Too often church leaders find themselves operating in their own strength and ideas rather than dependency upon the Holy Spirit’s power and leadership. Sometimes this is due to busyness. Often leaders live out habits and go through the motions. But results lack the impact and Kingdom advance that is needed.
Frequently Sunday School leaders fail to pray for more harvesters. In the busyness and routine, leaders tend to become self-focused. They are not intentionally being selfish, but they just try to get done the minimum required. And they ignore what Jesus told us:
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38, HCSB)
In a series on the Sunday School Leader blog, I wrote about Jesus’ example in praying for and enlisting His disciples. The series is from my chapter of Be A Catalyst: Start New Groups, available on your Kindle for 99 cents. For the full blog posts check them online:
Here is what I said in one paragraph of Part 1:
Jesus taught and modeled ministry (Mark 1:14-15) and prayed (Luke 6:12) before He called the twelve apostles (sent ones). After Jesus called them (Mark 3:13), He prepared them by continuing to teach and model ministry with them before sending them out. They were sent out in pairs (Mark 6:7) to do what He had been doing. Then He called them together for a report time (Mark 6:30).
In following His command to pray and His example in enlistment, here are the steps I offer in Be A Catalyst: Start New Groups:
- Pray. Ask for God’s leadership in discovering those He wants you to apprentice.
- Observe. Spend time watching what God is doing in the lives of those in (and around) your group.
- Take them with you. Invite potential leaders to join you for life and group activities. Go to a ball game together. Make a visit. Have a meal. Plan a fellowship. Give them growing assignments.
- Debrief what they did. Ask questions. Listen. Affirm strengths and gifts. Offer suggestions for the future.
- Ask them to serve. Following God’s leadership in prayer and observation, formalize your apprenticing efforts by asking them to join you in ministry. This will heighten their attention to your training efforts from that point forward.
- Increase the training pace. In anticipation of releasing the multiplying leader to serve, give an increasing number and mix of opportunities for leadership expression. For instance, move from one teaching Sunday to teaching every other Sunday prior to releasing them to serve.
- Set a launch date. After prayer and observation, determine a date to start the new group. Communicate the date with the apprentice and with the group. Hesitate to send the apprentice out alone. Remember, Jesus sent them out in pairs. If you are leaving the current group in the apprentice’s hands so you can leave to start a new group, let the group know what you are doing and express confidence in the apprentice as he or she takes over the group’s leadership.
- Celebrate the launch. Remember to praise God and affirm those who have helped launch the new group. Celebrate with sponsoring groups, the new group, and in the congregation.
- Lead them to choose an apprentice. Help your apprentice become a multiplying leader by leading him/her to prayerfully enlist and begin investing in an apprentice.
- Continue to coach. Following the launch of the new group, continue to encourage the new group leader. Coach him/her through challenges toward fruitfulness.
Despite busyness, commit this year to pray for harvesters. Then prayerfully follow His example in taking these steps to preparing fruitful, Kingdom-impacting Sunday School workers. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!