August 4th, 2016

Thinking Like a Disciple Chaser

Leading a Generous Church cover

The following is an excerpt from my book, Leading a Generous Church.

Whenever I speak on the topic of creating a generous culture, I almost always begin with the following illustration. I want you to imagine a staircase that has 10 steps toward a second floor level. On the first floor is a first-time guest that is considering attending your church. Up on the second floor is a mature, generous disciple. Now, if you were to create a journey that led this first time guest up the stairs toward becoming a fully mature, generous disciple, what experiences would he or she need to have on each growth step? What would they need to learn, see, or feel? Who would they need to meet? Where would they need to be engaged? What disciplines would they need to acquire? What freedoms and passions would need to be unleashed? How many years might this journey take to move from a first time guest to a generous disciple?

Take the time to think about the information, truths, and stories that a person would need to experience. Then record these, one on each step. Once you have completed your 10-step growth track, take the time to make a list of the different ministries that you would need to engage to carry out your plan. Because once you know the ministry list, you will need to prepare materials, a ministry calendar, and do some training. If your process takes more or less than 10 steps, that is fine too.

Once you have completed these two lists, one of experiences and the other of ministries, what surprises you about your work?

I know your track is probably unique. But every time I do this exercise, invariably the first step has something to do with a positive first visit. This step might involve ministries like the Parking Lot Team, Greeter Team, Preschool Team, plus several others. When was the last time your staff gave consideration to how a generous culture begins in the parking lot? How does this change the way we think about growing generous disciples?

Now I want you to think of a different scenario. Imagine your church has set forth a faith-based budget for the year that resulted in a challenging financial growth number. It is early in the year, so growth has yet to meet expectations and financial pressure is beginning to rise. The pastor calls a staff meeting and gives the floor to the financial administrator. He or she describes the situation in guarded terms because it feels like poor leadership, but no one is brave enough to say it. The remedy is then announced. The pastor is going to send out a letter before summer for a catch up offering so the church does not dig deeper in a hole with camps and mission trips that are planned. Everyone is to watch the thermostats and light switches around the facility. A ministry spending freeze is also enacted. The meeting ends with an awkward silence and the side bar conversations begin.

Which staff meeting would you rather be a part of? The one which creates a generous culture in advance from the parking lot forward, or the one in which your ministry skills are reduced to being a switch flipper?

It is interesting to me that if I was to ask a worship leader how to take a first-time guest and grow them into a powerfully contributing member somewhere in the worship ministry, that growth track would be second nature. However, when it comes to the topic of money we feel uncertain. It is as simple and freeing as training a new greeter or small group leader. You just need to know your path.

Click here to download a free tool, Designing the Generous Disciple Staircase.

To purchase Leading a Generous Church click here.

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