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Lunch and Learn Connect 316 Transcript:
– For those of you that haven’t met him, you’ll get a chance to meet Steve Layton, and he is the other person on the screen. You may still see a picture of Mitchell Bruce. So we appreciate moving our Office of Communications kind of riding shotgun for us on this. And directing signals already had to come and rescue one technology situation as we’re moving forward. So appreciate his work. There’s my buddy, Tim Gold, joining in with us. Hey, guys, let’s go ahead and get started today. And let me just start us all with a word of prayer and then we will jump on in. Father God, we are so thankful that You love us with an everlasting love, that You care for us, and that, Father, You have a plan and a purpose for our life, even as we look toward the future and this fall, as we relaunch our groups and as we plan our strategy and work through it, Lord God, we pray that most of all all of us will hear clearly from You, and so that we can move forward with a peace and assurance that You’re at work in and through us doing that which will call others into Your kingdom. I thank You for those that are joining us today. I thank You for those that will be joining us via the recording in weeks to come and just pray Your blessing on all of us as we seek to move forward in Your kingdom as we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!
– [Steve] Amen.
– Well, again, we are so delighted to have you with us today. Many of our churches, because of all that’s gone on, and I hate to use that C word, so I just won’t, this past year. You’re looking and trying to navigate these waters toward probably this August when it comes to your group structure. You’re beginning to revisit what has happened, what’s worked, what’s not working, what are the other options that you have, all of those kinds of things. And I wanna say to you, in some way, that’s exactly what has happened in this office for a whole different reason. Many of you, because of those view that I see on here are good friends of this office know that we’ve had two retirements and that Jamie Baldwin and Eileen Mitchell both retired effective January 15. And we miss ’em, we love ’em and we’re happy for ’em, but it has given us a time to begin to revisit who we are as the office of Sunday school and rethink our strategy of how we can best come alongside of you because we are your state missionaries, we’re here to serve you. And so there’s some things that we’ve had to work through, that you’re having to work through right now, and we basically went back to square one. And we asked the question, why does this office exist? And I wanna share with you just quickly what we came up with. We exist to encourage and equip disciples to connect people to Christ, community, and the commission. And we know that we do this through conferencing, which now includes live conferences. It includes these virtual conferences and hybrid conferences, but we do it through conferences but we also wanna add the component of we do it through conversations. And you’ll hear more about that in the future. And finally through connections, we need to make good strong connections. That’s one of the things that has helped churches and help state missionaries and churches together is the strong connections that we had where we could call each other and just encourage each other through this past year. And all of us have needed a good dose of encouragement from one another. I appreciate all those of you that have reached out to me and I hope that others have reached out to you in this process. And so you’re gonna hear a little bit more about that, but the idea of encouraging and equipping is a strong idea in our office, which is reflected then even in our mission statement. The members of our office that were already in place include Patty Burns who is our preschool strategist and Belinda Stroud, who’s our children strategist. They’re still with us. They’re part-time. We’ve added Mark Gainey, who is part time, and he is our lead strategist for disciple-making. He is also pastor of Fultondale’s First Baptist Church. And he will be with us more in the future to talk about four invitations. And so you’ll be hearing more from him in the not so distant future. And then Steve Layton is with us. And Steve is our Lead Strategist for groups. And so if you get a picture, we’ve got age groups accounted for but we’ve also added the component of disciple-making and group strategy. Now, Sunday school, discipleship still remains as a part of who we are and that’s the overarching view of the office, but we are moving to where churches are moving the direction that you’re moving. And we feel like you need to have a go-to person when it comes to groups and a go-to person when it comes to looking at disciple-making, developing a disciple maker’s path and so forth and so on. And so those have been needed components. And then the fun begins to happen is even Steve who started in February, kinda jump-started with us in January. And we would have some very long Zoom conferences. This has been a lot of of thought and prayer, and planning, and processing to get to this point. And we’re excited about what is happening in our office. We’re excited about the vision going forward in the office as well. And we hope that you find it helpful to you. So in the month of May, in these Lunch and Learns on Thursday, we’re gonna introduce you to two tools. And I want you to hear that they’re tools. You can go to the hardware store and you can buy tools and you can just buy a hammer but you can buy the hammer that fits your hands or fits your situation, your context. And so depending on what you’re doing has a lot to do with the hammer that you’re looking for and that could be applied to other tools. And so we want tools that you can customize and tools that you can use to plan for the future. And we want tools that will encourage you to equip others as well, because that’s our role to encourage and equip you so that you can encourage and equip others. So real quickly, how did we get to the development of these tools? Well, if you ask Jamie and Eileen, one of the things that they would hear over and over again is there’s a plenty of ideas out there but we need to remember why we are here. And that’s true for you. I hope you’re looking at that. Whether it’s related to your groups or your church as a whole, or your own personal life, you need to say, why has God put me here? And you’ll see some of that reflected in what is coming up. We know for all of