What is That One Best Thing?

What is That One Best Thing?

In 2000 I read a book titled Calling. Perhaps my greatest take-away from that reading was a question: If there were no obstacles or barriers in front of you what one thing would you be doing for God? In other words if there were no financial or geographical barriers, if you had no physical limitations and no time constraints, how would you spend your life serving God? It is a great question, isn’t it? I began asking it to people from that point on. So, let me ask you to consider it as well; If there were no barriers or obstacles in front of you, what is the one thing you would be doing for God?

In the book Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church I reworded the question to assist churches in searching out the one thing their church could do better than anyone else. Like individuals, I believe every church has one thing they can do, one ministry they can engage in, better than the government, schools systems, better than any other civic or religious entity. In the book and working with churches I give some ideas on how to narrow the prospects down to one – what one thing can we do better than anyone else?

Working with various churches I have had churches begin partnerships with a particular school, people group, community ministry, community leaders or health professionals. In a recent meeting I had a member of a church (Reaching the Summit) health team state (after they had studied and discussed at length the possibilities); “We believe we can love others authentically.” That sounds pretty abstract and broad based so I followed with a question, as I often do. I asked the team from the church to explain that concept to me because I viewed it as very broad. I insisted that every person on the health team give me a reasonable support for how this was to be manifested and how they would be able to continue to lead and equip the entire church (today and future members) to live it and manifest it as the one best thing their church could do.

Somewhat surprisingly, the members shared of ongoing and one-time occasions where this was actually being manifested through their lives and the lives of others in their church. I began the last sentence with “Somewhat surprisingly” because we know the church is a friendly and loving church. However, every church I have ever been in believes they are a friendly church – and most are, at least among themselves.

This particular church is a young church with mostly young families and was located on the town square of about a 20,000 member community until November of last year when they moved out to a rural site about 7 miles north of the town. In that time they have doubled in size (not in the city but away from the populated area)). They were not a large church. They were not a wealthy church. But they are a loving church. They have decided the one thing they can do better than anyone else is Love Others Authentically. And they are proving they can. One way to see that this is being manifested is by the growing attendance in five months from averaging 55 in the city, to 107 in a rural setting.

In conversations with individuals and in meetings with church health teams, I ask a follow up question. When I ask the initial question’ If there were no barriers or obstacles in front of you, what is the one thing you would be doing for God? I wait for a response. After the person(s) respond, I ask, “Why aren’t you doing it? If God is as big as we say He is and as powerful as we say, Isn’t He capable of removing any barriers in our way?” God’s Calling on your life is to carry out His desire through the passion He has given you using the skills, gifts, and abilities with which you have been blessed. So what is that One Best Thing?

To find out more about this topic read Reaching the Summit (chapter nine) and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.


Are You Ready to Rebuild?

It has been said that one will never rebuild until he or she comes to the point of weeping over the ruins. Tragically, many of us are simply never grieved or burdened about the broken down walls and burned gates in our ministry or even in our own lives. When you read this, do you think of how long it has been since you wept and fasted over broken down walls in your life?

In the book of Nehemiah in the Bible when Nehemiah heard the report from his brother and others about the condition of Jerusalem, its broken down walls and burned gates, his passion index raised. Nehemiah states in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the book, that when he heard this news he sat down and wept, fasted, and prayed for several days. The news was devastating to Nehemiah. He was overcome with emotion concerning the condition of the ancestral city of his forefathers. Nehemiah ‘s passion index was raised. What does it take for your passion index to raise enough to have the desire to rebuild? Have you come to the point of weeping over broken down walls in your life?

Have you come to the point of weeping over the condition of your life, your business, marriage, church, or even your nation? If you’ve not come to the point of weeping over the condition, how can you expect to begin a truly rewarding rebuilding process? Is your church experiencing less attendance, fewer baptisms, smaller financial gifting than in previous years. If your church is experiencing any of these it is likely you are in decline. More than 80 percent of our churches across North America today are in a state of decline. With this many churches in decline, we are well beyond epidemic proportions.

