Maximizing Effective Disciplemaking in Churches

From CEO of Church Excellence Framework

We are pleased to announce the introduction of another blogger to our team who comes with extensive experience coaching pastors and working with church growth tools. He will be blogging shortly.

Part of the framework is to communicate good learning and development techniques so we see quality disciples being made. Without this we can be under the illusion that we are making disciples. This is a tragedy if good learning is not taking place.

To do that it is critical that ministry workers understand principles of adult learning. So we have listed some key points here.

church growth# Adults require a great deal of motivation   –they need to know why they need to learn something. This is so important to keep reinforcing in any learning intervention particularly how it links with the strategic plan.

#Adults have a strong self-concept-   adults learn they are responsible for their own learning. As such they resent others imposing their wills. We need to present the material in a way that respects and consults the learner. This may be done by: –

  1. Involving participants in the process of identifying needs and in the planning
  2. Encouraging the learning process to be more of a mutual responsibility where the trainers role is more of a facilitator and co-inquirer
  3. Helping the participants to manage their own learning and self-evaluate.

Adults come with lots of personal experience.   Adults often have a well-developed sense of values, attitudes and knowledge, which can make them less, open-minded. The implications for training are:

  • Relate new situations to past experiences
  • Respect past experiences as an active component in learning
  • Recognise prior learning and don’t ask them all to start in the same place.
  • Employ training methods that use the learners experience e.g., role plays, testimonies

Adults are under pressure- so they want to learn things that relate to their concerns or immediate issues.  By focusing on these concerns and restating the learning process in terms of these immediate needs, learners will be more open to receive training. This may require consultation with the congregation

 Retention of Information Presented

retentin of info

 The facts  speak loudly that we need to involve people in learning interventions and not just speak to them. If we do speak it has been shown that on average 20 mins is the maximum for retention.

If we do use speaking it is better to contain vital elements such as power points, application questions and some interaction. Talking heads can be a poor way to learn particularly if there are multiple sessions such as in a conference.

We know there is power in God’s word to transform but we also need to ask what percentages of our sermons are actually talking about scripture to quote this reason?

The standard lists some creative ways of engaging particularly in Sunday services. Here are some more: –

  • Youtube
  • Webinar software
  • Twitter or text message sent from congregation asking questions that pastor answers ( so can be filtered)
  • Q and A from Microphone
  • Ensuring themes to build on material
  • Books and handouts recommended on a theme to ensure the learning are reinforced for those interested.
  • Props
  • Banner at back of the stage to reinforce a theme
  • PowerPoint presentations with main points which are then reinforced at the end of the sermon
  • A handout with application questions to ponder through the week
  • Asking for a response for people to come forward after a message
  • Moving the worship so that it can be used as a reflection time for God to speak after the sermon.
  • Interspersing testimonies in between a message (a page on the website can collect testimonies on ongoing basis). Video testimonies can be powerful.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Sheet given to guest speakers as to the minimum requirements in terms of presentation( eg title, summary ,application, powerpoints, bible references)

  Action Learning Illustration

Action learning is a buzzword that is currently being used to demonstrate different ways a learning intervention can be presented to ensure quality learning.  The diagram below shows some elements. The more that are  incorporated ,the more dynamic the learning. TALKING HEADS are not a good style when it is overused. A lot of churches are now bringing in shorter 20 min sermons with other tools to incorporate learning.

Examples of how to empower others: –

  • Ask them what their passion, calling, gifting, past experienced are and help them move closer to this. An individual meeting can be offered to ascertain this and facilitate the use of their gifting. See checklist at Tools note 1, as a tool for use.
  • Provide resources, contacts and authority for them to act. Check how they are doing and if you can help overcome any obstacles .ie use coaching skills to empower them.
  • Be willing to trust and delegate and work through their learning issues. You were given a break when you were learning. Church is not meant to be a professional organisation but a learning organisation with a sovereign people so all are entitled to play a part and deserve to be trusted initially. With a good interview and management process any people not suited for a role can be directed to a more suitable position rather than excluded initially until they have proved themselves. This can be very demotivating to new people.
  • Check how much you aAction learningre not delegating in the name of protecting your people or not trusting. The world needs empowered Christians. Doing is the best way of learning.
  • Encourage them to serve as a way of engaging them. If they are not right for the role then be bold and find something more suitable but don’t let this be a reason to not empower them in the first place. We are all the priesthood of believers so have a right to have a part in a church.
  • Encourage those with authority not to ask permission on small items so small issues are not overburdening senior leaders.
  • Encourage people to give prophetic words to each other.
  • Find out what the person you are empowering is doing and coach them to find their own solution ( as opposed to offering unsolicited advice or assuming you know what  the problem is  without confirming it )

The framework contains lots of notes to help you implement the principles and draw on the vast expertise of many researchers and implementors. Do contact us for the full version. At the moment this initiative is funded by personal benefactors  so we are providing this at no cost.

