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S.O.A.P. Journaling

SOAP

   A discipleship system is dependent on the disciples within that system.  In other words, to make disciples you must first be a disciple.  This is more than just saying you had an experience with Jesus Christ.  There must be evidence that you are following Him.  A disciple is not defined by what they know but by what they do and how they live.  1 John 2:3 says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  We have been commanded to “make disciples” and to be obedient to that command we must make sure we are following Jesus.

     Following Jesus requires our developing daily habits that demonstrate how much we love Him.  These faith habits include your quiet time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.  There are many different methods but one that I have used for some time now and teach to churches and church planters is called S.O.A.P. Journaling.  The acronym stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.  This is an excellent way to both record and process what God is saying in you as you read His word daily and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.

     This method begins by selecting a book in the Bible and reading a chapter each day.  You take your journal and write these four letters, S.O.A.P. down the left side of your paper.  As you read you are asking God to draw your attention to one or two verses that speak to you and stand out the most.  When you have decided on that verse(s) you then write it out in your journal. This is the SCRIPTURE aspect of your time with Him.  Take time, slow down, and listen to Him.  The goal is not the number of verses read but having God speak to your heart.

     After writing down the verses the Holy Spirit has impressed upon your heart you then want to begin recording your OBSERVATIONS.  What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture?  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and show you what He has for you that day.  When reading God’s word you should always be looking for commands to obey, sin to confess, or promises to claim.  Write your observations down in your journal by either paraphrasing the scripture in your own words.  You may even want to look up those verses in a commentary to reflect upon them.

     Now it is time for APPLICATION.  The word of God is not just a book to be read it is a book to be obeyed.  Following Jesus requires obedience and without it we really cannot claim to be His disciples.  Application is personalizing what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life.  What action do you need to personally take?  Write in your journal how this verse(s) apply to you, today.  Jesus defines following Him this way in John 14:15,”If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  It would be good to begin each statement of application with, “I will”…. Because you are committing to do it!

     Lastly, you want to write out your PRAYER in your S.O.A.P. journal.  This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you.  Remember, prayer is a two way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say.  Write out your prayer of obedience to what He has shown you in His word trusting Him to help you live it out in your life daily.  So there you have it; Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.  It does work and it will work as you trust the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.

     In order to help others follow Jesus you must first make sure you are following Jesus.  This personal discipleship strategy is an excellent tool to use daily and then at a later time reflect on and review some of the ‘gems’ that God has given you.  Without writing them down you are more prone to forget the blessings and the lesson He has revealed to you.  Journaling is a very personal time between you and the Lord but you may want to share some of your daily reflections with a friend, a small group, your mentor, or someone you are mentoring. 

     The first skill to making disciples is following Jesus.  The second is helping others follow Jesus.  Discussing with others what God is showing you can enable you to look deeper into what God is saying to you and you can gain new insight and be an encouragement to them also.  Share the S.O.A.P. journaling method with others.  You could invite two or three others to journal the same book of the Bible with you and then meet weekly to share what God is saying to each of you.  Discipleship is not rocket science but it does take discipline and obedience.  Follow Jesus first and then help others follow Jesus!

     Wayne Cordeiro says this when referring to S.O.A.P., “Reading God’s word may not change you in a day but reading it daily will change you!”        

4 Ingredients of Missional Leadership

Outward Focused

 

     Recently, I have been asked to meet with the staff of three churches.  They all had the same passion; “We want to do a better job of reaching our communities for Christ!”  That is music to my ears!  The leadership of all three churches was trying to break the “missional code” of their community and discern what door God was providing for them to walk through so they could more effectively reach people far from God.  They had a good grasp of what they did well but they also desperately wanted to improve in penetrating the lostness of their city!

     There are three things about this that thrill me.  First, the passion and heart they have to share Christ.  They want to make a difference.  Second, their willingness to examine their effectiveness and change.  They desired input and were not afraid of being evaluated.  Third, they all voiced a discontent with the status quo.  They refused to just go through the motions of doing church and had a burden to be the church.  They were trying to discern how they could better mobilize their membership to live on mission throughout the week!

