Using a New Transformational Discipleship Tool in Your Church

Have you found yourself wondering if your church is making authentic disciples?  Or ever will?  Have you recognized that a lot of what passes for discipleship is really about information and behavior modification?  If you’re ready for a new approach, you might want to take a look at the Transformational Discipleship DVD.

I recently reviewed the challenging new book by the same name, written by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation.  Intended to guide church leaders through a discussion and then start conversations that lead to implementing the principles, the DVD provides a catalyst that will help teams focus and engage in a process that could bring change and foster a culture in which people genuinely grow in Christian faith.

A four session study, the segments average 30 minutes in length and feature teaching by the authors along with panel discussions.  An included viewing guide and discussion starter questions make it easy to implement; creating an opportunity for the kind of experience that will lead to new discipleship possibilities for your church.

Used as a companion to the book, the DVD is a resource that will move your team in a new direction as you re-imagine discipleship in your congregation.  Session one provides an overview of the project as well as key learnings from experts in the area of discipleship.  Sessions two, three, and four provide additional insight into the key concept of the book, the transformational sweet spot (formed by the intersection of truth given by healthy leaders to someone in a vulnerable posture).

I’ve found the discipleship question, “How do we truly make disciples?” to be one of my most common questions.  Watching the segments of the Transformational Discipleship DVD, I found myself thinking that this is a resource that will help jump-start a new conversation in many churches.  Sure to generate the kinds of discussions that could change the trajectory of your congregation, you’ll want to take a look at the Transformational Discipleship DVD.

Read more from Mark here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Introducing Transformational Discipleship

If you’re looking for discipleship resources that will give direction to your approach, Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley and Philip Nation ought to be on your reading list.

A research driven project, the book is based on the discoveries of an extensive research project launched by Lifeway in 2010 “to survey believers about their spiritual lives and level of maturity.” Specifically, the research was designed “to uncover what kind of discipleship is truly transformational.”  Building on the Transformational Church survey and the research behind Brad Waggoner’s book The Shape of Faith to Come, the research focused on “major areas of life where spiritual maturity takes place.”

The combined research identified eight attributes of discipleship that point to spiritual health; biblical factors that consistently show up in the life of a maturing believer.  The eight attributes are:

  • Bible Engagement
  • Obeying God and Denying Self
  • Serving God and Others
  • Sharing Christ
  • Exercising Faith
  • Seeking God
  • Building Relationships
  • Unashamed

In addition to the eight attributes, a key discovery of the research is referred to as the Transformational Sweet Spot.  Using the metaphor of the sweet spot on a tennis racket or a baseball bat, the transformational sweet spot is formed by the intersection of truth given by healthy leaders to someone in a vulnerable posture.

There are a number of very good aspects to Transformational Discipleship.  The first 63 pages provide a thorough theological overview of the concept.  This is essential reading for a church staff or leadership team.  Parts 1, 2, and 3 provide an insight packed examination of the individual ingredients of the transformational sweet spot.

Not intended as a model, the authors instead have assembled the kind of thinking that just might uncover the framework that makes authentic disciples; not just knowledge or moral behavior, but the “ongoing renewal of the heart.”  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Transformational Discipleship is resource that will absolutely open your eyes to new ways of thinking about how transformation happens and where to focus your design and effort.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Diagnosing Your Discipleship Strategy

Ever slow down long enough to look at whether your discipleship strategy is actually working?  I know…who has time?  Here’s the thing, we better make time!   As I see it, you don’t have to read between the lines to see the link between leadership and accountability for results (See Matthew 25 or Luke 19 if you doubt me).  That said, how can we determine whether our discipleship strategy is working?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Assessments like Willow’s Reveal can play an important role.  Designed to give an indepth analysis of congregational health, Reveal will also give some important help in determining next steps.
  • Taking the time to carefully articulate what it is that you are trying to do.  Taking my lead from The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, I’ve referred to this step as clarifying what a win will be.
  • Be on the lookout for great diagnostic questions.  If you’re wired this way, it will come easy.  If you’re not, watch for team members who are analytically wired and invite them into the discussion.  Here are a couple of my favorite questions: (a) What 21st-century challenges are testing the design limits of our discipleship strategy? (b) What are the limitations of our model that have failed to keep up with the times?  Let me take a moment to unpack these two questions.