If Nehemiah had not identified with the needs of the city of his fathers, a city which he had never seen or visited, the book of Nehemiah would never have been written. Nehemiah would never have left the comforts of the king’s palace. Jerusalem would have remained in ruins until God raised up another leader. Thank God for Nehemiah’s heart for the things of God and his Godly character. Nehemiah was about to take on a daunting task that was far beyond anything he had ever been part of. But he would accept the challenge without question because he was following the direction of God almighty. When you and I follow God as did Nehemiah, we do not see a challenge before us. We see our next act of obedient service to God. And God will provide and deliver.

The need is not about what has happened or about rebuilding the Past. The need is about finding your place and purpose in moving God’s kingdom work forward. It is not working against the manifestation of God’s direction, but about fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. The daunting task which Nehemiah accepted was accomplished in a timeframe that even today would be impossible. Through God’s direction and His divine assistance the mess was cleaned up, the walls rebuilt and the gates (all 12 of the gates) were restored with all new material in 52 days. Incredible!

It all started with one man who came to the point of weeping over broken down walls. Are you ready to begin the rebuilding process in your life, your church?

For more information on Nehemiah’s challenges read the book which bears his name in the Holy Bible, and purchase your copy of Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church, and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.



Break for Reset

This principle can be a life-changer for every person on earth. Learning and practicing this one principle will bring a sweeter life and eliminate frustrations. It crosses over into every area of life whether leading a team, an entire organization, tackling a plumbing project, or working a puzzle in the privacy of your own home. Practice this God-given principle for peace of mind and renewed focus.

Perhaps it is built into leaders, this drive to go, go, go billowing at a project like a fast moving monorail train that has no brake for slowing or stopping. Do not get me wrong, I believe we need to keep the train moving forward and build momentum along the way. However, I believe successful leaders understand – or have someone to help them understand that in most planning and decision making projects there comes a time when a break is needed. One principle I have learned, practiced, and try to pass on to others is that of Break for Reset. We can get so involved and wrapped up in looking at a project or situation from a particular vantage point that we can miss opportunities for greater potential.

I have on occasion advised my wife to stop working on a particular project if she was becoming frustrated and could not come to a solution. And no, I’m not speaking of having difficulty with her husband. One instance in particular was balancing a bank statement that had her frustrated and ready to throw in the proverbial towel. My advice was to set it aside and come back to the bank statement later or even the next day. When she came back to it she found the resolution and was finished within five minutes. I have done the same on many occasions – walk away and come back later – take a break and come back refreshed with a renewed and reset mind. Following a break for rest and coming back with a clear mind it is amazing how clearly and simple an answer comes to some situations that seemed nearly impossible earlier.

My wife and I were laying hardwood flooring in our bedroom. This was not our first time as we had laid hardwood flooring in two other rooms in this particular house and a 400 square foot room in a previous house. We had been working all day on this room and came to the last strip of flooring. Each piece needed to be cut length wise and fitted not only along the edge of the wall but around the base of two French doors as well. I ran into a situation – how to get the last two pieces in as one would need to be locked into place and tapped under the door trim and the other fitted into a corner. I thought and thought, measured and contemplated. It was a real dilemma. It was late and we were both tired. We decided to stop for the night and finish the final two pieces the next day. I took a short break then began cleaning up the room while my wife was in another part of the house. About a half hour later I was almost finished picking up and putting things away when the solution to my situation came to me clear as the ringing of a bell.

The longer I stayed in the mode of trying to solve the issue, the more tunneled in thought I became. But once I stopped thinking about it and gave my mind a needed rest, the answer came, without me trying to process it. To give her the credit, my wife recommended a similar solution forty-five minutes earlier that evening. But, I was so tunneled in my own thought processes that her suggestion did not register.

Taking a break to reset can be invaluable to your leadership, your family, and your own mental and emotional stability. We all need to step away from situations and projects to clear our minds and reset our thinking processes. When something has you so wrapped up, take a break. Do not think about that project for a period of time. Force yourself if you need to, to put it out of your mind and think on something more pleasant and enjoyable. Your mind cannot reset if you continue to think about the issue needing resolution. Take a break and reset for a clear perspective. And if you need to, make sure someone in your circle of influence has your permission to tell you to break and reset as Leigh Ann did for her husband Tim in chapter twelve of Turnaround Journey. Capture this principle – Break for Reset – and you will be able to use it in each and every area of your life.  Life is so much sweeter when we learn to use and practice God-given principles.