     These leaders were greatly burdened for their church to be the church Jesus intended them to be.  There are three elements involved in healthy churches.  First, is the church Biblical?  Is the Bible seen and preached as the authoritative word of God?  All three of these churches have an extremely high view of the scriptures and I have not worked with a church that does not!  No heresy found!  Second, Is the church Relational?  All three voiced how well the membership got along and visitors commented on how friendly they were.  Just a side note: People are not looking for a friendly church as much as they are looking for friends! 

     Third, is the church Missional?  This area is the greatest challenge to most churches.  It is easy to become comfortable and satisfied because the word is being preached and everyone is enjoying being together.  The problem is, if we are not careful, we become inwardly focused.  In U-Turn Church, Kevin Harney puts it this way, “The gravitational force of the church naturally pulls us inward, toward each other.  If we are going to move outward toward those who are lost it will take more energy than most of us dream!” 

     What effort will be put into reaching the lost, the last, and the least with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  I noticed several ingredients necessary for a church to be led toward being outwardly focused:

     First, the leaders must be outwardly focused!  Don’t expect those who follow you to catch what you are teaching unless they see you demonstrating it in your life.  The speed of the leaders will determine the speed of the team.. You must have a story to tell of how you are sharing His story with others.  When asked, are you able to share who you are actively praying for, building a relationship with, and striving  to bring to Christ?  Do others see your passion to share Christ daily as God gives you the opportunity?

     Second, the church regularly celebrates stories of transformation.  Unfortunately, many churches are not very good at celebrating the right things.  We become what we celebrate and if we celebrate the wrong things then our culture will be inwardly focused.  Think about ways you can  creatively celebrate life transformation and those who are committed to making a difference.  Consider interviewing them during a service, showing a video of their outreach ministry, and others ways you can celebrate those who are living a missional lifestyle. 

     Third, they also celebrate those who are being the church during the week not just doing church on Sunday.  This does not mean we do not celebrate those serving the Lord in the ministries on the campus of the ministry but that we also make an intentional effort to celebrate those living as missionaries in their zip code.  It is not an either/or but a both/and commitment to celebrating both.  Make sure you regularly recognize those who are volunteering in local ministries, schools. hospitals, civic groups, etc.  They are penetrating the darkness in your community with the truth. 

     Fourth, they are not afraid to find out what other churches are doing and learn from them.  These leaders are always actively looking for ways to better connect with their city and their neighborhoods.  They refuse to sit idly by waiting for the lost to enter their buildings, attend their services, or sign up for a Bible study.  They are pursuing them by loving them and displaying the love of Christ to them in practical ways.  They are more concerned about serving their city than they are about building their church. 

     Healthy churches have leaders who are always working hard at remaining outwardly focused!

5 Warning Signs for Your Church

Heartbeat

     There are many examples of people who thought they were healthy but when they visited the doctor it was the exact opposite.  To be sick and not know it is a very dangerous situation.  Can a church be sick and not know it?  Are there some warning signs a church should be aware of that show whether they are healthy or not?   Thom Rainer on his blog said this, “I’ve seen it countless times. My team would go into a church for a consultation, and we would begin interviewing church members. We would hear from many of the congregants that their church was healthy and thriving. Then we would see the warning signs. And we would begin to fear that the apparently healthy body was not really healthy at all.  The church was sick. Some of the churches were really sick.” 

     Revelation 3:17 says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”  John McArthur says this in his commentary, “The Laodiceans’ lukewarmness was compounded by their self-deception.  Christ rebuked them for their disastrously inaccurate self-assessment.”  How many churches are evaluating their “spiritual health” by the wrong things?  Big buildings, multiple programs, large offerings, and being busy every night of the week does not in itself equal spiritual health.

     Thom Rainer went on to say, “What were some of the warning signs my team saw? Though the list is not exhaustive, these five issues were common. Some of the churches had one or two on the list; some had all five.” 

