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Become a transformational leader

Leadership is a choice. By choosing to be a transformational leaders you are choosing to lead everyday, everywhere.  Leadership is a skill and practice that we can continue to craft and refine. There are a variety of was to exercise leadership and we’ve suggested six approaches to practicing leadership below.  As you review the list of approaches, make note of which ones that you practice on a frequent basis and which ones might be underutilized.

Build your skills; change your mindset

Leadership is a choice. By choosing to be a transformational leaders you are choosing to lead everyday, everywhere.  Leadership is a skill and practice that we can continue to craft and refine. It’s something we choose to practice everyday through our words, attitudes and actions.

The 6 practices for being a better leader, many of which reflect practices found in the book, The Leadership Challenge.  Take time to determine which practices you do well, and utilize often.  Identify specific practices you wish to develop and use more frequently.There are a variety of was to exercise leadership and we’ve suggested six approaches to practicing leadership below.  As you review the list of approaches, make note of which ones that you practice on a frequent basis and which ones might be underutilized.

1 | Model the way

Be the change you’re seeking for others. ” To stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for. To walk the talk, you have to have a talk to walk. To do what you say, you have to know what you want to say. To earn and sustain personal credibility, you must first be able to clearly articulate deeply held beliefs. Clarify Values Clarifying values is where it all begins. To clarify values as a leader you must engage in these two essentials:

  • Find your voice. You must know what you care about. To act with integrity, you must first know who you are. You must know what you stand for, what you believe in and what you care most about. Clarity of values will give you the confidence to make the tough decisions, to act with determination and to take charge of your life. Once you have the words you want to say, you must also give voice to those words.
  • Affirm shared values. Shared values are the foundations for building productive and genuine working relationships. Although credible leaders honor the diversity of their many constituencies, they also stress their common values. Important as it is that leaders forthrightly articulate the principles for which they stand, what leaders say must be consistent with the aspirations of their constituents.High-performance values stress the commitment to excellence, caring values communicate how others are to be treated, and uniqueness values tell people inside and outside how the organization is different from all the others. These three common threads seem to be critical to weaving a values tapestry that leads to greatness.

Set the Example. Leaders take every opportunity to show others, by their own examples, that they’re deeply committed to the values and aspirations they espouse. No one will believe you’re serious until they see you doing what you’re asking of others. Leading by example is how leaders make visions and values tangible. It’s how they provide the evidence that they’re personally committed. To set the example, you need to:

  • Personify the shared values. Leaders are their organizations’ ambassadors of shared values. Their mission is to represent the values and standards to the rest of the world, and it is their solemn duty to serve the values to the best of their abilities. Spend your time and attention wisely, watch your language, ask purposeful questions and seek feedback.
  • Teach others to model the values. Teach others what’s expected so they can hold themselves accountable for living the values of the organization, confront critical incidents, tell stories about what team members do to live the values and reinforce the behavior you want repeated.

In practicing these essentials, leaders become role models for what the whole team stands for and they also create a culture in which everyone commits to aligning themselves with shared values

Be the change you’re seeking for others. ” To stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for. To walk the talk, you have to have a talk to walk. To do what you say, you have to know what you want to say. To earn and sustain personal credibility, you must first be able to clearly articulate deeply held beliefs. Clarify Values Clarifying values is where it all begins. To clarify values as a leader you must engage in these two essentials:

  • Find your voice. You must know what you care about. To act with integrity, you must first know who you are. You must know what you stand for, what you believe in and what you care most about. Clarity of values will give you the confidence to make the tough decisions, to act with determination and to take charge of your life. Once you have the words you want to say, you must also give voice to those words.
  • Affirm shared values. Shared values are the foundations for building productive and genuine working relationships. Although credible leaders honor the diversity of their many constituencies, they also stress their common values. Important as it is that leaders forthrightly articulate the principles for which they stand, what leaders say must be consistent with the aspirations of their constituents.High-performance values stress the commitment to excellence, caring values communicate how others are to be treated, and uniqueness values tell people inside and outside how the organization is different from all the others. These three common threads seem to be critical to weaving a values tapestry that leads to greatness.

Set the Example. Leaders take every opportunity to show others, by their own examples, that they’re deeply committed to the values and aspirations they espouse. No one will believe you’re serious until they see you doing what you’re asking of others. Leading by example is how leaders make visions and values tangible. It’s how they provide the evidence that they’re personally committed. To set the example, you need to:

  • Personify the shared values. Leaders are their organizations’ ambassadors of shared values. Their mission is to represent the values and standards to the rest of the world, and it is their solemn duty to serve the values to the best of their abilities. Spend your time and attention wisely, watch your language, ask purposeful questions and seek feedback.
  • Teach others to model the values. Teach others what’s expected so they can hold themselves accountable for living the values of the organization, confront critical incidents, tell stories about what team members do to live the values and reinforce the behavior you want repeated.

