Our Mission

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The mission of the Clergy Coaching Network Facebook page:

To articulate a vision for congregations that are faithful in Evangelism, Inclusiveness, Social Justice, Worship, Community, Discipleship, Leadership Development, and Service.

To inspire, challenge and equip clergy for transformational leadership in a Post-Christian age.  We will do this by sharing relevant articles, quotes, memes and occasionally a bit of humor about human nature and congregational life.

To invite you to take advantage of our Coaching Services.  We hope that many of those who discover our page will seek to employ one of our well-trained clergy coaches to assist them in their leadership and ministry.

Our posts come from a variety of theological perspectives and seek to address the issues, challenges and opportunities facing clergy, lay leaders, congregations and the communities in which they minister.  Some of our posts will confirm what you already think; at other times we hope they will challenge assumptions and invite you to explore new possibilities. If you are uncomfortable with posts coming from a variety of points of view (conservative, moderate and progressive), this may not be the page for you. 

If you like our page and choose to comment on a post, we ask you to familiarize yourself with our mission and follow these Comment Guidelines:

As people of faith, we are called to a higher standard than the vitriol that often shows up in some Facebook comments.

On this site, we know there will be robust and passionate engagements about some of our posts, and with and among those who have differing views. Please, no personal attacks. Comment on ideas, not people.

Comments that we find to be trolling, abusive, pejorative, off-topic, racist, sexist, hate-speech, labeling, “denomination bashing,” or harassing will be removed and the person commenting may be banned. Comments made via pseudonym will be deleted. Profanity is always unacceptable! (We have our profanity filter set to “strong,” so that catches most profanity.  However, folks keep inventing new ways to get past these filters.)

Please stay on topic, and keep the conversation thread focused on the article, the meme or the subject presented. Comments that seek to “hijack” the conversation for political purposes or to present a topic not referred to in the post or meme will be deleted. 

Advertisements or solicitations, posted as comments, will be deleted.

Of course, whenever these guidelines are ignored, we reserve the right to block persons from commenting on this page.

Remember, civil discussion encourages multiple perspectives and a positive commenting environment.

The Challenge of Making Disciples: Four Findings

Diverse Business Group

Dr. Heather Heinzman Lear is the director of evangelism at Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

In her research for her doctor of ministry degree, she focused her research to determine what congregational practices are necessary to help churches fulfil the denominational mission statement: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

She worked with six congregations of various ages, sizes, and geographic locations to determine if there are consistent trends across United Methodist churches in the United States.

She writes:

The lack of a holistic understanding and practice of evangelism was evidenced in the following four findings:

The overwhelming majority of the participants were unable to articulate why Jesus is important in their lives and how offering Christ to another person would benefit their life.

The majority of congregations did not create intentional space for people to practice sharing their faith or foster an environment of authenticity where members felt they could be vulnerable and express struggles. 

The majority of participants could not differentiate good works done by the church from those of a civic organization or non-Christian. 

The majority of participants indicated that their congregations were not known in their community and that mission opportunities were developed based on member preferences instead of community needs.

Wow!

What are your thoughts about her findings? How do they match your experience, your context or your denomination if it is different from the UMC?

Heather concludes: “We can no longer assume that people who attend church on Sunday have been formed in the faith without creating intentional faith practices and education for all ages and stages of faith. Five of the six churches in my study did not create intentional space for people to share their faith and ask deep, theological questions. They also did not encourage or actively seek to place people in small groups for discipleship and accountability. Finally, congregations need help understanding that their purpose in making disciples is for the transformation of the world.”

What does this suggest to you about what is needed in your personal ministry? What does this suggest to you about what is needed to help you equip others in the ministry of evangelism? What steps can you take this week to begin addressing these four significant findings?

Source: Making Disciples, Obstacles and Opportunities in Urban Congregations. You can find the article here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/irom.12123

Men of Character

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By Chris Holmes, guest contributor

In the transition from boyhood to manhood, something deep within our nature shifts -it is gripping, definitely tied to our sexuality, and feels innately wild. This enigmatic hormonal assertiveness wells up and finds healthy expression in intense passion and sexual desire. This drive is divinely created and should be celebrated.

Unrestrained predatory behavior is not organic to manhood or inherent in male character. Abuse, violence, unwanted aggression and sexual assault are grotesque distortions of the healthy male drive and cannot be blamed on hormones or “boys just being boys”. This abhorrent conduct is more often rooted in a distorted sense of male privilege or a misogynist view of women, neither of which are of divine creation.

We men clearly have work to do in reinforcing healthy expressions of manhood and repelling social norms that justify or support abusive male behavior. We must unequivocally state that the line between healthy sexual expression and predatory abuse is not only a clear line, but a wide one, and is not crossed by men of character, no matter how powerful they are or how upstanding they may otherwise seem.

10 Rules for Addressing Panhandlers

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Dr. Pete Gathje, Memphis Theological Seminary 

“If a panhandler asks me for money, what should I do?”

