Four Fields College Ministry Retreat

A couple of weekends ago we took a convoy of students to Black Mountain, NC for a weekend retreat. We’ve been taking retreats to Tarheel Lodge in Black Mountain for many years. This trip was a first of its kind for many reasons.

In the old days we would take only our leadership team, interns, and staff to this location for this kind of retreat. The retreat at Black Mountain was meant to be chock full of vision casting, strategizing, and hard work. We thought we would be doing something similar with this trip.

One of the key differences was that in the group we took, around 1/3 of the students present were new believers that we lead to faith in the harvest. Somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the students that went were relatively new in their faith even if we didn’t personally lead them to faith.

Formerly, we took our highest level leaders away and pushed them really hard. For this retreat, we had lots of new people and we realized that we couldn’t push them. We could only invite them forward. Rather than being a work-retreat, it was a shepherding retreat.

We planned this retreat to help us solve a problem. It is hard to get college students away to longer trainings like Four Fields Intensives where they can discover for themselves principles from the Bible about why we do what we do.

Our solution was to take a normal college ministry weekend retreat and pack it with training modules from a Four Fields Intensive. We narrowed down the list of training components to only those that would fit our students and their context.

Here’s what we ended up doing:

  • God’s Mission from Genesis to Revelation
  • Critical Path from 0 to Healthy Church
  • Four Fields Bible Discovery – Luke 8-13
  • Four Fields Bible Discovery – Acts 13-20

Answered Prayers

IMG_3352(L to R – me, Spencer, Bailey, Caleb, Noah, Anna, Scott)

This picture represents God’s answer to a prayer we pray every single day – Luke 10:2. At 10:02AM and 10:02PM we beg the Lord to send out laborers into the harvest.

Scott & Anna Kilby serve on our campus team for #NoPlaceLeft Boone. God called both of them out of full time jobs to raise their support and devote their lives to full time ministry.

Spencer & Bailey Hodges are leading our NPL Boone City team. He is a pharmacist fresh out of school and she is a school teacher in Vilas. They are the epitome of what we want to see multiply here in Boone and beyond. They are helping to pilot the first Church Planting Residency out of Perkinsville Baptist Church.

Caleb Sprinkle is one of our BCM grads from a few years back. He is the college pastor at FBC Charlotte and is implementing the same 4 Fields Strategy toward the NoPlaceLeft Vision. He is an incredible and focused young leader. He is leading a training next weekend in Charlotte and our Boone team is helping!

Noah Michaw is one of Caleb’s students and is leading the charge in Fort Mill, SC (just outside of Charlotte across the state line). He helped us facilitate the training we had just led when this picture was taken. He is an incredible leader as well.

Each family / person in this picture represents many many more they are leading and training. What an honor it is to serve with these fine people!

Charlotte Gospel Conversations Training

Location: First Baptist Church Charlotte – 301 South Davidson St. Charlotte, NC 28202
Contact: Caleb Sprinkle

Register

Description: Join us for an interactive Gospel Conversation Training that is leading to a movement of many new disciples and church plants in North America and Abroad.

This training will equip believers in making disciples who make disciples with simple, effective tools to cast a God sized vision for reaching the lost people of Charlotte (700K+). You will learn effective lifestyle tools to help you pray for the lost people in your area of influence, competently and confidently start gospel conversations, and initiate follow-up that will lead to multiplying disciples.

This hands-on training includes practice of the tools you will learn with an exciting opportunity to engage the community for prayer and gospel conversations. Every participant will leave knowing how to clearly share the gospel and train a fellow believer to do the same until there is #NoPlaceLeft in our region who has not heard the gospel.

For more trainings this year, have a look at the list here.

From Campus to Community: Residencies

I have written before about how our work in a primarily collegiate setting is spilling over into the community. The same story is continuing to unfold in some exciting ways.

Perkinsville Baptist Church is where Kelly and I are members – they are our sending church and one of our supporting churches. They were quick to invite us to facilitate disciple making trainings with college students, youth, and adults. They hosted our first Gospel Conversations Training for #NoPlaceLeftBoone as well. The pastor, Seth Norris, and I are good friends and have spent many hours discussing the work we’ve been doing in the collegiate community and he has helped me refine my thinking and practice.

The 4 Fields Strategy and the #NoPlaceLeft vision has started creeping into the church and it has been beautiful. One key way we have seen local churches take ownership of the strategy is through Church Planter / Missionary Residencies. They turn the vision, strategy, and tactics into recruitable platform that fits well in a variety of settings – including a local church. It is Perkinsville’s way of taking ownership of lostness in their own community and training their members as well as other believers to make disciples, start new churches out of the harvest, and reproduce leaders.

This is just the beginning for PBC and for the broader community of Boone, NC.


PBC Residency Interest Meeting. These folks were interested enough in the idea of a residency that they showed up for the meeting. Many have been consistently out in the harvest sharing their faith in the lead-up time. 


We cannot expect believers to be able to take ownership of the entire Great Commission unless we train them (give them skills) to do each part of it. They need to be able to identify people who are far from God, share the gospel, baptize new believers, and teach them to obey Jesus’ commands.

See, Here is Water!

As seen in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Official (Acts 8), baptisms can happen in unexpected locations. In the last few months we have had baptisms occur in the university pool (Video 1), a local hotel pool (Videos 2 & 3), and in the river (Video 4). Each one is marked by the simple joys of disciplers baptizing their new disciples and being surrounded by friends, family, and their new church family.

I’ve written about baptisms before here and here.

We cannot reproduce healthy disciple making, church formation, and leadership development if we are not giving away responsibility at every level as we go. This is a key value in the 4 Fields strategy that we are using.

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.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 2.38.30 PM.png

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.

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.