  1. The church has few outwardly focused ministries. Most of the budget dollars in the church are spent on the desires and comforts of church members. The ministry staff spends most of its time taking care of members, with little time to reach out and minister to the community the church is supposed to serve.
  2. The dropout rate is increasing. Members are leaving for other churches in the community, or they are leaving the local church completely. A common exit interview theme we heard was a lack of deep biblical teaching and preaching in the church. 
  3. The church is experiencing conflict over issues of budgets and building. When the focus of church members becomes how the facilities and money can meet their preferences, church health is clearly on the wane. 
  4. Corporate prayer is minimized. If the church makes prayer a low priority, it makes God a low priority. 
  5. The pastor has become a chaplain. The church members view the pastor as their personal chaplain, expecting him to be on call for their needs and preferences. When he doesn’t make a visit at the expected time, or when he doesn’t show up for the Bible class fellowship, he receives criticism. In not a few cases, the pastor has lost his job at that church because he was not omnipresent for the church members.

     The problem is that many church activities are more self-gratifying than they are missional.  Have we become more concerned about great comfort than we are the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?     Fanaticism has been defined as redoubling one’s effort after one’s aim has been forgotten.  When we enter our nice buildings with all the trimmings it is easy to forget about the ugliness and brokenness we were saved out of.  We must come back to the mission of the church which is to share the gospel with all people so that they might know the Jesus we know.  It is broken people like us being used by God to reach the broken people of our communities. 

     The question is not are we ok with our church but is Jesus pleased with His church?  Spiritual health will suffer greatly and many churches will die slow agonizing deaths if we continue to be more focused on our church member entitlements than our enlistment to service in the army of God.  Maybe this statistic best describes how unhealthy we have become: “1% of all Christians are actually producing reproducing disciples.”

3 Steps to Multiplying Multipliers

Multiplying

In our pursuit of leading multiplication (see Acts 6:1,7), churches must dedicate themselves to providing a healthy environment for followers of Christ to become leaders by providing support, encouragement, and accountability.  Here is the question; Does your church really want to be a church on mission with Christ?  “Missional living is about being Jesus to everyone everywhere.  Every Christian has been sent on mission by Jesus to be Jesus!” –Dr Dave DeVries

In the Multiplication Workshop Dave puts it like this:

  • If you can’t reproduce disciples, you’ll never reproduce leaders!
  • If you can’t reproduce leaders, you’ll never reproduce churches!
  • If you can’t reproduce churches, you’ll never see movements!

How does a church transform from a church that is not multiplying disciples to one that is?

First, it is about motivation.  

Are you satisfied with not making disciples?  When we repent for our lack of burden for the lost there is a sudden burst of energy to share our faith but all too often it is short lived.  It is like exercise when an individual decides to get in shape and begins to do what is necessary by joining a gym or buying a pair of running shoes, but many times it does not last if the individual has no one for support, encouragement, and accountability.  Why?  Because God never meant for us to change alone and motivation diminishes when left to itself. 

Second, it is about association

Transformation does not primarily come from classes, seminars, books, or large-group ministry events (which are informational), but through significant relationships that influence us and support us in our effort to be like Christ.  A church or a follower of Christ says they want to change but unfortunately before long it is back to business as usual.  To develop spiritual behaviors and habits requires doing the right thing enough times that it becomes instinctive and that requires not doing it alone.

Change is a team sport.  The fact that we are made for relationships is so deeply encoded in us that no individual can fulfill the call of God on their life without other people.  People fail to change because they fail to draw on the resources God has provided.  Tony Stoltzfus says, “Personally, I’ve reached the point where I don’t even try to change a habit on my own any more—it simply wastes too much energy.”  The point is that one must become two, two becomes four, and then multiplication can become a reality.

Third, there must be application. 

It is not enough to talk about multiplication; it must happen because lost people all around us need Jesus.  The lowest common denominator in the multiplication formula is the disciple.  Cows make cows, cats make cats, and disciples are to make disciples.  It is not just making disciples but it is making disciples that make disciples that make disciples.  Multiplication cannot be proven until the fourth generation and maybe this is why some churches are in trouble because somewhere along the journey they stopped making the main thing the main thing; Biblical discipleship!

Remember that multiplication is for every child of God not just the pastors, deacons, elders, church staff, and the spiritual elite.  Whether you start with the crowd working towards discipling a core or you begin one on one, Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men!”  If all of us would become passionate about making disciples then we would multiply.  Where does multiplication begin?  It has always begun and still does with the lowest common denominator; every disciple! 