To learn more about the principle of breaking for reset purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.


The First 3 Things to Plan

If you were planning to take a trip, a journey, this summer, what are three of the first things you would need to plan? Perhaps you said where to, who is going, how will you get there? There are many things to consider; why this destination? What is your objective, rest, relaxation, sight-seeing, visiting historical sights? When we plan a trip with our family we consider these and many more. In churches and other organizations we plan as well. However, there is a big difference in planning and strategic planning for effective results.

In the church for instance I often hear of how much we gave. Assisting churches to find where their true focus is I often hear responses as; “We gave away 150 backpacks.” Or “We handed out 300 bottles of water at the community festival.” While these efforts are worthy of our time and resources they are not necessarily fulfilling the mission of the church, The Great Commission. You can hand out 300 bottles of water without once sharing the gospel. In fact the pastor of one church I was working with came to the conclusion, “There is nothing we have been doing in our booth that an atheist in the very next booth could not do.”

This pastor realized his church was doing social ministry, not sharing the story of Christ – fulfilling the Great Commission. Each year this church held planning meetings, involved several members of the congregation and encouraged every member to be involved in the community festival. They contributed to the festival, participated in the two day festival in a church sponsored booth. They were giving away free “stuff” all weekend. Yet, they were not sharing Jesus. The pastor and members of his church came to the conclusion that while they were involved and participating, they were not acting as a New Testament church. Unfortunately, many of our churches are playing this scenario in their communities – and believe they are doing it in the name of Christianity. It might be in the name of Christianity, but it is in name only and it does not match up with what we read in the book of Acts.

When you plan for a trip, if you are going to drive, you plan your route. How are you going to get to your destination. You plan which roads to take and what you will see along the way. You identify signs, cities, and sights you will encounter along the way. On your trip you watch for those particular roads, signs, and attractions. These are destination indicators. They are indicators that you are traveling in the right direction. (See Turnaround Journey)

As a church when you plan, plan for results – effective results that move you toward your destination. As the church your ultimate destination should be to fulfill the Great Commission; make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe all the things of God in Christ Jesus. Not only plan for effective results, you need to build in destination indicators so that along the journey you can identify that you are truly being effective and moving in the right direction.

What are the first three things you need to build into your planning for effective ministry? Be sure they include destination indicators along the journey.

Destination indicators are only one element of a successful equation laid out in Turnaround Journey. Most churches never build in destination indicators or other factors that you would never dream of leaving out of planning and implementing for a trip with your family. For more information on strategic planning and implementation for effective results contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey, available at Amazon, Barnes&noble.com, SonC.A.R.E. Ministries, and other on-line retailers.

Involve Everyone in the Process

One of the dynamics of small groups is involvement. Whether you are teaching a Bible study or working with a team, getting everyone involved is important. If you only want yes people, people to rubberstamp your ideas, you do not need a team. You only need a few people who can nod their head up and down. But if you want and value input, realizing God speaks to others and that you may not have all the ideas, all the answers, then you’ll need to use approaches that assist and insures every person’s involvement in discussions and debate. Everyone’s involvement carries beneficial results as it engages each person’s higher order thought processes, allows everyone to be heard, produces learning, and brings cohesiveness and agreement through thought and discussion.

When recruiting and assembling a team it is important to inform those being recruited that their thoughts and ideas are not only important but valuable, desired, and necessary for the team to accomplish its goals. When speaking with pastors and other organization leaders about selecting persons to be recruited for a church health team or a planning team, I suggest the following criteria. The people you want and need on this team need to be open-minded, forward thinking, positive people who will share their thoughts and opinions and listen to all others with open mindedness as well. This information should be shared with each person as he/she is being recruited. They need to know the expectations up front, before they agree to serve with you on a team.

