Published: 5 years ago


(photo credit: Mike McKee)

You’re looking at a picture of this morning’s kickoff of the 2014 Connections Cohort. To give some context, last year we started a monthly meeting of anyone who’s paid to to Connections Ministry at the Summit: full time, part time, interns, First Impressions, Starting Point, whatever…if they got a check, we met. We discussed guest services and assimilation philosophy, theory, best practices: you know, heady, nerdy stuff that would make the average mortal cry bitter tears (in between dozing off from boredom).

But as year one wrapped up, we decided that the collaboration didn’t need to stop there. So not only are the paid folk continuing to meet monthly, we started another group and invited 1-2 “high capacity volunteers” (HCVs) from these ministries at each campus. This group began a nine month journey this morning that will serve to infuse them with the guest services DNA of the Summit. They’re already great at their craft…now they’re going to move from practitioner to visionary.

It’s not a light ask, by any means. We’re asking them to show up once a month…at 6:30 AM. We’re asking for 90 minutes of intense focus and conversation. We’re asking them to roll in late to work or school on those mornings. We’re asking them to read a book a month and show up ready to rock. And we’re asking them to drip this vision on down the line to the volunteers on their team and the people in their circle.

But in the end, it’s going to be worth it. So worth it. Even this morning as I watched the room come alive with discussion and saw the lights come on in their minds, I knew that we’d just scratched the surface of what God could accomplish through a team of willing, humble, servant-hearted volunteers. As conversations went on and one “aha” moment catapulted into another, I knew that they were taking their weekend task to a newer, deeper level. They were learning not only what hospitality looks like from a corporate worship standpoint, but how that translates into their Monday through Friday lives as well.

This is part of what it means to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. This is part of giving them the tools they need to serve well and to put the gospel on display in a huge way. This is what it means to replicate ministry, person by person, team by team, campus by campus.

Do you have a cohort? For years, I didn’t. For years, I received knowledge through books and mentoring and conferences and networks, but didn’t do anything to replicate that knowledge in others. But now I know what was missing. I know how I was squandering the things that God had generously shared with me. And by the way: lest you think that this is a 90 minute information dump where one guy lectures a room full of people, I was able to sit back this morning and listen to these incredibly wise men and women teach one another and learn from one another while I was able to learn from them. It was indeed the body being the body.

What does this look like in your context? Maybe you’re not a ministry leader, but you are a business leader. Who are you raising up? Maybe you won’t gather 17 people, but could you invite one to sit down over a cup of coffee and a good book? Where are you replicating the gifts God has given you?

I’d love to hear your model and where you’ve seen success. Comment below.

  1. robin allen says:

    What’s really amazing is that from the faces that i can see, they’re smiling. you must be serving donuts or something! Robin

    • Danny says:

      Robin, we were all laughing at one of our vols. I think at that precise moment she was explaining the difference between South Africa (where she was born & raised) and southwest Georgia – a conversation I know you’d appreciate!

  2. Julia F. says:

    Wowza! Look at that stack of books! I’d love to know which ones they are. And how do you define “High Capacity” volunteer? Are these invited team leaders or are they are some higher level at Summit? I have 16 team leaders that I guess are my “cohorts”. But that level of commitment just isn’t there.

    • Danny says:

      Julia, I’m glad to share that list! Over the next nine months we’ll be hitting the following:

      -First Impressions, by our buddy Mark Waltz
      -Be Our Guest, Kinni
      -The One Minute Manager, Blanchard
      -The Starbucks Experience, Michelli
      -Fusion, Searcy
      -How to Wow, Waltz
      -Volunteer Revolution, Hybels
      -Connect, Searcy

      The HCVs who make up the cohort were selected and invited by the FI Director and/or Associate Campus Pastor at each campus. While I think all of them would have loved to invite more than 1-2 (depending on size of campus), we deliberately limited it to a smaller group to keep conversations intimate (well, relatively intimate).

      They serve in different roles, not just as team leaders. The qualification I placed on the campus leadership was that this would be a person they could easily see spreading vision far and wide on their campus. Next year, we hope to start all over with a brand new batch of HCVs.

      And don’t lose heart on the commitment level. This certainly didn’t happen overnight. I’d encourage you to start where you are. If it’s just 3-4, begin there and work your way outward. I’m beyond excited about the results from this morning. I think this is going to have benefits far beyond what we’ve dreamed.

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