Current Champion League Champs, Liverpool FC with their manager Jurgen Klopp, celebrated a historic fifth championship last year (the tournament started in 1956). This year they won the English Premiership (arguable the most competitive league in the world) with the following accomplishments, if they continue their dominance in the weeks ahead:
- the most points ever earned by a team
- the most wins
- the greatest margin between themselves and their nearest rivals, during the modern era.
Their celebration affirmed their supremacy in the footballing (aka soccer) world.
Back in my seminary days (1985-1988) I distinctly remember a chapel service when a guest speaker come in to share a methodology of disciplemaking. The speaker was energetic and engaging – disarming in his presentation style. Most of all – CHALLENGING “the win” for missionaries, church planters and pastors.
George Patterson was a missionary in Honduras where he discovered a radical (meaning “root” or “returning to the foundation of something) approach to disciplemaking and church multiplication.
Read more about George Patterson
George Patterson spent 21 years in Central America training pastors to make disciples in a New Testament fashion that rapidly multiplies churches. In Honduras he began by training pastors in a traditional, resident Bible Institute with poor results. With the advice of more experienced missionaries and much trial and error, he later saw churches multiply through the instrumentality of “Theological Education and Evangelism by Extension” (TEEE). This non-formal pastoral training resulted in about 100 new churches over twenty years in northern Honduras. This is as a result of the Biblical discipleship and church reproduction principles Dr. Patterson implemented. This model is now used with similar results in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well in the United States, and is distributed as Train & Multiply TM. George’s teaching style relies heavily on student involvement in role-plays and exercises that bring learning to life. He is hilarious and hyper-energetic in the classroom.
Essentially, George was “rewarding” or affirming disciples who were making disciples AND planting churches through their disciplemaking efforts. He was probably in his 50’s at that time but his enthusiasm and energy were contagious. It was a captivating talk with a role modeling exercise that involved students as he went through the 5-step disciplemaking/leadership development process:
- I do – you watch
- You do – with me
- You do – I watch
- You do – without me
- You do – with someone else (this final step is credited to Bob Logan)
Church Multiplication Guide by George Patterson & Richard Scoggins
George clearly communicated the “win”: disciples making disciples + churches planting churches. His explanation communicated that these outcomes were celebrated, affirmed and rewarded in culturally appropriate ways.
I will never forget this principle.
Closer to home, we might “reward” behaviors or achievements in ministry: baptisms, budget and buildings. Whatever those things are – we intentionally or unintentionally exalt or lift-up. Certain things recieve more air-time and attention, than others..
I remember the story a pastor shared, illustrating the importance he and the congregation at his previous church placed on Sunday morning worship attendance. The pastor set a numerical goal for the year for new visitors to attend a worship service. The morning of the final count the pastor realized he was 1 person short of their goal. He explained how he went to the local gas station the morning of, and convinced an employee to join him and attend service that morning. The employee did so and the congregation celebrated that accomplishment of the milestone together.
You might not reward Sunday morning worship attendance. But you might take a look at how your people are demonstrating behaviors of a disciple. Here is a short list of disciplemaking characteristics you might track:
- Sharing faith
- Acts of Service
- Sacrificial Giving
Whatever that thing is, it is important for people to see what you and your church affirm, prioritize and reward.
5 questions to reflect on the “win” for your ministry
- How would you describe a “win” in your ministry?
- What are you rewarding in ministry?
- How are you rewarding people when they “win”?
- If your current “win” is not in alignment with your vision, what needs to change?
- What step can you take to affirm the “win” in your ministry, this week?.
There is this interesting dynamic that occurs in nature. The dynamic of “imprinting” suggests that what we model as leaders is what people will emulate.
Imprinting, in psychobiology, a form of learning in which a very young animal fixes its attention on the first object with which it has visual, auditory, or tactile experience and thereafter follows that object. In nature the object is almost invariably a parent; in experiments, other animals and inanimate objects have been used. Imprinting has been intensively studied only in birds, especially chickens, ducks, and geese, but a comparable form of learning apparently occurs in the young of many mammals and some fishes and insects.
