Purposeful Direction

Purposeful Direction

Prior to becoming a pastor, I worked for nearly two decades in sales, marketing, and training. In these arenas, having a clear understanding of the desired outcomes is understood as vitally important. While the language of Mission, Vision, and Values is not new in the church, having a simple tool to articulate and keep your focus on these outcomes is helpful. So in this blog I will briefly share a 1-page tool included in the third and final section of Small Church on a Big Mission: Cultivating Missional Discipleship in small churches referred to as the 5 Vs. The 5 Vs are: values, vision, vehicles, valuation, and vocabulary.

Purposeful Direction

The capacity to articulate purposeful direction is a defining competence of leaders. Regardless of who lays out the imagined future—the Pastor, the Board, the Staff, or as a Team—the capacity to articulate the purpose and preferred picture of the future direction of the ministry is an important competency to develop and demonstrate regularly.

In business, our teams spent countless hours in mission and vision sessions and on retreats as we planned the direction of the coming year and long-term future of the brand and products we provided. At the end of the day, we came to an agreement on the direction principles to guide our decision-making and investment of resources as we sought to accomplish the purpose and preferred picture of the future. 

The church as a whole benefits greatly when clarity of mission, vision, and values is attained using the tool of the 5 Vs. Provided below is a snapshot resource you can use for understanding the 5 Vs. The third section of Small Church on a Big Mission: Cultivating Missional Discipleship in small churches goes into detail

What is our Purpose and Direction?

As we draw this blog to a close, I invite you to consider the following questions. First, without looking it up – what are the values and vision that your ministry is striving to deliver? Second, what are the vehicles and the valuation metrics that your church or ministry utilizes to measure effectiveness of delivering the values and vision? Finally, what are the top two or three vocabulary terms that are consistently utilized in articulating the direction and culture of your church or ministry?

To learn more about Resources and Coaching related to Small church on a BIG Mission – go to www.smallchurchbigmission.org.

From Good to God / God-Directed Pruning

From Good to God / God-Directed Pruning

If you are a pastor or serve on a church staff, you undoubtedly receive an endless stream of ideas and suggestions of good things to do. The question is – how you determine the difference between the good things and the God things? Said another way, how do you prune some of the good things in order to make more room for the God things to grow and bear fruit?

Resources and Tools

Pruning is hard and often painful work. When I first entered the 3DM disciple-making vehicle of Huddle, I thought my focus would primarily be on learning the information. After about the fifth or sixth Huddle session, the information and teaching of the Circle and Semi-Circle LifeShapes started a change within me. I realized that God had been saying a host of things (for a long while) that I wasn’t particularly paying attention to. Over the course of several months, I started applying the LifeShapes to my own journey and began to move from simply having the Information toward living a life worthy of Imitation.  This involved a lot of processing, prioritizing, and pruning.

What is the difference in me from then and now? A significant difference has to do with my understanding and application of the Semi-Circle.    

In the very beginning, we recognize that God established a rhythm of work and rest.  God rested on the seventh day not because of being tired, but rather to help us to understand that this is part of the healthy rhythm of life. This rhythm is amplified and given significant clarity in Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-8 as we see how moving intentionally from rest to work with appropriate times of pruning will enable greater growth and fruit in the Kingdom. 

What’s my point? The practical reality is that there is most likely some pruning that needs to be done in your schedule and in you as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This, by the way, is one of the things that the Three Dimensional Discipleship Assessment referred to in my last blog will help to uncover. Once you see what God is saying to you, the next question becomes what are you going to do about it?

Often, the “What am I going to do about it” question is challenging.  After all there are so many good things in my calendar each day and throughout the week. Where do I begin to prune?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … Ecclesiastes 3:1

For everything there is a time and a season under the heavens.  There are a host of good things we could do that could fill the schedules of multiple staff people. Trying to do it all or be all things to all people creates a rhythm of life that is not sustainable for the long term. These rhythms are not indicative of the rhythm of life that Jesus demonstrated with his disciples. In listening to God, we need to humble ourselves and submit and surrender the many good things in our life and schedule so that the God things can grow and bear a Kingdom harvest that is a thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold. 

From Good to God?

As we close, read John 15:1-8.  Pause and pray inviting the Father to share with you the good branches that you are to prune in this season so that God-glorifying fruit can be produced in the season to come.     

To learn more about Resources and Coaching related to Small church on a BIG Mission – go to www.smallchurchbigmission.org.

