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The  Crossing  Story

by Jerry  Harris

Shifted:  The  Crossing  Story   Copyright  (c)  2012  by    Jerry  Harris   ISBN:    978-­‐0-­‐9886453-­‐1-­‐8   Distributed  via  Exponential  Resources   Exponential  is  a  growing  movement  of  leaders  committed  to  the  multiplication  of  healthy  new   churches.  Exponential  Resources  spotlights and spreads actionable principles, ideas and solutions for the accelerated multiplication of healthy, reproducing faith communities.  For  more  information,  visit   All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  book  may  be  reproduced  in  any  manner  whatsoever  without  prior  written   permission  from  the  publisher,  except  where  noted  in  the  text  and  in  the  case  of  brief  quotations  embodied  in   critical  articles  and  reviews.   This  book  is  manufactured  in  the  United  States.




budgets. I wrote this for all those leaders who need the tools to turn the ship instead of the plans to build one. They have buildings. there are churches that have been planted.The Purpose of this E-book While Exponential and other organizations concentrate their efforts and attention on the mechanics and nuances of church planting. Since so much church planting is accomplished from cooperation of existing churches. it stands to reason that the healthier existing churches are. We have grown from a small church of 200 to 5500 in 7 locations and planted 2 others as well. I hope our story helps you. Existing churches have a completely different set of circumstances to face in order to embrace discipleship. have grown. are all unique but capturing and adapting ideas from other churches has been a tremendous benefit to us. staffs. the more new churches are launched. and leaderships. Remember that this is our journey. Churches. . like people. and are thriving are all around us. Shifted: The Crossing Story is just one example of a church embracing discipleship then incorporating it into new launches. The trick is empowering the existing church to make the necessary changes to be healthy.

It starts as a pretty common story.. targeting. We began looking to our purpose rather than any tradition.Introduction: The Crossing Story Before I discuss the shifts we made toward relational discipleship as a church.kind of stuck in the model of the 1950's. Services and ministries were conventional.. Although it was a late late bloomer in the church growth movement. worship change. and remodeling. That book formed a clear vision in me to set as a goal for every person that we would interact with. living and working in step with the Holy Spirit. the number on the attendance board would fluctuate. not because I represented anything bigger or more significant. but because I was the replacement in the transition of their previous pastor because of a moral scandal.a desire to do something more significant in God's Kingdom. Blackebyʼs Experiencing God completely changed my understanding of how to know and do the will of God. I think it might help to get a snapshot of who we are. bringing both losses and gains. anything new was both interesting and unsettling. fundraising. That is when I came into this church's story. A lot of that depended on the personality and charisma of it's pastor and his ability to move Christians from other churches into his fold.. the church tried to catch on to the tail end of the growth wave by exploring some new approaches in music. The influence of The Purpose Driven Church coupled with the leadershipʼs desire to do something significant for the Kingdom in the community opened all sorts of doors to marketing. marketing. and staffing.. inside the local leadership. Like most changes in a traditional church setting.. Like most churches.. The lessons taught inside them began shaping my vision for this wounded church. a desire began to form to make a bigger difference.that they would have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ. in the 90's.not exactly the best environment for growth or change... I had been heavily influenced by two books I had just read: Experiencing God and The Purpose Driven Church. . However. As pastoral changes occurred. technology. The Crossing was a church riding the elevator between 100-300 in size over it's quarter-century life.

unprecedented in just wasnʼt translating into the spiritual depth we wanted to see. the same year I came to Quincy. Idaho in 1998. small groups.. It was through that networking that I heard about and met Jim Putman.000 saturated with 85 churches. At the same time of our spiritual depth dilemma.. our growth had opened some doors to me to network with other leaders of large churches normally reserved for leaders in more metropolitan areas. another micropolitan community 60 miles away. special groups. it opened as the largest church in its community. there was a huge blind spot gradually coming into view. It was then that we turned our attention to reproducing using multi-site. This was particularly interesting knowing that it was happening in a rather small. Jim and Aaron Couch had planted a church in Post Falls. IL.000 and then approaching 2. micropolitan city of 40. The evangelism quotient was very high with over 2/3ʼs of our decisions being first-time and not transfer growth. While we had grown quickly and wide regionally. over 1. In the midst of this growth and success. The success we experienced in Macomb spurred us to open more campuses.. The Crossing began to grow exponentially. Our first location was Macomb. Even though we didnʼt have a single member or contact there. The Crossing was growing larger than any local church had seen. Real Life Ministries had grown to and saw an opportunity to extend our reach regionally.The joining of those two concepts in a church environment that invited change was transformative.. Within a few years.000. We had plenty of jumping on points for people to get involved. Our growth was so far from the norm that churches began to call us a cult or soft on biblical truth. This was the spot on the timeline that the need for relational discipleship came into view. non-growing. We had benchmarked Lifechurch. Other churches saw our growth but would not even attempt to duplicate it because of their resistance to the necessary changes. In the same time that the Crossing had grown to 2000. even internationally.. there was an ever increasing understanding in our leadership that it was not producing the personal commitment to Christ over the long term. That encouraged me to .000! Both communities were similar in the sense that they were micropolitan and economically depressed.ministries.

For me. “Is our church going in the right direction? If not. as so many other ministry areas needed work as I compared them to the Crossing. I didnʼt see any other good reason that the church should grow so exponentially outside of their approach to discipleship. It was something very different from the conventional small group programming I had seen in the past. how do you turn the ship? What are the right steps and in what order should they be taken? Where are the snags in the journey?" It all begins with asking the right question. This was the beginning of the shift that this ebook is really about. The questions are. Jim credited the key to their growth to be discipleship in relationship. A visit to their campus reinforced the fact that it was their focus.believe that at least some of their approach could be transferable. . it drove the discipleship point home.