Acquiring each person’s input on a particular subject can be as simple as going around the room allowing each person time to share, starting at one end of the room let’s say the person on your right, and moving around the room until every person has been given a chance to voice his/her thoughts. This approach works and is okay in some formats for particular situations. However, you will receive better discussion and draw to a right decision when you learn to foster healthy debate across the team. (see blog post on Healthy Debate & read chapter seven in Turnaround Journey)

When you go around the room calling on each person to respond, they are likely to give their own thoughts and opinions. Team members will not often speak to one another persons ideas. Each person wants his or her ides to be heard. On the other hand, when you as a leader encourage healthy debate team members will discuss pros and cons of each person’s ideas, tweaking, building on, and adding to the ideas that they believe to be a better fit for the organization. This healthy debate will lead the team to a cohesive conclusion and suggestion for moving forward toward implementation within the organization.

There are several ways to encourage and spark healthy debate. Perhaps one of the simplest ways is to throw out a question probing the higher order thought processes of each person in the room. When the first person responds, wait a few seconds to see if someone replies, counters, or adds to the first response. If so your debate has begun. If no one replies to the first response, spark the debate with a second question. “What does everyone else think about that idea?” You can follow up with, “What other ideas do you have?” or “What are other ways we could…?” As the leader, you are the catalyst to move the debate forward. However, be careful not to give your own thoughts on the subject too early. This is a debate closer and you will miss out on good debate and likely miss other good or even greater ideas and suggestions. (see blog post titled The Leader Speaks Last)

Another benefit of insuring the involvement in the discussion of every team member is to come to that conclusion with solidarity. In a situation where every person on the team has had the opportunity to share his/her ideas and thoughts and all have provided input into the suggested conclusion, no one can leave the room and claim, “It’s not what I wanted, but…” A team should always come to a right conclusion and leave the team meeting with unity of purpose, in agreement for moving forward with the team’s decision.

Learn to involve and engage every person on your team or in your Bible study for a more productive implementation of truths learned and effective practices within the organization. For more information on involving everyone in the process contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey today.

The Need for Overarching Themes & Goals

Every church needs an overarching objective. I believe it is a good practice to set a new overarching objective every year, perhaps even more often if you have a set time, criteria, and goals and accomplish those in a shorter time frame. An overarching theme or objective is determined by the church leaders by answering one question; “If we could only work on one thing (objective) for the next year (nine months, six months, etc.) what one thing would that be?”

Answering this question and narrowing to only one main objective will require discussion with the right people in the room. It may require more than one meeting. In one church when I introduced this concept to the church leaders (staff & deacon chair), we listed several ideas on a tear sheet and let each person give reason for why that should be our overarching theme for the remaining seven months of the year. Everyone left the meeting with the assignment to contemplate and pray for direction of which of the seven or eight ideas to select as our overarching objective.

When we came back together the following week, there were two of the ideas on everyone’s mind. We realized the two were actually connected and by working on either one, we would also be developing the other.  We concluded our discussion by choosing one and then began strategizing how to effectively implement improvements in this area throughout the organization of ministry.

Before proper strategic planning can take place though, your overarching theme needs to be turned into a goal – an overarching goal for the entire ministry organization – not only the pastor and staff. I refer to the Overarching Goal as the “OG.” In the book Turnaround Journey Calvert City Community Church begins their turnaround journey by selecting families as their overarching theme. The theme of families can take on a very wide spectrum of ministry and thoughts of what “family” includes. So before the team can proceed they must develop a goal for ministry to families for their church. Since it is to be an overarching goal it must be strong enough to support the fulfillment of the Great Commission and broad enough to be executed by all ministries within the church.

An Overarching Goal (OG) based on an overarching theme must include the theme as well as other elements of a goal. When setting a goal you need a “from here to where by when” (here + where x when=goal). In other words you must first determine where you are today, currently in regards to your goal relating to your theme. If your overarching theme is spiritual maturity for your congregation you need to have an understanding of where your people are at today. That is your from here.

Next you need a to where. Where is it you would like for your people to be at the end of your timeframe? Realistically, what should you expect from your people in the area of spiritual growth? TO determine a fitting to where, you must first determine a way to measure such growth. Is it measurable. If not, then you need to rethink your theme. Once you have a style of measure you can set your to where.

Your by when is simply selecting a date to accomplish your from here to where. I There are many other built in calendar dates a church can use as well. Example: Easter, the start of the new church year, or school start or finish dates.

