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LEADERSHIP PIPELINE

What do you do with those you are discipling who want more? The first thing you want to do is rejoice! Developing leaders takes initiative and intentionality to develop a track that is easy to follow and easily reproducible. You must be on the outlook for those who are pushing for the next steps. They are hungry and desire something more even after being discipled into a mature believer. Your discipleship must lead them from being an infant, to child, to young adult, and then to becoming a parent where they reproduce.

As young adults the discipleship process should be equipping the disciple to minister. In DiscipleShift, Jim Putman describes the young adult’s traits as becoming less self-centered and more others-centered. They begin to see themselves as ministers. They are also starting to tithe and give more and more of their time. They begin to see and understand their kingdom purpose. It is very important to provide them with ministry opportunities and think about ministry placement. Where are they gifted and what are they passionate about?

It is at this point in your church’s spiritual growth system that you need to think through and plan out how you will develop them as leaders. Do you have a leadership pipeline in place that will help them keep taking steps forward? Remember, the desire is to have a discipleship based multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches. Have you built a “next steps” mentality into your church ministry? Thinking of a pipeline helps you to visualize them as always flowing forward. Even as an infant they can know they need to find a place to serve.

The first step can be determining where they will serve. Give them the opportunity to try out several different ministries as they prayerfully consider what is the best fit for their personality and gift set. Then they can determine if that is the ministry team they want to be a part of and serve. Once they are team members they can learn through observation what it means to lead a team. A great principle here is to give them a project to accomplish before you give them a position. A crucial core value to this process is that, “No one leads who does not first serve!”

If you see them excelling at following through on their projects then they are an excellent candidates to be team leaders. The next step would be for them to coach several team leaders. Now they make sure that team leaders have all the resources they need to accomplish the team’s goals. An example of a coach could be overseeing the leaders of your small groups by checking in on them weekly to make sure all is well and if there is any way they can serve them to make their jobs easier. They can call them to encourage them, check in on their needs, and pray for them.

When do you begin to look for these leaders and what might this pipeline look like? Dr. Dave DeVries has laid out seven phases of leadership in his Multiplication Workshop. The cool thing about these seven phases is that the first three are the process you use for every believer. You do not consider anyone for leadership who is not already maturing in Christ, living on mission, and making disciples. One element that is all too often left out of the qualifications for leadership is, “Are they reproducing?” You will never see multiplication by elevating leaders who are not multiplying themselves.

First, they are maturing. It is not that they have matured but they are in the process of maturing. It is not a place of arrival but an ongoing journey. Here are some excellent questions to ask. Are they passionate about their spiritual growth? Are they spending time alone with the Lord? Is their evidence of spiritual character developing? Are they beginning to share their faith?

The second phase is missional living. They have an awareness and a burden to reach their circle of accountability with the love of Christ. They have begun praying for them and figuring out ways to serve them and display the love of Christ in practical ways. They want to be Jesus to them and are always looking for ways to bless those far from God and relationally build bridges to them.

Third, they are making disciples. They are not only a good follower of Jesus but they are also helping others to follow Him. This will not happen if they have not been trained and shown how to make disciples. Jim Putman says that this requires an intentional leader, a relational environment, and a reproducible process. Do you have a clear and easily reproducible process in place?

The next two phases are very similar in modeling and mentoring. You need to identify which leadership skills they need the most in their lives and then model them for them to observe in practical ministry settings such as conflict resolution. The mentoring will occur as you show them what to do, allow them to do it, and then debrief them about how the ministry opportunity went by asking good questions.

Now you are ready to mobilize them into service. These leaders will need to be shown how to build effective teams, how to empower others, how to encourage and care for their teams, how to evaluate progress, and how to strategize and plan. Make sure that you celebrate their progress and you give them permission to fail. They will not lead exactly like you, but that is a good thing.

