The Real Measure of Making Disciples

Looking back, 2016 was truly a landmark year. From Olympics to Elections to Chewbacca Mom, the year contained moments worth sharing and remembering. The year contained new beginnings, new opportunities and the potential for new ministry impact.

Maybe 2016 was also supposed to be the year that you finally implemented a discipleship strategy, but there never seemed to be enough time, the right team or an applicable model.
In this, the last issue of SUMS Remix for 2016, the Auxano team wants to help you jumpstart the implementation of an intentional discipleship strategy for 2017. We are proud to feature disciple-making strategy solutions from three foundational books of the Auxano Vision Framing process.

There is no time like right now to develop a discipleship strategy that engages hearts and inspires growing faith every day. Do not let 2017 slip away. Start building the disciples of tomorrow, today.

Develop the Measures of a growing disciple

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Church Unique, by Will Mancini

Church Unique, written by Will Mancini, outlines a new kind of visioning process to help churches develop a stunningly unique model of ministry that leads to redemptive movement. The process guides churches away from an internal focus to emphasize participation in their community and surrounding culture.

In Church Unique, Mancini explains that each church has a culture that reflects its particular values, thought, attitudes, and actions. It also shows how church leaders can unlock their church’s individual DNA and unleash their congregation’s one-of-a-kind potential.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Imagine that you are sitting in front of five or six people at your church. They may be elders, council members, volunteer leaders, or members of your small group. For the sake of our illustration, imagine that these people are paid staff at the church.

Then you ask them the simple question, “What ministry bull’s-eye are you all aiming at together?”

Would you see blank stares in response to this question? Or if the staff does attempt an answer, the bull’s-eye descriptions are never the same. In other words, it is almost impossible to walk into a church where the top leaders have a shared articulation of what results they are looking for.

The question becomes, “How do you know when all of these components are working as they should? In other words, when do you hit the bull’s-eye?” The answer is found in defining Measures as Missional Life Marks.

Auxano defines Measures as a set of attributes in an individual’s life that define or reflect the accomplishment of the church’s mission. The Measures are the church’s portrait of a disciple and definition of spiritual maturity. Measures supply the standard by which the mission can be measured with respect to an individual’s development through the ministry of the church.

The old maxim goes, “Your mission is what you measure.” Every church feels the gravitation pull to measure only the ABC’s (attendance, buildings, and cash). The problem is that you can be very successful with the ABC’s but be a circus. So what measures are appropriate for kingdom-minded leaders in the missional church? By defining your measures, you can focus your church on the Spirit’s work of soul formation, and Jesus’ agenda for multiplication. 

Although Measures can be a straightforward and simple definition for pastors, it’s strangely missing in our churches. On a typical leadership team, most people could scratch out a basic definition of a disciple within five minutes. Yet years and years go by without ministry staff ever having a shared definition to work from.

Will Mancini, Church Unique

A NEXT STEP

Use the following exercises to determine the top-level outline of your Measures.

Teams should create four to six categories as the outline of their Measures. More than six will be difficult for people to remember. To stimulate creative juices, here is a sample of ideas and exercises to get you started:

Mission man: Have small groups of leaders draw a stick figure on a large white pad. Using parts of the body as a creative spark, develop a list of the attributes of a disciple that corresponds to the body part.

Red-letter maturity: Have groups scan the red letters of the gospel— the words that Jesus spoke directly. Organize them into no more than six categories that describe a mature follower of Christ.

Missional interviews: Bring in three to five people who represent the most missionally minded people in your church. Talk to them about their story and life practices of following Christ. Ask them to list the six most important characteristics of their walk with Jesus. See how their individual lists compare and from them develop your own.

Obviously, these exercises are meant to stimulate the expression of biblical foundations already present on the leadership team. For a more thorough treatment, find books and Bible studies to work through together. Of course you can always study the Measures of other churches like those found in Church Unique. But don’t get too preoccupied with the expressions of others. Do the hard work of your own process! At this stage of the process your focus should be on content—what are the most important four to six ideas you want to use to describe the missional life.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 56-1, issued December 2016


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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Church Unique Snapshot for NorthPoint Community Church

NORTH POINT COMMUNITY CHURCH VISION FRAME

Our Mission

… to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our Strategy

… to create environments where people are encouraged and equipped to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders. This is also known as the foyer, living room and kitchen progression. See the visuals here.

Our Values

… the 7 core values are posted here.

The Five Faith Catalysts (We call these mission measures on the Vision Frame)

  1. Practical Teaching
  2. Providential Relationships
  3. Private Disciplines
  4. Pivotal Circumstances
  5. Personal Ministry

Because Andy is so intentional I admire the way he keeps the Five Faith Catalysts in front of their people. Here are two examples that are great benchmarks to learn from. The first is how he introduces them to new believers. The second is how they create a unique website to support sermon series on the Five Faith Catalysts.

