Tracking Harvest Engagements

The more time we spend out in the harvest, the more important it is that we work hard to track the hard work we’ve done. We never want to let any of the fruit the Lord provides slip through the cracks, so we need a system.

This is a simple tool for tracking weekly harvest engagement that I got from Josh Reed (NPL RDU). It’s the size of a business card.

The blanks refer to the following:

  • Homes/people engaged
  • Received prayer
  • Gospel shares
  • Red lights
  • Yellow lights
  • Green lights
  • Christians
  • Discovery Bible Studies

The back is for recording follow ups and location information.

I love how simple this is.

Leading Leaders

In a recent post I shared about importance of training trainers. When we train people, we are transmitting skills. That’s the first priority. We are also training trainers. Because I had my team training with me, I was reproducing myself. They are both new to this process of training, but as they trained with me, they nailed it. We practiced together before we trained together. Had I been sick, or for some other reason unable to attend the training, they could have facilitated it without me.

Training trainers isn’t just about building a bigger training team. It is about multiplying myself and my impact. I spent an extra couple of hours with my team preparing for this training, but after we finished the training, they were even more capable of facilitating trainings and leading training teams than they were before.

It has been a paradigm shift to start thinking about what a Church Planting Movement is and how to spark movement in my context. I’ve been learning that multiplying movements require multiplying leaders at every level. That’s one of the key roles I need to fulfill. As I’ve been trying to shift from being a leader to leading leaders, one of my friends in ministry, Robby Christmas, developed this excellent and simple tool to keep up our progress in developing leaders.

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MAWL, as the image shows, stands for Model, Assist, Watch, Launch. This particular version is filled in with the tools we use locally. You could replace them if they don’t fit in your ministry process. On the left, you can fill in the Planter’s name and you’ll check off the boxes as you go through the process of “MAWLing” them on each of the tools listed. By the time you have checked each box, you have a leader who is ready to be launched to restart the process themselves. Robby has included a basic outline for a 90min weekly MAWL meeting. The link above the image includes both pages.

Whether you use this particular tool or not, I would encourage you to think about your process for identifying, developing, releasing, and leading leaders. It is easy to overlook, but so critical.

Rapid Reproduction in Movements

“Rapid reproduction indicates that several healthy dynamics are present in the movement:

  1. The movement has gone beyond the control of the missionary or any other outsider. 
  2. The movement has its own internal momentum. 
  3. The new Christians passionately believe their message to be so important that it must spread rapidly. 
  4. The harvest fields are confirmed to be ripe unto harvest. 
  5. All the elements that are foreign to the church – and not easily reproduced – have been eliminated.”

From Church Planting Movements, David Garrison (loc. 2990-2998)

Entry Teams

high-rise

I shared in my last post how helpful it has been to clarify high value activities and critical success indicators. One of those high value activities is sharing the gospel. There are lots of ways to share the gospel, and its better to do the right thing imperfectly than not to do it at all.

Luke 10:1-12 has been a key passage for our ministry as we have sought to be more effective in engaging students who are far from God. There are lots of noteworthy things happening in this passage, but there are 3 key components I want to highlight.

  1. Go in pairs
  2. Offer prayer
  3. Offer the gospel

Pairs
Jesus always seemed to send out his disciples in pairs. That’s good enough. Beyond that, it’s better for leadership development to have more than one person doing something. We encourage each other as we go along. We help each other out as we engage people.

Prayer
Jesus directed his disciples to care for people before trying to share with them. We want to let people know we actually do care for them before we start trying to engage them with the gospel. It is both/and, not either/or. In order to offer prayer, we simply say,

“Hey, I’m Puck and this is my friend Jim. We are out trying to care for people on campus – could we pray for you?”

It really is that simple. When someone allows us to pray for them, we say a 10 second prayer in Jesus’ name. We don’t use churchy language and we keep it really simple and to the point.

Gospel
The whole point of this encounter is to share the gospel and offer new life in Christ to anyone and everyone. Most people have never actually had someone share the gospel with them personally. They may have encountered it in a church setting, or picked it up piece by piece, but we want to give everyone the chance to hear it personally in a simple and direct way. We make the transition by saying something like

“Has anyone ever shared the gospel with you?”

Seriously. Other good options include

“We are also interested in where people are spiritually. Who would you say Jesus is to you?”

Or

“Would you say you are near to God or far from God? Would you like to be near to God? Can I show you a simple picture that helped me become near to God?”

