Paul Wartman
Peace Portal Alliance Church, White Rock, British Columbia

  • Surprised by Hope
    • N.T. Wright
  • Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation
    • Barbara Brown Taylor
  • Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
    • Jim Belcher
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
    • Daniel Pink

I’m preaching through the book of Exodus – have re-read two great books on the relationship between belief & certainty (or rather, pseudo-certainty)

  • Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship
    • Leslie Newbigin

Dan Cochrane
Crossroads Church,, Red Deer, Alberta

  • Kingdom Without Borders
    • Miriam Adeney.
    • (A great look at what God is doing globally)

  • A New Kind of Christian
    • Brian Mclaren
    • (Annoying but necessary to keep abreast of what is happening in the greater Christian world.
  • Life Among the Lutherans
    • Garrison Keiller
    • (For fun)

Henry Schorr
Centre Street Church, Calgary, Alberta

  • Counterfeit God’s
    • Tim Keller
  • IT
    • Craig Groeschel
  • Deliberate Simplicity
    • Dave Browning
  • Missional Renaissance
    • Reggie McNeil
  • Sticky Church
    • Larry Osbourne

  • The Monkey & the Fish
    • Dave Gibbons

  • The Same Kind of Different As Me
    • Ron Hall & Denver Moore

Wayne Alguire
Trinity Baptist Church, Kelowna, British Columbia

  • Tangible Kingdom
    • Hugh Halter and Matt Smay
  • Missional Renaissance
    • Reggie McNeal
  • Unstoppable Force
    • Erwin McManus
  • The Monkey and the Fish
    • Dave Gibbons
  • Simple Church
    • Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger
  • Culture Shift
    • Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro
  • The End of Religion
    • Bruxy Cavey
  • The Prodigal God
    • Timothy Keller

Keith Taylor
Beulah Alliance Church, Edmonton, Alberta

  • How The Mighty Have Fallen
    • Jim Collins
    • (A must read for older organizations)
  • The Forgotten Ways
    • Alan Hirsch
    • (It’s been around for a while)
  • They Found the Secret
    • Raymond Edmond
    • (Story of 20 leaders who encountered the deeper spiritual life- a light read yet inspiring)
  • The Principle of the Path
    • Andy Stanley
    • (Some good preaching fodder)

Greg Hochhalter
Sherwood Park Alliance Church, Sherwood Park, Alberta

  • Blue Parakeet:  Rethinking How You Read the Bible
    • by Scot McKnight
    • (Great inspiration for teaching, message preparation, etc.)
  • Under the Unpredictable Plant
    • Eugene Peterson
    • (Great soul care reading, especially for pastors. I feel bad that I didn’t read it until now.)
  • So Beautiful:  Divine Design for Life and the Church
    • Leonard Sweet
    • (This is the book that’s currently messing with my mind and re-framing some thoughts and ideas about church.)
  • How the Mighty Fall
    • Jim Collins
    • Favorite recent ‘business book’ with considerable cross-over application to the church world

I’ve just emerged from our annual Willow Creek Association International Council meetings in Frankfurt, Germany, where we poured enormous energy into looking at how to extend the impact of our annual leadership conference, The Leadership Summit.

These three days have left me with an even greater sense of resolve as to my core beliefs about The Summit:

  1. I believe this is the best leadership conference available for church leaders. Period.
  2. I believe that churches that bring teams of leaders to this annual event are poised to make significant Kingdom advances.
  3. I believe that unless The Leadership Summit is embedded in a broader leadership development strategy, its full potential impact will not be achieved in the life of the leader, nor the life of the church he or she leads.

Year after year I see church vans and buses pull up to the doors of our Summit sites across Canada, with teams of 5, 10, 20 or more pouring out, ready to have their leadership tanks filled yet again. And as they drive away a couple of days later I think to myself, “I hope you have next steps mapped out for your leadership development.”

