Friday, June 30, 2006


Just finished recording our inaugural podcast for NCC leaders. It's an experiment. As our church grows larger, we are looking for more ways to connect with our leaders, help them grow spiritually, and ensure they know what's coming up on the church calendar. It may flop and we may pull the plug. But it's something we are willing to try.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Spiritual Experiments

Alright, so I am leading a summer group called Spiritual Experiments. It's kinda like a spiritual disciplines 101. We've covered journaling and prayer. And we are going to do fasting, worship, silence and solitude, retreating and slowing, and a few others. We've got about 18 people involved in the group, and it meets at 7:00 in the morning! For most people in DC, that's an early morning. I love doing this group, and I'm so excited about the people involved.

Spiritual Experiments is the port city for the Seeker Island on the NCC discipleship map.

Keeping the Mouth Clean

For the past couple months, I have been posting on the importance of good communication and exploring ways to increase the effectiveness of our communication in both the marketplace and in ministry.

The Bible clearly teaches that a mouth that a clean mouth is essential for a leader.

James 3:11-12 captures this idea: "Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?...No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty pool."

I distinctly remember a time when God impressed upon me that my effectiveness as a leader would be directly proportional to the extent to which I controlled my tongue. It was one of those inaudible but unmistakable voice of God moments: "If you watch your mouth, I will use you."

Unfortunately, there was no magic wand to wave over my mouth to completely clean it up and bring it under control. It's a discipline.

James 1:26 says, "If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself and your religion is worthless." In a previous leadership lesson, we examined what the book of James said about controlling the tongue-- being slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to anger. Today, we are going to put up some road signs to warn of specific mouth sins.

I have a tendency to dislike women's prayer meetings because I often find them to be more of a gossip session than a prayer session. How many times have you heard someone share something juicy in order "that we might better pray for them?"

We also have a tendency to think that gossip is relating events that are not true. News flash. Gossip is passing along any information that makes another person look bad. Let that sink in. One form of gossip is simply saying bad things about another person.

Many bad situations could be shortened or avoided altogether simply by refusing to talk badly about it. As Proverbs 26:26 explains, "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down."

In fact, the writer of Proverbs was so concerned about the danger of gossip that he was cautious about being around anyone who talked too much: "A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much."

Sometimes the best communication skill is biting down on the tongue, clamping shut the lips, and not talking at all.

Let's hold ourselves accountable as follows:
  • Refusing to speak badly of someone without a meaningful, redemptive reason for doing so
  • Stopping gossip when we hear it happening in our circles of conversation

Unguarded Talk
Psalm 141:3 says, "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." The second area we need to watch out for is unguarded talk.

Unguarded talk includes rash statements, ungodly speech, foolish talk, and the general spewing of careless words that have not been processed thoughtfully.

First of all, keeping the mouth clean involves watching the language that we use. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I want to challenge us a little on this issue. I think sometimes we use certain words in the interest of being cool, relevant, or just funny, but we are poisoning our mouths and spirits by allowing that junk to be a part of our vocabulary. At a minimum, it's the result of laziness in speech.

I don't want to fall into the trap of measuring spiritual maturity by using a narrow litmus test of how many "bad words" are used per day. But I do want to challenge us to be careful about what comes out of our mouths.

Consider Ephesians 4:29, "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."

Additionally, unguarded talk is much more than a stray cuss word here or there; it also includes careless speech.

Disclaimer-- some of us process out loud. We need to "talk through" decisions and uncertainties with trusted friends. That's not what I'm referring to here. I am talking here about speech that is potentially harmful to ourselves and others that we let spill out of our mouths without any thought. It's unguarded.

Many times, the words that are most hurtful to us were spoken in a careless manner. They were not premeditated or intentionally meant for evil. They were careless, hurtful words that slipped out of someone's mouth without their giving it any thought. In fact, I think sometimes the words that have hurt us the most would not even be remembered by the person who said them.

I shudder to think how many times I have unintentionally hurt people by careless words.

Consider the following:

Proverbs 13:3 “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

Matthew 12:36-37 “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Integrity and Honesty
Working on Capitol Hill, I was confronted every single day with decisions regarding honesty and integrity. There were definitely times when telling a small, white lie would have been much easier than telling the raw truth. But that small decision can have disastrous impacts down the road.