us that Jesus basically answered that question. You’re here to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. So love God and love people is certainly a driver in that. And then the final component is as we love God and love people, we’re to make disciples. Being a disciple ourselves out of our love for God and others, we’re to go then and make disciples who can make disciples. So we thought, how can we really help you help churches help fellow leaders in doing that? And that’s where that encouraging and equipping comes in. We wanna encourage and equip you so that you as a disciple can make disciples as well. So we’ve all gone through this time. We’re all stressed and strained by what is the, I hope now becoming the rear view mirror of life and we’re ready to move forward. And so we wanted to develop some things that would be helpful to you. And we said, here’s kind of the mandate behind them. Number one, whatever we do, it needs to be simple. Right now we don’t need anything complex. We’ve got to move and we’ve got to move quickly. In fact, my advice to church leaders, they have called me is whatever you do, keep it small and keep it nimble because we’ve got to learn how to be adaptable to whatever context we find ourselves in. And so we wanted something that’s simple. And by simple, we’ve used the phrase Google simple. I mean, you basically go to the site, enter your question and go for it kind of thing. It’s just out there. It’s easy to understand. Because at the end of the day whatever we hand to you, we want you to be able to put it in the hands of your people. And we don’t want you to have to spend weeks and months explaining it. So we want it short on explanation, long on execution. And so we’ve even tested this out. Can I do the elevator conversation with the pastor or leader? And they go, wait, I can do that. That’s what we meant when we talk about being simple. Then again we want it customizable. You can make it adaptable to your context. And then most of all, we don’t want it to be a catchy slogan. We want it to create movement in the church. We wanna get the mission statement off the wall, embed it into the lives of people who will go as a disciple to make disciples. And so we wanna put tools that you can even see how this is going to create movement among the leaders and members of your church. So the next thing is we begin to talk about our own individual calling. And some of our struggles through the years and some of our successes through the years, and we’re all blessed that God has given us more success, if you will, than struggles, but we know that the success came when we listened to Him. And one of the areas that we needed to listen to Him is, again, why are we here? And each of us shared our own personal experience of being driven back to Ephesians chapter four where we’re ultimately told that we’re here to create unity and maturity in the body, but it makes this startling statement that God gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Let me just stop right there and make sure you heard, and God gave, okay? God gave you as a leader to your church. Whether you’re there as a pastor or a teacher, second chair leader, we would say, God gave you as a gift to your church. Now, don’t run wild with that and start telling your people, you know, I’m God’s gift to you but you understand the context that the reason God has placed you, the why of God putting you where you are is to do this, to equip the saints or to equip others to do the work of ministry. Now, a lot of times we tend to, instead of equipping the people, we do the work for the people and call that ministry, but that’s not why God gave us to the church. And I would say that was a personal struggle for all of us that we had to move to that idea that, look, we’re not here to do the work for people; we’re here to equip the people for the work. And so we need to learn to be encouragers and equippers so that the mission multiplies beyond just ourselves. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have responsibility in the work. That means that we do the work of equipping others to do the work. We’re coming alongside of ’em, which is really the encouraging part. And we’re showing them how. I look back at Acts 1:1 where Luke writes of his former treatise. He said, “I wrote to you in my former treatise “those things that Jesus began both to do and teach.” Now, one of the things that encourages me is when somebody comes alongside that knows how. He’s been there, done that. He’s been in the trenches. Maybe he’s battle-scarred and so forth or she is knowledgeable on the subject. And now they come alongside and with me they do the work and they teach me so that I can do and teach others. And that’s really the pattern of making disciple is to learn how to encourage and equip. So do and teach becomes a overwhelming idea in what we’re about to place in your hands in these next couple of weeks. Some tools that we think that you can use that’ll encourage you. It’ll help you be able to kinda lean back and breathe a little bit and say, okay, I know why we’re here. I know why we have groups. I know why we make disciples. And now let’s make this of movement among the people. And so here’s how I can go and equip. And, you know, one of the things that we’ve all discovered is as we equip others, the burden is lighter because aren’t we told to bear one another’s burdens? Aren’t we to share this work, this ministry with others? And when it is a shared ministry, isn’t it a joy? I gotta be honest with you. We’ve got things pressing on us like never before because of what has happened and two new leaders coming in, but we’ve taken this encourage and equip shared ministry approach. And even though sometimes we feel like we’re running wide open, it’s still a delight and it’s still a joy. We’re having a good time. And we want you to enjoy this journey in the Lord. And so we wanna put some tools in your hands that we think can help you first encourage you and equip you so that you can encourage and equip others. Now, I’m gonna ask Steve to kinda give us the 30,000-foot view himself. But since many of you are just meeting Steve, I want you to hear just briefly his life’s call to encourage and equip, how that came about through a time of personal struggle. And then he’s gonna introduce us to connect 316. Let me encourage you that as you have questions, if you will enter those, not in the chatroom but in the Q and A, then when Steve wraps up, we’ll come back and begin to answer your questions. So, Steve, with that, brother, share with us, okay?
