10 questions to help you identify transferable principles in a leadership residency

Find the Transferable principles

The opportunity to learn from someone else is one of the best ways to grow as a leader.

Whenever you get the opportunity to learn from someone else you should be looking for the transferable principles.  Continue reading “10 questions to help you identify transferable principles in a leadership residency”

Interview with Kim Hammond, Director of Forge America

As National Director of Forge America (and soon to be International Director), Kim Hammond trains, equips and cares for missional people in the various Forge tribes. Kim is also Director of Missional Imagination at Community Christian Church in Chicago. I talked with Kim to better understand the missional conversation he champions throughout the world and what church planters can learn from him.


Tell us about your family. How are they involved in what you do?

My wife Maria and I are partners in mission and ministry. Ria is involved in caring for people and hospitality. She is as much involved as I am in founding Forge and the rest of the mission in our lives. We have three boys, Lachlan, Carter, and Jordan. We travel a lot with our children so that they experience and serve alongside us in the hubs and local contexts. Mission and family—it all flows together.

When did Jesus become real for you?

Probably as a teenager. I was discipled by my youth pastor Steve Swaine. He still leads the church that we planted together in Australia. He discipled me since 13, and he gave me a job at 18 as his assistant youth pastor. We worked together at that church until I was 25, and then we started a new church together. He made me cry a lot. He walked Ria down the aisle. I still call him when something great happens or when I need advice. No one had ever invested in me that way. That is the kind of discipleship that makes Jesus real to people.

What do you like best about what you do? Why?

I love—it sounds corny—but I love mentoring, motivating, and mobilizing the missional church. I love missional leaders and their movements. I love helping others, I love leading and caring for our team. Anything I can do to help movements grow.

What is the difference between “church plant” and ‘missional community?’

A missional community is a small group of people on mission together and being accountable to one another, whereas a church plant is the full ecclesia which includes gathering and worshiping. A missional community isn’t about the gathering so much as it is about discipling and mission. Shared life. Often, the church is a gathering of the ecclesia, which then breaks into missional communities. We try to make it all too complicated, for Sunday to do everything and it doesn’t.

What do church planters need to know about missional imagination?

Church leaders need to stop limiting their vision of church to their bible school training or previous experiences, but to dream big, look where God is at work in the world and join him. Leaders need to be less prescriptive and more intuitive.

How are you reaching out to people far from God in your community? What advice would you give to planters trying to do the same?

I think you have to be involved with personal missional practices. Practice BLESS—pray, listen, eat with people (on their ground, in their home), you have to serve them. And you have to take your time. What are the natural rhythms for mission in your life? So many planters start with a duality—here’s the church plant and here’s life. We need to see life as mission. And learn to listen. We aren’t taught how to listen in seminaries; we are taught how to act and do and start. Practice how to submerge.

What is the role of leadership in the missional world? How are you developing people for leadership?

Leadership is about modeling and serving and empowering. It’s about giving people a chance to develop, so for me it’s about giving those in their 20s an opportunity to lead and grow. I want Forge to be building up the next generation of leaders. How diverse are we? How inclusive? How much are we pushing power and leadership to the margins? Leaders create environment and guard DNA. Forge is a great place to lead, because if you have apostolic gifting, you can start something on your own and be supported in it.

What is/was the greatest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

I’d say when I had my first big failure in ministry. I didn’t raise the money I needed, and had my first big slump and burnout. I’d experienced early success in my 20s, then hit the slump around 28 and had to learn how to walk through that. I rested. I reflected. I was mentored. I refocused on what I was good at—I had started to have a desire to be something I’m not, I had lost some of my ambition. And I refocused on Jesus.

In your work you often talk about collaboration and partnership. How do you build these?

It’s about getting the right people at the table, coming with an open posture and trying to listen. You get a lot of different perspectives and that makes your organization stronger. Creating seats at the table. I always notice it when other leaders who are more assertive make decisions that piss everyone off. People say, “Oh they’re not like you.”  I don’t even think about it—collaborating is just part of who I am.