I was faced with a very difficult situation once, and one of the people in my office advised, "Just tell them..." The dot-dot-dot there represented a small white lie that would not have affected the outcome at all. It was basically a statement of professing ignorance. That split-second of decision felt like an eternity until the person said, "Oh, you wouldn't do that, would you?" On one hand, I felt like that was the highest compliment I could have been given. On the other hand, I was scared to realize how easy it would have been to just take the easy way out.

Truth is-- there is never an easy way out when it comes to your integrity.

What may seem like an easy way out in the midst of a difficult situation is actually an eroding force that will eventually chip away at your entire character.

Say what you mean. And mean what you say.

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:33-37).

Finally, we should avoid complaining, grumbling, and negativity. Philippians 2:14 says, "Do all things without complaining and disputing."

I think we waste a ridiculous amount of time complaining about stuff that we have no control over or no desire to help solve. Churches often miss their entire mission and ministry because they are infected with a complaining problem. There is a right way to complain and a wrong way to complain. The right way is to complain in a way that is solution-oriented and often involves being proactive about offering solutions. The wrong way to complain is to talk with others about something that we have no desire to take personal responsibility for or we talk more with other people about it than we talk to God about it.

We want to stay on-target and on-mission at NCC, so we ask our leaders to commit to unity and thoughtfull-ness in speech and attitude. One piece of the Leadership Covenant states, "I will protect the unity of National Community refusing to gossip or grumble."

Gossiping and grumbling is complaining the wrong way-- by abdicating personal responsibility and not committing the issue to prayer.

We don't like to talk about the topic of holiness, but we must face it because that is what God calls us to be. In 1 Peter 1:16, God challenges us, "Be holy, for I am holy."

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes of holiness:

"The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness...The one thing that matters is whether a man will accept the God Who will make him holy." He goes on to state, "Never tolerate through sympathy with yourself or with others any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind - every detail of the life under the scrutiny of God. Holiness is not only what God gives me, but what I manifest that God has given me."

Ultimately, this is a holiness issue.

Let's make the following our prayer: "Though you probe my heart and examine me at night though you test me, you will find nothing;I have resolved that my mouth will not sin." (Psalm 17:3)

Friday, June 23, 2006


It's been one of my dreams for some time to produce the musical Godspell. I saw the show for the first time in high school and knew then that I wanted to be involved in it some day. In the past year, I have realized that I need to start putting feet to my faith and moving towards actually doing something with this vision.

Last night, Ryan and I ate chips and salsa with Kacey, whom we have asked to direct, and the three of us took baby steps towards making this dream a reality.

What does this have to do with discipleship?

Two things:
  • Artists need discipleship opportunities that are meaningful to them. Artists are often a difficult people to work with. I can say that fairly because I've been in the artist camp. However, they reflect and give voice to the creative characteristics of God, and we desperately need their voices in the church. Artists don't always fit into the discipleship boxes that we give them, and it is our spiritual responsibility as pastors and leaders to help them find environments where they can grow in and express their faith. I hope Godspell will be an excellent and entertaining production. But more importantly, I hope that it will be an opportunity for the actors and technicians involved to grow in their understanding and practice of Christian community and grow in their relationship with God.
  • Art is worship. All art is worshiping something, and the church needs to reclaim the arts for God and we need to help people reconcile art and faith. Some people will step over the line of faith and follow Christ as a result of Godspell. Perhaps they have heard the Word preached in one sense. But seeing the Gospel of Matthew in this form will allow them to hear the Word preached in yet another form. It's about communicating old truths in new ways.

Communication from Leader to Member

Here is another re-print from the Communication series we are doing over on In this week's article, we talk about the importance of communication from small group leader to small group member.

Two weeks ago we focused on the importance of communicating up to those in leadership or authority in your life, ministry, and workplace. Last week, we talked about the importance of communicating across to the other leaders around you. Today, we will take a look at the importance of and skills necessary for effectively communicating down to members of your groups. We will look at communication dynamics within the group environment and then narrow the focus to one-on-one communication with individual group members.

Communication Within the Group Setting
One of the primary jobs of the small group leader is to facilitate discussion within the small group meeting. Different people will facilitate in different ways. Some of us are shepherds or facilitators while others of us are more like teachers. But regardless of how we carry out our role, it's important that we communicate God's truth with clarity and conviction to those who follow us. Most of Paul's epistles were examples of communicating in this type of corporate gathering. He wrote letters to the churches in Corinth, Rome, Thessalonica, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, and Philippi to answer questions and to give encouragement, correction, and teaching.

