Leadership Essential #3: The Art of Invitation


Inviting a friend to join me on a trip to Lambeau Field to watch the Green Bay Packers comes naturally for me.  It’s easy.  No need to develop my invitational skills, or craft a creative invitation.  No need to enroll in a class to learn how to engage, or learn how to invite. Why is that?

On the other hand, inviting people into a spiritual conversation or inviting them to join me in some church-centered activity can be very intimidating and awkward.  

Why is that?

Three things I am learning about The Art of Invitation: (more…)

Eliminate “Conversation Stoppers” With These Tested “Conversation Continuers”

“Conversation stoppers” suck. “Conversation continuers” don’t.

Live life together and you will eventually hear something from someone that you completely disagree with.

It’s not whether or not it will happen, it’s when it happens, how will you respond? In those critical moments you have two choices:  Fight or flight.   Debate or disappear.  Argue or appease.

There IS a third option.


Giving Advice And How to Stop Doing It

Giving Advice

Here’s the direct truth about giving advice: Most of the time people don’t want it. Even when they ask for it, more than likely, they don’t want it. So, my advice: Stop Giving It! 🙂

Recently I was asked a question in an email about an apparent discrepancy in the Bible.

I answered it. Answering too quickly is a form of giving advice.

And then I got to thinking:  Instead of answering it, instead of giving advice, what might have happened if I would have led my friend to some resources and supported him as he searched for the answer himself?

Now, I’m not suggesting that every time someone asks me a question, I should avoid answering it, and put the onus back on them.  However, often as ministry leaders,  we play the role of “answer guy” or “answer girl” and in the process keep people from owning their own journey to discovery. Giving advice prematurely can short circuit their own discovery. And here’s the truth, when someone discovers their own answers, they are more likely to stick.

If our goal is to encourage, empower, and equip missionaries, we need to grow in our ability to discern when to simply answer people/ give advice, and when to lead them to discover for themselves.

Here are four thoughts to consider as you decide whether you will be giving advice or not: (more…)

1 Simple Phrase to Stop Premature Correction in Its Tracks

In order to better connect with our friends and neighbors, one of the major hurdles we need to overcome is our natural tendency to immediately correct misbelief.

There are times I believe that if I don’t correct misbelief immediately, I will be unfaithful to the truth. So, I’m quick to speak and slow to listen. Contrary to popular belief, your silence does not mean your endorsement!

Silence combined with curiosity can actually lead to deeper understanding.

Here’s a recent example: (more…)

Listening Curiously

Part of my tribe’s creation story was recorded in Martin Luther’s famous statement:

“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”

We Lutherans fancy ourselves as “truth-tellers.” We get a certain adrenaline rush when we correct error. When the odds are stacked against us, we will stand. I think we actually like the challenge that comes when truth is under attack.

We need to stand strong.


I’d like you to consider another equally compelling challenge.

We need to listen curiously.

Here’s why.   (more…)

Pompous, Purple, Princes and the Purpose of Missional Living

A friend of a friend sent me this yesterday.  She describes herself as a “life long Catholic, poet, feminist disturbed by patriarchal privilege.”


The Papacy: Haughty Couture?

Pope, Prince and Patriarch

each pretentiously proclaims

the passing of a

putrefied potentate.


Privilege, once ensconced

in cape and lace finery,

gives way

first and urgently

to chaos and confusion.


How will Patriarchy

robe itself now?

What garment will it wear?

A hair shirt would be a

suitable first choice

Sackcloth and ashes

could soon follow.


Let’s put the red shoes, special

ring and bolts of Belgian lace

into the cedar chest, nicely folded,

shall we?


Try standing naked

for a time

as we all must

when true transformation



Try living without

the props of privilege

and see how hard it is.

For the rest of us,

who have never owned

a pair of custom, red

Gucci loafers,

already know how this feels.


Scheduling a conversation

with us might also prove


as retreat into feigned obscurity

is insular and insolent.



is over you see.

And no matter what you

choose to cloak yourself in,

we can see right through it.


May I remind the pompous,

purple, princes

that the hem of the garment

Jesus wore,

yes, just the rough hem,

sufficiently held

all of the grace needed

to heal the world.