The FIRST EXAMPLE  is Starting Point: Check out how the the Five Faith Catalysts are introduced into small group material for new believers and “new to church” folks in this piece by Andy called How Do People Grow

The SECOND EXAMPLE  is the Five Things God Uses Website: Check out the media, notes and curriculum at this tool that supports the sermons series on the Five Faith Catalysts here. If you want to learn more about these, be sure to pick up Andy’s book, Deep and Wide.

I hope this inspires you to “frame up” the four sides of your church’s DNA. Also, if you have completed your Vision Frame recently, I would love to hear about it!

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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3 Keys to Making Disciples

What does a church look like when it succeeds? A church is successful when everyone in the church is in the game, maturing into disciples who can reproduce other disciples.

Matthew 4:19 gives us a clear, uncomplicated image of what a disciple looks like, and helps a church know if it is obeying the command to make disciples. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Follow me – a disciple knows and follows Christ. (Head)
I will make you – a disciple is being changed by Christ. (Heart)
Fishers of men – a disciple is committed to the mission of Christ. (Hands)

Back before we all had a GPS, finding our way on road trips turned out to be adventures. A successful road trip required planning and preparation. A successful journey needed a driver, a vehicle and a map. A successful journey needs three elements as well; an intentional leader, a relational environment and a reproducible process.

A Driver: The Intentional Leader
A road trip cannot begin if someone doesn’t turn the key, start the car, and drive. A driver with a destination in mind is essential. In the discipleship process, the driver is the intentional leader driving the discipleship process toward the goal of making disciples.

A Vehicle: The Relational Environment

A driver must have something to drive. In discipleship, the vehicle the intentional leader drives is the relational environment. Relationships are what God uses to communicate His truth and help people grow. Without relationships, the journey of discipleship is boring and ineffective. Relationships create the environment where discipleship happens best.

A Map: The Reproducible Process
The third component for a successful journey is a map. The road map is a reproducible process. This road map allows us to measure a disciple’s progress and teach that disciple the route so that he or she can intentionally lead others on the same journey.

An intentional leader plus a relational environment plus a reproducible process equals disciples. I am certainly not a math scholar but it seems to be a good equation. See you downstream…

Read more from Barry here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barry Sneed

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We’re All About the Numbers

I’ve been sharing some of the top viewed posts on my blog, and today’s seems especially appropriate as we head into the Christmas season. At our church, we’re expecting thousands of people to make professions of faith in Christ this week in our worship experiences.

And I will unapologetically publicly celebrate each and every one. Here’s why:

I get asked all the time if Elevation is all about the numbers.
Let me just clarify something:

Our church is all about the numbers.

  • The number of lives that Jesus can permeate and penetrate with the gospel.
  • The number of marriages that can be restored.
  • The number of teenagers following the Lord.
  • The number of depressed people that can find hope in Jesus.
  • The number of dads who don’t give their kids any attention who will learn to order their lives by the Word of God and start prioritizing their families.

What else matters? What else should we be about?

This might come as a shock to a lot of people, but measuring numbers and putting an emphasis on them isn’t a new phenomenon. 2000 years ago, Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote:
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day…47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:41, 47

Apparently God is all about the numbers. So I want to be, too. And so should you.

It’s unacceptable to me as a pastor that we would stop growing when the Lord wants to add to our number daily those who are being saved. And in order for that to happen, we need to track every scrap of statistical data at our disposal. We’ve got to make sure we’re measuring ministry numbers to measure our effectiveness and enlarge the Kingdom of God. I don’t want to waste a single dollar or second on a program, piece of equipment, or ministry position that isn’t the best option for reaching the most people.

You might be averse to numbers for a number of reasons.

Maybe you don’t like the idea of big crowds. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t have liked the New Testament Church. And you really won’t like heaven.

Maybe you think it steals away from discipleship. It’s possible. But it’s just as possible for that to happen in a church of 10 people as it is in a church of 10,000.

Whatever your reason is, remember: every number is indicative of a story.
Personally, I don’t want to put a cap on the number of stories God wants to redeem. Especially when I read this:
9 I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God.”
Revelation 7:9-10

Now that’s a number worth shooting for. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until I die to see this. I want to see this partially fulfilled in my lifetime. More people worshipping Jesus than I can count.

I want to see a little heaven on earth through Elevation Church. Through every church. I think it’s what God wants too.

And that’s why we’re all about the numbers.