Within the context of the group setting, we should communicate vision, communicate the lesson, communicate through listening, and communicate wins.

Communicate Vision
I've said it before, and I will say it again: we cannot communicate vision enough. We need to communicate the vision of discipleship and the vision of our individual groups until people are absolutely sick of hearing it. In fact, we need to communicate it until we are sick of hearing ourselves say it. In his book Leadership Jazz, Max DePree said, "I learned that if you are a leader, and you are not tired of communicating, you probably aren't doing a good enough job. You may want to take the first five minutes of every group meeting to remind people of why you are meeting and what you hope to accomplish.

The overall vision of NCC small groups is Be One (a disciple), Make One (a disciple), For One (for Christ and his glory). When you meet as a group, review that vision and how the specific vision of your individual group accomplishes the goals of discipleship. Remind individual members of their responsibility within and to the group by clearly communicating expectations of those who are in the group.

When you speak about your vision, share it with enthusiasm (no one is going to be more excited about the vision than you), confidence (no one wants to follow someone who isn't sure about where they are going), and relevance (no one wants to go somewhere that will not benefit them).

Communicating the Lesson
The most obvious form of communication within the group context revolves around the "study" component of the group meeting. As I mentioned earlier, some of our groups are more discussion oriented while other groups are more teaching oriented, so there are varying degrees of styles and methods used to facilitate discussion in groups. Regardless of how you approach your study time, there are four types of questions that increase the level of transparency in the group.
  • Facts- What does the text say? These questions focus on information, and they are aimed at the lowest level of personal transparency. They draw people into thinking and sharing about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the topic or passage under discussion.
  • Opinions- What do I think about the topic or what the text says? These questions move a little bit deeper from the realm of general information to the realm of the mind.
  • Feelings- How do I feel about the topic or what the text says? These types of questions move even deeper to heart issues. This is the level where transparency and authenticity occur.
  • Application-What does this mean to me and how must I apply this to my life? This is the final level of questioning and discussion. What practical ways can we apply the teaching to our lives and corporately hold one another accountable to practice what we have learned?

Communicating By Listening
How you listen is just as important as what you say. In Leading Life Changing Small Groups, Bill Donahue gives four suggestions for effective listening within the group context:
  • Invite comments from other group members. This ensures that no one person monopolizes the conversation or establishes themselves as the authority on any given topic. Encourage everyone to participate.
  • Validate and empathize with people's emotions. That does not necessarily mean agreeing with what someone has said. We can connect with someone on an emotional level without sacrificing doctrinal soundness.
  • Explore their statements and seek more information. Ask leading questions to encourage deeper conversation about what has been said.
  • Clarify what has been said. It is sometimes good to repeat back to the person and the group what has been said.

Communicating Wins
Finally, we should be intentional about communicating and celebrating wins as a group. Sharing the vision is important, but recognizing and celebrating moments that hit the vision bulls-eye are even more important. Here are some things to consider:
  • Encouragement. Recognize and encourage group members who are growing, learning, sharing, and contributing to the group experience.
  • Gratitude. Recognize and thank group members publicly who make wins happen.

Communication Outside the Group Context
Vince Lombardi said, “Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their players and motivate.” What happens between group meetings is often more important than what heppens during the meeting itself.

Communicate with each person in the group once a week through email, personal conversation, note, or phone call.

Communicate with potential leaders regularly outside of group time for individual discipleship and leadership development. Ask them about their spiritual life, and tell them about yours. Teach them what you have learned about following God, spiritual growth, and leadership. Be honest about both struggles, failures, joys, and successes that you have experience as a leader. Clearly communicate to them the role that you see them playing in the group and potential leadership roles that they could assume in the future. As they begin to lead on their own, give lots of feedback on what they did well and areas that they can improve. Help them see where their gifts are being used.

Passing It On
What are some things that you have learned about communication in small groups that you can pass along to other leaders?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Margin and Rhythms

The past month has been crazy. Finishing The Story, preaching, completing a book proposal, going to Chicago, leading Inward Bound...

