Graham Standish is the pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople Pennsylvania. He is also an adjunct professor at Pittsburgh theological seminary and Tyndale theological seminary in Toronto. Graham is the author of several books including in God’s presence: encountering, experiencing, and embracing the holy and worship, humble leadership, and becoming a blessed church: forming a church of spiritual purpose, present, and power.
What fascinated me about Graham is the way he shepherded his own presbyterian congregation in discernment and a spiritual practices. He transitioned his church from a congregational model to a spirit led model in which everything from Bible studies to committee meetings are shaped not by Roberts rules of order, but by prayerful attentiveness to what the Spirit is saying and doing in every situation.
After stumbling accidentally across the presence of Jesus in healing patients at a psychiatric hospital where he served as a therapist, Graham enrolled in a PhD program at Duquesne University, where he studied Christian spirituality from Catholic, Protestant, charismatic, and contemplative traditions. His work and writing is permeated by a deeply Trinitarian theology and a simple confidence that God is at work in every situation and our job is simply to discern and cooperate with his movement.
For more information on resources discussed in today’s episode:
Global Disciple Builder: www.globaldisciplebuilder.com
Global Disciple Builder Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/globaldisciplebuilder/
This year, WDA expanded its work in the Philippines on a scale that is somewhat overwhelming, yet very exciting and humbling.. What is most impressive is that it hasn’t even been a full year at all, but rather just 8 months. Since last May our local partners- Sowers of the Word (SOW), The Philippine Bible Society ( PBS ) and The Center for Community Transformation (CCT) have all done amazing work. There have been dozens of training sessions lead by James, Remi, Perry and Dennis which have already resulted in more than 20,000 people participating in small groups. Now that our books are being translated and printed in Tagalog these numbers continue to grow. In our most recent conversation with Dennis Monong (CCT Leader) he reported great interest in Life Coaching and Restoring Your Heart this will provide even more opportunities in addition to our established ministries with Cornerstone. As a result of WDA ministry growth and impact, Filipino financial partners have provided donations to hire 2 additional trainers to help with the demand. The overall strategy is to continue to train leaders who begin groups using Cornerstone and follow that initial training with Life Coaching, Restoring Your Heart and Phase III (Equipping for Ministry). A three year plan is in place that addresses publishing, translation, training and leadership development.
God has been continuing to build momentum for discipleship in the Filipino church through the ongoing work of our partners and support provided by WDA. The potential impact of our WDA Training, Materials and Philosophy of Ministry should not be over looked. When people understand that our approach to disciple building is not merely curriculum driven but is part of a wholistic approach toward Christlike Maturity, where people “Think, Feel and Act” like Jesus, they begin to ask for more!
Significant portions of this trip were designed to live our philosophy of ministry. In addition to training, coaching and teaching WDA staff had the opportunity to live with and among pastors, to visit schools, seminaries, orphanages and factories, to visit over meals, and enjoy one another. The first stage in Disciple building and our R-CAPS model is Relationship! Our time together resulted in many in-depth multi-day discussions about how WDA could have a wholistic impact on the lives of Filipinos.
These men, women and children who span the spectrum from extremely impoverished villages and street-dwellers to influential Chinese-Filipino businessmen, have all had just a taste of what WDA has to offer and are eager to continue to know and roll out more. Here are a few of their stories.
“Miles to go before I sleep”
Just how many miles are you willing to drive to help a small rural church learn about Discipleship? James Tioco drove 15 hours to the northern city of Tuguegarao where he met with leaders who are eager to begin our WDA Cornerstone ministry. These leaders were getting trained following the same orientation program and same material that WDA staff and board members presented last May. The week before our team arrived (January 28, 2017) our friend and brother James Tioco, drove to meet with a group of leaders. James used materials printed by the Philippine Bible Society. They were given our Getting Started/Knowing God (translated into Tagalog) which is now printed in the Philippines as a “flip” book. James also taught from Disciple Building: A Biblical Framework and A Small Groups Manual. Each Training done by Sowers of the Word (WDA Philippines) prepares leaders to start a group themselves with leaders who will often begin a new Cornerstone group in their churches. The goal is not to just learn new information but to begin groups using the curriculum. To date over 300 groups have been started.