As I scanned the congregation that I ministered to. Give these variables actual numbers and you have your answer. That definition however was really not the one I had been looking for up to that point.. you have the proper variables for your equation. Matthewʼs testimony of our marching orders in the 28th chapter commissions us to make disciples.Shift #1 Asking The Right Question The question is. X+Y+Z = level of discipleship. Looking back. a great evidence of real spiritual growth is seen in financial giving. My church experience emphasized evangelism evidenced by public decisions and baptisms so the number of decisions was key. I am amazed at how little I understood the meaning of the word “disciple” and how necessary that knowledge was in order to understand the question. served for years.. There were always lots of church programs that needed volunteers to run them.and what could be wrong with that? Numbers are objective tools to give us a clear picture to measure where we are. How wrong I was! My Bible college taught the centrality of preaching the Word and so church attendance to listen and respond to that preaching was central. After experiencing the method used to create and reproduce disciples at Real Life. How many people made decisions? What was the offering amount? Most of the answers I was looking for had a number involved. Measuring discipleship was for me and I believe for many today a compilation of these numbers.or even . if you are involved in “Y” ministries.. and if you give “Z” dollars.or so I thought. ”Are we making disciples?”. the church reflected it. and given for years were still very immature. giving. As long as I preached great sermons and as long as people kept making decisions.. my eyes were opened to a huge blind spot in our seeming successful church. If you have been a member for “X” years. Finally. Many had never reproduced their faith in even a single person. this is what I saw... My questions sounded more like asking how many were at church the previous week. That willingness to give time and talent coupled with a decent measure of ability was critical to maturity. and serving. Since I measured discipleship this way. Many people who had attended church for years. I could consider that fulfilling the great commission.

watching over them so that they could reproduce in others what He had produced in them. Am I genuinely following Christ? (follow me.attempted it. I really didnʼt know how to mobilize a church to make disciples of Jesus Christ. and more members for the church. Many had never grown in their relationship to Jesus experiencing the sting and joy of real sacrifice. Did it ..). has it ever occurred to us that His method of sharing it is just as divine? Coleman wrote of todayʼs church. How did Jesus make disciples? First. The result is our spectacular emphasis on numbers of converts.” Most of the evangelistic efforts of the church begin with the multitudes under the assumption that the church is qualified to preserve what good is done. with little or no genuine concern manifested toward the establishment of these souls in the love and the power of God. What a revolutionary look at the simple truth of Jesus method! As great as it is to share the life changing message of our Savior. being changed by Christ ?(. If we look out on the faces of our congregations.” (MPE pp. He selected them. The best I was providing was an environment for them to figure it out for themselves. candidates for baptism. let alone the preservation and continuation of the work. He lived His life as a consistent demonstration before them. Many of them had never shared their faith even once.fishers of men. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. and success. Looking back.. Many had become highly sophisticated consumers but consumers none the less. experience.) This is the question I honestly wasnʼt asking myself or confronting others with until this point. He gave them specific assignments.. and set them apart and empowered them for ministry. I wish someone would have shared a copy of Robert Colemanʼs little book Master Plan of Evangelism early in my ministry.” There are three criteria that help define discipleship in this divine statement.. and living life on mission for Christ ?(. “Are we making disciples?” The difficult truth for me was that with all my education. how many actual disciples do we see? How many are personally convinced that they are disciples but are sorely mistaken? How many of them believe this fallacy because of the bar we have set before them? Real Life chose Matthew 4:19 as their definition of discipleship seeing Jesus calling His own disciples.. spent large chunks of time with them. 29-30) That is a powerful editorial of the state of even todayʼs most successful and highly esteemed churches..and I will make you).

specifically the parable of the talents. it may have looked like a failure. I remember placing myself inside the pages of Scripture. taking me to church and maintaining a Godly home.” (MPE pp. Had I done what He commissioned me to do or did I recreate it in a way that made it work better for me? Was my life and ministry a reflection of not only the message Jesus taught. knowing that this is the best way that we can love God and one another. it becomes a big decision in the ministry. The challenge was to turn a big ship that already had a full head of steam.. Really it is a question of which generation we are living for. For me. I started thinking how common my story was. especially if it involves drastic changes to your personal ministry approach or the status quo of the local church. So there I was and here we are. . and wondering if when He questioned me about what I had done with what He had given me. what is the answer? The answer for me was that we were not intentionally and effectively making disciples at The Crossing. Even Bible college was little more than an exchange of knowledge without anyone taking the interest to specifically coach me. if I could show Him multitudes of fickle fans or smaller group of fully committed followers.. I began to realize why this concept was so hard for me to see. “Seen this way. No one had ever discipled me! I grew up in a Christian home but my parents were only as intentional as parents normally are. but the daily example of how He lived and invested into His precious disciples? So the 1st shift that we are confronted with is whether or not we are committed to make disciples on Jesusʼ terms. asking the right question meant embarking out into an undiscovered country like a pioneer and asking a church of 2300 to ask the same question with me.what will be the primary question that our lives and ministries will seek to answer? Coleman described it this At the time. wondering how many people out there never had that spiritual mentor following Jesusʼ example. We must decide where we want our ministry to count—in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of our lives in a few chosen people who will carry on our work after we have gone. but these men took the message of Christ to the ends of the earth reproducing themselves over and over. I had constructed my ministry from the examples I admired from a distance. When the question is asked. 32) Asking the right question can yield some answers that are hard to accept. though.

it was more by accident than on purpose. I was finally asking the right question and getting the painful answer. The next shift would be my response. It felt more like an indictment than an understanding. .While it had happened to some degree.

I had a group of ten elders who oversaw the church as a whole. and another group of pastors at our primary location. If I wanted the church to change. a group of lead pastors who headed up the various locations of the Crossing. Since the church is the body of Christ. or function. form. As a pastor. I had to change first. I needed to be the coach who . Conversion meant that I needed to see my influence in a new way. Conversions are not tweaks or adjustments.. Instead of concentrating on being the greatest player on the field. The first thing I noticed was that all the raw material for these discipling relationships was already around me.Shift #2 Conversion I know that this term is usually reserved for that moment when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord but I have come to realize that my life is actually made up with lots of conversions of different sizes. those changes extend beyond me into the church as God uses me as a catalyst for change. it stands to reason that I would want to do Jesusʼ things Jesusʼ way. Conversion is necessary.and so the bottom line was it wasn't going to be mine. God had already placed me in key relationships that only needed to move from ignorance to intentionality. I also had a small group that I led with my wife with 3 other couples. Since being a Christian is reflecting the character of Christ. I was convinced that the status quo or success measured in worldly metrics wasn't God's way or the best way. They are seen in reversals of direction. The level of commitment needed to start a movement and change a world isn't going to be found in a crowd of consumers but it can be found in a congregation of the committed. While there certainly was a first. It was amazing to me that even with all of my lack of intention. The dictionary defines conversion as a change in character. These are moments when I realize a new truth about me or Jesus that requires change in me. there have been countless more on the journey. its character should cast the same reflection. I think thatʼs a great definition. Conversion begins in the character and then the shape that our lives and/or ministries take and then how we function in those new forms reflect that new character. recognition of error and the correction that follows it.