– What a joy it is to be here. And thank you, Daniel. And as you folks can already tell, it’s an honor to serve with Daniel. And I just thank you for your wisdom and the fact that what I’m learning from him every day as well as from our time in the word. So I wanted you to know just how excited I am to be a state missionary and having served all these years in a local church. and for Lifeway, it’s a joy and an honor to be able to join the missionaries here at the State Board of Missions and the office of Sunday School and Discipleship. And we are excited. And I look forward to getting out. And I’ve been joking about having coffee and barbecue and just hanging out and getting to know you better. And those are the great days that are coming ahead. Daniel’s talked a lot about equipping and encouraging other people. And many of you who have known me over these years have known that my life calling is to encourage and equip other people. That calling was kind of born in my life. And the clarity of that calling came after the death and passing of my first wife. And some of you will remember those days. It’s been about 24 years ago. You guys will remember I was in my late 30s and serving down at First Baptist Church in Alexander City, Alabama. And we were preparing to go to the seminary down at New Orleans and work on a PhD down there. And literally on the Sunday morning that we were about to leave, I rolled over and just touched Lois and felt a lump in her left breast. And so it sort of changed everything for us. Well, we continue through a time of treatment and ministry and being loved well by the people there in Alex City. And we moved up to Lakeside Baptist, and we were serving there. And literally we had been at Lakeside Baptist two weeks when Lois’ cancer came back. And it was just devastating. She spent many, many days in the hospital during that time at Lakeside and passed and went home to be with the Lord. After Lois died, I became pretty discouraged as you would imagine, being a young man, late 30s, we had three children, a daughter and twin boys, elementary school, preschool. And it was really, really, really tough. And we just, frankly, after serving, I was getting discouraged and I just couldn’t get my mind around, God, I need to know what You have for me, what you want me to do with my life. We were on a staff retreat. Many of you have been down to the Twin Pond Retreat Center. And we went down to the Twin Pond Retreat Center there at Ster. And literally I was at my lowest point. It was a stormy night physically that night. I mean, we were up in that little crow’s nest and lightning was flashing. And emotionally, that was what was going on in my life. I mean, my life was just a wreck. And I had already decided that if God didn’t give me a word about what He wanted me to do with my life that I was going to resign the ministry that next morning. Well, it was a fleece moment. And for me, I prayed and spent a sleepless night with God and I said, God, what would You have me to do with my life? And I just need You to tell me and give me clarity, a life mission statement, and I need you to back it up and show me in scripture. And some have challenged it and said, Steve, that was pretty brave to confront God like that. And I don’t think I was confronting. And I think I was begging Him to please help and encourage me during this low time in my life. And God gave me two words. He said, Steve, I want you to encourage and equip people on their journey toward Chrislikeness. I want you just to spend the rest of your time teaching them how to make disciples. Do that in word, do that in deed, do that through conferences that you lead. Do that through conversations you have with people. Do that through connecting people to resources and other people. And God just began to work in my life in that way. And it was a time of rejoicing, honestly, because I felt like now I had clarity following this stormy time and this discouraging time, but I thought I can do that. I can equip and encourage people. But I said, Lord, I really wanna know where do I find this in Your word? What are the model life verses to go with that? And God gave me three. One is the Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:37 through 39, and you know the verse: to love the Lord with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love the Lord with all yourself, all that you are, give Him your very best in all that you have. Give him your everything, and to love your neighbor as your yourself. And he also drove me to Matthew 28:18 through 20 and the Great Commission. To go and to make disciples of all the world. And He promised us at the end of that chapter that He would be with us always. And then He drove us to what I call the Great Call to equip and encourage. And that’s found in Ephesians 4:11 through 13. And we’ve already talked a little bit about that passage in Ephesians four, to equip the saints and to encourage them. To build up the body, if you will. So really that’s who I am. And that’s why I was so excited, Daniel, to come and be a part of the State Board of Missions Team and to have this opportunity to minister to ministers to pastors and leaders and lay leaders in our congregations and just help them. Daniel mentioned to you that we wanna talk to you about a tool. And this tool has been germinating in Daniel and Mark’s heart for a long time. And I was honored to come in and to join them in this dream. And it’s called Connect316. And you’ll hear a lot about Connect316. It’s really a tool that’s a simple strategy just to equip people