The word facilitator does not exist in the Croatian language. If we tried to translate it directly, it would come across as ‘laxative’. Maybe it is not such a bad word as our goal is to facilitate movements in partnership with the Holy Spirit - in other words we are some kind of laxative for a different kind of movement. ;-)
Our goal in Croatia has been “reproducing disciple-making churches” from the very beginning. We begin by focusing on evangelism and discipleship and then as leaders emerge, we begin using our facilitator cap to try to get them to buy-in to the vision and take on ministry responsibilities. Why the vision has remained very similar, our approach has been moving us more toward seeing ourselves as facilitators at all phases of ministry.
Toward the end of every year - we struggle with identifying what level our churches are at in the 5 phases. We usually identify a church in several phases and it becomes frustrating if we identify a church at that same phase year after year. This last year, we identified a relatively new church plant at roughly the same level as a mature church, but they are obviously at very different stages of development. I think the way that we do this evaluation is highly influenced by how well we see ourselves as facilitators. So in an exercise to help our churches and team, I wrote out a strategic vision and plan to explain what we would be doing with our most recent church plant at every phase. It looked something like this:
Vision: Self-sustaining, self-governing disciple-making church with a national pastor and house fellowships in every neighborhood where we have members.
Goals for 2020: Be operating in all 5 phases.
1. Establishing relationships
- Identified all the ways we (as m’s and as church members) are building redemptive relationships.
- Included the goal of making sure everyone knows that they are loved and cared for.
2. Discipling believers
- Identified discipleship strategies and people who are or could be discipling others as well as those that we should be engaging as new disciples.
- Identified dates for possible public baptisms as well as for discipleship training opportunities.
3. Developing leaders
- Identified ways to develop our church board as well as to develop and cast vision for ministry.
- Identified people ready for theological training opportunities.
- Share my job description (as pastor) with the board and let them speak into it and encourage them to hold me accountable.
- Identified opportunities for others to preach, lead and serve in our various ministry venues.
- Identified plans to engage certain leaders in the areas of spiritual formation strategies.
- Identified training opportunities in DMM and small group leadership.
4. Advancing sustainability
- Monthly emphasis on stewardship on services and testimonies.
- Allow the board to help me govern, plan and lead the church.
- Develop a budget with the board and develop a plan for financial transparency with the church.
- Simplify events – affordable to everyone.
- Encourage participation in every area of ministry and identify ministry opportunities for all kinds of gifts.
5. Multiplying movements
- Training for facilitators and opportunities to practice.
- Shared specific ideas for casting vision for a healthy multiplying church
- DMM training & Materials
Obviously, you can tell that our church is very young by the kinds of goals and things that we are focusing on. But my point is that we should be thinking about all phases at all times. Jesus was already focused on multiplying movements when he invited Peter to follow Him and added the vision that he would make him into a "fisher of men.” I would add that we do a lot of fishing as a non-profit org in our community and our members get to speak into our vision and are invited to participate as a part of their membership, which helps facilitate participation in establishing relationships. So we are effectively facilitating/laxativing at all five phases.
I like the DMM approach to discipleship for they are effectively creating a method of discovery that can be reproduced with little training and thus facilitating the reproduction of disciples. We are currently trying to morph our objective-based discipleship into a DMM form for simpler reproduction while assuring that key objectives are being met.
I think we can facilitate even while we are leading. A lot of the discussion about this new era of facilitating in missions seems to discourage missionaries from roles of leadership. But I think some of our contexts need to see servant-leadership modeled successfully before it can be reproduced. That seems to be Jesus’ approach. For the leadership style in the church of His day did not facilitate reproduction for a healthy movement. But that is the subject for another blog I guess.