- Large or Small Group Format
- Selecting A Leadership Team
- Purchase Freedom Session Resources
- Running A Freedom Session Pilot Group
Starting an effective healing-discipleship ministry in your church is easier than you think and can be launched in one of two settings: a corporate or large group setting and a small group home setting. This same launch strategy can be used for the Freedom Session course, Authentic Living or both. Most churches that run Freedom Session also run Authentic Living as follow up course.
Who qualifies to lead a ministry like Freedom Session?
Most Freedom Session ministries are “Directed” by unpaid Christ-followers with spiritual gifts in leadership and a passion to minister effective healing-discipleship in the body of Christ. Larger churches may assign a staff person to the role of Freedom Session Director but one amazing characteristic of Freedom Session is its ability to raise and train up leaders. It’s been called a “leadership training engine” by some and we’ve heard numerous stories of unpaid servants taking on the role of Freedom Session Director and, as their ministry grew, being invited to join their church staff in a paid position.
While ministry training and experience are always helpful, Freedom Session relies on the healing power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, so the most important qualities a Freedom Session Director will need are:
- a personal relationship with and deep love for Jesus Christ
- personal integrity and an authenticity about your own healing journey
- love and patience towards the people you minister to
- a willingness to prepare and lead others along the path
Once your Freedom Session Director has been identified, it’s time to make other critical decisions.
Should We Offer Freedom Session in a Large or Small group Setting?
The short answer is “YES.” Freedom Session and Authentic Living are effective in both settings and we have developed a separate ministry kit appropriate for each. Please refer to the Freedom Session 1st time buyer for more details.
Determining the best setting for your church is largely determined by the size of your church and how many participants you believe will take attend. Churches with a weekend attendance of 150+ typically offer Freedom Session in a large group corporate setting whereas churches under 150 typically offer Freedom Session in one or two Home group settings.
If a large church wants to test the effectiveness of either course in their ministry setting, they may launch a Freedom Session pilot group in a small group setting before launching church wide.
Freedom Session and/or the Authentic Living course in a large group corporate setting usually ministers to 20 – 250 participants. Large churches who want to minister to more than 250 people at a time are usually better off offering two or three different launch dates throughout the year rather (i.e. Sept., Nov., Jan.) than expand past 250 in each group.
Freedom Session or Authentic Living offered in small group home settings typically minister to between 3 and 18 participants. For this option please refer to Freedom Session in your Living Room and purchase one of the Freedom Session Home Editions ministry kits.
Freedom Session in a large group church or corporate setting
This was the original setting for which Freedom Session was developed where:
- 20-250 men and women participate (together) in a large group teaching time taught by Freedom Session author via HD video (~ one hour).
- participants break into gender-specific groups of 6-9 people for a small group experience and discussion of the teaching (~ one hour).
If you include worship and a coffee break, Freedom Session will be a 2 ½ hour weekly event. It is wise to bring your Freedom Session Facilitators together for a short briefing ½ hour prior to your starting time.
Freedom Session and Authentic Living have been published in the most transferable and user-friendly format possible. For each session you receive a detailed Freedom Session Director and Facilitator Briefing to equip you for effectiveness. Everything else is written right into the Participant Guides. Neither Freedom Session Directors nor Facilitators need a degree in counseling or experience in recovery.
The Director’s role is to oversee the ministry and develop a ministry team. The Facilitator’s role is to lead the love their participants, lead them through the SMALL GROUP EXPERIENCE and encourage them during the journey.
For those who wish to present/teach “live,” we hoping to publish color coded teaching scripts and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation for each session. Check back in fall 2016.
Selecting a Freedom Session Leadership team
After the Freedom Session Director has been chosen, one of their key roles is selecting Facilitators.
Look for authenticity, reliability and those who are walking in a noticeable measure of healing themselves. After running Freedom Session for a few years, your facilitators will naturally emerge from your Freedom Session graduates. Here are a list of Interview Questions you may wish to consider in your Freedom Session recruitment:
- Tell me about your spiritual journey.
- Tell me about your healing journey.
- What were the ways you escaped pain or avoided conflict (i.e. your “drugs of choice”)? In other words, what did your unhealthy behaviors/addictions look like?
- What are your current “drug(s) of choice?” How have you/are you walking in victory in these areas?
- What brought you to the turning point that caused you to begin dealing with your unhealthy behavioral patterns and/or addictions?
