Establishing Gospel DNA Throughout the Body
God’s mission is to restore all things to himself in and through the work and person of Jesus Christ. He chooses to accomplish that mission through the church. As God restores us to himself, he is also restoring us to be who he intends us to be. This restoring work does not happen in isolation, but rather in and through our relationships. We do not do it alone. We need each other. One way to purposefully cultivate these relationships is through DNA groups.
What is a DNA Group?
A DNA (DNA stand for Discipleship, Nurturing, and Accountability) Group is made up of three people—men with men, women with women—who meet together weekly to be known and to bring the gospel to bear on each other’s lives so that they grow in and live out the values of mission of Christ. Groups are not about seeking the approval of people; God’s approval—the only approval that matters—is already ours because of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection.
Once formed, a DNA group focuses on the following:
PATHWAYS INTO A DNA GROUP
Jared and Laura, in listening for God's call in their life, were pulled toward London, England. They passed Discovery Lab with scores that indicated a high likelihood they could successfully plant a church once they had more experience under their belts.
Kairos helped them secure an apprenticeship with Ethos Church in Nashville, where they could learn how healthy growing church systems function. During that season, the call shifted from London to the Northwest, the heart of post-Christian culture in the US.
When a planter moves to a new city to start a church, we call it parachuting in. It takes time to settle into a new place, build relationships, learn the culture, and allow the dream and plan for the church to form within the new context.
Jared says, " We were going from Sunday-centric Christianity to Sundays being secondary at best. We were going from thousands of Christian relationships to almost none."
The Kings knew there would be challenges in making such a big move, but Seattle was looming large in the future and they needed a plan.
They attended their first Kairos Strategy Lab before moving to Seattle. And their plans looked great on paper. They were able to dream big, to think through the theories of what they hoped to accomplish, to give shape to their dream and make it a plan. Sure, it was all theory, but it was solid theory.
With all their tools in place and a team enthusiastic about moving with them, they moved their family north.
But there comes a place in every story when boots hit the pavement, when expectations crash up against reality, when a person's strength and faith are put to the test.
To be continued . . .
A Church Planting Story
Once upon a time, a man decided to plant a new church in a new city. All his plans went better than expected and in no time a booming church had grown up with no problems and little effort.
Recently a group from our church attended the Discipleship.org conference. We engaged with about 1,400 other “Discipleship First” folks to be encouraged by brothers and sisters from around the world and to hear the ways they grow disciples who make disciples.
Here are 5 key points that I walked away with from the conference:
2. The Word of God is powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrew 4:12). Make engagement with the Bible a central feature of your discipling process. What scriptures will you memorize together and why? What biblical readings will focus your attention?
3. The discipling leader sets the stage. As a discipler, you are inviting others to learn from your life. You determine the time, place, and the content. If they’re not willing to work with your schedule, they may not yet be ready to engage that level of discipling.
4. Discipling is best done in groups of 3 to 5 people of the same gender. The focus is on obeying scripture and reflecting on the interaction between scripture and doing. Being small in number and gender specific allows a greater flow of interaction, confession and accountability.
5. Any plan is more effective than no plan. There were 18 tracks at the 2018 Discipleship Conference, each led by a group with disciple making as their goal. Here are 3 of the plans presented:
A friend of mine introduced me to the acronym BHAG: By the Hand of Almighty God. In their book, Built to Last (1994), James Collins and Jerry Porras defined a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) as “a long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business’ existence.” These are the type of goals that change history, like when John F. Kennedy said, “that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
Like a vision drives a country, I believe a BHAG is what ultimately drives a church.
BHAGs are meant to shift “business as normal.” BHAGs are nearly impossible to achieve without consistently working outside of our comfort zone. They require a commitment and confidence that moves us to persistent effort, over decades, even when the odds seem impossibly stacked against us.
The only way a church, or any organization, can pursue a BHAG dream is with a long-term plan that ties together mission, vision, and decisions into action. Without such organized, systematic planning no BHAG will survive.
Since 2009 Kairos has been helping churches think strategically about their future through a strategic planning process called StratOp. StratOp employs a series of insightful tools to help churches gain perspective on their own reality, strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately to immediate and long-term decisions that will move them towards progress on their BHAGs.
It is the persistent application of effort towards a plan that ultimately drives us towards the BHAGs God has set before us. No, we’re not doing this by our own strength or will. God is in charge. But He still asks us to do the hard work that needs to be done as He energizes the results.
If you are interested in the StratOp process, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 Traits of Spiritual Mentors
Being a spiritual mentor does not equal being a religious leader. Mentors are not necessarily managing the direction of the church itself. The reality is they are leaders, but maybe look different from what you expect. It’s important to know the traits of spiritual mentors, these individuals are valuable in the development of the disciples within your congregation.
Here's a more accurate picture of what a spiritual mentor looks like:
Trait # 1 - Suggestive Guidance
Many times spiritual mentors live a life that is unique to others, and may not follow the rules that society places on them. Overall these type of leaders do not operate under the assumption that others should do life in the same way, rather they live life based on principles and understandings that may be countercultural. The value of these mentors is that they have discovered unique practices that have allowed them to understand and relate to God in ways that may differ from the status quo.
Trait # 2 - The “High Road” Less Traveled
This trait of a successful spiritual mentor is that they choose to live a life based on positive thinking. The empowerment they get from understanding who God is allows them to understand a level of joy that is based on the fruits of the spirit. Rather than living a life of happiness based on objective worldly treasures, they like to surround themselves in an atmosphere that is positive rather than negative.
Trait #3 - Lifting Others Up
Spiritual mentors live to lift others up constantly. They find ways to take individuals who are struggling in life and allow them to become successful based on goals, skills, and talents. Spiritual mentors find fulfillment in witnessing others become successful, and celebrating their accomplishments.
Trait #4 - Serving Others First
Spiritual mentors live out the passage in Mark 10:45, where Jesus says "for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many." They live a life that is based on servant leadership, looking for opportunities to take care of the needs of others.
Spiritual mentoring comes down to specific characteristics that will lead to positive spiritual development for those they are mentoring. These characteristics come from years of life experience, and that means these folks may not be CEOs, presidents of their companies, commanding officers in the military. These individuals may come from very humble upbringings, living a life of low income status, and/or practicing simplicity in their life. Being able to identify these diamonds in the rough can be difficult, but understanding these virtuous traits will bear fruit if you are able to discover them!
Who are the people in your church who are already spiritual mentors? Who are those you can develop to become one?