to reach missional objectives. Those objectives that God’s called you and your church family to reach. They’re determined by the, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit by the leadership in your church. What I love about Connect316 is it answers the why question. And that’s the question and Daniel referenced that. We’re gonna talk a lot about that next week and in the weeks to come. But if you think about how does it answer the why question, you might be asking, well, why do we need a group strategy? Why do we need an evangelism strategy? And a good answer of that is just to connect people to Christ, community, and commission. That word connect, we select it. And we thought that it was the word that resonated in our hearts that the spirit was leading us to, but you may have a different word. And you’ll hear about that over the next week or so. You might have a word like love or life or grace or family, whatever it is that has kinda been that rally, that word that God has placed on your heart for your congregation in your cultural setting to be able to reach people. But we landed on Connect because we believe that the process of making disciples is Bob’s connecting people to Christ, community, and to the commission. And we wanna dive into that really, really heavy next week. We used the number 316 and that’s a number or numbers that are connected to the local context at the local church in which they’re utilized. And you’re going to discover that those numbers can be changed to reflect your context or your emphasis in your ministry. Now, when we first come together, we thought a lot about 316, and it reminded us of a pretty important verse in the Bible, John 3:16. And we talked a lot about that of how John 3:16 is a verse that people in our congregations many already know and it’s easy for them to learn. And we realize that we could build a program around that, but the desire is not to build a program. The desire was to give you a tool, if it was a process tool, that intentionally creates a missional movement in your life and the life of your church. So we’re gonna introduce some things. We’ll talk about John 3:16. As a matter of fact, we’re gonna introduce one verse evangelism to you and even show you, have a pastor come and show you how he used it on Easter Sunday to teach his congregation how to share the good news of God’s great love for them. Now I wanna kinda stress and here’s the importance of Connect316. We have our key driving word but we also have three numbers that follow that. And the first one, the 3 for us represents people. You know, our mission has to be and must be focused on people. So 3 helps us to encourage and equip disciples of Jesus to identify the people who need him. They need that connection to Christ. They need that connection to community. They need that connection to the commission. And when you think about that and you may be thinking, I need to help our folks think about reaching lost and searching people. You may be thinking about who those are and we’ll come alongside you and we’ll encourage and equip you in identifying those people. And we hope to have some conversations with you both in your context and through these Lunch and Learn meetings about how those numbers work. You might choose 1 for example. And we talked about some of you who are already using who’s your 1. So for you, it might be 1 instead of 3. But just remember that first number for us is representing the people in helping our congregations, the people that God’s entrusted to our care to identify people who need Jesus or need to come back and be a part of our congregation. The 1 represents a plan or a path for us. So our desire is to encourage and equip disciples in the use of a plan. A plan that you select, that’s selected by the leadership of your church family is designed to help you reach missional objectives. And you think about that. You think about one, it could be a plan of salvation to reach lost and searching people. It might be a plan to connect people or to reconnect people to your community group. It might be that your 1 is your path of disciple-making. So in these coming weeks, and in these coming months we were gonna focus on multiple plans that lead towards salvation to equip your leadership. And the cool thing about it is as we’ve talked about these plans, they are things that are easy for you as pastors and leaders to be able to share with your folks in ways that they can embrace them and utilize them quickly. Mark Gainey, who Daniel mentioned, is another one of our missionaries on our team’s gonna be coming and talking with you about a disciple’s path and how you can put together a disciple’s path to reach people, and that can be your 1. The last number, 6, represents practice. It’s steps, if you will, in this process that’s needed to accomplish the mission of the kingdom and the mission of your church family. So we’re gonna talk about practices. We’ll talk about the importance of prayer and these practices. We’ll talk about some steps that can create movement. But we’re not gonna give you a one, two, three because we want to come alongside and encourage you to think about your church family and for you to be able to develop intentional strategies, intentional practices, intentional steps that’ll lead you and fit your church culture and your missional objectives. I’ve got to tell you, I love 316, Connect316. And the reason I do is I think back across them 35 years that I’ve served as a Christian educator in local church. And it resonated with my heart because number one, it