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Kent Hunter has enjoyed discipling future leaders in three churches he has led; pastors and church leaders in over a dozen countries; and several church consultants from across the U.S. His "special projects" at the moment include Tracee, Joshua, David, and Pastor Bob. Discipling for multiplication is one of Kent's favorite aspects of the Christian faith. Kent leads Church Doctor Ministries and has a heart for churches that become New Testament discipling communities.
Opportunities for Kingdom Growth for You and Your Church
Mark is an outstanding influencer in a large, growing network of churches. He wisely says, "Every church should regularly participate in a congregational assessment conducted by an outside specialist."
A congregational assessment reflects healthy pastoral leadership and good stewardship of ministry resources. A church assessment helps "clear the fog;" gives independent, objective insight; and clarifies vision for leaders who want to see the forest and the trees. For more information connect with Joshua Henry, 800-626-8515.
Special Focus Consultation
New Life Church has been struggling with a major decision for over six years. "Should we move or stay where we are?" Relocation is a huge decision, with financial, emotional, and missional implications. "We just can't get off the dime on this decision," reflects Sam, the senior leader. New Life church is a candidate for a Special Focus consultation. This intervention service, provided by a certified Church Doctor, includes a focused assessment questionnaire, followed by an onsite visit that includes independent, expert analysis of the cluster of issues surrounding any big issue. The Church Doctor's recommendations are unbiased, based on a history of working with churches, and a clear understanding of the unique dynamics of your particular congregation. The process includes the personal touch of confidential interviews with a cross section of the congregation. The recommendations are just that: recommendations. The church is challenged to seek God's will based on objective input. The recommendations include a strategy to move forward, not just a direction to follow "in theory."
Every church faces monumental decisions at one point or another. Calling in a third party analyst with expertise serving hundreds of churches. It doesn't cost - it pays! If you had a major decision to make about the health of your body, would you do it without a medical doctor? A Special Focus Consultation provides a Church Doctor who focuses on the Body of Christ. It is a matter of good stewardship to get an outside opinion. For more information contact Joshua Henry, 800-626-8515.
SEND: Equipping Young Adults in Ten Months of Spiritual Formation, Discipleship, and Mission Training
- Ashley was supposed to pick her major in college before her junior year. She had no clue! So she took a year off school and participated in SEND to help discern God's direction for her life.
- Nick was working a part-time job, after dropping out of college. Not sure what to do with his life, he signed on for SEND. He discovered the difference between making a living, and developing life, abundantly.
- Tim was home schooled through 12th grade. He is active in his church, but he wanted to go deeper into God's teaching and become better equipped to serve God in whatever career path he follows. He joined SEND and found more than he expected, living in community with young adults, doing ministry every week for ten months. He has blossomed into a great servant of Christ.
- Peter came to SEND because he wants to become a SEND leader. He will lead other young adults in his church and community when he returns to his home congregation. SEND leaders are in great demand among churches who are interested in reaching others.
The next training season for SEND begins in early fall 2013. Inquire and apply now for the adventure that goes beyond teaching -- to experiential, hands-on development. You, like everyone in SEND, will never be the same!
Note to church leaders: are you thinking long-term to add affordable, mission-minded staff to your church? Encourage young adults from your congregation to consider SEND North America. Their training will cost your church nothing. If they return to your congregation, they may pursue another career, but will be an amazing Great Commission asset as a member. If your church is looking for a worship leader, church planter, outreach specialist, children's minister, youth pastor, you will tap into a person who has Great Commission DNA and outstanding training in mission, evangelism, and ministry skills most pastors don't get at seminary. These young adults leave SEND having learned how to raise their own support! They have learned to live like missionaries in every respect
-- even to their own country.
SEND is created for a unique purpose. It is not to raise a few accredited and degreed "generals." That is what seminaries are for. SEND is designed to raise an army to help the church reach the world. Your SEND-trained staff will have an infectious love for God and the unchurched. SEND young adults will serve under the direction of a trained and certified "general," the pastor. For more information, contact Josh Humberger, 800-626-8515.
Immersion Approaches for Kingdom Effectiveness
Jesus did it. The apostles did it. The New Testament church did it. They do it in revivals taking place today in China, Europe, South America, and Africa. Training and equipping Christians for outreach by immersion provides a unique opportunity to catch what can't be taught.
