Instead of simply managing a flurry of spiritual activities what if church leaders intentionally built for their future? Here are some practical tips
PLAYING THE LONG-GAME
By Ron Luce
Try to imagine the owner of a Major League Baseball team with a bull horn on a street corner shouting, “Anyone know how to pitch around here? WE really need a new batter as well!” In desperation he shouts day after day looking for the key to building his team.
It is unthinkable. Unimaginable. Why? Because every MLB team has a Triple A team that has a roster full of potential players fighting to get a spot in the Major leagues. In addition, they have scouts recruiting in universities all over the world, and even into high schools and junior high players. They are constantly looking at who is in the pipeline on their way to the big leagues. On top of that there are literally thousands of little league teams training young boys who dream eon day of maybe being a player in MLB while visiting the massive stadiums with their heroes. It is a virtuous cycle.
They play the Long-game. The owners do not fret if they have a bad season because they know there are many in the pipeline.
What if the Church played the Long-game?
Well, I documented several case studies form all around the world of churches that are doing that very thing in my book Faith at the Speed of Light.
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These EXPONENTIAL CHURCHES build a spiritual pipeline and so they have great hope for their future. Some of their process is as follows:
1. Get them in the pipeline.
Please note, just as in little league, they start young by focusing on those most likely to come to Christ. Data has shown for decades th
at it is those under 20 who overwhelmingly come to Christ. So, they focus on who are those people near their church footprint, and where is the sweet spot? For example, if 13 years old are the most probable, then they go after them. If college age is most probably, the focus on reaching them. The global study by the International Bible Society indicating that 83% of all Christians make their commitment to JESUS CHRIST between the ages of 4 and 14.
2. Determine in advance what you want them to look like at the end of the pipeline.
This is a matter of clearly defining by the time they arrive at adulthood, 21 years old, or 25 years old, whichever you choose, what would you as a Pastor want them to look like, live like, smell like? What kind of Christ-like character wo
uld you desire? What kind of responsibility would you want them to demonstrate?
All too often, our goal of a mature Christian is so vague, it is impossible to determine if we ever hit it. So, we settle for them being a good church attendee, and tither. But not for these Exponential Churches, they start with the end in mind. Then they stay FOCUSED on achieving that goal.
3. Reverse engineer the Process
Simply asking the question, “What would they have to learn, each year of their faith through their youth to become that person?” will bring a flood of suggestions to most leaders for growing their new followers into mature pillars in the future Church.
In education they call it Scope and Sequence. For each year of grade school through high school, rooms filled with smart people deliberate deeply on what should be learned each year, and in what sequence to produce a high school grad ready for university. This is exactly what these Exponential Churches’ do all over the world. They start as soon as they come to Christ at 13 years old, then 14, 15 and so on. They ask the question, what do we want them to learn experience, know, and demonstrate each year building on the last to produce the fiery passionate man or woman of God as they arrive at adulthood. Then they measure meticulously throughout the process (mostly things regular churches do not measure, which we will leave for another article) to make sure what they think is happening is happening.
It is virtually a WORLD-CHANGER FACTORY! As I have observed them closely, it is like an eagle in flight! Simply marvelous, like what the New Testament Church must have looked like.
This is not simply a theory. It is reality right now. It the midst of leaders around the world fretting over ‘how are we ever going to reach the youth?’ these Exponential churches are doing it! Instead of simply hoping for another Jesus movement (which we do need) the good news is that there are things we can do right now to play the long-game.
What a shame to think that an Owner of an MLB team is more shrewd about building his team, then we are about building ours. Oh, but Jesus told us they would.(Luke 16:8)
Ron Luce studied strategic foresight during his doctoral training at Regent University. After curating best-practices from churches all over the world thriving, he assembled a Masterclass called Exponential 101 to help leaders and their teams discover how these best-practices could be utilized in their own church. For more info go to www.exponentialpastor.com
If you are a church leader and would like to take a deeper dive into how to implement this process, Ron has created a Masterclass for you and your team. It is literally a step by step process for building this kind of WORLDCHANGER MACHINE in your church! The truth is it does not matter which country or size of church or city you come from, these best practices have proven to be adopted all over the world. If you are one of the many Pastors frustrated because you have done all you know to do to reach youth, and it still is not working, HOPE IS HERE! This Masterclass, EXPONENTIAL 101 and 201, will give you:
Go to www.exponentialpastor.com for free case-studies of these Exponential Churches and more info