Teams Are the Key to Unlocking Culture Change

Effecting change, taking a group of people to a new place is what pastoral leadership is about. There are lots of ideas on how to change, some good, some not so good. I was part of a church that needed to be in a better place. The pastors decided so much needed to be different that they deemed it best to do it all at once. Ouch is what everyone said and felt.

A couple years later though those changes needed to be recalibrated again. So getting it done all at once did not implement the desired outcome.

I am reminded of a story my former Pastor Knute used to say, “It is amazing how little you can accomplish in one year and how much can be accomplished in five.” He believed that steady, small changes turned the corner to a stronger position. When Knute knew he needed to completely reorganize the outcomes of the church’s adult Sunday school, he asked just one class to shift to a community group, with teaching, serving, and connecting. After the first year he asked another to shift. Then other classes began asking him. By the fourth year all the Sunday school classes were living these outcomes.

What’s the point? Change happens slowly, step by step. You start small and build upon successes. That’s why we are committed to starting a disciplemaking movement with a small core team. You may have seen my friend Justin’s eBook on “The Foundation of a Disciple Making Culture.” You can download it free HERE.

He’s not the only NCM staff building this way. Here’s another couple staff explaining why starting disciplemaking with a core team is so key.

Nate Harrison

“When it comes to a ministry or a church, we really believe that culture is king. The reason is that everything flows from the culture: common church language, what the church values, where you want people to spend their time, and what is honored or celebrated within the church context. It is essential that the church’s leadership is not only aware of this culture but also manages their culture. The way we help build a relational disciplemaking culture within the church is extremely strategic and intentional. The first step of that process is starting with a small team of committed leaders we call the core. We start small and go slow with this core group so that they can truly experience the disciplemaking process. Then this core becomes champions of disciplemaking within their church. They become the forerunners by building the foundations of a relational disciplemaking culture. Then they recruit the next generation of disciples and on it goes!”

Bill Mowry

“It’s lonely at the top when leaders build disciplemaking cultures by themselves. The task is like pushing a disciplemaking boulder up a hill. A simple New Testament principle can revolutionize culture building: It takes a team to build a culture.

Teamwork – people working together towards a common goal –is at the heart of the New Testament. The church is a team with many members contributing towards the shared goal of maturity and mission (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 27; Ephesians 4:16).

The Apostle Paul was a team player. We think of him as the rugged individual, defying the odds, preaching the gospel, and planting churches. The reality is that he seldom traveled alone; he always had ministry companions with him (Acts 13:4; 15:22; 16:6; 18:18; 20:4).

Skilled leaders can appear to build disciplemaking cultures by themselves. What seems to be acceptance can really be people loyally adopting the leader’s goals. Without broad-based ownership, cultures will dissolve when the leader leaves or the program ends. It’s easy to forget that the greater the participation the greater the ownership.

We expand ownership when many contribute. Leaders encourage maturity when others contribute from their gifts and experience. Solitary leadership is short-sighted when it fails to engage the wisdom of many. Effective leaders realize that it takes a team to build a disciplemaking culture.”

There is an old line from NASCAR. “You gotta go slow to go fast.” Huh? In order to run laps at a higher speed, you cannot barrel through the turns. You must slow down just enough to keep all the power going forward and not skidding sideways. There are plenty of wrecks from drivers (churches) pushing too hard and losing traction and control.

Going slow in a church is starting with a few. It is making sure some fully understand how to be and make a disciple. It is equipping a core team that at the right time are able to effectively multiply their lives.

The Foundation of a Disciple Making Culture is a great place to learn how to build such a team.

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