Christianity is a movement. A movement is more caught than taught. You catch the spirit of a move of God like you catch a cold. The Center for Disease Control seems to know more about this than most churches. You can't catch a cold by reading a book about colds or attending a seminar about colds. If you really want a cold, rub shoulders with someone who has a cold! (See the content of this Church Doctor Report.)
Of course, you don't want a cold. But you do want key influencers of your church to be "infected" with starting a Jesus Epidemic -- sometimes called a "revival" or becoming a "missional church."
Ask anyone who has been on an overseas mission trip or any young person who has attended a large national youth gathering: "Did it change your life?" You already know what they will say! That's the power of immersion. It's a biblical dynamic.
Upcoming Church Doctor Led Immersion Events:
January 23-30, 2013 UK New
We will visit with The Message Trust in Manchester and learn an "out of the box," phenomenal approach to reach hardcore street kids in tough city neighborhoods. This strategy leads to planting urban churches! We have never seen anything like it, anywhere in the world. This ministry is led by Andy Hawthorne, the main speaker at the Exponential Conference this next year.
Then we will travel, by train, through the beautiful, rural countryside of northern England to the city of Sheffield. There, we will visit the church that represents the epicenter of the European/Sheffield Movement. You will participate in their "huddles" and "clusters." You will join their church members as they go out into the city during their "Love Sheffield" street ministry. You will see the most interesting university student outreach and a combination missional community/church plant that occurs in coffee shops and pubs. You will participate in "white-hot" worship and mingle with people who carry the DNA of this movement. You will spend exclusive, personal time with the staff and leaders of this church and they will speak a word of God for you and pray for you. You will be imprinted for life. During this trip, you will be coached, briefed, debriefed, and counseled by two certified Church Doctors.
Limit 20. For more information contact Joshua Henry, 800-626-8515.
June 2013 UK Immersion Experience: Catch the Missional Flu
This Immersion Experience focuses on St. Thomas' Church in Sheffield, England. St. Thomas has been in a major move of God for over two decades. You will attend worship, participate in outreach, experience clusters (missional communities), huddles (accountability groups), participate in "behind-the-scene," personal attention from staff and leadership. This is not a "campus church" but has one of the largest university outreach ministries in all of Europe. (This should get your attention: during the school year about 350 university students attend worship every Sunday evening. According to the senior pastor, 60% of these students were not Christians five years ago!) You'll learn outreach strategies and approaches that will work among mission-minded people in your church. You will also attend an international conference with participants from Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. You will be briefed, debriefed, coached, and counseled by two Church Doctors.
Limit: 20. For more information contact Joshua Henry, 800-626-8515.
Immersion: Threshold, Toledo, Ohio September/ October 2013 (Exact Dates TBD)
This is a young, emerging church, representing an organic plant which reflects the DNA of a modern move of God. You will experience worship, outreach to the community, testimonies of those who were previously far from God and are now leaders of the church. You will learn how an American church has adapted to this movement, which has begun in the UK. You will receive excellent teaching from the pastor, Tom Schaeffer, who, in our perception, is America's expert on translating this movement into action. Tom will walk you through how to impart the movement in a way that God uses to ignite a congregation of believers. This movement is presently growing in North America. This church is an outpost on the frontier of what God is doing next.
Limit: 20. For more information contact Joshua Henry, 800-626-8515.
Healthy Churches Thrive!
This 24-month spiritual pilgrimage is a bottom-up, gentle movement which is guided by a team of Church Doctors who work with you. It provides spiritual formation and discipleship opportunities through events, coaching, a prayer team, learning communities, church assessment, consultation, a worldview campaign, an Outreach Clinic, and a workshop on leading from the center of God's will. This is not a program that comes and goes. This is a transformational process that begins a movement within your church. It has been field-tested and monitored for measurable results. How would you like to see some of these changes in your church?
- Personal, spiritual growth: up 13%.
- Involvement in regularly structured Bible studies: up 15%.
- Proportionate giving approach to stewardship: up 15%.
- Those who give a tithe (10%) or more: up 13%.
- Those involved in regular service in or through the church: up 16%.
- Those who identify the primary purpose of the church as making disciples: up 34%.
- Those who are open to change and innovation that is biblically appropriate: up 28%.
