It’s about the assist.

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March 21, 2013 by cbbeard

We are undergoing some big shifts in our community of faith.  Over the last couple of years the leadership of our congregation has realized that it is time for some new wineskins as we attempt to fulfill our God-intended mission of making disciples.

Quite frankly, this is a difficult transition for everyone, and particularly for me as Lead Minister.  Throughout my ministry experience I have created an imperfect and increasingly ineffective paradigm, albeit with good intentions and a pure heart.  That is not to say that ministry prior to this point has been fruitless, quite the contrary; God has blessed our efforts in spite of our imperfections…and isn’t that so characteristic of our God!  But with revelation comes responsibility, so shifts must be made.

As I was talking with the church staff about the difficulty of these shifts over coffee this morning we had an epiphany of sorts regarding why it is so hard for ministers like us to make the shift necessary, and it all has to do with the “scorecard.”   Reggie McNeal (2009) wrote a whole book about it, but in the spirit of the NCAA Basketball Tournament which goes into full swing today, I submit the following analogy:

For years, ministers judged success by how many points they scored, while all along God intended the scorecard to lean on assists for success.

Ministry in the past was deemed successful in large part based on what WE did.  Oh, we would give God credit, but the ministry results were largely dependent on what we did: sermons, programs, classes, events, etc.   If we planned a successful event with good attendance and response, then “swish” we scored!

But when we view our commission to make disciples in its fullness, we realize that success is less about what WE do, and more about what we lead OTHERS to do.  Therefore, success is not based only on how many baskets we make, but rather on how many assists we have as well.

This is a tough switch for church leaders for a couple of reasons.  First, we don’t get as much credit for our leadership.  Just like a box score for a basketball game, the points scored is always the primary stat; the scorer gets more of the attention.  But secondly, an assist is only an assist if the other person makes the basket!  If I pass the ball to someone else and they turn it over, neither of us has been successful; but if I pass the ball to someone else and they score, we both are part of a successful play.  Therefore, leadership becomes about equipping others to succeed, and in that, we succeed.

Of course, we then show those we lead to do the same, and soon, not only are we all making baskets, but we are getting a ton of assists as well, and that really makes for a nice looking scorecard!

What do you think?  How can we be better at “assists” and therefore become better at making disciple-making disciples?

McNeal, R., & Leadership Network. (2009). Missional renaissance: Changing the scorecard for the church (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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