Just Say Yes! Leader Guide: Unleashing People for Ministry

Just Say Yes! Leader Guide: Unleashing People for Ministry

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In Just Say Yes! Robert Schnase shows church leaders how to unleash people for fruitful ministry. He teaches leaders to spot their own nay-saying, and gives specific instructions for reversing the culture of
‘No’ that has become so prevalent in many churches. Step by step,
Schnase shows readers—pastors, other church leaders, and congregants—how to make significant change in their attitude and actions, to become a permission-giving church.

This set of resources is the next step in the author’s effort to reshape church leaders across the mainline denomination. Just Say Yes! Becoming a Permission-Giving Church give church leaders what they need in order to begin implementing the principles in the original book. It starts with a group study experience for church leaders, facilitated by a senior leader (typically the pastor). The study can be done in as little as 3 hours or, if groups watch all the videos and do all the optional exercises and activities, up to 6 hours total. The sessions can be used as a single-day retreat or broken up into 3 or 6 separate sessions. They can be stand-alone sessions, or incorporated into meetings for staff and lay leaders.

The Leader Guide includes instructions and guidance for leaders in planning, hosting, debriefing and following up after the experience.
Using this resource, plus the included customizable PowerPoint slides and the video Stories of Permission, a pastor or other key leader can effectively facilitate an extraordinary group experience resulting in transformation for the congregation.

The Participant Guide is a complete workbook and devotion guide for church leaders—staff and laity—who participate in the Permission-Giving group experience. These will typically be church councils, staff teams,
committee chairs, ministry team leaders, and the like. The Guide includes prompts to reinforce the material shared in the videos and by the facilitator, questions for reflection and discussion, and specific action steps for becoming permission-giving leaders in the church. It includes plenty of room for writing and note taking during the group experience. It also includes a 30-day Devotional, which the participant can complete either during or after the group experience. The group experience includes 6 inspiring and compelling videos from real church settings. Several additional video clips are also available, for groups wanting to spend more time exploring ideas together.

A printed 4-Week Devotional is also available, and can be used by individual church members autonomously, or (ideally) used by every member as a personal study guide accompanying the 4-Week Sermon &
Worship series. The material is flexible and accessible for all adult readers, and can be done in one sitting or spread throughout the week.

This study consists of a Leader Guide, Participant Guide, DVD, a
Devotional Guide and free Customizable Downloadable Resources. The DVD
has 8 video stories showing the Permission-Giving Church in action, 3
brief videos essays demonstrating the essentials of a permission-giving church and 1 video promo for inviting participation in the Just Say Yes!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501825262
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Series: Just Say Yes! Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Robert Schnase is bishop of the Rio Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. Schnase is the author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, a best-selling book on congregational ministry that has ignited a common interest among churches and their leaders around its themes of radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity. Five Practices has reached a global community with translations in Korean, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, and German. Robert is also the author of Just Say Yes!, Receiving God's Love, Remember the Future, Five Practices of Fruitful Living, and others.

Read an Excerpt

Just Say Yes! Leader Guide

Unleashing People for Ministry

By Robert Schnase, Angela Olsen

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2016 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-2527-9


Session 1

Uncover the Nos

Prepare for This Session

• Arrange the tables and chairs so participants can comfortably see the video screen and have discussions with two or three others.

• Create an altar space to enhance the spiritual experience of the training. Ideas for the altar include a cross, a candle, cloths in the color scheme of the book (red, tan, teal, and navy), communion set, large letters spelling out Yes!

• Participants will need a participant guide and a pen; if you are responsible for distributing these, set them out at each participant's place.

• Have a chalkboard or dry erase board ready. Write the faulty assumptions ("This Is OUR Church," "The Center," and "It's All about Me") in three columns to use in the group exercise.

