President of Life on Life Ministries
This video is a part of the Training Disciples series. Jump to the other parts of the series below.
- Part 1 – What is the goal of spiritual formation?
- Part 2 – What is an adequate description of a mature and equipped follower of Christ?
- Part 3 – What is the church’s typical plan for spiritual formation, and is it working?
- Part 4 – What is the most effective plan for making mature and equipped followers of Christ?
- Part 5 – What is this T.E.A.M.S. operating system of Life on Life?
- Part 7 – What are next steps?
So now the big question: what is it that makes TEAMS and life-on-life such a difference maker?
In the early years of my ministry I had been using TEAMS, and I saw the difference it made in the lives of our men. I didn’t realize the difference between what was happening in my group and the others in our church. Good things were happening in our small groups, no doubt, but there was definitely a marked difference. A great insight into why that was the case came not long after we had understood TEAMS and we’re using it in our church.
I was invited to be with a group of pastors by a great leader that had found interest in helping resource a lot of pastors. There were a number of us from around the country, probably 25 of us that would get together on a regular basis. He would bring incredible resources to us. And on this particular occasion, he brought a man named Ken Blanchard. Many would know that name as he was an outstanding business leader for many years. He had become a Christian and took his expertise and so forth into leading a ministry called Lead like Jesus. And he had been invited to come resource us. We were asking him questions and somebody asked, “How is it that you have all of these businesses and all these books you’ve written, and everything seems to be successful?”
He said, “It’s because every business I build, every book I write are all around the same theme of what I call the situational leadership paradigm.”
Well, I had never heard of that at that point. So he introduced that to us, and I’ll show you what he was saying. He actually made a big square, and he then divided that into four quadrants. And he said, “It’s as simple as this. If you want to develop leaders, you just have to follow this kind of a pattern if you want to be extremely effective.”
And he put the word Directive. I’ll just put the letter R, but directive. He said, “You have got to give people directives. For instance, in a company, you hire somebody. The first thing you do is you tell them where things are and what they do and who they report to. This, that, and the other. He said, you’ve got a lot of things that you need to explain and tell them. They needed new information, that’s directives. But he said, “If you continue to just give directives to your employee down the road, you’re probably not developing a good leader.”
He said, “What you want to do is take them from there to coaching.” And he wrote that word in the second box. He said, “Do you want to come here and go up to coaching?” He said, “Coaching is where they get to see you do it. You watch them do it. They ask you questions. You ask them questions to see how well they’re really grasping it.” And he said, “That relationship, a coaching relationship, takes them to a whole different level.
He said, “But you don’t even stop there. You go over and you offer them support for quite a while.” He said, “You may be just down the hallway as they would come up to a unique situation and need your advice or help, or it may be they’re an email or a phone call away.
But they’ve got to ask, and then you can say, “Oh yeah, that comes very, very rarely. But let me explain what you do.”
But he said, “Eventually you come to the time where they don’t need your support. They’re now to the point that you can then delegate.” He wrote the word delegate there and he said, “Now what I’m saying is that at this point, you say, ‘you go, you’re on your own.’” And there is your developed leader.
Now he then related it to the church, and he said “Never, ever, do you ever want to go from directing to delegating. Don’t ever do that. He said, “When you do that, you create (what he called) disillusioned learners.”
And then he made this statement. I will never forget this statement. I’ve quoted him so many times. He said, “I know of no organization as notoriously guilty for producing disillusioned learners, than (and you know the answer) the church.”
As I saw him do this, I went, “Oh wow.” You remember the pastors that I asked about the five offerings that are helping their people in spiritual formation? You see, those offerings, for the most part, all filed right here under directives. They were giving people directives, whether it be in classes or whether it be in a sermon or seminars or whatever it may be, it was just direct, direct, direct. And then there was the hope that they’re going to go out and take the stuff they’ve heard and do it. But really, they’re becoming disillusioned learners. It’s just not the way to do it. And I looked at that and I said, “This answers the question as to why this life-on-life approach with the operating system of teams is working so well.
I looked at directives and I thought, “You know, that really is the same as Truth. And Equipping isn’t that really coaching? And support, that’s the Accountability that you need. And then you can come to the Mission of delegating. You put supplication in the middle of that, and I think you have the reason why this life-on-life missional discipleship thing seems to be making a great impact.
Now, I realize that it’s not a perfect comparison. I mean, each and every step of situational leadership applies to all aspects of learning and development. I understand that, it’s just, you can apply it to anything you’re trying to do, whether it be the doctrines of suffering, how to worship or even how to take on the mission of Jesus in all those respects. But there’s this constant need for going up, as I call it, building a second story on church. And what we’re finding is that as churches build that second story (coaching and support), there is incredible impact made in the life of the church.
I would love to tell you story after story, and we’ll have stories for you to hear from other pastors and people in churches and leaders that will help you understand that very thing. But I’d like to close this out with what I will call a summary statement.
As I share this summary statement, I think this kind of puts it together in a very clear way. Have the right leader who is a mature and equipped follower of Jesus labor well in the lives of a few hungry believers (we call that life-on-life) with a gospel-centered, biblically based curriculum and an effective operating system like TEAMS, and you have a formula for building strong spiritual leaders.
And, oh, I should say by the way, this is the description of the model of Jesus and what He did with His handful of disciples. He marked them, that in turn marked others, until He has marked the world. I think that’s God’s great plan.
We hope this has been helpful in giving you just an idea of what Life-on-Life Missional Discipleship is. I’m going to invite you now to watch a very brief four and a half minute video. It’s an animation that I think tells the story of what I’ve been trying to say here in a very concise way. And then after that animation, I’ll come back for a brief moment and give you some thought of where you might want to go from here.
If you would rather read this series, you can download the Making and Training disciples booklets here.