- Those who have a positive outlook about the church: up 15%.
- Those who have a sense of personal ownership in the church: up 23%.
Collectively, these nine categories represent a tipping point of environmental change for a church to move toward missional transformation.
Want to talk with someone about how to consider Healthy Churches Thrive! and learn how a church can participate in this pilgrimage without funding it through the church budget? Contact Joshua Henry, 800-626-8515.
Greetings in Christ!
The Church Doctor® Report provides a quick read of strategic and influential information. This information is free to share as long as the source is respected.
Forward The Church Doctor® Report to those in your network of influence and add value to their lives! Forward it to staff and leaders in your church, denomination, network, or fellowship.
"I do make disciples. Our church makes disciples." Sally paused from what sounded like a defensive response. She added, "'Making disciples of all nations' is our mission statement. This is not a discussion we need to hash out again!"
You may, at first blush, have the same reaction. Christianity 101, simplistic, b-o-r-i-n-g! Before you click "delete," give me thirty seconds to ask: "How?" I have consulted thousands of churches from just about every branch of Christianity in North America. I have almost never seen a pastor, staff, or church leader modeling biblical discipleship.
If you lead a church that is plateaued or declining, or, if it's growing - but adding primarily through biological growth (members having children) or transfer growth (Christians relocating from other churches), then I contend that one of the major factors of your church's missional impotence for Kingdom growth is the "how" of biblical discipling.
It is often the case in church, as it is in life: The goal is easier than the strategy. The end result can be easily grasped. The "how" is elusive. And it has eluded Sally, who is the lead pastor of a wonderful church in Virginia, that, like most, is missionally ineffective. Sally's church is providing some great ministry of maintenance. Her church is also contributing, passively, to the decline of Christianity in North America. This is not a "mission statement" issue. It is a challenge of incomplete execution - a chronic, major misstep in the life of most churches. To get back on track will change the way you, personally do church. It will change the way your church does church.
To recapture the New Testament strategy ("how to") of the commission to make disciples, we need to overcome two myths.
Myth 1: Discipling is an Event. The discipleship process is ongoing. It is like raising children, except that God's children don't stop in the discipleship growth process until they die or Jesus returns. John, a member for twenty years says: "Yeah, I know I should be reading my Bible, attending some sort of small group or Bible class, and pay more attention to Pastor Sally's sermons...maybe even take notes." This issue is even more difficult from the discipler's perspective: "How am I helping someone else grow in the life-long process of discipling? Based on this myth, disciplers are reduced from "every Christian" to those who are teachers, preachers, or leaders. This myth changes the Christian movement to a program. It reduces multiplication to addition.
Myth 2: Discipling is all about learning more about God. This reduces discipling to a cognitive discipline of increasing information. The idea is that, if we just cram more biblical material into people, they will be transformed. Their way of life will show, what the Bible calls, "fruit." That would be something like "God-pleasing change." Yet research continues to show that lifestyle issues (like divorce) are not much different among evangelical Christians than those who report no belief in God. So preachers preach louder, longer, or with more visual aids, big screens, and awesome sound systems. Yet, the Christian Movement, in many respects, continues to remain plateaued, or is declining.
This seems strange. Jesus called us, and wants us to reach the whole world. His key strategy is to make disciples. Why isn't it working? Consider a few insights about "how" we should go about making disciples--as Jesus modeled it.
- It is, after all, a commission. That is, it is a co-mission. It is a divine/human co-op. The power is the power of Pentecost--the Holy Spirit. We don't, on our own, convert or disciple anyone. We are ambassadors of the King who has the power -- and has entrusted it to us as carriers of this holy infection to others. Most everyone gets that. Or do we, really? If we did, embedded in that insight is a "relational reality." (More on that later.)
- Making disciples includes reaching people who aren't even spiritually alive yet. It's reaching out to those not just "born anew" or "reborn" into a new and awesome encounter with the living God. It includes reaching new people. This is the obstetric stage in which Christians get to introduce non-Christians to Jesus in the birthing process, and immediately the disciple-making kicks into gear, even in the "delivery room," which could be Starbucks, a park bench, or a bar. The process quickly leads to pediatrics: the care and nurture of young children (of God), some of whom could be in grade school; others could be in their 80s.