Then they can multiply. The goal here is to lead leaders and that takes more prayer, skill, and effort than just leading followers. Without the multiplication of leaders you place a lid on the ability of your ministry to expand its impact for the kingdom of God. Are you multiplying yourself? “The pastor is not the minister. The pastor is the equipper, every member is a minister!” -Francis Chan

How Deep is Your Bench

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In the NFL you can go to any team’s website and check out their depth chart. They normally go three deep at almost every position. First through third string is necessary in most positions in case someone goes down during the season. Injury, of course, is going to happen to someone on the team at some time. They prepare ahead by training others to be ready to step into their position. Even though they may not play every down, or even any downs, they need to be ready to enter the game in a moment’s notice. Your church would be wise to think three deep on your ministry depth chart.

Your volunteer team needs to always be recruiting others and training them to be ready to step into their position. Notoriously, many churches are guilty of placing people into roles and responsibilities without letting them know what the expectations are for them. There is the tendency is to give them no training at all where they are expected to “fend” for themselves. If you want more out of your team, then you are going to have to invest more into your team. Three people need to know how to accomplish every role, position, and job in your ministry.

First, think of “just in time” training! Too much training can be frustrating for people to fit into their already busy schedules. Plan on an initial orientation to educate them on what to expect and then offer quarterly reconnects. Also, have someone designated to call them and see how they are doing, or need help, and if they have any questions. Weekly contact through a phone call can help a volunteer keep from being overwhelmed. Here are three things you can ask them: How did it go yesterday? Anything I can do to help you? How can I pray for you?

Second, organize ministry teams to determine job descriptions, divide responsibilities, and develop the purpose of their team. Why does this team exist? What is this team supposed to accomplish? One of the keys to recruiting volunteers is to be as clear as possible about responsibilities and expectations of the volunteers. Make a list of any special tasks team members might be asked to do, or areas of responsibilities of which team members might be asked to be in charge of, or special events the team organizes. Have team members get together to brainstorm and clarify their purpose.

Third, define what the team leader responsibilities entail and include. It is hard to fulfill expectations if no one has communicated what those expectations are. How long are they expected to serve? How many hours a month will this require? What useful skill sets are necessary or would be helpful in this role? How often should they get their team together to discuss their progress? Who do they answer to and how often are they expected to report to that individual? There needs to be a clear chain of command. Who is available to help answer questions and help work through problems?

Fourth, determine what assistants you need and what their roles will be. When you divide responsibilities and meet with your team members there are three questions that need to be answered. What needs to be done? Who will be responsible to see that it gets done? And what is the deadline? If you do not ask these questions and assign these responsibilities then your team will soon become more of a committee. Committees tend to talk about everything that needs to be done but not much gets done. You need team members who work on the ministry but also work in the ministry.

Fifth, know who your team members are and pray for them. Whether you are more relationship–oriented or task-oriented you must remember that valuing people always comes ahead of accomplishing the task. How can you add value to their lives? How can you best help them to be successful in the task they have been asked to do? What kind of specialized training should you offer? For the dream to work the team must work. A team only works when everyone is happy to be a part of the team. Think about how you can rotate team members so they can get a break when needed.

Sixth, determine how you will recruit more volunteers to serve on your ministry teams. We think putting it in the bulletin or announcing it from the platform is enough, but it isn’t. When church members were recently surveyed and asked why they did not volunteer more here was the answer; “We were never asked!” They need to be asked face to face. Ask them to join someone to watch and observe. Fight the temptation to just throw them into the role without being able to see what it looks like and how it operates. This gives them the opportunity to “kick the tire” and see if it is for them or not.

Lastly, think through what teams you need to have in place. Think through the systems needed to maximize the impact of the hard work of building relationships. If healthy systems are not developed then the back door can swing as wide open as the front. Consider systems such as assimilation, finance, worship, outreach, discipleship, small groups, ministry placement, and leadership development. What will these look like in your context? Who will oversee these systems? What will their job descriptions look like? What systems must be a priority for where you are in the process right now?

There is much work to do as you consider everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Then you need to begin recruiting and training volunteers to build a team depth chart that is three deep.

Healthy churches make sure that they have entry-level roles where people can become easily involved.

Help Is Available

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Where do you go and whom do you call when you need help as a leader? Is there something out there that can help our church to grow and be more effective in reaching lost people with the gospel? The answer is yes, and the great news is that it is not a one size fits all. There are many consulting groups (can be cost prohibitive), coaches available (much more affordable), great resources, and even denominational programs (we prefer calling ours a process). Where can I look or whom could I call?