In practicing these essentials, leaders become role models for what the whole team stands for and they also create a culture in which everyone commits to aligning themselves with shared values

2 | Inspire a shared vision

What are you specifically inviting people to rally around and help support?  Is your vision sufficiently compelling that others would be willing to sacrifice their time, energy and resources to help fulfill? Organized efforts — whether those of a congregation, a project or a movement — begin in the mind’s eye. Call it what you will — vision, purpose, mission, legacy, dream, aspiration, calling or personal agenda — the point is the same. If we are going to be catalytic leaders in life, we have to be able to imagine a positive future. When we envision the future we want for ourselves and others, and when we feel passionate about the legacy we want to leave, then we are much more likely to take that first step forward. If we don’t have the slightest clue about our hopes, dreams and aspirations, the chance that we’ll lead is nil. Exemplary leaders are forward-looking. They are able to envision the future, to gaze across the horizon of time and imagine the greater opportunities to come. They are able to develop an ideal and unique image of the future for the common good.

Leaders develop the capacity to envision the future for themselves and others by mastering two essentials:

  • Imagine the possibilities. There are ways we can improve our capacity to imagine exciting possibilities and to discover the central theme for our lives. Improvement comes when you engage in conscious introspection. You need to do more to reflect on your past, attend to the present, prospect the future and feel your passion.
  • Find a common purpose. What people really want to hear is not simply the leader’s vision. They want to hear about their own aspirations. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be fulfilled. They want to see themselves in the picture of the future that the leader is painting. Listen deeply to others. Determine what’s meaningful to them. Make it a cause for commitment. People commit to causes, not to plans. “What really drives performance is not metrics. It’s passion plus pride equals performance.  The leader’s job is to create an environment where people are passionate about what they’re doing and take pride in what they’re doing. The end result will always be performance.”

Mobilizing people to action. Whether they’re trying to mobilize a crowd in a grandstand or one person in the office, to enlist others, leaders must improve their capacities to act on these two essentials:

  • Appeal to common ideals. Ideals reveal our higher- order value preferences. Connect to what’s meaningful to others, take pride in being unique and align your dream with the people’s dream.
  • Animate the vision. Leaders have to arouse others to join in a cause and to want to move decisively and boldly forward. Use symbolic language, make images of the future, practice positive communication, express your emotions and speak from the heart. Successfully engaging in these two essentials can produce very powerful results.

When leaders effectively communicate a vision, constituents report significantly higher levels of job satisfaction, motivation, commitment, loyalty, team spirit, productivity and profitability.

3 | Challenge the Process

Leaders create a climate for experimentation; the recognition of good ideas; the support of those ideas; and the willingness to challenge the system to get new products, processes, services and systems adopted. The work of leaders is change. All change requires that leaders actively seek ways to make things better, to grow, innovate and improve. To search for opportunities to get extraordinary things done, leaders seize the initiative and find ways to shake things up. Other times they just have to grab hold of the adversity that surrounds them.

Whether change comes from outside challenges or inside challenges, leaders make things happen. And to make new things happen, they actively seek innovative ideas from outside the boundaries of familiar experience. They must go out and talk to their constituents, be they citizens, customers, employees, stockholders, students, suppliers, vendors, business partners, managers or just interested parties. They must listen — in person, on the phone, via e-mail, via Web sites — and stay in touch. Sometimes you just can’t predict where the change will come from but you have to have your eyes wide open if you have any hope of even catching a glimpse of it. Leaders can expect demand for change to come from both inside and outside the organization. Unless external communication is actively encouraged, people interact with outsiders less and less frequently and new ideas are cut off.

When people think about their personal bests, they automatically think about some kind of challenge. Why? The fact is that when times are stable and secure, people are not severely tested. They may perform well, get promoted, even achieve fame and fortune. But certainty and routine breed complacency. In contrast, personal and business hardships have a way of making people come face to face with who they really are and what they’re capable of becoming. Leaders must be innovators to navigate their organizations into and through the global economy. To create a climate in which the norm is to experiment and take risks, it’s essential for leaders to generate small wins. Leaders should dream big but start small. Dream big about what God might do at and beyond your ministry setting, but start small with a few short journeys to test your theories and your abilities.

Take time to learn from experience. Studies of the innovation process make the point: “Success does not breed success. It breeds failure. It is failure which breeds success.” These essentials can help leaders transform challenge into an exploration, uncertainty into a sense of adventure, fear into resolve and risk into reward. They are the keys to making progress that becomes unstoppable.

4 | Enable Others to Act

It’s important to develop systems that support ongoing transformation.  Every congregation needs systems that facilitate reaching out to the community, inviting people to your congregation, welcoming and befriending them, equipping them as disciples, and sending people out to serve and share God’s love.  For a deeper understanding of systems, refer to the Build Better Systems.  Listed below are three specific strategies for empowering others to act.