The strategic planning dies not end with the setting of an Overarching Goal. That is the beginning point. If you want to implement for true Great Commission success begin with setting an overarching Goal. For more on this and the other steps for effective strategic planning and implementation pick up your copy of Turnaround Journey and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Life is a journey and your church is on a journey. Why not set the next leg of your church’s journey on course for a more productive and effective beautiful journey.

Using Questions in Conversational Pause and Wait for a Response

I have had inquiries about two recent blog posts; Conversational Pause and Wait for a Response. The following is a portion of one conversation and response to one of those inquirers.  In a teaching setting as Sunday School or other Bible study group, you have great opportunities to use this teaching technique. A study the gospels, reveals Jesus using these techniques.

Questions are one of the greatest teaching tools God has given us. Learning to use properly formulated questions is critical in effective teaching for true life changing learning. As a student of the question and its proper usage for effectiveness I enjoy using and teaching others the art and benefit of using properly formulated questions.  Unfortunately, in churches (Sunday School) the one type of question most often used produces little or no learning. (You can read more about this in Teaching That Bears Fruit, chapter 4, The Art of the Question). Learning to formulate good thought provoking questions will change your teaching as well as the atmosphere of your class and produce life-changing learning.

I write about questions in response to your inquiry because using the right formulated questions will build in automatic opportunity for pause. Example: In your class you could ask, “What day of the week is today?” As soon as someone answers “Sunday.” All thinking stops. This question only calls on the listener to use static recall, not in-depth thinking (what I refer to as Higher Order Thought Processes). Everyone knows it is Sunday. There is no opportunity for learning.

Instead of that question why not ask, “What does Sunday mean to you personally?” Everyone in the room must use higher order thinking to process this question. When one person, John, speaks, everyone processes what John is saying with what he or she is thinking. No matter how many people speak to the question, everyone’s thinking remains engaged processing each new piece of information until you, the leader, say it is time to move on. The pause is critical in creating this learning experience.

Formulating the right question is part one of the teaching experience. Part two comes in allowing the listeners to become learners. You do this by pausing, allowing each one in the room to process the information. This is one of the greatest downfalls of many Sunday School teachers – not pausing to allow the higher order thought processes to engage. I’ve sat in classes as a guest and listened as a teacher asked what I thought was a brilliant question for a learning experience. Yet, the teacher did not slow down. Without even taking a breath she/he kept on going without allowing the listeners to realize there was a question or a potential learning experience available.

Questions are not the only method of arriving at conversational pauses, but they are perhaps the easiest and most natural way to arrive at a pause geared for learning. You can also learn to use statements to create the same type learning experience. Example: It has been said that the Reverend Billy Graham has stated that 50% of the people sitting in church on Sunday morning are not born again Christians. – There is an implied question in the statement. Perhaps more than one. First, it probes every person to consider his own spiritual walk. Second, it should probe “How can we help change that statistic” conversation among the class. Another example: Studies have shown that the percentage of churched teens and unchurched teens experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and sex is virtually the same. That is a statement, but think of the probing it could lead to in your listeners.

While using statements can produce those same type learning experiences as questions, in a Sunday School class it may be best to use a follow up question to steer the thought processes; a question as, “What does that statistic say to you?” The key is to learn to pause and not to speak or give an answer without waiting for an answer. It is becoming comfortable with the discomfort of silence. Occasionally, not often, you may want to insert a little humor to lighten the tension brought on by the silence: something light like humming the Jeopardy tune or saying ‘tick, tock, tick, tock. It is also good to let your listeners know their input is valuable and needed for everyone to learn and live according to scripture.

Conversational pauses create vital learning experiences. It takes practice, but I believe anyone can learn to use this effectively. In the small group setting the learning part (for those listening) is instinctive. The teacher on the other hand has to re-learn how to teach by adding this to his repertoire. However, once you learn it and practice it with regularity, you will see a change in your teaching style, in the class atmosphere, and in the life-changing learning of those in your class.

For more on this topic contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Teaching That Bears Fruit.


Sending with Affirmation, Follow up, and Accountability

You are only setting the course for tomorrow when you build in follow up and accountability.”

