Monday, June 03, 2013

BookPastor >> "Insourcing" (Randy Pope)

Is your Church stuck on how to grow? Do you think that a super pastor is the one to help your Church grow? Maybe, programs and attractive offerings will bring people into your Church? How about simply let your Church go all out to help the poor? All of these may have advantages, but their disadvantages are many. Is there a way to do discipleship? According to Randy Pope, the answer lies in life-on-life discipleship. This review was first published at "Panorama of a Book Saint" on April 25th, 2013. 


TITLE: Insourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series)
AUTHOR: Randy Pope
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (224 pages).

Do we really need another book on discipleship? Is there anything new to learn about making disciples? In our busy world, and the many complex ministry models, can we still have a discipleship model that is simple and clear, without being simplistic and impractical? There is one answer to all of these questions. Yes!

Randy Pope begins the book with a contemplative moment about his own Church ministry, Perimeter Church. With his Church on a growing path, with ministry pretty much cruising along, with general satisfaction that programs and people are already a part of the ministry, something still troubles Pope. What is the target? Yes, it is true that the ultimate target is the worship of God and glorifying the Heavenly Father. It is also true that people can worship God through the programs. The question is, is that enough? Is that what discipleship all about? After some struggle with the question of target, the author lands on two words that provide the thrust of his discipleship model: "mature and equipped." Discipleship is essentially about helping individuals in the community toward maturity and being equipped to worship God in every possible way. Pope starts off with a remarkable summary of three common models of ministry. The first model is the "Pastoral Model," which requires a "multi-talented, maintenance-oriented shepherd." If the Church is small, and the needs are few, this model generally suffices. The trouble is, the existing climate has become much more complex and needs have been more varied than before. The second model is that of an "Attractional Model." Beef up the message, boost up the music, and birth new methods so that more people will be attracted to the church. This model of relevance appeals to a consumeristic culture, and is strong in attracting people in, but weak in sending people out as witnesses. The third model is "Influential Model" which is high in social action and community influence. Unfortunately, it may result in churches and Christian organizations becoming another social help group without much of an identity. For Randy Pope, all of these models do not seem to prepare his Church as far as discipleship is concerned. By weaving together the positive elements of each model, and weeding out the rest, Pope focuses on a life-on-life model that essentially reflects the journey of a growing disciple. This life-on-life model is in turned based on a framework credited to Ken Blanchard. Blanchard's four stage leadership model moves as follows:

  1. Stage I - Direct
  2. Stage II - Coach
  3. Stage III - Support
  4. Stage IV - Delegate
An important note is that one cannot jump from stage I to stage IV. Each stage has to be covered. The same goes for the Life-on-Life discipleship model. Pope modifies the above using the acronym TEAMS to describe the five emphases of the model.
  1. Stage 1 - Truth
  2. Stage 2 - Equipping
  3. Stage 3 - Accountability
  4. Stage 4 - Mission
  5. Stage 5 - Supplication (not exactly a stage, but something that covers every stage)

The rest of the book condenses a three-year discipleship journey into six meetings via a fictional journey to incorporate the whole story. The appendices provide key resources for readers and leaders to jump start their own versions of discipleship based on this life-on-life model.

My Thoughts

The book's key emphasis is that every individual matters. Far too often, we have become distracted over programs, and our infatuation with numbers of people. By doing so, in desiring to be more relevant, churches are constantly inundated with greater and greater demands for more flashy and attractional programs that are not sustainable, they fail to equip and help members mature as a community of believers. At the same time, too much inward ministry toward meeting needs of people through chronic care can cause a ministry to implode into self-centered ministries. We are reminded that Jesus spends more than 90% of his time with his twelve disciples. There are no megachurches then. Jesus is focused on lives, one at a time. So should we. Every life counts. If our target is toward a mature community, we need to start working at helping individuals mature. If our target is to equip, we need to let the mission guide our strategies and resources to be used for the purpose of equipping people FOR the mission. It is not the ministry that determines the mission. It is the mission that determines the ministry, and it is a clear understanding of the target of the mission that determines the ministry models required. 

This is no ordinary book on discipleship. Richly insightful and downright practical, leaders will be pleased to have in their hands a book that is marinated with profound ideas and generous in real-life stories, filled with examples of what it means to journey together one-on-one. I like the way Pope reviews the old paradigms and takes care not to throw them all away. Instead, he learns the best from them, adapts where necessary, and infuses some new insights to make it all fresh and exciting. Note that every Church is unique. Every Church is different in its resources, it contexts, and its strategies. This book will not only help Christian organizations to take a critical look at their existing programs, and start making bold initiatives, to breathe life into the old, and to let God build something new out of it all. Great book on discipleship!

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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