Increase collaboration. Collaboration can be sustained only when you create a climate of trust and facilitate effective long-term relationships among your constituents. To get extraordinary things done, leaders have to promote a sense of mutual dependence — feeling part of a group in which everyone knows they need the others to be successful. To increase collaboration, show trust to build trust. Building trust is a process that begins when one party is willing to risk being the first to ante up, being the first to show vulnerability and being the first to let go of control. Since you’re the leader, the first to trust has to be you. Ask questions, listen and take advice. When talking about what is planned or what has been accomplished, it’s essential that you talk in terms of our vision, our values, our goals, our actions and our achievements. Get people interacting to increase collaboration. Create opportunities for people to interact with one another and, in the process, form more trusting, more collaborative relationships. People can’t all be in this together unless you get them interacting on both a personal and a professional basis. People need these opportunities to socialize, exchange information and solve problems informally.
Build up people’s confidence and capacities. Exemplary leaders enable others to take ownership of and responsibility for their group’s success by enhancing their competence and their confidence in their abilities, by listening to their ideas and acting upon them, by involving them in important decisions, and by acknowledging and giving credit for their contributions. Creating a climate in which people are fully engaged and feel in control of their own lives is at the heart of strengthening others. People must have the latitude to make decisions based on what they believe should be done. Enhance self-determination to increase confidence and capacities. Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power: You become more powerful when you give your own power away. Self-determination can be enhanced in a number of ways. The most significant actions a leader can take to ensure that people can decide for themselves are to provide more choices, to design jobs that offer latitude and to foster personal accountability. Create a development plan for every leader. Developing competence and building confidence are essential to delivering on the organization’s promises and maintaining the credibility of leaders and team members alike. To get extraordinary things done, leaders must invest in strengthening the capacity and the resolve of everyone in the organization.
Turn constituents into leaders — making people capable of acting on their own initiative. A virtuous cycle is created as power and responsibility are extended to others and as people respond successfully. Find ways to Increase individual accountability. Enhancing self-determination means giving people control over their own lives. Therefore you, the leader, have to give them something of substance to control and for which they are accountable. Offer visible support. Make others more visible. By fostering outside contacts, and by developing and promoting people with promise, you help build a greater sense of personal power, increase confidence and open doors for people so they can exercise more of their own influence. Conduct monthly coaching conversations. Schedule a once-a-month one-on-one dialogue with each of your direct reports.

Be the change you’re seeking for others. ” To stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for. To walk the talk, you have to have a talk to walk. To do what you say, you have to know what you want to say. To earn and sustain personal credibility, you must first be able to clearly articulate deeply held beliefs. Clarify Values Clarifying values is where it all begins. To clarify values as a leader you must engage in these two essentials:

  • Find your voice. You must know what you care about. To act with integrity, you must first know who you are. You must know what you stand for, what you believe in and what you care most about. Clarity of values will give you the confidence to make the tough decisions, to act with determination and to take charge of your life. Once you have the words you want to say, you must also give voice to those words.
  • Affirm shared values. Shared values are the foundations for building productive and genuine working relationships. Although credible leaders honor the diversity of their many constituencies, they also stress their common values. Important as it is that leaders forthrightly articulate the principles for which they stand, what leaders say must be consistent with the aspirations of their constituents.High-performance values stress the commitment to excellence, caring values communicate how others are to be treated, and uniqueness values tell people inside and outside how the organization is different from all the others. These three common threads seem to be critical to weaving a values tapestry that leads to greatness.

Set the Example. Leaders take every opportunity to show others, by their own examples, that they’re deeply committed to the values and aspirations they espouse. No one will believe you’re serious until they see you doing what you’re asking of others. Leading by example is how leaders make visions and values tangible. It’s how they provide the evidence that they’re personally committed. To set the example, you need to:

  • Personify the shared values. Leaders are their organizations’ ambassadors of shared values. Their mission is to represent the values and standards to the rest of the world, and it is their solemn duty to serve the values to the best of their abilities. Spend your time and attention wisely, watch your language, ask purposeful questions and seek feedback.
  • Teach others to model the values. Teach others what’s expected so they can hold themselves accountable for living the values of the organization, confront critical incidents, tell stories about what team members do to live the values and reinforce the behavior you want repeated.

In practicing these essentials, leaders become role models for what the whole team stands for and they also create a culture in which everyone commits to aligning themselves with shared value

What are you specifically inviting people to rally around and help support? Is your vision sufficiently compelling that others would be willing to sacrifice their time, energy and resources to help fulfill? Organized efforts — whether those of a congregation, a project or a movement — begin in the mind’s eye. Call it what you will — vision, purpose, mission, legacy, dream, aspiration, calling or personal agenda — the point is the same. If we are going to be catalytic leaders in life, we have to be able to imagine a positive future. When we envision the future we want for ourselves and others, and when we feel passionate about the legacy we want to leave, then we are much more likely to take that first step forward. If we don’t have the slightest clue about our hopes, dreams and aspirations, the chance that we’ll lead is nil. Exemplary leaders are forward-looking. They are able to envision the future, to gaze across the horizon of time and imagine the greater opportunities to come. They are able to develop an ideal and unique image of the future for the common good.

