What’s at the Top of the Leader Chart?

You made it to top-leader status!
Finally! You worked your way up to top-level leadership. This is what you’ve worked for and always wanted, right? How does it feel to be at the top of the org chart? In many ways, if you’re geared for high level leadership, it is great!
As a coach, I have conversations with top leaders in their organizations or churches. If you are a top leader, you know one other common feeling is loneliness.
Lonely for two reasons.
1. On your way up, you were a leader among peers. You likely were a good team player and led within the rank and file. Many other people shared a similar perspective on the organization. You had access to collaborators and sounding boards. And you didn’t have to make the tough calls.
But now you are the church planter. Or the pastor. Or the president. Who is your peer? Nobody. Who has to set the direction and make tough calls? You. Just you.
2. No way to practice top leadership. The skills developed within an organization are different than the skills necessary for guiding leadership. You just don’t know exactly what you need to know until you need to know.
Someone in your corner
Like a boxer in a match, a gospel coach helps pastors, leaders and church planters develop skills for top leadership while you are a top leader during the fight. The relationship is confidential, so a top leader can honestly confess weakness and struggle to someone outside of the supervisory structure in the organization.

Don’t be foolish and proud. If you are planting a church, starting a revitalization work in an existing church or tackling a new job in a not-for-profit, don’t try to lead without a coach. Everyone needs a coach. Everyone needs the gospel.

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Coaching ‘large’ leaders into team leaders: three challenges

Before it became a meme and part of the urban dictionary, the phrase, “large and in charge” was a compliment for a leader. Generally it still is when used in books and pop culture. By wiktionary’s account, it means a leader who is ‘dominating or controlling a situation with confidence and aplomb’. Are you a large and in charge leader?
 
If you are, large and in charge leaders must form and work with a team to reach max potential. Gospel coaching helps leaders like you overcome three challenges.
 
1. Leaders like you think team members are like them. I’ve made this mistake. Just because you are committed and focused doesn’t automatically transfer to team players. Your team players have different drives, capacities, priorities, gifts and personalities. Leader, how well do you know yourself and your team?
 
I was coaching one strong key leader and it was clear that he expected everyone to have the same level of intensity and clarity he did. Even though he was a pastor, he didn’t want to be bothered with people who weren’t on the same page. This can lead to frustration on everyone’s part. Gospel coaching has transformed him as we worked through his motives and idolatry.
 
2. Leaders like you assume that telling someone how = delegating. Not so. Delegating has at least two more steps between giving directions and have a responsibility delegated well. Many times in ministry, leaders skip two vital steps. You must coach and encourage your team players.
Consider how you were trained. If you went to school formally, you will tend to make everything a class and assume that knowledge equals ability. If you want to train more disciples and leaders, you have to learn a new skill, which takes practice and repetition and encouragement from an experienced coach.
 
3. Leaders like you don’t know what to look for in team players. It takes a certain amount of wisdom and assessment to discern who should be on a ministry team. Patrick Lencioni says an ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart. All three are important.
 
If you are a leader and you want to evangelize and disciple more people, you need a gospel coach who is going to work through how to recruit, train and lead a team.

Gospel Coaching Changes Leaders

My job as Coaching Catalyst at CMM gives me the chance to work closely with a lot of amazing leaders. In one case, it’s a place few people in the US have visited in the last 50-60 years.
Just south of Florida, there is a movement of the gospel where thousands are coming to faith and where there’s a hunger for leadership training and gospel coaching among pastors and disciples young and old.
Four years ago, I had the privilege of offering the first Gospel Coach training there to a group of 20 young Christians in a city on the island. I was so nervous. My ability to speak seemed like a barrier. I had no idea how it would be received. Then, to top it off, due to technical limits, CMM’s normal method for practicums (video conferencing) was impossible. So the groups agreed to practice on their own. I was skeptical.

