The Power of the Genogram

The “Genogram Your Family” tool is one of the pivotal tools we use at New Life Fellowship Church for deep, beneath the surface transformation. Jonathan Walton shared this poem at our Sunday services on July 20th about the profound impact the genogram had on his life.  Enjoy!  – Pete    

Poem – by Jonathan Walton 

Poetry is my release
my shield from all grief
my refuge to which I retreat when this world is too much for me
Phrases on pages are the language my mind speaks
metaphors and similes
poetic elements I just breathe.

My name is Jonathan Walton and I want to tell you about my genogram.

A Genogram is a map of our family looking back.
We take note of the values and stakeholds
The do’s and don’ts of our households
of our cultures
And then you compare it to the Gospel.
Because there are some things our family hold dear that don’t agree with
the family of Jesus
In fact there are some actions and practices that we hold closer than the
love of Jesus and a Genogram helps us see them.

I come from a family where some want Jesus, taught me to love Jesus and
for these I am deeply grateful.

I also come from a culture that ducks emotions, stuffs emotions because
someone told us if you put emotions low enough surely they would die. But
they don’t.
Because emotions are like the plates under oceans and when they shake
they cause earthquakes and cause tsunamis in our lives.

So when there’s infidelity and cheating, abuse, murder and drug dealing – I
looked around and all of the feelings were gone. Stuffed under couches,
behind handkerchiefs and in coffins.

Three lies became laws in my heart: get of it, move on, be a man.

Get over it, move on, be a man.
Get over it – be emotionally absent.
Move on – it’s okay not to be present.
Be a man – get married and then sleep with as many women as you can.

Get over it – what you feel isn’t important.
Move on – teach others to stuff it too.
Be a man – life is all about you.

Then, I did my genogram – looking three generations back on both sides.
Taking notes on the truths and the lies. Premature deaths and amazing
lives. Seeing things I was told not to look at and seeing blessings for the
first time.

Get over it – but now I can’t.
Move on – where do I go?
Be a man – I actually don’t know what that is.

There are systems in my family that cause emotional poverty
poverty of being and community that if I perpetuate will be present in my
marriage and my children…and get worse.

and if I want that to change then I need that change to begin in me.

Get over it – no, I’m going to therapy.
Move on – no, I’m going to counseling.
Be a man – okay, I’ll be like Pete, Rich, Phil, Redd, Greg, Jason, Chris,
Ray, Orlando, and David.

Strong, vulnerable, steadfast and meek to teach boys to actually become
men so they don’t stay adolescent like I was.

Yes, I am my father’s son but I’m also Our Father’s son and because of His
first begotten son, my wife and coming son will know the love his Father
and Our Father too.

So, poetry is still my release
But God is my shield
and He holds my grief
He is my refuge and retreat
When this world is too much for me

His phrases on His pages are His messages of freedom to me.
I exchange my life for His and receive His Holy Spirit
The mighty rushing wind is all I want to breathe.

See Jonathan share his words on video

For more information on Jonathan Walton and his work in NYC visit


Our Marriages are meant to be…

Our marriages are meant to be our first ambition in life. 

When we marry we make a vow to love our spouse exclusively until we die. That vow informs every decision we will make the rest of our lives.

When a man or woman take a monastic vow, they take years to move through a process that typically takes 6-8 years. First, they are observers, then postulants, and eventually novices. After that they take temporary vows, usually for two to three years, until they finally make permanent vows. At that point, they change their name, divest themselves of all their wealth, and commit to be part of a particular community the rest of their lives. 

Every decision they make from that point forward is informed by that vow. 

In the same way, if we are married, we have made a vow. That vow informs every decision we make. The pace of the church, and our commitments, take into account our call to be a sign and wonder for Christ through our marriage. We publicly vowed to make visible something invisible (the love of Jesus for His church) through our physical, earthly relationship. 

For this reason, if we are married, our first ambition is not our work as pastors or leaders. It is Jesus and our marriage. These are inseparable commitments for all married people – especially leaders. All our fruit for Christ flows from this fountain of love. 


Comment on If you are going to marry… by Aaron Kunce

Pete… I am floored by this. My wife and I are coming up on our 25th anniversary, and I’m a pastor. And I feel like I’ve read almost everything “out there” on marriage. But have never heard stuff like this. Your words about presence, passion, ambition, affirmation… just incredible. I’m more than intrigued at this point. I purchased John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and am interested in learning everything I can on this…….. Thx – to both you and your wife – for sharing and posting. -Aaron

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If you are going to marry…

“If you are going to marry,” thundered the speaker to the 17,000 of us attending the Urbana Student Missions Conference, “…make sure you marry someone who doubles your ministry, and doesn’t cut it in half.”

Nobody had said it quite that bluntly before but that was the message about marriage that I was taught as a young Christian leader. The focus of my energy became accumulating knowledge and skills. I read books, attended seminars, traveled to conferences, and invested three years of my life in seminary.