Who inspires you and why?

Michael Frost inspires me to be a better communicator and to follow Jesus more. The way he communicates who Jesus is and why and how. Alan and Deb Hirsch, who are humble and accessible and live out the things they teach. Certain leaders who have started movements and served them humbly—Rick Warren, Mike Pilavachi from Soul Survivor, Andy Hawthorne, Dave Ferguson. I’m inspired by people who start movements that people want to follow. But I’m also inspired by the grassroots people whose little acts of the extra-ordinary help make a difference. People like Laura Hairston who spends time every week with a group of middle school girls. Brad Brisco who takes in emergency foster care kids. Scott Nelson who is committed to community in his little apartment building. And there’s Caesar Kalinowski who has been in New York for four weeks and has already thrown 4 parties. He knows every neighbor.

How are you caring for yourself spiritually? What do your personal spiritual rhythms with God look like?

I try to create space every day for prayer and reflection, whether it’s first thing in the morning or on the way home, to have some good communion with God. At least once a week I block out time for reading and reflection, and ask God to speak to me.

What is one thing you would tell church planters to STOP doing?

Stop assuming what the neighborhoods needs and stop thinking that it’s all about Sunday. Too many churches come in with too many preconceived notions—they’ve got a service planned and a website and they’ve got it all figured out before they even hit the ground or listen to one person. Church planters need to network better—not to steal people but to be influence by other people’s imagination.

What is ONE THING every church planter ought to do?

Find a local hangout and don’t move from there—not just while you’re planting but for years to come. Invest in the people there.

What is the one thing you would like to see happen in the church in your lifetime?

Stop fighting about theology and just love people more. Especially the church in America—it just fights so much.

What’s the number one thing people can do to support Forge?

Forge America is raising money in order to fund our national movement. In just three years, we’ve got 15 Forge Hubs running or launching missionary formation residencies, and six more hubs are in the works. We need systems. We need to cover business expenses as we grow. Right now, we pay our staff with hugs and tickles. We need some $$$$ man!

To learn more about Forge and ways your can support their mission visit them at www.forgeamerica.com

10 Lessons from Sports for Church Planters

soccerOK I’ll admit, I am not much of a sports fan. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do love the ‘Beautiful Game’ (soccer in case you were wondering). But that’s about it.

While I wish I liked sports more than I do, I am interested in the dynamic of teams. And understanding the dynamics of sports teams can help us manage and coach our church planting teams more effectively. So I’ve been doing a little research about this topic. And then I went to a Sporting KC game and made some additional observations. Maybe these will help you build more effective teams:

  1. Hire the Right Coach. Coaching/leading is the essence of a good team. Great coaches produce great teams.
  2. Score Early. Aren’t teams that get ahead in the game more likely to win. So what would it look like for your teams to get some wins early. Perhaps you can make the first tasks easiest.
  3. Practice. What sports team doesn’t practice? So what might it look like to give your teams time to practice, to experiment, to get away from the pressure to perform and work on the basics?
  4. Rest During Half-time. Other than baseball, most sports have built-in breaks. What would it look like for your team to half-way through a project review, rethink and refresh the strategy?
  5. Get the Right Players in the Right Positions. Jim Collins calls this getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. To do this you’ll need to understand the personality, gifting and abilities of the people on your team.
  6. Keep the Team Together. The longer the key players play together the better they will play together.
  7. Keep Key Players on the Team. what’s it going to look like for you to keep you key players on the team?
  8. Make Adjustments During the Game. Coaches need to make mid-game adjustments to the play of the team. Swap players. Make changes.
  9. Study the Game Video. Always review when a team’s project or task comes to an end. Ask, what worked? What didn’t work?
  10. Celebrate! After every win celebrate as a team. Even the small wins matter.

What about you? What other lessons have you learned from sports teams that can help us? Leave a comment.