First, there are some excellent resources out there that lead you through processes that will enable you to think through improving your ministry. One such resource is Advanced Strategic Planning by Dr. Aubrey Malphurs. This helps you to prayerfully consider what kind of church you are, what kind you desire to be, and what process will you use to get to that preferred future. What will that look like? Malphurs defines vision as, “a clear, challenging picture from the heart of what we must be (future).” He challenges us to “See it clearly, say it continually, and share it creatively.”

Malpurs has two more books that have been a tremendous help to me. Being Leaders and Building Leaders, which is co-authored by Will Mancini. The second book has the sub-title of “Blueprints for developing leadership at every level of your church.” These books have some excellent tools that will help you better evaluate your leadership and your church. He is always giving direction in how to establish your core values, establish your mission, develop a vision for your church, and then implement a strategy to accomplish God’s purpose for your church.

Second, consider the Activate program we have through DiscipleGuide. Even though there is a waiting list, the process is helping pastors to be a part of a learning community. These “huddles” meet regularly and are led by a coach who walks the path of church revitalization and health with each participant. You make this journey with your own small group as you learn how to evaluate where your congregation is, recruit a leadership team within your church, and then work together to see your preferred future become a reality.

This is what the website says about Activate, “Is there hope for the local church that is plateaued or is on the decline? Yes! However, struggling churches that turn their ministries around and begin to experience growth and life-change do not do so by accident. An intentional process of evaluation and plan of action must occur…Activate is a total church process that can help put declining churches on the road to health and growth.” You can contact them through email; info@discipleguide.org, or by phone; 1-800-333-1442.

Third, there are some other excellent tools that can be utilized such as one by Dr Hal Seed at www.pastormentor.com where you can enroll at whatever level you are comfortable with. The eBooks are only $4.99 each and are well worth the small investment. He has different levels of programs available to help pastors and give them tools to help them in their ministries. All the way from signing up for his emails, to being able to watch his systems training videos, to being coached and mentored directly by Hal.

Systems are what help you maintain and capitalize on the momentum you have gained through your relationship building. Hal has training on eBooks along with video training on these systems: assimilation, finances, outreach, small groups, spiritual growth, ministry placement, worship planning, and more. In the trainings he also gives insights and helps about personal matters, health, family, time management and much much more. These materials are the best investment I have ever made toward being a better leader in the local church.

Fourth, connect with some other ministry leader, pastor, conference or consultant you have an affinity with. Make sure someone is mentoring you. The best definition I know of a mentor is by Dynamic Church Planting International; “A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there.” There has never been a time in the history of the church where more resources and tools were available. We are without excuse in reaching out and asking for help.

Here are a couple of pointers to consider as you look to the best approach for you and your church.

  1. The worst action is inaction. Whatever you decide to do, please make sure that doing nothing is not an option!
  2. Pray about whom you could contact and talk to about helping. Be sensitive to God’s direction because it is His church.
  3. Look for a process that reinforces implementation. Accountability is a good thing and will keep you on task.
  4. Trainings are great but learning communities, “huddles”, will remove the temptation of going to the training, filling out the notebook, and placing it on the shelf never to be visited again.
  5. Get your church leadership on board. There must be an ability and a willingness of leaders in the church to evaluate and act upon the evaluation.

There are church structures that inhibit this process. Listen to what is said in Building Leaders, “For example, a committee selects a young man as committee chairman. The committee, however, does not function as an actual ministry team. The committee members may make decisions about ‘ministry,’ but they are not doing ministry. While committees may be important and necessary, and while leadership is about decision making, a church with too much decision-making structure inhibits leader development because there is more ‘talk’ than ‘walk.’”

Healthy churches are willing to look outside of themselves and learn from other churches and ministries!