I needed to live a life that was a consistent demonstration of Jesusʼ example before them. I would be endlessly cleaning up messes and stomping out brushfires.prepared the players and provided places for them to play. Sharing those opportunities and giving ministry away scared me.. preparing them for areas of ministry that fit their gifts and passions. these kinds of radical changes could not only hinder my present success but even reverse it! Isn't this really just another one of those latest flavors labelled with an appropriate buzzword?". I had lots of ways to defend my position. I was used to getting all the affirmation from being the best player. I needed to teach them how to reproduce this in others. but like Robert Frostʼs poem. Conversion is the road less travelled. What if I was so successful that I worked myself out of a job? These were some of the hurdles of my conversion. Let's face it. I needed to select them. They're thinking. I wondered if my ministry would become more janitorial than ministerial. Its hard to admit to ourselves that maybe all this time. As I've talked to other successful leaders who ask about our story. Deeper still was the quiet insecurity of giving up things that I would rather keep for myself. This was definitely a conversion to me. Perceived success can be very limiting. it can make all the difference. something God had already provided in large part. we're proud of it... There is a pride that flows out of it that keeps us from recognizing and responding to our need for change. A major change of course could make it look like I was just experimenting with the direction of the church and using the congregation as test subjects. The unknown can be very intimidating. Conversion requires humility.if we have enjoyed success. I often feel resistance supported from the pride they have in their perceived success. Like Jesus.. I can remember pushing back on these changes reminding myself and others that we were already one of the fastest growing churches in the country. It feeds our insecurities and gives us confidence to lead.I really don't think it is even possible outside of it. Jesus had ."Why should I change my whole approach to doing ministry when the things I'm doing now seem to be working just fine? Besides that. then set them apart and empower them for their ministry. I needed to reorder my ministry to spend large chunks of time with them.

this conversion is just a continuation of our first. or the congregation.. That was certainly the case for me. Leading conversional change is some pretty heavy lifting. Just because I have a compulsion to convert doesn't mean that it will be shared by staff. decisions.. How I chose to communicate this new direction would be absolutely critical to its success.something else in mind. we have a new passion and vision. neither would the church. why should people follow us now? In many ways. Why should it be any different after we've been Christians a while or placed in leadership? We place this like all other things. . It worked! At least it did for attendance. The Crossing at this time was a church based on attraction. relevant messages. My blind spot would certainly be thereʼs as well. this is exactly what we are calling for others to do. and then let the Word and the Spirit do the heavy lifting. Consumerism is precisely the reason why more traditional churches resist change. the Great Discipler and when we return from our knees. But conversional change can be just as lethal. disarm them. We had a great building. If we have been leading in the wrong direction up to this point. Our strategy was to get people in. or the leaders. and giving. Conversion means change. the staff. and the best programming. If true conversion is happening in our church. We know that as a practical matter. even if it contributes to their Iack of effectiveness or even their death. It will definitely be uncomfortable! The trick is making people uncomfortable at a rate they can tolerate. If I hadn't seen the difference between the sum of these parts and real discipleship. awesome worship. Conversion made making disciples in relational environments my vision and I could not see preaching about having an intimate personal relationship with Jesus outside of it. leaders. at the foot of our Master. Accepting Christ means that the former way of life was the wrong way and following Jesus and His Word is the right one. Christians like to be seen as committed but operate as a consumer.certainly the best in the area. The challenge before me was to lead a major change of direction in a church that perceived itself highly successful already.

As a matter of fact. The consumer is at the center of his own universe. and market with the consumer in mind. it just hadn't done a good job helping people to get to the place that Jesus had commissioned us to bring them. crowds come and go. its not much more than drawing a crowd and just like in Jesus' time. it gets a lot easier to find one. One minute they're shouting "Hosanna!" and the next they're yelling "Crucify!". he doesn't need to complain. Without relational discipleship. Today's churches are full of consumers and mega-churches don't have a corner on the market. it's just incomplete unless it is used as a springboard to a committed Christian life. but its effectiveness is short-lived.Shift #3 Communication So how do I communicate this new vision without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water? The first thing I realized was that in order to be intentional about making disciples in relational environments. it can be very powerful. It's naive then to expect him to act in a way that is contrary to his nature. we didn't have to give up on attraction. Attracting consumers isn't a bad thing. Smart churches can attract consumers. In the short term. Sophisticated consumers are hard to hold and attraction for a church . program. they went hand in hand! Attraction was serving us well by bringing people in the front door. The missing piece in many churches today is a specific intentional pathway to committed discipleship. After the place is open awhile. We hire. he just votes with his feet. design. Tradition appeals to a particular consumer in the same way. People consume tradition just like innovation. build. We really shouldn't be surprised if our church people act like consumers if we have intentionally sought to attract them through what we offer. the practice of drawing through attraction has a relatively short shelf life. so traditional churches who point at larger churches accusing them of being too shallow are really no different. It's the same for a new Hollywood blockbuster or a new shopping mall. When a new restaurant comes to town it can be pretty hard to get a seat. Why? Because attraction appeals to the consumer and consumers are fickle. If he doesn't like something or feels neglected. worship. but only a church bent on making disciples can turn consumers into the committed. Not only does attraction draw consumers.

wanting desperately to hold the crowd. Passion is what holds your commitment to something when logic and reason fail you. it creates a wake that people get caught up in.  When conviction is doused with passion.  Passion is personal. and want to be satisfied with something new. No matter what we required conviction and conviction expresses itself in passion..” Integrity of heart  That's what I needed to do and who I needed to be. of Israel his inheritance.leader can be an endless pursuit for the next great thing. Communicating this new direction of relational discipleship with integrity of heart required more than conversion. The listener gets caught up in the power and passion of the conviction.  Like a ship going through the water.  Passion is powerful. Passion is preoccupying. Some pastors. itʼs hard to talk about it without inflection in your voice or getting caught in hyperbole.lead with skillful hands out of integrity of heart.. If you arenʼt passionate about your conviction..but how could I emphasize that making disciples was really the point? One of my favorite Bible verses of church leadership is Psalm 78:71-72: “He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens From tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob. people are moved to either follow or disconnect. bored with it. Okay. With skillful hands he led them...  Your mind is running constantly back to it. It attaches itself to your own identity and it becomes self-defining.  The most effective ideas communicated are the ones that people consider their own and when a . youʼre getting pretty close to all you need for a roaring fire.  It takes an effort to think about something else. Passion is what validates the investment into your conviction and when you communicate from it..  Passion is emotional. you might wonder whether or not a conversion has taken place. have chased this rabbit into shock tactics and moral compromise. eventually consumers are going to get used to it.. Making disciples is a better way and it's Jesus' way but it's not the easy that meant we could still be an attractive church. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart.