“MGC New Life Christian Academy”
After the 15 hour trip back to Manila James met our WDA team at MGC New Life Christian Academy where David Parfitt, Buddy Eades and Hugh Kirby were to meet with teachers and students. Hugh presented his testimony and we were able to challenge the students to consider how they would be able to disciple others. The staff was so impressed with what they heard that 2 weeks later our team was invited back to MGC Christian Academy to present WDA’s ministry and give them an overview of our materials. Since our return it has been decided they will use our materials in their schools and training has been set up in order for them to begin!
“Leaders Gather for Celebration, Stories and Orientation”
WDA leaders met together with the national leaders, who have been part of our ongoing discipleship training since our initial trip in May, for a 2 day Leadership Conference. Keynote speakers, Dr. Ruth Callanta and Dr. Melba Maggay, from the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) taught us the wholistic ministry approach that CCT employes. During this conference Jack Larson, Hugh Kirby (New Hope Church), David Parfitt and Buddy Eades presented an overview of Life Coaching and Jesus ministry as it relates to WDA’s Philosophy of Ministry. Each participant was given a copy of the Life Coaching Manual and learned how to develop a NGP. NGP (Needs Goals Projects) is a Life Coaching disciple building planning tool.
“PBS: Host and Ministry Partner”
The Philippine Bible Society has become a significant ministry partner. It should not be underestimated what PBS means to the roll out of WDA’s materials and training. PBS hosts local Manila training in their headquarters. PBS is designing, publishing, translating and providing distribution and sales of our materials (both in their book stores and on their web store). They are part of a the International Bible Society and as a result of this relationship they have committed to becoming a conduit for providing our materials and training to other countries where the International Bible Society is located. Each Bible Society has the same capability to print, design, translate and sell our materials. WDA partners in other countries would have the same opportunities as our Philippines ministry is using to provide WDA materials at a low cost with the same quality, consistency and format. The implications would be that WDA has the potential to print worldwide and local churches would not incur shipping costs.
“Factory Workers see Transformation”
WDA has a goal to see people transformed into the likeness of Christ. One worker at a factory run by Center for Community Transformation has seen her life change! “I was once a loudmouth and now I am different because of being part of WDA.” She and her co-workers are part of small groups provided for every worker. These men and women are not just part of groups but also lead groups themselves. Each factory run by CCT has a pastor who oversees discipleship and manages a process that ranges from management all the way to the line worker. Over 20,000 factory workers are now using WDA material in their small discipleship groups.
“Leaders Meet for Training and Planning”
At the CCT Retreat Center in the Tagaytay Highlands we met with leaders from Sowers of the Word, Leaders and Students from Febias Bible College and Seminary as well as Pastors from the Makati Gospel Church. These men and women were able to receive training on the Restoring Your Heart Ministry and also learn more about the Ministry of Christ and Philosophy of Ministry of WDA. All of these leaders were part of previous training with WDA. The benefit of returning to meet with them is that we are able to reinforce the information that they have learned by reading Disciple Building: A Biblical Framework, doing groups using Cornerstone and also by going thru training in small groups using WDA’s A Small Groups Manual.
The Pastors for the Makati Gospel Church were looking at using WDA as their main discipleship focus for the church. MGC has many small groups and were looking at many different approaches to discipleship. Our time with them over meals, during meetings and in individual conversations has resulted in them choosing to now only roll out WDA as the main equipping curriculum but also were part of helping us use the Cornerstone in the MCG Christian Academy. MCG Academy will use Cornerstone with 7-12 grade students as well as with faculty.
Along with MCG, one of our WDA trainers , Sis. Remi, along with Sis. Joy, Dean of Students at FEBIAS (Far East Bible Institute And Seminary), invited Jack, David and Buddy to meet with students and faculty to introduce our Disciple Building approach. FEBIAS is also looking at WDA as a significant part of student development and small groups at the college and seminary level.