New Diagnostic Tool to Assess the Health of your Church. Is your Church conducting any Church Health Exercises?

BLOG from CEO of Church Excellence Framework

We are very excited to announce that we have put together a simple diagnostic tool to direct attention to a few key elements that have been shown to produce the greatest impact. This has come from collating the best practices from multiple studies. We think it offers a unique tool that is comprehensive in a way that is not offered by many others. It can beBUILDING A Church that is relevant for future generations backed up by actual research on actual churches and population studies. When we look at the questions it directs us to a few critical activities which are often not carried out by the bulk of churches.

So we ask the question-  are we directing our time to things that are not making the greatest impact?

Resources and time are often scare so it is crucial leaders really consider in detail their strategy and ask if it is based on best practice today or is it strategies that worked before but are not working today. Leaders can  often be the ones doing the implementation and so not direct much of their time to strategic planning. This is where it is key for many believers to be asking their church what church health activities they are doing. We all have a part to play to support hard working pastors who are often overwhelmed.

We must be constantly contextualising our operations to stay relevant. Many view church as so outdated – we can fight this by showing that we are aware of the latest research . We have also followed many patterns based on incorrect biblical premises for centuries. We sense God leading us to a new reformation of church where there is a greater role for the believer. If we work to mobilise the committed we are confident we can see a radical improvement in our impact.

In studying church operations it has come to my attention that many have mentors but not leadership coaches. To run an effective and healthy church we have to constantly be in touch with the current world. Leadership Coaches are trained  in extracting good strategies from their client that are relevant to where they are at. They can be crucial in helping a church  conduct  vital church health exercises. Constantly re-evaluating is critical to avoid stagnation and traditionalism.  The early church was constantly adapting and using people. We see that with the massive growth in Asian countries. They move fast, raise disciples fast and are not scared to promote. Jesus was not scared to use the average person and with belief built them into mighty leaders.

We have now collated  lots of research from well-respected and longstanding studies to draw up a diagnostic tool to assess the health of your church. Do pass this on to church board members, pastors and people concerned with strategy in your church. The more churches we can get looking at key strategies and not repeating things that don’t  work, the healthier our nation will be. Starting at rebuilding the temple is the first step .

Diagnostic Tool to assess the most effective place to start church health initiatives

  • Do you put good resources into children and youth work as this is where the greatest conversions come from?
  • Do you have a  clear outline of where you are going in the next few years?
    •  People want a community with real purpose where they can serve and grow.
  • Do you have transformation outcomes rather than attendance measures?church growth
  • Do you have a Church planting strategy as this has been shown in surveys to be where the most growth comes from?
  • Is your church missional in the sense that its existence is based around reaching those not currently in the church or is it needs based?
  • Have you considered organic church models and principles  as ones that represent the early church model more closely?
  • Do you know what the younger generation want ?
  • Do you support people’s calling and provide processes, not just give them a job in the church ?
  • Do you teach them how to share their faith in the marketplace not just invite friends to church?
  • Do you find out if you are meeting people’s needs in your church and what they say about how you are meeting the values of the church? Authenticity is massive now.
  • Do you delegate and empower people so they are engaged not just spectators?
  • Do you provide a clear pathway to growth?
  • Do you seek to have a balance of all major areas of church life and work on the weakest area as this will be where the fallout will occur? (see NCD material for backup)
  • Do you inspire a sense of Church ownership?
  • Do you provide a chance to serve those in need?
  • Do you encourage people to take responsibility for their own growth and not just rely on what church offers?
  • Do you encourage creativity in methods by using all talents and empower people to go out on their own?

Score 1 point if you meet the indicator fully, half if partially, and then add the score in total

You can then work on those areas that you were unable to tick after prioritizing them

If in doubt begin developing some good transformation outcomes of what you want to see in the lives of others and begin expressing your desire to see various areas grow. The more that can be given to others the greater the growth. The notes of the framework can explain examples and more of what to watch out for.


Summary of Key strategies for Growth from our research data- How much does your pastor know?