  It will mean moving away from the place where you are and this is almost never easy. I know this sounds like a contradiction because a conviction is personal. by the time they do it. How The Mighty Fall. companies make sweeping changes. Change is best served in healthy times. but the institutional inertia and the success of years gone by prompt existing leaders to consider that if it isnʼt broken. Churches that center on relational discipleship are going to be much healthier than those that center on the personality of a leader. and others will be replaced or removed.   Policies and structures will be adjusted or abandoned. In his great little book. why fix it?  By the time many churches find the stomach to change. “Leadership is taking people to a place they would have never have gone to by themselves. Any change is best accomplished in smaller increments. Convicted leaders face an uphill battle even in healthy environments and movement in the direction of change is seldom comfortable.  Leaders are humans and humans canʼt help but make mistakes. its still looking at turbulent waters when it comes to change. Jim Collins discusses the downward spiral that leads once successful businesses to capitulation and death.  His research shows that in an effort to reverse the fall.”  Without a leader. this gets far more traction for the church and for the kingdom of God.  Letting the focus rest on the leader is ultimately and invariably destructive.  Driving even on a straight road requires constant corrections at the wheel.  It may seem that youʼre going straight. However. and disappoint. be inconsistent. they are over leveraged in the opposite direction and not healthy enough to manage the massive adjustments. By contrast. but careful examination reveals a long line of small corrections.conviction is communicated effectively. Like a terminal cancer patient. most of us . people are drawn to the it and not just the leader.  Concentrating on relational discipleship puts the focus on God where it belongs. a church isn't going anywhere and even with a leader. they are willing to grasp for life with experimental treatments. they are pretty far gone.  In the long term. but a great leader gets people to focus on the relational discipleship itself. But what about the "skillful hands"? Skillful Hands I once heard a great quote from an army general who said. key positions will be established.

put them in proximity to those who were actually walking relational discipleship out. I had already been using a teaching strategy I had developed some time before to help the staff and leadership understand how The Crossing would seek to build spiritual maturity in people. Relational discipleship provided the dynamic piece to complete that model. This is how I would communicate how relational discipleship and attraction would work together to make mature followers of Jesus Christ. they would embrace it. and prayer. I began with my top staff. more manageable adjustments is a healthy strategy for churches. I took them with me to see what I had seen. . All of those came together to further my resolve in moving this way. My prayers had done nothing but confirm my conviction and now the church was starting to move in unity from the top down. the church. brought Jim Putman and some of his staff in to speak with them and ask questions. I shared with our eldership. The last thing a leader should do is to start communication from the pulpit. New ideas began to come to light as we imagined together how relational discipleship would look in our context. Now relational discipleship wasn't just my conviction. It was obvious from the Word that this was Jesus' method and the substance of His commission to the church. it was ours! Next. circumstances. The circumstances put me alongside people who were further down the discipleship road than I was to teach me. We began to strategize on promoting relational discipleship in attractive ways to our congregation so that instead of resisting.have been distracted while driving only to be frantically forced into a major correction and a very dangerous situation. We discussed the cost of the changes. I gave them Coleman's book to read. They could feel the weight of my conviction as I shared what I had experienced. I asked them to pray. If the change is more important than the primary leader. Now the conviction to change was shared by all the leadership in unity. then the more leaders that own it and carry it to the congregation. I called it "The Dot". They saw that it was a shared conviction of the staff. the better. Big change divided up into lots of smaller. I remembered how Henry Blackeby had taught in Experiencing God that God speaks through His Word. Communication of deep change needs to begin at the top. and then debriefing them on their thoughts. They saw what I saw and more! My understanding began to expand in the soil of collaboration.

watching him do it again and again. and a reproducible process.  The attractional model alone reduces potential players to spectators or fans coming out to watch the professionals play.   An intentional leader is someone who has made it his business to reproduce disciples for Jesus. Parents know that larger class sizes at school are never preferable because individual attention is critical for teachers to know the progress of their students. it appeared to be just another small group program but a more careful look showed something else entirely. its not a program at all.  You are constantly required to police whatever book or study theyʼre going through.. and adjusting and readjusting until the player is able to reproduce what the coach wants. a relational environment.   Compare this to a coach interacting with a player in practice.  Churches committed to relational discipleship are full of potential intentional leaders both inside and outside the church who have never been coached to coach.   A relational environment is one that allows the kind of individual attention to take place so that meaningful one-on-one dialogue can happen between a group member and a coach. small groups have always been more of a necessary chore than a great opportunity to me.  It has always been difficult to get them going and even harder to keep them going. people donʼt like others in their group and want to move or quit going all together.. .Shift #4 The Message Relational Discipleship. correcting him. Since Iʼve always considered myself to be an evangelist.  New people are not invited in and the group wonʼt establish new leaders and new groups.  He does this more by watching and listening than by teaching. In fact.  Many successful groups might tend to want to be exclusive.  Getting people to lead them or host them has always been hard.What is it? Relational discipleship is not a small group program but it was hard for me to see that.  It was making disciples using a balance of three things: an intentional leader. Small groups work when they are relational environments where this intentional leadership and coaching can happen.  Often.   When I first saw relational discipleship in action.

 If they are.  Having some sort of metric to track spiritual growth has been elusive in the church. “George. and getting a bead on the stage of his group member. how does that hit you in the context of your divorce?”  (Parent stage)  The answers the coach hears will let him know what stage his people are in.  A typical comment might be made about the story of Jesus washing Judasʼ feet. “It is so awesome that Jesus washed his feet!”  (Child stage) He might say. the coach is watching.   Someone at the “young adult” stage is putting what he is learning to work in ministry.  It divides spiritual maturity into 4 stages: 1) infant 2) child. reproducing what has been done in him and looking strategically at how to move individuals under his coaching forward.   Coaching happens by listening to the questions and comments in the group and then driving the question or comment deeper into the person who gives it. Someone at the “infant” stage may or may not be a Christian. The dialogue requires it to be relational. “I would never wash that jerkʼs feet!” (Infant stage) He might answer.  The leader is being intentional.  That canʼt happen in a preaching environment. Notice that the word “stage” is used and not “level”.  The reason is because people need to be valued no matter which stage they are in. 3) young adult.   The process of relational discipleship was revolutionary to me. As the person explores the comment on a deeper and more personal level.  His intention is figuring out where they are in order to move .  Someone at the “child” stage is involved in a relational environment (small group) and is starting the process of being coached by that groupʼs intentional leader. The group member might say. It is a means of coaching that makes the process of discipleship measurable.A reproducible process means that what the intentional leader is doing is designed to be reproduced in the follower. they are only attending as a spectator.   Someone at the “parent” stage has become the intentional leader. and 4) parent. listening.  We tend to put lots of options in front of a congregation and hope they find something that fits them that they can grow in.  There will be some in the “infant” stage that will be far more effective in later stages than many already there. “We all need to figure out ways to wash the feet of others.”  (Young adult stage)  Or he might say.   His small group is a place where he puts what he is learning into the context of his ministry and his intentional leader is looking for ways to move him into a coaching role.