What 21st-century challenges are testing the design limits of our discipleship strategy? Think about this one.  If you’re like many churches, much of what you do is based to a degree on decisions that were made a long, long time ago.  You may no longer have a Sunday night service.  You might have severely trimmed your Wednesday programs.  At the same time, a little digging will probably show that a lot of what you’re doing is based on things that were true in another time.  Work schedules, commuting, family commitments, technology, learning styles  and reduced attention spans are just a few of the dynamic changes that have impacted today’s culture.

What are the limitations of our model that have failed to keep up with the times? This is a great follow up question.  Things like limited time slots, qualified teachers, curriculum expense, facility-based programming are just a few issues that may come to the surface.

Read more from Mark here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Budgeting for the Preferred Future

I’ve written about arriving at the preferred future a number of times.  My most requested talk features this concept.

The essence of the concept?  The present can be explained by an understanding of Andy Stanley’s insightful one-liner: ”Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you’re currently experiencing.”

The probable future can be anticipated.  As Albert Einstein famously declared, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Want to arrive in the preferred future?  Don’t want to end up in the probable future?  You must begin to do different things.

What makes the new trajectory possible?  Among other things, budget reallocation.  Budget is a zero sum reality.  It must be allocated to the critical growth path.

How does that happen?  Peter Drucker’s wisdom is enlightening:

“Innovating organizations spend neither time nor resources on defending yesterday.  Systematic abandonment of yesterday alone can free the resources, and especially the scarcest of them all, capable people, for work on the new.”

Scarily efficient.  Not an endeavor undertaken lightly.  Which is why Carl George’s line is so compelling: “Leaders allocate the finite resources to the critical growth path.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Practical Ways to Try Leadership the Very First Time

Help! I can’t find enough leaders!

I don’t know about you…but that is the most common complaint/concern I hear when I talk with small group champions.  And the most common question I hear is “How can I find more leaders?”  I’ve written a number of articles in answering that question.  You can see them right here.

Today I want to talk about how to develop more leaders.  This is an essential skill for all small group leaders but it’s not intuitive for most and it will rarely happen naturally or on the initiative of your existing leaders.  If you want it to happen system-wide, you must teach the concept and develop the expectations and skills that make it happen.

Basic Concept

The basic concept is that every group has multiple people who can lead (or help lead) a group.  I’m not suggesting that everyone can lead.  I’m simply pointing out that there are many group members who actually could lead a group if they were given the opportunity and motivated somehow to try it.

Do you believe that?  I hope so.  If you believe that, then the next step is to help your existing leaders begin to practice the skills that will allow and encourage everyone who can lead to give it a try.

Leader Development Practices

Here are five practices that will help more adults give leading a try.

  • Make it a fun experiment!  As you begin a new study, let everyone know that “we’re all going to take a turn facilitating this one.”  To do that, you’ll need to select a study that requires little preparation and comes very close to leading itself (which is always a great idea).
  • Begin by handing off sections of every session.  “Bob, why don’t you lead the Connect section next week?”  “Sue, next week I’d like you to lead the prayer time at the end.  Watch how I do it this week and then you do it next week.  Okay?”  Starting members out with bite-sized assignments will ease a toe into the water of leading.  Always a good place to begin.
  • Practice sub-grouping as often as you can.  Start when you have 7 members.  Never stop.   You can begin by random sub-grouping (I’ve tried everything from counting off by threes or drawing numbers from a hat) and move to more intentional (affinities that might ultimately result in a new group).
  • Meet separately from time to time or on a regular basis.  Many groups have developed the practice of meeting together twice a month and separately twice a month (i.e., let the men and women have their own time on occasion).  This helps develop additional leadership capacity…as long as you don’t just recruit the usual suspects.
  • Broaden the invitation list for leader training events and meetings.  Encourage all of your group leaders to bring additional facilitators to your leader training events.  Include a breakout designed for new facilitators in the skill training section on your meeting agenda.

