100,000 Fully Engaged Tutors for
But the end of all things is at hand;
therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another,
as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.
If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies,
that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
— 1 Peter 4:7-11 (NKJV)
Pastors have told me that the work required for the congregational ministries they wish to expand and new ministries they would like to establish always greatly exceeds the time available from Christians who are willing to volunteer and faithfully serve in loving ways. After much prayer and receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit, pastors make painful decisions to increase and establish just some of the many desirable ministries while they continually offer prayers for more volunteers.
To understand the potential to accomplish more, consider the behavior of people who live near a nice beach during warm weather. Unless a storm threatens, most people who can go to the beach will find a way to visit, even if just for long enough to enjoy looking at the scene and listening to the water’s movement. Many will spend every spare moment there. Some will invite friends who live elsewhere to join them. Their hearts are fully committed to visiting and enjoying the beach.
What if Christians were drawn to volunteer for congregational ministries that their pastors favor with as much enthusiasm and frequency as beach lovers enjoy their favorite stretch of sand? If such were the case, there would be many more volunteers and resources available for Godly ministries to share Christ’s love.
I was struck by that thought recently after I joined some friends from church to help serve dinner at a homeless shelter. Upon arrival, I met a volunteer with no connection to our church who has served at the shelter for about six years. He laughingly warned me to be careful because it is so much fun to volunteer at the shelter that few can resist. He then told me an impressive story about the devotion of the volunteer who had recruited him, a man who has cooked and served tens of thousands of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners there during the last sixteen years: When this culinary volunteer’s original base of volunteers disappeared because the school where he was teaching went out of business, the man eagerly sought to continue his generous service by successfully recruiting and training a new group of teenaged assistants from the next school where he taught.
As I left after dinner, the thanks and smiles from the men who appreciated our helping them were touchingly warm and genuine. In my career as a management consultant, I have had the experience of helping individuals make billions of dollars. But the thanks and smiles I received after helping businesspeople gain large financial blessings were not nearly as friendly and inspiring as the ones I gained from the homeless men that night. I suspect I’ll be in the shelter volunteering whenever I have the opportunity because I can’t wait to see these men again and to become better acquainted with them; I have become fully engaged.
In this chapter, I describe how congregational ministries can benefit from the full engagement of 100,000 tutors who each specialize in improving, expanding, and making more rewarding for all involved at least one ministry activity that God often calls His people to do.
Develop 2,000 Percent Cubed Solutions
for Each Type of Congregational Ministry
And say to Archippus,
“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,
that you may fulfill it.”
— Colossians 4:17 (NKJV)
As I began writing this chapter, the Holy Spirit directed me to mentally review my experiences with attending Sunday school as well as the times when I have been asked to teach Sunday school. If there was a goal for what these classes were to accomplish beyond reviewing the Biblical material scheduled for a particular day, it wasn’t obvious to me. In fact, over many years of attending Sunday school I don’t ever remember reading and discussing the Bible verses that talk about repenting sins, accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, and gaining Salvation. The classes also didn’t demonstrate much Christian love.
I also thought about the congregational ministries I have volunteered to assist. The objectives for my work were never made clear. As a result, I often found myself doing something I erroneously thought was helpful that I wasn’t supposed to do. After being chided, I always ended up feeling discouraged, rather than encouraged, about being involved. At such times I did my best to refocus on the Lord, rather than on the corrections I had received, and to soldier on. I doubt if I was an overflowing fountain of Christ’s love for others at such moments. Hopefully, I had shaken it off by the next time I served.
Before explaining what a 2,000 percent cubed solution for a congregational ministry is, let me ask a question about the importance of setting and sharing objectives that reflect God’s will. When God intends for human efforts to serve His purposes, won’t His will be accomplished more often and more effectively by a congregational ministry in which everyone involved knows and is focused on what God intends to be done and is filled with a loving attitude toward the task and the people involved?
As an example of what can go wrong, consider the small-group worship and Bible study opportunities that many churches hold in congregation members’ homes. Pastors often refer to these occasions as opportunities to become better acquainted with other Christians, and to ask questions and to receive answers about spiritual matters.