See Britannica article
In parenting this is certainly the case.
As our two children were growing up we read books – in fact, the kids usually could be seen with a book in their lap, under their arm or next to one of us listening intently as we read to them. Guess what our kids favorite past time is today? That is right – reading books.
When it comes to ministry and more specifically, leadership, I suggest that what we do is more important than what we say. Let’s unpack this a bit more…
- When new Christians come to faith, it is important that they “imprint” upon the Lord for protection, sustenance, and training in how to be a Christ follower. (Neil Cole)
- When modeling the practices of spiritual growth and maturity, the spiritual leader transfers those behaviors, both positive and negative, to the maturing disciple.
- When leading, the leader intentionally and unintentionally communicates what is important, like developing people, leaders who take people development seriously prioritize this behavior.
In ministry this is certainly the case.
Here is a real example from my pastor, Steve Redden of Crosspoint Church and the priority of small group ministry. When Gina and I first attended the church in 2014, we were immediately invited to a small group. We enthusiastically participated in that small group that was led by Steve and hosted in the home of another new family in the church. From the very beginning, Steve communicated his intention. His plan was to get the group going. And then sometime around the beginning of the third tri-mester he would begin his transition out of leadership so that he and Denise could begin another small group to connect new people in the church. Little did we know that Steve was preparing Gina and I to take leadership of that group. Now some years later, after a couple of significant transitions e.g. merging with another group, multiplying our group to help start a new church and assimilating a number of new group members – we are still leading that group. But back to Steve and what he modeled as Crosspoint’s priorities.
- FIRST, the importance of small group ministry.
- SECOND, the importance of leadership development.
- THIRD, the importance of being on mission
It is hard to get around this fact – People do what people see!
5 questions to discern the mission-critical activities you want to model
- What mission critical behaviors are you modeling for the leaders you are developing?
- What activities can you delegate to others that are non-essential for you to do yourself?
- What activities can you stop doing altogether that will make room for more mission critical activities?
- What mission critical behaviors do you need to do more of?
- How and when are you going to implement this change?
How we develop leaders & make disciples is changing!
You may or may not agree with this statement. However, the context, cultural moment and accessibility to people has changed. And no one really understands the new normal moving forward. My sense is that it will be different than we have been accustomed to in the past. And I don’t mean that we will all be using Zoom or some other platform more than we have previously. The racial unrest, pandemic and ensuing Stay at Home orders with the social distancing and self-imposed isolation restrictions are exposing cracks in the way we develop leaders and make disciples. Moving from a centralized to a de-centralized model of ministry has forced church leaders to think of creative strategies to be on-mission. I am suggesting that the focused attention we give to developing leaders and making disciples will be a higher priority, more robust process and increasingly nuanced than ever.
This is “Why” I am more and more convinced that we need/must always be refining how we develop people as they progress on their discipleship and leadership journey.
Which is why I am suggesting that you give your attention to these issues today, and every day, as you plant, grow and multiply! One of the ways you can do that is through the Leadership Collective. I asked Brian Wilson, one of our current participants to share his experience in a short (1 minute) video – WATCH HERE to learn from his experience.
One of the exercises we challenge participants to is to articulate their disciplemaking process in a simple “napkin exercise”. This comes at the end of the first of four phases to the leadership development process. The goal is to simplify the disciple’s journey in a transferable manner. In fact, here is a sample that Russ Sidders, Lead Pastor of Sunrise Community Church created – WATCH HERE.
Consider your personal growth and development plans for 2021. How are you taking your effectiveness to multiply leaders who will start and reproduce churches, to reach people far from God, to the next level? I hope and pray to see you in La Jolla, CA on February 28, 2021 – CLICK HERE for more information.
I had the privilege to interview Colin Noyes and Micah Dodson in response to the question: Why does disciplemaking begin in the Harvest?