© Beth Fritsch




Lord Jesus, you who humbled yourself even to death on the cross, lead us to reflect You so that our world, one friend, one neighborhood, one city at a time, might have an acurate reflection of who you really are.  You call us to love others the way You have loved us.  Keep us, we fervently pray, from getting in the way of your gracious purpose.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

1 Reason Why Discipleship and Coaching Work Together


A number of years ago I hired a personal coach.  It proved to be one of my best leadership decisions.  I am learning the art of asking and answering powerful questions. i am discovering how that art can be effectively applied in authentic friendships.  Any discipling relationship is, by its very nature, an authentic freindship. 

If coaching is helping a precious person (think Cinderella’s coach) move from where they are to where they want to go, and discipleship is helping someone learn how to follow Jesus, then doesn’t it make sense that these two disciplines go hand in hand?

I think so.

Why teach coaching skills to church people?

Let my coach, Lynn, answer: (from Lynn Schoener’s coachNotes for the Church, December 27th, 2012)

My friend and I were discussing our respective businesses a few weeks ago, helping each other noodle on strategic plans for the year ahead. She wanted to know why I teach coaching skills to “church” people. “They are just normal people, right?” I laughed as she quickly added, “What I meant is that coaching isn’t part of their job.” “So are you saying I’m not normal?” She smiled, and said “No, you’re not, and that’s not a problem for me! But seriously, do they have to know how to coach to belong to that church?” I gave her a bit of context around the purpose of lifeGroups, and posed this question to my curious friend:

“When you share a problem, a goal, or a dream you have for your life with someone in your circle, what usually happens?”

“Nothing, because I keep that information to myself.”

“Why is that?” 

“Because I don’t want to hear what they think I should do, or listen to them explain why what I did do wasn’t right. It’s exhausting. They nod as if they are listening, but I can feel the judgment.”

“Let’s say you do open up about a struggle you’re having, and they react like you’ve described. What would you do?”

“I’d get defensive, or I’d agree, just to shut them up. Then I’d figure out a way to get out of the conversation. Can you tell I’ve been there, done that?!”

“What if that person really listened, asked more questions about the situation, wanted to know what you’ve tried, or what your ideas are–what would you think about that?”

“Oh, you mean what would I do if they could hold it with me? If they could be present with me in the struggle? Instead of rushing ahead with solutions I’ve already tried, or shaking their head at the stupidity of my past actions? Wow, that would be great.”

“Holding. Yes! That is exactly what we’re up to with coaching at the Church.”

Below the level of skills and tools, process and approach, coaching is essentially about holding. New dreams and old fears, choices and chances, uncertainty and enthusiasm…the new year will bring these to each of us in some configuration. Who will God place in your path to coach? What will you have the privilege of holding?

“What if that person really listened, asked more questions about the situation, wanted to know what you’ve tried, or what your ideas are-“

What if?

So, here’s my #1 reason why discipleship and coaching work together:

Discipleship is relationship.

We can’t help someone, truly help someone, if we don’t care to know them, really know them.  We can’t help someone discover the riches of the glories of God if we don’t make the space to walk with them.  We can’t help someone discover where God’s story shows up in theirs if we have no idea what their story is.  And, we will never be able to assist them to discover for themselves the Good News of Jesus’ Kingdom in their life if we are forever teaching and dictating.  We need to allow space for them to consider the deeper answers that God Himself is leading them to grasp.  That’s why learning the art of asking powerful questions in authentic friendship is THE BEST discipling approach I can think of.   



A View from Mile 4

On mile 4 of my annual Thanksgiving Day Berbee Derby 10K I came upon this:  a picture of true friendship, of focused-support.

I can’t think of a better picture of living life together.  

On the road of life there comes a time in each of our lives when we need someone who sees what God sees to run beside us.  

We are privileged on the race of life to help others see what God sees.

Who is providing that kind of seeing support on your run?

Who are you privileged to run alongside?

As we continue to grow in understanding what the missional life looks like, I hope and pray that we will see this picture multiplied.

What are you take aways from this view at Mile 4?