When I came back six months later, I was surprised to hear the results. More than half of these volunteer leaders in this new church met every 3-4 weeks to practice Gospel coaching together. One man hitchhiked from an hour away to meet with his group. They said things like,
  • I knew a lot before from previous classes, but Gospel Coaching brought all the things I’ve learned all together.
  • This is a brand new way to approach discipleship.
  • Gospel coaching has changed our marriage.
  • I’ve never shared some of the things that I’ve shared with anyone before. And Iam still loved.
  • This is changing the culture of our leadership.
By intentionally gathering and practicing the skill of coaching the gospel, this group of young Christians learned to help each other apply the biblical doctrines of grace in each other’s lives. Profoundly.

Article about our work in Cuba in a national magazine

Two days ago the PCA denominational magazine byFaith posted a fantastic article about the ministry in Cuba with whom we partner.

CMM is not mentioned directly, but this will give you several pages of an accurate and compelling backstory to our work and current events.

All the pictures are of men, women and young people that I work with in Cuba. Makes my heart sing to see them! This is Frank, Ari and Meli!

Here is how the article starts….

“After more than 50 years of silence, the U.S. and Cuba have started talking again. In fact, this past July the two countries announced a formal restoration of diplomatic relations, and President Barack Obama said that the U.S. and Cuba had struck a deal to open embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time in half a century. The politics are controversial, and the changes elicit different responses across the political spectrum.

But there’s another “thaw” taking place throughout Cuba, one that breeds hope among all God’s people. God has sparked a fire in the hearts of Cuban men and women. As a result, there’s been a profound Gospel renewal and an explosive house-church movement.”

Read the rest here at byFaith and rejoice at all the Lord has done and pray for more of what He WILL DO!

And kudos to author Zoe Erler!!

Church Leaders in Cuba Farm

After a long day in the sun harvesting beans by hand with five of his friends and helpers, this farmer begins the task of separating the beans from the chaff using an electric fan. Then he and his crew take turns hand digging a new well. (The top of the well is below the beams and a man is 12′ below shoveling dirt into a pail). It was just two years ago that churches (and individuals) were permitted to own farms.

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In a country where the average salary is $25 per month, monthly food budgets run out in a week. But church farms now provide needed basic food – beens, rice, yucca and some pork – to feed many people in the church, jobs for some and help to the most materially poor through ministries to street kids and the elderly.

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By stepping in and helping the poor, church leaders demonstrate great faith and cause skeptical government officials to ask why. We would consider them poor! And many of them do not know where next weeks’ groceries are going to come from, but they share anyway.

Click here for more info on helping us help them.

Cuba: No Advertising but a Greenhouse

Cuba: No Advertising but a Greenhouse. My first two impressions upon landing in Havana the first time. Old American cars and billboards like this one. (It says Socialist Revolution: of the lowly, by the lowly, for the lowly).

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It took a day to sink in. There is almost no commercial advertising! A few billboards, no corporations names on buildings, no TV commercials, no radio spots. No marketing. And a people hungry to learn!

Many recognize a narrowing window of time for training Cuban church leaders before the world comes rushing in. Right now the limitations with freedom they face are like a greenhouse so the gospel grows rapidly. There are two major organized institutions with influence in the country – the government and the church!

Cuban movement leaders recognize it and have asked us to help them train 40K leaders to reach their nation in the next 3-5 years. Would you help us help them? Click here for more info.

Impacting Cuban Seminaries?

Seminaries in Cuba? Yes! While our work is church-based, one seminary in particular has been impacted by the coaching training and my co-trainers.

Two of my co-trainers for CMM gospel coaching have been recruited to the team that will help re-start and renew a seminary that had been practically shut down.

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Alfredo (pictured above teaching the Gospel Story) is the interim director of the Los Pinos Nuevos seminary in central Cuba. He is leading a team that is opening six satellite campuses in six key cities in 2015.

With over 20,000 house churches started in just the last five years, there is a huge need for training in Bible, theology and ministry. Coaching is a key means for personal change that effects spouses and children of men and women in leadership development. And then their church and city.

