Who are your friends?

In Ephesians 4:7-16 the apostle Paul communicates a vision of maturity that one New Testament scholar has summarized this way, “each member contributes to the growth of the body.”[i] This is the mystery of how God’s Spirit nurtures us as Christ’s body. If we are to mature it will be done in the company of others. It is truly a “life together” that God has in mind.

One of the concrete ways in which we can learn to live this “life together” amidst today’s individualistic culture is through the practice of friendship. Spiritual friendship does not naturally grow out of the fast-paced and competitive lives so many of us live. In reality, our professional priorities, and our household busy-ness many times stand against the cultivation of deep friendship.  Continue reading

Announcing the 2012 Enriching Retreat

We are a few months away from an annual highlight on our VP3 calendar The Enriching Retreat. We are gathering at a U.S. location this year,  Green Lake, Wisconsin (October 5-7, 2012) for a time of shared reflection and discussion, pause and prayer. Randy Reese and I will be inviting a conversation around the topic of “Guiding Others on Their Leadership Journey.”

For so many of us the Spirit is inviting us to pay attention, to move beyond the work of leading to the work of developing and guiding others as leaders. For others of us we are needing time to slow down and to reflect upon what the Lord is up to in our context and in our person. How can we help our communities pay attention and discover God’s good work with us and among us?

We are excited that this years conversation will flow out of our forthcoming book Deep Mentoring: Guiding Others on Their Leadership Journey (IVP, to be released October 2012). We hope you and folks from your community will consider joining us for this unique opportunity. All of this is offered in the beautiful autumn setting of the Green Lake Conference Center.  We are prayerfully looking forward to the conversation that develops at this year’s retreat. Click here for details…

A Few Good Practices

It is a good practice to glean what you can from those who know how to practice well.  Last week VP3 hosted a webinar called, “Best Practices in Local Church Leadership Development.”  Three panelists joined our time to share what they have learned over the years regarding an investment in the formation of those within their local communities.

Pam, Kent and Beth are seasoned at knowing how to notice the particulars of those whom they walk alongside.  All three know how to “call out” what they see dormant in peoples’ lives.  They are careful, yet direct in making appropriate and tailored prescriptions, helping people move toward a better place of maturity and a truer place of service.  Quite frankly, I was impressed with the practices they keep in this sometimes misunderstood deal of leadership development.  Their practice grows from a conviction that leadership development from a Christian perspective is first and always tethered to helping people tend to their followership to Jesus Christ.  You will benefit from listening in on what they said.  Here are some highlights… Continue reading

A Gathering of Saints

Last week twenty-seven of us gathered together in Sioux Falls for a retreat.  By the end of our two days together we realized we were no ordinary group of twenty-seven people.  We became a remarkable community of brothers and sisters in need of some space, perspective, words, silence and friendship.  The theme for our gathering was “A Sacred Heart.”  The hope for the gathering can be heard in David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).

There are no shortage of things that get us entangled and snared along the way of this deal we call ministry.  This unusual gathering of saints had plenty of tangles and snares to share, but more so plenty of presence, experience and from time to time a word or two to offer. Continue reading

Real Faith…Real Obedience

February 2, politicians, cultural influencers and the like (some 4000), gathered in Washington DC, to participate in the National Prayer Breakfast.  I am not usually one to pay attention to such occasions, but I was drawn into this event when I heard who was to be the main speaker for the morning.  Eric Metaxas, the celebrated biographer of William Wilberforce and, most recently, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was asked to address this distinguished group.  As I listened to his words, I was blessed and challenged by his wit and courage.  Then I wondered about this quote from Tom Marshall, “The great question today is whether there exists in the Christian church a sufficient reservoir of spiritual strength with the capacity to raise up leaders of the right caliber to meet the challenge of the present leadership vacuum.” I wonder if the church has the kind of capacity to raise up the next Bonhoeffer or Wilberforce.  Maybe we need more Ed Tuttles, apprentices of Jesus who have the courage to disciple and mentor people like Eric Metaxas.

Check out the video.  I wonder what you find yourself thinking?

Eric Metaxas 2012 National Prayer Breakfast


Discipleship: The Critical Need in Leadership Development Today

Today BrianSteenhoek and I facilitated a webinar called, “Discipleship:  The Critical Need in Leadership Development Today.”  It seemed to scratch an itch from the responses of those who attended.  We thought we would offer you a condensed version of some of our notes here.   Continue reading

Church Planter Discussion – Part 4 “Relationship”

Discipleship/Leadership Development Requires Relationship…

(This is part of a series of entries regarding a round table discussion with church planters about multiplying disciples and leaders.)

       ”But God so ordered life that we may learn to bear one another’s burdens.  No one lives faultlessly.  All carry burdens.  No person really enjoys self-sufficiency; no one possesses enough wisdom for that!  All this says:  Help one another.  Comfort one another.  Teach one another.  Correct one another.”  (Thomas a Kempis from, The Imitation of Christ)

“Two are better than one…”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9) Continue reading

Church Planter Discussion – Part 3 “Process”

Discipleship/Leadership Development Requires a Process…

(This is part of a series of entries regarding a round table discussion with church planters about multiplying disciples and leaders.)

As leaders, one of the most important things we can do is to pay attention to those we influence and help them in their own development.  We may intuitively know that we need to help people in their development as disciples and leaders, but many of us feel inadequate or simply don’t know how.  We may be so busy leading, we haven’t really considered how we might ‘multiply’ ourselves as leaders. Continue reading

A Few Good Prescriptions

Sometimes we encounter experts who have fancy credentials, smacky degrees, and weighty job descriptions.  They can give us advice because they have noticed how certain things, processes or situations can be different–hopefully better.  This past weekend at our Banff Enriching retreat I encountered 18 experts…not because they had the credentials, degrees or job descriptions to prove it, but because they stayed true to their heart, gave careful reflection, and trusted what they heard.

These are folks who have become good at noticing God, themselves and others.  And, they have grown in their capacity to care more deeply about the Kingdom shaping work of God in their own local communities. Continue reading