reminded us of what we’re about as disciple makers and as church leaders, connecting people to Jesus, helping them to find him. It’s about not only doing that; it’s equipping our people to be able to share the gospel, equipping them to be able to engage in gospel conversations with lost and searching people. And it’s a plan that allows us to have processes in place for those who are line process thinkers. It allows us to be able to help them to be able to have the courage and the confidence to share the good news of God’s great love with the world. So I’m thrilled to be one of our state missionaries. I’m thrilled to come alongside you. I’m thrilled to serve in the office. And I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to Connect 316. And I believe it’s gonna be a great tool to encourage you and to equip you as people regather this fall.
– Yeah, Steve. I wanna invite you all that are listening at this point to enter any questions that you have or need for clarification. Of course, we will kinda do a deep dive in this next week, but I hope that you heard some things that stir in your heart and mind about taking your mission to become missional movement among your people. Here’s the thing that Steve and I know from our own personal experience but also by talking to so many leaders around our state. I spent some time with a good friend of mine at his church. And we did some asking of some questions. This was one of the questions I asked these leaders: What if Jesus was your new associate pastor for disciple-making? What if Paul was that person? What do you think in your next leadership meeting they would ask you about? All of us know that one of the things they would ask about is people. Who are you trying to reach? Who are you trying to disciple? Who are you mentoring for leadership? They would wanna talk about people. And then here’s the thing that we heard back from most of our leaders. I don’t think we could have that conversation and get answers. That most of our classes haven’t identified people that need to connect with their class or with their group. Most of our groups haven’t identified anybody that they’re trying to share the gospel with. Many of our classes haven’t even identified the next generation leader that’s in their group that’s gonna launch the next group. You know what? We’ve all had these discussions through the years and we know the problems are there. Why haven’t we addressed them? Well, one of the things is that many times we don’t know what to do. I remember, again, in that church, they said, well, we know we need to start new groups. We’re at the age-old question, where do you get the leaders? And I said, there’s a reason it’s an age-old question. Nobody’s answered that question. And I’m not gonna answer it either. But the Bible never comes to that question because the Bible teaches us to make disciples who can make disciples. The problem is we try to keep getting leaders from people that are not even disciples. And we enlist a lot of times our problem. So we need to get back to remembering that we’re about people, and that one of the things that ought to be at the forefront of our minds is who are the people that need to know Christ, who are the people that need to be connected to our group, who are the people that need to be developed for a place of leadership, who are the people that need to be discipled to become disciple makers? And so the great thing about Connect316, Dave, is that flexibility, they can take Connect316 and they can apply it to the environment of what we’re trying to reach more people for Christ. So what do we need to do? Well, you need to discover people. You need to teach, equip your people with a plan and you need to show them the best practices, do and teach the best practices that they can use in reaching somebody. Maybe you’re looking more at your group strategy and you’re saying, how are we going to regather this fall?
– Well, you need to identify the people. Identify the people that have stopped coming, that need to be re-engaged. Identify people that are new in the community or that your people know that have never been in a group. So identify those people. Develop a plan. The plan may be something like we’re gonna have a big gathering at the park, who knows? But you’ll develop a plan and then you’ll give them some practices that they can use to accomplish that. What if it’s about making disciples or developing leaders? Guess what? You still gotta come back. You gotta connect. You gotta connect people and you connect them of course to Christ, community, or commission. So it works in those three environments, Connect316 would help those of you that are disciples to say who are the disciples ready to take that next step. Who are the people? What’s the plan? What are the practices that I want to demonstrate before them? Because those are the practices that they need to demonstrate as a disciple going forward in the future. So I hope that you’re hearing about a tool and, of course, it’s at a 30,000-foot view that basically poses a few basic questions that you need to answer and everybody that you’re encouraging and equipping needs to be able to answer. So that when you come together for a leadership meeting, guess what? First thing is, okay. Who are the people? What’s the plan and what are our best practices? And that you learn, and grow, and encourage, and equip each other for the future. Now I noticed, Steve, our buddy Tim has asked a question and he said, Steve, what was that first Matthew passage that you mentioned that’s with the Great Commandments.
