What I have learned about discipleship from Grand Designs

Some of you may have seen Kevin McCloud hosting the TV show Grand Designs.  Whilst the program shows off some amazing houses renovated or built by British people in Europe, it was the style of the host that impressed me.  Kevin McCloud has hosted over 90 episodes of the show, which in the TV industry is a big deal.  In the eight seasons, Kevin has witnessed many building mistakes, challenges and failures.  Yet Kevin McCloud has also been there when 90 home owners have showed off their Grand Design success.

When I watched the show recently, it taught me something about being there to support someone as they undergo a journey through something.  What interested me the most was how the style of Kevin McCloud could be a style for mentoring future ministry leaders.  Kevin McCloud is an expert in his field and yet supports the home owners who are going through the build or renovation for the first time.  As ministry leaders we may have seen it all before but the people in our ministry are often going through issues for the first time.  How can we support these people through mentoring and discipleship?

So here are four things that I learnt from watching Grand Designs:

  1. Allow the person to share their vision – there is always a segment in the show where Kevin asks the home owner to share their vision for their project.  This is makes the show as much about the people as it is about the house being built or renovated.  In a ministry context, we should allow the people we are discipling to share their grand design for their life.  The process of mentoring and discipling should be on the individual, not what we can do for them or what we can teach them.
  2. Ask probing questions– Kevin McCloud would have seen every mistake in the book yet he never gives the home owner all the answers he asks probing questions:
    1. Why are you doing it that way?
    2. What problems do you see a few steps down this path?
    3. What other options do you have?

In the ministry context this reminded me that we need to let people discover things for themselves.  It is tempting to give away all the answers because we have been there before.  However people need to make some mistakes and have some failures so they develop their own strategies for dealing with difficulties in their life.

  1. Let people surprise you – Whilst Kevin McCloud knows the show will work out in the end, it has for 90 episodes, Kevin is still surprised by how many home owners attack problems and overcome challenges.  In a ministry context allow people to surprise you and learn from the way they overcome challenges.  Rather than “lording” your experience over the people that you mentor and disciple, allow yourself to learn from them.
  2. Celebrate their success – Each episode of Grand Design finishes with the home owner showing off and celebrating their new home or grand renovation.  Many people have gone way over budget and taken much longer than planned but they are happy with the result.  Kevin McCloud celebrated their success with them.  In a ministry context we should celebrate the successes of the people in our ministry rather than reminding them of how much they still have to learn.  Learn to celebrate the small steps that people in your ministry make.

If you ever get the chance, what Kevin McCloud host an episode of Grand Designs.  You can see many of the episodes online.

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