But now I think I am getting back to a more normal schedule. I'm really looking forward to getting back to a regular reading schedule and blogging schedule. Ensuring that you've got margin in your life and establishing a rhythm are critical to ministry. Well, to anything in life really. Jesus was constantly withdrawing from the crowds to pray. If Jesus, who was God, needed to get away from his sphere of ministry, then we need to do that, as well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Communicating Across to Peers

Here is more from the Zonegathering Communication Series. This article focuses on the importance of communication between leaders in a ministry context, but the principles can apply in marketplace settings, as well. Many of the suggestions apply within the NCC context, but they are easily transferable.

Last week, we focused on the importance of communicating up to those in authority. Today, we will talk about the leadership skill of communicating across to other leaders.

Calling the Ball
When I played softball, communication happened in 3 ways. The first and most obvious channel of communication was from coach to player. During practices, the coaches would challenge, stretch, correct, and encourage us as players. The coach would help us be stronger hitters, more accurate throwers, and quicker analysts of fielding choices. Before the game, the coach would fire up our internal passion to win. After the game, depending on the outcome, the coach would cheer us, buy us pizza, console us, or make us run laps.

The second channel of communication was from player to coach. During practice, we would ask our coach for pointers or for more opportunities to increase our skills. We would communicate to him the areas that we wanted to strengthen and share with him our desires for the team's success.

But the most important communication typically occurred player-to-player. During the heat of the game, communication still happened from coach to player and vice-versa, but that happened from the sidelines. The place where communication really counted was on the field in the midst of the game, and that communication had to flow from player-to-player as we called balls, communicated fielding choices, and engineered scenarios for the double play. Slugger Babe Ruth said, "You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime."

Peer Discipleship
In discipleship, your zone leader is your coach. Their job is to train you, stretch you, challenge you, and cheer you on as you play your role. But the most important communication you can have to make you a successful small group leader might be the form of communication that is most often overlooked-- the communication between leaders.

We often think of discipleship as being top-down, but when you look at the Bible, you see numerous examples of "peer discipleship." Daniel and his 3 friends (better known to us as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) encouraged one another to obey God's commands. They weren't being led by a small group leader; they were leading one another. We typically think of "Paul and Barnabas" or "Paul and Silas," listing Paul first because he was the dominant leader discipling the other person. In reality, Paul was involved in a peer discipleship relationship with Barnabas and Silas (actually, Barnabas was discipling Paul in the beginning). It wasn't top-down; it was across.

Paul told the church at Thessalonica to "encourage one another and build one another up" (I Thessalonians 5:11). That's not a top-down arrangement; it's encouraging and building up from peer to peer.

Communication Environments
In order to facilitate communication amongst our leaders we have created a number of different environments. Leadership Retreats and Summits are great opportunities to meet, connect, and re-connect with other leaders, but we recognize thats not enough. There are two other primary environments for you to connect with other leaders.
  • Zone Meetings. As we mentioned last week, Zone Meetings are opportunities for you to connect with and communicate with your Zone Leader or Team Leader. But they are also opportunities for you to communicate with and learn from your fellow leaders.
  • The primary purpose of this online community for small group leaders is to facilitate communication from small group leader to small group leader. The primary purpose is not for the zone leaders to just yap all the time about what's on their mind. We want to hear what you are thinking, what you are concerned about, what you are praying about, what God is doing in your group, what works, what doesn't work, etc. Zonegathering is a place for you to connect with other leaders and communicate across to them in order to encourage one another and build each other up.
Communication Topics
So what do you talk with other leaders about? Here are some ideas:

Share Wins
Sharing wins creates momentum and encourages the entire leadership team. The best place to share wins with other leaders is on the Friday Scorecard right here at Zongegathering. Share what God is doing in your group with other leaders, and encourage other leaders when they experience a win. We need to learn to communicate across and celebrate with one another.

Share Ideas
If you have led for any amount of time, then you have ideas that are worth sharing with other people. Maybe it's an idea for an outreach or a great icebreaker. Don't make other leaders re-invent the wheel. Share what you have learned during your time leading groups. What are some keys to facilitating good discussion? How do you handle difficult people in groups? How do you do prayer in groups? Every person we meet has the potential to teach us something, and we have the potential to teach something to every person we encounter. Seek to make other leaders successful by sharing what you have learned.

