This is a guest post from Cody Binder. Cody's job is to help our current church partners squeeze the maximum amount of ministry out of their partnership with Church Community Builder. We call it Church Leader Advancement. He has a ministry background in Student and Family Ministry and a deep passion for the health of the bride of Christ. Follow Cody on Twitter: @CCBCody.
In my previous post, I talked about serving the Kingdom out of an overflow of the heart is one of the most exciting and beautiful things that we can do in this life. But how do you as a church leader create “overflow”? Here’s how: cultivate vibrant Gospel-centered, life-giving community. Being that God hard-wired man’s soul to long for belonging, if you fail to cultivate community, people are going to go somewhere else to find it. It may or may not be in your church. It may or may not be in a church.
The absolute best place to start cultivating is with your leadership team, board, elders, deacons, or whatever you call the decision making leadership of your church. Get to know each other. Know what everyone’s passions, strengths, gifts, abilities, experiences, and struggles are on the team. These relationships almost certainly have massive dividends for your ministry. Build a practical plan and schedule around how each member of your team is going to get poured into.
God’s word tells us that EVERYONE needs to be challenged to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ (Phil. 1:6). No one is exempt from this, not even (maybe even especially) your leadership team. Your leaders need to be equipped, trained, and discipled by someone who is being equipped, trained, and discipled. Establish a common vision for cultivating community in your church. Did somebody say retreat?
Once you feel good about where your leadership is at, do the same thing with the rest of the staff. Then do it with your volunteer and lay leaders. A well-defined discipleship structure and process for raising up leaders needs to be strategically implemented into every ministry of your church. After you’ve accomplished this, watch how the ripple effect of vibrant Gospel-centered, life-giving community and discipleship transforms your church, as well as people’s lives... for eternity.
After you’ve laid this foundation, make it ridiculously easy for your people to get in on your vibrant Gospel-centered, life-giving community. Put a group finder on your public website. Have someone at your guest connection booth who knows the small group leaders personally (or at least knows someone who does). Have an internal process in place for helping new guests find a small group that works for them, right where they are.
CHURCH COMMUNITY BUILDER INSIDER TIP: Build a process queue for your small group connection process for maximum effectiveness. Have your queue managers get to know your small group leaders personally so they can get a feel for fit and provide suggestions. Small group connection should be a separate queue in your guest welcome and connection process.
Putting our time, effort, and budget into making disciples that make disciples is eternally more important than recruiting nursery workers and people to run lighting for the Christmas play. If you’re commonly frustrated with disengaged, apathetic congregants and “flaky” volunteers, perhaps its time to go back to the drawing board with your leadership. community, and discipleship strategies. Please don’t require your new guests (no matter their experience or background) to serve before you make a concerted effort to pour into them. If we can get this right, our churches will experience harvests of people who want to serve because their heart has been transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.
What is your experience in trying to build structures for discipleship?