[10 minutes]

Thank you for coming to this leader study [or retreat] and for taking the time to read Just Say Yes! Unleashing People for Ministry by Robert Schnase. It is written for people like you whose passion has been simmering for years, who yearn to be told Yes! and be part of a Yes! church culture. This kind of culture takes intentionality. The book illustrates how people, pastors, and churches say "No in a thousand ways to new ideas, ministry initiatives, and creative people" (ix). Perhaps these examples resonate with your own experience of leadership and church. Have you experienced a time when you really believed God was calling you to champion a new ministry? You believed you could make a difference, but people started telling you all the reasons why your ideas wouldn't work. You started hearing all the Nos. Instead of listening for possibilities and collaborating with you to find ways to overcome barriers, other people shut you down.

Jesus Christ invites us to be encouragers and that is why this study is so important. The world is broken, hurting, and in need of hope. As people who have said the ultimate Yes to Jesus, we are called to share the love, healing, and eternal hope we have through Jesus Christ. Yet, we continually hear the statistics on church decline. People talk about how "we've always done it that way" or how you can never get anything done in church, often in a joking manner. But it is no joke when our tendency toward No blocks the work of Christ. Sometimes we do not even realize how often we, the people around us, our systems, and even our buildings say No. Sometimes we as leaders are part of saying No to people's heart-felt passion to serve and grow closer to God. At the center of this study is a desire for people to draw closer to God and neighbor, to make active disciples of Jesus Christ, and to live out the mission to which Christ calls us. But we can't live out that mission, as people or as the church, if we default to a No anytime new ideas are offered.

You are here today to learn tools to move your personal leadership and our church's culture from postures of No to Yes. Together, we will uncover the Nos in our church leadership (people and systems), unlock the power of Yes in ourselves, and unleash a culture of Yes here at [insert your church's name].

This work of personal reflection, study, and team development is crucial, and we cannot do it alone. Jesus said to the disciples long ago and says to us today, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. ... The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you" (John 14:15-16, 26).

Therefore, together, let us seek the guidance offered. Through prayer we will be reminded we have the power of God propelling us forward.


I invite you now to find a posture that helps you open to God — perhaps open or lifted hands. This prayer will be said in unison. The words are in your participant guide (and on the screen). Please pray with me.

[Say in unison] Faithful and life-giving God, please create in this room a sacred space filled with your Holy Spirit. We come here to learn more about you and your call to lead in this church. Open our hearts and minds to the work we must do to honor you. Reveal to us the stifling impact Nos have on the gifts, talents, creativity, and passion of your people. Help us feel your grace in moments of conviction and then offer grace to each other through this work. Give us courage to follow you from No to Yes. By the end of our time together, help us each to say boldly Yes Lord, Yes! It is in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.


We are going to take a few minutes to make sure everyone knows each other. Let's go around the room saying your name and why you said Yes to being here today.

Let's take few minutes to hear Bishop Robert Schnase give his reasons for writing the book. This video also introduces two permission-giving leaders: Rev. Jennifer Weekes-Klein and Rev. Jim Downing, whom we will hear more from in sessions 2 and 3.

Stories of No

[10 minutes, including group sharing]

In Just Say Yes! we see how people yearn to be set free for ministry, yet so many parts of church life say No to ministry. Our aim here is to unleash people for the ministry of Jesus Christ. To do this, even though it is challenging, we need to explore the reality of No in church life. I am going to share a few No stories. Before I do, please know the purpose of sharing these stories is not to hurt people but to see the obstacles for our future ministry so that together we can work to remove them. Grace and forgiveness is key as we do this work today.

[Below are stories of No that were not included in the book. Please share several stories. You can use the ones offered here, your own personal stories from your life or ministry, or retell a story from the book. This will expose how a culture of No can be destructive for ministry. A word of caution: Sharing stories from your current setting may be hurtful. It may be best to use the stories from Just Say Yes! or your own life here so that participants don't feel as if they or their ministries are being publicly called out. Trust that the Holy Spirit will reveal the obstacles present in your church's culture and will empower you and your leaders to remove them. As you begin this study, be sure to lay a groundwork of grace and hope.]

VBS Story — A church decided they only had space for thirty children at their Vacation Bible School. For this reason, they would not allow sign-ups from the community unless all congregation members were signed up first. Instead of looking outward to make new disciples, they said No to their neighbors.