Share Failures
Communicating across to other leaders is particularly helpful when its focused on failure and how to deal with that. Satisfactory leaders probably don't fail, good leaders may not fail, but great leaders have failed at some point and will probably continue to fail because they are on the cutting edge of leadership. The psychiatrist M. Scott Peck said, “If we are to use the word community meaningfully, we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure." By sharing our failures and our response to failure, we can encourage and help other leaders.

Share Prayer
I love to see leaders praying together at summits and retreats. Too often, small group leaders are the ones driving the prayer train in group settings, and it's possible to go for weeks without getting prayed for yourself. Pray for other leaders and pray with other leaders. Your zone is a great place to facilitate those types of relationships. I believe pretty strongly in the idea that God will bless your group if you invest prayer into other leaders and their groups.

Making the Effort
To effectively communicate across to other leaders, you have to connect with other leaders and that may require you to take some initiative. In the 360-Degree Leader, John Maxwell points out that we tend to get closest to three different types of people-- 1) people we have known for a long time, 2) people with whom we have common experiences, and 3) people that we know like us. This vastly limits our exposure to new ideas and resources. At the next summit, make an effort to connect with a leader that you don't know. Schedule time for coffee or lunch and seek to learn from that leader's gifts, passions, and experiences.

A team will only succeed if they are communicating effectively across to one another in the midst of the game. To make the play, someone must call the ball. Commit today to communicating well with your teammates.

Inward Bound

Besides our Leadership Retreat, we do 2 spiritual formation retreats at NCC- Inward Bound and Upward Bound. Upward Bound focuses on connecting with God by experimenting with different spiritual disciplines. Last fall, we used the tabernacle as a metaphor for the weekend, and we explored communion, baptism, prayer, journaling, worship, and Bible meditation. We even set up prayer stations that represented different components of the Tabernacle.

This weekend is Inward Bound, the flagship NCC retreat. This was always Pastor Mark's baby, but he has turned over the reins to me this year. We are going to be exploring how God has wired us and discovering the story that he is writing in our lives. The sessions will look something like this:
  • Orientation- Begin at the end. It sounds a bit morbid, but we will challenge folks on the first night of the retreat to think about their death bed. What have they learned? What have they accomplished? Whom did they influence? What investments will follow them to heaven and which will not amount to a pile of ashes?
  • Session 1: Interpreting Your Past. We will provide a framework for people to begin writing their life story. Dividing their life into "Chapters," they will list people, places, and events that were significant in their personal development and life trajectory.
  • Session 2: Discovering Your Spiritual DNA. We will talk about Dual Destiny-- our universal destiny (to become like Christ and share him with others) and our unique destiny (what discipleship and evangelism look like in our own lives)
  • Session 3: Preparing for Your Future. We will list 1oo life goals.
  • Session 4: Understanding Your Present. We will talk about the importance of being plugged into God's word and accountability relationships, the importance of delays and detours, and the spiritual discipline of living day by day.
  • Session 5: The Jealous Author. In order to understand the story that is being written in our lives, we must know our Author. Our Author is a jealous God who loves us and deeply desires relationship with us.
We will head to the retreat site, Rocky Gap, on Friday and stay through Sunday. It should be a great time.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Smell of Sin

I just read a great book by Don Everts entitled The Smell of Sin and the Fresh Air of Grace. Fantastic read. I just posted a review here on the ZoneGathering.

Read it. And then make your leaders read it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Communicating with Leaders

On ZoneGathering, our online community for small group leaders at NCC, we are running a series of articles on Communication. We want to help our leaders become better communicators-- with God and with others. We want to help them communicate up to authority, across to other leaders, and down to those they disciple.

While the following article is pretty specific to NCC, I thought I would post it over here, as well, in the event it's helpful to someone.

To be a great leader, it is vitally important that you connect with the leadership structure of the environment you are in. At work, that would be your boss or anyone with authority in your particular place in the company. At NCC, that first includes your Team Leader and/or Zone Leader. And secondly, those on staff responsible for spiritual growth.

As we explore the topic of communication, let's look at the principles of effectively communicating up to your leaders. These principles apply anywhere, but for the purposes of this article we will explore them within the framework of our discipleship structures at NCC.

Give Feedback
Team Leaders and Zone Leaders are responsible for giving direction, spiritual guidance, and support to our small group leaders. They have many years of discipleship and small group experience under their belt, and they may have already walked through some of stuff that you are facing. Giving them regular feedback about your group and the situations you are facing will help you in the long run.

