Our theme for this year in the Peninsula Baptist Association is “Life on Life” or LOL (not original to me). God has put it into my head as I visit from church to church that many churches are dying because somewhere along the line they stopped training up a new generation of leaders. Of course, the verse I have chosen to accompany this theme is 2 Timothy 2.2. In that verse, Paul encourages his young protege to take what he has learned from Paul and pass it on to reliable people who will in turn pass it on to others.
I firmly believe that the church that takes this approach to leadership development will continue to renew itself indefinitely. The reasons that many churches don’t have any young people are many and complex. But one of the biggest reason is that the church chose not to do anything with the young people when they had them. Oh, they baby sat them, entertained them, preached at them and basically bored them to death. But the leaders failed to take these young people one on one and coach them into leadership roles in the church – and them give them the reins of leadership.The church leaders weren’t willing to let go of the authority or take a risk on a young leader. And now, they look around and the young people are gone.
I learned a long time ago that the best way I can multiply my leadership is to spend real time one on one coaching potential leaders. It is the most important (and most fun) thing I do in ministry. I plan to offer opportunities throughout this year for our people to learn skills in coaching, mentoring, apprenticing, etc. I will be bringing in outsiders as well as providing training myself. It is going to be a great year!
I don’t know how many times recently I have heard it said that the church in America is counting the wrong thing. This message mostly comes from those in the Missional Church movement (a movement I like). My problem is that they have a tendency to overstate their case. Just today I was reading in Mike Breen’s blog: “The problem is at the end of the day, the only thing that Jesus is counting is disciples. That’s it. He doesn’t seem to care too much about converts, attendance, budgets or buildings. It’s about disciples…”
I’d agree with Mike that Jesus wasn’t too big on budgets and buildings – but Jesus didn’t care about converts?!? (Read Luke 15 for a bit about how Jesus felt about converts.) Jesus cared very much about converts. The whole “it-ain’t-about-numbers” crowd has obviously not read the early chapters of Acts (3,000, 5,000, etc.). I know what they are getting at. It’s not enough just to usher people into the kingdom, we need to disciple them. But ushering them into the kingdom is a big deal! I’m trying to find an example of angels rejoicing over the discipleship process. I read twice in Luke 15 about angels rejoicing when a sinner steps across the line of faith.
All prophetic movements have the tendency to overstate their case to make a point. But this particular overstatement has been repeated so often that people are treating it as fact. And people are adopting this over-emphasis on discipleship as a way to justify a lack of need for churches to bring the good news to the lost.
I attended the free 3DM Church Planter event last week in Pawley’s Island, SC http://mikebreen.wordpress.com/ . The setting was beautiful and the accommodations at Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort http://www.litchfieldbeach.com/ were fantastic. I’m still processing the information. There were things I liked and a few things I didn’t like about their approach.
What I liked:
1. Huddles – I do believe this is a very good approach to small group discipleship. I think a church planter would do well to work his core team through this process early on.
2. Missional Communities – Whether or not you use their “brand” of Missional Communities, this is proving to be a great way to get the church out into the community. I’ve been following what Virginia Baptists are doing with their “Fresh Expressions” approach and believe it has lot’s of potential for existing churches and church plants.
3. Bi-Vocational Option – This approach, as presented, would be viable for a bi-vo planter who is not on a fast track to growth. This is a slower process, but with solid results.
4. Focus on Relational Discipleship – I suspect this is about the only way to get a deep level of discipleship results.
So, I’d like to say thanks to the 3DM team for their generosity and time!