is they are not just a gift to your church. They are even the strongest booster rocket you can desire.

They call us to think through what we want to see. As you look this over realize a couple of matters. These are descriptions of the sorts of churches that the millennial generation will consider joining.

As you read these over, resist the trap of “Cognitive dissonance” – that is, the tendency to assume the best about what we are doing, even when our image is far from reality. This confusion is more prevalent in the church world than any other.

When we begin to make changes those already in our church usually resist – even to the point of threatening to leave or even worse, to stir up others to leave because all of the sudden “My” church has changed to a different direction.

1. Be Generous with Money

 

In the eyes of many of the millennial generation, the church seems to exist mainly to for self-perpetuation. More than their predecessors, they live out the line “Put your money where your mouth is.”

To reshape that assumption, let’s be known for our extravagant generosity. Let’s even go so far as to be willing to nearly “Squander” money on the world around us. All hyperbole aside, let’s drop any caution and now define ourselves as incredibly giving without being overly concerned with that self-interest mindset.

The Orthodox Jewish Bible uses the word “Generous” to describe one of the marks of the fruit of the Spirit in Ephesians chapter 5. When we show generosity, we establish credibility. As we go into the community to give away bottles of water at a stoplight, sometimes people ask how we can afford to pay for all of this.

“Oh, we pay for it out of our offerings. We can’t help but spend a lot of money in our community to bring the same love that Jesus showed in his day.”

“But how do you cover all the expenses your church needs if you give so much away?”

“We see the city is worth investing in – worth showing love by serving. We believe that if Jesus were walking around town today, he’d being doing this sort of thing.”

As we loosen our grip on funds, our reputation as a giving church will begin to spread like a life-giving tsunami. As it was with Jesus, when we get into the community “Advertising” will take care of bringing all the attention we need to notice and experience God’s tsunami, his love, attention, and acceptance, they will start to “Gossip the Gospel.”

When we start to flow with God’s generosity, we are merely opening the door for our people to do what has already been in their hearts.

When it comes to outreach to the needy, pantries are good, but don’t let that be the limit of your outreach. Sometimes those with the greatest needs can’t get to any pantry without a lot of difficulties. Jesus reached out to the poor in a variety of ways. The most common way Jesus reached out was to meet needs as he ran across them.

Invest a given percentage of the congregation’s income back out into the community. A smart way to begin is to commit to percentage giving. If you already have required portions, you are expected to pay – tithes to the denomination, the denomination’s requirement to foreign missions, etc. You can negotiate those percentages.

Coming soon: 2 – 5

How About A Summer Outreach Lab

photo 2If you haven’t taken a stab at Kindness Outreach, the summer is the perfect time for doing a “Lab” – that is, to do some experimenting to learn a few lessons about how to build a heart connection with the those in your community.

Any season has it’s advantages for connecting with people, but the summer works well for both servers and those they serve. The weather is better, so people are outside more, and in general there is a bit of a “Vacation mentality.” This could be the ideal time for your people to take a stab at reaching out.

Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind.

A. Relax.
As we show God’s kindness we are planting seeds more than harvesting crops, at least to begin with. Don’t pay attention to the conventional stats you might be tempted to count, like “How many came to church this month because we served them.” Trust me, they will come, so don’t worry.

Right now the goal is to learn how to enjoy reaching out with the kindness of God “…that leads to a radical life change.” As we reach out in fun, doable ways we will catch the “Virus” of God’s love for others – and begin to see them with new eyes.

B. Have fun!
We have been wired by God to enjoy life. We may need to “Practice,” but as we stick with it, before long, we’ll be having fun like pros!

If we aren’t having a good time, we can’t disguise the truth. Those we touch will pick up on that, they’ll be turned off and won’t want to have anything to do with the God we are inviting them to follow.

Here are a couple of summer “No-Lose” projects to try on for size.
Give Away Bottles of Water
There are lots of places and ways to serve thirsty people in warm weather.

Dollar Car Wash
Wash a car, then give drivers money for the privilege of serving them. Mind blowing!
This is great for involving numbers of people (a minimum of 10 or up to as many as you want if you are able to do several cars at once).

To get the detailed explaination of these and many more projects, pick up “101 Ways To Serve Your Community.” It’s available on Amazon as an instant kindle eBook purchase, or in a paper version as well.

Reaching out in the Fall

Sometimes I’m asked, “What do you do for outreach when the weather doesn’t cooperate?” It’s not that difficult but it requires a little bit of creativity. Here’s a gimme to help you where you are (unless you’re in Phoenix).

Go out in teams to rake leaves. It’s not that complicated. Needed: Rakes, 55 gall bags, and most importantly some eager beaver people who are willing to get a little grimy.

There’s more to this but you need to go to ServeCoach.com for more details.

Mistakes I’m Glad My Kids Made

Parents tend to stress themselves out in hopes of raising children that are going to “do right” at all times. I know that was my orientation throughout my childrearing years, but looking back now I realize I needlessly drove myself crazy at times in my aspiration to be an error-free parent.