The Restorative Ministry
The Restorative Ministry also sent a significant team to work with Rich Smith, WDA Staff member in Quezon City, Philippines. Rich has been in Quezon City developing a ministry with local pastors who have been very interested in starting Restoring Your Heart groups. The RYH team led 6 trainings over a 3 week period for people who were committed to start RYH groups. The challenges that face WDA with these prototype groups are providing ongoing feedback and training while receiving feedback about how the experience is going. WDA will use the feedback with these leaders and also with groups started by Sowers of the Word to begin a national strategy this coming year. In addition to Quezon City groups, 3 more groups have begun with Leaders at the Makati Gospel Church, the Philippine Bible Society and at FEBIAS.
What we see in these stories is but a small number of ways WDA is becoming a Worldwide Discipleship Association. WDA has a commitment to serve the Church Worldwide. Ministry partnerships around the globe will have ongoing impact as WDA provides the training, service and materials necessary to begin national movements where people grow to maturity. We would greatly appreciate your prayers and financial support in making these endeavors possible.
All I needed to know about Leadership, I learned riding my bike!
Dr. Phil, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Spock, Dr. Dobson who is right? I mean each of them tell me they have figured out the best process for me to raise my children, resolve conflict at work and to share a great life with my wife.
Every magazine I read in the grocery check out line tells me they have a lock on relationships, on personal development, on how to manage my life. I wonder if there really is some formula for how to go about improving my stance with those I love, I manage and meet each day.
Somehow it seems that relationship, information, process, all work together but I am really not sure which one, in what order matters most. However, after looking at a zillion different improvement formulas I have come across one that just seems to make the most sense.
The process goes by the acronym R-CAPS and the letters stand for Relationship, Content, Accountability, Prayer and Structures. The process says that in order to grow myself or others that I must first develop a relationship that fosters trust and safety, then I can introduce content that is specific to what I want to achieve, accountability means to have people in place who care enough to help me stay the course, Prayer is asking God to intervene and sustain me. Finally it is important to have structures or situations in which to prove out and practice what I have learned.
As I think back to situations in which I really grew I see these elements in place. As I remember learning to ride my first bike I remember my dad holding on to the seat holding me up. I knew my dad was not going to let me get hurt, I mean I really trusted him. I also remember him telling me specifics about holding the handle bars in a straight line and remembering to pedal to maintain enough speed in order to not fall over. As I began to get the hang of things dad kept reminding me to “steer straight and keep pedaling” he kept me focused on what was important. Pray-you bet! Dad was asking the Dad of all dads to not let me get hurt. Finally, rather than just tell me about a bike, dad had me on a bike, in a safe place, practicing. When the time came to let go, I was ready and away I went.
Flash forward forty years and it is time for me to mentor a young friend. It seems that spending time with him, learning about him and his interests is the best way for us to develop trust and learn to believe in each other. Sure he wants to learn stuff, but I need to listen well and look for the signs to understand just what it is he really needs to learn. As I pay attention to what he says and observe his life I begin to understand just what content to introduce him to. Giving him information is not worth much unless I hold him to his promise to begin to use it. So much I cannot control, only God can know the depth of our hearts and minds, so I spend time speaking to God to ask for His protection and care for my friend. Finally, and often the hard part, is to find a specific activity that will let him use his new found knowledge.
Think about it. What good is it to learn about building a dog house if we do not actually try it out by building a dog house. By the way, dogs do not live in dog house theories they live in actual dog houses! Kids do not learn to ride a bike by reading a book, they learn to ride bikes by……riding a bike! And adults do not learn to mature and grow by just getting more information. Just like riding a bike, maturity takes practice, accountability and the right structures in which to try out what we are learning.
R-CAPS is a method that just makes sense. What is really cool is that it is a process that is over 2000 years old. It has been used on every continent and every nation in the world. The “process” book is well known and easy to find. The teacher, the most acclaimed “growth coach” the world has ever known. To learn more read about the R-CAPS method and the organization that developed it follow this link to the book MATURITY MATTERS.