- What kind or type of resources did you / are you using to become well?
- Are you struggling with any current unhealthy behaviors or addictions? Smoking, Gambling, Pornography, Food Addiction, etc.?
- What is it about being involved in a ministry like this that catches your heart?
- Are you presently under the ministry & spiritual authority of this or another local church?
- Do you have any challenges or unresolved issues with any leaders within this church?
- Are there any concerns you have about serving under my leadership?
- Are there any concerns you have about serving within the Freedom Session program?
- Are you currently involved in a small group or accountability group of any sort?
- Would you consider yourself a team player?
- What’s your understanding of a team player?
- Would others who have worked with you consider you a team player?
- What nights are you available?
- Do you have any family, ministry or employment commitments that may interfere with Freedom Session ministry?
- Is there anything presently in your life that, if brought to light, would discredit this ministry or cause harm to the reputation of Jesus Christ? (I.e. sexual relationship outside of marriage, habits, vices, business dealings).
- If married, describe your relationship with your spouse? How do they feel about your potential involvement in this ministry? Do you mind if I talk with them?
Other ministry positions that can be filled, depending on the size of your ministry, typically include: audio/visual assistant, administrative assistant, worship leader (if worship will be a component of your ministry), hospitality/refreshment coordinator, set up/take down, etc..
Refer to the Freedom Session 1st Time Buyer guide to help you determine which ministry kit is right for you. Initially, you only need to order one of the CHURCH Edition or HOME group edition ministry kits. You can order your participant guide bundles once you have a better idea on how many might attend.
Become familiar with the materials. Watch a few of the “sessions” and complete the appropriate homework assignments so you get a feel for what the Freedom Session journey is like. Truthfully, if you can complete the first four sessions and not witness God make any changes in your life, you shouldn’t offer Freedom Session or Authentic Living.
A special note from the author: in your planning, we STRONGLY encourage you to offer BOTH Freedom Session and Authentic Living. Freedom Session deals with past pain and Authentic Living uses the same Freedom Session principles to help participants deal with current pain/conflict as well as catch a God-inspired vision for their lives.
Running a Freedom Session “Pilot Group”
If you are not convinced Freedom Session will be an effective addition to your discipleship or healing ministry strategy, we encourage you to run a Freedom Session pilot test group. Here are our best suggestions:
- Determine who – you, an associate pastor or other trusted leader – will facilitate the Freedom Session “pilot” group. Preference is a staff member where possible.
- Select 6 or 10 authentic, relatively healthy Christ-followers who care about hurting people and are willing to commit to 8 weeks of meeting together to test a Christ-centered healing-discipleship ministry called Freedom Session that you are seriously considering offering in your church.
- Give each of the participants a copy of Participant’s Guide 1, explaining they will be responsible to complete a 1 – 1 ½ hour homework assignment each week.
- Meet for 8 weeks (sessions 1-8), using the teaching videos and breaking into gender specific small groups for discussion. Do this even if you have married couples in the pilot. There is a deeper level of sharing when you separate men and women. Note: Session 05 is a GOING DEEPER event where there is no large group teaching. The format of the evening is explained in Participant Guide 1 and on the Session 05 Freedom Session Facilitator Briefing.If you purchased “Freedom Session Complete on USB,” the Freedom Session Director Briefings Facilitator are included on the USB wafer. If you purchased one of the Freedom Session on DVD HOME group editions, you will have to download the briefings from our website.
- After the 8 weeks are up, have each Freedom Session “pilot” group member share what God has been teaching them personally. Then, prayerfully discern how God would have you launch Freedom Session in your ministry context. Encourage your pilot group members to be willing to share with the church family the impact the first 8 weeks have made in their lives. This is the best form of advertising.
Ask pilot group members to prayerfully consider becoming part of the Facilitator team for your first Freedom Session season.
To run a successful Freedom Session Pilot group, you will need the following materials:
- One of the Freedom Session Ministry Kits – Church edition or Home group edition
- Enough participant guide 1 workbooks so that each member has one. You can purchase Freedom Session Participant Guide 1 – “facing the truth” in bundles of 10.
90 Days to a Successful Launch (this is an ideal; adjust as necessary)
90-60 Days until launch
- Pray daily for God’s leadership in your own and family life, and seek His favor as you prepare to launch your ministry. While we can help with the details of running Freedom Session, you will be entering a spiritual battle that is best fought your knees. Satan is not happy about losing strongholds in people’s hearts that he uses to control or defeat them. Enlist an intercessory prayer team.
