Are You Building Real Teams That Catalyze Reproduction?

Is your church plant built on teams? If you’re a lead planter, ask yourself the following question:

Have I given teams of people real responsibility to make decisions about effective ways to execute the mission?

If you have, good. If you haven’t, why not? teamreproduce

There is a difference between a team that has real responsibility for he mission and a group of people gathering together to execute tasks. The former encourage reproduction. The later inhibit it.

Think about it: Team-based structures are flatter. There aren’t as many middle-men and everything isn’t dependent on the lead pastor or lead team. Thus team-based churches are going reproduce more rapidly than those that aren’t.

Consider a few of the benefits of a team-based organization:

  • Teams can respond quickly and effectively to change and opportunity.
  • Teams can speed the process along (in this case reproducing) because people can help each other.
  • Teams can help organizations to learn faster and retain that learning longer because more people are involved.

Teams also benefit people:

  • People who work on real teams are less stressed and they have more fun.
  • People learn from each other and thus can more easily share best practices.
  • People on teams report they are more committed to the cause.

Note, building a team-based structure is more than simply increasing efficiency. Efficiency is good. In fact, corporations employ teams of people to boost productivity that increases the bottom line.

But efficiency in church planting is measured differently. Our metric (our bottom line) needs to be reproduction.

The real opportunity for planters is to build team-based churches that reproduce more rapidly and healthy.

What about you? Are you building real teams or defaulting to gathering people around a task? Do you understand the difference? What is the greatest challenge(s) about building a real team?

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Warning: First Impressions in Small Groups Matter Too!

I think you’d agree, first impressions matter. sparks

People expect a positive first experience. If they don’t, well they won’t be back.

Most of you planting have a first impressions or front line team to welcome your guests and make a good first impression. (If you don’t you should.) Read this now. This might help as well.

But what about first impressions in smaller communities–say in small groups? If I am honest, I haven’t thought about this much–until recently.

See, I am learning that the first connections people have into a small group are often the most enduring. If this is true, then it’s important we church planters understand how people make first connections and why they make such an impact on people.

We’ve been talking a lot about the power of connecting at Restore these days. Connecting with each other and God is a key value for us. And so I’ve been talking to some of the people who found their way back to God at Restore. What I’ve found is that people talk a lot about their first connections into community.

That led me to ask some people who found their way back to God how their first connections helped them grow. So I had a conversation with my friend James whose first impression in a small group was catalytic to his spiritual growth. He agreed to answer some questions about this last week.

James reveals that this first connection in small group was catalytic. They joined one in the summer of 2011 and were soon baptized. James became an apprenticeship and today he leads his own small group. James attributes his ever-increasing spiritual velocity to those very first connections.  I am grateful to James for his willingness to share his story with us. I hope it helps you think through connecting in your small group context.

“Probably like most folks, a little uncomfortable at first.  I was actually reluctant to go at first, I felt that I wasn’t ready to come to a small group because I didn’t know any thing about the bible and I wasn’t sure I was far enough in my journey and I wasn’t comfortable praying in front of other people and on and on and on.  However I found that many of the people in the group were just like me, not super Christians that were above everyone else, but real people with real world issues struggling to figure out their own journey with the help of the small group community.  The other important piece of the small group was the connection with others that grew into contributing, I’m not sure if or when I would have become involved without these first connections.  It’s been 2 years since we attended our first small group and those first connections that were created are still some of my strongest connections within the restore family, relationships that have truly turned in to Brothers in Christ.”

So I ask you as I ask myself:

  • Should we be paying more attention to first connections in small groups?
  • How should we try to foster better first connections in small communities?
  • Should we value first connections like these over others? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree that some first connections in a spiritual community are stronger than others?
  • How could we better prepare our leaders to be more aware of these first connections?

I’d love to hear from you.

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How to Create a Culture of Reproducing — Part 4: Accountability

Why is it that reproducing artists, leaders and churches is so dang hard?  I think it’s because many of us make two key mistakes:

  1. We believe reproducing is easier than it really is.
  2. We don’t build a culture of reproducing.

So let’s all just admit reproducing is hard. But it’s essential if we want to see a movement to accomplish the Jesus mission. Reproducing-mandelbrot1_original

I am convinced reproducing can be reduced to three components:

  1. Vision
  2. Intentionality
  3. Accountability.

A friend and fellow church planter challenged me to think through reproducing and to help other planters. So I am writing a series of posts “How to Create a Culture of Reproducing” (I know it’s clever) to help planters think this through.

This is the FOURTH and FINAL POST in the series.

Read PART ONE HERE.

Read PART TWO HERE.

Read PART THREE HERE.

The final component of reproducing is accountability.

Accountability simply means that you have measures in place to help you do what you say you’re going to do.  If you want to build a culture of reproducing you’re going to need to set goals, develop some metrics around them, and then help each other meet those goals. Sure it’s hard, but it’s also essential.

Here are some ways to build accountability into your culture…

Celebrate Reproducing. When you see people reproducing celebrate it. Tell a stories of people reproducing. Write notes to leaders who are reproducing etc. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate reproducing.

Ask Questions. When you check in with staff and leaders ask them how they’re doing on the reproducing front. Questions like: “who is your apprentice” or “who are you investing in” or “who are you doing ministry with” are great ways to drive home the notion that your culture is all about who is next.

