Amy Anderson: Welcome to the [inaudible]church podcast. I’m Amy Anderson and I’m here today with Tony Morgan and each week we share a conversation our teams been having about getting churches unstuck and today we’re talking about stuckness in the discipleship area. Tony, I’ve heard you talk about this area before that it’s not just teaching. Can you set it up for us?
Tony Morgan: Yeah, so I want to begin with. So what I’ve started to refer to as the funnel of doom. In fact, let me see if I can say it, the funnel of do and what the funnel will do refers to is this tendency that I see churches engaging where they tried to get as many people together as possible and teach them on something and then out of that teaching they promote a next step for people to get into an environment where they teach them some more and then that environment, they promote us this next step to a smaller environment where they teach them some more. And so let me give you a perfect example of how this works and let’s just assume amy, that we want to fix men today. OK? I like that one. Go ahead. I thought you might like that. Uh, so, uh, in order to fix man, I think the first thing we’re going to do is try to get many as many men as possible to come to our father’s day service at, at that father’s Day service.
Tony Morgan: We’re going to teach them how to be a better man. OK? All the biblical principles of what it is to be a good husband, a good father. We’re going to teach them and then we’re going to promote a next step. And what do you think that next step will be for us to help six men? Um, some sort of group environment. You forgot your typical next step, which is the, the ever popular men’s retreat and we’re gonna get, we’re gonna get as many men as possible to move from that father’s day service to the men’s retreat. And when we get to the, um, to the men’s retreat, guess what? We’re going to teach them some more about how to be a better man. And then out of that men’s retreat, we’re going to promote a next step, which is what you referred to the men’s group or Bible study.
Tony Morgan: And when we get them to that smaller group, we inevitably teach them some more. And so the funnel of doom is just like that. It’s teach, promote, teach, promote, teach, and we use it with everything. Anything, every next step we want people to take. There’s this heavy reliance on getting as many people as possible into an environment and teaching them now, uh, before you go off and tell your friends would a great heretic, Tony Morgan is. Let me just tell you that I really do believe biblical teaching and Jesus modeled it. And so I think we should do it as well, but it’s not the only thing we should be leveraging to help people take their next steps toward Christ. There is more to a discipleship process than just getting as many people as possible into an environment and teaching them. And so that’s what I wanted to unpack a little bit further today.
Tony Morgan: Let’s talk about those missing elements, which I’m assuming would get us out of the funnel of doom. That’s right. So, yeah, uh, here, I think it would be helpful for us to look at a specific passage. And so in Philippians four specifically, verse nine, uh, I love this verse because I think it gives us a model of how we can expand how we approach discipleship. The verse says this, whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice and the god of peace will be with you. And so there are three key elements that I think we see to a training or a mentor or mentoring or a discipleship process. There is a learning piece to the process which would assume some teaching is occurring. And so as a good thing, it’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.
Tony Morgan: So teaching as part of this, that verse then also suggest that you see it in me and that would suggest that there’s some modeling that’s happening. It’s, it’s, it goes beyond just the teaching from the pulpit or the platform, but there’s some, there’s some living life together that must be happening for me to see something actually being lived out in somebody else. So there’s a modeling that occurs, but that verse also says, we need to put it into practice. We actually have to live it out, we have to do it. And so I think those are the three key components of any mentoring or discipleship process. We need to hear it. Teaching needs to occur, we need to see it, it has to be modeled, and then third, we have to put it into practice. And what I see in churches though is commonly they really do lean on teaching or conferencing only one of those three components and really every next step they’re incurred encouraging people to take.
Tony Morgan: So for example, if the church is trying to develop more leaders, they’ll gather as many leaders as possible and the senior pastor or somebody will teach on leadership principles and that needs to happen, but it’s missing the other two components of modeling and practicing leadership skills. Um, financial coaching. We’ll get as many people together and teach them some of the things that Dave Ramsey’s teaching or Joe Samuels teaching about. I was broke and now I’m not. And um, it’s good. They need, people need those teaching about stewardship principles, but they also need to see it modeled and then they need to be encouraged to put those principles into practice, mentoring, training, ministry teams, whatever that discipleship process looks like in your church to help people take steps toward Christ and to experience spiritual formation. It really needs all three components. It needs that. The teaching component, it needs the modeling component and needs the practicing component.
Amy Anderson: A lot of churches are often looking for the silver bullet when it comes to the discipleship path. That’s an area that a lot of churches are stuck in that when we work with them. And so what you just shared is great, but does this relate also to this concept of moving from programs to a path or how would you relate those two?
Tony Morgan: Yeah, so you’re referring to it’s, it’s actually part of the unstuck church book where I talk about ministries moving from programs to some sort of discipleship path from programs to a path. And what’s fascinating is, um, we’re, we’re seeing this play out and it’s actually, it was actually confirmed in a lot of the research that Willow Creek helped us with through their reveals study. Um, but what we’re seeing actually play out in churches is teaching is actually most helpful for churches in the early steps, the early stages of their path. So teaching is most helpful for people that are either currently considering the claims of Christ and maybe not yet believers or with brand new believers in the church. And what we’re seeing is where churches are struggling with discipleship. It’s when they continue to try to lean on teaching to help folks that are close to Christ are fully devoted followers of Christ.
