Yesterday I posted 5 Signs You May Have a Bad Disciple-Making Strategy. And of course, I immediately had questions about what to do if you discover that you have a bad disciple-making strategy. Maybe you wondered the same thing!
Here’s my recommendation:
Rethink your design
If you discover that you have a bad disciple-making design (based on your results), then it’s time to rethink the way you are making disciples.
3 foundational assumptions
- It is what it is. In the words of Andy Stanley, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” Your results are not a fluke. They are directly related to the design. Don’t like your results? Change the design and remember that design incorporates just about everything (i.e., the way you recruit and train leaders, the way it’s promoted, the way you actually make disciples, any and all structure that plays a part, etc.).
- What got you here won’t get you there. Albert Einstein noted that “the significant problems that we face will not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Translation? Your current strategy or design might very well have been effective at an earlier date. Times change. Organizations become more complex over time. What works in one season won’t necessarily always work. Getting to there will almost always require more than a tweak.
- There is no problem-free. Every system, solution or strategy comes with a set of problems and there are no exceptions. There is no problem-free. Wise leaders simply make a list of the problems that come with each strategy and choose the set of problems they would rather have.
10 principles that will guide the work that is ahead.
- Begin with the end in mind. Describing in vivid detail a picture of the preferred future is essential. Make no compromise and take no shortcut. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
- Diagnose the present with uncompromising honesty. If you begin with the end in mind, brutal honesty about the here and now is another essential. See also, Brutal Honesty about Your Present.
- Clarify what you will call a win. According to Peter Drucker, very few things are as important as determining what you will call success. See also, Clarifying the Win in Your Small Group Ministry.
- Think steps, not programs. Design easy, obvious and strategic steps that lead to the preferred future and only to the preferred future. See also, Think Steps, Not Programs.
- Narrow the focus (to eliminate all but the best steps). There is no room for turning a blind eye to the inadequacies of yesterday’s solutions. See also, Small Group Roadblock #2: A Bloated Belong and Become Menu.
- Allocate resources to the critical growth path. Choosing a preferred future is one thing. Allocating finite resources to get to the preferred future is what demonstrates conviction. Budget, key staff and volunteers, space, promotional bandwidth, and senior pastor attention are just a few of the most important resources. See also, Budgeting for the Preferred Future.
- Commit to the long haul. The journey to build a thriving small group ministry is not a short sprint. It is a marathon. If you want to arrive at the finish line, you must commit to the long haul. See also, Wash, Rinse, Repeat and the Long Run.
- Keep one eye on the preferred future. Maintaining focus on the end in mind, using preferred future language to cast vision for the promised land is a non-negotiable. It will be tempting along the way to settle for something less than a thriving small group ministry. Only by rehearsing again and again what it will be like will the steadfast pursuit continue.
- Keep the other eye on the very next milestone. Milestones that are clearly visible in the near future enable your team to stay focused and encouraged. Milestones could be quantitative (a number of groups or a percentage connected statistic). Milestones can also be qualitative with a little effort (capturing life-change stories or monitoring feedback cards). The objectives that must be accomplished to reach the next milestone are the kind of things that keep teams focused. See also, Are We There Yet? Milestones that Lead to the Preferred Future.
- Celebration is expected. A culture of celebration is a must have. Celebrate milestones reached and wins experienced.
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Image by Keith Williams