- Making disciples is also a ministry of Christians to those who have been Christians for years. They are on the life-long journey of spiritual growth. Like everyone else, they need guides, coaches, leaders -- those who are further down the path.
- Disciple-making includes the "equipping of the saints" for the work of ministry. This is the dimension of skill set development. This is the role of the discipler as mentor, trainer. It is the work of apprenticing, training, modeling.
Like the multi-faceted beauty of a diamond, discipling has many sides. Some are practiced well in churches and others are almost nonexistent. Perhaps the most hidden and rare facet of this majestic and holy gift of discipling is the posture or approach. Once discovered, it is a game-changer for Christianity and the local church. This is modeled, clearly, by Jesus.
Jesus' Model for Making Disciples
From a human and rational perspective, it makes no sense at all. Jesus wants to introduce the greatest, most far-reaching, most dramatic, and impactful movement planet Earth has ever experienced. He works to ignite the longest lasting movement in the history of humankind, which has brought more change to more empires, nations, ideologies, and people groups -- literally by the billions -- and still counting. What is the "how?" What is the strategy? Raise up an army? Develop a school of higher learning? Develop a multi-national structure? Call down a multitude of angels? Launch a seminary? Begin a denomination?
This is as counterintuitive as it gets. Jesus chooses his primary strategy. It is where He focused most of His attention. He pours the majority of His energy into twelve ordinary guys - and even loses one of them. Most pastors believe this strategy to be true. But most pastors -- including Sally -- and most church leaders must not believe that it still works -- because they don't follow it.
The human tendency is to mass manufacture. However, you can't mass produce disciples. The desire is for a quick fix. So we focus almost entirely on mass preaching and teaching -- and call it discipling, in the name of Jesus. But we are so far from the posture -- the "how" -- we must not really believe Jesus' approach works.
However, after years of plateau and decline, an increasing number of church leaders -- like Sally -- are becoming open to try the radical, revolutionary, counterintuitive, and, at first blush, insane method in the "how" posture that Jesus demonstrated. Some have even come to realize that it is this unlikely, unusual, "how" that coincides with all of the major movements of God: the explosion of Christianity across the Mediterranean world of the first century, the massive revivals in Africa, South America, and, most recently in England, and the house church movement in China. This "how" is the greatest insight of all, even though it seems contrary to our thinking. It represents a major departure on how we do church. The "how" posture includes several elements.
- Jesus focused on the few. Sure, there were times He taught big crowds. However, he poured His life into a few. He developed them in a number of special ways. His approach represents the dynamics of discipling, which cannot be replicated in mass production.
- Jesus modeled ministry. He showed the disciples how to heal, deal with prostitutes, cast out demons, and confront religious bureaucrats. He also demonstrated, in the process, the raw power of the Kingdom, the sweet love of a Savior, the prophetic command in the call to repentance, and the grace of unconditional acceptance.
- Jesus relationally imparted DNA. He demonstrated that Christianity is more caught than taught. Christianity is like a cold. You don't catch a cold by reading a book about colds. You don't get a cold by attending a class or hearing a lecture on colds. You don't come down with a cold because you heard a sermon on colds. In order to catch a cold, you have to get up close and personal with someone who is already infected with the virus. This is the genius of the Christian movement. This is how plateaued churches can grow...no....explode, in exponential growth. Christianity caught -- not just taught goes viral -- like a virus. Like an epidemic. It is all about a Jesus epidemic. While we focus on high-visibility programs that add people to the Kingdom, Jesus focused on a one-on-one relational movement that produces those who catch a holy infection -- and multiply. In the Scripture this is called the priesthood of all believers. It begins with relationally discipling a few.
- Jesus multiplied multipliers who multiplied other multipliers. To say it another way, you haven't discipled others until they are disciplers. The operative word is "are" not "do." It is not about what you do, but who you are, and who you become. In Luke 6: 43-45, Jesus says, "You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving tree. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds." The Message (italics mine).
- Jesus sent His disciples out. He briefed them before and debriefed them after. They had questions. He had answers. They became avid learners because they were involved in hands-on ministry in the world.
