In all reality, I have spent most of my life training leaders HOW to perform their role as a leader of a small group; (Sunday School, Discipleship, Men’s, Women’s, Youth, etc). And to be very honest, I was pretty good in explaining how to perform and function in their role. After awhile, I felt my messages where going in one ear and out the other. Then I realized, (DUH) times have changed. Let me see if I can explain that change.
The Internet – When looking for information on the internet, I follow a precise line of reasoning in order to find what I am looking for. For example, let’s say I am looking for additional resources on www.lifeway.com to use with a study in the Bible study resource called Bible Studies for Life. When I arrived at the initial page I would then search for the program area of Sunday School. Then I would click on the box in the middle of the page for Bible Studies For Life. Next I would choose Resources/Blog to see what additional resources were available. Then I would scroll over to media and select downloads. There I found promotional videos and illustrations.
Does that sound complicated? Not to me. That is the way I think and process things. It was HOW I was taught. BUT ask someone under the age of 30 HOW they would find additional free resources for Bible Studies for Life, this is what they would do. They would choose a search engine (google) and simply put in Bible Studies for Life. They would arrive at the same page with the same information.
Sound simple? It is. My culture that I was trained in, led people through a somewhat complicated process to discover HOW to do what they were suppose to do. Our culture today that most of us are adapting to and those under 30 practice regularly is to focus on the objective, THEN figure out how to do it. We need to learn how that applies to us in the church.
Stop training people HOW to do great Sunday School! Instead, train those group leaders to understand WHY their group exists. Groups exist because it is the church’s best strategy to Make Disciples through small groups, (i.e. Sunday School, Small Groups, Home Groups, discipleship groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, etc.). Then, help them to discover WHAT priorities that group should focus on in order to Make Disciples. Then help them discover HOW to accomplish that.
The objective is to make disciples that we hope and pray become Disciple Makers. In order to do that, we need healthy effective groups that: Share the Gospel with the Lost; Develop Biblical Community among the group; assist people to Grow Spiritually; and to Equip believers to Live Missionally. A healthy group then has the right DNA to start more groups from the people in the initial group.
This changes everything. Instead of guiding people through a complicated process of learning HOW to be an effective group leader, I help them discover their purpose (WHY) and their priorities (WHAT) and then guide them to discover HOW they will accomplish their purpose.
Sound simple? It is. Easy to accomplish? NO! It’s time to discover the God given potential of every leader. People learn HOW to perform their role as leaders by observing other leaders. If your current leaders are ineffective, you will raise up more ineffective leaders. Why not help a potential leader discover WHY they are a leader of that group, WHAT they are suppose to focus on and then equip them in HOW to do it in their own unique way. All I can tell you is that I am having more fun doing this than I have ever had before.
SO, does this produce better leaders? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. The difference is the attitude and heart of the leader. Remember, we lead an all volunteer organization. I don’t control the work and will of God. I also don’t control the choices, actions, behaviors and attitudes of others. What I do control is my plan to achieve what God has asked me to do and my choices, actions, behaviors and attitudes in accomplishing it.
Great leaders are not born, they are made. For some reason, God has chosen to use me to develop leaders to accomplish His mission. They are shaped by God to do His work. I’m just His instrument. I know God uses me and accomplishes His purposes through me.
Join me in a new culture of equipping leaders. Let’s stop training leaders in HOW to fulfill a program role. Let’s develop leaders who are willing to lead a small group of people to make disciples that become disciple makers as well.
Written by Sean P. Keith, Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptist Convention