This question is asked almost every time I give a talk about homelessness, or when people find out I help run Manna House, a place of hospitality for people on the streets. Here is my advice based upon my knowledge of homelessness, and talking with panhandlers.

1. Give or don’t give. It is really your choice. But always look the person in the eye who is asking, and say “Hi.” If you are not going to give then add, “Sorry I can’t help today.” If you are going to give add, “Hope this helps.” Either way, always treat the person with respect. They are human beings, made in the image of God.

2. If you do give to a panhandler, remember it is a gift, and the person is free to do with it whatever he or she wants to do. The person is not homeless because of some personal moral failure, so do not get into making moral evaluations and judgments.

3. If you do not give that is OK. Panhandlers know most people will not give. One said to me, “It is like cold calling in sales. I expect to get turned down most of the time, and it doesn’t bother me. Just treat me with respect.” (See Rule #1 above).

4. If you feel unsafe or the person panhandling is being aggressive or threatening, leave the area and don’t give. As one panhandler said to me, “There are jerks in every line of life. Don’t reward them.”

5. Sometimes give more than you are being asked for. So, if someone asks for a dollar, give them five! Both you and the panhandler can share in the joy of that unexpected gift.

6. Set a limit or a boundary to your giving. Mine is $5 per day. Once I have given out my $5 then I respond to anyone who asks, “I’ve given out already what I give each day.” I consider this my “street tax.”

7. There are people who panhandler who are not homeless. They are simply poor. It is near impossible to tell the difference between a homeless panhandler and one who is not. So, again, give if you want, or do not give if you do not want to, but treat everyone with respect. (See Rule #1 above).

8. Feeling awkward or uncomfortable when you see a panhandler or are asked for money is OK. It means you have a conscience and some compassion.

9. If you have time, and are so inclined, volunteer with an organization that works with people on the streets offering food, or shelter, or medical care etc. You will get to know some really interesting people, and they will get to know you. And you might see them on the streets from time to time, and you can wave and yell “Hi!”

10. If you really want to help people who are homeless, then advocate for housing for all homeless people and free shelters. Support organizations in your area that practice a “housing first” approach to homelessness. Also resist all efforts to dehumanize, disrespect, and criminalize people who are on the streets with laws like “No panhandling” or myths like “Panhandlers make a lot of money panhandling.” (See Rule #1 above).

(This article originally appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, 9/7/18)

Longing for Better Balance

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By Teresa Angle-Young

In a recent coaching session with a pastor, he said, “I simply cannot hear God’s voice anymore.”

He said this with a combination of fatigue, exasperation, fear and anger.

After an hour of deeply listening to him, what I heard was a life too full – full of meetings, commitments, and stress – a life overextended. Surely there was no time to stop and listen deeply to God. There was no time to listen deeply to his congregation. There was no time to listen deeply to the wisdom of scripture. And it was showing in a diminished quality to his sermons.

Most clergy have big hearts, full of compassion, and have a tendency to want to be all to all, usually at the expense of their personal lives, their health, and their own needs and desires, and often at the expense of being able to listen to God. While Jesus does call us to give selflessly, even Jesus took time away from the demands of ministry to take care of himself, to pray, to dine with friends, to form and nurture relationships, and to rest. He took time to listen deeply, to those around him and to God.

Why do we feel we can do more than Jesus?

One of the biggest challenges of ministry is knowing when to shut off the phone, to turn off the computer, and to simply rest and enjoy life. In order to provide care for others, we must care for ourselves. And in order to be an effective preacher, we must create boundaries to protect both our “down” time as well as our sermon preparation time.

Here are a few suggestions. Not everyone will work for you, and some will not even apply to you. Boundaries are not the same for everyone, so consider these and pick the ones that you want to try.

  • Schedule one hour on your calendar at the beginning of the week to simply read your sermon text, pray over the text, and reflect on the text. Do not take calls or allow interruptions during this time.
  • Observe a weekly sabbath. I know. I know. It is hard. But it’s also a commandment, and there is a good reason for that. Just do it.
  • Look at your entire work week and try to map out where you spend your time. For example, there are 168 hours in a week. A clergy colleague suggests that you sleep/rest 1/3 of the time (56 hours), work 1/3 of the time (56 hours), and spend the other 1/3 (56 hours) in recreation, hobbies and other non-work-related pursuits. Most clergy spend far more than 56 hours a week in ministry, at the expense of either sleep or family, friends, pets, fun, relaxation, hobbies, sabbath, etc.
  • Read a lot of non-religious writing. You’ll be shocked at how many sermon illustrations you’ll suddenly see.
  • Go to movies, watch the news, and read blogs on the Internet. Listen to music. Read poetry. Read fiction. Eavesdrop on conversations! People watch! Stay up on current affairs. Again, it’s sermon illustration fodder…
  • Eat the best, most nutritious food you can afford, and drink a lot of water. Not only will your body thank you, but your vocal chords will too. Cut out sugar-laden soft drinks.
  • Exercise. Take a walk. Get your body moving in some way every couple of hours for at least 10 minutes or so. If you have physical limitations, consult your doctor and do what you are able to do. If nothing else, move to a different location and give yourself a few minutes just to drink in a new view or get some fresh air.

