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July 24, 2018

Building a Culture of Discipleship

By Daniel Im

Are you happy with your existing vision, strategy, and values, or do you need to revisit them?

Are you producing disciple-makers, disciples, or consumers? Are you worried that what you’re currently doing isn’t sustainable or scalable? Do you need to overhaul your church, but aren’t sure what to do differently?

The fact is, we often lead the way we’ve been led, disciple the way we’ve been discipled, and teach the way we’ve been taught…unless we consciously decide to do otherwise.

And with the accelerated pace of life, the unceasing demands of ministry, and the relentless fact that Sunday is always around the corner, who has the luxury of time to stop, audit, and make systemic changes to the way we lead, disciple, and teach?

AS A RESULT, THE TWO THINGS THAT WE OFTEN (UNINTENTIONALLY) END UP NEGLECTING IS SELF-DEVELOPMENT AND TEAM-DEVELOPMENT.

In a previous article, I address the issue of self-development and provide you with a list of questions from my book, No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry. So be sure to go back and answer those questions before moving on.

Let’s now talk about staff or team development.

The fact is, as a pastor and church leader, you are both a boss and a disciple-maker—and this applies whether or not you’re the senior leader.

(Now I understand that you may not like the word boss because it sounds domineering, but I’m simply trying to emphasize the fact that you’re the leader and that you have responsibilities that directly affect others.)

So take a moment and think about everyone on your team—whether it’s your staff team as the senior leader, or your volunteer team as a staff member.

ON THE ONE HAND, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MINISTRY THAT GOD HAS ENTRUSTED YOU WITH.

So in order to get things done in a scalable manner, you can’t do it yourself. You need to work with and through your team—just think about Exodus 18 and the account between Moses and Jethro. This makes you the boss, the leader, or depending on your culture, the chief cheerleader or number one servant.

ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU ARE ALSO RESPONSIBLE TO EQUIP THOSE UNDER AND AROUND YOU FOR THE WORK OF MINISTRY (EPH 4:12-13).

And I’m not talking about equipping others to make coffee, clean the toilets, and carry your purse, or murse…I’m talking about “equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (Eph 4:12-13).

While making coffee and cleaning toilets can definitely be a character shaping exercise and be a part of moving you to maturity, that’s not what I’m talking about…

I’m talking about building a culture that allows your team to develop both professionally and spiritually.

In my book, No Silver Bullets: 5 Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry, I have a chapter entitled, From Sage to Guide. In this chapter, I unpack what it looks like to move from being a sage on the stage to a guide on the side when it comes to discipleship and leadership development.

There’s a concept in this chapter that I’d like to share with you: it’s called the 70:20:10 principle.

This principle originated with Dr. Allen Tough in his book The Adult’s Learning Projects and has since been elaborated and expanded by many others.

THE PRINCIPLE STATES THAT 70 PERCENT OF OUR LEARNING COMES BY DOING.

This is informal, on- the-job development that comes through trial and error, and growing in experience, like when we’re preaching, fleshing out strategic ends into key result areas, writing a ministry action plan, recruiting leaders, discipling others, or when we’re teaching a class. It’s learning that comes by doing.

NEXT, 20 PERCENT OF OUR LEARNING HAPPENS WHEN WE RECEIVE INFORMAL FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS, OR THROUGH MORE FORMAL COACHING, MENTORING, AND EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIPS.

This is primarily the type of development that happens through interacting with others. This is about receiving feedback and actually doing something with it.

THE LAST 10 PERCENT OF OUR LEARNING IS THROUGH CONFERENCES, SEMINARS, AND COURSES.

This is structured formal education.

Is this principle true for you?

Why do you preach the way you preach? Disciple the way you disciple? Lead the way you lead? Is it because you’re following the steps outlined in a textbook or from a course? Is it because someone coached you? Or is it because you’ve just done it over and over again and learnt what works and what doesn’t through trial and error?

(Once again, if you haven’t yet answered the questions from my previous article, What Kind of Church Leader Are You?, be sure to do so!)

Most likely it’s a combination of all three, but according to this principle, one of the most significant ways to develop is just by doing it.

Now I’m not talking about swinging the pendulum the whole other way. Doing something without actively seeking out feedback, coaching, and new perspective through conferences, seminars, or courses is unwise. And that’s why it’s not the 100:0:0 principle.

All that to say, if you want to develop in an ongoing manner, don’t just relegate development to formal education. Think of the 70:20:10 principle.

What’s interesting is that most churches are unintentionally aware of the 70:20:10 principle and are living it out, but their application of it is backward.

Seventy percent of their time is devoted to teaching, 20 percent to talking about it, and 10 percent to doing it.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO YOUR CHURCH IF YOU APPLIED THE 70:20:10 PRINCIPLE ACCURATELY?

What if 70 percent of the time that you spent developing your team and discipling them was helping them do the very things that made them a great leader and disciple-maker? You would then talk about what they’ve done and provide them feedback 20 percent of the time, while only formally teaching them 10 percent of the time. Imagine the transformation that would happen in your church.

Imagine what kind of culture would develop in your church…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.

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