Intentional Mentoring

 

 

Multiplying

   Intentionality is a missing ingredient in many leaders lives. It is not intentional (pun intended) but intenionality will not just accidentily happen because of the nature of how busy most of us are. There are fires to put out, too many irons in the fire, and we must admit thay it is very easy to become distracted. Jesus, the greatest leader ever, acted with intentionality. He intentionally choose the 12 men He would pour His life into. He intentionally went through Samaria so that He would have a meeting with the Samaritan woman. Over and over again you can see in the Gospels how Jesus acted out of intentioanlity. The fact is that intentionallity is needed in evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development.

     Without intentionality we will not make disciples! Without our making plans for it to happen it probably will not happen. Without a process in mind for how that occurs it probably will not occur. Look back to last weeks artice for a simple plan for intentionally building relationships with the unsaved and the first step is setting aside time, intentionally, to engage witht them. Leadership development will also require intentionality, just like Jesus, so that others can go where we go, see what we see, listen to how we handle certain situations, observe how we interact with others, and learn through on-the-job training.

     Bob Logan and Tara Miller have an excellent book on intentionally rasing up others entitled, From Followers to Leaders. They say, “For churches to accomplish their mission—their mission of bringing each person through the faith journey from discovering God to developing the fullest extent of their gifts and talents—some type of intentional resourcing system needs to be created…This resourcing system needs to be relational, flexible, and designed with the whole person in mind.” The book is an excellent tool (“path template”) to thinking through how you and your church can move an individual through the process of discipleship from before salvation to maturity in Christ.

     It is a call to how we not only need to be highly intentional but also highly relational. They remind us that “theories are linear; people are not.” The outcry of most leaders seems to be that they need more leaders, better leaders, and the right kind of leaders. Maybe we bear the responsibility for this shortage of leaders by not intentionally focusing enough effort on leadership development through disciple-making. If we have been focusing on leadership development then the end result would be the multiplication of leaders! Along our journey there should always be those going before us, those travelling along side of us, and those coming along behind us.

     Bob and Tara share the following Tips of Intentionality in From Followers to Leaders. “Many of us have the desire to develop others, but we don’t prioritize it. Below are a few ways to make sure we are focusing our time and energy in the most productive way possible.

  1. Ask God to lead you to people he wants you to invest in. Be sure to spend time in listening prayer. Recognize that sometimes the people he brings to mind are not the obvious choices. The twelve disciples are case in point.
  2. Be open to people in various stages of faith and ministry. Some of the people you choose to invest in may be current leaders, some may be emerging leaders, some may be brand new believers, and some not quite into the Kingdom yet.
  3. Decide on your priorities and commit to making sure you schedule will align with those priorities.
  4. Keep and use a calendar. Get out your calendar and schedule regular times to invest in those people God has brought to mind. Follow the principle of proactively investing in people, consistently each month, scheduling something intentional to make that happen rather than being random or spontaneous.
  5. Rather than just hanging out, have a clear purpose for meeting. Spending deliberate time really makes a difference, and the relational element will happen more naturally alongside a clear purpose.
  6. Recognize that leaders must be developed slowly over time. You cannot cram for this or do it all at once—regular deposits over time pay huge eternal dividends.
  7. Recognize that developing others is extremely important but rarely urgent—don’t be ruled by the tyranny of the urgent, and seek help if you are spending too much time putting out fires. If you are not proactive and intentional, meaningful investment in others is unlikely to happen.
  8. Prioritize your schedule. First list the highest priority meetings with potential leaders, then fit in other responsibilities around that.
  9. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Seek guidance from God about the number of people you can invest in and the level of frequency. Periodically reevaluate.

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!

THE VALUE OF MENTORING

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     One of my life values (it is actually #5 of 7) is: Mentoring and pouring into catalytic leaders on a consistent and intentional schedule. The quote that best fits this value for me, is from NFL quarterback Josh McCown, “That’s the most fulfillment that you find in life, whether it’s football or anything else, imparting the knowledge to somebody else to make their journey better. That’s the key to life in general: What can you do for somebody else?” That says it all and is a great challenge!

     The reality is that you must protect any value to ensure that you practice and live it out daily. Holy Spirit directed boundaries are necessary to protect you from other important ministry opportunities that could potentially place limitations on the fulfillment of your life values. For this to become a part of the regular rhythm of your life’s practice you must find margin so you can regularly schedule mentoring groups with planters, pastors, catalytic leaders, church staff, family members, etc; to pour into them!

     Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) values mentoring also and has one of the best definitions of mentoring: The Barnabas Principle: “Every church planter (everyone) needs a mentor. A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and willing to help you get there!” It literally means to pour courage into someone! Do you have a process to identify and invest into others around you? Are you pouring into their lives so that they can accomplish far more than you have and reach their full potential?

     In baseball’s farm system potential big league ball players are given the opportunity to practice their skills over and over again. Every day players are fielding thousands of ground balls and catching fly balls, stepping into the batting cage for hundreds of pitches, and daily being coached on how to become a better baseball player. The scouts saw their potential and now they are receiving the instruction and the experience needed to reach their full potential and be as successful as possible.

Here is what you need to do in order to find those you need to mentor:

  • IDENTIFY potential leaders. Leaders in the church must always be “scouting” for potential leaders and know what they are looking for. We seem to be looking regularly outside our churches for leaders but we need to refocus on those God gives us out of our harvest. We should always be looking for young Timothys that God brings our way to mentor.
  • INVEST in potential leaders. There must be a process in place where they can receive what they need to properly equip them for leadership. They must be trained in the message (how to handle the gospel and to have a strong theological foundation), the mission (applying the gospel to their context), and the ministry (putting into practice what they have learned).
  • INITIATE potential leaders. There must be entry level places of service and ministry and God has given us the perfect track for coaching them in the skills needed for leadership; “Go and make disciples!” They need to be taught to make disciples and should not be given leadership responsibilities unless they are making disciples. There must be “on the job” training opportunities where interns and apprentices can be putting into practice the skills they will use whether beginning small groups, missional communities, or planting churches.

     We must intentionally plan and devotedly implement a process to multiply disciples, multiply leaders, and to multiply churches. This process will enable us to produce more qualified leaders. There will always be leaders at every level as they develop the character (spiritual walk), competency (Biblical understanding), and the confidence (skills) to serve. You can always recruit but we also need to be raising up leaders from within by mentoring them! Who needs you to pour into them today?

     As Josh said, “That’s the key to life in general: What can you do for somebody else?” Pro 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

LOOKING FOR LEADERS

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     There was a song a few years ago that said; “Looking for love in all the wrong places!”  The reality is that we are often looking for leaders in all the wrong places or at least in the wrong ways.  Quite often I am asked what characteristics should we look for when seeking new leaders?  One important thing to remember is to take it slow in the beginning.  Never elevate to a position without first observing how they handle small projects.  Begin with entry level responsibilities and see how they handle them.  A necessary core value in leadership development must be, no one leads who does not first serve!

     Carey Nieuwhof recently wrote a blog on “5 Signs You Are an Insecure Leader.”  The first sign he gave is that you are constantly comparing yourself to others. The second is when your sense of self-worth is driven by your latest results.  Thirdly, you can’t celebrate someone else’s success.  The fourth sign of an insecure leader is that you need to be the final word on everything.  Lastly, an insecure leader is unwilling to make room for people who are more gifted or competent than them.  We must refuse to hold on to everything for the sake of control and safety.

     Carey says this about number five, “This is where your personal traits inflicts direct harm to your organization (not that the other traits don’t, but this one has a direct and lethal impact).  The sign of a great leader is not that they are the most gifted or competent person in the organization.  The sign of a great leader is someone who can attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves.  The future will belong to people who can forge great alliances, make great partnerships and attract great people.”

     This is why discovering and developing the right leaders is so important.  We all need others to help and assist in the work of ministry.  The challenge of II Tim 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,” is not only biblical but also effective.  Here are a few other things to look for as you select individuals to invest your time in to develop as leaders.

     When looking for leaders, Look for Self-Starters!  Watch for those who are already doing it and not just talking about it.  You would rather have someone you have to say “whoa” to then someone you always have to motivate to do something.  They are reading their bible, studying, trying to share their faith, and actively pursuing God.  They are making “rookie” mistakes but someone who never makes a mistake usually is not trying very hard.  They do not need a title or a position because they already have a mind and heart to work!

