Posts Tagged direction

The Discipleship Square (Apprenticing)

By Paul Wilkinson

A part of ministry is reproducing yourself. Essentially, we want to work ourselves out of a job by replicating ourselves. It’s no different for group leaders. Breen’s discipleship square is a helpful way to go about developing an apprentice. The dream is that every leader would have at least 1, preferably 2 apprentices at any given time with the ultimate intent that the group will be left to the apprentice as the original leader moves on or that the apprentice will be commissioned to his or her own group.
The square consists of 4 parts: Direction, Coaching, Collaboration, and Empowering. At the outset, notice that “we talk” is a part of each aspect. Debriefing is essential for developing leaders. In the Direction Phase, the leader doesn’t ask for input, help, or advice. The leader says: here’s how I do it and here’s how you should do it. This part may look like: 1. Read the Bible this way, e.g. use cross-references, use hermeneutical circles; 2. Lesson plan this way: use this kind of outline, write out transition sentences, list the discussion questions; etc. We show them what we do.
In the Coaching Phase, the leader asks for input from the apprentice after teaching, e.g. did you notice how I transitioned from the introduction? did you notice how I cut such and so out of my outline to let that person share what the Spirit put on their heart? Or perhaps you give them your outline and ask for a critique, explaining why you did this or that. You are still doing the teaching and leading, but you are pulling the curtain back a bit to show more of the conceptual thinking behind what you’re doing. The apprentice is learning why we are about the task of teaching. This stage is often the toughest because the apprentice comes to see what it actually takes to lead God’s people and repeatedly regresses in discouragement. The key words for the leader here are: grace, time, and vision.

In the Collaboration Phase, you put the apprentice to work. Have your apprentice make outlines even if he or she is not teaching. Have them write out an introduction illustration or the like. And then let them teach. It is crucial that you continue debriefing in this stage: here’s what went well; here’s what you could do different; here’s how I dealt with such and so an issue; etc. During this time, you must guide the apprentice in prayer for who he or she is called to lead.
In the Empowering Phase, you either leave the group in the hands of the apprentice as you move on to launch a new group or you commission the apprentice out to whomever they are called to lead. We revel in the joy of watching a leader that God allowed us to pour into as they disciple others. And we continue to talk as iron sharpens iron. Ideally, this pattern will continue for generation after generation as God glorifying discipleship family trees are developed, illustrated by the image below:

Jesus led His disciples this way.

  • Stage 1: In Mark 1:15-20, Jesus calls the disciples telling them about the great kingdom of God and the good news to come. I can imagine their incredible excitement: here’s the Messiah and we get first dibs on the kingdom!!
  • Stage 2: In Luke 12:32-34, Jesus tells them the cost: sell your possessions to give to the poor, your treasure is in heaven, not to mention the rocks hurled at them and their leader and the vitriol poured out at Jesus. I can imagine them thinking: this ain’t the kingdom I had in mind!! Imagine their discouragement and recognize why Jesus needed to minister to them personally for over two years: He had to establish them.
  • Stage 3: In John 15:12-17, Jesus is speaking to adult disciples, metaphorically, as He gives them the vision of loving one another by washing their feet.
  • Stage 4: Finally, Jesus gives them the Great Commission: I’ve given you all authority, go reproduce yourselves!

Setting Goals for Your LIFE Group

By Jay Fennell

You probably have a lot of experience setting goals in your life. Professional goals, financial goals, spiritual goals, relationship goals…but have you ever, as a LIFE group leader, thought about establishing goals for your LIFE group? Have you ever stopped to consider what God might want to accomplish through your LIFE group this year? Goals are important. They give us direction and purpose. As we wind down the calendar year and prepare for the New Year, it’s a great time to begin praying and thinking about goals for your LIFE group.
Some of you might be thinking…is goal setting unspiritual? I’ve heard some leaders say, “I just allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wants to do in my group, so I don’t make any plans like that.” I agree that we should not simply make our own plans, but instead should be receptive to God-centered, God-sized plans. And that takes diligent prayer to discover how God wants to work and what He wants to accomplish in your group. After all, the group you lead belongs to Him. The people in your group are His, and you are simply a steward of the group at the moment.
But Jesus was a planner. When he called his followers he told them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” This little statement contains both Jesus’ goal and his three-year plan for his disciples. The Goal: for them to become fishers of men. The Plan: to follow Him. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said to the disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.” The Goal: for the gospel to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the whole earth. The Plan: To be his witnesses through the Holy Spirit’s power. It’s okay to set goals, but they must be the goals that God wants for your group.
So what does that look like in your group at Brentwood Baptist? Well, you know that our groups are defined by 4 functions expressed by the acronym L.I.F.E.

  • L stands for Loving one another.
  • I stands for Involving ourselves in community.
  • F stands for Focusing on God’s Word.
  • And E stands for Engaging the World.

So what would it look like, in the New Year, to establish one goal under each one of these functions? For example, under Loving one another, you might want to notice that you have group members who have fallen away, people you haven’t seen in a while. And you notice that there isn’t a mechanism to follow up with people that have fallen away. Maybe a goal that could be established is to develop a system or appoint a person who will take the lead in reaching out to group members who have fallen away. Maybe the goal is to reach out to group members who have missed 3 times in a row.  If you could accomplish this goal, your group would improve the way they are loving one another. I encourage you to do this with each one of the functions of a LIFE Group, to establish goals that will help your group become healthier and more effective in helping people move toward Christlikeness.
You’ve probably heard it said before, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Take some time now to pray and ask yourself the question, “What does God want to accomplish in my LIFE group this year?”