If increasing personal contacts and conversations with other Christians is one of God’s objectives for small groups, it’s surprising how some churches choose to organize these activities: You may be encouraged to meet just with people who live nearest you. While that focus clearly minimizes travel time, it’s not as clear that it encourages the most attendance at small groups and as much friendliness as possible with other Christians. Perhaps people would get to know more Christians if they changed from time to time the groups they attend.
If another of God’s purposes is for the body of Christ to gain Biblical knowledge, Christians might learn more by being directed to small groups studying what those attending most need to learn. In some churches, the times and places of such groups are prominently displayed, but never the content of what is being studied. Assignments to small groups might also be improved by some prior inquiry concerning what each person does and doesn’t know about the faith.
Lest you think that the Holy Spirit always directs Christians to exactly the small group they need for more Biblical learning, let me share one of my experiences: After I had just completed an excellent year-long, online study of Genesis, my small-group leader enthusiastically announced that we would be studying Genesis for the next year or two. I kept an open mind and attended these new sessions. After the first three, it became clear to me that a second time through the book wasn’t going to add much to my understanding. I would be better served by engaging in another small group studying a part of the Bible that I know much less about, but no such small groups were available when I was free to attend.
Let’s look more closely at increasing Biblical knowledge within a congregation. Surely, that’s part of God’s will. Although knowledge doesn’t automatically translate into doing the right thing, at least the risk of ignorantly doing the wrong thing is reduced by having church attendees become more Biblically knowledgeable.
How could a congregation’s Biblical knowledge be most usefully measured? Before seeking measurements of effectiveness in following God’s will, it’s always a good idea to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and to investigate what the Bible has to say on the subject. You may well receive better ideas about measurements to use concerning Biblical knowledge than mine from the Holy Spirit and from your Bible reading. Nevertheless, let me offer some measurement suggestions to encourage your investigations and thinking and to help me to explain what a 2,000 cubed solution is:
• How many people know the essential elements of what the Bible says about receiving Christ’s free gift of Salvation?
• How many Christians know how to deepen and strengthen their relationships with Jesus Christ after accepting Salvation?
• How many saved people know the difference between sinning and not sinning in their typical daily activities?
• How many of those who have received Salvation know how to repent when they sin?
• How many born-again Christians know what the Bible says they should pray for and what they should not pray for?
• How many believers know what the Bible tells us about how to relate to non-Christians?
• How many people who are saved know what the Bible tells us about how to behave toward a fellow Christian who is observed to be sinning?
• How many born-again believers accurately apply their Biblical knowledge concerning the seven prior measurement areas with joyful and loving hearts?
Once the appropriate measurements of accomplishing any aspect of God’s will are in hand, the work of creating a 2,000 percent cubed solution for a congregational ministry can begin. Such a solution will have three complementary elements that multiply their individual effects, each element accomplishing twenty times as much with the same or less time, effort, and resources that are currently being applied by a Christian, a group of Christians working in a congregational ministry, or a whole congregation to accomplish the activity.
Looking at my preceding list of eight suggested measurements for Biblical knowledge, you may have noticed that the last element (How many born-again believers accurately apply their Biblical knowledge concerning the seven prior measurement areas with joyful and loving hearts?) can be a point of focus for locating and applying complementary 2,000 percent solutions (solutions creating improvements in one aspect of performance that fully multiply the benefits gained from solutions for the other performance aspects).
Here is an example of a 2,000 percent cubed solution (three complementary 2,000 percent solutions that have full value for multiplying the benefits from each one to expand the last measurement on the list): While applying the same or less time, effort, and resources, increase by twenty times
• the number of people who have adequate knowledge of the first seven areas.
• the percentage of the time that people with adequate knowledge accurately apply what they know.
• the percentage of the time that those who accurately apply adequate knowledge do so with joyful and loving hearts.
As you can see, the combined effect of these three exponential solutions is to increase the number of people who adequately know and accurately apply their knowledge with joyful and loving hearts by 8,000 times (20 times 20 times 20) while employing the same or less time, effort, and resources.