Leaders develop the capacity to envision the future for themselves and others by mastering two essentials:

Imagine the possibilities. There are ways we can improve our capacity to imagine exciting possibilities and to discover the central theme for our lives. Improvement comes when you engage in conscious introspection. You need to do more to reflect on your past, attend to the present, prospect the future and feel your passion.
Find a common purpose. What people really want to hear is not simply the leader’s vision. They want to hear about their own aspirations. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be fulfilled. They want to see themselves in the picture of the future that the leader is painting. Listen deeply to others. Determine what’s meaningful to them. Make it a cause for commitment. People commit to causes, not to plans. “What really drives performance is not metrics. It’s passion plus pride equals performance. The leader’s job is to create an environment where people are passionate about what they’re doing and take pride in what they’re doing. The end result will always be performance.”
Mobilizing people to action. Whether they’re trying to mobilize a crowd in a grandstand or one person in the office, to enlist others, leaders must improve their capacities to act on these two essentials:

Appeal to common ideals. Ideals reveal our higher- order value preferences. Connect to what’s meaningful to others, take pride in being unique and align your dream with the people’s dream.
Animate the vision. Leaders have to arouse others to join in a cause and to want to move decisively and boldly forward. Use symbolic language, make images of the future, practice positive communication, express your emotions and speak from the heart. Successfully engaging in these two essentials can produce very powerful results.
When leaders effectively communicate a vision, constituents report significantly higher levels of job satisfaction, motivation, commitment, loyalty, team spirit, productivity and profitability.

5 | Celebrate people's contributions

In high-performing organizations — and when people report being at their personal best — people work quite intensely and often put in very long hours, but this doesn’t mean they don’t or can’t enjoy themselves. To persist for months at a demanding pace, people need encouragement. They need emotional fuel to replenish their spirits. They need the will to continue and the courage to do something they have never done before. One important way that leaders accomplish this is by recognizing individual contributions. Recognition is about acknowledging good results and reinforcing positive performance. It’s about shaping an environment in which everyone’s contributions are noticed and appreciated. Exemplary leaders understand this need to recognize contributions and are constantly engaged in these essentials:

  • Expect the best. Successful leaders have high expectations of themselves and of their constituents.
  • Personalize recognition. To make recognition personally meaningful, you first have to get to know your constituents. By putting these essentials into practice to recognize constituents’ contributions, leaders stimulate and motivate the internal drive within each individual — and fulfill their commitment to encouraging the heart.
6 | Interpret your ministry context

The American philosopher John Dewey said, “I should venture to assert that the most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context.”

Could it also be said of church leaders today that our most pervasive fallacy of ministry thinking goes back to a neglect of context? I think so, but you might expect that from a guy who sees most of our leadership sins through the lens of photocopied vision.

Remember when Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he was willing to “become all things to all men in order to save some?” He was reminding us that our strategy for evangelism must be connected to our awareness of context.

The original meaning of context is “to weave together” and is often used in grammar. When words are taken “out of context” (like we often say about a Bible verse), we are breaking the natural “weave” by removing elements before, after, and around the words that add to a full and accurate sense of meaning.

With ministry, we often bring strategies, ideas, and plans for reaching or discipling people that neglect context. That is we fail to weave our strategies together with realities of culture that live before, after, and around what we do. The result is not a lack of “meaning” in the grammatical sense but a lack of effectiveness in connecting with people.

Think for a minute about why context should inform strategy:

  1. Context carries localized assumptions about faith and God
  2. Context creates localized nuances of and uses for language
  3. Context encodes a history of heroes and enemies for your community
  4. Context transmits a collective conscious of successes and failures
  5. Context reflects and reinforces your community’s deepest hopes and fears
  6. Context shapes and is reshaped by the real-time shared experiences of its people

Here are two action steps:

1) Consider what you are currently doing in ministry that was designed by someone else in a different context. Reexamine how your context might inform ways to tweak that ministry.

2) Before planning a new event, program, or ministry initiative, spend some time thinking about context. And then let context inform strategy.


Performance improves when leaders bring people together to rejoice in their achievements and to reinforce their shared principles. If leaders are to effectively celebrate the values and victories, they must master these essentials:

  • Create a spirit of community. Celebrations are among the most significant ways we have to proclaim our respect and gratitude, to renew our sense of community, and to remind ourselves of the values and history that bind us together. Celebrations serve as important a purpose in the long-term health of our organizations as does the daily performance of tasks.

Be personally involved. One of the most significant ways in which leaders show others that they care and that they appreciate the efforts of their constituents is to be out there with them. This visibility makes them more real, more genuine, more approachable and more human. Perpetuate the Stories Leaders are on the lookout for “catching people doing things right,” and this can’t be easily done sitting behind a desk. They want to see and know firsthand what’s being done right, not only so that they can let that person know to “keep up the good work” but so that they can tell others about this and other examples of what it means to put into practice and live out shared values and aspirations.

7 | Select the Right People

PRACTICE 7 | Select the right people

In the book, Good to Great, we’re reminded of the need to get that right people on the bus and in the right seats. This cogent insight has become increasingly important to me as I’ve seen numerous coaching outcomes derailed or diminished by not having the right people in place. Energy that could be channeled into productive and impactful experiences is bottled up in tending to one or more dysfunctional team members. It’s hard to position people for maximum impact if they have no desire to upgrade their skills, play well with others or do more than simply repeat what they’ve done for the past ten years. One of the greatest legacies a leader can leave their church are healthy leadership teams that are positive, proactive, prayerful and productive.

