As our theme this month is on multiplication, I thought I would discuss one of the most difficult parts of disciple-making: bringing a team that's grown close to each other to an end. To learn more about how to start and lead a team of your own, check out this month's featured class: The Lost Art of Disciple-Making.
Ending a FAST TeamBy Dan Vis
June 18, 2018
After leading a SS class through the 8 or 9 months of our basic FAST curriculum, you may find your team is reluctant to return to their regular adult SS classes. After months of engaging lessons, practical training, weekly objectives, accountability, and high levels of support--to suddenly take this all away can feel rather abrupt. If they are not prepared for the transition, it can be a real "shock" to their spiritual life.
And actually, you as a teacher may be reluctant to send your graduates back to a regular class too. Because there is little accountability, you know your graduates might stop preparing their Bible studies in advance. Because the memory verses assigned in the quarterly are not often emphasized, their memorization could slack off. Because the teaching in most classes is often abstract and theological, degenerating into recycled cliches and personal opinions, the focus you have cultivated on personal application could begin to fade away. And the chance of any real training being incorporated into their new class is pretty slim!
Granted, the quality of SS classes varies from church to church, and from teacher to teacher. But the contrast between the typical FAST class and the typical SS class is significant. All the hard work you have put into building new habits and skills into the lives of your team members can be eroded quite quickly by the sudden change in environment.
Yes, the transition from a FAST class to your regular SS classes can be a difficult one. But the paragraphs below suggest three things you can do to help smooth this adjustment.
PacesettingFirst, every graduate must be taught the importance of standing on their own two feet. Their personal discipleship must not remain dependent on the support of their team forever. At some point, the principles they have been learning must be fully internalized.
Practically, this translates into the need for each graduate to determine to become a pacesetter. Others may not come to class on time--but they can. Others may not study their lessons in advance--but they can. Others may not memorize their verses--but they can. Others may not dig out principles and make personal applications--but they can. There is no reason the habits they have been building in FAST need to come to a stop.
Urge your graduates to commit, through careful preparation, to come to each class with something to offer. When the discussion drifts into personal opinions, they should be ready to bring it back by quoting some verse they have memorized. When things degenerate into abstraction, they should be ready to point out a relevant principle, and bring it home by highlighting a personal application. Your graduates can model something different.
Remember, a person does not have to be the class teacher to have a positive impact on a SS class--but they must come prepared. The skills your team has learned in FAST will equip them to make a difference, but they must determine to use those skills! Encourage each one to be an example of study, memorization, and application. Encourage them to set a pace.
Ministry of EncouragementSecond, they should be encouraged to see their return to regular SS classes, as an opportunity to minister to other members of your church. By a word of testimony here and there, they may be able to encourage others outside their class to seek a deeper personal experience with God.
Urge them to take advantage of opportunities to share a brief word of exhortation on the importance of studying the weekly lesson, of memorizing the verses, of making practical application, etc. To look for opportunities to share a specific story of how God’s Word was a blessing in their life--perhaps in some witnessing experience, in an answer to prayer, or in some victory over temptation.
God may even use their words to impress someone to approach them with questions about how to memorize, find applications, claim promises, etc. If so, they can offer to share some of the things you have learned in FAST. If the interest continues, they can begin meeting regularly outside of the regular worship times at church, to work on verses, pray together, or encourage personal application. And the next time your church launches a FAST team, they can encourage their friends to join.
Challenge your graduates to use their personal influence to inspire other members of your church to strive for greater commitment. And ask them to pray God would use those efforts to awaken a greater hunger for spiritual growth throughout the church membership. In time, the whole culture of your church may begin to change.
A High Commitment ClassIf your church is large enough to have more than one SS class, you may be able to launch one or more high commitment classes--led by former FAST leaders or graduates. Such a class would be modeled on the basic principles of FAST--but would use the regular lesson quarterly.
To do this, consider preparing a weekly goal sheet for the class. Goals might include a specific Bible passage from the quarterly to study inductively, the assigned memory verse, coming prepared to share one personal application, etc. These sheets can be passed out as a supplement to the quarterly, or in some situations as a replacement. There should be a clear expectation that participation in the class requires a commitment to fulfill the weekly objectives.
The basic format of the class should resemble your FAST class. Each class begins with a weekly time of accountability, to check over those goal sheets. Each member should complete their lesson study in advance, and come prepared to share the principles and applications they made. Members could be encouraged to take up some form of ministry, and devote a few minutes to weekly ministry reports, as well. Time at the end should be reserved for conversational prayer, focused on the content of that week's study and any special needs. And each meeting should close with a preview of the coming week's objectives and a challenge to carry them out.
Every effort should be made to encourage a high level of commitment.
FREE Gift!Check out these free team goal sheets from FAST. Each comes with a space for the leader to assign specific objectives in key areas, an inductive Bible Search form to complement the quarterly, and a place to record prayer requests in the group.
FREE Gift!Check out these free FAST Goal Sheets for your team. Each comes with a space for the leader to assign specific objectives in key areas, an inductive Bible Search form to complement the lesson quarterly, and a place to record prayer requests in the group.
And it's completely FREE to members!
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Not everyone in your church will want such a class. But many of your graduates will appreciate the opportunity to stay in an environment that encourages continued growth. And other individuals thirsting for a deeper experience may be drawn in as well. The fellowship will be sweet, and lives will be changed. Leading such a class may require a bit more planning and a bit more effort, but the rewards will be worth it!
ConclusionWorking through our entire discipleship track with a group of believers can create real change in their lives. Many will want to continue that growth. As a leader, you must urge them to be a pace setter, to look for opportunities to encourage others, and if possible, to join a special high commitment class. If they follow these steps, there is no reason their development has to stop!
Urge your team to view the transition back to a regular SS class as an opportunity to take their discipleship to the next level. By preparing them for the change it can prove to be a blessing to them, and to their entire church.
Take the Next StepWant to learn the nuts and bolts of leading a FAST discipleship team for yourself? Give our Lost Art of Disciple-Making class a try. Recently revised and expanded, and FREE through the month of June. Click here to sign up:
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CommentsHave you ever had to transition from a FAST class back to a regular SS class? How did it impact your personal discipleship? Which of the suggestions above might have been helpful to you? Can you think of other ways to strengthen our regular SS classes?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 06/18/18 - Coach
|It starts with a vision for something different. Then the next step is developing a plan to make that vision happen. Maybe one day you can get a class going in your church Carole!
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