Calculating the magnitude of increased benefits demonstrates how powerful the complementary aspect of such exponential solutions can be. Put another way, one such set of three complementary exponential solutions can accomplish as much as involving 8,000 times more people in a congregational ministry activity. I’m sure you agree with me that finding and employing the complementary solutions have the potential to be more effective for increasing congregational ministry benefits than trying to recruit so many more helpers.
How realistic is it to find and employ such sets of three complementary exponential solutions? I believe that it can always be done because I am not aware of any circumstances in which such solutions could not be found and implemented with reasonable effort. In my experience, an individual can usually develop a 2,000 percent cubed solution with less than 250 hours of activity. If a team of people is involved in the same task, the combined total time will be about 300 to 350 hours.
In Chapter One, you read about ways to create such 2,000 percent cubed solutions for increasing witnessing: You combine the two complementary 2,000 percent solutions described in Witnessing Made Easy to be provided by a church’s in-congregation evangelists:
• five-minute witnessing teachings and encouragements during each church service and activity to increase congregational witnessing by twenty times, plus
• preparing twenty or more in-congregation evangelists to serve at least twenty other churches’ congregations with five-minute teachings and encouragements so that those churches’ congregational witnessing also expands by twenty times
with any of the six 2,000 percent solutions contained in Ways You Can Witness to increase witnessing activity by 8,000 times from the congregation’s initial level while employing the same or less time, effort, and resources by the church. If you add more than one of the Ways You Can Witness solutions to the two Witnessing Made Easy solutions, you can accomplish even more, engaging in 160,000 (with four complementary solutions), 3,200,000 (with five complementary solutions), or even 64,000,000 (with six complementary solutions) times more witnessing than the congregation had been doing. Aren’t these opportunities awesome?
As described in Witnessing Made Easy and Ways You Can Witness, while designing and conducting the global online witnessing contest to find these eight 2,000 percent solutions, I devoted less than 100 hours of my time. If you use such a contest to locate exponential solutions for congregational ministries, I believe that you’ll also succeed without spending a lot of time. You can read more about the methods I used in Chapter 12 of Adventures of an Optimist.
In contrast with the 2,000 percent solution directions given in the two witnessing books that Chapter One of this book is based on, ways of exponentially improving many congregational ministry activities other than witnessing to accomplish more of God’s objectives have yet to be identified. The first people who work to improve the effectiveness of these other ministries without global contests can rely instead on the directions in The 2,000 Percent Solution (iUniverse, 2003) and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook (iUniverse, 2005) to develop each complementary exponential solution. Those seeking breakthrough congregational ministry solutions can also examine the two witnessing books to see if any of these eight exponential witnessing solutions can be adapted for use by other ministries. In addition, Chapter 11 of Adventures of an Optimist (BookSurge, 2007) explains many more potential dimensions for creating complementary solutions.
Once three (or more) 2,000 percent complementary solutions have been identified or developed for a congregational ministry, the next step is to test the solutions on a small scale. By examining the evidence of how well the solutions work, it’s possible to draw lessons to make it easier and more successful to implement them. Let’s look next at the best ways to share directions with those who will implement the solutions.
Document the 2,000 Percent Cubed Solutions
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
— 1 John 1:4 (NKJV)
Much as I would like to precisely prescribe how to document 2,000 percent cubed solutions, I am reluctant to do so because many people know more than I do about how to make such practices easy to understand and apply. Please accept my observations here merely as suggestions for your initial consideration. I encourage you to identify and experiment with other documentation methods that appear to offer more benefits or to reduce the effort involved. If you find better documentation methods, by all means use them. I would be pleased to learn from your experiences and hope you will take the time to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your first thought may be to write a book. That’s what I did by teaming with Carol Coles and Robert Metz to coauthor The 2,000 Percent Solution, the first documentation of how to identify and to make exponential improvements while employing the same or less time, effort, and resources. If you first listen to lots of people describe what they do and don’t understand about your process and then use what you hear to reorganize your thinking and descriptions while you write and prepare a book, then documentation of your process can be greatly improved.
