Transformation is what we're after
As Christian leaders, we all want the people we lead to experience real transformation.
So why doesn't it happen more consistently?
Why does it seem like, despite the effort we put in, we spend more more time putting out fires than really leading transformational change?
Why doesn't transformation happen more?
A LOT of leaders are frustrated about this.
Recent research indicates that 99% of pastors don’t feel like their churches are doing a good job of making disciples.
This number is remarkable for at least a couple reasons:
- It’s the main thing Jesus gave us to do as Christian leaders (“Go and make disciples!”)
- Most of us are actually trying really hard to do this very thing! That’s why we got into Christian leadership (it wasn’t for the money, that’s for sure!)
Bottom line: we want to see people’s lives transformed. So how do our best efforts end up doing so little?
In our efforts to make disciples and bring transformation, we do the things we were trained to do: offer sermons, worship services, counseling sessions, leadership programs, internships, Bible studies, and small group experiences.
But here’s what happens: when we do a good job producing and offering these things, people come and “enjoy” the worship, “appreciate” the sermon, and “get a lot out of” the Bible study, so they come back next week, expecting another great experience (that you and your staff need to deliver).
In our efforts to help people grow, we accidentally contribute to a cycle of consumerism that does the opposite of what we intended.
Instead of people being transformed and then bringing transformation to others, they become consumers of religious goods and services (that YOU need to produce).
No wonder 99% of us don’t feel like we’re doing a good job making disciples! Even when we try to invest in transformation, it backfires. Our best intentions get co-opted by consumerism and we end up feeling even more trapped.
The result: we’re exhausted, frustrated, confused, and discouraged
This lack of transformation is taking a heavy toll on Christian leaders:
- 90% of pastors work between 55-75 hours per week
- 90% of pastors feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the demands of ministry
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 50% of pastors starting out today will not last 5 years.
- 90% of pastors quit before they get to retirement age (source)
With the best of intentions, we’ve become almost entirely caught up in maintaining the institution, and it’s slowly killing us.
And if we’re brutally honest, most of us have to admit that it feels easier to stay stuck, because most of us we just don’t know how to bring transformation to people’s lives in this new world where the fastest growing religious affiliation among young people is “none.”
The journey into transformational leadership
This is our story, too. Gravity Leadership was started by three families that have felt the weight, fatigue, and frustrations that come from non-transformational leadership.
We were all working as Christian leaders in various contexts, but growing more and more disillusioned by the lack of transformation that our best ministry efforts were producing.
We were discouraged, but we wanted to see if transformational leadership was possible in ministry. We wanted to see if it was true that if we focused on leading like Jesus, living on mission, and making disciples that Jesus would build his church. So...
- Ben and Sarah Hardman quit their dream job as an up-and-coming young leader at a megachurch and planted a church of missional communities in the inner city.
- Ben and Deb Sternke launched out from their longtime ministry position at a mid-sized church and planted a network of missional communities, knowing a lot more about what they didn’t want to do than what they did.
- Matt and Sharon Tebbe quit a life-giving ministry job with a church they still love in order to learn how to make disciples in a new context.
Along the way, through a million mistakes and missteps, we met each other and quickly realized that we were embarking on similar journeys of discovery, so we started walking together, learning from each other and encouraging each other.
We became friends and partners in leadership. It was a journey of trial and error, but we learned from our failures and from wise teachers. We kept coming back to the life of Jesus, imitating his way of leadership in our churches and family relationships. We kept experimenting and learning from our failures.
And... it started working
Slowly but surely, people’s lives were actually being transformed. They were growing in their character as disciples and their competence as leaders. Their lives were looking more and more like Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit was growing in them.
One of the biggest lessons we learned is that we can't just aim at increasing knowledge and adjusting behavior. For real, lasting transformation to take place, we need to aim our discipling efforts at the transformation of our DESIRES.
We need to learn to WANT the kingdom of God, not just know the WORDS and do the WORKS. (This is basically what Jesus was saying in the Sermon on the Mount, and it's become the crux of all our training.)
And the best part was that this new way of leadership that was producing so much fruit in other people’s lives was also producing the same fruit in our lives! We were stumbling on a way of leading that was life-giving, not life-depleting.
Other leaders began to see the difference in our lives and churches, and started asking questions. We began sharing what we were learning, and and started coaching and training other leaders, who also began to see the same kind of transformation in their lives and leadership.