Tony Morgan: And, and for those more mature believers, teaching is just not enough and it’s not. It’s not challenging people to take next steps. And it’s really not helping. Helping people that are more mature believers experience fulfillment and purpose. And what God’s called them to. Yeah, OK. In their mission of the local church. And so yeah, people that are more mature in the faith, it’s actually the modeling and putting into practice what they’re learning that’s essential to help those folks that are further along in their spiritual journey. Additionally, what we’re learning though is the teaching really is essential for those that are maybe more immature, ah, in their belief, it may not be Christ followers yet, and it may point to the focus that we need to bring not only around our weekend services, but other ministry environments at we’re creating for folks to learn some of the basics of the faith, basic doctrine, basic spiritual disciplines. There really is a key teaching training component that still needs to happen in the churches as they’re thinking about the past. Have there, they’re encouraging people to take.
Amy Anderson: Do you, um, Tony have any examples of churches that you’ve worked with where you’ve seen this model slash putting into practice kind of concepts, um, where they’re, where they’re doing that effectively. And what did that look like specifically?
Tony Morgan: One great example of this is actually sea coast church, my friend Mac Lake used to serve there and they implement it with, implemented this strategy within their small group model and I can’t remember the exact terms that Mac would use, but he would talk about these moments where they would bring small group leaders together and it would be kind of a conferencing moment where they would do some upfront teaching on leadership principles for leading small groups in front of all of their leaders like that. Yeah, yeah. Again, that’s where most churches kind of stopped. They’re equipping when it comes to leadership or discipleship, but we’re sea coast took it. A next step was to look at how do we bring the that that growth into huddles and one on one coaching, mentoring relationships too, and so it was through those huddles have smaller groups, smaller teams, and then one on one coaching and mentoring that, the modeling and then ultimately the practicing put into practice what, what folks were learning and the development that they were engaging that they would see those other two aspects of this process. Yeah, and so it’s one great example around leadership development, specifically within small groups ministry that sea coast was doing the teaching modeling and helping people put those principles into practice.
Amy Anderson: Did that feel stuck in their discipleship area? And maybe they are recognizing that there’s a lot of teaching environments, but these other ones are maybe lacking. What are a couple of next steps that you would recommend they take?
Tony Morgan: Yeah, so this is the church has to lean on relationships. Uh, in other words, we have to talk about the span of care, how many, how many people are, are we leading, and then how many people are we coaching and mentoring and discipling and we have to make sure what that number, the people that we’re leading is small enough that we can actually care for them and encourage people to take their next steps. Yeah, we can teach a large number of people, but we can’t model and then encourage people to put into practice if we have too many people in our span of care. So I think one easy step is to back and look at our structure. Uh, not only our staff structure or volunteer structure to make sure it’s conducive to these other two elements of discipleship that we’re referring to. And then I think a second basic next step that we can take gaming is to look at discipleship as being fully integrated to all of our ministries in our church and not just look at discipleship as part of what happens in the classroom or in small groups, but discipleship is actually occurring throughout the life of our church and most specifically than what I have in mind here is that we need to look at our ministry teams as critical to the discipleship process because it’s likely in those ministry teams that we’re going to see the modeling taking place.
Tony Morgan: And where that encouragement to help people actually put things into practice, put faith into practice is probably in those ministry teams where we’re going to see that occur most often. And it’s funny, many times, uh, churches look at discipleship being separate from serving or from the ministry teams that are organized within the church. When in reality, um, ministry serving, volunteering, it’s essential to that full discipleship process. So those are a couple of key things that come to mind, but amy, let me flip the question because I know you share a passion for church as being more evangelistic, reaching more people for Jesus, but you also have that, that real concern and passion about people taking their next steps toward Christ to in a discipleship process. So what comes to mind to you when you think about just practically putting that into a, putting that into practice? The teaching, the modeling [inaudible]the practicing of our faith.
Amy Anderson: I think they, um, I go to my staffing and structure side here a little bit and you just alluded to it, which is looking at how this whole area is being led and if there’s just pockets of it all over, you’re probably not going to get the, the synergy that you need to get your discipleship path moving. I think we’ve talked about it a few weeks ago, getting discipleship under one leader who can really guide what are the most important next steps we want people to take and they align towards those things that you just mentioned. Serving, being in relationship with other people. Giving people opportunities to serve beyond the church walls, to be in smaller groups serving alongside other people. So I just see churches that are unstuck in this area, they tend to have a great leader over this area. They say no to a lot of things so that they can really use their best energy to get people, uh, taking the most important next steps.
Tony Morgan: Yeah. And maybe that’s a good way to wrap up because maybe the biggest reminder and all of this is keeping people busy does not make people like Christ and the wind and discipleship. Gosh, discipleship. Yeah. It should be helping people become more like Christ. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re big advocates and helping churches move from programs to a path on that path. Helping people experience great biblical teaching. Why helping people see it modeled, living people, modeling, living out the faith they’ve for us. And then really encouraging people to put what they’re learning and what they’re seeing in practice. Yes.
Amy Anderson: Well thank you tony, and thanks again to our listeners for joining us for this week’s conversation about getting churches unstuck. We hope you’ll tune in again and be sure to subscribe on itunes, Google play, or wherever you get your podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. And we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments, uh, join the conversation on social media using Hashtag unstuck church. And finally, you can learn more about how the unstuck group helps churches get unstuck at the [inaudible]group that [inaudible]