Have you ever been in a meeting where no one could remember who was responsible from a previous meeting for progress on an issue or event your team was dealing with? We talked about it. Who was going to take care of that? I thought you were? Not me. I thought someone else was handling it. Meetings can be frustrating when actions for future progress are made yet no accountability and follow up are assigned.

Many meetings in church and business end without any commitment to follow up or accountability. Without commitment to follow up the likelihood of accomplishment diminishes dramatically. In a meeting, when a decision is made requiring action, assignments for undertaking the task should also be made. When assignments are made or challenges issued if follow-up does not occur, accountability wanes. A good leader instills the need for assignments to be made and a course of accountability is set.

In the story of Turnaround Journey, chapter four, no action decisions were made in the meeting. Therefore, one may not see a need for follow up and accountability. Reading this chapter you will notice however how Pastor Tim closes the meeting: “Let’s go get some lunch and commit to pray for these decisions and the implementation of things to come.” Does he build in follow up and accountability? Certainly. “Let’s go get some lunch and commit to pray…” With three words he gave the assigned follow up and accountability. The assignment was not only to pray, but to commit to pray. And the one word commit also depicts accountability.

Regardless of what your team, staff, or committee is contemplating, if there is no follow up and accountability taking place, is there really any forward progress taking place? Even in what seems to be routine meetings (preparing a budget, reviewing the church calendar, discussing present or future ministries) you are only setting the course for tomorrow when you build in follow up and accountability. Like preaching or teaching without issuing a challenge, are you not in effect only dispensing knowledge? Dispensing knowledge does not cause learning or growth. Though it might produce trivia buffs.

In Turnaround Journey, Pastor Tim, just prior to his statements for follow up and accountability, took time to thank his team members, acknowledging their good work and his appreciation. If you are not in the habit of continually thanking your team, staff, and others working with you, it is a good habit to get into. Verbal thanks and words of appreciation are always good. Beyond words, look for other ways to share your appreciation with your direct reports, team and staff as well. Gratitude goes a long way in future performance from team members and others.

Practice building in follow up and accountability in all your meetings and ministry. Jesus did; follow-up and accountability were active parts of each meeting, lesson, and teaching session with His disciples.

For more information on these topics purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Turnaround Journey

Many churches and organizations plan, but there is a large difference between planning and strategic planning that leads to implementation for effective ministry. Working with churches over the years one realization that has occurred to me is execution or implementation for effective ministry is an area of weakness in most of our churches, ministries, and organizations. Could this be an indicator of the plateaued and declining state of 80-90% of our churches? I believe it is.

While some believe that planning and hosting an event, leads to success, and consider their events to be successful, the truth is many events and ministry endeavors are lacking in effective, efficient, Gospel-centered ministry. This is why I believe God has guided me in writing Turnaround Journey.

Turnaround Journey follows the story of Pastor Tim Farling and Calvert City Community Church as they learn a clear and easy to follow strategic planning process with techniques on effective and successful implementation. The formula in this book helps leaders and teams narrow their focus spending their time on those things which will bring the highest results for the church or organization.

In addition the reader will find thirty-four helpful insights for productive leadership in any area of life. Thirty-four leadership tips and techniques that will change the effectiveness of your organization and increase your leadership ability and skills.

Thank you Dr.’s Jeff Iorg, Larry Wynn, & Syd Garrett for the following:

Dr. Jeff Iorg, President, Golden Gate Seminary

“Embedded in this story are important principles about actually leading a church to plan and implement strategic change.  There are many theoretical books on how to do this – but sadly, not too many on how to really get it done.  If you are discouraged by theoreticians and frustrated by failed efforts, check out the insights in this book as a roadmap to practical change in your church.”

Larry Wynn, Vice president, Church Revitalization, Georgia Baptist Convention

In Turnaround Journey, George Yates gives insight into leadership development that is applicable in the church, family, and corporate world as well. These principles are Biblically based and practical. Anyone desiring to become a more effective leader will benefit from this book.