Transformational leadership doesn't start with a system. It starts with you.
And now we’ve distilled what we’ve learned through coaching hundreds of leaders into a training process called Gravity Leadership Academy.
GLA is a growing collection of training journeys that will bring radical transformation to your life and leadership.
The foundational training journey is a 12-month training and coaching intensive called Find Your Center, and it focuses on the place that real, lasting transformation always starts: in you as a leader.
The impulse for most of us is to start with changing things for others, but implementing solutions “out there” that haven’t really transformed your own life never really works.
Inevitably, you reproduce who you are as a leader, so the first journey is a process of discovering the ongoing transformational center of your leadership.
Transformation in your culture starts when you as a leader simply start living into a new way of being, and seeing what happens… and that starts with finding an immovable center for your leadership to rest in.
That’s what Gravity Leadership Academy Journey 1: Find Your Center is all about.
The Gravity Leadership folk are the real deal. Taking Jesus as their primary reference point, they help churches develop discipleship practices that can go to scale. Thumbs up!”Alan Hirsch, author and missional pioneer
In my role networking a movement of thousands of congregations across North America, I’ve been in the hunt for the brightest and best biblically-grounded resources for local church development and discipleship. My outcome? Gravity Leadership. Smart, anointed, fresh, effective, extraordinary. I’m a huge fan.Jim Lyon, General Director, Church of God (Anderson)
Three-Part Framework For Transformation
Find Your Center is a simple 3-part framework that you will begin to implement immediately.
Module 1: The Paradigm of Jesus
We take you through 7 Scripture-rooted, paradigm-shifting axioms for leadership and mission in the way of Jesus, helping you see all of life in a new way.
Module 2: The Posture of Jesus
We train with a tool that helps us name the main ways our best efforts at leadership can end up doing the opposite of what we intend, and how to live into Jesus' leadership posture in every situation.
Module 3: The Practices of Jesus
We take you through the 6 practices of discernment so your leadership can go from something you do FOR God to something you do WITH God, joining in God's work.
I learned a completely paradigm-shifting way of discipleship and leadership that continues to challenge me everyday. This training actually saved me from completely giving up on ministry altogether. It's the most Jesus-like thing I can remember belonging to. And that is not hyperbole.Derek Miller, pastor
The coaching process was transformational for me, working on my own leadership issues and motives, and allowing God to speak into the areas of my life that needed breakthrough. Then I moved into discipling others in my church.Lisa DeKryger, pastor
At the risk of sounding cliché, my experience with Gravity Leadership has been life-changing. It's been great to walk with a coach who encourages me to be aware of what God is saying to me. I've never had this kind of leadership in more than 30 years of experience with the church.Brent Anderson, missional entrepreneur
Most of my life I have, without realizing it, used God as 'spiritual Prozac' to treat my current emotional state. GLA has taught me to recognize the ways that God is drawing my attention to where I am and speaking good news to why I am there.Josh Hawkins, pastor
Here's what you get when you enroll
Instead of going to a church conference this year, check out what Gravity Leadership Academy Journey 1: Find Your Center includes:
Live Online Coaching
A weekly 75-minute video call with up to 6 other leaders and a coach for training, coaching, and processing with other leaders you will get to know and love
In addition to the scheduled video call, you’ll have your coach’s cell phone number to process issues you might want to address offline
Discover the hidden false narratives that sabotage transformation before it even gets off the ground, and how to counteract them in your life and ministry
You’ll learn 6 integrated practices for uncovering how ordinary moments can become transformative encounters with God
3 deeply integrated tools to help you live in the non-anxious, transformational presence Jesus embodied in every interaction
Community and Collaboration
7 online learning labs to multiply your learning by sharing it with others and hearing about what they’re learning
While I hold an appreciation for all my formal education, there was something different, more basic and fundamental, more 'life-connected', about the centering work God did in me through this training.John Vanderstoep, church planter
This training has been an answer to prayer. The tools are simple and reproducible and have brought much needed clarity for our staff team, which is giving us a common language to begin the process of transformation for our community.Dee Dee Peck, pastor
I've been through other coaching programs and read several books, but none prepared me quite like Gravity Leadership Academy to actually lead a disciple-making movement in my congregation.Mark Wilhelm, pastor
Our training is distinct
How Gravity Leadership Academy differs from other training programs:
Immersive, not just informational
Most of us have more Jesus knowledge than we know what to do with. We aim to get our know-how out of our brains and into our bones.