And that brings me to the next leg of my journey. I’m in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport now, having just flown in from Frankfurt, and I’m ready to board my connecting flight to Atlanta, Georgia. There I’ll be meeting with leaders from ministries committed to ongoing leadership training. My goal is to partner with as many as 4 or 5 leadership development organizations; to help us lay down “training tracks” for leaders to run on after the Summit.

Imagine if the impact of The Summit could be maximized by leading directly into a leadership development training program for you and your church! That’s the dream. And I trust that this coming week we’ll be closer to making that dream a reality.

Time to board my flight. Please pray for God’s leading and wisdom!

How intentional are you about mapping out your leadership development strategy? What development opportunities have been most helpful for you?

Share your thoughts by adding a comment!

I’m somewhere over the north Atlantic en route from Calgary to Frankfurt in the middle of the night. The Air Canada A330 lights are dimmed. We’re supposed to be sleeping now. The in-flight entertainment system has crashed. I’ll have to find out later who wins the Frost-Nixon debate.

I should be sleeping. But instead, my mind is swirling.

Strangely, I’m not looking ahead to the three days of Willow Creek Association meetings coming up this week. Instead, I’m looking back over the past five hours of travel. And I’m seeing the faces of the people I’ve encountered today.

The waitress in the coffee shop in the Kelowna airport. She seemed distracted; something worrying her.

The airport security people; sharing some secret joke as I was processed through.

The friendly, talkative guy sitting next to me in the Calgary Airport restaurant.

And these couple of hundred people sitting here in the darkness, making our way together to Germany. Each with a story. Each with a destiny.

I wonder if God is bringing all these faces back to mind to help prepare my heart for these meetings. You see, at this gathering of the leaders of Willow Creek Associations from around the world, we will be praying over and discussing how to more effectively equip churches to reach even more people for Christ.

And I’m realizing that those who need to know the love of Christ are not anonymous people wandering around out there.

It’s the waitress in the coffee shop. It’s the people working in the airport security area. It’s the guy in the restaurant. It’s these fellow passengers.

And perhaps what God is trying to get through to me is simply that His love for these, and all people, is deeper, wider, purer and stronger than I can possibly fathom.

These meetings just took on a heightened sense of urgency.

How do you re-ignite passion when you find yourself heading into yet another ministry-related meeting?

The mechanic who handed me back the keys to my truck the other day gave me much more than a smooth running vehicle. He also gave me a powerful reminder of something I sometimes take for granted.

It’s the power of not only keeping a spiritual journal, but of revisiting it…often.

My friend the mechanic said, “Scott, years ago you mentioned how you not only keep a spiritual journal, but that you re-read previous entries. I’ve started doing this, and the difference it has made in my life is incredible.”

This exchange reminded me again just how powerful this practice has been in my own life. The practice is really very simple. I take time most (not all) mornings to jot down my reflections as to what God is doing in my life. Sometimes I write out my prayers, and other times I’ll just vent on paper.

I started this in the mid-‘90s, and have kept it going almost every day ever since.

But the power, I discovered, was when I got in the habit of re-reading entries from the past. The rhythm I’ve gotten into is to read what I journaled on this day ten, five, one year previous. What this has done for me is to:

  1. Remind me of God’s faithfulness: There’s nothing like being reminded about something you were praying about in the past, and then remembering how God answered that prayer.
  2. Give me boldness in my prayer life: Anytime I see God’s faithfulness in print (in my own handwriting) it tends to “up the voltage” in how I pray today.
  3. Start my day with a renewed sense of gratitude: When you have a daily dose of remembering God’s goodness it changes your outlook.

If you’re looking for renewed spiritual vitality in 2010, give it a try… and stick with it. I’m confident you’ll find the results worth the brief investment of time.

What spiritual practices have been most powerful in your life?

Like many organizations, ours needed to reduce staffing levels; to the tune of a 60% reduction in a year. Yet, in this new reality, the organization turned the corner and is once again dynamic and growing.