– Yeah, and thanks, Tim. It’s good to see that. And good to hear from you, buddy, and know that we’re praying for you and your guys. The first passage that God gave to me was Matthew 22:37 through 39. And that’s the Great Commandment. And so you’ll find it there, “Love the Lord with your heart, soul, and mind.” The second passage that I mentioned was Matthew 28:18 through 20, which is the Great Commission. And then the third passage that I mentioned was Ephesians 4:11 through 13. And I call it the Great Call to equip and encourage. And so hopefully they all, I know that in my life, if I can love God with all I am; and if I can love others, as I love my self; if I can be a disciple and a disciple maker of other people and make sure that they are growing and being formed, conformed, and transformed into the image of Christ-likeness; if I can encourage people along the way and equip people, that’s a pretty good task. And that’s a good day’s work. And I’m excited to do those. So it adds a lot of comfort, Tim, into my life to be able to lead into the life I believe of all pastors and ministers. So, the Great Commandment, the Great Commission, and the Great Call to equip and encourage.
– By the way, before we leave that, I know we had a minute, and I was just listening. And, well, would it be you were talking about our leadership meeting. But can you imagine as our Sunday school, and life group leaders, and small group leaders are sitting there with their groups and they’re talking to their folks. Okay, let’s identify folks. And over these next weeks, I can just, I can see that. I can almost apply on the wall if you will, love to be in those rooms and hear people begin to talk about the people that they know that need to have a relationship with Jesus. So the people who were once active, and coming back, and them talking about how are we going to not only equip each other with a plan, but they begin to practice that plan in the room and in the group. And they have different leaders coming upfront each week, and giving confidence, gaining confidence, if you will, in sharing and practice. Safe places for them to practice. And then for them just to have some great steps, processes, plan to procedures, just to be able to say, you know, I can do that. I can begin to pray for my lost family members. I can begin to invite them to do things with me. And man, just when I start thinking about how the strategy is at a high level of church strategy, but man, in a very practical level. I can just hear it and see it in my mind groups and talking about Connect316, and teachers having confidence as they lead those conversations.
– Yeah. I think you’re exactly right in that. And I think that gives energy in the group.
– It makes the mission fun. And I used to tell people, to be honest with you, if it’s not fun, why would I wanna do it? But loving God and loving people ought to be the most fun that anybody could ever have. But sometimes we get so distracted by other things in the world that we forget why we’re here and what we’ve been called to do. And so your reminders there have been great. Our good friend, Tim. Tim’s a church planner and his daughter’s one of my sweethearts, but he says, maybe I’m getting ahead, but if not, is Connect316 an online resource or something different? And Steve, I’ll let you answer that too, but I’m gonna kinda say yes to both. There will be provisions for online resources. For example, Tim, when we start doing the deep dive next week, you will see like, if we’re gonna equip you to equip your people how to discover people, we got to put tools in your hands. And so there will be online connection to those tools that you can use. So there will be some of that as well. When we talk about like, what if you need a plan of salvation? You kinda heard Steve even talk about not just a plan of salvation but a plan of how to teach your people to use, equip your people to use that plan. And it’s not so much trying to pick the plan for you, but say, whatever plan you pick, here’s what you need to do. And so we will actually point you in some of those instances to some online resources and apps that already exist that many people don’t know how to use or they don’t know that they’re there. And we’re discovering that some of ’em, I think because they’re not named what they ought to be named for easy viewing or utilization. So, Tim, there’s kind of some online resource that will be there. We’ll probably put an outline that people can read or you can use. We created what we call the Elevator Conversation, where you could sit down with some of your leaders and say, here’s the basic bullet points of what we’re trying to do. And then the other thing, Tim, that we want to create is conversation.