  Before long. it really didn't give us a specific process to use when it would be most effective. . What is their average age?  When you put all that together.  Who is attracted to it?  Look at the church budget.  Donʼt figure in children under 13.  That is your dot.  Every church has a target. it gives the whole group freedom to open up. This is how "The Dot" works: Whether we mean to or we do it by accident. It helped us to communicate what we were shooting for as we moved people forward after being attracted to our church.   Now look at who is sitting in the seats. every church puts out a product that is more effective to at least some subset of people. The problem was that while "The Dot" helped us to pinpoint where we were.   Look at the style of your music and worship. The exercise is important in an existing church because it gives a clear view where changes need to be targeted. where communication will be most effective. and that is critical.them forward.  Who gets the most space?  Look at the style of the building and itʼs furniture. as traditions tend to take on a life of their own but itʼs there just the same. It had already helped our people to be less change resistant and willing to try new things. as they have to go wherever their parents drive them.  It may not be intentional. the intimacy level is rising and the coach is getting a great read of the phase of each group member. and whether or not the shifts will be accepted. All of that strategy is great but how does a leader insert it into the DNA of an already living and growing church without killing it? Relational Discipleship as a Maturity Strategy We already had what I thought was a maturity strategy at The Crossing. “When have you ever felt betrayed?  How did you respond to it?  How do feel about your response?” When one group member starts getting transparent.  The coach would drive the comment back into the group member with something like.  Is it antique?  Does it have colors popular in the 1970ʼs?  Your church will tell you whom you are targeting. That is the sweet spot. I called it "The Dot". you will know whom you are targeting.  Now find an age range of about 5 years with 2 and 1/2 years on either side of the dot.  Who gets the most money?  Look at the use of the building.  Look back at the “infant” stage answer.

view . they are getting into the dot. It gives us more time to implement and reinforce discipleship through motivation. It happens on both sides of the dot and the better we are at it. If we were going to understand our "win" was making disciples in relational environments. especially since we have very little in the area of sacred cows or church traditions.  As people approach the age range where the dot is.   Further. and a Christian world. The conversion to relational discipleship and the communication of that message was exactly the strategy we needed to communicate in that highly fertile space of time.  You are getting the maximum impact for your work.  While weʼre there.. The missing piece was what we were going to do in that time of maximum effectiveness. weʼre the most teachable.  The result is a healthy. the church has to establish proper priorities. and Bible study really revs up.  Those 5 or so years are absolutely critical to discipleship. then our whole organization would need to be aligned to that from the top down. the wider that sweet spot becomes. and unified body. The focus on discipleship does not take away from the attractional emphasis. Look a little closer at the dynamic.  This is the place when our hearts are the most open. Focusing on the dot was the Crossing's first step in a winning strategy.  As things begin making more and more sense for the person.  Maturing Christians let personal wants take a back seat to whatever is most effective to get people through the sweet spot.  They donʼt leave because a new set of selfless priorities has replaced the set that attracted them. everything is becoming more and more relevant. Our problem wasn't either establishing or widening our sweet spot. there is a greater sense of unity that comes from alignment with the staff to meet the shared goals of growth in numbers and growth in maturity. prayer. ministry. growing. enhances it!  This focus closes the back door of the church and as people move through “The Dot”. it was using it most effectively to make disciples.. values.The Sweet Spot The sweet spot is that space of time where relational discipleship and attraction come together. The Crossing's sweet spot has always been pretty wide. and discipleship traits like worship. and training to make it stick. relationship. the reproducible process of discipleship transitions them from self-focused to others-focused.

 If the church can apply pressure to the higher side of the dot by focusing the target downward.  How close are they to dying?  Letʼs say 80. time wonʼt slow down but the dot will. there really isnʼt a problem.  It goes beyond what weʼre doing to answer the question of why.  But what about people on the older side of the dot? Are they neglected? If the church has done its job.  When we know “why” it gives substance to our purpose. in 25 years it will only be relevant to the people in the cemetery.  As time marches on.  The goal is that by the time the church is becoming less personally relevant to us.  Itʼs mortal.  Itʼs not about us anymore.   The dot is bound to time as long as we continue to be most relevant to the same people. Unless you have figured out how to make the sun stand still. youʼll continue to be effective with that age group of people.   This is the reason. we know better than to be self-centered.  If your dot is 55.  When we look hard at it. Relational discipleship can also help the church become immortal.  They develop disciplines to value spiritual change in others more than personal comfort.  Thatʼs a sobering thought but nonetheless very important to understand.  We incorporate our gifts into the rest of the body as we join together to reach into the lives of those hearts coming into full bloom. Many churches wonder why they are getting older and smaller or why the struggle attracting younger people. The only way to change this is to change the target. people learn how important people without an intimate.   I canʼt overemphasize just how important it is to communicate this philosophy to the leaders and congregation.  Our goal is to stop the dot from moving at all or to reverse it. They get involved by committing to be part of the solution by discovering their shape in ministry and putting it into practice.  We canʼt stop the march of time in our own lives.  Now weʼre not looking at a church an inch deep and a mile wide. time will continue to march on relentlessly. weʼre moving out of it. the dot will move with it. personal relationship with Jesus really are to Him.  That is a simple definition of Christian maturity. If you want to do ministry the same way you have been.  In the dot.  Weʼre making a difference thatʼs going to outlive us.   .  If the church continues doing the same thing. it means that your church has 25 years to the hearts of targeted people. we have traded in our own needs for the “bigger yes” of seeing the effectiveness of the church and our own ministry on those coming up.  Itʼs a critical time because before long.