Create Leadership Expectations Document. I know it sounds dull but it’s essential to write down what exactly you and your team are going to hold yourselves accountable to. This document should inform your leaders about what you’re asking them to do and why. And it should set accountability standards for reproduction by spelling out what reproducing needs to look like in your context.

Create a Matrix to Track Reproducing. Devise a simple metric to track coaches, leaders and apprentices. Share these numbers with your team often.

Insist Leaders Meet with Their Apprentices. The planter will need to keep asking leaders who they have met with and how those meetings are going. If you’re leaders aren’t recruiting and investing in apprentices you’re not reproducing.

Term Small Groups. I am a fan of term small groups. We have three a year. And they help foster reproducing. At the end of every term out leaders have an opportunity to invest in another apprentice.

Always Be Reproducing Something. A leader, a team, a service, a church, a network…You can’t wait for a the right time to reproduce. Set a goal for reproducing and work towards it. When you reach it, set another goal. Soon you’ll be seeing reproducing everywhere.

Well that’s it–for now. Like I said, I’ve tried to capture my thoughts on this topic. They will certainly change. Just a couple of things to remember.

  • Keep at it. Reproducing is hard. If it weren’t everyone would be doing and we’d see Kingdom movements everywhere. While reproducing is hard, I am convinced that it’s the only way we are going to achieve the Jesus mission.
  • Reproducing is practice and art, not method and process. I hope you can see that reproducing is not a growth model nor a program. It’s an ethos. It’s a Kingdom thing.
  • Reproducing is a God thing. While you do need vision, intentionality and accountability–in the end God does the reproducing. Paul reminded the Corinthian church:

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:5-7).

What have you learned about reproducing that can help the rest of us? Please comment here or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

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How to Create a Reproducing Culture — Part 3: Be Intentional

Why is it that reproducing artists, leaders and churches is so dang hard?  I think it’s because many of us make two key mistakes:

  1. We believe reproducing is easier than it really is.
  2. We don’t build a culture of reproducing.

A friend and fellow church planter challenged me to think through this.

So just start by admitting reproducing is hard. But it’s essential if we want to see a movement to accomplish the Jesus mission.

I am convinced reproducing can be reduced to three components:

  1. Vision
  2. Intentionality
  3. Accountability. Reproducing-mandelbrot1_original

So I am writing a series of posts “How to Create a Culture of Reproducing” (I know it’s clever) to help planters think this through.

This is the THIRD POST in the series.

Read PART ONE HERE.

Read PART TWO HERE.

Today we’re talking about the need to be intentional about reproducing.

You and your team must be intentional about reproducing. It’s got to be deliberate and done on purpose. Remember, you don’t just happen to reproduce. To build a reproducing culture and to persevere in the face of opposition, you’ve got to remain intentional. You’ve got to do the work.

Here several things you can do to be intentional about reproducing…

Create a Structure of Apprenticeship. This structure ought to include a pathway for leadership development. Ex. Staff members invest in coaches who invest in leaders who invest in apprentices. (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Create a Leadership Gathering. Your leaders need a time and place to gather. Host a monthly gathering of leaders (or quarterly at minimum). In this gathering you must: celebrate reproduction, teach reproducing skills, cast vision to your leaders about reproducing. The goal of this meeting is to equip and encourage leaders, not for you to talk. It’s Ok to take time to cast vision but keep it short and focused.

Recruit and Reproduce a Leadership Resident. The planter ought to have identified a leadership resident or church planter to equip, train and send within the first 9 to 12 months of launch. Let the resident reproduce and recruit and then send them out.

Go to Conferences or Outside Training. What you invest in is what you believe in. Check out training from New Thing. I would recommend you attend Exponential. Talk to your network about any resources.

Resource your Team with Tools. These can include books, manuals, guidebooks, online training platforms, seminars and conference. The truth is that there are lots of resources available on reproducing. You need to remain intentional about using them.

OK, now your turn. What is the hardest part of being intentional? How have you remained intentional about reproducing with your team? What have I missed? I would love to hear from you.

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No New Year Resolutions! (But I Do Have Some Intentions)

How long is your list of New Year resolutions? How do you decide the items on your list? Which ones are you leaving off that really need to be there? When it does come down to it, how will you decide which to keep and which to break?

I mean—kudos to you. I applaud your desire to grow in the new year by setting some resolutions for yourself. But this year, I am not playing that game. I am throwing off the yoke of this annual oppressor once and for all. no-new-years-resolutions

You see, I understand. I’ve been there. I am that guy. During this time of year I would be making lists of New Year resolutions. Come mid-January, I would be exhausted and frustrated trying not to break them.

So this year, I am choosing a different path. No New Year resolutions for me. But I do have some New Year intentions.

Better to make New Year Intentions I think. Intentions seems more positive and fluid—more adaptable to the rhythm of my life. (And more forgiving when I inevitable fail to live up to them.) There’s frankly more wiggle room and for me that means a better intentions to completion ratio.

Resolutions seem old school—formal and static. They’ve been harsh and domineering on me in the past and it’s time to do away with them. After all, resolutions are for governments and courts. They’re cold and impersonal.  (Not to mention my inner rebel has always screamed and clawed again resolutions.)

Besides, come the 4th of July, I want to tell people I’ve managed to live up to a few New Year intentions rather than admit I’ve failed to keep any of my resolutions.

I’d love to hear from you on this one. (And let me know if you want to see my list of New Year Intentions!)