– Everybody on here I know and have known many of you for years. My goodness, when I see Steve Thompson and think about enterprise, Steve was at Hillcrest Baptist in enterprise before he was at Woodmont and he’s been 26, 7 years at Woodmont now. So Steven and I kinda go back a week or two almost as much as Steve Layton and I do in many ways. So what I’m getting to is we wanna invite you in on some of these conversations. So in the future, one of the resources would be to join in a conversation where we can talk about and help you. So Tim, as you’re a church planner, it’ll be like, I have an extra staff that I can call a staff meeting and meet with. And it’s not just Steve, and Daniel, and Mark, but it may include Eric and Steve Thompson. And we’re just coming together and hashing out, guys, what are you saying? What are you doing? And so one of our objectives is to create conversation. Remember that? We said conference, conversation, and connection. So we wanna do that. Steve, how would you speak to Tim on that issue?
– Yeah, Tim. So I agree a hundred percent. We’re gonna resource you as much as you need, and we’re gonna connect you to resources. Here’s the way I think about it. And one of the things that makes me tremendously excited and that is, Tim, I could see Daniel, I could see myself Mark. I could see some of the other leaders, pastors, and second chair leaders that are on this Zoom or a part associated in disciple-making movements in our state, come and sit down with you. And just to begin to talk about what’s your setting, what’s your culture, what do you need, who’s there? What equipping do they need? So I do think there is that connecting part. And I think that’s one of the things that we’re excited about is now that COVID is starting to lift to be able to get out and sit down with you and partner with you to develop strategic plans versus just hand you a kit, or a model, or a module, and say, go execute this. So I think it’s that coming alongside. The other thing, Tim, is that, and Daniel, since he mentioned getting ahead, I get ahead a little bit but Pinnacle Alabama’s shock all this year is gonna allow a tremendous opportunity for people to talk about these things, to get in groups and have conversations with key leaders and with each other about how to do this. So yes, we’re going to resource, but as much as resource and one of our desires is just to come alongside and encourage you to begin under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to develop things. So we’re here to lock shields with you, to help you, to connect you with people, and to resource you so that you can do that. So, yeah, I think your answer is exactly right. It’s both and. It’s yes, we’re gonna give you some resources that you can view and see how the Spirit’s leading. And yes, we wanna come alongside you and pray with you and just literally talk about how we can help you develop a strategy for making disciples.
– Tim, in fact, I was just thinking, one of our struggles in this process has been developing a logo, so to speak. And one of the things that we’ve talked about is say, again, you don’t like the word connect. You like the word live, or life, or living sin or whatever it is. And so you can take that resource, just pull it down, click, drag, put in your word, change the numbers, so a resource that would stay customizable to you. But it would give us something, you know, language. And I don’t need to say this to Tim, but language creates culture. And so it’s choosing some language there that even though you may use Life 272 or whatever, we know what we’re talking about. And then it boils down to our missional focus and then people, plan, and practices. And so we can have good conversation around those things. And so, we have kind of labored over some of this to the point. We would like to have more of those resources already online. And we are even revisiting with Mitchell our online presence ’cause we’re trying to think of how do we streamline, where people can quickly find those things that they want and get what they need and get to us. And so, that was a real long answer, Tim, to your question, but I hope it did answer the question sufficiently that we wanna both end type strategy. ‘Cause here’s the other thing that I’ll say and then hush on this topic is we believe we can learn from you. And we will learn from you and pass it on to others too. We are not the sole experts on this subject. We’ve got years of experience but we value your experience and your input. And so that’s why that conversation and connection component is huge in our future, in our office. And it allows us to do something else that I said earlier, learn to be small and nimble. So we can come and gather four and five guys or ladies together and say, let’s talk. Let’s have a conversation. How can I encourage you? Where can I equip you? Do you need a hug? I mean, we’ve all kind of needed that here lately, but to be able to say, what can we do for you? What do we need to be doing for you? And so that you have a better sense that we are your missionaries, we work for you and we wanna be there, okay?
– And I think, too, Daniel, when you think about that. Yes, what we can do to support and resource them. But our prayer, as we’ve talked about this over the past few weeks is how do we help disciple makers? Those on our webinar, those who are watching, those who are serving in churches across Alabama and associations. How do we help them equip others? So they’re experts in the field already here. They already know how to do these things and know how to do them well. And so we’re excited in our office about empowering you to help share the message. It’s not just a message coming out of our office but it’s just a, it’s a way, and hopefully it’s language that you can use to empower others. I envision a day where we may say, hey, Tim down here really has some great ideas on a strategic planning as a church planter or he has some great connecting ideas or identifying ideas and that we can not only have Tim on here but that we could say to someone and I say, Tim, go over and say, hey, what are you thinking about this? He went, ’cause, well, Tim, Dan knows this and he can, this is how he does it. And so, anyway, I’m hoping and praying that we’ll get to that point. And so we could connect Tim Henning and Tim Gold together in such ways that they could help each other. So I think that’s gonna be a strength that Connect316 also.