If God has motivated you to change find someone to walk alongside of you and pray that you will become two and then four and then eight and watch multiplication occur.  “When you commit to follow Jesus, you are saying, ‘Count me in!  I am here on earth to partner together with other Christians who are radically devoted to pursuing Christ’s mission of saving the world!” –Dr Dave DeVries www.missionalchallenge.com    

Please remember, leaders, that we will always go farther if we lead by example than if we just point the way!  Speed of the leader, speed of the team!

Churches Should Thrive Not Just Survive

Thrive

     “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”  That quote by Karen Lamb is so true and we must remember that we oftentimes overestimate what we can do in a year but underestimate what we can accomplish in five years.  The reality is, we have to start somewhere!  Helen Keller put it this way, “I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

     How could our churches be different a year, five years, or even ten years from today?  Every church finds itself where it either needs to be refreshed, restored, renewed, revitalized, or maybe even rebirthed!  Focusing on revitalization refers to a recapturing of the mission of God as seen in scripture.  There are two questions every church must ask on a regular basis.  First, what is our purpose?  The second question is, how are we doing in fulfilling our purpose?

     Our mission is what God has called every church to do; fulfill His Great Commission for His glory.  A church’s vision is how He wants your church to fulfill that mission.  Vision is the passion we have in fulfilling our mission.  Revitalization could begin in our churches when we are willing to repent of our lack of passion to share the gospel in our communities.  Ken Priddy says, “You evangelize to revitalize; you don’t revitalize to evangelize!”  Revitalization begins when the ministry emphasis shifts from the membership to the community.”

     Vision is not what you want for your church but rather what God wants for your church.  We must first get a vision of God before we will ever get a vision from God.  God’s plan for your church is to thrive, not just survive.  Ten years from now will your church be thriving or surviving?  Do you really believe that God has great things in store for your church?  Vision is simply a description of hope for the future.  Someone has said there are two kinds of churches; problem-based and possibility based.  Which are you? 

     Some churches worry too much about chaos while others are overly focused on control.  Chaos can create a train wreck but control can create paralysis.  Here is something to think about; “A slow death by paralysis isn’t nearly as gruesome as a train wreck.  But death is death!”  Many churches are not even aware that they are headed toward total paralysis because slow death works on us with a symptomless deception.

     Every church that wants to thrive needs to answer these questions biblically.  Revitalization is a spiritual issue. 

  1. Who are you?  This is your opportunity to clearly articulate the very foundational truths of why you exist.
  2. What do you do?  This details your vision which describes your plans of how your church will carry out God’s mission.  Here are five distinguishing marks of a church: A passion for Jesus; Confronting Idols; Biblical Teaching; Advancing in Discipleship; & Investing in the Culture.  These marks were written out by Jonathan Edwards and taken from the scriptures.  You see church revitalization is a return to the mission of God as seen in scripture.
  3. Where do you do this?  Your context is unique and unlike anyone else.  The temptation is to adopt what some other “successful” church is doing but be careful to adapt the principles to your context. 
  4. How will you carry out God’s mission?  The biblical mandate is to equip the saints for the work of ministry.  Our churches will have a much greater impact when we are not only focused on gathering but also on scattering and taking Christ to people where they are.
  5. Why do you do what you do?  Churches begin the revitalization process when they do everything for the glory of God.  Your church does not belong to you, it belongs to Him!  So every church must ask, “Is Jesus pleased with our church?”

     Healthy churches are willing to do whatever it takes to be the church God called them to be!       

Blind Spots – We All Need Outside Eyes

Blind Spots

     Everybody has a blind spot!  While riding in a friend’s rental car the other day I noticed that this particular model had quite a blind spot and made it difficult to see cars when changing lanes.  All vehicles do, even though some people still refuse to turn their neck and double check, and you must be careful to make sure you do not hit someone.  There are also blind spots in our lives that seemingly we do not see what can be very apparent to others.  It is a good thing to have another set of eyes to help us see things that otherwise would go unnoticed. 

     In a recent article When You Church is in a Slump Thom Rainer talks about the need for a church to seek the advice of a leader from outside your church.  He says, “Sometimes that person was the pastor of another church.  On other occasions it was a denominational leader or a church consultant. “  Outside eyes can see what maybe you can easily overlook and notice situations we have become desensitized to over time.  This is why golfers have coaches who watch their golf swing and analyze their mechanics.  They film it, slow it down frame by frame, and study the film to help their client perform at their best.