Children's Wing — A group within a church decided to donate money for a new children's wing as long as they could also meet there once a week. They chose fancy carpet and furniture. At the dedication for the new wing, there was no evidence of children using the space. The space was pristine with no children's murals or toys, and it even included signs like "no drinks." Instead of focusing on encouraging a new generation of believers, they said No to children.

Signs — A church was located in an ethnically diverse community. They wanted to be a multigenerational and multiethnic church. They built a new and wonderful playground for the community. Yet there were signs of "Welcome" in English and signs of "No Entry" written in Spanish. Instead of saying all are invited and welcome, they said No to diversity.

New Members — A new member came to the pastor and church council with an idea to help people reenter society after prison. This would include teaching cooking classes in the kitchen, using the library computers for resume building, and organizing budgeting classes. The first committee said you have to have it approved by the trustees, then the finance committee, then the ... you name it committee. Ultimately the obstacles overcame the new member's passion; he gave up and ultimately left the church. Instead of offering encouragement, reconciliation, and grace, they said No to passion, hospitality, and hope.

Group Sharing

In addition to these stories of No, were there any that really struck you from the book? Take a moment to imagine what these No scenarios do to the life of a congregation. How do you feel when you are told No?

Checklist of Nos

[15 minutes, including group discussion]

Just Say Yes! outlines thirteen ways people say No. Our challenge is to recognize the Nos in our midst. In your session 1 participant workbook you will find a checklist of Nos. Take a few moments to check all the types of Nos you have received personally as well as all the types of Nos you have said yourself. If you want more details about the Nos listed, please feel free to reread pages 3–8 in Just Say Yes! [Offer the participants time to read through and place a check in each box that applies to them.]

• You're Not the Pastor — Leadership and authority should only come through the pastor.

• I Don't Need That, So Why Should We Do It? — This ministry does not benefit me, so it is not important.

• Only Five People Signed Up — The effort this will take is not worth it for so few people.

• They're Not Our Members Anyway — Guests are not as valuable as members.

• That's Our Room — Your ministry is not as important as what we do in this room.

• That Will Never Work Here (and I'll See That It Doesn't!) — I don't see this working, so I will sabotage the ministry.

• They Can Just Join Us — New people do not need new ministries, they need to fit into our mold (existing groups and ministries).

• Analysis Paralysis — We need to think this through in such detail that nothing will happen.

• You're Too Young, Too New, or Too Different — You do not look the same as me so you are not welcome and your ideas do not matter.

• You're Doing It All Wrong — You are not doing it my way, so do not do it.

• You Didn't Ask Me First — Without my permission this cannot happen.

• Don't Rock the Boat — You are changing things and I don't like it.

• Things Won't Be the Same — Change is scary and hard, so do not try anything new.

• Others (fill in the blank with your own category)__________________

Group Sharing

After you complete your checklists, please break up into groups of two to three. Here are your two topics for discussion: (1) Describe one of the times you were on the receiving end of a No response — what happened to your ministry idea? (2) Have you ever been the one saying No? — what happened to that ministry idea?

[Bring the group back together after 10 minutes or sooner if conversation slows.]

Optional Break

[If you are using this material in more than three sessions (for example, as a learning time at the beginning of council or team meetings), this is a suggested break point. Here is helpful language to use to begin this shortened section.]

Last time we met, we explored the thirteen ways people say No in the life of the church according to Just Say Yes! by Robert Schnase. Uncovering the No experiences in our church is crucial to moving forward and unleashing our church for ministry. This meeting, we will take some time to explore some reasons why we say No.

Faulty Assumptions Leading to No

[10 minutes; use pages 8–10 in Just Say Yes!]

We have named and discussed some No situations in the life of our church. It is curious to me that there are so many since most of us wake up in the morning with good intentions to say Yes to the work of Jesus Christ in the world. Yet in the course of our lives we say No, knowingly and unknowingly, to the movement of God's spirit. Why? Schnase says, "Many reasons why people say No derive from faulty assumptions" (8). Just Say Yes! describes three faulty assumptions. To refresh your memory, I will offer a simple reminder of the concepts.