This process of going 2 by 2 and offering prayer and the gospel has been unbelievably helpful for us this year. It helps take the fear out of the equation and it develops a culture of excitement and adventure in disciple making.

Guardrails

guardrails

In my years of collegiate ministry I haven’t always had a clear set of success indicators. How do I know when I’m using my time wisely and how do I know when I’m seeing success? Most of the time, the answers to these questions have been, “Well, I know it when I see it.”

For quite some time I didn’t even have the self-awareness to think about whether I was spending my time well or how successful my ministry was. The rest of the time I had a low-level anxiousness that I wasn’t spending my time well or seeing success in my ministry.

Time investment and success are relative terms, aren’t they? It depends on the person, the ministry, and the vision. As I have been drawn in by the No Place Left vision, I’m finding more clarity than ever about how best to spend my time and how to define success.

There are 2 high priority activities:

  1. Sharing the gospel
  2. Training believers to make disciples

Success might seem to be a certain number of gospel shares or believers trained. Those are good things and can be valuable as a measuring stick, but I don’t think they qualify as success on their own. I am most successful when I see something reproduced. If I train a student to share the gospel and I see them sharing the gospel as a result, that’s one stage of reproduction. Similarly, when I teach a student any process or practice and they pass it on to someone else, that is success. It’s the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle in action.

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (ESV‬)

I can’t think of anything that has been more helpful to me in my ministry leadership than realizing that the most high value activities are sharing and training and that the best success indicator is reproduction. These things are my guardrails that help me stay on the right track. 

Pathways

pathways

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend who is on staff with another collegiate ministry. We were discussing what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. As we talked, he realized that he couldn’t articulate any pathway by which a student who is far from God might come to know Jesus in the collegiate ministry he leads. To be fair, they do see students come to know Jesus. He was concerned with how haphazard and unintentional the process was.

I had this same problem for most of my 8 years in collegiate ministry. 8. Years.

I have only just discovered a simpler model and more direct pathway that starts with engaging a student who is far from God, helps them move toward Jesus, grow as a disciple, experience healthy church, and be developed into a leader of a church or churches. Not all students will enter the pathway, or go the same distance while on it, but every student deserves the opportunity and invitation. The key is knowing how they start, what the milestones are, and how to move forward each step of the way.

My friend isn’t the only one with the pathway problem. Just as I had the same problem for YEARS, I’ll bet many other collegiate ministry leaders and church leaders alike have a have this same problem.

I wouldn’t suggest that every ministry and church needs to adopt the 4 Fields model as I have, but I would insist that you give careful consideration to your disciple making pathway. I wandered around in the dark for far too long, making disciples by accident or not at all. I don’t want you to wander around in the dark any longer, if that is indeed where you are right now.

#NoPlaceLeft – WIGTAKE

 When I first encountered the #NoPlaceLeft vision based on Acts 19:10 and Romans 15:23 (among a host of other passages), I was captured by it. So we made stickers. Stickers are how you communicate vision. For some reason, it didn’t really stick (pun intended – sorry).

stickers

The idea of #NoPlaceLeft was appealing and biblical, but it was too big to be tangible without breaking it down further. I’ve learned two key concepts that are helping me make more sense of the #NoPlaceLeft vision, and to make it more approachable for others. The first is what we call the Brutal Facts and the second is WIGTAKE.

Brutal Facts 

Until we know some key facts about our fields were we are laboring, we can’t know what #NoPlaceLeft will look like. We need to know the following:

  • Population
  • Birth/Death rate
  • Percentage of lostness in population

WIGTAKE

“What is it going to take?” We need to know the Brutal Facts about our fields, but we can’t stop there. We need to ask some key questions about how to spread the gospel across the entirety of our fields.

  • How many churches will it take to reach the whole population?
  • How many shepherds are needed to lead and care for the churches?
  • How many seed sowers do we need?

Without asking this question (“What is it going to take?), we will likely toil after the wrong ends and we won’t see the importance of reproducible ministry. These two things make it clear that we must broaden our perspective on what kind of work we are doing.

Applied

In my immediate context, we have 18,000 students and 1,500 faculty/staff. We estimate (broadly) that 90% are far from God.

We want to equip and unleash 1,800 student disciple makers (10% of our population) so that the gospel can spread across the campus and into every corner of it.

We need around 200 churches of 8-10 students each who are making disciples together.

