218 - How a Pastor Can Implement Discipleship Church-Wide
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Tuesday, July 16 2013 00:00|
Discipleship is cycling to the top as a priority for many pastors. Many churches are trying to change their culture to one of making disciples. But how would you actually implement a change of that magnitude--especially on a sustainable basis? I'm a men's discipleship specialist, but what we've learned working with 35,000 churches also applies to discipleship in general. What follows is a plan I shared with a pastor recently. Of course, you can adapt this in many ways.
Dear Pastor, Here's what I would do if I were in your shoes. My thought is to keep the plan as focused on discipleship and simple as possible. The following represents a plan to help each person understand and implement discipleship for themselves, and others, in three ways (salvation=call, growth=equip, service=send).
1. Recast your vision, mission, and BHAG (Big Holy Audacious Goal) to focus on making disciples. THE VISION (Why we exist): Example: "Bringing people to maturity in Christ." THE MISSION (What we do): Example: "We help you become disciples by...
2. Your role is the visionary and key cheerleader. I would drop in on every meeting I could and share the vision and plans for turning making disciples into the church's job one, answer questions, ask for support, and identify potential small group leaders (more below). Many leaders simply want to be asked.
3. I suggest you also appoint a discipleship czar. Pick someone with a passionate calling to make disciples who is not easily distracted and has no other job responsibilities to operationalize the plan--this could be a part-time position.
4. Appoint an Implementation Team of about a dozen key leaders--a few dreamers but mostly doers.
5. Depending on the size of your church, have the czar run a weekly 1 - 4 hour Implementation Team meeting. You also meet with them at the start of the meeting and restate the vision every time but, if you can and unless you're brilliant at operational details, then leave so they can get down to nuts and bolts. Then, join them at the end of their meeting to help them with any decisions they just can't make without your input. Whenever a decision presents itself, leaders and staff would ask, "How does this help us call, equip, or send someone?" If it doesn't do one of those three things, then the idea can be easily rejected. (This approach helps answer the question, "How do decisions get made around here?")
6. This is a multi-year process, but everything should be initiated within the next few months or so.
7. Develop a communication package that includes scripts for oral and written communication, videos, and tweaks to your website. While the Implementation Team can roll this out, it's something I recommend you personally oversee to make sure it's what you want.
8. Adoption by existing leaders and, as a result, the congregation: As applicable, Senior Staff, Staff, Elders, Deacons, Ministry Leaders. Key idea: Hold meetings to explain new direction, let them express concerns/ask questions/get minds around, adopt/get on board, help each leader find their place in the new vision and this plan. Allow however long is needed to gain widespread adoption of the vision and plans. If not, ten years from now you'll be sitting in a room asking, "Why is this so hard?" And the answer will be, "Because they were never with you." Since belief determines behavior, and people do what they want to do, winning the leadership, staff, and congregation to the vision God gives you is job one. Shoot for a highly believable vision, since only a believable vision will win adoption. Focus on spending however much time is needed with each leadership group until you either have their full support or they've been allowed to gracefully bow out. Don't start by asking people to do things (strategies, tactics). Do explain why God wants your church to make disciples. Common mistakes: 1. To underestimate the inertia against a new idea, and 2. To ask people to do things before they become true believers. Insight: When Americans have a problem we tend to ask, "How do we fix it?" When the Chinese have a problem they ask, "What are the relationships we need to put in place to solve this problem?" This is a good question to recruit Implementation Team members.
9. The Discipleship Plan
There are plenty of published curriculums for whatever you decide.
10. Implementation (Tasks for the Implementation Team)
11. Messaging ideas:
May God give you favor and success with every person in your congregation as you seek to follow Christ's command to go and make disciples.