     When looking for leaders, Look for those who have a teachable spirit.  Carey says this in his blog, “insecure people end up being controlling people.  You don’t need experts because you want to be the expert.  Know-it-alls weren’t much fun in kindergarten; they are less fun in the adult world.”  Look for those who desire the advice and counsel of others.  Before elevating someone into a leadership role you need to ask these questions; “Do they value the counsel and input of others?  Are they open to constructive criticism?”

     When looking for leaders, Look for someone who is passionately pursuing God!  They are abiding and walking in Christ daily.  They are not perfect but their hunger and thirst for “righteousness sake” is apparent.  They daily spend time with the Lord, they are the spiritual leader in their home, and they have a desire to help others live Godly lives.  Because Jesus is lord of their life they do not have a problem with submitting to those God has placed in their life to oversee them.  You can see the zeal in their walk and whenever you are around them they want to talk about what Christ is doing in their life. 

     When looking for leaders, Look for someone who loves to worship at your church.  They have a burden to see the Lord’s name lifted up and praised in a worthy manner.  They are not observers of worship but they actively participate.  James MacDonald in Vertical Church puts it this way, “Our main job is to usher in the almighty – God forgive us when we settle for less.”  This potential leader may not see it as his “job” but he desires God’s presence in every service.  They are not “hung-up” on certain styles or methods but desperately want to praise Jesus!

     Healthy churches are looking for leaders to develop in all the right places and in all the right ways!

MENTOR LIKE JESUS

Mentor Like Jesus

   Recently I had the privilege of attending a forum that focused on discipleship and mentoring with several national leaders.  The highlight to me was having the opportunity to listen to Robert Coleman and see his passion for the Great Commission at the age of eighty-six.  He challenged all of us present to ask ourselves, “Am I doing more and more of what is really important?”  A personal audit should also include: “What are we doing?”  “Why are we doing it?”  “Does it have anything to do with the Great Commission?” 

          In The Master Plan of Evangelism, Dr. Coleman reminds us of how Jesus concentrated on the few in order to reach the many.  He says, “Better to give a year or so to one or two people who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going.”  Jesus influenced twelve but He invested in three.  We must ask ourselves, “Who are the people we are intentionally investing in who will go and do the same?”  We cannot just be telling others what they should be doing we must model it for them!   

     Dr. Coleman also shared, “You won’t be intentional if you spend all your time with people who will not let you be intentional!”  In his book Mentor like Jesus, Regi Campbell remembers when he heard Tim Elmore say, “More time with fewer people equals greater kingdom impact.”  Can that actually be true?  Regi challenges us that above all else, Jesus was a mentor.  “Through their efforts, arguably one-third of the world’s population believes in what they taught.  From eleven people to two billion people…Jesus was a pretty good mentor.”

     There needs to be a major shift back to a focus on mentoring and discipleship.  First, it begins with our family!  The family unit is the most ideal setting for developing a mentoring, discipling culture.  Do not start anywhere else before you first focus on your own family.  If it doesn’t work at home then do not try to export it somewhere else.  Jesus mentored through developing a family environment where He and the disciples lived in community together.  They watched and observed Him every day as they ate, travelled, prayed, talked, and shared together.

     Second, mentor your staff and other leaders.  Make sure that you intentionally pour into these individuals by investing two of the greatest things they need: your time and your interest.  Intentionally plan times where you can share your heart and life with them.  Regi Campbell says, “I wanted to share my life with these guys…teach them from my own experience…share plays from my own playbook, to use a football analogy.  But every guide I looked at seemed canned, stiff, and programmed…Is this going to be another Sunday school class where everyone sits in rows, looks up answers, fills in blanks, and walks away unaffected?”

     Third, make sure that you spend a minimum of 50% of your time mentoring the few who can reach the masses.  Regi Campbell says this about his call to mentoring, “My goal is five generations of multiplication.  If that happens, more than one million men will have been equipped to manage life better.”  He has developed a plan where eight men, by invitation, sign a covenant to spend three hours together a month for one year.  He then has an individual meeting with each one of them monthly.  All of them must agree to mentor eight others in the future when they are ready!  Jesus’ mentoring began in the context of a group!

