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Developing Leaders – Part 2

October 19, 2009

We use a very simple model to help encourage, equip, and vision cast to small group leaders at Oakbrook.  Over the past 6 years we have tried various methods of coaching and leadership development with limited success.  I’m not saying that the models of coaching and leadership development that I have read about in books and heard about at conferences do not work, but for us, these so called ‘advanced’ models just didn’t resonate with our leaders.

We do not have a coaching model.  Not saying we won’t in the future, but our attempts at coaching have never worked.  I know that books and research will tell you that leaders want to be cared for and that a coaching model is the answer, but what we have found is that leaders feel most loved and cared for when that is supplied by their own group members.  Therefore, we have tried to model a culture where the leader is as dependent on his/her group for care as the other group members.

If a leader needs vision or direction to lead their group, then they are free to contact myself or anyone on the group leadership team that they are a part of.  It’s the old doctor-patient theory.  I don’t want my doctor calling me and checking up on me, but I sure do want my doctor to be accessible when I am sick.  That is the design we use, if you need us we are here for you, but we are not going to check up on you regularly and ask for extra time from you that we know you don’t have to give.

Then we also have a model of leadership equipping and vision casting that every small group leader is a part of.  Group leaders are placed on a leadership team that meets about 3-4 times/year.  Each team is comprised of about 8-12 people.  We do our best to take the ‘meeting’ feel out of these events as much as we can by including a ‘table’ experience (meal) every time we meet.  The evenings are as much about enjoying a meal with other leaders as it is about anything else but after the meal we will engage in a conversation that allows me to provide vision and leadership training.  We’ve been doing this for about 2 years and I can honestly say that we avg. 90% or better attendance!

For me, as our church’s small group director, these nights not only catalyze the ministry but they allow me to get face to face with all of our leaders and really hear what is going on in their individual groups.  I leave these evenings energized and able to refocus on areas that leaders clearly identify in our discussions.  It’s a win-win setup.  It is so much better than some type of all leader group training event because everyone gets to engage and I get to really know where everyone is at.  From here, I can also set up 1 on 1’s if the need is there.

This system gives our leaders a lot of freedom, but so far they have used their freedom well and are doing a great job leading their individual groups.  Your feedback and comments are always appreciated!

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Developing Leaders – Part 1

August 21, 2009

Here is a short snapshot, written by one of my great friend / mentors at Oakbrook (Morgan Young), about how we develop and empower small group leaders at Oakbrook Church….check it out…..I will expand on our strategy in a future post.  Would love to hear what you do to successfully equip and serve your leaders!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leading the Leaders

Sandra and I went to “Small Group Leader Training” tonight. Jason Braun, Oakbrook’s Director of Connections gets together these informal huddles of group leaders to share a pitch-in meal then talk about leadership, vision—generally, how to be better group leaders.

It’s a very informal evening that’s conducive to connecting, sharing and learning. Jason gets leaders together about once per quarter in someone’s home.

If you’re a group leader and haven’t been to one of these, you’re missing out! (more pics)

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Power of 10

April 30, 2009

“If a group doesn’t help each other connect it will end quickly.

If a group doesn’t help each other change, it will end within a year.

If a group fails to become mission minded it might last a long time but eventually it will become very dissatisfying.”

Bill Search from his book ‘Simple Small Groups’

I can relate to the above quote by Bill Search.  Been there and done that.  In recent months, I have been thinking a lot about the missional component of small groups because in most cases it seems to be the part of group life that gets most easily neglected.  Problem is, to not prioritize ‘mission’ in group life is to disregard who and what we believe in.  The body of believers has been called to serve each other and to serve others.  There is no getting around it.

So here is an idea for you.  Not sure who came up with the idea but I think it has tons of potential.  We are looking at potentially inviting all the men of our church to be a part of what we are calling a ‘Power of 10’ group.  Here is a brief summary of the idea:  10 people giving $10 to meet a need.  Simple as that.  The rest is up to you to figure out.  Actually, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit to figure out and lead you to do.

My group is just getting started but let me share some initial takeaways.  Our group gives $10/week so between the 10 of us that is $100/week.  We pray for opportunities to serve with the resources that are available.  You see where this is going?  We grow spiritually as we lean into God and rely on Him to lead us.  We grow relationally as we marry our resources together and serve needs that arise.  We are used by God to serve those in need and draw them closer to Him.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

It’s been so life giving to see how God is stirring in each of my group members.  They are excited about the adventure that lies ahead.  Over the next 2 years, our group will contribute over $10000 to this little journey.  We have talked about saving $3000 of it to send with our Haiti teams and using the rest in our community however God sees fit.  The opportunities are endless, that is what makes it so exciting.

Groups that last are groups that figure out a way to inspire every member of the group to begin doing exactly what it is that they feel they have been put on this planet to do.  The ‘Power of 10’ is just one way to harness the potential of 10 surrendered bodies and to let God do the rest.

