Life on the front porch

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Starting something new? Where do you start?

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Last week at Springs Leadership Conference I was encouraged and challenged in my process thinking about starting things by Dr. Samuel Chand   He’s one of the world’s leading thinkers in the area of leadership and organizational growth.  I’ve walked home with his book, “Who’s holding your ladder.”  Hope to give you an overview of that in the months to come.

Dr. Chand gave us 5 words to follow sequentially when we’re ready to start something new.  It’s very helpful, because as I listened, I realize that I like to start at the very practical questions of when and who and how – good questions, but not at the start of the process.  Here’s his suggested process and my thoughts.

1. Sustainability – How long is this supposed to last?

– in church work, we rarely think about whether an initiative is permanent or short term.  This is important in recruiting and envisioning.  Early adopters love to jump on a project and get it going quickly – they’re great starters or short term project people.  Late adopters are the ones who keep it going long after the early adopters have started 3 or 4 new projects!  Knowing it’s lifespan also puts the right measurements on the work.

– The lifespan also helps decide how much infrastructure needs to be in place.

2. Scalability – Can this grow?

– When I think about Alpha, one obstacle churches face is that large churches are held up as the model of ideal Alpha.  This isn’t intentional, nor is it the goal, but it is natural because it’s big churches who tell the most stories.

Historically and globally, Alpha is a small church program that can be scalable to large groups.  Every Alpha needs a Coordinator, Host and a Hospitality person.  Every small group needs a Host (or 2) and a Helper (or 2).  After this, whether you have 2 guests or 1000, Alpha works.  Eating, talks and discussion can happen regardless of the actual group size.

– A good question to ask is: if 10, 30 or 100 people got saved in our church next week, could we help them become followers of Jesus?

3. Replicability – Can we do this over and over?  Which parts should we repeat?

– We need to know, concretely, which should be the same and what should be different.

– This becomes important at the House of Prayer (HOP) because IHOPKC holds up a standard that is impossible to replicate for most Houses of Prayer.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year of worship and prayer is a nice goal, but should it be for a local HOP with 30-50 committed people?  Should the goal be daily expressions?  Certain numbers of hours?  A certain style of worship?  A certain style of teaching?  Is there a common training program that should be maintained so that every HOP can provide a common experience?

4. Functionality – How are we going to get’er done?

– I love to answer these questions, but missing 1, 2 & 3 will leave me unprepared.

– The most important part of this is WHO.  Getting the right people on your project is a matter of personal recruitment, not great announcements.  At Alpha, we call shoulder tapping, “getting Gumbled.”  Nicky Gumble is a master shoulder tapper; he knows who he wants and why.

5. Publicity – How will you communicate?

– internally, rumours can’t derail the communication ladder.  If people in other ministries and churches know things before the employees, you’ve got a publicity problem.

– externally – you can’t leave your publicity to chance or to others who are not invested in the project.  Praying is good, but if people don’t come, you’ve got a publicity problem.

When you’re starting something new, where do you like to start?  Which step are you likely to omit?  Do you have a suggestion to change or adjust this process?

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Author: Robb Massey

I'm a husband, dad, pastor and a coach. I love following Jesus, riding my bike and having fun with my family. We live in wonderful Winnipeg, Manitoba in the prairie heartland of Canada

3 thoughts on “Starting something new? Where do you start?

  1. Good reminders Robb,

  2. Pingback: The 3 Things that get me most excited up about Alpha! | Life on the front porch

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