Every week, you have an audience who gathers to worship, listens to preaching and considers being on mission in the community and around the world.
However, it's not an audience you need. To impact your community and fulfill your church's mission in the world, you need an army. You need to mobilize your congregation to do what God is calling you to do.
You don't mobilize an army on accident. You do it on purpose. You do it by meeting the specific needs of the groups of people your church should regularly engage—and moving them toward a life that's on mission.
The community: These are the people your church has the potential to reach on any given week. They live near your church and may even visit occasionally.
The crowd: This is everyone who attends your church on a regular basis but has yet to join in church membership.
The congregation: These are your church members.
The committed: This is everyone who is growing in spiritual disciplines and walking with God daily.
The core: These are the people who are not only growing in Christ, but who are also serving in your church.
The commissioned: This is your goal for every person at your church—to send them on mission to reach new people.
Of course, the key is to understand how to move people through each group, from the community all the way through to the commissioned. If you're going to build an army, you can't leave any group out. You need a system that reinforces the progression of people from one group to the next.
At Saddleback, we've built the CLASS system, which is designed to help people in each of these groups make the commitments necessary to move to the next stage. Each class focuses on different commitments.
Class 101 centers on the commitments necessary to be a member of the church.
Class 201 focuses on spiritual-growth commitments.
Class 301 helps attendees discover their God-given SHAPE and make the commitment to serve in ministry at the church.
Class 401 prepares people to commit to sharing the Good News about Jesus.
We've built these classes around an image of a baseball diamond, but I've seen other churches do the same thing with a racetrack, a soccer field or a mountain. It doesn't really matter. You just want an image that communicates movement.
How does the CLASS system help your church reinforce the commitments necessary to move from the community to the commissioned? When it is the only set of classes you offer every single month, it tells your church family, "These commitments matter." And when you regularly talk about them with your church, people will realize the value you place behind the commitments described in each class.
The classes also help people focus on the commitments they need to make in their spiritual lives. Let's face it—we live in an unfocused world. Most people feel like they're spread too thin. Because the classes are scheduled at a specific time and place, your congregation is better able to set aside time to commit to their spiritual growth.
Plus, people are more likely to make these commitments with the support and encouragement of others who are making the same commitments. One obstacle that keeps people from making spiritual commitments is when they feel like they are doing it alone. When others are making the same commitments, they share a sense of community.
You don't have to give these classes the same name we give them at Saddleback (Class 101, 201, 301 and 401), but if you want to turn an audience into an army, you need a system—and these classes are a great way to start developing that system.
Tom Holladay is a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church and author of The Relationship Principles of Jesus. Tom is also co-author of Foundations, a comprehensive study for teaching the essential truths of Christian faith in a simple and systematic way. Foundations explores 11 core doctrines: the Bible, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, creation, salvation, sanctification, good and evil, the afterlife, the church and the Second Coming.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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