Training Disciples - Part 5

What is this T.E.A.M.S. operating system of Life on Life? (part 5)


Randy Pope

President of Life on Life Ministries



Well, let’s pick up where we left off on in the last video. Once these words (TEAMS) had been identified, of course, the response of the staff was, “Well, explain what you mean by these five words.” And so, I walked through with them, the first word being Truth, so I explained truth.

We’re talking about the truth of God’s word, but the difference is that in our small groups, people come for the most part to get truth. What I was doing was different with my groups. I was saying, “Here is the word of God. Here’s the text, and here’s the teaching. Here’s what you need to read or whatever, and now I want you to go and study the truth on your own. Then you can come back and we can take that truth and use it during our group meeting.” It was a lot different from our small groups that we had (and still have, very appropriately). But with these particular groups, the one thing I was doing was really focused on people doing homework. Quite frankly, you have to prepare in order to come to the group.

The next word is Equipping. Of course, the question that they ask is always the same, “What is the difference between truth and equipping? And I say, “Well, equipping is massaging the truth that’s now been at least received and heard, but not maybe fully understood. But at least they are aware of it. They are knowledgeable of that truth, and then we massage it until it becomes understandable and useable.

An easy illustration would be that of personal worship. One thing we learn in the group is how to personally worship. During about week three or four of our discipling year, each year, I’ll say, “Here’s the truth about personal worship, and here’s a suggestion of how you might go about it.” And then I’ll go through that with them. I’ll say, “Now you take that home with you, and then I want you to actually spend a little time every day, for at least five days the next week, exploring and trying to do what I have just explained to you. They’re faithful. They come back and they’ve done what I’ve asked them to do. And I say, “Well, how was it?”

It varies a little bit, but it’s usually something like this, “Uh, it was pretty good.”

I say, “Oh, pretty good. Well, that’s good. But let’s do this now. I am going to have a time of personal worship and you eavesdrop on my personal worship. Instead of just explaining, I model it for them. You know what I do, I try to keep it to 20 minutes. They might be thinking, man, this just takes hours. No, it doesn’t. You can do it in a smaller amount of time if you don’t have more time. And so, I simply model it. It’s nothing, wow, but they look at it and I say, “How was that?”

And they go, “Wow, that’s really, really good.”

And I say, “Now, wait, you just said what you did, which is exactly what I did, was okay. Did you see me do anything differently? Did I do anything that I had not already told you about and encouraged you to do as I outlined a plan for you?”

“Well, no.”

I’ll say, “Then what’s the difference?”

And I’ll hear them say this, “I don’t know, but I get it now.”

You see what had happened? There was no new truth. That truth had just been massaged until it became understandable and usable. That means asking questions. It means watching, observing, and sometimes being observed. That’s the idea of equipping.

The third word, the A of teams, is Accountability. It’s kind of a dangerous word to use, because in religious and Christian circles it’s very easy, and very often it’s assumed, to be the same as behaviorism. Challenging bad behavior, you know, really trying to find out what someone did wrong? People think it is just asking hard questions. Well, there is a place for that in some measure, but that really is just behaviorism. What we’re talking about here is something far better. It’s trying to find the sin beneath the sin. That’s what accountability is.

I think of a man in my group. He had come to faith and then came into my group. It appeared to make a world of difference in his spiritual growth. He was in his third of three years, and I asked an accountable question to my group and his answer revealed that he was struggling. And he said, “I’m really struggling with a foul mouth.” He said, “Man, my mouth has become as foul as it used to be before I became a Christian.”

Well, I knew that we could say, “Okay, well, we’re going to give you two slips this week and you have to be honest with us next week. And, if you do it more than twice, we’re going to ‘slap you’.” That’s behaviorism.

Instead, what I said to him was simply this, “Can I ask you a few questions?” What I’m doing is just looking for the sin beneath the sin. I said, “Let me ask you the question. Why do you think your language has become so foul”

He says, “I don’t know, I guess because I’m angry quite a bit.”

I said that’s interesting, “Why do you think you’re angry?”

And he said, “Well, because people don’t do what I tell them to do. My kids, my employees, sometimes my spouse. It’s just, I dunno. I get mad when they don’t do what I ask them to do.”

And I said, “Well, let me ask you, why do you think you would get mad when they don’t do what you ask them to do?”

Well, he thought a minute about that one. He said, “Well, because I’m the king.”

I said, “You’re the king? What do you mean you’re the king?”

And he said, “Well, I know I’m not the King, but I think of myself like a king. And a king, when they tell somebody to do something, they do it. And the people that are with me, they don’t do as I would tell them to do.”

I knew we were getting close, but I knew we weren’t there. I said, “Let me ask you one final question. Why do you think of yourself as a king?”

And he thought a minute, and he said, “Pride.”

I said, “I bet we have found the answer. I bet it has to do with your pride. Now, do you want to deal with your pride? Do you want to repent of it?” We went over what they’d already learned. Repentance is not just agreeing that you’re wrong, but it’s also truly being remorseful for what you’ve done. “I don’t know if you’re remorseful, but if you are, that’s not even the final step. It’s coming back to the open arms of a loving Father and saying, “Your love is enough for me.”

He heard that and his heart seemed to be gripped. And he said, “I do want to repent.”

We gathered around, laid hands over him, and he wept. Others of us did to and we prayed over him and it was a powerful night. That’s a whole lot different than just ‘slap your hand’ because you’ve done the wrong thing. That’s accountability.

Next, Mission is about taking on the mission of Jesus. This is so critically important. You know, Jesus preached, and he healed. We call it word and deed. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. Some are gifted more toward one or the other, but we need to help people explore until they’re taking on the mission of Jesus. I’ll say this, I can predict pretty closely and accurately that when somebody becomes engaged in the mission of Jesus, where they live, work and play, they just began to hunger for the things of God. And they truly become a mature and equipped follower of Christ.

The last word is Prayer. And you say, “No, it’s TEAMS.” Well, we use the word supplication. People say, “Well, why don’t you use the word prayer?”

I always say, “Well, because TEAMP is not as good as TEAMS. They basically mean the same thing.”

And so, it’s prayer but it’s Supplication. It’s showing, modeling, and helping people learn to pray with, and for each other. What tremendous community comes together when that takes place.

Well, the next and final question is, what makes teams with life-on-life relationships such a difference maker?

And I think this last video is going to be the great “A-ha” that will help so many.


If you would rather read this series, you can download the Making and Training disciples booklets here.