High-performing teams are made up of high performing individuals.  How do we make sure that we select the right people who are mission-minded, result-oriented, collegial and collaborative and have a growth-mindset?  Building on Patrick Lencioni’s work found in his book, The Ideal Team Player, I’ve been encouraging pastors to seek out team members who are:

Humble | These individuals recognize that it’s the mission that’s important, not them. They speak well of others and build up their team members. They allow others to shine, and give credit where credit is due. They have a servant heart and willingly adapt their approaches to the needs of the organization.  They have confidence in their skills and abilities yet always to seek to learn from others and try new approaches.  If you have ‘high maintenance” people on your team, they probably don’t reflect this virtue.

Proactive | These individuals are self-starters. They plan ahead. They do things without needing to be asked and follow through on projects without needed to be prodded. They experiment with new ideas and practices. They take risks that lead to better solutions. They are naturally curious, always seeking new insights and better ways to live and lead well. They learn new skills and create their own personal growth plans. They have a bias toward action yet are reflective, willing to change approaches as needed.

Relationally adaptive | These individuals have people smarts. They know what’s appropriate and adjust their behavior as needed.  They are principled yet politically savvy.  They can read a crowd, and can interpret people’s tone and demeanor. They exercise restraint, using words that communicate their hopes and concerns without shaming others or disengaging from conversations.  They find are a non-anxious presence in an anxious world.  The speak their truth in grace-filled ways and frame conversations in ways that lead to constructive, creative outcomes. They communicate what they need to do their best work with the appropriate parties and refuse to play the role of a victim.

If you find yourself constantly having to manage a person, fix a team members’ problems, or have “trust” issues with a team member, then you probably have the wrong member on your team. Don’t discount the impact this person has on your team’s morale, productivity or level of engagement. Do not hire people that you need to continually manage. The addition of team members should lighten your work load, not add to it.

THE POWER OF QUESTIONS

Questions have the power to make good meetings great and difficult subjects much more accessible.  Effective leaders learn to guide conversations through the use of powerful questions that help surface the most pressing issues facing an organization, and help leaders approach challenges that move people beyond old ways of seeing and doing things.

Questions have a way of helping leaders see the gifts, assets and sources of wisdom that are already within the faith community, and simply need to be tapped for the sake of the kingdom.  The questions below are designed to help put into place the means to effect intelligent change in congregations in the hands of congregational leaders, pastors, and facilitators that work with them.

Ask questions that move us from the SURFACE to the SOUL of important issues.

  • In what ways is this congregation becoming more faithful to the life and teaching of Christ?
  • How well are we making disciples out of our members?
  • In what ways are we good stewards of the gifts and resources available to this congregation?
  • How closely do we pay attention to Kingdom issues rather than keeping the congregation alive?
  • In what ways do we make room for the Spirit to continually revitalize and refocus our congregation?

The initial volley of questions for a congregation is to discern (to see, know or acknowledge) what is. Author and business man, Warren Bennis, states that the first task of a leader is to determine an organization’s current reality.  The second is to say thank you.  The questions below are questions are used regularly in coaching situations to define current reality, imagine what God is up, and discern God’s preferred future for you and your organization. May you find them engaging and fruitful in your discerning endeavors.

– Jim LaDoux

john-dewey

“We do not learn from experience…   
we learn from REFLECTING   

on experience.”   

― John Dewey   

QUESTIONS RELATED TO  THE 6-STEP CHANGE PROCESS

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CONNECT to build trust and community

  • How easy is it for a new person to build meaningful friendship here
  • What does a “safe” space look like in a congregational setting?
  • Do you know most people here, or just about them?
  • Do the events that are offered include time for intentional relationship-building?
  • Do people introduce themselves to guests and other people they don’t know?
  • Do members take personal responsibility for welcoming and befriending people?
  • What am I doing on a regular basis to connect with God?
  • When am I most aware of God’s presence?
  • What are my hopes, longings and dreams?
  • Where do my gifts and strengths intersect with the needs of the world?
  • How do I stay grounded in who I am and whose I am?