     There is a tool called the Johari Window that reminds us of the need for outside eyes because of the blind spots we all have.  There are four quadrants in this tool that describe what you and others know or do not know about yourself:

  • First, there is what is OPEN to all. This is what you know about yourself and what others know about you.
  • Second, the opposite of what is open to all is the UNKNOWN This is what you do not know about yourself and others do not know it either.
  • Third, is that which is HIDDEN in your life. It is known to you but it is not known to others.  This is who you are when no one else is watching.
  • Lastly, is the BLIND SPOT! Others know this about you or observe it but you have no self-awareness in this particular area.   

The real key is making the Blind Spot and Unknown areas smaller by becoming more self-aware and by maturing in Christ.  I Cor. 13:12 says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

     Churches have blind spots also.  This is why Rainer challenges a church to get someone from the outside to help determine their current reality!  We all know that sometimes we cannot see the “trees for the forest!”  Churches can deceive themselves!  Rev 3:17 says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”  The church at Laodecia clearly had a blind spot!   The first step to a “preferred future” is a clear prognosis of your “present reality.”  

     How do you uncover blind spots in your life and in your church?

  • Pray and ask the Lord to show you what He wants you to see! (Psa 139:23-24)
  • Meet with your church’s leadership to evaluate your effectiveness! (Acts 14:26-27)
  • Don’t be scarred of, or offended by, constructive criticism! (Gal 4:16)
  • Find a Coach/Mentor who will challenge you and be honest with you! (Ecc 4:9-10)
  • Join a mentoring group where you can learn and encourage one another! (Pro 24:6)
  • Get together with several pastors and talk about what is working and what is not working in your churches! (Acts 21:18-19)
  • Use a survey tool for your membership to evaluate how healthy they believe your church is right now!
  • Compare your perspective with the perspective of your leadership and membership!
  • Research what other churches have done to turn their ministries around. Don’t compare or copy but learn from them.   Keep a teachable spirit.
  • Bring a coach/church consultant to help you uncover blind spots in your ministry! Someone who has been equipped to guide you towards a “preferred future.”

     Recently, another friend said this to me, “Larry you can’t see the blind spot in your life right now but here it is!”  He then described the situation and why this blind spot had developed.  Was it uncomfortable?  Yes!  Was he right?  Yes!  Was it helpful?  Absolutlely!  

     Healthy Christians and healthy churches invite others into their lives and their ministries to help them discover any blind spots they might have.  They are not afraid of outside eyes!!!

The Rhythms of Mentoring

Battle Rhythm

     The importance of finding margin in your schedule to develop intentional mentoring relationships must be a high priority!  If we value having mentoring relationships, where we pour into others, then there must be evidence.  Is mentoring occurring?  Can you name the person(s) that you are mentoring?  Do you have a mentoring/accountability group that you are meeting with regularly?  Or, and more importantly, who is mentoring you?  Everyone should have a Paul in their life (a mentor) and everyone should find a Timothy (mentoree).

     My good friend Scott Kirk (scottkirk.wordpress.com), with Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI), has been mentored and is mentoring others.  He has planted a church and now works in coaching and mentoring church planters.  He has developed some “Battle Rhythms” to ensure that you follow through on being the mentor to others that God wants all of us to be!  We certainly know it is a “battle” to remain faithful and committed to intentionally and regularly mentoring others.  The “rhythm” refers to setting a pace that develops patterns into the normal flow of our everyday life.

     First, Daily Mentoring!  This is praying daily for those you mentor and asking God to do a great work in their lives, their families, and their ministries.  This is about EMPOWERMENT! 

     Second, Weekly Mentoring!  Everyone needs encouragement and some days more then others.  A personal touch through a phone call, a text, an email, a personal note, or a visit means a lot.  This is about ENCOURAGEMENT!

     Third, Monthly Mentoring!  Technology is wonderful and we are more connected today then ever before but there is nothing like being there in person sometimes.  What will your monthly meeting look like?  How often will you be able to get together in person?  Maybe you could alternate meeting one month electronically and then the next month face to face.  This is about EQUIPPING!

