Requirement number four is:
Effective Change Requires a Strategy.
Anytime a leader is going to lead their organization through change, the people need to know: What? Why? How? My most recent attempt to lead change was in the church where I am pastor. The following is a description of our strategy to intentionally develop a disciple-making culture throughout every facet of Midway Church. We attempted to answer several questions for the people. From where have we come? Where are we? What is ahead? Why is this change important? How will we take the journey? What will it feel like?
This strategy took over a year to get the ball rolling on the deep internal shift that would be required. The final phase was a 12-week sermon series based on the Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual from Real Life Ministries. Simultaneously all small groups work through the manual. During this series we launched new home groups, and a major foundation was laid that is giving way to a renewed culture and mindset regarding discipleship done Jesus’ way. Though the temptation would be to jump right into such a strategic series, the fact is that it took a full year to properly prepare the staff, volunteer leaders, and influencers in our church to embrace the coming shift. It took 12 months to prepare for 12 weeks! Our process looked something like this:
12 Months Out: Have the Lead Pastor and Discipleship Pastor take a vision trip to Post Falls, Idaho and Real Life Ministries to participate in DiscipleShift 1 Conference.
11 Months Out: Introduce staff and key officers/leaders to the take-away points brought home from the vision trip. Begin a weekly small group with leadership staff using the new relational strategy, so they can experience the process and lead the way. Meet individually with some leaders to cast vision and get buy-in.
10 Months Out: Address the entire congregation through our annual business meeting/vision weekend to inform and introduce the coming cultural shift over the course of the next year. Meet individually with more leaders to cast vision and get buy-in.
9 Months Out: Hold a vision meeting for current small group leaders to begin the “buy-in” process with these “on the ground” leaders. Meet individually with resistant leaders to answer questions, cast vision, and get buy-in.
8 Months Out: Recruit leaders (both staff and lay leaders) to attend a DiscpleShift 1 Conference led by Real Life Ministries and hosted at our church. These leaders would be our first home group leaders using the new relational strategy.
7 Months Out: Host DiscipleShift 1 Conference in partnership with the Georgia Baptist Convention at our church.
6 Months Out: Begin to promote and personally recruit for a church-wide training venue taking place a couple of months later. Ask all current children, youth, and adult group leaders to participate, and invite any potential leaders to come and experience the shift that we have been describing. We called this event “DiscipleShift Boot Camp”.
5 Months Out: Hold another vision meeting for small group leaders to hear testimonies from those who attended DiscipleShift 1. This was done to inspire and encourage participation for the upcoming DicsipleShift Boot Camp the following month.
4 Months Out: Execute the DiscipleShift Boot Camp. It was a 4-hour training experience on a Sunday afternoon for both current and potential children, youth, and adult group leaders. It allowed people the opportunity to experience a mini DiscipleShift Conference in a relational environment, with an intentional leader, using the Bible storying method.
3 Months Out: Facilitate follow-up and debrief with those who participated in the DiscipleShift Boot Camp. This was done through one-on-one meetings and leadership gatherings to celebrate and build on the momentum created at the training. We preached a sermon series built around the parables of Jesus, to emphasize and model the “storying” process even in our Sunday services.
2 Months Out: Have all church attendees fill out a card indicating whether or not they are connected to a small group. This allowed us to build a prospect list for the new relational groups set to launch in the coming months.
1 Month Out: Hold another vision meeting with all current small group leaders and the newly recruited group leaders. This was to build commitment to and alignment with our newly structured leadership covenant and multiplication strategy for small groups.
Launch Time: We began 15 new groups with a strong commitment to the new strategy, and encouraged existing group leaders to implement some of the new strategies with their groups. All groups worked through the Real Life Training Manual for the first 12 weeks as the teaching pastors led a 12-week sermon series covering the same material. During those weeks, Midway Church experienced a 15% increase in our weekly small group attendance. 76 people were baptized during this time frame, and the momentum is just getting started. Without the above 12-month strategy that culminated in the 12-week implementation, the impact we saw would never have taken place.