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Free Coaching Opportunity!

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Stas Kulesh)

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you have huge dreams and vision that keep you awake at night?
  • Are you wanting to grow in your capacity as a leader and an individual?
  • Do you feel stuck sometimes wishing you could move forward even if it was only an inch?
  • Have you put too many desires on the backburner?
  • Do you have a sense that your schedule is starting to control you?
  • Is your job or life feeling mundane? Are you simply going through the motions?

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Free Coaching Sessions!

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by IndiepoprockJesse)

I am in the midst of completing my hours to become a certified coach through Church Planting Canada. As part of my practicum, I am offering 5 free coaching sessions to three people (a $300 value).

Coaching is not the same as consulting, mentoring or counselling. Here’s quote from Dr. Phil Newell about coaching taken from Glen Woods’ blog:

Coaching… looks to the PBC (person being coached) for solutions, and the expertise the coach brings is in helping the PBC discover new options and uncover possible strategies.

In other words, coaching is putting the controls in the hands of the client asking questions that help the client discover and commit to steps of action that move them forward when faced with a roadblock be it a personal or professional obstacle. For more another great explanation on coaching, take a look at this other post also on Glen Woods’ blog.

If you are interested in taking advantage of these opportunities to receive coaching, please leave a comment stating your interest. I will email all those interested a questionnaire that will help me in choosing who will receive the free sessions.


Run Forrest! Run!

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Ben Sutherland)

I was not born with inherent time management skills. My wife, on the other hand, gets more done in a couple of hours than I think any normal human being can get done in 48 hours.

I already know what some of you are thinking: Time management is something you can learn. It only takes discipline. It’s not so much time management as it is time stewardship. If you were to only read this book or follow these easy steps…

I’ve done all of that. I’ve read the books, I’ve tried the strategies, I’ve downloaded the programs… Most of the time I still feel like I’m continually running.

Lest you either feel sorry for me or want to give me a quick boot in the rear, let me say that I have come to a conclusion of my own: I don’t have to be ultra efficient. I wasn’t meant to be.

This morning I read a post by Don Miller that sums it up more beautifully than I could. Hop on over to his blog and read the post. It’s entitled “If It Were’nt For God You’d Be More Efficient.” It’s short! Here’s a clip from it:

We buy billions of dollars in books that help us be more efficient, we praise the profit margin, and all the while, God is trying to slow us down, trying to remind us of what matters and what doesn’t, trying to stop our human progress, stop our creation of false Gods.

I’m not saying time management is bad. But being the perfect time manager is not the ultimate goal. Yes, we need to steward our time wisely, but we don’t always have to get more done.

What are ways that you’ve built into your life to allow the Holy Spirit to jump in and interrupt your efficiency?


More on Innovation

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Kenny Møller)

A while back, I hear Erwin McManus talk about a time he was speaking at a leadership conference. The speaker before him mentioned that a good leadership strategy was to be one step behind early adopters. The speaker compared it to discovering edible mushrooms. The mushroom tester dies when eating a poisonous mushroom, while the person who comes behind learns from the mushroom tester’s mistakes and improves on them. McManus tells the story that he walked on stage following that speaker and stated he wanted to be the mushroom tester because that’s where the edge of innovation and creativity is. I agree!

A month or so ago I posted this about being “innovative” in children’s ministry. That post was followed by a series on being dynamic, which started with this post. Recently, I ran across this article from the Harvard Business Review (one of the people I follow on Twitter mentioned it… unfortunately, I don’t remember who). It states that many times innovation can be killed by asking too many questions, especially questions precipitated by the phrase, “What about…”

The premise is that most of the time if we want to be innovative, we simply have to jump in and experiment and change as we go. We can get so caught up in analyzing possible scenarios that we never do anything. We don’t want something to fail, but we fail to do anything.

What’s keeping you from taking that next step in ministry to children? What questions do you need to simply put to rest and leap? Yes, there is something to be said about being strategic, but you never find out if something works unless you try it. What are you waiting for? Someone else to do it? Go ahead… eat the mushroom. What’s the worst that can happen? Death? Is that so bad? :)


And Now, For Something Completely Different!