Embodied, not just conceptual
We give just enough content to get you moving into practice, and then we debrief on what you practice. Then practices can become new habits.
Participative, not passive
It will demand more of you than just showing up and taking notes. You’ll be expected to engage in the exercises and discussions, and you’ll get out of it according to the measure you put into it.
Failure is expected & celebrated
We don’t really know what we don’t know until we fail, so every failure is an opportunity to learn. Our culture is one where we fail forward together.
Concrete, not abstract
We don’t spend much time “talking about ideas.” We’d rather ask questions that help us get into the granular particularities of our real lives, because that’s where the real training takes place.
Reproducible, not elite
This is a life of faith that anyone can learn to live, so we make the training process as simple and reproducible as possible so you can begin to pass it on immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
We wish we could sit down with you, grab a cup of coffee, and answer all your questions in person, but since we can't, here are a few simple questions that we get asked often:
I'm not sure I can afford this!
We get it! You're trying to steward the resources God has given you, and this is a significant investment.
But think about it this way: you can go through this training for about the same price you'd pay to go to a church conference this year. If you go to the conference, you'll walk away with a notebook full of ideas but not much else.
What if you skip the conference this year and invest in your own transformation and training? It will pay spiritual dividends for years to come.
How much time will this take?
90-120 minutes per week. We know this feels like a lot of time to invest, especially when it seems we're all super busy. But here's what we've found: the time you spend investing in your own transformation and training pays dividends that far exceed the investment.
Also, you can't really "shortcut" your way to transformation. It really does take significant investment. So we won't apologize for the high bar. It's definitely worth it.
When will the calls be scheduled?
Once we get a final registration list, we'll send out a poll to find a time that works for each cohort group. If everyone brings some flexibility to the table, we almost always find a time that works for everyone.
What if I sign up and it doesn’t work for me?
If you give yourself to the process, we are confident that God will work in it and bring transformational results to your life and ministry.
But, if you find it's not for you, we've got you covered. We have a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the training. We're taking the risk out of it for you.
I'm not a pastor. Can I still benefit from this?
Absolutely. Especially in this first journey of finding your center. We've trained small group leaders, accountants, entrepreneurs, and homemakers to become transformational leaders.
How do I know this will work in my context?
Here's something we hear a lot: "Will this work for me? I'm leading a ______ (megachurch / small church / mainline church / charismatic church / liturgical church / house church / older church / church plant / small group / business / family)."
Short answer is Yes, this works in every context, because we're imitating the life of Jesus, and we believe he shows us the way to be human. We've seen transformational results in all kinds of churches, all over the Western world.
Is this a video series I can watch on my own time?
No, this is a live coaching call or learning lab that you'll attend each week for 10 months. It's online training with a coach, moving through a process together. It looks a bit like the photo below:
Can my staff do this together?
Yes, and there is special pricing for a group wanting to go through together in the same cohort. There are also some practical issues we'd need to talk about, so if you're wanting to register a group of 6 or more, contact us to talk about it.
What kind of tech will I need?
The cohorts will meet via group video conference call, so to participate, you need to have:
- A high-speed Internet connection
- A computer with a video camera and microphone
- A quiet space where you can focus and work
What happens after I sign up?
When you click the registration button, you'll be taken to the checkout page, where you'll enter your email address and payment information. After that, you'll get an email from us about next steps.
Enroll today to transform your leadership
Don't go another year without realizing your God-given potential for transformation! Enroll today in Gravity Leadership Academy Journey 1: Find Your Center.
Weekly Online Group Coaching
7 Paradigm-Shifting Axioms
3 Integrated, Reproducible Meta-Tools
6 Transformative Leadership Practices
10 Online Learning Labs
Weekly Online Group Coaching
7 Paradigm-Shifting Axioms
3 Integrated, Reproducible Meta-Tools
6 Transformative Leadership Practices
10 Online Learning Labs
As a church, we were pretty good at sharing knowledge, but we weren't seeing life transformation. The wisdom Gravity Leadership imparted to us was transformational for our staff team, and as we shared what we were learning with our families and teams, they began to experience transformation as well. I've gotten more out of our time together with Gravity Leadership than all of seminary.Jeff Nelsen, pastor