Here’s an example of how such documentation improvements can be made. After I used The 2,000 Percent Solution as a text for Rushmore University’s mid-career students to help them design and implement exponential breakthroughs, it became obvious that many students were confused by how to apply certain aspects of the book’s methods. Although The 2,000 Percent Solution contains lots of questions designed to help create and implement solutions, some people need even more questions to help focus their thinking on the most productive activities. I next worked with Carol Coles to write The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, which provides the missing questions.
Based on that experience I suggest you start by writing and teaching from a draft of a book that combines all of the required conceptual information with many more than enough questions to direct someone to implement the book’s solutions. Keep revising the draft based on your learners’ experiences until implementation problems are reduced to being minor and infrequent.
Next, ask some people to apply the book draft without your help and review what they implement to see what problems they had with the instructions. Then, revise your book draft to reflect what you learn so it can be used more effectively when you aren’t available to answer any questions and to correct any misunderstandings.
Those steps for creating a book will work best if your 2,000 percent cubed solutions are for an activity that can be applied to a great many congregational ministries. Here are some examples of the sort of common activities that I have in mind for these books:
• Establishing a congregational ministry
• Attracting volunteers
• Training volunteers
• Raising money
• Inexpensively acquiring operational resources to conduct the ministry
• Gaining visibility among those the ministry seeks to serve
• Measuring the effects of the ministry
I expect that most well-documented 2,000 percent cubed (or more) solutions will be for unique processes to be applied to a specific aspect of one congregational ministry, such as how to introduce members of new small groups to one another so they immediately gain 8,000 times more information about one another’s Christian knowledge and interests.
For unique congregational ministry processes, you may accomplish more by documenting the solutions in many different ways than by only writing a book. For instance, in my research concerning witnessing I was impressed by how case histories helped learners to get more detailed information about how the processes can be implemented. Helpful documentation formats may include videos, audio recordings, Web sites, brief writings, case histories provided by those who have served and been served, and books.
As valuable as it is to have such excellent sources of stand-alone documentation, most people who want to apply improved methods would prefer to have some contact with experts who teach the processes and are available to demonstrate and to answer questions. Let’s look into how fully engaged congregational ministry tutors should provide for such needs.
Assist Others in Learning the 2,000 Percent Cubed Solutions
Then they asked Him, saying,
“Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly,
and You do not show personal favoritism,
but teach the way of God in truth:”
— Luke 20:21 (NKJV)
You will probably begin teaching these methods to develop an instruction book or other forms of documentation. Once you provide helpful documentation, shift into creating a number of different ways to teach that allow the information to be more broadly understood.
Many people learn better by supplementing written information with conversations about what they don’t understand and observations about how they are doing in applying what they have learned. Documentation methods can only go so far in accomplishing what discussions and feedback can.