 The way to do it is by focusing downward.  It keeps you stretching downward to adjust to new ways to be relevant.  It means we have to embrace new forms of technology. the church isnʼt getting older.  Coupled with an outward focus. hire younger staff members.  When outward and downward focuses are coupled together.  We must continually look to be the most relevant to the people who are approaching where your dot presently is.How do we get the dot to stop moving?  You canʼt stop time…but you can stop the dot. even though there are people in the church getting older. Using the strategy of relational discipleship maximizes the churches effectiveness at the most critical time and redirects older.  There is no need to compromise doctrine or vision.   This forces the church to look at the changing culture and adapt to it. new styles of music and worship. . just the means and methods of how they are delivered. not the ones already there. there is a steady stream of the 80% who are unchurched coming into a relationship with Christ being attracted by the relevance defined by the dot. spend more money and expend more energy in programming in that direction. more mature believers onto the field as players instead of sophisticated consumers. the church has set itself up for immortality.  If the dot isnʼt moving.

and organizationally in order to be effective. theologically. Relational alignment with my key leaders was my first step. philosophically. leadership. there has to be a context of alignment.Shift #5 Alignment In their book Simple Church. For relational discipleship to happen. My experience in coming alongside church leaders has revealed a huge blind spot in many churches. filling their calendars with programs and processes all designed to bring people into a lasting relationship with God and each other without realizing that the staff and leadership are not in relationship let alone alignment. While the idea has captured the church at large in theory. The response by the one being critiqued is only to repeat each observation back to the satisfaction of the one speaking . starting with the leadership.relational alignment... Leadership needed to be aligned relationally. or staff is going to come into alignment. one person at a time. Our alignment process focused in these most critical areas.alignment. it's an exercise where everyone has permission to speak out two praiseworthy things about everyone at the table and one issue where work is needed.. For those of you wondering. Concepts taught but not modeled are hypocritical and no one wants to follow a hypocrite.. For the Crossing. Alignment in our relationships (relational) I wonder how many churches are attempting to change the world for Christ. alignment was the next critical step in our disciple-shift. The reason I can see it is because it had to be pointed out to me. very few churches are effectively walking it out and the Crossing was no exception. Tom Rainer and Eric Geiger opened the eyes of the church to something much more critical than a new buzzword. the practical reality and implementation of true alignment has remained elusive for many churches. it needs to begin with me (the senior pastor). The concept caught the attention of cutting edge churches and leaders sought to implement the strategy. If the church. I will never forget sitting around the table with my executive team organizing and leading a "two for one". Even though the books flew off the shelves.

it's something we have to fight for. Before long. wondering if I could even receive the criticism. Both the one giving and receiving the two for one have to look directly at each other. The exercise should be done with a coach in the room to keep the exercise on track. Since I was the leader of this group of leaders. but through the process of alignment I learned that relationship is something we can't just expect. feeling that they had been misunderstood. much of it connected to me. or rescuing allowed. excusing. I was amazed at what was shared with me and used what I had learned in the two for one to move the relationship forward. it was my responsibility to lead by example. rationalizing. I wonder how many leaders of churches would have the guts to do this exercise with their key players. There is no defending. It's not easy. It's amazing what happens when thoughts or feelings are spoken into existence honestly and face to face. Many of the praises and concerns needed attention and it started to become apparent just how far out of alignment we were. then repeated their hurt feelings back to them. People may have worked together for years but have conveniently avoided any real relationship and without relationship. the other participants were cautious. they were valid to them. In that moment they become real and when they are repeated back accurately. Even though many of their presuppositions were wrong. At first. The negatives stung but I could see the validity of the areas that needed work. . In one meeting. It was amazing how well they saw me. some big stuff was being thrown out that had really limited us as a group.followed by a polite "thank -you". explaining. My acceptance and appreciation of their words prompted a greater boldness in them to speak honestly and transparently. The experience was a little disturbing but highly enlightening as it exposed areas in my life and leadership that needed to be addressed as well as showing me where I was truly admired and respected. how can we expect to see it in our people if we are unwilling to do it ourselves. maybe for the first time. I thanked them for their honesty and then apologized for the pain. the one who shared the opinion has genuinely been heard. there can be no real alignment. If our mission is based on loving God and each other. I listened as a committed couple shared their hurt and pain. I wrote the words down wanting to repeat them back accurately. I listened in silence until they were through.

It was a great exercise and when we were through. being fully heard. a list of core values. some who had experienced Spiritual gifts. some focused on missions. there was a great deal of peace in it. and an introductory 101 style of class. What do I have to do to be a member? What do you believe about baptism? Is there a literal hell? What roles can women have in this church? Why are there so many different bibles? Are you Spirit filled? There were leaders who leaned reformed. What we didn't have was theological and philosophical alignment. but it does mean that their viewpoint is valuable and it has legitimately been heard. and in complete unity as we communicated with our teams. Those are statements that are clear expressions of how we choose to conduct ourselves as a church by our best understanding of scripture. Relational alignment pays big dividends for a church leader. and those who were checking us out. There were also a host of issues that weren't considered doctrinal ( heaven or hell issues) but more unity statements. and there was little sense of what issues we would all die on the hill together for. We had a membership and leadership and bylaws. the Crossing had a doctrinal statement.Speaking the issues into existence. We had clear expectations for potential leaders and encouragements for new believers . It would have been hard to get the same answers out of any two of them. It doesnʼt mean that they necessarily get their way. The leadership needed to be crystal clear on both. and then fighting for the relationship changed the entire dynamic. and others fixated on growth or debt. I had written or changed most of them myself. a mission statement. There had been no serious discussion or collaboration in their creation so many were operating on a whole host of assumptions that created a lot of confusion. Real love is communicated through ascribing value and that comes through hearing to the satisfaction of the people around us. kind of like our play book. Itʼs far easier for our players to be in alignment when they know their leader is hearing them. Alignment in our understanding (theological) Like most churches. the congregation. These were among many concerns that were pretty vague.