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by me’nthedogs)

For those of you who might not know, the title of this post is also the title of a very funny Monty Python movie… that is if you “get” Monty Python humor. I was going to post the trailer for the movie off of YouTube, but ruled against it :)

A little while back, I was headed to the district office for the Central District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada (wow, that’s a mouthful!). I had my handy GPS because I have a reputation for taking the scenic route. So, if you ever travel with me then you better have an adventurous spirit and be willing to leave early to get anywhere. Anyway, I had put in the address of the district office. When I got to the road I was supposed to turn on, there was MAJOR construction. I tried following the signs for the detour but ended up in the middle of what seemed like a secret base or something… maybe the Canadian version of Area 51… Needless to say, I got out of there quickly, called the district office and found my way to the office for my meeting.

Life seems to do that to me a lot… OK, GOD seems to do that to me a lot. I am happily going down my path, a path that I know God has me on, and all of a sudden there is a HUGE detour sign. The only thing is that the detour does not lead back to the path I was on… I end up someplace completely different! And that’s what has happened in the lives of the Zonios recently.

Let me go back a year… (cue the flashback sequence music) I was in southern California having attended the Idea Camp. I was on my way to the Pasadena gathering of Mosaic when all of a sudden I had the thought, “I could live in California again.” Immediately, my sub conscience retorted, “Uh, NO I CAN’T!” You see, I grew up in northern CA. When I got married and moved away, both my wife and I said that we really never wanted to live in CA again. That’s just how we felt. Well, ten years later and now I had this random thought that came out of nowhere… OK, maybe it wasn’t nowhere, but I wasn’t all too happy about having the thought.

When I got back to my hotel, I called Erin and told here about the thought. She said something like this, “Um, yeah…” Now, when your wife starts a sentence like that when you’ve told her about a crazy idea you’ve had, then you should immediately stop the conversation and return to your happy life! Well, that’s not what I did… I listened. “Um, yeah… I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. I’ve been having the same thoughts.” GREAT!

Well, it’s been a year of praying, listening, seeking out wisdom and looking for what God might be up to. This past Sunday, we announced to the congregation that we will be finishing up our time at Redwood and moving to Northern California as the end of June. (Don’t worry, I told my senior pastor two weeks previous.)

The obvious question, at least if it was me hearing this news, is, “So, what will you be doing?” In short, we’re still figuring that out. And the answer to your next question: “Yes, we are crazy.”

OK, there IS more to it than that. As we’ve been seeking out God in all of this, one of the things that has come up is my desire to go back to school. The plan is to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis on children, families and religion. With my growing passion in looking at the mutual interaction between culture and children’s ministry, I’ve found that I really need to dive head first into it. Ultimately, it’s my desire to teach at the university level, do research concerning children and families as related to the religious landscape here in North America as well as in other areas of the world. I would also like to enter more into the different conversations happening about what a missional or third way of doing church and christianity looks like.

Now, this move is more than just about me. God has speaking to my wife and children as well about what this move means for them and the story he is writing for our entire family.

In the meantime, we have MANY unknowns. We are definitely taking huge step of faith in doing this. We have to find a place to live (we’re sensing a call to live in the San Francisco East Bay Area), jobs (for both Erin and I not on a pastoral staff), acceptance into school… and that’s just the beginning! We are sad to leave here, excited about what God has for us, and scared out of our minds about the details. It’s an interesting mix of emotions. Please pray for us in the next few months as now we can begin working through the logistics of moving back into the US from Canada and to an area where we have to start from scratch.

I look forward to seeing what God is going to do. I know that it’s going to be a challenging path, but it’s definitely going to be an adventure!

As for this blog, this move really doesn’t change anything. I’ll still be connected into the CM world just from a different vantage point. And I think CM needs people seeing things from as many vantage points as possible.

Here’s to “chasing The Goose!” (You’ll have to read Mark Batterson‘s Wild Goose Chase.)


Staying Dynamic In Children’s Ministry: #1 Creative Space

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Torley)

A few days ago I put up a post about saying something is new and innovative when it really isn’t. I thought I would follow up that post with this series called Staying Dynamic in Children’s Ministry. I like the word dynamic better than innovative because dynamic refers to something that continually interacts, changes and progresses. That’s exactly what I believe children’s ministry must do: interact with the culture and context it is in, change as needed to best minister to that context and move forward.

In no particular order, I will talk about eight things that I think are needed for a children’s ministry to remain dynamic.

1. Creative Space

Creativity isn’t something that just happens. Creativity is active not passive. Since creativity is active, then space needs to be made for creativity. I know what you’re saying. “Sunday comes every week, and summer activities are just around the corner! Don’t even get me started on Easter and Mothers’ Day!!! In between, I have to recruit and train volunteers, gather and adapt curriculum, and spend time with my family.”

