The View from Outside the Kettle

The View from Outside the Kettle

George Barna, the founder of the Barna Research Group likes to say he offers, “Knowledge to navigate a changing world.” When I began my ministry, he wrote a book called The Frog in the Kettle. The idea was that if a frog is in a kettle of water that gradually heats up, the frog doesn’t realize he’s in danger until it’s too late. Barna compared the church to the frog in the kettle and suggested that circumstances were changing gradually and the church needed to recognize the danger and respond, or else it would be too late. Today many churches recognize the wisdom of Barna’s advice, but that doesn’t mean they understand exactly what is happening. Having served on four church staffs over the last 28 years, I have first hand experience trying to understand what’s going on outside the kettle and how it has affected our ministry while living deep within the kettle. For a person on a church staff or even a person that is heavily involved in a church, it’s hard to make accurate assessments of how people view the institution that is a huge part of your life and maybe even your livelihood. At the end of 2015, my perspective changed. I was no longer on a church staff and my church was a home church. The view from that kettle was entirely different from the view I had enjoyed for 27 years. I was curious about other people’s experience. What does church look like to people who aren’t living in the kettle? I decided to do a little informal research on my own to...
Take a deep breath . . . over and over

Take a deep breath . . . over and over

I have three children, they are teenagers now, but I remember when each of them was an infant, and they were crying … or screaming, I really wished they could talk so they could just tell me what was wrong. As time passed and they started talking, I realized they still weren’t all that accurate in their ability to pinpoint their need. “I’m hungry” might actually mean, that candy bar looks good and I want you to let me have it. “I have to go to the bathroom” might translate to I’m bored sitting here having to be quiet during worship. I’ve come to realize I have the same problem with my body. While my body might be letting me know it needs water, my mind decides eating something crunchy is the answer. I know when I exercise regularly, my body rewards me with clearer thinking, more energy and stronger emotional resiliency, yet my mind helps me come up with a long list of things to do instead of exercising. Many adults are no better at identifying their true physical needs and being honest about their desires than a toddler. One reason for this is most of us have never made a strong mind/body connection. As a part of my coaching continuing education, I recently completed a course called, Mind Body Mindfulness for Coaching led by Rebecca McLean and Roger Jahnke.  The course gave coaches tools and concepts to help clients strengthen the connection between our body, our mind and our spirit. This is something I have come to understand gradually because even though I grew up going to...

Coaching 101

I keep an advertisement for dog food I tore out of a magazine on the top of my coaching materials. It is a picture of a dog looking right at the camera and the print says, “He’s not a pet, He’s a life coach.” There is some truth to that assertion. It is true that a dog is a great listener and generally non-judgmental.  They rarely give you unwanted advice and they usually offer encouragement and positive affirmation. That is the beginning of what is means to have a coach. But, it’s just the beginning. Coaching is a term that has become popular to cover a wide variety of roles. At the Center for Healthy Churches, our coaches are trained and many are accredited either through the International Coach Federation or the Center for Credentialing & Education. This training is important because it allows the client to know they are getting a professional that knows how to maximize their time and interaction for positive results. Combining our ministry in the church setting with the coach training makes the CHC coaches excellent resources for church staff. A coach can help a church staff person move forward in their lives professionally, personally and spiritually. But, what is coaching? The International Coaching Federation describes coaching as “partnering with clients in a though provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” When I am talking to a potential client, I describe coaching like this, “Do you know how when you are trying to work something out in your head, you tend to think in circles? Coaching allows...

Let’s Share This Mess

It doesn’t happen every day, but sometimes I buckle down and cook dinner for my husband and three teenagers. It’s a lot of effort, but it’s almost always worth it and, at least the way I cook, it always makes a mess. If I get stuck with the responsibility for figuring out what to cook, buying groceries, cooking, and then cleaning up, I’m usually not too thrilled. When we all help, though, it’s great. Maybe Harper suggests something we should fix, my husband buys groceries, I cook, and we all help clean up after we eat. We spend a little extra time working together, do a good job putting dinner on the table, and putting the kitchen back together, and nobody feels put out. During my 20 years as a staff minister, I have served four different churches in three different states and had three different titles. I didn’t work in a church during the first 11 months of 2014. Those months away gave me an opportunity to reflect on my experiences and assess how I had been doing ministry and how the church saw and utilized paid staff. Although each church I worked at was different, each experience was positive and taught me lessons about serving, leading, and coming together in community. But just like fixing dinner, there were lots of moving parts, and things always worked better when everyone shared responsibilities and was willing to be involved in the messiness. Early in my ministry, I was taught that as youth ministers our job is to minister to the entire family of our youth. The problem with that...