Because many of the seminary renewal team has experienced the power of gospel coaching for their lives, marriages, families and house churches, they have agreed that coaching simply will be required for all students and professors as an integral means to develop church-based ministry skills alongside academic learning.

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Yeremi (sounds like ‘Jeremy’) pictured above, will be directing one of those six satellite campuses in the city of Matanzas where 35+ house churches have been started in seven years. He teaches Greek and practical theology while overseeing nine house churches and leading one himself.

The leadership of this house church planting movement is very sharp, hard-working, motivated and sacrifices without question to expand the kingdom of God in Cuba.

Think of how the lives and families of these leaders will flourish in the power of the gospel! Imagine all the people these leaders will reach with the good news of Jesus!

Would you help us prepare more people like Alfredo and Yeremi to lead the way to the gospel spreading to all of Cuba? Click here to donate or help spread the word. Thanks so much!

How do you dignify Cubans who have nothing?

We have SO much in the US. Every time I go to Cuba, I get to bring basics they can’t get (like aspirin, vitamins, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo) or simply pay for treats that we here take for granted. This is a practical way to dignify and bless the people we serve alongside but have so little materially.

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This trip in July, Elysia (my daughter) brought nail polish to give to the ladies. It was fun to watch and listen. We also took six young people to swim at the pool. It was so hot and some of them hadn’t been to the pool in 11 years…

While we never talk about personal finances publicly or directly, it’s clear that the economy is in shambles. One pastor’s wife told me privately that every single material thing everyone has in this movement has been given to them by someone else. Can you imagine? No person or family on the island can survive without outside assistance.

You are a source of help and blessing every time you send us.

How do you dignify a people who have nothing? Learn from them. My Cuban friends and family teach me so much about humility, grace and interdependent living as a church! It amazes me most that they want us to share how to have more of Jesus’ gospel! Have mercy!

If God puts it on your heart to support Elizabeth and I as we prepare to serve the movement in Cuba better, that’d be great. Click here for more info.

Does the Cuban government inhibit the spread of the gospel?

Q: Does the Cuban government inhibit the spread of the gospel?

A: Not like before. For 30 years the Cuban church was marginalized, pastors were put in re-education camps, all Christians were suspected enemies and spied upon. But in ’91 after the USSR fell, things changed. Officially Cuba changed its constitution from ‘atheist’ to ‘secular’ and people were permitted to believe in God. Mistrust has been slow to overcome among church leaders and the gospel can still seem suspicious to the average Cuban.

Miguel is the son of one of those faithful pastors. He has lived his whole life with hardships. Now a pastor and movement leader, the government allows him much that was unheard of 5, 10, 20 years ago – public events, church-funded hospice and churches in homes. And God is teaching church leaders like him to trust each other in light of the truth of the gospel. Vital to sustain a movement. And what a movement of God right now!

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Gospel coaching is a catalyst to show church leaders how to trust each other in ways they never have. Ever. It’s changing people. Marriages. Churches. Systems. I love to see how God is changing Miguel. Amazing.

We are committing to go to language school Jan-Aug 2016 and then spend 3-5 years developing gospel coaches for 40,000 Cuban house church leaders.

Would you pray and ask Jesus if he wants you to support us with a one-time gift? Click here for more info.

Can’t Not Go to Language School!

Elizabeth and I are going to language school! Why?

Planning for January through August 2016. You may have heard hints but I’ve been waiting to write about details. Here is a four-part general overview and a request for prayer about supporting us with a special one-time support gift and/or helping us raise funds.

1. The opportunity in Cuba gets bigger. Aren’t you too old for this? Maybe! Ha! But Cuba is Too Big not to go learn more better Spanish. Elizabeth needs to learn too. In Latin America, people need to know me with my wife. And we may travel more. A lot more. She’s prepared to make the sacrifice.