Marriage was only talked about in the context of helping other couples. Most present-day theology on a leader’s marriage reflects this secular view: I am a leader who happens to be married. The Christian view, however, is very different. We lead out of a marriage that serves as a sign and wonder of God’s love for the world (Ephesians 5:32).

Since Geri and I started our emotionally healthy spirituality journey in 1996, we had a deep sense that our sexuality and marriage were deeply connected to leadership – both biblically and practically. We have spent almost eighteen years studying this integration. Let me invite you now to watch on YouTube the first of a two-part podcast that begins to unpack this revolutionary truth.  Click here to watch.


Comment on The Slow Power of Jesus’ Kingdom by Martin Porter

Hello. I am already on your mailing list as I feel your interview with Nicky Gumbel at HTB London UK caused me to buy the book. Until now I have tended to hate all preachers, because my father always preached nuggets from his own mindset. However the interview changed everything including my wariness of Amercian esp. prosperity preachers.
My suggestion for prayer is that you consider (in the course of time) opening a bookshop or ministry centre in London, (perhaps under the wing of, or in close liaison with a church such as HTB) but for cultural reasons mainly staffed by Brits. Our cultures although very similar have some deep divergences. Very sincerely Martin (Porter)

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Emotional Health Trumps IQ, Personality, and Gifts

Emotionally healthy spirituality (EHS) invites us to supervise and lead others, volunteer or paid, differently.

Studies indicate that EQ (emotional quotient) is so critical that it accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs (Emotional Intelligence 2.0).  EHS, with a much deeper commitment to transformation, accounts for a much higher percentage. In fact, emotional health trumps IQ, personality, education, experience, and gifts for church leaders. For example:

  • John is a gifted, productive church planter, but the chaotic nature of his family of origin in his early history drives him to dominate and control every environment where he leads.
  • Joan is so cautious and fearful of change as an executive assistant (coming out of her abuse growing up) that it colors the events she administers.
  • Ron’s anxiety to grow the church and launch new initiatives comes partially out of a family script that says, “You are worthless unless you do something great.”

We don’t simply train people in skills and insights to do their role better. We engage their genograms (their family histories going back 3-4 generations) so that Christ can rewrite their scripts and free them. In getting free themselves, then they are able to free others.

Comment on Measuring Success: A Third Way by sarah ngu


Great post (I attend New Life and have been for the past year). I think what you are getting at is not just measuring internal markers, but measuring behavior, and not just output. As a tangent, my company talks about how orgs need to measure HOW they operate, not just what/how much. It sounds like New Life is doing a good job of identifying the values it has, and then the behaviors that stem from those values, and then finally setting out metrics that capture those behaviors.


PS: see more at

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Comment on You Know You Need a Sabbath When… by Peter Keady

I’m just finishing up a 3 month sabbatical. I’ve realized just how much we’re missing by forsaking sabbath! God’s passion for His people is evident in sabbath! Remove yourself from the pattern of this world! Sabbath!

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Comment on You Know You Need a Sabbath When… by Peter Keady

I’m just finishing up a 3 month sabbatical. I’ve realized just how much we’re missing by forsaking sabbath! God’s passion for His people is evident in sabbath! Remove yourself from the pattern of this world! Sabbath!

…read more

The Slow Power of Jesus’ Kingdom

Jesus compared His kingdom to a mustard seed – almost invisible, apparently powerless, defeated, and insignificant. Yet He assures us it will grow into something magnificent that will cover the whole earth (Matthew 13:31-32).

This smallness was a scandal then. It is a scandal today.

In our efforts to copy the ancient great cities of Rome, Athens, and Corinth, and our desire for “real disciples” who aren’t like Peter, James, John, Thomas, and Judas, we end up chasing after goals that aren’t His.

We easily miss His movements.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) is a mustard seed that has rediscovered and applied a few simple biblical truths. For example:

  • Slowing down for loving union with Jesus is the foundation of all  leadership.
  • We are to lead out of a marriage, or our singleness, as a sign and wonder for Christ.
  • Spiritual formation requires we break the sinful patterns of our family of origin and culture and learn to do life differently in the new family of Jesus.
  • Limits are a gift from God to be embraced.
  • Sabbath is an indispensable spiritual formation discipline.

This mustard seed of EHS has spread to over 25 nations without a strategy or plan. We did, however, certify our first group of 29 EHS Consultants recently. This expanded EHS in ways none of us could ever have imagined.

We will be offering our second EHS Consulting cohort on September 18-19. Our goal will be to invest in another small group of people with specific training on how to implement EHS into churches and movements around the world. You may want to consider if God is inviting you to that level of involvement with us.  Go to

My prayer in all this is that we don’t simply do mustard seed things, but that we become a mustard seed in our hearts, taking the required silence and solitude so that we remain attentive to His movements in and around our lives.