I know it’s hard, but if you want to stay dynamic, then you have to make space to be creative.

You might be thinking, “Creative? What do you mean be creative?”

Make space to create something… it doesn’t even have to be work realated! Write an essay or story, paint a picture, doodle, plant a garden, create some cool graphics, photograph something. Do something to work out those creative muscles God gave you. “I’m not creative,” you might say. Nonsense! We are all creative. God created us in His image, and part of that image is creativity. You don’t have to create masterpieces. You just have to create.

You don’t have to set aside a lot of time for creativity. I try to give myself a couple hours a week to do something creative. I’m not always successful in carving out that time, but more often than not I try to give myself some time for creativity.

If we don’t set aside time to create, then we diminish our ability to do so. Creativity is like a muscle. It has to be used and exercised. You must work it out regularly. If you haven’t been allowing yourself time to create, it will be hard to do so at first. Maybe start with a pen and a blank sheet of paper. Start by doodling or writing random thoughts. Allow those doodles or random thoughts to take shape into a picture or narrative. It doesn’t have to look good or flow well. My doodles will never make their way into any art galleries… or on my fridge :) See what you come up with. Try different types of creative things. The point is not to produce something. The point is to create.

As you allow yourself time to create, you will find yourself being more creative with thoughts and situations related to children’s ministry. You will be able to take situations, tasks, curriculum and turn them into something new. You will be more willing to take risks and see beyond what children’s ministry is right now to what it can be.

How many of you already set aside time to be creative? When do you do it? What do you do to work out those creative muscles? How has it helped you remain dynamic?

You can check out the other parts to this series:
#2. Cross-Train
#3. Question Everything
#4. Be Involved in Your Community
#5. Futurecast
#6. When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Grape Juice!
#7. It’s Not About You
#8. The Holy Spirit is Your Friend

Christmas Simplified


(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by tonystl)

Recently, Ed Stetzer had an article in SermonCentral.com on not getting caught up in the cluttering of the Christmas. He makes a very good point:

“The very word ‘advent’ essentially means the arrival of something. So, as we celebrate Christmas, we supposedly celebrate the arrival of God into human form. The Incarnation is a moment to savor. All of our presents and lights and parties ought to have a better meaning. But usually, they don’t. So, in a bid to create a more relevant/helpful/meaningful advent season, the church of late has sought to delineate itself from the commercialization of our country’s Christmas culture. Oddly enough, we have done so by simply offering Christianized versions of what they were already doing—Christmas dinners, Christmas plays, Christmas musicals, and Christmas events in every size and shape. But alas, we have done no better than my neighbor. The church has cluttered the advent season with our own set of lawn décor.”

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Don’t Just Nod Your Head and Smile

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Eleaf)

A few months ago, Seth Godin had this post on his blog:

“If you’re in a meeting with smart people and they start discussing a term or concept you don’t understand, what do you do?

Do you know what recombinant DNA is? Analytics? Chapter 7? Fair use? RSS? The Long Tail?

If smart people in your industry are talking about an issue you don’t know cold, it’s very important that you don’t just sit there and nod your head sagely. I think there are two constructive paths. The first is to ask. “Wait, I was with you until a second ago. What does that mean?” You’ll be amazed at how smart and engaging this makes you seem if you say it at the right time.

The second approach is to write it down and not go to bed that night until you know the topic better than the person who brought it up. How else, precisely, are you going to become one of the smart people?”

The tendency for many of us when we hear a term or concept we don’t understand is to simply nod our heads as if we know what is being said, to not say anything at all, or to zone out. We don’t want to be perceived as stupid or we are frustrated that we don’t know what’s being talked about. If we follow through with advice like that of Seth Godin, though, we show that we want to learn, and learners aren’t stupid.

It’s not easy to ask questions when you don’t understand what’s being said. It’s scary at first. I quickly learned to do it, though, in university because I had one professor who would point-blank ask you if you understood what he was saying and have you tell him back in your own words what he was talking about if you never engaged and asked questions. Boy was it embarrassing to be caught nodding your head as if you understood what was being said and then put on the spot revealing you were clueless. If I stopped, though, and asked questions of this professor when I didn’t understand what he was saying, he was more than happy to explain.

Over the years, I’ve found this to be very helpful, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been able to learn from many different disciplines and learn many things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

As leaders, we need to keep learning. We don’t have to know everything, and we shouldn’t pretend that we do.


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