Archives For The Christian as Coach

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Logo Transparent jpeg without wordsMost Christians would agree that faith is an essential aspect of Christianity. But what do we mean when we use this word?

I certainly do not always agree with Marcus Borg. However, in his book The Heart of Christianity he offers some real insight into the way Christians have understood faith. Borg begins by suggesting the word has four historical meanings. One these is a “matter of the head” while the other three are more “matters of the heart.”  

Faith as Assensus (Assent/Belief)                                                                                                     The closest English word to the Latin assensus is “assent.” Faith is assensus when we give our assent to a proposition. This suggests faith as belief, that is believing certain religious propositions or doctrines to be true. After all, when the Philippian  jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved/rescued?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  

I would argue, however, that even this word “believe” (Greek pisteuō) means a lot more than mental assent. The word was used by the Greeks to mean “to believe in something” not just to believe facts about something. It meant to trust in; to have confidence in.

Faith as Fiducia (Trust)                                                                                                                  The Latin word fiducia is usually translated faith, trust, or confidence. Borg uses an example to illustrate faith as trust. He reminds us that teaching a small child to swim requires getting the child to relax so they he or she will learn that their natural buoyancy will keep them afloat. He then concludes, “Faith as trust is trusting in the buoyancy of God.” I like the fact that he insists “the opposite of trust is not doubt or disbelief, but mistrust. He goes on to press his point, explaining that the opposite of trust is anxiety and worry.    

Faith as Fidelitas (Loyalty/Commitment)                                                                                         The English word is “fidelity.” Faith as fidelitas means faith as “faithfulness” to God. Borg states, “Faith as fidelity means loyalty, allegiance, the commitment of the self at its deepest level, the commitment of the “heart.” He goes on to explain, “Faith as fidelitas does not mean faithfulness to statements about God, whether biblical, credal, or doctrinal. Rather, it means faithfulness to the God to whom the bible and creeds and doctrines point.” 

The opposite of faith as faithfulness is not doubt or disbelief, but rather infidelity or unfaithfulness. We use this language when a man has been “unfaithful” to his wife or a woman has engaged in infidelity. They have broken their covenant relationship and been disloyal to one another.  

Faith as Visio (Vision)                                                                                                                    Here Borg introduces me to a new way of expressing the idea of faith. He indicates that he got the idea from the mid-twentieth-century theologian Richard Niebuhr. The English word is, of course, “vision” which suggests faith as “a way of seeing.” 

To have faith in God as visio means we share God’s worldview. I suspect many readers would differ with Borg’s ideas about specific content of God’s worldview.  But surely, most of us will agree that it is important for us to share God’s view of reality. We should at least agree that when Jesus looked out over the world set before him, he felt compassion for a broken world. He saw with the eyes of agape love. 

Borg concludes by explaining that originally the word believing (pisteuō) covered all four of the meanings of faith. “But in the modern period, we have suffered an extraordinary reduction in the meaning of “believing.” We have reduced it and turned it into “propositional believing”–believing a particular set of statements or claims to be true.”  Finally, he states. “The premodern meanings of “faith generate a relational understanding of the Christian life.” 

If Borg is right, and I have no doubt he is, we can conclude that disciples are made by developing relationships, not by simply convincing others that our Christian doctrines are true. The same way Jesus did it.  

QUESTION: How would define faith? Does your faith in Christ include each of the four meanings as describes by Marcus Borg? Please respond in the Comments section below.

Logo Transparent jpeg without wordsCONNECT, COACH, COMMISSION

 

Let’s talk. I need to share with you today from my heart. I’ve been a pastor for many years. Can I confess something very important to you? Much of that time I’ve felt I was playing church. There is such a profound disconnect from what I see in most modern churches from what I read in scripture. In the early church the Christians were willing to follow Jesus anywhere he led. Some of them even followed Jesus to the Roman coliseum where they were eaten by the lions. We’ve all read about martyrs who have given their lives for God. But somehow we see these as special heroes who really have nothing to do with ME.

Why is it that we think that Jesus really didn’t mean it when he required his followers to follow him–to take up our cross? Why is it we think we can count ourselves followers of Jesus when we fail to follow him? Is it because we are surrounded by others who call themselves followers of Christ who aren’t really following the example of Jesus? Hello!

I have decided I’m too old and have too little time left to play church. I want to be a true follower of Jesus.

I’ve been talking with God a lot lately about what this means for me as a pastor. His answer has been—can you guess?— “Follow Me.” Surprise! “But, God,” I’ve said, “What does that mean?” God keeps responding, “How did Jesus spend most of his time?” “Hummmmmmm. I guess he spent most of his time coaching the twelve disciples. Then sent them out with the great commission.” “Bingo!—- and they went out coaching others who coached still others until the lives of millions have been touched.” Connect, Coach, Commission.” 

So, shouldn’t that be the church’s strategy, Connect with friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors, especially those who are hurting? Coach them in Christian discipleship. Then Commission them to go out serve as obedient disciples, reproducing the process. Here goes. I believe God is showing me that nothing is more important than to spend time coaching individuals and very small groups of people who are seekers. People who are willing to be coached/mentored and who will, in turn, coach/mentor others. Nothing I could do with my time is more important. This is God’s strategy .