 

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Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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jim mcfarland — 12/11/12 10:45 pm

sounds like the ying and yang or spirt and truth dycotomy. tough balance let alone appreciation for both

Mr. Tony Bowick — 12/11/12 1:09 pm

I love the thoughtful and strategic emphasis on having unapologetic measures of what success looks like for God's church. Our awareness must be both qualitative and quantitative. Narrative and numerical.

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5 Areas Every Church Should Know How to Measure

I want to revisit the five primary spheres of church ministry that leaders should be tracking, quantifying, and measuring. All five areas can and should be covered on a regular basis and in a systematic way. Links are also included to help you unpack how to measure these areas and why it’s important to do so.

1. Discipleship

The greatest Kingdom investment is relationships. Being a good steward of people is what God cares about most. Ask yourself this question to make sure discipleship is a priority: Do you have a process to make sure that first-time guests become attenders, that attenders become members, and that members become involved in real community?

2. Financial

Are you tracking first-time donors? What about one that helps you easily access reports that shows when giving dips? How do you measure the financial health of your church?

3. Engagement

How are you measuring engagement? How can you quantify heart change and authentic community? How can you measure the authentic engagement? There is no one correct answer, but your church should have an answer that fits your unique community.

4. Assimilation

Not every church understands the true value of having a process for assimilation. Your church needs to be able to identify when a person’s involvement in the church community grows or declines. How are you measuring assimilation right now?

5. Overall Growth

Always remember—Numbers reflect lives changed. Kingdom work is the most important work we can apply ourselves to because it is the only work that has eternal implications. There is too much at stake to simply “fly blind” and not be intentional about how we lead the people God has entrusted to us.

Which area of church growth do you find most challenging to measure? What has tracking progress revealed at your church?

Click on the links above to begin a series detailing the 5 areas every church should measure.

Read more from Steve here.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Caton

Steve Caton

Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and the popular Church Community Builder Blog. He also co-wrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!

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Mr. Steven Finkill — 11/05/12 8:21 am

This is one of those ongoing, never finished discussions in the church. What do we measure? How do we measure it? I love that discipleship is the first thing on the list. It's difficult to measure, though. I think if we got better at measuring our success by the right metrics, we would be more effective overall as the Church

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8 Measures of Personal Discipleship

In 2008, LifeWay Research commissioned a survey of more than 7,000 churches to discover the principles involved with healthy congregations. That research made up the framework for Transformational Church, a book I coauthored with Thom Rainer.

In 2011, we conducted another study to focus not on the church, but on the individual believer. In this study, we asked more than 4,000 people about their spiritual lives and level of maturity. This was not a convenience sample drawn from participating churches, but a randomly selected sample to ensure an even higher level of research accuracy.

The results allowed us to identify eight Biblical factors that consistently show up in the life of a maturing believer. Those “attributes of discipleship” are:

  1. Bible engagement
  2. Obeying God and denying self
  3. Serving God and others
  4. Sharing Christ
  5. Exercising faith
  6. Seeking God
  7. Building relationships
  8. Unashamed transparency

 

Spiritual growth does not happen by accident, and since Jesus has called us to make disciples of all nations, we wanted to discover the common traits for those maturing in their faith. It goes without saying that such attributes do not make you a Chrisitan but, rather, are an outgrowth of being a Christian. Furthermore, these are measurements of growth, but only God causes the growth.

Yet, God shapes congregations through the shaping of the individual members’ lives. This shaping doesn’t just happen; God grows us as we place ourselves in a position of obedience to receive that growth. This requires intentional awareness and leadership on the part of both leaders and church members.

Preparing your church to receive the growth God provides almost always involves knowing where your people are in their spiritual walk. To help pastors, churches and individuals measure their spiritual development, we used the survey data to develop the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). The assessment results in a report on spiritual maturity using the eight attributes of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions for individuals to take the next steps in their spiritual development.

TDA

I’ll be releasing more information about the specific factors later in the fall. Due to the sheer volume of material, however, it will take several months to complete our analysis and release all of the materials.

Here is some more information from the news release:

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said the new assessment tool zooms in to the personal level.”The Transformational Discipleship Assessment helps people see how they are doing with those eight attributes. It answers, ‘Are you growing? Are you consistently following Christ?'” McConnell explained. “It also helps leaders know where to focus sermons, Bible studies, events and other disciple-building activities.”

McConnell said the research was conducted in three phases. First recognized discipleship experts were interviewed. Their input was used to revise a set of questions that have been effective in measuring dozens of specific biblical principles that may be reflected in a believers actions, attitudes or beliefs. Then 1,000 Protestant pastors in the United States were polled. In the final phase, more than 4,000 Protestants from both the U.S. and Canada were surveyed in three languages, English, Spanish and French.

What have been some of the key ways in which your church has been effective in the discipleship of believers?

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.