Strategy Retreat

Submitted by Ben Armacost on Mon, 22 Aug 2011 - 15:10

On Saturday, 20 August 2011 we held another long-awaited gathering of the AIM Trainers network. We used the Veteran’s Car Club of Australia hall in Brighton, just 20 minutes north of Hobart. We were pleased to have 25 people participate, not to mention several children and child-carers. I am highly indebted to Jillian Goninon who got this event on the calendar and carried much of the burden of planning and expense, and we are grateful for the help of several other people who made this a very successful day.

We spent the morning in an “iron-on-iron” (Prov. 27.17) session to report on what is happening and to sharpen our skills. I presented a review of “The Four Fields of Church Planting.” In groups of 4, everyone did a self-examination of where they are in the process, what is working well, and where they are finding sticking points or areas of struggle.

Steve Smith’s recently-released book, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution(Monument, CO: WIGTake, 2011), has stirred many wonderful reminders for me. I shared one of the highlights of this book, the 7 parts of the T4T process, and asked, “If you’re pressed for time, which parts are you most likely to leave out?” Amazingly, the group chose the four which Steve listed in the book: vision casting, accountability, practice, and goal-setting/prayer. Eliminating these leaves you with nothing more than a traditional Bible study—most of which never multiply! These are the very factors which MUST remain in place if we want our group to give rise to new groups. We helped to reinforce the “three-thirds” process by giving each participant a ready-reference bookmark featuring the AIM Pattern which we have been using for over 5 years.

We handed out two case studies, Ying Kai’s “Big Asian CPM” and Jeff Sundell’s “North Carolina CPM,” and discussed them in small teams. Both these CPMs were new to most people, and these stories provided a great deal of inspiration and optimism for our workers. Many people shared takeaway items learned from each of these successful models.

Using our newly-prepared Four Fields Plansheet (attached, A4), I gave everyone time to develop a personal plan for each stage. We then challenged people to answer the vital question, “What must I do in the next 10 days?” We concluded with a season of prayer in small groups.

We enjoyed a one-hour break for a barbecue lunch. The afternoon session was dedicated to open sharing and celebrating what God has been doing. I began by giving a brief history of where we’ve been over the past 5 years of training disciples. Using a chart with over 40 groups, I showed them how we have been working to plant churches on a zero budget using basic New Testament principles. The remainder of the afternoon, we celebrated many ways God is at work as people shared stories of faith, personal transformation, answers to prayer, and even some miraculous happenings in our midst.

Praise God for a wonderful day together!  Will you please pray for our groups and leaders, that God will multiply them abundantly so that many Australians will be reached while there is still time.