I have a different take on things now. Here are some perspectives I’ve come to. Maybe my reflection will encourage you a bit whether you are facing entering into life as a parent or are a grandparent and coaching parents.

1. Ticked off the in-crowd
The crowd is nearly always in the wrong. They are usually in the majority and as Jesus pointed out time and again, though it’s a tough way to go, to follow their lead is a significant mistake. To stand firm in their convictions, no matter who is their side, is always worth it.

2. Colored outside the lines
I’ve done this fairly consistently for this myself. In fact, I’m something of an expert in this department as they’ve seen me penalized a few times. They’ve picked up on my modeling and haven’t done things the way everyone else has operated and I’m proud of them for it.
Some parents discourage this behavior but I don’t see it that way. Thinking from the outside in is valuable most of the time. All three of them have broken the rules on a fairly regular basis and have been rewarded, not punished, most of the time. Color on!

3. Embarrassed themselves
Is the goal of life to look good – to save face above all things? They’ve known that if you are going to be yourself it’s inevitable you are going to look dumb sometimes.

4. Questioned conventional / expected ways of doing things.
I’m not sure the word “rebellious” is the right choice but it’s pretty close to what I’ve hoped for them, at least to be a little bit that way. No progress is going to be made unless someone thinks outside the box. Life tends to discourage and penalize those who do that, but it’s worth every bit of heat one takes along the way to change the world.

5. Ticked me off.
At times it hasn’t taken much to pull this off! Don’t get me wrong. Long term, it’s a huge mistake to not follow the wisdom of a loving and wise parent. The line is “Honor your parents in the Lord that you may have a long life.” That’s an amazing promise to take to heart, but along the way there has been stress. I’ve endured stress points will all my kids but that’s just part of the deal in helping them come into their distinct adult selves. Those who aren’t allowed to tick off their parents are going to do this later in life, but then it will be messier and more hurtful. Parents, embrace the tick!

7 Things I Wish I’d Told My Dad When I Was Younger 

This Father’s Day has me thinking of some things I wish I’d shared with my dad a long time ago. Perhaps you too have some things you’d like to share with your dad. It may not be too late. My dad passed away years ago so this is more of an exercise in journaling, but for you there is tomorrow. 

1. “No matter how long I live, you will always be my greatest role model.”
I’ve had models for various areas of expertise come and go throughout life. Most of them have been helpful as they’ve left their mark, but at the core of all I’ve received is the deposit my dad made. He didn’t have to be the world’s best at everything. All I needed to know was that he was the greatest – period. 
2. “Deep down, I want to become like you in your best traits.”
He wasn’t perfect, but his imprint will have the greatest effect on me. I want to be like him in the ways he was strong. I want him to be proud of the person I’ve become. 
3. “Thanks for the sacrifices you made for me.”
I know my dad felt the strain of work many times. Perhaps he even wondered what he’d gotten himself into! But honestly what hard working guy who is totally honest doesn’t have that thought cross his mind occasionally. 
4. “Thanks for having me.”
Looking back it is clear to me there were a lot of decisions he made that led up to me being conceived and born. God orchestrated that but my dad cooperated. I’m grateful for his love for me before I was born. 
5. “Thanks for working hard to provide for me.”
Forty hours plus per week takes the starch out of anyone after a while. To do that for years on end requires a lot of love. No matter where your dad appears to be spiritually on the outside, keep in mind that no man can put in years, even decades, of sacrificial work for a child or a family, and not have some glimmer of spiritual life. 
6. “Thanks for being tough on me at times.” 
There is a hard side to love that’s  hard to see when we are young.
7. “Sorry I spent so much time being angry at you instead of listening to you.”
This is a big one for me. It took years to gain the perspective I needed to realize that my old man was pretty smart all along. Based on conversations and reading it seems that many of us have lived as angry young people while we were home. It took getting out of the house to wake us up to our limitations and our dads’ perspective and big time wisdom. 

If it is too difficult to call your dad tomorrow I’d recommend you go ahead and just tell him you love him, then do something unusual in our day – actually write him a letter by hand. It doesn’t need to be long. Share a few points – maybe lift some of the ones here. You don’t need to be original. Then see what happens. Whether he acknowledges your letter or not – many dads don’t do all that well with words – send it anyway. 

If your dad is gone, write a letter anyway. You can’t send it so hold onto it for a couple of days then read it again on the third day to let it sink in. This is something sacred between you and him no one else needs to see. If the contents are something you wouldn’t mind sharing with your grandchildren file it away. If you rather not see it again, burn it. It will just be something important you expressed that was good to get out. Now move on. 

Refilled by reading

I’ve been writing a lot lately as I’ve shared on this blog. I can only write so much and then I start to see double.

Something I learned from Stephen King that has been helpful along my journey – as a writer it’s vital to read about as much per day as you write. I’m not sure it’s possible to keep up that ratio every single day, but I love the idea just the same. In the midst of writing I find it refreshing to read as a replenishing exercise. Try it and see if it works for you.