- In the process of discipler/disciple interaction, eleven of the twelve disciples caught Kingdom culture in a way that they never recovered. They became terminally infected for divine impact. They listened as Jesus taught "The Kingdom of God is like..." and they saw Jesus live it. They heard Jesus say, " You've heard it said...but I say to you...." They saw it demonstrated in his life and actions. The disciples experienced a Romans 12:1-2 transformation and experienced a complete renewal of their minds -- the way they think. They were inculturated into a Kingdom that is in, but not of, this world. They had an entirely new set of values, beliefs, attitudes, priorities, and worldviews. This culture was caught as much as taught, viscerally lived, rather than academically proposed.
What About Sally?
Sally really wants more for her church. She knows the New Testament. She has heard about movements of God around the world. Her child-like faith is strong enough to believe that the God of the Bible is still the God of today, and what happened then can happen now...in her church. Sally must offload some inherited paradigms about discipling. She will pray for, look for, find, and invite a few - maybe three or four. She will pour her life into them while she models ministry. She will begin with the three strategic words Jesus used, "Come, follow me." She may translate those words into, "Come hang out with me...." Sally will take inventory and clean house with up to 30%-50% of the roles, tasks, and jobs she has inherited from the previous pastor, the drift of centuries of Christianity and the last few decades of her local church. She will commit to several years of discipling, to the level of disciplers. Then she will disciple some others, while those she discipled will disciple others, as well. She knows it will take time. But she believes, that, one day in the future, people in her congregation will experience a major awakening in and through her church. Meanwhile, she will persistently work to rearrange the culture of her congregation to line up with the biblical culture that God uses to turn the world upside down. One day in the future, those who attend her church will have an "aha moment" and someone will say, "It seems like our church is a different church -- and it's great!" This is Sally's vision. This is Sally's resolve.
As a Christian, what is yours?
Ten Ways to Focus on What Matters
- First, and foremost: If leaders do not model one-on-one discipling, no one else will. Adjust your busyness and make room to multiply. Just do it...and never stop.
- Pray for, look for, find, and invite someone to "come follow me."
- Teach, preach, and continually communicate an Ephesians 4 worldview that church leaders equip God's people for the work of ministry. Overcome the nonbiblical mentality, "That's what we pay the minister for."
- Develop a culture of multiplication as the norm. Slow Kingdom growth is the exception. Raise the bar of high expectation for explosive growth. This is the work of vision-casting.
- Stop recruiting volunteers. Equip anyone in ministry to recognize, that, imbedded in their service, is the DNA to recruit and multiply themselves. The responsibility lies, not with the staff, the senior pastor, nor the institutional church, but with the individual who is doing ministry, who equips another, as they do that ministry.
- Develop this as an intentional, persevering process. It takes years. Don't fall into the temptation to have a "class" to teach discipling to those who serve and try to make this happen in a short time. Start discipling one-on-one...and do it for years. If there are others who "get it," challenge them to start also. Six generations of disciples later, your church will be changed forever.
- Do not compromise on this: those who "get it" are limited to those who have been discipled, themselves, one-on-one.
- Discipline your discipling. This is not just a "training" exercise. This is a relationship. You must spend time, relationally, with your disciple. You must be open, transparent, and real. You must be willing to be vulnerable. Jesus wept in front of his disciples.
- Discipling is best performed with a person of the same gender.
- Your measurement of effectiveness completion: you have discipled someone when they have, embedded in their DNA, the life-long lifestyle of discipling others. When that occurs, you can turn them loose and you can look for another person to disciple.
Andrews, Alan (Editor). The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010.
Breen, Mike and Steve Cockram. Building a Discipling Culture: How to Release a Missional Movement by Discipling People Like Jesus Did. Pawleys Island, SC: 3DM, 2011.
Buehring, David. A Discipleship Journey: A Guide for Making Disciples That Make Disciple-Makers. Oviedo, FL:HigherLife Publishing, 2011.
Chan, Francis and Mark Beuving. Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2012.
Geiger, Eric, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation. Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2012.
Hull, Bill. The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ. (The Navigators Reference Library). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006.
McCallum, Dennis and Jessica Lowery. Organic Discipleship: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity and Leadership. Houston, TX: New Paradigm Publishing, 2012.
Rosenberg, Joel C. and T.E. Koshy. The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person at a Time. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012.
Shahin, Hanna S. The Master Disciple-Maker. Nashville, TN: WestBowPress, 2011.