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So what?

March 13, 2009

Many of our small groups at Oakbrook are currently studying the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I am reading it for the 3rd & 4th time as I write this.  In one group, we are in Chapter 8.  In another group, we are in Chapter 5.  I read it 2 times before that.  It is just one of those books that takes a lot of processing.  I have probably recommended this book more than any other book I have ever read.  Call me a junkie…..I am.

But the real reason that I am reading this book again and again is that I am tired of just reading a book and then moving on to the next book on my list without there being any change produced in me as a result of reading whatever I have read.  Same goes for when I read God’s Word.  The book Crazy Love is one of those books that will call you to something greater than the Americanized form of Christianity that we live.  It leaves you with a choice: to adjust how you live daily or stay the same.  I’ve needed to read it multiple times for God to teach me how to make some adjustments.  It’s been hard but it’s also been life giving.

This leads me to why I love the potential of a small group environment.  It’s in the context of community that we can be faced with the question ‘So what?’.  We are often asked this question in a Sunday sermon, but the question does not become personal until we are asked by someone who is expecting a response.  So what?  Or in other words, what are you going to change as a result of what you have heard or learned as it relates to becoming more like Christ?

Change is never easy.  It’s usually uncomfortable.  But we are called to it.  The way of Christ is counter cultural.  Every conversation we have carries the power to change, but it takes the courage and intentionality to ask the ‘So what?’ question.  As a leader, I want to encourage you to consider answering and asking the ‘so what’ question in all your discussions.  If we don’t, we may miss out on countless opportunities to feed the sheep we have been entrusted with.

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60-40 Principle

February 4, 2009

Over the past 5+ years as a ‘small groups’ guy, I have had several conversations with frustrated group leaders wondering why their groups just won’t ‘take off’ like they had hoped.

Here is my answer: 

A small group is not a program or a thing to do as part of ‘doing church’, it is a way of life. 

In short, a group that meets 2x/month will not likely end up where you hope.  In fact, more than likely, groups that meet 2x/month usually result in a conversation where I am trying to rescue a wayward leader from committing small group suicide.

None of us need another thing to do.  What we need is a new way to live.

I believe that we need to lead our groups into a relational way of life like the one modeled by the early church.  A life that is modeled by loving and serving others not a life that is controlled by our schedules and ‘to do’ lists.  There is immediate tension when we evaluate this for ourselves and when we try to steer others in this direction, but it is a tension that we all need to fight because it is a fight of selfish vs. selfless.

Groups are a way of life.  I thought these comments by Scott Boren in his book, The Relational Way, were very practical for us as leaders as we evaluate the current health and future direction of the groups we lead:

“The vision for small groups must extend beyond the weekly meetings.  The small group meeting is crucial to group life, but in my experience in participating and leading effective groups, the meeting contributes about 40% to the life of a healthy group.  The other 60% is a result of random life connections between group members.  Good meetings are important, but we need life connections with people who will love us, challenge us, pray for us, and support us.  This cannot be done in ninety minutes once a week or twice a month.”

Read Acts 2.  This small group thing is a way of life.  Quit settling for anything less and lead people to begin living this way with you.

The Community Channel is back.  Let the dialog begin.

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Leaders, are YOU a shepherd?

December 9, 2008

We’ve probably all heard the concept of shepherd leadership.  But do we really think about what this means?  Do we lead like shepherds?  Jesus does.

Shepherds guide their sheep…they never drive them.  In fact, if you try and drive a group of sheep they will scatter…..the way to move a group of sheep is to lead them in the direction you want them to go.

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away.”   1 Peter 5:2-4

We are called to lead like shepherds.  But remember, the life of a shepherd yields little glory.  Sheep are very frustrating to lead!  But that does not mean we stop leading like a shepherd.  It is so easy for us as leaders to put tasks before people and when we do, we stop leading and begin ‘driving’ people in the direction we want them to go.  We begin looking at people as the objects that help us achieve our goals rather than people we are called to love and serve.  Just like sheep, when we ‘drive’ people rather than ‘love’ people they will scatter.

Leaders, are YOU leading like a shepherd?  Or are the people you are leading scattering in many different directions?  May we all strive to lead like Jesus….the Great Shepherd.

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Christmas Sweaters & Community

December 9, 2008
Just had to share a fun pic with all of you.  Our 20’s & 30’s Young Married Environment finished off it’s year together doing 2 things: serving & celebrating.  Next week this community, consisting of 6 small groups, will be serving a youth outreach program in a neighboring town by purchasing gifts for over 40 children and giving them a taste of Christmas that they would not get otherwise.  Awesome!  Last night we celebrated our community with a little Christmas gift exchange.  The pic below highlights the gift of the night…it fit him perfectly!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate the relationships He has given you, and celebrate through giving.
Merry Christmas.
Crazy Gift Exchanges

Crazy Gift Exchanges