Transportable Training

Posted by on Nov 8, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

How do you train disciples of Jesus when they can’t read?  And how do you train so that the trainee can train others?

While in Brazil recently, learning from Pastor Paulino and his work amongst the Terena Indians, I was struck with some of the challenges he faces.  Challenges like: many of the adults he works with are unable to read.  Yet Pastor Paulino’s vision of reaching the numerous villages in his state depends on trained disciples training others.  Mix in the three hurdles of language, ethnicity and culture, and Germanic-descent Paulino faces a difficult task.  The solution lies in indigenous disciples who lead the movement.

On many levels Paulino’s challenge is our U.S. challenge.  While most (but not all) of the adults we minister to are able to read, rarely do we encounter discipling that transfers from the recipient to the neighborhood without having to run back through the trainer.  We have invested in print-centric methodology that often fails to simplify the deep truths of Christianity into transportable learnings.

So rather than print-centric, what if discipling, especially of adult leaders, consisted of story and diagram?  What if it included key Christ-centric stories as well as how my story has become Christ-centric?  What if it didn’t neglect the foundational tenets of the faith but communicated them in easily replicated diagrams and drawings?  Could that give legs to our theological training, transporting it over walls and into villages?  Could it result in more discipled Christ-followers more quickly even and especially in a print-centric world?

I know this is nothing new for the Paulinos of the world.  But I suspect it needs to become something new for us.

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Posted by on Oct 27, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m on my way home today.  We started that direction yesterday morning by VW van, so when I land Friday morning October 28 at 5:30 am, it will have been over 36 hours of travel.  Anxious to see my family and all of you at CrossPoint.

Please join me in prayer for the people and ministries I mention in my post. Prayer is the greatest work we do, and a work any of us can do.

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15 Things I Love Most About Brazil

Posted by on Oct 25, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

As Thursday’s flight home from Sao Paolo gets closer, I thought I’d jot a list of the 15 things I’ve loved the most about Brazil. In no particular order. Pardon any omissions.

  1. VW “Comby” Vans. The van of choice for church work. Record is 17 parishioners plus driver at one time. So what if it overheated on our way from Campo Grande to Anastacio? Only added to the memories.
  2. Air conditioning. No AC in the van. No AC in the churches. No AC in the homes. AC in the hotels. Thank you.
  3. Brazilians. Welcoming. Friendly. Love to laugh. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
  4. Churrascos.  Grilled meat. In little pieces so you can eat lots without feeling too stuffed until the end. With cold beer. Limited vegetables. That about says it all.
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Posted by on Oct 20, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

This week finds me in Imperatriz, Brazil encouraging and learning from Pastor Darlon and Pastor Clovis of the Brazilian Lutheran Church.  Please join me in praying for God’s Church in Brazil and at CrossPoint.

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How This Founder Is Scaling

Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

My last post discussed the challenge of scaling.  Scaling is the ability to grow in skills and abilities so that as your organization or ministry grows, you grow with it.  Rather than having to find another seat on another bus, you create yourself a new seat or retool your current bus.

As the founding pastor of a multi-site congregation, I began this scaling journey about four years ago.  Up to that time, I was the primary preacher in our ministry, occupying the pulpit approximately three fourths of the time.  I shared the pulpit with a younger pastor on staff who was a very gifted communicator, with an incredibly mature prophetic voice.  Earlier that year we had launched our second campus about 20 minutes away in a growing area using a video model.  While we had a pastor responsible for that campus, the message was recorded earlier that morning by me or my preaching partner.

In the fall of that year, I was struck with the reality that if I wanted our ministry to retain gifted, young pastors, I needed to figure out how to give them a pulpit.  Pastors, especially the strong, gifted ones in our denomination, are trained to preach.  More than that, they need to preach.  They possess a deep calling that must be expressed.  And if I failed to create that opportunity, I knew God would lead them to a place that gift could thrive.

So it basically became a decision of “Do I want great pastors on my team or not?”

I approached a couple of my key leaders who also served as my mentors.  ”The most strategic question for us, ” I said, “is what to do with Bill Woolsey.  We can keep me as the main preacher–the voice of the ministry–but if we do, I suspect we’ll lose the good guys God has brought us.  Or, we can move me into more of an equipping, apostolic role where I coach the pastors, help define our playing fields very clearly, and keep us on an apostolic path. That means a shift in our preaching ministry, however, which has been central to who we are.”

To the wonderful credit of those mature leaders, they responded, “What do you want to do?”  It didn’t take me long to answer: “I want to multiply this ministry and I believe the best way to do that as a congregation of community-focused campuses is to have great young pastors.  So I’d like to move out of the pulpit and lead from behind the scenes, not always in the spotlight.  Let others have the spotlight.”

Over the next 18 months, we transitioned me more and more out of the pulpit.  Today, I preach about once a quarter, usually the same message at all three campuses.  We realize that will not be feasible once the next campus comes on line so we are now wrestling with how best to leverage my voice in leading the ministry when I’m not one of the regular preachers.  Thanks to God’s favor on our ministry and the blessing of wise Christian leaders, I know that conversation will result in greater growth in God’s Kingdom.

In all fairness, the giftedness of my preaching partner allowed that transition to happen as seamlessly as possible.  Without him on my team, I could not have changed my role as substantially as we have.  However I also know that were I not willing to move up into a farther-seeing chair, other gifted leaders would not have a far-seeing chair in our ministry.  Which would translate into short tenures amongst our gifted leaders.

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Becoming A Founder Who Scales

Posted by on Sep 28, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

In the summer of 2010 I had the opportunity to spend one week at Harvard for Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management.  A fascinating course, the experience was one of the most rewarding of my life.  I spent time with over 100 leaders of non-profits from around the world, working through Harvard’s tried-and-true case study method.  The study that impacted me the most dealt with minimizing the negative impact of the founder as the organization grows.  The professor wrapped the discussion basically saying that in most cases the founder has to leave.  His/her gift mix that empowered the start is not what is needed to see it into its next season.

Since I am a founding pastor of a congregation I still serve, I felt compelled to follow her out of the room and discover just how soon I needed to tender my resignation.  Instead I asked her two questions:  “Have you ever seen a case where the founder stays and the organization continues to grow and thrive?  And if so, what needs to happen?”

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