     Fourth, Quarterly Mentoring!  Even if the person or group you are mentoring is some distance from you it is important to schedule a day or two to get together for a retreat to take their training and equipping to the next level.  This time can be used to celebrate their victories and to discuss their challenges.  You can use the W.I.N. coaching technique to walk them through by asking what is going well, where do you need to improve, and what are you going to do next?  This is about ENGAGEMENT!

     Lastly, Yearly Mentoring!  This time should be spent focusing on the future and setting personal and ministry goals for the New Year.  This is about Strategic Planning!  

     Here are some values you will have to protect in order to implement these “Battle” Rhythms:

  • You must refuse to give in to the cultural thinking of individualism and the Lone Ranger mentality.
  • You must refuse to make the journey alone by being committed to living in fellowship with other believers and following Christ together.
  • You must always be looking for, working through and developing leaders who can significantly influence others for Christ.
  • You must be committed to the biblical principle that two are better than one and that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsel.
  • You must remain teachable and open to keeping Godly confidants that have proven they can be trusted and keeping them close so they can speak into your life and hold you accountable.
  • You must refuse to allow tasks, goals, work ethic, success or any personal achievement to be more important than the people you serve and desire to encourage.
  • You must develop a plan of implementation to ensure that this is not just a theory or a concept but a regular practice in the rhythm of your life!

     Now it is time to get started!  You must identify who will be in your mentoring group and begin investing in them.  Think through what your “battle” rhythms will look like daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.  Look for those who have a desire to be on the same path you are on and then begin making the journey together!

IS IT REPRODUCIBLE?

Follow the Leader

I Thess. 1:6

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord,”

Every church’s mission is to carry out the great commission.  Our biblical values cause us to want to be obedient and join Him in His mission.  A great sounding vision statement paints a picture of what we hope our part of the mission will look like.  It is easy to talk about what we should be doing but many are struggling with getting it done.  Without an easily reproducible process of discipleship we will struggle with how to carry out that mission.

Does your church have an easily reproducible and repeatable process of discipleship?  Does it come to your mind right now without going to look or asking someone?  We are not talking about programs and activities but rather a well designed map that shows a believer where they are, where they need to go, and how to get there.  It is a clear concise strategy to move from being a new convert to becoming Christ-like?  If our vision is to make disciples that transform their communities for Christ we must work diligently to develop an uncomplicated strategy of reproduction.

Reproduction has always been a part of God’s plan.  From the very beginning man was told to be fruitful and multiply.  Godly families were to raise godly children who would then raise their own godly children.  When we receive Christ as our Lord we start out as spiritual babes and immediately begin the process of maturing into Christian adults.  Every church has the responsibility to provide their family with a developmental process that shows them where they are and where they need to be.  Making disciples really is all about reproduction.

First, Followers are to be Imitators!

Followers in 1 Thess. 1:6 means imitators.  Followers are to be imitators of other believers and more importantly Jesus Christ.  We are not to be impersonators, trying to be someone else, but rather imitators by focusing on learning the characteristics of the one we are striving to imitate.  Imitation is a fundamental part of discipleship because it is learning from others and using them as guides.  Reproduction occurs when the imitator becomes a model for someone else to imitate but the million dollar question is how does that happen and what does that process look like? 

Second, Can it be Easily Duplicated?

Will Mancini in Church Unique said, “It’s not about what you can do, but what you can duplicate.”  He tells us that 98% of all North American churches are functioning without an easily reproducible process of discipleship and that 50% of the people in our churches have never taken a step beyond the worship service itself.  How many people in your church are moving from the worship service to serving others?  Is there a map in place that a follower of Christ can chart their progress and that shows them how to move to the next step?

Third, Keep it Simple!

The steps and expectations of where a “follower” needs to be must be clarified and simplified.  In Simple Church (in my opinion a must read) Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger give us this definition; “A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.  The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it.  The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment).  The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus).”

The challenge is to know what kind of disciple you want to produce and how that will occur in your church.  Keep it simple but remember it will not be easy.  Your work is cut out for you as you begin designing a map, a blueprint, that will guide believers to maturity in Christ.  It must be clear, uncomplicated and easily reproducible but it will not come without a lot of effort.  Pray, read, learn from others, find a church with a simple discipleship process, or give me a call; but most of all refuse to settle for anything less than reproducing disciples who reproduce disciples!