This means I’m looking to CONNECT with a few good men or women. We’re COACH one another and GROW together, becoming Christian servants, doing whatever God calls us to do. Only the serious should apply. As we live together in covenant community  and grow spiritually  we will all be COMMISSIONED to go out and connect with others. It all starts with COMMITMENT.

Are you ready to let God really transform your life? Are you ready to make a serious commitment to follow Christ? Are you ready to discover God’s purpose for your life? Are you ready to find the amazing joy of making an eternal difference in the world? Find a coach and become a coach. Partner with one or two others and let’s build a movement.

QUESTION: Are you ready to stop playing church? Please respond in the Comments section below.

Logo Transparent jpeg without words“Christ-centered pastors don’t make disciples, much less take care of people.” –Bill Easum

 

Yesterday I mentioned Bill Easum’s book, Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers. I once attended a seminar where Bill was the main speaker. He insisted effective churches have a clear vision of their mission; that mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. I agree with Bill, just as I’ve written here so many times. I was also very interested in what Easum had to say about the role of the pastor. It was here he spoke with the most assurance. He said, “Christ-centered pastors don’t make disciples, much less take care of people.” At first this sounds almost like heresy. Bill went on to explain that the pastor’s job is to train and equip others to make disciples and to take care of people. He said, “Pastors of growing, effective churches would rather equip ten people to make disciples than to make disciples themselves.”

I have always seen myself as a player-coach. My job is to Continue Reading…

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I have been suggesting all week on this blog that Life Coaching (especially coaching as a “player-coach” like Jesus) is the best way to develop mature Christian disciples. In yesterday’s blog I said that listening is the foundational skill for a Life Coach. Today I will discuss the next important skill one should master–asking good questions.

 

Remember that a Life Coach is not a counselor, mentor, or expert consultant. You don’t have to have all the answers; your job is to help guide the individual in a process of self-discovery and hold each other accountable to carry out your commitments. The Life Coach usually assists a person in dealing with personal goals, business issues, relationships, or life transitions. I’m particularly interested in helping people use this process to develop mature followers of Jesus Christ. I’m going to list here some excellent questions that a Christian Life Coach can use to help others grow in Christ.

“Remember that a Life Coach is not a counselor, mentor, or expert consultant. You don’t have to have all the answers. Your job is to help guide the individual in a process of self-discovery.”

The assumption here is that the individual has already made come kind of commitment to follow Christ. Theologians call this initial commitment justification. Some people talk about getting saved or being born again. Our goal here is to take a person from a point of decision (justification) to spiritual maturity (what we usually call sanctification). Continue Reading…

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 Few skills are more important in life and more underestimated than the skills of listening.

Most people don’t even recognize listening as a skill. It is; and it is a proficiency we can improve with practice. Listening skills can help us in our marriage and in our relationships with our children. Better listening skills can help us be a better boss or a more effective employee. Most of us could enhance our friendships with improved listening skills. And, listening is the most important skill a Christian can have who wishes to help others become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

“Listening is the most important skill a Christian can have who wishes to help others become better disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Years ago I was a district sales manager for an insurance company. One of my primary responsibilities was to recruit and train new agents. Continue Reading…

 

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So, you are convinced that Christian Life Coaching, specifically the model of player-coach, is the method used by Jesus to move his followers toward mature discipleship. What are some things you should consider before you start?

 

 

1. Recognize the power of mutually accountability. This is the engine that powers the coaching relationship. Mutual accountability is clearly called for in the New Testament. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let’s also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, Continue Reading…

 

Logo Transparent jpeg without wordsMost of us Christian leaders who have been around for a while realize we will never reach the world for Christ by the process of addition. We need a multiplication strategy to offer the love of God to the 7 billion people now living in the world.

Let’s engage in a little make-believe. Suppose we managed somehow to plant 5,000 churches who win 1000 new converts to Christ each year. We plant another 10,000 churches that reach 500 new converts each year. Wow! We are reaching 100,000,000 people every year! This is fantastic! It’s a missionary’s dream! But wait; it would take our churches 700 years to connect with the 7 billion people who live on earth today. Whoops. There is another problem with our plan. It’s estimated we are adding 135,000,000 people to the world’s population each year. So, in reality our 15,000 evangelistic churches we planted are getting further behind annually by about 35,000,000 people.

“Take the things you heard me say in front of many other witnesses and pass them on to faithful people who are also capable of teaching others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 CEB

Now, let’s suppose I win one convert for Christ (you know where I’m going with this don’t you). This one person wins someone and disciples that individual, showing them how to win one other convert who wins one other convert who wins one other convert. . . Continue Reading…

Logo Transparent jpeg without wordsAs a pastor I’ve always seen myself as a player-coach. I don’t just sit on the sidelines and tell other people how to be a good Christian. I’m in the game. I’m struggling to be a good disciple of Jesus while, at the same time, doing my best to help others grow in Christ.

This was the method used by Jesus. He spent 24/7 with 12 men for three years. By his example and constant coaching he equipped them to do ministry that turned the world right-side up. Jesus showed them how, then he said, “Follow my example.” Isn’t this actually how we learn most of the important things in life? Things like honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are not taught in a lecture class on character. We learn these things from significant people in our lives who influence us by the way they live. And, of course, there are those minute by minute “corrections” our parents and teachers make.

Sermons have their place. Bible study groups and Sunday School classes have their place. But disciples grow best by having other player-coaches come along beside them. Discipleship is caught more than it is taught. Continue Reading…