We’ll need about 400 student shepherds (2 per church) to care for and lead each church.

 Much like the goals we set for our ministry, we are taking our best shot at what we think we will need to accomplish. We may be wrong. But if we’re wrong, we’re wrong in the right direction. 

Tracking our Metrics

In my last post I shared about how our ministry vision and metrics have shifted and what that has meant for us. It’s one thing to talk about what we track and another thing to give a little insight into how we are actually tracking it. What we do may be helpful to you, and you may have some insights that help us further streamline what we do.

Because we can’t control salvations, baptisms, church starts, or generations, we set goals for what we can control – encounters/engagements, gospel shares, and trainings. The latter leads to the former. We have a culture goal (what we are striving for the the culture of our ministry to be) of 100% obedience – every single student and staff person is regularly sharing the gospel and making disciples. If that’s where we stop, then it would be a huge step forward for us. But we are trying to accomplish the vision of #NoPlaceLeft on our campus where the gospel hasn’t been proclaimed. We can’t accomplish that systematic and comprehensive of a vision with haphazard activity. If every student deserves to hear the gospel personally and have a chance to respond to it, we need to strategize differently about how to accomplish that task. This is why we are training as many believers to make disciples as we can, and we are sharing the gospel as broadly as we can.

It’s not enough to share broadly and train widely. We need to be able to track the progress of our mission the very best we can.

It started with this:

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I keep this little notebook in my pocket or in my bag constantly. When we send out Entry Teams (2 x 2 groups) on a House of Peace Search (HOPs), they engage with people and offer prayer and the gospel. The only 3 responses a non-believer will give to the gospel is Red / Yellow / Green – Not Interested / Cautiously Interested / Ready to Turn and Follow Jesus. We have a next-steps process for each of these responses. You can see in my notes above, we are tracking total engagements, R/Y/G responses as well as Christians (indicated by †) and number of gospel shares. The bottom figures are the cumulative metrics since the start of the school year. Every week in our discipleship training group, I share the updated metrics to celebrate with our students as we share the stories behind the numbers together as a group. This has been incredibly helpful for us.

We use this time doing HOPs out in open space on campus as training time – it’s a bit like a scrimmage. It matters. We have seen fruit from it. But it is incredibly hard to track comprehensively and it can be hard to follow up with people we encounter.

Our intent from the beginning was to train students by MAWLing (Model / Assist / Watch / Leave) them in this process so that we could send them in Entry Teams on a Dorm of Peace Search (DOPs). Rather than encountering “strangers” on campus, they could encounter their neighbors, and we could track our progress as we go. Now, I am getting reports back from a DOPs that look like this:

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This information can then be turned into something that looks like this:

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Each number represents a room in this dorm. In this case, the dorm is 4 floors. The background colors mean the following:

  • White – unengaged
  • Gray – knocked but no answer
  • Red – red light
  • Yellow – yellow light
  • Green – turned and believed in Jesus
  • Purple – Christian
  • Black triangle – note was added with contextual info

This is the progress map for our Entry Teams in one dorm. There are 19 more dorms on our campus. When we finish engaging all the rooms in the dorm (i.e. they are R/Y/G/P), we can declare that there is #NoPlaceLeft in that dorm! When we have completed this for every dorm on campus, we will be halfway to #NoPlaceLeft on the whole campus. Every single school year, the clock will be reset and we’ll start over. We need at least one student who lives in the dorm to own the mission and take another student with them in a Entry Team. We as staff aren’t allowed in the dorms, so it is of critical importance that we find a person of peace who will drive the #NoPlaceLeft mission in their own dorm.

If that feels overwhelming to think about, then welcome to the party! This kind of pioneering work appeals to a certain kind of student – they are just waiting to be equipped and unleashed, and that’s what we’re really after. We don’t want to check off a box by each dorm room on a spreadsheet to make ourselves feel good. We want to make disciples who make disciples who can plant churches that plant churches to the 4th generation and beyond. This isn’t our outreach ministry – it is our ENTIRE ministry. We don’t have time for anything else! As the years go by and we keep having the clock reset on us, and as students keep graduating and moving away, we don’t get frustrated with our loss of progress. The progress itself isn’t nearly as important as how we’re developing disciple makers before they leave. We used to be excited to graduate healthy church members. Now, I want to graduate healthy church planters. We are casting vision for that from the first touch we have with them.