Want to develop more leaders?  Start making leader development a priority.  Better yet…start measuring the number of groups that do what we’ve talked about here.  You’ll begin to see development.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Design Your Ministry for Results

Small group ministry struggling to meet the objectives you’ve set?  Ending the ministry year and falling short of the goals that have been set for you?  Although there are a number of possible explanations, the most likely reason is that your ministry isn’t actually designed to accomplish the goals and objectives you’d like to reach.  If you want that to change, you need to design your ministry for results.

An Important Disclaimer: I realize that God makes things grow.  And you should, too.  This is not about that.  This is about our role in designing the ministry for results (and we do play a part).

Design your ministry for results.  Sounds more complicated than it really is.  Here’s what I mean.

First, understand the direct link between your results and your ministry design.  Don’t miss the fact that design and outcome are absolutely related.  Can’t find enough leaders?  Don’t blame the culture or the times.  In the same way a field of corn onlygrows according to a farmer’s goals and objectives when the conditions are right (rainfall, sunshine, rich soil, temperature, etc.), your ministry will only grow when environmental conditions are right.

Second, carefully analyze each of the environmental elements that affect small group ministry.  Here are a few of the most important elements:

  • Choice: If there are multiple options for the next step, don’t be surprised when unconnected people are indecisive.  Research has shown that there is a negative impact to too many choices.  Watch Sheena Iyengar’s TED talk on choice overload for more on this topic.  Prescription: Start a “stop doing list” and make a commitment to purposeful abandonment.  ”To call abandonment an opportunity may come as a surprise.  Yet planned, purposeful abandonment of the old and of the unrewarding is a prerequisite pursuit of the new and highly promising.  Above all, abandonment is the key to innovation–both because it frees the necessary resources and because it stimulates the search for the new that will replace the old”  (p. 33, Inside Drucker’s Brain).
  • Priorities and emphasis: If your culture is designed to promote every option equally, don’t be surprised when your most connected people are confused and overcommitted and your least connected people are unresponsive.  Fuzzy priorities delay action.  Prescription: Choose which option gets promoted.  Demand intentionality.
  • Expectations: We’re living in a time that would be completely foreign to our great grandparents.  Schedules.  Cost-of-living.  Mobility.  Extracurricular activities for children.  If you’re waiting for unconnected people to make the first move, adjusting their way of life to fit yours…you’ll be waiting a long time.  Prescription: Make it possible for a baby step in the right direction as a first move.  Remember, when youthink steps not programs you’ll design easy, obvious and strategic.

 

Third, make the changes you know must be made.  Once you understand the design issues that are determining your results, begin implementing.  Don’ t underestimate the tendency to search for a problem-free solution.  How should you implement change?  Fast?  Slow?  All at once?  Over time?  Your culture and history will determine that.  The key is to move forward.

Read more from Mark here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Next Logical Step…is Often the Wrong One

When are you willing to pull the plug on a strategy?  How many times does a strategy need to have the exact same results before you conclude that it is the wrong strategy?

When are you willing to rethink an assumption?  How many times are you willing to profess confusion when the outcome is not what you anticipated?

How often have you begun thinking about the next ministry season and set in motion an almost exact replica of last year’s approach because you always have a small group fair right after Labor Day (complete with a catalog of semester options) or for that matter, you always do a church-wide campaign in the fall (and your existing groups love including new people for those 6 weeks).

I can’t speak for you, but I can say that it’s normal to do again with only slight variation what you’ve done previously.  It’s normal.  It happens all the time.  And that’s the problem.  After all, didn’t Einstein persuade us when he said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results?”

If you want different results you need to change the design.  And I should add, if you want significantly different results you’ll need to do more than tweak the design.  You’re going to need a different design.

Dreaming of being a church of groups but seem permanently mired in the muck of church with?  Chances are your strategy has a design flaw.  Can’t figure out how to break through the 50% connected in groups barrier?  Odds are your strategy needs a major overhaul.  Stuck at 80% adults connected in groups?  In all likelihood…your strategy has an innate limitation that prevents breakthrough.

I like Tim Brown’s analysis.  Brown, the CEO and President of IDEO and author of Change by Design, has pointed out that teams that are truly committed to developing breakthrough products “will not feel bound to take the next logical step along an ultimately unproductive path (Change by Design, p. 17).”

Read more from Mark here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.