Where am I in my Journey?

Where am I in my Journey?

In the development of disciple-making culture and writing Small Church on a Big Mission: Cultivating Missional Discipleship in smaller churches, there were countless occasions of reflection and discussion when I took the time to stop and assess where I was in my journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  The first section of the book shares a bit of my journey of Personal Transformation.

In the second section of the book, I focus on Practical Realities of the journey.  The first chapter of this section is about Position – Recognizing where I am I my journey

Seeking to grow and improve during my business years, I had completed a number of self-assessments as well as a few gift and disciple assessments as lay leader in the church. In the pastorate, however, while I had invested lots of time in reading and teaching God’s Word, I really hadn’t done much reflection on my continuing journey as a disciple of Jesus. In short, I began to wonder if the shape of my life was reflective of the shape of Jesus’ life.

Disciple Self-Assessment

To address this need, our small church developed a simple self-assessment for disciples. The purpose of the assessment was to identify their current position as a disciple and then to help them develop their own plan for moving forward as God directed.

In developing the assessment, we applied a bit of innovation using the character and competency questions provided in the appendix of Mike Breen’s book Building a Discipling Culture. The character and competency questions invite disciples to consider where they are in three dimensions that Jesus demonstrated in his life and ministry of: UP, IN, & OUT.

At Faith Community Church, we often speak about the three-dimensional life of a disciple using the words Reflection, Relationships, and Responsibility. We also use the below as a picture of what the Jesus shaped life of a disciple looks like.

As disciples complete the self-assessment, they are able tto reveal the shape of their life in the dimensions of Up, In, and Out (see the triangle at the right).

With their personal discipleship triangle revealed, the disciple can reflect and discuss with others the questions where they scored the lowest as they develop a plan for their continuing journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We’ve included this assessment in Appendix #1 of Small Church on a Big Mission: Cultivating Missional Discipleship in small churches

Where am I on the Journey?

In closing, let me challenge you to identify where you are as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Do you know your shape as a 3-dimensional disciple of Jesus? Specifically, do you have a plan to grow in the under-developed areas of your character and competency?

God loves you so much that he accepts you just the way you are. God knows exactly where you are at this moment as a disciple of Jesus Christ. As leaders in Christ’s church, we cannot expect others to follow us and go to a place where we have never been before.  So take the first step and determine where you are at in the journey.

To learn more about Resources and Coaching related to Small church on a BIG Mission – go to www.smallchurchbigmission.org.

Being a Disciple-Making Barnabas

Being a Disciple-Making Barnabas

In January 2016, I was invited to be with a group of disciple-making leaders from around the country for a four-day summit. This gathering occurred in a place I had never been, with countless people I had never met before.

On the first day of the gathering, I was provided an envelope that contained an index card. On the card was the name of one person who was present at the summit.  After receiving the card, we were invited to pray for the person whose name was on the card and invited to jot down words of encouragement, scripture passages, or pictures that came to mind related to this person. At the end of our time together, the cards were returned and given to the person whose name was written on the card.

A Picture of the Journey

The card that was returned to me at the end of the summit shared the following:

“It’s been a joy to hear some of your story. I’m proud of you! I got a picture of you coming to a trailhead climbing a mountain. You went left while others went right. Your trail was narrow, and few walked on it. It was harder and longer but the views were far superior. You saw no one climbing or returning. But when you got back to where the trail split, people were looking at you. They had lots of questions on what it was like and what you saw. Most wouldn’t go after hearing about it, but some would go if you lead them.”

The words written on this index card in 2016 clarified in a single moment the journey that I had been on with God over the recent years … and the journey that God had in store for me in the years ahead. The way forward was going to be one of walking alongside others as a Barnabas-like encourager.

God’s Presence and Direction

As I read these words today, I hear God’s voice and feel God’s presence, God’s love, and the abundance of God’s grace demonstrated to me through formative years of my journey of discovery and transformation.  While I can recall sleepless nights, and times of both wondering and wandering – I also recognize God’s presence with me every step of the way.  I realize that God not only was with me, but God was also shaping and molding me (as if on a potter’s wheel) for the journey that was yet ahead. 

God was preparing me for a future direction of being a Barnabas-like encourager for others.

To connect with Jeff Allen, or to learn more about resources for discipleship and being a Small church on a BIG Mission – go to www.smallchurchbigmission.org or email Jeff at: pjallen@faithctr.org