How did this happen? I recently posted The Phantom Org Chart: 4 Positions You Need on Your Team, but equally important are positions you need to make sure DON’T appear on your “phantom org chart”. Here’s my current list:

1. Chairman of the That’ll Never Work Committee
­ Also known as the We’ve Tried That Before Task Force. A real momentum killer.

2. That’s Not in my Job Description Supervisor
­ Want an agile organization? Don’t hire these.

3. Lead Self-Promotions Strategist
­ There’s no room for grand-standing on a lean team.

4. The Clock Says It’s Time to Go Home Coordinator
­ Often works closely with the That’s Not in my Job Description Supervisor

5. Regional I’m In a Bad Mood Distributor
­ Negative “vibes” spread like wildfire on a lean team.

6. Local I Have Issues Manager
­ Steer clear of the person who talks about nothing but the drama and crises in their life.

These positions must be avoided on any team, but it’s especially important when you’re working with a reduced team because these people will suck time and energy out of you and your team.

Sometimes the lure of apparent competency can blind us from realities of character. Keep these phantom positions in mind as you build your team.

What other “phantom roles to be avoided” would you add to the list?

One of the most frequently asked questions I’m getting these days is “How has a team of 13 managed to help turnaround an organization that recently numbered over 25?”

Part of the answer to this question is found in key roles that are being played out in a manner that simply doesn’t show up on any organization chart. Here’s a few of the “phantom” roles that have proven vital in our turnaround, and which I believe every high performance team needs:

1. Vice President of Keepin’ it Fun
­ When the hours are long, when the stakes are high, and when the pressure is mounting, it’s important that someone leads the way in injecting pure fun. Our VP of KIF has a PHD in silliness.

2. National Director of Don’t Give Up
­ We’ve seen this role distributed among two or three team members. They’ve been deputized to watch for sagging shoulders and are authorized to find ways to provide encouragement and motivation.

3. Chief Maybe There’s A Better Way to Do This Officer
­ On a lean team someone needs to be skilled in looking for solutions to challenges in creative, unconventional ways. The person on our team who does this could run a clinic on the subject.

4. General Manager of How Are You REALLY Doing?
­ One of the quietest people on our team has an off-the-charts emotional intelligence, and leverages this gift to help ensure the sustainability of the team. Absolutely vital.

Are the “formal” org chart positions important? Of course. But if you want a high-performance team, pay attention to the “phantom roles” you need. (Next time I’ll blog about the phantom roles you must avoid!)

What phantom roles have been most important on your team?

The embrace was genuine. The tears were real. The bond, authentic.

The moment occurred in the fall of 2008 in a Kelowna, BC restaurant, when John Baergen, the founder of The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada, told me that after a 17 year run, he felt it was time to pass the torch of leadership to someone else. He asked if I would allow him to recommend me to the board of directors.

We resolved then and there that this leadership transition would go beyond being merely smooth; we would aim for great by seeking ways to bless one-another. We wanted a Moses to Joshua transition.

Here’s how we have lived this out over the past year:

  1. We have intentionally looked for ways to help each other succeed.
    Knowing the projects in which John is now involved, I have gone out of my way to look for resources that might be of interest to him, and he has done the same for me.

  2. We have maintained regular communication.
    Every Wednesday morning we have connected with a standing appointment at a local Tim Horton’s. This hour has been a regular highlight of my week.

  3. We have publicly affirmed each other.
    At every opportunity we have blessed each other in public settings. I have profiled John at The Leadership Summit, and he has built bridges for me into his relational world.

Bottom line? If you’re involved in a leadership transition, don’t aim for a transition that’s merely smooth; shoot for one that’s great.

In practical terms, what would this look like for you?

Picture the scene; A Chili’s restaurant, eight Canadian pastors, a couple of staff from The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada, plates of nachos, assorted beverages, embarrassing stories, waves of laughter, nods of acknowledgement, winces of shared pain, more laughter.

It’s community. And for the sustainability of leaders it’s absolutely vital.

Following the second information-packed day here at Willow Creek’s Partnering to Prevail mentoring week, this band of Canadian brothers strolled over to this neighbourhood restaurant where we experienced four key facets of life-giving community:

1. A Safe Place: The ground rules were understood; what happens in Chili’s, stays in Chili’s. Nothing inappropriate, simply private. This translated into trust.

2. A Common Life-experience: Everyone in the circle was a Canadian church leader. This shared characteristic translated into understanding.

3. A Value of Shared Learning: With those first two criteria in place, what flowed naturally was an environment where our skills, strategies and stories were freely exchanged. This translated into dynamic real-time learning.

4. A Bridge to Ongoing Relationships: Most of these pastors didn’t previously know each other, but new friendships were forming. This can translate into long-term support and encouragement.

If you’re serious about being in church leadership for the long-haul, I encourage you to include this type of community in your sustainability strategy. Find a group of leaders where you can meet in an environment of trust and understanding, where you can share your skill, strategy and story, and then stick with them over time.

I believe this is so important that The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada will facilitate these connections, if that would help you.

For sustainability, community is imperative. Nachos are optional.

How are you building community into your leadership?

After a full day of mentoring in the leadership crucible of Willow Creek, God used an off-handed comment over dinner to drive home my biggest leadership take-away of the day.

With 100 church leaders from around the world huddled in dinner conversations following 10 hours of training, the pastor sitting next to me commented, “You know, I really needed this training. But the way the economy hit our church, I didn’t think I’d be able to afford to come down here this week. But I talked to a few people and I found the money.

I found the money.

Immediately the thought struck me, “That’s what leaders do.” When the eyes of a leader are fixed on a goal, they’ll process obstacles very differently than a non-leader. Let’s break this down:

1. He articulated the goal: I really needed this training. – Leaders are never vague about their goals and priorities.

2. He defined the obstacle: I didn’t think I’d be able to afford it. – Leaders declare reality.

3. He formulated a plan: I talked to a few people. – Leaders thrive on strategy.

4. He moved toward action: I found the money. – To borrow Bill Hybels’ axiom, leaders have a bias toward action.

What obstacles are in front of you right now and how are you approaching these problems? Do you need a team to tackle a new project but no one’s available? Do you need to cut through government red tape to expand a ministry? Do you need to position your organization for growth but your organization’s structure is holding you back?

Whatever obstacles lie in your path, remember the leadership lessons I encountered tonight. Articulate your goal, define your obstacle, formulate your plan, and move toward action.

It’s just what leaders do.

A friend said to me this week, “There’s too much leadership talk. Leadership needs to result in action.”

I couldn’t agree more. And for a great example of this, visit Calvary Assembly in Cambridge, Ontario.

When I walked through the doors of the newly renovated facility at last week, it wasn’t the beautiful new lobby that made the strongest impression on me. It wasn’t the re-vamped worship centre that struck me. It wasn’t even the world-class children’s ministry space that left my jaw hanging open.

It was seeing leadership in action.

Here in bricks and mortar, was living proof that when a God-given vision drives a ministry truly remarkable things can happen. I had long known Calvary Assembly as a place that was committed to impacting their community for Christ. In their new facility I saw this focus come to life:

  • They didn’t just talk about valuing community. They built it in to the essence of their space, from the Starbucks-rivaling coffee bar, to the conversation nooks throughout the facility.
  • They didn’t just talk about valuing children. They created a Disney-inspired wing where every child, and parent, will know that children matter.
  • They didn’t just talk about impacting their community. They created an indoor play-space for children, where parents can drop in, watch their children play, and enjoy coffee and conversation.

I came away from my visit inspired and challenged. The challenge was to look at my own leadership and ask, “How much is just talk, and how much results in action?”

How would you assess your own leadership on the talk versus action scale?

About Scott Cochrane…

Former 'marketplace guy' and executive pastor, I am now executive director at The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada. I am a classic family man and I am eager to see the Church in Canada become as healthy and vibrant as possible.

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