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Have You Forsaken Your First Love?

What was the singular event or circumstance that drove you to believe God was calling you to plant a church…or churches…or better yet, a movement of churches? normal_Carina-Nebula-Full

I suspect it was because you were in love with Jesus.

I suspect you pushed your family, made financial sacrifices, stretched yourself to be what you’re not sure you an be…all because you loved Jesus. You did a lot of things you wouldn’t have because you loved Jesus and believed he had called you and your team to plant a church.

How’s it going for you?

After saying yes to planting a church, can you say that you love Jesus even more?

If you can’t, that’s a problem.

Perhaps you’re overwhelmed with all of the details of planting and you want to quit. It happens to all of us. But don’t. Keep at it.

If you’re in a tough place, maybe it’s because you’ve forsaken your first love?

I am reading through Revelation. Jesus admonishes the church in Ephesus that they have forsaken their first love–Him.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first (Revelation 2:4-5)

So have you forsaken him?

Maybe this season isn’t about you doing more or trying harder or launching the next thing. Maybe your challenge is to go back to that place in your mind, in your memory and in your heart, when Jesus first called you to do a new work for him.

Maybe these questions will help take you there:

  • What was that season like?
  • Where were you living?
  • What were you doing for a living?
  • Who was speaking into your life?
  • What sins were you battling?
  • What were you learning about yourself?
  • What were you learning about God?
  • Why did you do it–take the plunge into church planting?
  • What made you decide this was the time and the place?

Never forget the love that inspired you to do what you do. Never get so entangled in the details of church planting that you lose sight of who it’s all about.

If you have, go to Him right now. Confess your sin. Repent and breath it all in again.

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Warning: First Impressions in Small Groups Matter Too!

I think you’d agree, first impressions matter. sparks

People expect a positive first experience. If they don’t, well they won’t be back.

Most of you planting have a first impressions or front line team to welcome your guests and make a good first impression. (If you don’t you should.) Read this now. This might help as well.

But what about first impressions in smaller communities–say in small groups? If I am honest, I haven’t thought about this much–until recently.

See, I am learning that the first connections people have into a small group are often the most enduring. If this is true, then it’s important we church planters understand how people make first connections and why they make such an impact on people.

We’ve been talking a lot about the power of connecting at Restore these days. Connecting with each other and God is a key value for us. And so I’ve been talking to some of the people who found their way back to God at Restore. What I’ve found is that people talk a lot about their first connections into community.

That led me to ask some people who found their way back to God how their first connections helped them grow. So I had a conversation with my friend James whose first impression in a small group was catalytic to his spiritual growth. He agreed to answer some questions about this last week.

James reveals that this first connection in small group was catalytic. They joined one in the summer of 2011 and were soon baptized. James became an apprenticeship and today he leads his own small group. James attributes his ever-increasing spiritual velocity to those very first connections.  I am grateful to James for his willingness to share his story with us. I hope it helps you think through connecting in your small group context.

“Probably like most folks, a little uncomfortable at first.  I was actually reluctant to go at first, I felt that I wasn’t ready to come to a small group because I didn’t know any thing about the bible and I wasn’t sure I was far enough in my journey and I wasn’t comfortable praying in front of other people and on and on and on.  However I found that many of the people in the group were just like me, not super Christians that were above everyone else, but real people with real world issues struggling to figure out their own journey with the help of the small group community.  The other important piece of the small group was the connection with others that grew into contributing, I’m not sure if or when I would have become involved without these first connections.  It’s been 2 years since we attended our first small group and those first connections that were created are still some of my strongest connections within the restore family, relationships that have truly turned in to Brothers in Christ.”

So I ask you as I ask myself:

  • Should we be paying more attention to first connections in small groups?
  • How should we try to foster better first connections in small communities?
  • Should we value first connections like these over others? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree that some first connections in a spiritual community are stronger than others?
  • How could we better prepare our leaders to be more aware of these first connections?

I’d love to hear from you.

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