     Fourth, mentor them in the areas they need help.  Jesus was showing them daily how to have a deeper relationship with the Father by going away for a time of prayer.  He modeled for them how to love and serve others selflessly.  They learned about spiritual warfare, trusting Him in every area of their lives, and much more!  The goal of mentoring is to help the mentorees  become the men and women of God they were intended to be.  Those younger in the faith must be shown how to interpret what is happening in their lives scripturally and how to discern His will.

     Jesus modeled for us what He wanted us to be like.  He became flesh and lived with a select few and allowed them to be eyewitnesses of who He was and what He expected.  Regi Campbell goes on to say, “Mentoring is not about coming to know something; that would be education.  Mentoring isn’t about learning to do something; that would be training.  Mentoring is about showing someone how to be something…And as someone said, you only know you’re a follower of Jesus when you’ve helped someone else become a follower of Jesus.”

     Healthy churches mentor like Jesus!!!

Jesus Was A Genius

I know what you are thinking, “Well Duh!  Of course He was!”  Yet, we don’t follow the genius of His strategy very often.  In The Master plan of Evangelism Robert Coleman said, “All of this certainly impresses one with the deliberate way that Jesus proportioned His life to those He wanted to train…Though He did what He could to help the multitudes, He had to devote Himself primarily to a few men, rather than the masses, so that the masses could at last be saved.  This was the genius of His strategy.”

Discipleship is a biblical command for every follower of Christ.  We have three obligations as disciples.  First, we are to follow Jesus.  Second, we are to help others follow Jesus. Third, we are to help others to help others follow Jesus.  Yes, it sounds simplistic because it is.  We are to help everyone we meet either to follow Jesus or to equip them to help others follow Jesus.  If we want to make a difference in people’s lives we have to be different.  We are not talking about an outward difference but an inward transformation and with a greater focus on discipleship.  The goal in the scriptures is not to find them, gather them, or improve them.  The object is to “make disciples.”       

Coleman also said,Better to give a year or so to one or two people who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going.….It might well be that some cherished plans of our own making will have to be redirected or perhaps abandoned altogether.  Equally agonizing may be the adjustment of the congregation to the Master’s view of the ministry.”  Please realize that training is an event but discipleship is a relationship.  The reality is that as you study the way Jesus discipled the expectations were obedience and passing on what they had learned to others.  Can you correctly call yourself a disciple if you have never made a disciple?

In Real Life Discipleship Jim Putman gives an excellent formula for discipleship. “An Intentional Leader + A Relational Environment + A Reproducible Process = An Infinite Number of Disciples.”   The path to discipleship is not new but by many it needs to be rediscovered.  It will require a major shift in many Christians’ way of thinking and following Christ.  It is about new behaviors and requires the following.  It will require a radical adjustment to missional behaviors and making disciples.  Next, it requires realigned activities where it is not just church activities but time dedicated to one on one discipleship.  Then, it requires relevant approaches that are relational where our focus is doing life day by day with people and not just programs.  Lastly, it requires redemptive action where we extend God’s grace to the lost, the last, and the least.  

Here are some Disciplemaking Principles from David Watson and City Team Ministries.  Please consider the radical changes these principles demand for them to become a reality in your life.

  • ·         Hold your leaders accountable to be making disciples.
  • ·         A disciple is not a disciple until one makes another disciple.
  • ·         Focus on the few to win the many.  Jesus did.
  • ·         It’s about discovery, not preaching or teaching.
  • ·         Obedience is more important than knowledge.
  • ·         Disciple to conversion, not convert to make disciples.
  • ·         The discipling process begins with lost people.
  • ·         Expect the hardest places to yield the greatest results.
  • ·         Prayer is the starting point for all disciplemaking.
  • ·         Keep all things reproducible.
  • ·         Following Jesus is about obeying God regardless if anyone else obeys God.
  • ·         You have to be intentional about the end product: discplemakers.
  • ·         Accountability and intentionality are critical.
  • ·         Making disciples is not a knowledge process-it is a relationship process