Sunday, June 26, 2016

Small Group Dynamics - Structure

After an 11day trip to Ukraine and then a family vacation, I am back in the saddle.

Below is a simple observation I have made related to small group dynamics after 35+ years of leading them in various settings and with various sorts of people. I hope it is of value to you and to those you serve.

Small groups that have a greater depth of relationship require less structure. Groups that lack a depth of relationship require more structure.

Relationship >

<-------------------------------------------------------------->                                                                                < Structure
As relational depth grows, less and less structure is required for the group's health and productivity.
Structure includes: well defined parameters for day, time, frequency, duration, subject matter, number of times to meet together, leadership and hosting roles, etc...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Questions to Ask Competitors

One of the most effective tools I regularly employ in my service of sportspeople is to simply ask questions. I ask questions to draw them into conversation, and then to probe more deeply toward their hearts. Sneaky, huh?

I tend to ask three levels of questions:
1.   Questions that solicit facts. I ask the competitor’s name, home town, position, uniform number, etc… Mostly facts. Anyone will offer these details.
2.   Questions that solicit passion. I ask about the competitor’s sporting experiences and I’m looking for their love for the sport. I am leading them to tell me stories that awaken their passion for sport, team, competition, coaches, etc…
3.   Questions that solicit their hearts. I ask about the matters at the core of who they are: values, faith, relationships, events, and other matters that shape their lives from the center.

Please consider this brief list as a place to start with those whom you serve. I hope they serve you well. 
Always ask process questions, not results questions. Fans and media only ask questions about results.

1. How is your team developing? Is the teamwork good?

2. How pleased are you with your....? (Training, practice, hitting, rehab, etc...)
3. How pleased are you with preparations for your next competition?
4. Who among your teammates is doing very well?
5. What are some challenges you have presently?
6. What sorts of situations in your sport bring out the best of your abilities?
7. How well is your team connecting with the coaching staff?
8. When your playing days are over, what do you think you will miss most about sport?
9. What are the moments in your sport that are most difficult for you?
10. Who are your most trusted teammates?
11. When and where are you most fully the person you want to be?
12. What elements of your life in sport are most pleasing to you?
13. What is there about your life in sport that will still be important to you 10 years from now?
14. When you are on the _____ (floor, field, court, track, mat, pitch, etc..), do you feel that God is near or distant? Engaged or disinterested? Pleased or disgusted? Why?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Your first 30 days serving as a Sports Chaplain or Character Coach

During the recent F.C.A. Sports Chaplain conference in Kansas City, Missouri (USA), a number of my colleagues who are rather new to their service asked a lot of questions about the process of beginning to serve. Certainly everyone’s place of service is different and the circumstances vary widely, but below is an attempt at a list of things one should do in his or her first thirty days of service. I hope it’s helpful.

In your first 30 days of serving as a sports chaplain or character coach, I recommend that you:

• Thank God daily for the opportunity and privilege you have.
• Thank the coaches and/or ministry staff that opened the door to you.
• Get an appointment with the head coach to discuss details for your service. (Preferences, timing, things to be sure to do, things to be sure to avoid...)
• Attend practices, speaking to everyone who gives you eye contact. Introduce yourself, but don't use a title to describe your role. It will get around.
• Memorize the team roster by name, uniform number, position, and home town. All are important.
• Arrange to meet personally with anyone to responds to your initial contacts to build relationships and to seek ways to serve them.
• If on a college campus, meet the NCAA compliance officer, introduce yourself, ask how he/she would like you to communicate about opportunities with and for student-athletes.  Make this person an ally, not an enemy.
• Pray for the coaches, competitors, and support staff you are serving.
• Learn to see the faces, to hear the voices, and to feel the experiences of those you serve in your devotional reading, in your moments of contemplation and prayer, and as you travel to and from sporting venues.
• Journal your interactions with those you serve from preseason through postseason. Save the journals for reading in  annual preparation prior to new seasons.
• Set your heart to serve at all times.
• Set your heart to love in all circumstances.
• Prepare to stride joyfully into the next 30 days.