Creating clear boundaries helped to clarify if a player was getting out of bounds and threatening our unity. Our next project was to clearly communicate or vision. setting clear metrics for each role. it was even more important for the leaders. to love God and each other with all we are and have. The doctrinal statement spoke our core beliefs. Our unity statements were interpretations of scripture that were open for debate but reflected our viewpoints for the purpose of being undivided. problems were all addressed and remedied before we faced the congregation. Our mission describes how we are to accomplish that. Our statement came in two parts: The doctrinal statement and the unity statement. Our vision was taken from Matthew 22:37-40. All of our key leaders agreed to these statements. Since the leaders collaborated on the statements. and our process. The result of this theological alignment was focus and intentionality.and members. Taken from Matthew 28:18-20. It then became clear that we needed to be in alignment across our campuses in communicating these statements to our congregations. It forced the tough questions of whether or not each player was willing to stand in alignment theologically. This exercise strengthened the basis of our relationships. personal relationship with Jesus Christ. While this was very important to use for good congregational understanding. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. we want to make disciples who have an intimate. . We also tackled our process of developing leaders and elders. They were the scriptural truths that formed the foundation of our faith and were considered absolutely essential for our salvation and our fellowship. Each campus had their own 101 style of introductory class. Our process is taken from Matthew 4:19. The place where we stood was solid and there was plenty room for everyone to stand together. our mission. We see no better was to love God or each other. Our highest level leaders collaborated to make the document. the common ground that we stood on and represented to the world. It was designed to elevate the value of unity and liberty while clearly setting expectations on our approach to minimize misunderstanding. We stood together.” We seek to attract followers who can be changed by Christ in relational environments by intentional leaders who can then join Christʼs and our shared mission. Now we would all teach the same material and convey an aligned approach setting expectations for church members and leaders.

Philosophical alignment travels from the top down but eventually everyone needs to be on the same page. they would submit to the discipleship of these leaders and then become leaders themselves on mission for Christ fulfilling Jesusʼ Matthew 4:19 method. We used our worship services as primarily attraction events designed to introduce people to Jesus or to witness what Christ followers look like. uplifting.Alignment in our approach (philosophical) As I touched on briefly in the creation of our statements. As people were being changed by Christ. Jesus used attraction through His teaching and His miracles to pull together huge crowds. we had to become serious in the development of a pathway from fan to follower. As we pursued our desire to follow Jesus method of discipleship in relationship. The same class was used to explain our approach to ministry and our expectations of both members and leaders. We were very intentional about getting people through the front door and in the seats. replacing them with a sure footing of common cause. we recognized that our concentration on attraction wasnʼt wrong. we zeroed in on Matthew 4:19 for our approach. disarming. This teaching became something we wanted everyone who called the Crossing home to go through. we had grown as a primarily attractional church. It was out of those crowds that discipleship formed. we needed to call out for real Christ followers. Philosophical alignment removes so many potential pitfalls from misunderstanding. Before we understood the critical nature of relational discipleship. Out of that crowd. it was just incomplete. We just started putting that into action using properly prepared relational leaders in those environments. Like in Kyle Idlemanʼs book Not A Fan. we developed a new membership class to create a common understanding of our theology and unity. As I already shared. and challenging as many people as possible. We concentrated on breaking down barriers. We incorporated Jesus own method of leading learners in relatively small relational environments. Philosophical alignment also creates a platform for setting and measuring expectations in our staff and other leaders. Clear expectations have a huge impact on . We had already said that real change happens best in small groups. They would concentrate on reproducing this process over and over.

Good strategies also create the wins that can be celebrated and used to encourage even higher expectations. Many key players are not succeeding because clear expectations havenʼt been set causing their ministry to drift. Players need to map out specific measurable ways that their “win” is achieved. A good leader listens well to his players and then asks what the player means when they state expectations. We however have always sought to be a flat organization. With 7 campuses and literally hundreds of ministries.they can be completely unrealistic causing big problems in relationship without even being noticed. I understand that many of those reading this operate in a single location but the values expressed in our organization are a reflection of when we were a single location. Expectations are funny things. Maybe the pastor feels that a monthly meeting is sufficient but the expectation of the player was twice a week. drifting will continue. These values have found their highest levels of effectiveness within the pursuit of relational discipleship.intentionality. That statement may mean two completely different things to the pastor and those he said it to. The Crossing has become a fairly complex organization. Clear communication can make the strategy the problem and not necessarily the person. Organizational structure could become .. The pastor may feel a growing resentment from a player only to find that the playerʼs expectation for relationship was much more involved. The leader is responsible to cast vision so that the player can articulate the “wins” in his ministry area. It may be that the senior pastor says he wants to be in relationship with his key team. and push vertical opportunity. place a high value on leadership. There are plenty of potential negatives that go along with this kind of growth. It should become clear to them in a relatively short amount of time whether or not their strategy is producing the win they are looking for and the leader is expecting. There is a tendency to become more corporate or departmentalized creating a colder. Resentment can form without clarity on expectations. reflect core values. Without a path to get there.. More attention might be paid to a particular bottom line rather than relationships and communication. “Wins” however are not enough. more detached staff and ministry. Alignment in our structure (organizational) Our organizational alignment is very specific to our organization.

If it doesn’t change with growth. Everyone being heard and valued helps them in accepting and adjusting to necessary changes. I’m writing this on September 12th and reflecting on the 9/11 attack. Apply that idea to the church.fuzzy with people answering to more than one supervisor or just choosing the one they want to listen to. Structures constructed vertically might look imposing but in fact they are susceptible to higher risk. and relational alignment should stay relatively static over time. philosophical.. This is one reason why The Crossing believes so strongly in multi-site. is a reflection of relational discipleship. The Crossing has meetings. it is also potentially frustrating to staff. Our organizational structure reflects certain values that stay static even as the structure itself changes. That. There is a tendency to build structures vertically like skyscrapers rather than a flatter. Another issue is that while theological. Each week I video chat with all the campus pastors doing the same thing. encouragement. growth will stop. the structure itself stood strong and was rebuilt. They actually reduce exposure to risk. organizational alignment needs lots of communication and re-communication. celebration. and players who feel like the goal posts keep moving.lots of meetings! Each week. Vertical organizations can fall if a key player fails but flatter organizations spread the weight out so that it is less vulnerable. Organizations that get large can lose sight of the value of each player on the team. Every month. . Relational discipleship flourishes in an environment of high communication and transparency. cast vision. organizational alignment is something that is constantly changing. once again. Value #1 The organization stays flat. Why? Even though the pentagon was damaged and lives were lost. leaders. Flatter models spread out key relationships and give lots more people places to play. sharing. We know that another plane hit the pentagon but it doesn’t evoke the same image. While constant evaluation and change of organizational alignment is critical to the health and growth of the church. more spread out model. Because of this nature of change. We all remember the visual image of the towers coming down in New York. and a meal. we pull the entire staff together for worship.. and problem solve. each campus pastor pulls everyone on his team in to share.