HIGHLIGHT the most pressing issues

  • How are we different today from the way we were when the pastor came?
  • What accomplishments in ministry are we most grateful for?
  • What challenges have we overcome, and what did we learn from those situations?
  • What do we wish we might have done had time and resources allowed?
  • One thing I keep hearing others say about our church is . . .
  • One little thing we could do to address this comment is . . .
  • Is this the place I’d come if you did not already belong here?
  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • When do we want it to happen?
  • Why does it matter?
  • What is our process for deciding to make a major change, empowering people to make it happen, and holding them accountable for the results?
  • What outcomes are we seeking?
  • What will we do to achieve this outcome?
  • How will we know if we achieved the sought outcome?
  • What’s keeping our church form growing?
  • When we gather for worship, who is missing?
  • If you could tell a new resident only one thing about your church, what would it be?
  • If a guest asked a member, “tell me about your church,” what do you hope that he or she would say?
  • Who is doing something really great?
  • What kind of people tend to come to our congregation and why?
  • What kind of people tend not to come to our congregation and why?
  • Who are the influential people in our community? In our faith community?
  • How would you describe the spiritual temperature of our church?
  • Who are we (mission and values)?
  • Where are we (assessment)?
  • Where are we going (vision and priorities)?
  • Whom do you see as leaders in the church?
  • What current strengths do we have that we could use to meet the opportunities and challenges we face?
  • What new skills or competencies do we need to develop to meet the opportunities and challenges we face?
  • What are the three greatest opportunities our church has in the next three to five years?
  • Regarding worship, I wish . . .
  • Regarding our ministry with children, I wish
  • If you had to describe our church in one word, what would it be?
  • What makes you most proud about being part of the is congregation?
  • If someone asked you what you know about your church, what is the one thing you’d say?
  • Is someone asked you what kinds of people go to your church, what would you tell them?
  • What do our members most value about our congregation?
  • What are our members needing most from our congregation?  When did we last ask them?
  • If you were the pastor/youth worker/Board member, what is the one thing you’d try to change about our church, class, group?
  • Are there ways in which our congregation makes it difficult for you to fully participate?
  • What happens the first five minutes of worship? Is it relevant for guests?
  • What has changed? why? What are we doing about it?
  • Are there things were trying to do better that we shouldn’t be doing at all?
  • Have we calculated the time and money we’ve invested in this project against its outcomes?
  • What’s keeping our church form growing?
  • When we gather for worship, who is missing?
  • At what points in your congregation’s life do you feel closest to God?
  • What are other congregations doing that from which we can learn?
  • Are there ways in which our congregation makes it difficult for you to fully participate?
  • What happens the first five minutes of worship? Is it relevant for guests?
  • What has changed? why? What are we doing about it?
  • Are there things were trying to do better that we shouldn’t be doing at all?
  • Have we calculated the time and money we’ve invested in this project against its outcomes?
  • What parts of my congregation/group/class know me best? Least?
  • What parts of my congregation/group/class do I know best? Least?
  • What parts of my ministry only can be done be me? What do I need to let others do?
  • If I were my own supervisor, how would I describe myself?
  • How would I describe my “current reality” to my best friend?

ALIGN assets, actions and conversations

  • When activities are planned, do the intended outcomes for the event support the mission, vision and values of the congregation?
  • Can members recite the congregation’s mission, vision and values?
  • Do leader spend time talking about and doing what matters?
  • Do the budget reflect and support the congregation’s stated priorities?
  • Does the budget reflect what people say is most important?
  • Do meeting agendas address what really matters?
  • Do discussions lead to action?
  • What’s the gap between my current reality and God’s preferred future for my life?
  • What’s present in my life?  What’s missing?
  • When am I not operating out of my sweet spot?
  • When are my words and actions out of alignment with my values and core convictions?

NAVIGATE by setting SMART goals

  • What’s possible and who cares?
  • What can we do in the short term?
  • What can we do over the longer term?
  • What parts of the problem are in our control, and what parts are not?
  • What are my options and the advantages and disadvantages of each?
  • If we had all the money in the world, how would we solve this problem?
  • If we had all the time in the world, how would we solve this problem?
  • How are we going to get there (planning and goals)?
  • When will it be done (scheduling)?
  • Who is responsible for what (delegating)?
  • How much will it cost (budgeting)?
  • What possibilities is God calling forth in my life?
  • What goals have I set related to my personal mission?
  • What do I need to tend to in relationship to my faith, family, finances, fitness and future?
  • With whom do we need to consult to make sure this change can work?
  • Who else needs to b notified of this change/decision?
  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • What might happen if you take this course of action?
  • What are the worst things that could happen?
  • How bad would it be if our worst scenarios materialize?
  • What’s the upside if events turn out well?
  • What’s the downside if events go every badly?
  • Can we live with the downside?
  • Is there a need?
  • Is this the time?
  • Am I/are we the one (s)?

GUIDE people toward transformation

  • What are the obstacles for forces lying ahead that may hinder our progress?
  • Do people know how they can contribute towards fulfilling God’s preferred future for the congregation?
  • Do they have a clear picture of what they need to do in the next 30 days?
  • Do we know what each leader needs to do their best work?
  • Do we have the right people on the bus and in the right seats?
  • Do we have systems in place that help us move forward consistently?
  • Do we have a covenant that describes how we’ll treat each other and work together?
  • What capacities do we need to develop in order to realize our preferred future?
  • What road blocks or speed bumps are present that could delay my progress toward living out my intentions?
  • Who serves as my mentors and cheerleaders for this chapter of my life?
  • What skills and resources do I need to possess to move forward, faster?

EVALUATE to ensure excellence & innovation

  • What was the purpose of what this strategy?
  • Is our evaluation plan logical, realistic, and practical?
  • What questions are we seeking to answer?
  • What information will we need and how will we get it?
  • Why would I come to this event?
  • What value will I receive by coming to it?
  • What will I be missing if I don’t come?
  • What information would help you do your work better?
  • What can staff do to help you perform your tasks?
  • What do I/staff do that hinders your efforts?
  • What am I doing that should be done by someone else?
  • What am I doing that does not need to be done by me or anyone else?
  • Are there things I have done in the past week/month/year that, knowing what I know now, I would not take on again?
  • What types of things can I say no to in the future without compromising  my goals or effectiveness as a leader?