By creating boundaries you also have the opportunity to create balance, and in that balance, you’ll have time to listen, deeply, to the voice of God.

Is your life in balance?

Click here to download a free life-work assessment tool.  church-coaching-solutions.lpages.co/work-life-balance-tool/

And, if you’d like to work with a coach who can help with your work-life balance, you can apply for a coach at http://www.clergycoachingnetwork.com/apply-now

Exemplary Leaders Possess Grit

Dr. Harry Durbin, Clergy Coaching NetworkAdobeStock_190590443.jpeg

As we have learned from our mentors, adaptive leadership skills set great leaders apart and when practiced with passion allow us to achieve a level of excellence that is needed and desired.

Angela Duckworth, in her groundbreaking book GRIT, makes a case for one of the essential components of such a skill set. Her conclusion is that effort and hard work “count twice.” When we approach our lives with grittiness, we can deliver on achievement. A person may not be a genius or possess the highest level of natural gifts, but if she or he is gritty, works hard and is committed to achievement good things happen.

I am a Memphian, and we have a professional NBA team nicknamed the Grizzlies. For many years, they have made the playoffs and on occasion taken down teams with much more natural talent. Their achievements fit their mantra, “Grit and Grind.” I do not know all that is intended by that phrase, but it certainly meant that their effort and passion could exceed that of other teams and enable them to win when not expected. To give stronger effort, to practice more diligently, and to outhustle your opponent will yield the right stuff.

In the practice of life and ministry, there are so many implications for this principle that we will simply call grit.

We can establish a culture of grit in our homes and workplaces. In the middle of Duckworth’s book, she quotes a section from a JPMorgan Chase manual, titled HOW WE DO BUSINESS.

“Have a fierce resolve in everything you do. Demonstrate determination, resiliency, and tenacity. Do not let temporary setbacks become permanent excuses. And finally, use mistakes and problems as opportunities to get better and not reasons to quit.”

Persevering will take you to good places and create the right results. It is summed up well by Brene Brown when she offers a snapshot of her book RISING STRONG.

“Fall. Get Up. Try again.”

Remember the woman in Scripture who persisted in prayer. She had grit. Remember the coach who required you to shoot a hundred free throws every day after practice. He taught you grit. Where are the spaces and places in your life that a renewed grittiness might make a huge difference?

We All Need “A Quiet Place”

A QUIET PLACE

Rick Kirchoff

A few weeks ago my wife and I went to see the movie, “A Quiet Place.”  If you’ve not heard about the film, it’s one of this year’s top-grossing films, earning just under $185 million over the last month.

Without giving away too much of the plot, it is the story of a family that must live in complete silence to avoid being attacked by a vicious alien with super-sensitive hearing. Silence, in the film’s post-apocalyptic world, saves lives.

I was reading a blog post about the film by David Chatham.  In the post, David asks us to consider how we can use silence to our advantage. He offered “three times when silence is golden.”  So, when is silence golden for a preacher or Christian leader?

1st — When you have nothing to say

It’s OK not to have an opinion on a popular/trending issue. Chatham says that we need to fight the urge to conjure up something just to be a part of the conversation. He invites us to resist the temptation, and be contemplative rather than risk being seen as exploitative or ignorant.

2nd — When someone else is more qualified to speak

Providing the insight of experts can add value and communicate that we care enough about our audience to bring them relevant content.

3rd — When it’s time to listen

Over and over we’ve all been reminded to listen twice as much as we speak. This is especially true for Christian leaders as we face the challenges of ministry.

This 3rd point brought to mind the powerful message in Psalm 4:4-5: “When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it in your beds and be silent.  Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord.”

Ruth Haley Barton writes, “There are times when the most heroic thing a leader can do is to remain in that private place with God for as long as it takes to keep from sinning.  In silence, we consciously trust ourselves to God rather than following our human impulses to fix, control or put people in the r place.”

This is not to suggest that we never speak.  Certainly, we are to courageously speak justice and compassion and hope.

But she cautions, “The more we are called upon to use our words the more distressing things are, the more that active leadership is required of us, the more silence we need. The greater the call for decisive action, the more we must be sure that we have waited long enough to receive clear direction.”

In another place she tells of how a wise, spiritual director once said to her, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up.  You need to sit still long enough so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” Be still!  Let things settle!  Take the time to quiet and calm your soul.

We all need A Quiet Place, a space to be with God and God alone, where we take the time to quiet and calm our soul and where we listen twice as much as we speak.

Where is your Quiet Place?