I live in Pasadena near the oldest freeway in the country– the 110. In the oldest section of that freeway, they have stop signs just before you enter the freeway. There’s a stop sign, then you have literally 50 feet to get onto the freeway. You have to sit there at a stop sign with other cars going full speed, and then when you see a gap, gun it as fast as you can without killing yourself or others.
As you may have guessed, that strategy doesn’t work so well. Modern freeways now have long on-ramps, plus people have their own lane for a while so they can get up to speed in order to merge successfully.
It’s the same way in ministry. It’s not enough to just seek to mobilize someone; we also need to help bring them up to speed so they can move forward with us. That process involves building relationships, instilling values, and orienting people enough so that they know what to do.
To get up to speed, people need on-ramps that give them enough time and help to merge successfully. So what might that look like? What do people need in order to be able to embrace the values, experiences, and practices of a particular ministry? What exposure do they need to get started?
For getting small group leaders up to speed– instead of giving them a hand book letting them go try it– you can have them apprentice in an existing group. They can have a chance to experience group life, try out different skills, and build relationships.
Church planter residencies serve a similar function. They allow the church planter candidate the chance to serve in a church and get some staff experience before they go plant something new.
For new Sunday school teachers, you might have a gathering for a day to let people experience some teaching and then have a time of observations and debriefing. That would be far more effective than just handing them some curriculum.
Whatever the specific ministry, try to create an on-ramp so people don’t have to get up to speed in 4 seconds. How much better to get started well and have a good experience?