– Yeah. And I’m seeing some folks on here that, you know, I’ve sat down and broke bread with, and I’ve learned from them, and I’ve hoped that I encouraged and equipped them as well. And some guys and gals that are lifelong friends and–
– That are on here. And so this relationship that we have with you is a relationship we wanna continue to foster and grow and say to you that we’re here. Well, I wanna begin to wrap our time. If you have another question, we’ll be glad to answer it. But I mentioned at the beginning that there are two tools. And so I want you to know that on May 27th, a Thursday at lunchtime, we’ll unveil another tool that’s called Four Invitations. Now those of you and, I see Eric Taylor is on here that have been involved in disciple-making know that everybody takes some kind of approach to laying out a disciple’s path. And a lotta times each one of those parts of the path, each step, whatever you wanna go. Dann Spader calls it a chair, four chair discipling. They usually give a name to it. And again, we’re trying to say, let’s look at those steps and create movement between those. And so what we have done is we said, let’s look at how Jesus made disciples and how he created movement in his disciples. And so we’ll be looking at four invitations Jesus used in disciple-making and kinda going back to what Tim Henning asks. This will be one of those both/and situations too. Mark hopes that in June, he will release an ebook that you would then even be able to go to Amazon and print on demand or something like that if you wanted to use it with your leadership. And we’ll probably create some pages that you can use kind of as a tool to have discussion with your leaders. So as you learn about these four invitations, then we can overlay this same kind of Connect316 tool in it because each of those invitations is really an environment. And not to steal any of Mark’s thunder, we all worked on this together. In fact, this goes back to Mark, Andy, and myself as I just shared with them one day that as much as all of us have come to some of the same pattern that my favorite way of expressing the disciple’s path is by using the invitations that Jesus used with his disciples including one that I think is overlooked, which prevents us or precludes us from creating the movement. We miss this piece. And so here are the Four Invitations. First is come and see. That’s the invitation to come see that he is the Messiah, the son of God, okay? The second invitation is that most important piece that I think is missing in our church. It comes out of Mark chapter three when Jesus called those he wanted to be with him. We call that the to be with me invitation, to be with him. But listen, so he could send them, okay? And it’s from the Gospel of Mark which is really the gospel that talks about what does it mean to repent, believe, and follow. And you watch the growth of the disciples through the Book of Mark. And so he called those he wanted to be with him so he could send them. This is the process of making a disciple. We’ll talk about where that is even embedded in your church. Excuse me. And then the third invitation, follow me. Follow me and I will make you to become. And the final invitation, remain in me. We choose that one because that one is also found in the Great Commission. ‘Cause he says that I’ll be with you till the end of the age. What’s he really saying? Remain in me and I will remain in you till the end of the age. That’s his invitation to the disciples. You go and make disciples, I’m with you. I’m in. You till the end of the age. And so the Four Invitations I hope will help us not only think about our disciples’ path, but think about how we encourage and equip people so that it does, it does create movement along that path. We learn how to use the things that are already existing in our churches, whether it’s the large gatherings, or the groups, or the huddles, whatever it is in our church, and how they should be aligned, and how they help each other create that movement where ultimately we make disciples who are remaining in him by making disciples themselves. So that’s the thumbnail sketch of what’s to come on May 27th. I hope you’ll come and join Mark in that discussion. And then in the summer, we’ll be doing deep dives in each one of these areas. And we’ll be calling on some of you to help us get in the conversation, and let’s talk about people. Let’s talk about plans. Let’s talk about practices. Let’s talk about invitations. Let’s talk about creating movement along the path. And so I look forward to the future. I wanna say another quick word of thanks to Mitchell Bruce, who has been our tech guy today. We thank you for doing some last minute bail out. I thank each of you, who I include among my friends, for joining us today on really short notice. I want you to come back and join us again next week. Bring others in to the discussion with us as we begin to do a deeper dive into Connect316. So hope to see you next week. Till then, God bless you and take care.