“What I really need is more nuts and bolts on how to do disciple making. Obviously, what we’re doing isn’t working.” The pastor was exasperated because he had a church full of members instead of a church full of disciples.
At the Radical Disciple Making Conference, we speak about the need to create “processes” in order to move from vision into implementation. For instance, if your church is going to make members, you’ll probably want to continue whatever processes are working for you now. You have some sort of intentional (or unintentional) process for each of the following “From Visitor to Member” path:
- Increase visitor count
- Ensure hospitality
- Visitor follow-up
On the other hand, if your church is going to make disciples, you’ll need a path and corresponding processes that go in a different direction:
- Networking and Mingling with the Nones and Dones
- Mentoring unbelievers
- Increasing visitor count
- Unchurched-ready hospitality
- Visitor follow-up
- Discipleship path & Internship
The link connected with #5, Visitor Follow-Up, is a good example of a process that works.
But briefly, let’s walk through process development process that can serve as a How-To example. (And yes, there’s a process for process development.) For our example, let’s start at the very beginning:
Process Development: Networking and Mingling with the Nones and Dones
Output: To increase our personal presence, and our church’s presence, with those in the community who lack a vital faith-in-Jesus connection.
Outcome: Personal relationships (mentorships) with non-believers (Nones or people of other faiths) and the unchurched (expands the circle to include the Dones).
Strategy: Spend less time with the churched and more time with the unchurched. (To be effective and implementable, strategies need to be simple and direct.)
- Reconnoiter community to discover “best places” and “best opportunities” to connect with the unchurched
- Establish regular schedule in order to boost visibility
- Model and mentor networking and mingling with staff/key leaders
- Coach and encourage staff (weekly) and key leaders (monthly)
- Measure outcomes monthly and adjust accordingly
The above process is ongoing. The pastor will need to implement this process (a process is just a plan … if you don’t implement it, it’s just a waste of time), but may not be the champion. In a larger church, a staff member may be the primary leader of the process, though we would argue that regardless of a church’s size, the pastor needs to be spending significant time with the unchurched (and by significant, we mean 50 percent for pastors in large churches and as much as 80 percent for pastors in small churches).
Of course, as the pastor, to do any of the above, you’ll need to increasingly “let go” and “hand off” building-based ministries and administration in order to get out of the office and into the community. You’ll need to be specific here … what will you let go of first? Next? Etc. See Effective Staffing for Vital Churches for more information on this step.