This Is Our Church

Instead of being centered on Christ, we forget we are Christ's body. "When we act as if the church belongs to us — the pastor, the staff, the leaders, the members — then the criteria for why we say Yes or No becomes what we prefer, what we want, what we seek" (8).

Ideas Come from the Center

Instead of allowing people to discover unmet needs in the community and encouraging them to develop a ministry, church systems and people say, No the ideas have to come from core leadership in the church. "The assumption that ideas must begin at the center and be controlled from the center fosters a tendency to say No to new ideas that come from anywhere else" (10).

It's All about Us

Instead of asking "What is God calling us to do?" we more often ask "What's in it for me?" We also ask, "'What will I have to do? What will it cost me?' This natural and understandable response limits mission, stifles creativity, and squelches the genuine call of God" (10).

Group Exercise

[10 minutes]

[Have a dry erase board, chalkboard, or large paper. Before the session, make three columns with "This Is OUR Church," ideas from "The Center," and "It's All about Me" at the top of the columns.]

We are going to explore these faulty assumptions and how they negatively impact our ministry for Jesus Christ. I need a volunteer to write on the board.

Shout out the word or words that come to mind when you hear the following three questions and our volunteer will write down the thoughts.

• What happens when we say "This is OUR church"?

• What happens when we believe ideas only come from our core leadership team, "the center"?

• What happens when we say "it's all about me"?

Now I need three people to read scriptures.

First, we will hear the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:34-40.

Now, the great compassion in Matthew 25:34-39.

Finally, the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

In light of Jesus's words, what words need to be replaced on the board?

How do these words from our savior change the assumptions?

Before we take a break, please write down one of the No scenarios you have experienced, either said or received. These scenarios will be used in the subsequent sessions, so this step is important!


[10 minutes]


Session 2

Unlock the Power of Yes

Prepare for This Session

• Prepare bread and juice (or wine) for Holy Communion. If you are in the United Methodist tradition and not a pastor, you will want to have a pastor consecrate the elements prior to or during the study.

• Have music ready to play during Holy Communion if you choose to enhance the experience with music. If the music will be played live, discuss the selections, timing, and any other details with the musicians.

• Place a blank piece of paper at each seat.

• Have a basket ready for the Letting Go experience.

In session 1, we uncovered some of the No scenarios in our church ministries. These can stifle creativity and people's willingness to answer God's call on their lives. It is possible to change a negative culture into one of positivity and hope. This is our job as leaders!

[70 minutes]

In this session we will spend some time in self-reflection about our role as leaders. We will do the important work of confessing our shortcomings to God and will actively receive the grace offered through Holy Communion. After this experience of grace, we will move into an exploration of what permission-giving leadership really looks like. A significant part of leadership is about the tone we set when we encounter obstacles to ministry. Watch this video example.

When Rev. Mike Will presented the idea for a new ministry to his congregation, the response was not surprising. They said, we are only fifteen people and cannot possibly take on a dream this big. Yet with the hopeful and encouraging leadership of Rev. Will, they joined forces with the four other local churches and forged a new way of being church to their broader community. By taking a risk and learning together they said Yes to God. Now their church no longer remains silent and closed, but helps serve 280 families (almost 950 people) at a free food pantry and 350 people monthly at a thrift store. Lives are being blessed and a church is growing in the grace of God.


Excerpted from Just Say Yes! Leader Guide by Robert Schnase, Angela Olsen. Copyright © 2016 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Instructions and Script for the Group Study Sessions

Session 1 Uncover the Nos 3

Session 2 Unlock the Power of Yes 11

Session 3 Unleash a Culture of Yes 23

Seven-Segment Devotional

Permission-Giving Leader Devotion Guide: An Introduction 35

Lock #1 Distraction 37

Lock #2 Apathy 40

Lock #3 Fear 43

Lock #4 Negativity 46

Lock #5 Selfishness 49

Lock #6 Control 52

Lock #7 Discouragement 55


Next Steps 61

Descriptions of Just Say Yes! Video Clips 62

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