It is my first priority of relational discipleship as i seek to shape them into the vibrant leaders God intended for them to be. In his book Good to Great. there has to be close proximity to a leader. These leaders in turn. Multi-site ministry leaders operate primarily in a resourcing capacity and only function as leaders as they communicate through the campus pastor. Campus pastors then become the linchpins of the organization. We value relationships so our structure is defined by it. In order to be a good follower. or volunteers in a young or smaller church. building relationship with their staffs doing ministry side by side. We learned pretty early that the leadership of each campus-based ministry needed to flow through the campus pastor as opposed to a ministry leader.Value #2 The organization silo’s under campus pastors instead of ministries. Discipleship especially flows through staff hierarchy and trust is earned by example and learned visually.. I believe every church structure should reflect the image of Christ and His discipleship example. and energy on it. Getting a good understanding of this happens in the context of a strong relationship. Jim Collins writes about getting people in the right seat on the bus. There . we have recognized the value of moving people from right seat to right seat. reproduce this relationship in their individual staffs. The top of our organization is called the executive team.and the most fruitful evidenced in the multiplication of fruit. At the Crossing. A flat structure means that there is a place for every opinion to be voiced and valued. This is my favorite part of ministry. Whether investing in campus pastors like I do. Our church structure then becomes an example for the expectations we set in the discipleship of every member. relational discipleship is how that investment is made.. It is primarily comprised of our 7 campus pastors. Relational discipleship is best exampled in leadership so we spend a substantial amount of time. Value #4 Structure is flat but potential is vertical. Each staff member reproduces it in their volunteers. Value #3 Our structure reflects our core values. money. Having both ministry leaders and campus pastors created a two boss scenario that wasn't sustainable. or ministry leaders in a single site church.

exploring where talents and gifts connect with the church's a sense of equality even in the midst of hierarchy. Some of our best success stories have come from this vertical movement. The system lets people move fairly freely within the structure. . This vertical movement and the backfilling that comes after it is key to making our system work.

We limit the number of participants to around 10. The training uses small groups as a platform on which to build ideas and discussions. going through all the intentional things that were going on in the modeling of the small group and talking about the importance of each. The training is designed to equip leaders to make disciples in relational environments. The entire training is accomplished in a small group format. We then debrief. connecting the leaders with a mentor who is committed to having an intentional relationship with them is critical. helping potential leaders to learn how . We go over several basic ground rules setting expectations and begin to speak the environment into existence. This process has to start with the training of leaders. The training is designed to get leaders to think much more intentionally. it's time to actually do the work of making disciples in relational environments. but most of the concepts are applicable to any ministry context. Groups are typically led by a training team consisting of a lead facilitator. The participants are encouraged to work and improve upon the various skills and concepts that were covered in their training. under-talking. Once leaders have completed the training. This gives prospective leaders a much greater understanding of their role and a much higher sense of being equipped to lead. co-facilitator and an apprentice facilitator. Also. Even this happens in the environment of relational discipleship as the small group leader is in relationship with a small groups pastor. The key to the training is what happens after the training is completed. and keeping discussion moving and interesting. We also do some vision casting about the importance of relational discipleship and the vision for what God wants to do through it. how to manage typical challenges in relationship like over-talking. crisis situation management. it's time for them to put their skills to work. We begin by simply building a model a small group using biblical story telling as a method. The training covers how to prepare for a group.Shift # 6 Empowerment With the defining of the direction of discipleship and the alignment of the organization. We teach practical skills to manage a variety of challenges that arise in relational environments.

to encourage. The small group becomes its own engine for producing a reproducing disciples and leaders through apprenticeship and branching. They learn how to share their personal testimony and how to navigate that relationship to and through conversion. caring for a small flock and raising up new leaders learning the same skills in an active environment. designed to take people deep. discovering motivations for issues and problems in their lives. People have the opportunity to achieve their highest potential in bearing fruit for the Kingdom. and how to empower him to start a new group through branching. always with a leader to answer questions. cast vision into him. It automatically creates a pipeline for future volunteer and paid staff leaders with the thorough vetting that comes through intentional relational discipleship. learning while leading. These leaders learn how to chase the strays and how to restore them back into relationship. These skills operating in real time begin to change both the intentional leader and the ones learning and following into real players in the Kingdom. We show them how to have an intentional relationship with a non-believer and how to handle the conversation when it shifts to God. Small group leader training happens in a discipleship context and not only develops a disciple but creates a discipler. and accepting God's truth. This all happens under the active authority of the leader being in relational discipleship himself. and to celebrate wins. Intentional leader development always includes how to open doors to relationship with people outside the church. We teach listening skills and develop them in ways to look below the surface. promoting the biblical concept of those in the Body caring for one think through problems and issues. Our leaders develop as shepherds who provide pastoral care for those they lead. There are truly exponential opportunities in the reproduction of leadership through this model. We teach how to rightly apply scripture into practical realities like sin. We train our disciplers on how to choose an apprentice. Before long. regular church people are beginning to look a lot like shepherds. Where Are We Now? . surrender.

. ..I know that we are moving in the right direction and every day we are getting better at doing it! I can honestly say that relational discipleship does not hinder growth. financial A church focused exclusively on discipleship misses evangelism and stagnates in growth becoming inwardly focused and self serving. and so enhances it! I can also say that it produces a pipeline of dedicated leaders. decisions.. The healthiest church focuses on both attraction and discipleship without neglecting either. and giving. and true worship from the heart are all aspects of Christian maturity and that maturity is grown in the greenhouse of discipleship.. I believe that consistency of attendance. but I can say this for sure. numbers of trained leaders.attendance. To get a clearer picture of The Crossing. Now we can measure numbers of existing relational environments. I'm sure that God is moving in many churches to discover the necessity of real relational discipleship. To get serious about relational discipleship. both volunteer and staff. one person and one church at a time. hook up with Relational Discipleship Network. ratios to overall attendance. numbers of apprentices. A church focused on attraction becomes shallow and irresponsible to new believers while failing to mature anyone beyond sophisticated consumers. that will take kingdom ground like never before! I can also say that creates a much healthier work and ministry environment! There was a time that the Crossing had basically 3 main measurements of perceived success. check out www.thecrossing...The first thing that needs to be clear is that we haven't figured all this out. Put them together and the church begins to look the way that Jesus intended it. numbers of branched groups. volunteerism. a network of churches helping each other to walk out intentional relational discipleship in their churches and the world.