Ever slow down long enough to look at whether your discipleship strategy is actually working? I know…who has time? Here’s the thing, we better make time! As I see it, you don’t have to read between the lines to see the link between leadership and accountability for results (See Matthew 25 or Luke 19 if you doubt me). That said, how can we determine whether our discipleship strategy is working? Here are a few ideas:
- Assessments like Willow’s Reveal can play an important role. Designed to give an indepth analysis of congregational health, Reveal will also give some important help in determining next steps.
- Taking the time to carefully articulate what it is that you are trying to do. Taking my lead from The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, I’ve referred to this step as clarifying what a win will be.
- Be on the lookout for great diagnostic questions. If you’re wired this way, it will come easy. If you’re not, watch for team members who are analytically wired and invite them into the discussion. Here are a couple of my favorite questions: (a) What 21st-century challenges are testing the design limits of our discipleship strategy? (b) What are the limitations of our model that have failed to keep up with the times? Let me take a moment to unpack these two questions.
What 21st-century challenges are testing the design limits of our discipleship strategy? Think about this one. If you’re like many churches, much of what you do is based to a degree on decisions that were made a long, long time ago. You may no longer have a Sunday night service. You might have severely trimmed your Wednesday programs. At the same time, a little digging will probably show that a lot of what you’re doing is based on things that were true in another time. Work schedules, commuting, family commitments, technology, learning styles and reduced attention spans are just a few of the dynamic changes that have impacted today’s culture. See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #2: A Bloated Belong and Become Menu and Small Group Ministry Roadblock #3: Indecision about the Best Next Step.
What are the limitations of our model that have failed to keep up with the times? This is a great follow up question. Things like limited time slots, qualified teachers, curriculum expense, facility-based programming are just a few issues that may come to the surface. See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #4: A Myopic Understanding of the Culture.
These are just two of a whole set of questions that I use to help debug broken systems. Both of these questions come from Gary Hamel’s fantastic read The Future of Management. What questions are you asking to diagnose your discipleship system?