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Leadership, Leadership, Start Here
Vibrant churches are very reliant on the power and number of their volunteers. Mark Beeson, the pastor at Granger Community Church has written a piece on why good people volunteer. His insights may help you in building a successful volunteer base at your church. See if you are offering your people these opportunities… Here (in a nutshell) are Mark’s thoughts: 1.  People volunteer because they want to see done the thing that you’re trying to do. 2. People volunteer because they see a need and want to help meet the need. 3. People volunteer because, deep down, they want to be involved. 4. People volunteer because they are invited to volunteer. 5. People volunteer when they see how their personal involvement improves the work. 6. People volunteer because they want you to succeed. 7. People volunteer because they love working with you. 8. People volunteer because they love working with the other volunteers. Click here to read more of Mark ‘s thoughts. How is your volunteer base?Are you championing something that volunteers would “love” to be a part of? Todd

The 2013 Exponential conference is underway. This year, Exponential expects more than 5,000 church planting leaders to come together in Orlando, April 22-25. The conference will focus on the theme DiscipleShift—five shifts we can make to become better at making and releasing disciples. All 15 of the Main Session speakers will explore in-depth what it means to be a disciple and how we can continue to grow and get better at engaging people with the mission of Jesus. Each of the sessions will focus on one of these five shifts. Recently, Exponential released an article tackling each shift in-depth. Based on the insights of Exponential President Dave Ferguson, who also leads NewThing and Community Christian Church and Real Life Ministries  Founder Jim Putman–who in his upcoming new book DiscipleShift, has identified these shifts–the Exponential gathering will again be packed with an abundance of “aha” learnings for planters. Check out the shortened version below. (To read the full thing, go here). Shift 1: From Reaching to Making The first of these five paradigm shifts moves churches from defining ourselves by what we do to what we actually accomplish, Putman says. “We need to shift our focus from reaching people with the Gospel in an effort to convert them, to making disciples.” The end goal is not that a person “accepts Christ” or prays a prayer or comes to church but rather that he grows spiritually, becoming more like Christ. Making this shift requires us to agree on the definition of what a mature disciple is who Ferguson says is “apprenticing in the ways of Jesus.” “As humans we know what a mature person ends up looking like and doing. What does a mature disciple look like then?” Putman asks, adding that often church leaders don’t define if for their people, which in turn gives each person carte blanch to come up with his or her own definition. “This is a real problem if we are going to be a team that works together to complete the mission of Christ. We need to ask the question together as a body. If that definition doesn’t end up looking like one who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus, then we have a definition with holes in it.” Shift 2: From Teaching to Modeling This second shift involves an inward look at how transparency and genuine discipleship is produced and modeled from the top down. This shift calls for leaders to change their focus from preaching/teaching (informing) to modeling and coaching (equipping). Too many church leaders today equate discipleship with imparting knowledge. This shift to coaching emphasizes the ministry of “equipping” (based on Eph. 4:11-13). Instead of primarily viewing themselves as a CEO, or even a teacher, senior pastors view themselves as a player-coach who equips (or coaches) others for ministry to ultimately grow the Kingdom. Putman points out that Jesus discipled people in relationship, not in preaching to thousands of people. ‘I used to be a teacher and coach,” he says. “Teachers know that the larger the classroom, the more you’re forced to lecture and the less learning. Why is it that every good teacher would hate what every pastor thinks they want?” Ferguson agrees, adding that the job of leadership is not to just get up on Sunday and talk about following Jesus. “I have to be apprenticed in the ways of Jesus and bring people alongside me and apprentice them in the same way. That’s how you get people who are on mission.” Shift 3: From Attending to Participating This third shift challenges leaders to shift their mindset from discipleship as a program in their church that people attend to discipleship as the center and purpose of everything the church is and does, Putman explains, adding that leaders must let people know that discipleship is dependent on participating in the endless process of following Christ. Ferguson simplifies things: “We start to transition our thinking from discipleship as a class or program we attend on the weekend or one night a week, to something every believer actively participates in Monday through Sunday.” Shift 4: From Connecting to Transforming This shift is a call for churches to move their paradigms from activity-based to relationship-based. Beyond just classes and sermons, discipleship must be based on friendship and time together. To cultivate the kind of disciples Jesus did, we have to shift our paradigm from activity and surface connections to deep, accountable relationships. Putman also refers to this shift as the “alignment” piece: Everything in a church must be shifted to divert the focus from activity and align it with relationships (for discipleship). A church’s primary mission is always discipleship, cultivated in a relationship-driven environment. The end goal of this shift, he says, is to create relational spaces, like Jesus did, where people help each other to trust and follow Him. Ferguson adds, “It’s not enough to be in a holy huddle. I’ve had long conversations about the fact that it’s not enough to get people into a small group. A small group community was designed to also implement and live out the mission of Jesus.” Shift 5: From Attracting to Deploying The final shift helps churches define, articulate and implement a new scorecard for success that celebrates and places more emphasis on the release of an army of ministers and priests into a lost and hurting world than on how many people we attract. Putman offers a list of telling questions for church leaders: What is success to me? What is success to our leaders? How did they learn that definition? What are we celebrating? What do people in our churches aspire to? “If we’re honest, we know we’re celebrating many of the wrong things,” he says. “Or we’re celebrating just some of the right things so our people are aspiring to, especially our young leaders, a church with thousands of people. I’m all for numbers of converts, but those aren’t the right numbers alone. We should be counting and asking the question, how many disciples have I made who can make disciples without me? “I love how Rob Wegner [pastor of life mission for Granger Community Church] talks about mission for Granger,” Ferguson says. “They want to be seen as an airport. Nobody goes to an airport to hang out there; you come to an airport because you’re going someplace. That’s how our churches should be, too. We’re not just attracting people to hold you here. We’re sending you somewhere because God’s on the move and He’s sending you somewhere.” Missional people + Multiplying churches = Missional movement The collective impact of each of these paradigm shifts leads to developing people who are on mission, a key factor in the church as movement, say both leaders. Ferguson explains why discipleship is integral to a reproducing movement of disciples by offering a simple equation: Missional people + Multiplying churches = Missional movement. How church leaders get every person engaged with and excited about living out Jesus’ mission is at the crux of the discipleship conversation that Exponential is championing and helping to shape. “Biblically, discipleship is a non-negotiable part of Christ’s mission,” Putman asserts. “In Christ’s teaching, as well as throughout the epistles, we are consistently instructed to proclaim, baptize and teach—all toward the end of making lifelong, die-hard disciples of Jesus Christ who obey His commands. This type of discipleship needs to become the filter for everything we do in church. This year, Exponential is April 22-25. If you’re thinking about or planning to attend the conference, the deadline is coming up to get the best rate possible–$99 registrant/$49 spouse. After Sept. 7, the rate goes up. So you might want to register in the next week or so. To register, go here.