 Barna a well-known american researcher quotes in his  study 

  •  2/3 unchurched Americans say they are spiritual peoplechurch growth
  • More than ½ say their faith is important to them
  • 99% are aware of Christianity and 69 % hold a favourable view of it

YET nearly half see no value in attending a church.

People want GOD it would seem but not how church is doing it.  If we change we could win them back. People will always need some form of church. Here are some of the key strategies that have come out of our research across a lot of studies and  organisations.

  • Put good resources into children and youth workers as this is where the greatest conversions come from
  • Develop a clear outline of where you are going in the next few years as people want to know where they are going and what distinguishes you from another church. Why should they invest their time and money in this church?  People want a community with real purpose where they can serve and grow.
  • If you want real growth consider Church planting as this has been shown in surveys to be where the most growth comes from and future generations do not want large auditoriums but more sanctuaries where they can find God.
  • Planting by going out to serve the community not your own internal project making others come to you. Generates an outward looking church and one that knows how to relate outside.
  • Contextualise the presentation of the message and provide lots of opportunities for debate.
  • Support people’s calling not give them a job in the church. Provide processes
  • Teach them how to share their faith in the marketplace not just invite friends to church.
  • Find out if you are meeting people’s needs in your church and what they say about how you are meeting the values of the church. Authenticity is massive now.
  • Delegate and empower people so they are engaged not just spectators.

To find out the studies and why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

PLease also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone not just leaders to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Summary of Major Research Findings on Church Growth – Does your pastor know this?


Blog from CEO of Church Excellence Framework

The framework team are very committed to finding you good evidence to back up aspects that are in the framework. We are very excited to have found this study that gives real tangible evidence of what helps good church growth. No more speculation!

All these points are vital parts of the Church Excellence Framework, which develops these in even more detail and brings in other good practices. 



Research from Anglican Church “ From Anecdote to Evidence”

Here is a summary of an excellent research exercise carried out in England over a significant period.

The survey  summarized some key findings:-

Good Leadershipchurch growth

Clear Mission and Purpose

Willingness to self reflect and change

Intentional involvement of lay leaders

Intentional in prioritizing growth

Intentional in chosen styles of worship

Intentional nurturing disciples


Factors contributing to decline includechurch growth


1.Burdensome buildings

  1. 2.Stagnation in approach , variety, vitality and inclusiveness of worship
  2. 3.Clergy characteristics of empathizing , persisting and managing were less helpful that those who are more flexible and push people in new directions
  3. 4.Members unwilling to get involved and everything left to the ordained minister.


As the intention of the Framework is to stimulate debate, we do hope you will take time to really consider these points with your leadership teams and church congregation members and  request the framework notes to study more our findings so that you are indeed working on greater priorities. The framework notes share a summary of key priorities that we have concluded constitute the greatest way to church growth and health. This goes beyond what other leadership tools are offering.

Please help us spread the message by sharing this blog post, and to get more vital research, sign up to receive this blog  by email at

The notes explain how to practically implement a  lot of these points. Other research says you must start at your lowest factor. We include lots of tools to survey your church as well.

Does Your Church Help People Identify Their Calling ?

BUILDING A Church that is relevant for future generations Many churches talk about empowering people to influence the Kingdom, but one of the principle ways to do this is to help people know their highest calling. Without this, a lot of empowerment has minimal effect, as our greatest role is in what we do every day. Without knowing our highest calling we are missing out on the ways in which we can impact our own lives and the lives of those around us, whilst maintaining dominion over Gods Kingdom.

Working in a church capacity which does not   fully use our gifts is not how we change the world. This is particularly true if your church has become very inward looking and is not growing or evolving in line with current trends and is spending time with people who are not really serious about growth. The key to success is the people who want and make that change happen.

If this is not something your church has in place maybe you could be the one to raise it with your pastor?

As the Church Excellence Framework is being viewed by many people who we hope will utilize it in a positive way, we have decided to be generous and release one of the tools we have developed over many years to help you find your calling and share that journey with others.  It is included in the Church Excellence Framework together with a process to help churches identify the types of people in their church and how they can support them fully, allowing them to become more connected.

We do need to ask ourselves how this calling intersects with a need in society and what is in God’s heart for people now. At the end of the day we do not want to develop a role that is not needed in society. Please pay this forward and share it with friends and your church.


Tools to Find your Calling and Gifts by Jane Johnson pdf

If you would like to offer additional coaching to people to work through the gaps then there is a wonderful service with free online live coaching 24/7 that can help you keep moving with this tool and applying it or helping you overcome obstacles. It can be found at – just click to talk to a coach.