Learning and growth is a lifelong experience. God’s training in our lives is useful for more than we know. Our word “discipleship” comes from the word “discipline.” God disciplines his children for their benefit so that they’ll grow into all He has prepared them to be (Hebrews 12:8). Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s growth. In my context (Aroma Coffee and Church), we want to walk with each other through a process of training and preparation for the greatness God has planned for each person. Although no process is perfect, we seek to strategize a method for preparing leaders through three stages of discipleship. Each stage has different trainings, opportunities for service, and overall outcomes.
Leaders in Training will follow a process similar to this. We know life is complicated and busy. We’re not trying to inundate our people with a long list of things to do. In fact, we believe much of this should happen in the context of relationships and life connection. Thus, we’re outlining a list of 7 major relational steps. Leadership development is done in the crucible of relationships, not by accomplishing a list of tasks or attending a number of classes. In the context of these relationships, we learn about life and leadership. We are formed into the character of Christ and learn to walk in the capacity of our gifts. We clearly define vision for your life and see how that fits into our ministry contexts. These seven relational steps were outlined for ongoing discussions in our coffee shop and church.
As you read through this, imagine yourself in your own context. Then, ask yourself where you’re at and what it would take for you to pursue the next step in relational leadership development.
- Crowds are people who are attracted to something but might not even know why. To these people we say, “See you Sunday.” Our hope is that if you’re aspiring in leadership you would regularly make it to church on Sunday. Don’t forsake the fellowship of believers (Hebrews 10:25). Here you’ll learn about your identity in Christ and be challenged to receive from Truth in Scripture, sing songs to Jesus, and pray for each other.
- Friends are people who are interested in a little deeper connection. They are willing to go deeper with God and people through Small Groups. The early church cherished these small meetings as some of the most transformative times of life (Acts 2:42-47). Some people became believers in this context. Others grew deeply in their personal life and longing for loving each other. We also encourage you to go through a new believer’s class, get some basic discipleship understanding and form a habit of reading the Bible and praying everyday.
- Committed people are willing to Serve in an area. Some forms of service are wildly life giving. We will get to those soon. But first, we want to encourage you to serve somewhere in Aroma. Choose a simple place. Remain committed there for a season. Show God and those around you your willingness to stay committed to him even without accolades or fun mountain-top experiences (Matthew 10:42). Oftentimes, this is where people begin to sense a life calling. When we respond to what God is doing by humble service, He shows up in amazing ways. Committed people serve together.
- Followers go through a season of Learning and Growth. We realize that we have committed to something way beyond our own capacity. It stirs in us a hunger for more. This is where your character formation continues in Spirit and in Truth. We want you to understand more about spiritual gifts, walking by the Spirit, and living in the fullness of God. In this time, you read through the entire Bible, read other books, go to trainings, and spend time discussing leadership together, including how to make strategies and handle difficult situations and people. It’s at this time, if you haven’t already, that you need to grab some kind of a mentor figure and hold on to them tightly. Have at least one person in your life of whom you can ask questions and who will support and challenge you on your journey.
- Family is a strong word. We’re reserving it for a group of people who have made a deeper commitment to the Lord and each other. These people have covenanted together. Even Jesus had a process of walking with people from being merely friends to becoming followers and eventually family. In this season, we encourage you to make a commitment to a track of intimacy in relationship and ministry preparation. This includes things like joining a Huddle, committing to being a Core Member in small group or going through a year-long training called Support Team. During this time, you form more mentorship relationships and begin to fill something called the Table of Support, an outline for how to maintain healthy mentoring relationships. You open yourself to challenge from others. You show their ultimate willingness to submit and surrender to God by submitting to the leadership that God has put in place at Aroma.
- Core describes a group of people who go through another season of extended Learning and Growth. Like the disciples Peter, James and John, core people are taken to greater depths in their walk with God for a purpose, similar to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17). They had special experiences with Jesus and as such they were given more difficult responsibilities. Jesus always takes us through seasons of invitation and challenge. His ultimate goal is that we would be shaped into His image, to represent Him to the world so that Heaven can come to Earth and all people on Earth can go to Heaven. During this season you grow in your capacity for ministry in a particular area through things like training certifications and deep coaching relationships. You develop a high capacity for leadership and see yourself as long-term leader in The Aroma and beyond.
- Faithful Creators are people who pursue a legacy. They live for something beyond themselves. They long to see their [spiritual] children’s children flourish. They live out a full Table of Support, initiating and sustaining relationships that fill their life with meaning and purpose. By this time, you are learning to pass on your character and capacity to those around you, raising up others (Ephesians 4:12) to do the greater works Jesus promised (John 14:12). As you humbly walk before God, you are given increasing authority for the purpose of raising others up and serving the people.
Where do you fit in right now? Are you simply showing up as a member of the crowd? Or have you shown an intense interest in covenanting together with your people even to the point of producing legacy beyond yourselves?