Let’s look at how more learning can be encouraged than with documentation alone. I believe that most 2,000 percent cubed solutions can be usefully taught to at least some people in the following ways, many of which can be combined for greater effectiveness:
• group on-site tutorials and hands-on coaching while practicing at congregational ministries that are correctly employing the practices
• group site visits to observe and engage in ministries correctly employing the practices combined with face-to-face discussions of what has been observed and engaged in
• group site visits to observe and engage in ministries that are correctly employing the practices
• group on-site tutorials and hands-on coaching while practicing at ministries that are learning the methods
• individual on-site tutorials and hands-on coaching while applying the learning to one’s own congregational ministry
• individual on-site tutorials and hands-on coaching while practicing at ministries that are correctly employing the practices
• individual on-site tutorials and hands-on coaching while practicing at ministries that are learning the methods
• individual site visits to observe and engage in ministries that are correctly employing the practices
• individual tutorials conducted face-to-face
• individual tutorials by video telephone
• individual tutorials provided by conventional telephone
• individual tutorials led through Internet chats
• individual tutorials delivered by e-mail and document review
• coaching visits to the learning congregational ministry to observe application practices and to make adjustments for all those engaged in the ministry
• coaching visits to the learner’s ministry to observe practices by an individual to help that person make adjustments
• classroom tutorials with supervised in-class assignments that are reviewed and commented on
• classroom tutorials with student papers that are reviewed and commented on
• in-person lectures with one-third of the time allowed for asking and answering questions
• live video lectures with one-third of the time allowed for asking and answering questions
• live Web casts with one-third of the time allowed for asking and answering questions
• recorded video demonstrations and lectures with opportunities to submit questions and receive responses from a tutor who is physically present
• recorded video demonstrations and lectures with opportunities to submit questions and receive immediate responses by telephone or e-mail
• recorded video demonstrations and lectures with opportunities to submit questions and receive delayed responses by telephone or e-mail
• recorded audio demonstrations and lectures with opportunities to submit questions and receive responses from a tutor who is present
• recorded audio demonstrations and lectures with opportunities to submit questions and receive immediate responses by telephone or e-mail
• recorded audio demonstrations and lectures with opportunities to submit questions and receive delayed responses by telephone or e-mail
• recorded video demonstrations and lectures that include recorded question and answer sessions
• recorded audio demonstrations and lectures that include recorded question and answer sessions
If you identify other learning methods that work well, I hope you will share them with me at email@example.com.
It’s easy to become overly focused on helping others learn to make such huge improvements. As important as that activity is, the opportunities and benefits of continuing to make further improvements are even greater.
Teach Congregational Ministry Leaders to Repeat
the 2,000 Percent Cubed Solution Process
and to Share Their Improvements with Others
But do not forget to do good and to share,
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
— Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)
Although ministries and individuals will be very focused on developing 2,000 percent cubed solution methods for congregational ministries and tutoring others to use the solutions in highly effective ways, it’s important that everyone develop the habit of sharing what they learn with as many tutors as possible rather than hoarding their knowledge. In that way, new investigations of how to improve can start from the highest level of accomplishment.
Sharing with tutors is important because the more people who work on improving a particular process, the faster and more it will be enhanced. Research has shown that almost everyone can notice small changes that can greatly improve advanced processes. Yet very few people already know how to create breakthrough processes in the first place. As a result, we will usually accomplish less while divided than when combined in our efforts. No doubt this is one of the ways that God encourages us to cooperate with one another to strengthen the body of Christ.
People who see all the advanced processes will also perceive many opportunities to combine them in useful ways that the process developers totally missed. You can see a minor illustration of that point by observing how adding a single practice from Ways You Can Witness to the two methods in Witnessing Made Easy can increase witnessing by 7,600 times compared to the 400 times that the two Witnessing Made Easy practices alone provide.
Let’s consider an extreme illustration of the same point. If you put together seven complementary 2,000 percent solutions for witnessing, you enhance the level of activity by over a billion times while no more time, effort, and resources are supplied by the church. One such solution could be enough to ensure that all lost people are reached. Think of that: One church’s focus could lead to fulfilling all of Christ’s Great Commission.
As a result of such enormous opportunities, I encourage all those who are interested in improving similar 2,000 percent solutions to combine into communities of practice that share information and encourage others to contribute improvements. I pray that when such communities of practice for witnessing and congregational ministries are established they will bridge the denominational differences that often divide Christians.
If several people decide that they want to lead such sharing of best practices, I encourage them to specialize in ways that will create more useful kinds of activity rather than any duplication of what someone else is already doing. In making that suggestion, I’m reminded of Matthew 20:20-28 (NKJV) where the mother of Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, sought their preference in Jesus’ kingdom, annoying the other disciples. Let us focus on humble service as Jesus did in washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, rather than in trying to gain preferences over one another for worldly acclaim.
Keep the lessons of chapters one and two in mind as you read Chapter Three where the subject is improving the effectiveness of Christian nonprofit organizations that operate independently of a specific congregation. These perspectives will help you to appreciate the special opportunities for tutoring to enhance overall organizational effectiveness in accomplishing God’s will.
Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Mitchell. All rights reserved.