Coach & Lead Using Powerful Questions

COACHING QUESTIONS

RELATE Questions

  • How are you doing? How is it with your soul?
  • What’s new since we last spoke?
  • What have you been practicing? learning? reading?
  • What’s come up that we need to discuss during this session?
  • What faith practices have you been incorporating into your life recently?
  • When have you experienced sabbath moments this past month?

REVIEW Questions

  • What progress have you made on your goals since last month?
  • What obstacles have you been facing, or are currently facing?
  • What were the contributing factors that led to your successes?

REFLECT Questions

  • What have you been learning about yourself? Others?
  • What seems to be working? What’s not working?
  • What might you do differently in the future?
  • What skills or resources were lacking? How might you address this in the future?
  • What might you do to increase your effectiveness and influence int he future?
  • How willing are you to make these changes?
  • Are you modeling the change you desire for others?

REFOCUS Questions

  • What are your goals/next steps for the next 30 days?
  • What would you like to be celebrating a month from now?
  • What are the possible ways to get there?
  • How will you select your course of action?
  • What will you do (who, what, where, when, how)?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • Where do you anticipate you might get stuck or experience resistance?
  • What will you do in the next 48 hours?
  • What’s next in our coaching relationship?

RESOURCE Questions

  • What resources do you need to accomplish your goals?
  • What resources are missing? Where will you find the resources you need?
  • What can others do to support you?

WRAP-UP Questions

  • What did we accomplish today?
  • What did each of us commit to between now and our next meeting?
  • What was the most helpful portion of the meeting for you?
  • What was least helpful?
  • How might we better utilize our time together in the future?
  • Are there any people or concerns that you’d like me to keep in my prayers?
  • When is our next meeting?
ACTION RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Research in a Developmental Spiral

  • Probing . . . “What’s going on here?”
  • Proposing . . . “This is a credible, possible response.”
  • Testing . . . “Let’s put it to work and try it out.”
  • Evaluating . . . “What worked?  What didn’t?  Why?”
  • Re-imagining . . .  “How can we do better?”
  • Testing . . . “Now let’s put it to work again.”
  • Evaluating . . . “What worked, and what didn’t this time?”
  • Generating a new culture . . . “How do we continue to learn to do better?”

Research on a Pathway of Change

  • What?  Getting an “in-depth” take on the “facts and framework” of the situation.
  • So what?  Getting a fix on “what matters and why.”
  • Now what?  Choosing/taking one of the better “possible courses of action.”
  • Then what? Developing a “culture of reflective, sustained courses of action.”

Steps in the Coaching Process

  1. Research – refine the inquiry
  2. Consultation – generate credible responses
  3. Training – enhance capacities for individuals and teams (knowledge and skills)
  4. Coaching – guide individuals, groups and organizations through change
PROGRAMMATIC QUESTIONS

GENERAL QUESTIONS

  • What was the purpose of what we are assessing?
  • Is our evaluation plan logical, realistic, and practical?
  • What questions are we seeking to answer?
  • What information will we need and how will we get it?
  • Why would I come to this event?
  • What value will I receive by coming to it?
  • What will I be missing if I don’t come?
  • What programs thrive without extraordinary promotion and encouragement?
  • What programs struggle no matter what we do?
  • What can we learn from the first group as we begin new programs?
  • Concerning this event, what worked? What didn’t? What else should we have done?
  • Remind me what we do this program? Event?
  • What is the emerging trend or need to which we need to begin giving attention to in the coming year?
  • Which programs or ministries should we be directing our resources toward that would result in a new level of excellence?

QUALITATIVE QUESTIONS

  1. What ministry or program was most successful this year? Why?
  2. What’s the top thing that draws people to our church?
  3. What makes them stay or leave once they’ve visited?
  4. What ministry or program would you classify as an endangered species—something we should cut? Why?
  5. What did we as a church do well this year when it comes to worship? What do we need to improve?
  6. What did we do well in the area of discipling and equipping people to grow in their relationship with God? What do we need to improve?
  7. What new (or improved) opportunities did we provide for fellowship? What do we need to do better or more of?
  8. What are three things we could do to improve the way we work together as a staff or as a leadership team?
  9. What are three things we could do to improve the way we work with other committees and teams within the church?
  10. What are some ways we  could improve the way we work with individuals and organizations beyond our church?
  11. When it comes to your area of ministry, what’s one goal you’d like to accomplish in the coming year? What can other staff members or team members do to help you reach that goal?