Watch the video – CLICK HERE!
Colin lives in Brisbane, Australia and is an authority on disciplemaking movements. For the last twenty years he has served in denominations, ministries and leaders as a coach/consultant/trainer. Colin has authored three books on the topic.
Here are key points Colin shares:
- Jesus started in the harvest
- Disciples worked in the harvest because they were a very small group in a pagan world
- Disciplemaking was a normal part of life for every believer
- People today are interested in Jesus and what He has to say
- The post-Constantine church has to be obedient to Jesus and look back
Read more about Colin – CLICK HERE.
Here are the key points Micah shares:
- Orienting our lives around people who don’t know Jesus
- Jesus intends that we make the most of every opportunity
- Live in proximity to people who don’t know Christ
- Empower people to go out
Micah is an experienced church planter. He serves in the Pacific Northwest coaching, training, and assessing church planting leaders. Micah brings a compassion for the church planting couple and family in partnership with his wife, Kristen. Read more about Micah – CLICK HERE.
Please interact with the points from above, in the conversation below.
Micah Dodson and I talk about the primary shift a leader must wrestle through in order to establish a culture of disciplemaking in your church. This is perhaps the key philosophical decision a leader must make to create an intentional community of disciples, making disciples. After we discuss the shift then I ask Micah to present a challenge to take the next step to strengthen your disciplemaking culture.
You will need 6 minutes to view this video; I promise it will be worth your time – CLICK HERE!
To get the conversation started – share your take away from the video below.
Making Disciples Coaching Guide
History will tell the story how the Church decided to act in faith and be the Church in crisis.
Last Tuesday Gina (my wife) and I made an executive decision for our small group. We have a wonderful host couple that open their home so that our group of 5-17 members (depending on the week) can meet on Tuesday evenings for about 28 weeks throughout the year. A number of our participants have compromised immune systems or loved ones who are at greater risk than the general population. Last weekend our church, like about many other congregations across the country, launched their first-ever online worship service.
Back to our small group. I discussed the situation with Gina and we came up with a solution. Due to the the various reasons above – we moved our small group gathering to a virtual format, using Zoom. This is not an original idea with us. In fact, this might seem old school for many. But, it was an innovative solution to a real and pressing issue.
This allowed our group to meet without concerns for the health of our people who deal with compromised immune systems. More importantly, this removed the excuse not to meet. Check-out the list of questions below to consider creative solutions to complex problems.
7 Questions to Innovate Creative Solutions in Ministry during Uncertain Times
- What is influencing our decisions as we navigate this crisis?
- How can we leverage the circumstances the crisis is presenting, to move the mission of Jesus forward?
- Brainstorm a list of ideas that come to mind.
- Narrow the list to the best 3-5 ideas.
- What are the pros and cons of each idea?
- Choose the best idea that you can execute within a certain timeframe.
- What are the necessary steps to implement this idea.
Going to an online platform to keep your church connected might be the direction you need to move right now. This forced migration might be the best thing for your congregation. Perhaps, online isn’t something you need to do and there are other considerations that will allow you to capitalize on the opportunity?
Three COMPLIMENTARY Coaching Sessions to Innovate Creative Solutions During Uncertain Times
With the warnings, limitations and restrictions imposed on your ministry; would you like help navigating this season? With that in mind, InFocus is offering three complimentary coaching appointments, 30 minutes each. Going online with worship services, small groups or your entire ministry is innovative.
With the current restrictions the government has enforced due to the Coronavirus there was an uptick in webinars just last week to assist leaders that need to introduce online solutions for their church, facilitated by experts in the field. If you would like assistance on sorting through all the options I would be happy to coach you around the best way to address your need. Simply click on the button below to schedule a time that works for you. You determine the agenda:
- Taking your worship services online
- Taking your disciplemaking online
- Taking your church online
…..or some other topic of your choosing!
CLICK HERE to schedule your first appointment