Here are a list of best practices to help implement the League in your church.
As your League grows it is important to put leaders over each one of these areas of structure. We have men/women that serve as Missions Leaders just for our Men’s /Women’s League. This takes the responsibility off of the League Commissioner and puts it on the lay leadership to determine the best projects possible.
Based on your desire for the material to fill in the needs for foundation, leadership, and daily living, you need to plan out what studies are going to work in these areas (we will discuss in more detail later in this chapter). If your church finances allow, then try to purchase the foundation material for your coaches and participants. If your budget does not allow for this, just make sure that logistically you have it planned out and informed the players of the cost of the study up front.
Recommended Resources for the League;
Lifeway- The Beginning/The Way
Lifeway- Masterlife series- Disciples’ Cross
JourneyOn- Spiritual Foundations
Promotion: You will want signage or artwork to help promote the League among your membership. (Check out the League artwork online as a free resource at www.disciplesleague.com)
Fellowship: One of your first actions is to provide intentional fellowship among coaches and players. This can be as simple as a time of fellowship in a coffee shop, a cook out, or as elaborate as a banquet to begin.
Coordinate your Bible study time and fellowship with what the church is offering. If a Sunday night is when your church provides other discipleship training courses, this may be the best time, so that childcare is provided and other family members have a place to connect.
When we set up teams we want our coaches to go out and find players. This has shown to be very successful and helps coaches to take ownership of their players’ discipleship. We never want to close the door for God to move in someone’s heart, so always have a season of open enrollment in our League. Once again the best opportunity that may exist for this is before midweek groups are set to begin. (Check out copies of Enlistment Cards as a free resource at www.disciplesleague.com)
Never compete with the church. It can be very easy to get into a place where the League feels like a fraternity and only a few are selected to participate. This is not the purpose. The reality is that the League should produce leaders so that when anyone joins the church, a League coach can begin to mentor new believers.
Provide opportunities for repeat players. You may have some people that are not ready to go to a group after their first year. This is fine. Be prepared to provide them an opportunity to continue to participate in a group.
If they are ready send them out. We have some guys that get it after the first Bible study time. Rather than keeping them in a room, if we have an opportunity to use then in leading a group, then be ready to take advantage of that. As the old saying goes, “strike while the iron is hot.”
Before your enlistment begins in your church, have your coaches that are trained make appeals in your Sunday School classes/small groups to invite people to participate. Once again it promotes the League to the church as a place where disciples are made. Talking points should be created for each coach to be able to share with groups to make it clear of what happens.
Use events to promote the League. Events are to help lift the platform of prospects, guests, and cultivate new member opportunities. For the League, events are used to help promote the next step of discipleship. At every event that we have for our men or women, there is a table for the League. Once again we do not want to have events with no way to get men and women plugged in. Even if it is not close to a time that they begin, we will use it as a time to promote what God is doing through the League. If you promote the League consistently we believe you will begin to see the fruits of people seeing you are focused on discipleship and not just the next event.
League Commissioners are responsible for making sure that everyone that plans to participate in the League has a team they are on. This may require moving people around or shifting groups to different time slots. Try to stay around a group size of three to five. Try to also group by age or church experience if possible.
We offered to our first time coaches a time where they are commissioned to do the work of leading a group. It gives affirmation to your coaches and let’s them understand the responsibility of what God has put before them. We encouraged as well for their spouses to attend so they can see what all is involved in being a coach.
The League pins
One of the things that we provide for each person that participates in the League is a lapel pin. This serves to the League in different ways. First it is a promotion for Sunday morning for those that are in the church may see these pins and ask where they can get one (free promotion). Next it signifies to the players and coaches that they are participating in something special and not just a temporary Bible study. We even give different colors for coaches and players to help them see that there is a progression to their growth. It’s a small token that will help a long way. Check out the artwork for the League lapel pin at http://www.disciplesleague.com.
Player Graduation service
One of the last events that we provide as the League is the graduation service. We encourage this to happen in a worship service at the end of the semester following the daily living focus. We have certificates of leadership that each player receives. We also have our pastor to sign them and recognize them for their work during the year of making and multiplying disciples. Then there is the charge made to them to serve as coaches for the following year. Once again this can be expanded to include a graduation dinner or reception, but a simple recognition will go a long way. This is also a time to give out coach pins to the players that communicates expectations for the next time that the League begins.