The way that churches make disciples is broken. Our programs are fragmented and seemingly unconnected with each other. We roll out new initiatives to rally our church together, but more often than not they end up failing or simply forgotten. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
As ministry leaders, it’s easy for us to rally behind something only to get discouraged when our people don’t share the same passion. Nine times out of ten, the problems originated before launching the new program. Don’t worry, I’m going to share a launch framework for Disciple Labs with you to help you succeed.
Communicate Early and Often
When rolling out any new initiative where we require something of our people, it’s important that we communicate it as early and as often as possible. The first time your people hear about what you’re doing should not be the day that you launch it.
This is a communication principle that applies to more areas than just the church. It’s one that I use for our business, too. We launched Disciple Labs in April 2018, but we started talking about it as soon as we started building it in September 2017. If we had waited to talk about the product until we were ready to launch we would have missed out on the opportunity to reach more people and garner feedback that helped shape our direction in the initial product.
Likewise, your people should be involved early on in the process. Start by teasing the problem that you’re trying to solve. With Disciple Labs, that problem is twofold. First, we know that our people are not growing. Secondly, while we know people aren’t growing, we have no clue what they actually need help with. By teasing the problem before announcing the solution, you influence your people to start thinking about the problem. Now when you announce Disciple Labs as the solution, it’s a more natural step for your people.
Focus On Why
Talking about the problem is not a one and done item that you can check off your to-do list. It’s an ongoing talking point that must be revisited. The mission behind why you’re wanting to solve the problem is something that you must communicate to your church. People don’t rally behind initiatives or solutions, they rally behind people with vision.
If you aren’t passionate and excited about what you’re trying to do, your people won’t be either.
A Sample Format
Every church operates differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a perfect roll out. However, I can share with you what I believe to be best practice. If I were implementing Disciple Labs, this is the format I would use to introduce it to my church.
Week 1: Sermon on discipleship: overview and the problem
Week 2: Sermon on the way forward: lay out the vision for church-wide spiritual growth and introduce Disciple Labs as a piece of that vision.
Week 3 – X: Sermons on characteristics of a true disciple with a reminder about Disciple Labs through an announcement. These characteristics can be pulled directly from the spiritual health survey which includes bible application, character, evangelism, fellowship, giving, prayer, serving, and worship.
Final Week: Reiterate vision, recap on what a true disciple looks like, and remind the church that they’ll receive their first spiritual health survey that week.
Share The Results Publicly With Action Items
After you’ve spent some time reflecting on the data and creating a plan to move forward, it’s important to share these results with your church. It will help them to have more context for their individual health scores. By sharing church-wide results, you’re able to introduce new action items that the church will be implementing based on the data. This will help people to see this a resource that helps them as individuals and the church as a whole.
Your Disciple Labs account is pre-configured to send out health surveys every 3 months. On your home dashboard, you can see the exact date the next survey is scheduled to be sent out. We recommend making an announcement about Disciple Labs a couple weeks before each new survey sends. You can use the announcement slide that we’ve created to mention it in the weeks leading up to the next survey.
Discipleship takes commitment. As you roll out Disciple Labs to your church, you’re going to learn new ways to serve your people. You’ll learn their strengths and their weaknesses. You’ll create an improvement plan and find out what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll see lives changed. But, none of that will happen if you make it about numbers on a screen. Every person has a story destined by God, the numbers simply empower you to help them tell their story in a more real way.