This Sunday is Vision Day

Success in nearly any arena in life is about creating habits that support your success. If you have to remind yourself or force yourself to do the things that contribute to your success, you probably won't stay with it over the long haul.

One word for this is culture. Leaders monitor the culture of an organization. They don't continually ask and beg and threaten and remind. They create a culture where what you want to happen just happens. It is on auto-pilot. It is the norm. It is a habit.

Bill Hybels talks about this in a message in the series on Just Walk Across the Room. He is discussing what they call Matthew Parties, based on Luke 5:29 (NIV)  "Then Levi [Matthew] held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them." He talks about how this became part of the culture of Willowcreek.

I used to teach about this a lot in the early days of Willow. And those of you who are veteran Creekers you know this passage and as I am retelling it right now you are remembering that this became just part of our value system as a church. Lots of us starting throwing Matthew parties. It was informal; we never had a program for it. I taught about it enough and people starting holding Matthew parties. They would get people from the office and people from Willowcreek and they would put them together. They would do a back-yard barbeque, or they would do something down in the basement--shoot pool and have a contest and have food and these kinds of things. We started hearing a lot about Matthew parties. And, in the 80s and 90s, a lot of people came to faith in Christ due to these Matthew parties.

This is the key to success: not trying hard and pushing; just make it part of the culture, a kind of group habit that makes the right things automatic. [Note: it really helps if the Senior Pastor models the desired behavior, as is the case here.]

If you would create a doubling group movement in your church, certain things have to become automatic. They have to become part of the culture. Giving Friday nights to Jesus and doubling groups needs to become normal.

Vision Day 

One way to do this is to establish the habit of vision day.

WHEN -- First Sunday of every quarter 

Vision leaks. People forget. Part of the role of every leaders is to keep the vision continually before the people.

What is the vision of your group? Is it to have a holy huddle--to get together and see how spiritual you can get? Or, is it to turn the world upside down for Christ?

I recommend you embrace the vision for your small group that Jesus gave to His small group. Jesus' primary ministry was that of small group leader. His disciples were His small group. He constantly fled the crowds to invest in His small group. Eventually, He gave His small group this mission: Go make disciples of all nations, staring with this small group.

I recommend you give the same vision to your small group: reach the whole world for Christ, starting with our small group.

On the first Sunday of every quarter, I suggest you recast the vision for your small group.

HOW  --  By doubling groups; through hospitality 

How do you win the whole world starting with your small group? By seeking to double every two years or less. A group of ten that doubles every eighteen months can reach a thousand people in ten years.

How do you double? By inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month.

Zig Ziglar says, "Yard by yard, life is hard; inch by inch it is a cinch."  Let's break it down. This means that we want to have three fellowships in the next three months and we want to invite every member and every prospect to each fellowship. This breaks down the cause of world evangelization to us having three parties in the next three months.

WHO -- Encourage the group toward ministry.  

This is always a real shocker when I say this at meetings: "Teacher, we don't need you working any harder. Some of you are working too hard. For some of you the most godly thing you can do is to get off some committees and say no to some meetings. The goal is not to do the work of ten men; it is to get ten men in the work." I'd recommend the following positions to be filled:

  • Inreach -- calls every member every month.
  • Outreach -- calls every prospect and invites to every fellowship every month 
  • Care groups -- an alternative way of doing the above. Normally consists of inreach and outreach--a span of care of around 1:10. Often used in larger classes.
  • Fellowship leaders.
  • Prayer leader(s).
  • Secretary.
  • Class Leader/ President/ Admin. Organizes the overall affairs of the group. Sees that the people above are on task.

On vision day, everyone takes a job. The point is not so much to get these slots filled as it is to get everyone involved in ministry.  You don't ask people to sign up for the rest of their lives; you ask them to try a ministry for three months.

Summary

When I first came on staff, I got lucky. (Read: God blessed in an amazing way.) I have a degree in theology with an emphasis in Greek. I learned almost nothing about Sunday School during seminary. I promised my pastor I would figure it out. I started reading a lot of Harry Piland books. Then, I branched out to a lot of church growth books. I sought to see how to apply church growth principles to a small group of Sunday School class.  I taught a class, then several classes when we got into multiple Sunday Schools. Those classes were the labs where I worked out how to double a class in two years or less.

Here is where I got lucky. There was a habit in the culture of this church. It wasn't pushed or stressed; it was just practiced. It was as natural as breathing or eating. They practiced vision day. Every class had a vision day at the beginning of every quarter. We recast the vision. We assign responsibilities. In eleven years we went from one service and one Sunday School to four services and four Sunday Schools.

If you are not in the habit of doing a vision day, I recommend you start this Sunday.  

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