6 Outreach Leadership Lessons From Johnny Appleseed

John Chapman, aka the legendary “Johnny Appleseed” was a missionary who reached out to native Americans in the Ohio Valley in the early 1800s.


  • •He Had Simple Tools

His primary planting tool was a stick! Do you have a stick? When his current stick wore out he found a new stick. I heard recently through the grapevine that sticks are still easy to find!

The more elaborate we make our plans the more likely it is that we will fail.


  • •He Heard the Invitation.

He picked up on the invitation of the Father to accomplish his lifelong mission, therefore when the going got tough he was able to return to the beginning of it all to when God unmistakably spoke to him to go out in the first place.


  • •He Didn’t Talk About Outreach, He Did Outreach.

Johnny understood it’s about activism, not mere talk, nor continual preparation study, nor the accruing of more cool conference notebooks. He was all about taking risks and getting out there. If he were alive in 2012 his motto would be, “Missional schmissional! Stop the incessant talk, stop being a chicken and just do it for Pete’s sake!”


  • •He Did Small Things.

It doesn’t take much to change the world. A tiny apple seed grows into the largest fruit bearing tree in the plant world that will bear thousands of apples.


  • •He Was Faithful.

He was all in! He burned his bridges. There was no return.


  • •He Saw Potential in the Faith Realm

Some would find it difficult, if not impossible, to do the ministry of Johnny because it was long-term and not immediately fulfilling. He was called by God to do something great but something that not would fully bear fruit in his lifetime.
Each seed was destined to produce an amazing tree that would produce thousands of apples to the glory of God. It takes the kind of faith only God can provide to live from that perspective. We can’t work that up. “God empower us the ability to hear your calling, regardless of the timing.”
With servant evangelism ministry the fruit takes a while to come about, but guaranteed, but when a church remains faithful to strongly serve and show generosity to their surrounding community, astounding results will come about.

Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, ?But only God can count the number of apples in a seed.

  • ÐRobert H. Schuller

Scarcity or Abundance Mindset

What we fear losing we grasp. What we grasp others tend to grasp as well. Thus we help to create an atmosphere of fear.

Fear is contagious – it moves from person to person quickly. The dynamic of fear is the opposite of the move of the Spirit of God.

It is only natural that ultimately the presence of fear creates a mindset of scarcity – a culture that is difficult to destroy. The scarcity mindset, is by and large, the ubiquitous atmosphere of the Church in America today. Yet God is on the march to change that.

The mark of the Kingdom’s presence is generosity – a willingness to share from an abundance mindset without hesitation – a willingness to give first and ask questions later – a mindset that says, “I am led to give to this cause so I will give. God will take care of the details.”

Do you believe like me? Let’s go and change the world.

Jesus is the norm

The first heresy that came into the Church was launched by a group called the “Palagians” who believed that Jesus was only God and not man at all – that he was only divine and not human. In defense of their thinking they went so far as to say that when Jesus walked he didn’t leave a footprint because he wasn’t physical – he was only an apparition that appeared to be physical.

They rejected all the Scriptures where Jesus called himself the “Son of Man” saying he was a little confused at those points.

Their heresy is probably the most dangerous of all those that ultimately would come into the church world.

If he is only God and not also true Man he is only perfect with no struggle. We can’t relate. Therefore…

  1. …we aren’t called to imitate him.
  2. …we aren’t called to see his life as the norm we are to aspire to.
  3. …we aren’t called to treat people the way he treated them.
If he is only God and not Man then

…the Poor will stay the Poor and uncared for

…the Lost will always be Lost and unreached

…those captivated by evil will remain prisoners in their minds and souls all their lives

The Palagians didn’t read their Bibles very carefully. Clearly, Jesus is the Son of Man. We have been called to be about the actions of Jesus, to do all he did, all our days as long as we have breath in us.

Mentees: Are you failing enough to succeed?

As much as you like the group you serve, one day you will move on. Others may carry you out feet first, but you will definitely move on from your group.

Are you raising up others to take your place when you leave?

Early on in my life as a Believer a mentor of mine impressed on me the vital importance of replacing myself with others I felt good about leading after my time was up. I’ve led and transitioned with a number of groups since then. Some of those have gone well, others not so much!

Here are some gleanings I’ve picked up.

  1. Pray your replacement in. God wants to bring a mentee(s) your way. Ask him to stir it up.
  2. Scan the horizon. Someone is always on the way. You won’t notice what God is providing if you aren’t looking.
  3. Make yourself available. Be willing to be inconvenienced.
  4. Decide to fail a lot. We usually fail when we aspire to not fail. You won’t succeed unless you fail frequently. Take on the counsel of G.K. Chesterton. “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”
  5. Pray that when they leave you won’t hold it against them for long. What am I saying? It’s common to part ways with a mentee under stress. It happened with Paul and those he coached in the Book of Acts. Don’t be surprised if the same thing happens to you, at least for a time after you part ways.