Distill It Down to the Smallest Pattern

My friend is excellent at taking the complex and making it simple.  I love having her on the team because she really makes it possible to replicate.

The simpler anything is, the easier it is to repeat.  The more complex, the more difficult to pass it on.

In Chapter 11 of their book, “Missional Moves:  15 Tectonic Shifts that Transform Churches, Communities, and the World”  Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder put it this way:

“The simpler and more easily repeatable a fractal is, the harder the system is to break or destroy.”

“The more sophisticated and complex a fractal is, the harder it is to replicate, the easier it is to mutate, and the easier it is to destroy.”

What’s a fractal?  Wegner and Magruder define it this way:  “A fractal is the smallest repeatable pattern of any given system.”

It’s hard for me to think of anything that I do now naturally that didn’t begin with some simple, repeatable actions that were within my grasp to do.  Even overwhelming, “stretch me” kind of challenges began with a simple, repeatable step.

There is no movement without reproduction.  And there is no reproduction without small repeatable patterns.

In the Chapter on Adaptive Methods in Steve Addison’s book, “Movements that Change the World” Steve writes, “As the Word became flesh, Jesus fully entered into our world.  He chose to communicate and minister in ways that matched his context and were easily picked up by his disciples.  His message was profound but simple.  It was easily transmitted, shaped, and passed on by his disciples.”

He states that Adpative Methods are:

  • Sustainable-Able to reproduce without external funding
  • Flexible-Can be modified as the context changes
  • Transferable-Easily passed on to new disciples
  • Simple-Only the essentials are included
  • Functional-Effective for the purpose they were intended
  • Scaleable-Capable of multiplying without distortion
  • Reproducing-Spreads rapidly from person to person, network to network

Consider these:

Begin with prayer

Listen

Eat

Serve

Story

  • Don Everts and Doug Schaupp in their book “I Once Was Lost” articulate 5 things you should invite your friends to repeat over and over again in your discipling relationships:

Get them praying.

Get them reading Scripture.

Get them serving.

Get them to share their story.

Get them to live in community.

  • Greg Finke, the founder of Dwelling 114, encourages 5 questions as sort of a weekly check-in with those we are living in community with:

Where have you seen God this week?

What has God been teaching you in His Word?

What discussions are you having with those who are far from God?

What good can we do around here?

How can we lift each other up in prayer?

  • In our missional communities (lifeGroups) at the Church we use 4 W’s to help us:

Welcome-we share our lives with each other around food and fellowship.

Worship-we experience the presence of God and experiment with different ways of responding.

Word-the Scripture holds a sacred, central place in our gatherings.

Witness-we consider how we might bless our community and engage our friends who are far from God (impact lists).

Notice any similarities?

One of the main reasons why we are not seeing the multiplication of new believers and discipling relationships in the church in America is because we have allowed our ministries to become so complex that only a few can truly participate.  We have not done the hard work of distilling down our systems to the smallest repeatable pattern.

In my work with Auxano we call this effort of intentional integration a “Duplicatable Process”.  Anything in ministry you hope to reproduce must be broken down into simple repeatable patterns (fractals).  Only then, will there be any movement.

So, spend time considering such things.  Watch Jesus.  Discuss and discern with your leaders. Engage and employ a strategic outsider like Auxano.  Ask God for clarity.  Decide and synthesize your language.  Live it with joy to the glory of God.  And, as you do, invite others to join you and imitate you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer

I am Jeff Meyer, and I start fires. Ever since that basketball game in college when I came off the bench and lit a spark for my team, I have carried the nickname "Fire Meyer." (Until that point in my career my jersey #22 never saw the floor in an actual game. Perhaps the #22 was a symbol of my life calling: 2 Timothy 2:2?) I live to see sparks ignited and connections made. I long to see the church wake up and live. I long to see Jesus-followers display passionate commitment to Jesus. Jesus' invitation to follow Him was an adventure of epic proportions. Can we recapture that today? I long to see communities transformed into healthy places of wholeness. I believe that communities are transformed when Jesus-followers are stoked and respond. Perhaps you've heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I believe that a responsive Jesus-follower is the hope of the world. "Igniting connections" is my way of setting off some inspirational sparks; sparks that ignite a passionate response to the call of Jesus.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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