Editors Note: We are reposting some of our blogs for you. David Parfitt originally posted this article in 2011. We think it is worth re-reading!
Do you want to fail in ministry? Here are 5 sure fire ways to end up burned out.
1. Focus on the Urgent and Not Important Things
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey points out that many leaders focus on the wrong things. Leaders can be tied up in the Urgent and the Not Important. A good leader learns to focus on the Not Urgent and Important things.
One place this shows up in ministry is training and discipling leaders. As a church planter, discipler, pastor or ministry leader it is very easy to allow the most urgent loudest voices determine your priorities. Jesus pulled away at some of the most urgent times to focus on his men. Train your leaders by focusing on the Important and not-urgent task of investing in a few young leaders. It will pay off down the road.
Solutions: Set some goals and boundaries and ask someone you admire how they handle the brush fires?
2. Avoid Times of Renewal
I deal with pastors and worship leaders who seem to forget that they work during worship! But rarely have time to worship themselves. Certainly there are times during our worship services that renew us as leaders. If you don’t have additional time to renew, you are in danger of slowly draining your tank.
Solutions: Take time to renew each week. Take a sabbath rest on a morning without your phone. Journal, read, pray, play.
3. Forget you have a Family
If you forget you have a family you will end up having to do lots of work later. Just as a workaholic needs his career to make his life meaningful, many pastors find meaning in success in ministry. Families suffer, marriages die, children rebel. On the other hand a family that is healthy can be a blessing to you. Look out! Your wife and children need you! Unfortunately the signs are not always easy to see!
Solutions: Ask your wife how you should change your schedule to spend more time with the family. Then get someone other than her to hold you accountable to this priority.
4. Make sure everything comes across your desk
If you have started a new ministry you may think that your ministry can’t survive without your insight and vision. (Remember #1) Great leaders learn to focus on training people who are able to take the baton and run the race with the team. If you have to review every piece of information, every ministry plan, go to every event, and personally oversee every leader, you haven’t learned to lead.
Solutions: Sit down with your leadership team individually and clarify their responsibilities and what ways you will give oversight. Prepare a contingency plan should things not go according to plan. Determine beforehand what balls you are willing to pick up. People will fail. Let people learn from mistakes. Use the opportunity for their training. Plan debriefing into every project.
The great american cowboy riding off into the sunset! We love that loner rugged individual. Sorry this isn’t Jesus’ model of leadership. If no one knows you, get ready to fall hard. You are a target! The enemy loves to isolate you from the pack and bring you down. Secret sin. Prideful independence. Isolated pain and hurt. All lead to failure.
Solutions: Pray for a Jonathan or a Barnabus. No one will grow without having a partner and encourager! Cultivate a life that understands the gospel! When I understand that I am both a sinner in need of mercy and a son loved completely by my heavenly father I don’t have to protect my reputation. Freedom and Openness to others only happens when I can take my mask and armor off.
So what would you add to the list? What have you seen in your experience? What Solutions can you share?
“Most current approaches for helping Christians grow to maturity aren’t working. Many church leaders realize something is wrong but don’t know how to correct the problem. A shift may have started, but old traditions persist. Alister McGrath recognizes that we need a better strategy.
Evangelicals have done a superb job of evangelizing people, bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, but they are failing to provide believers with approaches to living that keep them going and growing in spiritual relationship with Him… Many start the life of faith with great enthusiasm, only to discover themselves in difficulty shortly afterward. Their high hopes and good intentions seem to fade away. People need support to keep them going when enthusiasm fades. 
I’m convinced that most church leaders are sincere, zealous followers of Christ, committed to helping people grow in Him. They’ve given their lives to Christ and His agenda. The problem doesn’t lie with their passion for God. Instead, it comes from their failure to have a strategic plan that produces maturity and has a practical use in their church.
We need a new approach, a new perspective. Any new approach requires a new way of thinking. And that’s a challenge in itself. It also requires biblical balance because the growth process involves both mystery and method. God’s in charge, but He expects us to do our part.” [From Maturity Matters]