An article in Outreach Magazine by Granger pastor Rob Wegner shares what Granger has learned over the past ten year journey to becoming a “Missional Church”: Small and reproducing The key to any missional success is keeping it small enough to be easily replicable. In our multiplication efforts in India, for instance, we do not seek to directly reproduce Granger clones of 5,000 member churches with massive facilities and several strata of highly trained professional staff. Rather, the average size of a faith community in India is probably 20 to 50, most likely meeting in a home or small, rented space, and is led by a bivocational pastor who has been trained in a very modular, highly organic, coaching environment. Keeping them small and highly replicable allows them to grow quickly and spread virally. Collaborative The mission of God is not accomplished merely in the religious sector of society or by the total strong-arming of a single local church, regardless of its size or budget. Rather, the most effective missional processes utilize a full gammut of potential partners to accomplish a core mission, including businesses, local communities, other church partners, outside organizations, nongovernment organizations and agencies, and even local and national governments. A kingdom vision includes players from every domain of society, and it requires collaboration across those domains. Holistic The mission of God is holistic. In poverty-stricken environments, or when working with the sick, the marginalized and the oppressed, a message of “salvation after you die” is almost offensive if it is offered only in that vein. The mission of God requires both a verbal proclamation and a demonstration proclamation. Meaningful mobilization Missional churches must meaningfully mobilize every follower of Jesus in well-defined steps to draw them deeper into the mission of God in the world. Genuinely missional movements demythologize the notion of specialized “commando Christians” who are an elite echelon of the body of Christ and are responsible for all the work that takes place “outside the walls.” Disciple-making The strength of any missional movement rises and falls on its ability to make and reproduce disciples. You can read more here from Outreach Magazine, or visit Rob’s blog for more of his writing… How do YOU define “MISSIONAL”?

Want to get the first-hand look inside story of a church that started with just a handful of people and has surged to over 120,000 followers of Jesus gathering in 950 churches in India?  Rob and Michelle Wegner have an experience that they share in a new book called “Share the Well”. “It’s something we call Bore Well Church Planting. The concept is simple: plant a church in an otherwise unreached village and then equip and empower that church to become the hub for community development, bringing living water to every area of life. Because if the Kingdom of God comes to a community, it will elevate every single domain of society – health, education, housing, employment, justice, arts, family life and more.” Share the Well goes in-depth into the story of Granger Community Church’s model of church planting, missional coaching and community transformation. It sounds like a great read.  I’m ordering my copy today. And all proceeds… every single penny, goes directly to further the ministry in India. You can check it out and order YOUR copy here. Or read more about it here. via Mark Beeson: “Share the Well” Books.

Granger Community Church is raising the bar. Take a look at their vision for the next 5 years.  It’s good stuff. Here’s just part of it:
  • We will offer life-changing gatherings for worship and teaching in our current locations and launch three additional sites in our region with 9,000 gathering as one church in five locations.
  • We will raise the temperature for life-on-life discipleship so it is normal for people to become reproducing followers of Jesus by owning their personal growth. Consumer-oriented Christians will, by design, not feel comfortable long-term.
  • We will distribute high-quality content wherever and whenever it is needed. At any time we will be able to teach, train and inspire thousands of people as they gather from their home, church, business, or wherever they are located.
  • We will launch and equip Granger Community Church start-ups all over the globe. All expressions—micro, mega, multi, rural, suburban, urban, multi-ethnic, local, domestic and international—will be united by the same mission and DNA. We will be a movement of more than 100,000 missional followers of Jesus gathering as 2,000 reproducing churches.
Read more at Tim Steven’s blog. [box type=”info”]Does YOUR church have a vision for the next 5 years? Care to share?[/box]