At NCC, we ask each leader to complete a win sheet after each group meeting. This is one of the most important communication tools that you have as a leader.

Here are some of the reasons we do win sheets and how they can be beneficial to you:
  • Completing win sheets after each meeting should help you think more critically, intentionally, and strategically about your group
  • Win sheets are an opportunity to give God praise for the good things happening in your group. On the top of each win sheet is a Scripture: Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they praised God. Acts 21:19-20a. That’s probably the best reason for doing win sheets. To give God praise.
  • Focusing on wins each week creates momentum.
  • Win sheets will help us help you. We will know immediately about issues in your group before they have a chance to spin out of control.
  • Win sheets will help us know how to pray for and encourage you.
In order to grow as a leader and improve communication with those above you, submit win sheets regularly.

Connect Often
In addition to submitting your win sheet, connect with your leader often. Don't wait for them to reach out to you; take the initiative to establish a good relationship with your leaders. The majority of the New Testament consists of the results of people connecting with their leader. Paul wrote most of the epistles to respond to questions that were raised by the churches that he worked with. If the Corinthians had not reached out to Paul to ask questions, then we might not have the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Reaching out proactively will help you be a better leader. Shoot them an email or give them a call just to reconnect, celebrate wins, get advice, or just let them know what's going on in your group.

In order to improve communication with your leaders, take the initiative to connect with them often.

Complain Well
One day, I am going to write a book entitled Following Well to explore the characteristics of a good follower. I am convinced that good followers tell their leaders what they need to hear; not what they want to hear. No successful leader surrounds themselves with only "yes men." We want to create a leadership culture at NCC that is open, honest, and transparent, and the voices of our leaders are the ones that we listen to the most.

In Philippians 2:14, Paul encourages the Christians of Philippi to imitate Christ and to "do everything without complaining or arguing." Knowing how to raise difficult issues well is a leadership art, and your skill in this area can accomplish positive results.

There is a right way to complain and a wrong way to complain. In the Peanuts comic strip, bossy Lucy tells Charlie Brown, "I don't pretend to be able to give advice. I merely point out the trouble." On the opposite end of the spectrum, Henry Ford said, "Don't find a fault; find a remedy."

A good leader and follower is a Henry Ford, not a Lucy.

I want to create a leadership culture at NCC where every problem or concern is accompanied by two things: a potential solution and a willingness to be a part of the solution. Daniel is a great example of a leader who provided a solution to a problem. As a new leader-in-training in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was given food and wine that did not comply with the Hebrew dietary laws. Instead of simply refusing to eat the food, he offered a solution. His solution was not only allowed, but it proved to be a better idea and was implemented school-wide. Some of our best ideas at NCC have come from leaders who helped discover solutions. (See Daniel 1)

And while you've got that Bible cracked open, Joseph is another great example of a man with a plan. Read Genesis 41.

When you talk with your leaders about a problem that you see, come armed with a potential solution and a willingness to take some ownership of that solution.

Share Vision
Your leaders can't help you navigate if they don't know where you are going. At the beginning of each semester, schedule some time with your Team Leader or Zone Leader and tell them the goals for your group. Talk to them about how the goals of your group fit into their goals for the zone and the goals of NCC for community and discipleship. That creates an opportunity for us to help your group accomplish those goals. Your leader may be able to throw ideas and resources your way when they know your vision. They can also help you grow your vision and equip you to reach it.

To improve your leadership, share your vision and goals with your leaders.

One More Thing
One final thing-- encourage your leaders. I know that sounds kinda silly and touchy-feely, but your Team Leaders and Zone Leaders are passionate about discipleship and they are committed to your spiritual growth and leadership development. Paul recognized the importance of encouragement over 30 times in his epistles. The writer of Hebews says that we should "encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13) and "think of ways to encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25)

Shoot your leaders a note of encouragement and thank them for the work that they do. One positive comment can offset the discouraging comments.

Communication is key to our growth both individually and corporately, and communicating effectively up to our leaders is a skill that we should all diligently develop.


No, not the television show...though I love it. I just wanted to let you know about my whereabouts since I've been a bit absent from Wineskins for the past couple of weeks. Finishing The Story and preaching in the same week proved to be a bit time consuming, so I needed to take a little break from blogging. I will make good on that promise to share about how we make training fun at NCC...soon!