QUANTITATIVE QUESTIONS

  1. What was the Sunday school attendance and growth (preschool through elementary) during the past year? Any trends over the past five years?
  2. What was the attendance at youth groups (middle school and high school) during the past year? Any trends over the past five years?
  3. What was the participation level the past year in adult discipleship ministries, such as small groups, Sunday school classes, men’s and women’s ministries, and so forth? Any trends over the past five years?
  4. What was the average worship attendance at key services during the past year? Any trends to be aware of?
  5. What about membership numbers (if records are kept separate from attendance)? Are there gains or losses? Any trends over the past five years?
  6. What were the attendance figures for other ministries, such as music and worship—how many people participated by serving in music ministry? How many special music events or concerts were held this year? How many members and how many visitors attended?
  7. What are the final figures on tithes and offerings? Are there long-term trends we need to be aware of?
  8. How many giving units are there?  What percentage of giving units are honored?  How many people pay their pledge online?
  9. What level did the congregation give separately in support of outreach and missions? Any trends to be aware of?
APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO FOCUS ATTENTION

  • What question, if answered, could make the most difference to the future of (your situation)?
  • What’s important to you about (your situation) and why do you care?
  • What draws you/us to this inquiry?
  • What’s our intention here? What’s the deeper purpose (the big “why”) that is really worthy of our best effort?
  • What opportunities can you see in (your situation)?
  • What do we know so far/still need to learn about (your situation)?
  • What are the dilemmas/opportunities in (your situation)?
  • What assumptions do we need to test or challenge here in thinking about (your situation)?
  • What would someone who had a very different set of beliefs than we do say about (your situation)?

QUESTIONS TO GAIN DEEPER INSIGHT

  • What’s taking shape? What are you hearing underneath the variety of opinions being expressed?
  • What’s in the center of the table?
  • What’s emerging here for you? What new connections are you making?
  • What had real meaning for you from what you’ve heard? What surprised you? What challenged you?
  • What’s missing from this picture so far? What is it we’re not seeing? What do we need more clarity about?
  • What’s been your/our major learning, insight, or discovery so far?
  • What’s the next level of thinking we need to do?
  • If there was one thing that hasn’t yet been said in order to reach a deeper level of understanding/clarity, what would that be?

QUESTIONS TO CREATE MOMENTUM

  • What would it take to create change on this issue?
  • What could happen that would enable you/us to feel fully engaged and energized about (your situation) ?
  • What’s possible here and who cares? (rather than “What’s wrong here and who’s responsible?”)
  • What needs our immediate attention going forward?
  • If our success was completely guaranteed, what bold steps might we choose?
  • How can we support each other in taking the next steps? What unique contribution can we each make?
  • What challenges might come our way and how might we meet them?
  • What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that created new possibilities for the future of (your situation)?
  • What seed might we plant together today that could make the most difference to the future of (your situation) ?

THE ART OF DEBRIEFING QUESTIONS

ARTICULATE

Describe what happened

  • Describe how the group supported one another.
  • Describe a feeling you experienced.
  • Were there an “aha” moments of learning? If so, explain.
  • Described something new you learned.
  • Give an examples of when you trusted a team member.
  • Describe the moment you believe was the turning point for the group.
  • Describe something that pushed you outside of your comfort zone.
  • What behaviors demonstrated leadership?
  • Describe how the group communicated.
  • Describe something that made you laugh or smile.
  • Acknowledge someone for a job well done.
  • Were there any behaviors that blocked creativity or general support
  • Name one way you felt supported by others.
  • Describe something you saw in yourself or someone else.
  • Describe a good idea you heard.
  • How did your attitude affect the success of this experience?
  • Describe forms of nonverbal communication you observed.
  • Who made suggestions for completing the task?
  • Describe an important interaction that helped the group solve the problem.
  • How did the group work together as a team?
REFLECT

 Share observations & insights

  • If you could do this activity again, what would you do differently?
  • How did the group work together as a team?
  • What did you learn and how will you use it?
  • In what ways did the problem solving ability of the group impact the results of the exercise?
  • Describe how trust affected the outcome.
  • How did your communication style impact the results of the exercise
  • Describe something that was hard to hear. Why?
  • What do you think was the purpose of this experience?
  • Describe how leadership affected the outcome?
  • Describe how effective communication affects relationships.
  • How did trust impact the results of the exercise?
  • How did the communications styles of the group impact the results of the exercise?
  • What personal strengths do you have that you didn’t use?
  • How did your actions affect others?
  • Why is this experience important?
  • Which contribution made you feel the best about yourself?
  • Describe something that pushed you outside your comfort zone.
  • Describe how leadership (good or bad) affected the results of the activity.
  • Describe the biggest lesson you learned.
  • What was difficult for you you? Why?
TRANSFER

Apply learnings to life

  • Describe a vision you have for the future?
  • What did you learn about teamwork that will be helpful later?
  • What is the one thing you may do differently in the future?
  • What did you learn about leadership that will be helpful later?
  • What direction would you like to see the group go?
  • What do you want to remember about what was experienced?
  • How will you use the information learned here in your everyday life
  • What did you learn about communication that will be helpful later?
  • How will you apply this learning to the real world?
  • Describe the greatest insight you had today.
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What did you learn about your communication style that will be helpful later?
  • How does this relate to real life?
  • What will we do with what we just learned?
  • Describe one behavior you may change after this experience.
  • What did you learn abut others that will be helpful later?
  • What did you learn about your leadership style that will be helpful later?
  • How will this experience change the way you communicate with others
  • How can we use this experience to help us in the future?
  • Describe some similarities from the real world that you saw in your behavior here.