Syd Garrett, Director of Compliance, Fortune 100 Global Telecommunications company

Turnaround Journey is an excellent handbook for all leaders in the church –  ministers, teachers, staff, as well as lay leaders.  George Yates does a fantastic job of laying out the tools and techniques for leadership and problem solving in the church.  In reality, many of the insights are really not limited to churches – really applicable to a Christian leader of any organization.  I’m going to borrow some of the analogies and approaches for use at work.

To learn more and to order your copy of Turnaround Journey visit soncare.net or your favorite bookseller’s website.

Changing Directional Thought Processes

Changing Directional Thought Processes – Have you ever watched Wheel of Fortune on television? There have been times when I have watched it and think of one word likely in the puzzle, and I can’t think of any other word that could fit – even after I know the word I’m thinking is not correct. It is like a tunnel-vision of thought that I cannot break. Once the puzzle is revealed I may realize how obvious it was. But I could not break my own tunnel-vision of thought.

How many times have you been in a meeting or leading a discussion and realized only one avenue of thought was being explored? Working with pastors and church teams, I see this often. Recently, a church team was considering behavior patterns of their church. Patterns the church had developed that may be detrimental to the church’s growth. The conversation turned to their Sunday morning Bible study and carried on for fifteen minutes. When I would ask the team, “What else?” The response would be something about Bible study groups. While structuring for a more effective, disciple-making Bible study was certainly a need, I realized the group was stuck in a tunnel-vision thought pattern. I needed to break the thought processes of the team and redirect their thinking toward behavior patterns in other areas of church life.

First, I needed to break into the current thinking, lead the team away from Bible study only. “These are good, and you certainly have realized a great need in changing the behavior patterns of Bible study groups. However, we need to look at all areas of the church life.” These two statements cause a pause in the thinking of everyone in the room. The subtle compliment in the first statement breaks the chain of thought. Then I would need to redirect the thought processes. “What other behavior patterns, good or bad, do you see in other ministries or actions of the church body that positively or negatively affect the church?” The conversation moved away from Bible study and other areas were addressed. Since that meeting the team has identified areas of need in Bible study and have the first steps in place to becoming more effective and efficient in building disciples and fulfilling the Great Commission. Not only in Bible study, but in three other areas of church life as well.

In chapter nine of the book Turnaround Journey, coach Greg has been leading the church leadership team in a discussion using questions and statements to engage the team’s higher order thought processes. At a particular point Greg realizes the team members are focusing on only one aspect or one line of discovery. Team members are caught in a tunnel-vision of their thought processes. Greg poses one question to break this tunnel-vision. “Are your driving gauges solely on the instrument panel of the dash in your car?” With this one question Greg is forcing the team members to unearth a different line of thinking.

It is like a train changing tracks. This question causes the team to think of gauges as something other than instruments found on the car’s dash board. It is a think outside the box question. Greg realized the members were focused only on those instrument panel gauges. So he uses a question to redirect their thinking. The question is worded in such a way that it interrupts everyone’s thinking, but it also interrupts their thought processes. After giving time for those thought processes to be broken down Greg rephrases the question to enlighten his listeners and to reengage their thinking. He could have asked the second question first and avoided the awkward silence. However, Greg knew he needed to break down the thought processes and after the appropriate time, regenerate them. What do you think, was he successful? Read chapter nine of Turnaround Journey to see if the conversation changed directions. Did the team members realized there was more to be explored than the twelve inches of a dash panel?

Changing directional thought processes takes people deeper in their learning experience, causing more than impressions to be made. Changing directional thought patterns does not stop with attaching old information to new. It leads people in a discovery of what they had not considered or experienced in the past. Learning to use questions that change directional thought processes is a powerful tool in helping others gain insight, and change behavior patterns (people begin looking at subjects from a different perspective). However, a word of caution is due here. Using this directional change too early or with wrong timing can have a detrimental effect on the learning process. In leadership this can have an adverse effect on the team’s ability and willingness to carry out assignments. Learn to use this when appropriate, but always use cautiously, and with wisdom.

Jesus used this type of leadership with the religious leaders, his disciples and others following Him. Can you name a time Jesus changed the directional thought processes of 1) the religious leaders (Pharisees, Scribes, Sanhedrin), 2) his disciples, 3) one or more of His followers?

For more information on Changing Directional Thought Processes contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey.