Q&A: What if you have ordinary people you want to release but they are not willing to be released?

Last week I had the privilege of spending about 20 hours online with leaders from a global network of churches. The theme for the online conference was based on the title of Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine’s book, The Kingdom Unleashed. Jerry mentioned five spiritual malpractices which serve as obstacles to such unleashing. In my two presentations I focused on the third of Jerry’s malpractices: keeping ordinary people ordinary.

I noted that ordinary people need to become disciple makers by ongoing coaching in simple Discovery Groups. Roy Moran and I each had two sessions and all four of those were followed by a question and answer period. More questions were submitted than we had time to answer so I committed to answer those questions here in my blog. The title contains a question which was asked both the first and second days. It came from a lady who is part of a team working in Paris to plant a network of simple churches planting simple churches, especially in the high rise apartment buildings throughout the city.

Here is my response:

Some people do not want to be released because they are afraid they are not adequately prepared for the task at hand. For this group there are four phases of working with them which I recommend:

  • Model — host a Discovery Group where they are participants along with you. Do this about four weeks. Communicate each week, “We are doing this to prepare ourselves to go out looking for Persons of Peace so we can each start a new group.
  • Equip — assist them in becoming capable of facilitating a group and in engaging others around them in overt spiritual conversations
  • Watch — observe them facilitating the practice group and coach them to do it better in private meetings
  • Launch — commission them to start new Discovery Groups; celebrate their victories; show how highly you value their efforts and keep these in front of others who might become interested. Mobilize lots of praying and fasting for them!

We need to recognize that traditional church leadership strategies inadvertently nurture dependency and passivity. To shift our leadership culture will take persistent and consistent effort. When it becomes clear that some people you work with refuse to go out after you have invested such efforts into launching them out, then you need to work with others. Pray these will change their mind. Encourage them. Spend time with others.

We are always looking for what one of my teammates calls “the coalition of the willing.” Expect that through these efforts you will connect with some of the “least likely”–people you never might have imagined. Who are the people in your church, your small group that you could never imagine leading in your traditional “preacher/teacher” approaches? Begin to pray for some of these to have bigger imaginations. You want to find among those some who say, “If that is what a Discovery Group is like, I can do that!” Pour those same (Model, Equip, Watch and Launch) investments into them.

Like the powerful marketing strategy which was incorporated into directions printed on shampoo bottles, “Lather, rinse and repeat.” Those last two words boasted sales so much everyone added the. “And repeat” until you Model, Equip, Watch and Launch teams out who begin to multiply.

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