Cuban house church leaders are asking for us to help them! In a country with so many hardships, poverty and struggle, Cuban church leaders want coaching training? Yes. It’s helping them apply the gospel to the challenges in their lives and helping them multiply the gospel to their families, neighbors and cities. They travel far and at great expense to learn. Twenty people in this one group paid more than the average Cuban monthly salary to get to our training.

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Leadership of the Cuban training organization CENCAP came here from Havana to Atlanta to ask for a longer commitment from us. They now have asked us to make a 3-5 year commitment to train, certify and multiply Cuban trainers so the 40,000 leaders currently in training can all have a coach! They want us to implement coaching in all churches, house churches, their seminary and arts ministry!

Why?

The coaching training you sent me to lead is already making a vast impact! And they want more! The CENCAP leaders said coaching may be the most vital aspect of their training in the gospel. Wow. We really need to improve our language skills!

2. So language school here we come, Lord willing! This opportunity requires that we raise extra funds by October 30. Would you ask Jesus about making an extra one-time gift to get us through language school and on to train Cuban leaders?

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40,000 house churches like this one in a barrio of Havana could reach hundreds of thousands more Cubans in the next few years.

Pastor Magdiel (top left corner) and his wife (Arlenis in purple shirt) and kids (clowning in front) lead four different house churches. He and other house church leaders in Cuba need a Cuban gospel coach that will help them thrive under the stresses of poverty, injustice, spiritual attack on the front lines of the battlefield.

So, will you please pray about helping us gain the language skills we need to train Cuban leaders to train Cuban gospel coaches?

Another way you could help would be to ask Jesus also if you ought to help us raise support among your family and friends by sending emails or messages on our behalf. Who do you know that might help? Sign up on the webpage to ‘help raise funds’ on the support page. Or simply forward this email with a paragraph or two of your own. Every bit helps!

Some Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

1.We will return to Atlanta. It’s our home base. The eight-month move is temporary. While we’re gone, Erica and Austin, daughter and son-in-law will move into the house.
2. After language learning, we’ll take extensive visits to Cuba but not move. That’s an unnecessary challenge. Once trained, Cuban leaders will provide much better training at a fraction of the cost of a non-Cuban.
3. Elysia will join us after her 2nd semester at UGA and take classes for her Spanish minor at the nearby university through a UGA cooperative program.
4. I’ll still work and coach church planters while in school. The internet makes it easy.
5. Elizabeth will study full-time. She’s started working on Spanish basics.
6. We are applying to the Spanish Language Institute where I took an intensive course in 2013. It’s in downtown San Jose Costa Rica. And yes, you can visit!
7. And the answer to most common FAQ? No, language school in Costa Rica is not a vacation. Haha!

3. Ask for practical help and support. Extra expenses for language school include travel, tuition, extra tutoring, room and board, extra insurance, books and all that goes into re-locating for eight months.

So would you pray and ask Jesus if he wants you to be part of the team who will support us through language school?

If yes, click here to make a donation.

And/or click here to help raise funds in your circle of friends? Click on the last sentence if you want to learn more. Or email me and I can explain help

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Costs should be about $27,000. We have $10,500 of that pledged already (as of October 11, $14,100). This is a new thing for CMM so in order to get clearance to go in January 2016, we need to demonstrate to our board of directors that we have the support base to take this risk by October 30.

CMM has made it easier to give online with a new system that takes debit or credit cards through end of October. Paper checks are great too.

Please send any checks to this address:

CMM – Language School
PO Box 3284
Alpharetta GA 30023-3284

4.This is WAY beyond us! We need your prayers and financial support more now than ever! We are nervous. I am nervous about more work in Cuba, learning Spanish better (can I do it?), raising more support and even using new online giving and asking you to help raise funds on top of already supporting us without calling everyone! Pray for us, we’re nervous about what you’ll think and if we’ll be able to raise the money in time! I’m not in control and don’t know if any of it is going to work! This is beyond my typical risk-taking, make-it-happen comfort level!

We have to trust Jesus in a big way! Wow do we need your prayers!!

Honored and overwhelmed by your support for God’s call,
Jim and Elizabeth