If I were a pastor

If I were a pastor, I would follow a simple plan: I would disciple the teachers and let the teachers disciple the church.

I would use the existing church schedule; I would not come up with more meetings. (If we can't make disciples in the number of meetings we have, it likely can't be done.) The great need of the hour is not more meetings, it is better meetings.

So, I would meet with teachers on Wednesday night, or, possibly Sunday night. I would use someone else's curriculum. I would not try to re-invent the wheel. I would work hard to improve the teaching ability, leadership ability, people skills and general spiritual state of the teachers in my church. To do this, I would go through such series as these:

  • Seven Laws of the Learner, Bruce Wilkinson
  • Seven Laws of the Teacher, Howard Hendricks
  • Teaching with Style, Bruce Wilkinson
  • Preaching for Life Change, Rick Warren
  • Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
  • Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren
  • Videos from Willowcreek Leadership Conferences
  • Videos from Catalyst Conference
  • Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby
  • You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less, Josh Hunt
  • Disciplemaking Teachers, Josh Hunt
  • You Can Double Your Church in Five Years or Less, Josh Hunt
  • 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell

I would share the leadership of these sessions. I would take my turn about once a month, probably starting and ending each series. Then, I would let the teachers take turns leading the sessions.

The second thing I would do is get in a group and lead that group to double. I would lead by example. I would never ask people to do what I was not doing myself. If I could not do it on Sunday morning, I would do it during the week. Somehow, somewhere, someway, I would get in a group and help that group double.

The third thing I would do is require that all the staff were in a group and were helping that group double. It is an amazing thing how many churches there are where the staff is not in a group. I know we have a hundred excuses. So do the people we lead. I know we are busy. So are the people we lead. If we can't figure out a way to make this a part of our lives, we will never get people who work forty and fifty and sixty hours a week to make this a part of their lives.

Truth is, it is not enough to be in a group. It is not enough to help that group double. You have to love it. You have to love group life and your group and the people in your group and the vision of doubling groups.

I would do this because nine years on the road has developed in my some profound convictions about the way church works:

Nothing is important till the pastor says it is important

The most amazing line I have heard in any sermon any where any time was one I heard by Andy Stanley about six months ago. In essence he said, "I am in a group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling." As I reflected on that simple statement, it occurred to me why most churches are not experiencing doubling groups. The pastor is not standing before his people and saying, "I am in a group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling."

(To listen to the message by Andy, go to this web page and look for the message called Missing Ingredient

http://www.northpoint.org/messages )

In fact, the pastor couldn't stand before his church and say that because he is not in a group that is doubling. The pastor must embody the vision. Nothing is important till the pastor says it is important. Groups work when the pastor bleeds groups.

If I were a pastor, somehow, some way I would figure out a way to get in a group that was doubling and stand before my people and say, "I am in a group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling." I would never expect my people to do what I could not find time to do.

It really is possible to double groups.

One of the reasons that I believe so strongly in the vision of doubling groups is that I talk to doubling group leaders all the time. In fact, my new thing is to video tape them. Last weekend, I video taped short interviews of three teachers and one pastor who have doubled their groups. I know it is possible because I talk to them every week.

All it takes to double a group in two years is to go from ten to fourteen the first year. That is 40% growth. If we do that again the next year, we double. I have never talked to a Sunday School teacher anywhere that didn't think that was possible. (You have to ask them the right way. You might ask your teachers this way, "If I offered you a million dollars could you get it done?") We can do it. Through Christ who strengthens us, we can double groups.

Doubling groups really are amazing.

A group of ten that doubles every eighteen months will reach a thousand people in ten years

Start 10
1.5 years 20
3 years 40
4.5 years 80
6 years 160
7.5 years 320
9 years 640
10 years 1000

I know of no better way to grow a church, reach the lost and advance the kingdom than through doubling groups.

 

Conclusion

I had lunch with a pastor the other day who asked, "What advice would you have for me in implementing the double strategy in our church." We talked for a long time about the particulars of his church and I tried to help as best I could.

As I reflected on this conversation I found myself really asking, "What would I do if I were the pastor of that church?" It is a church that is somewhat typical to the churches that I serve: an old downtown church with a long stable history, a lot of tradition, a lot of resources and a feeling that they are not fully realizing their full potential. A sleeping giant, if you will.

What would I do if I were the pastor of that church? Likely the same thing that I would do if I were the pastor of any church:

  • Disciple the teachers and let the teachers disciple the church.
  • Get in a group that is doubling.
  • Require the staff to get in a group that is doubling.