- Decide the setting in which you will offer Freedom Session. (see above)
- Order materials. Become familiar with the materials. Watch a few of the “sessions” and complete the appropriate homework assignments so you get a feel for what the Freedom Session journey is like.
- Gain Senior Leadership support and/or permission. This can also be done before ordering materials but you are more likely to gain pastoral support when you are familiar with the materials you are asking him/her to endorse.Ask your pastor and/or staff to visit the website and read over the 12 Steps of Freedom Session. Freedom Session has been accepted in most North American denominations without theological challenge and we are confident your pastor will become more confident in our ministry the more he/she learns about it. Frankly, Freedom Session is the most biblically solid healing-discipleship ministry we are aware of.If your pastor is hesitant to launch a Freedom Session ministry, consider running a Freedom Session pilot group or ask his/her “permission” to offer Freedom Session in a small group home setting. About 30% of all Freedom Session ministries in larger churches began in a Freedom Session Pilot Group.One of the strongest endorsements your pastor can offer is to “assign” one elder or church leader couple to attend Freedom Session each year and serve as Facilitators. This helps create a church culture where “emotional healing” becomes a normative part of the discipleship process. At first this may seem you are asking your pastor to do you a favor but, in reality, you will be helping your pastor create an authentic church community where people who have dealt with their pasts are ready to serve, love and give back.Ask your Lead or Teaching pastor to preach a few messages on emotional healing prior to your launch and reserve some “on stage” promo time for you to invite people to attend Session 01. Session 01 is designed so that people can make up their mind during the event whether or not to sign up for the full 20 weeks.
Many churches have invited pastor ken to visit their church and preach a weekend message that helps cast a vision making the healing-discipleship journey of Freedom Session a “normal” part of the Christian walk. If you are interested in this option, please invite Ken to speak in your setting.
60-30 Days until launch
- Recruit Facilitators, looking for authenticity, reliability and those walking in a measure of healing themselves. After running Freedom Session for a few years, your facilitators will naturally emerge from your Freedom Session graduates. Refer to interview questions above.
- Select the night of the week you will meet and your launch date.
Be wary of offering Freedom Session on Mondays – most statutory holidays fall on a Monday and this can create scheduling difficulties.
- Freedom Session itself is 20 weeks long and we strongly recommend you follow up with the 8 week Authentic Living course. Keep this in mind when setting your launch date.
- The best times to start Freedom Session is in mid-September or early January. An early or mid-September launch affords you enough time to easily offer Authentic Living and still finish by the May long weekend. A January launch allows you to complete Freedom Session in late spring and offer Authentic Living in September.
- If you have run Freedom Session a number of years, we encourage you to host an additional pre-launch Freedom Session introductory event where a few previous grads share their Freedom Session testimonies and you can outline what a typical evening looks like. Ask those interested to register before they leave so you can create small groups for the following week.
- Invite as many people as you can think of to Session 01 (or your introductory event) to “check it out.“
- Begin sharing Freedom Session testimonies on Sunday morning. Try to solicit testimonies reflective of your congregation and select testimonies from those who will share authentically. The level of vulnerability expressed in the initial advertisement of Freedom Session will set the expectation tone for years to come. We suggest you have short testimonies during the 3-4 weeks approaching your Freedom Session launch date. Make sure the testimonies are concise and spend most of their time on the way God met them in their healing journey. Ensure the one sharing keeps to the time they’ve been given.
- Begin registration. Sample forms are included in Freedom Session Leadership Tool Kit. Many churches also offer registration on line. Advertise this well and any cut off dates you have.
- Train your newly forming team by:
- attending a live Freedom Session Facilitator Training event if possible.
- Watch the Freedom Session Facilitator Training videos (available summer 2017) as a team.
- Meeting with your team and lead them through the Sessions 01 – 04 in Participant Guide 1 – facing the truth. Use the Director and Facilitator briefings to work your way through. Ask each to complete their weekly homework and be prepared to discuss it the following week/training session. This will give them a personal experience of Freedom Session even if they have never attended before. Some Freedom Session Directors will take their team on a retreat and cover Sessions 01- 04 together.
- Pray…by yourself, with your spouse and with your team!
30 – 0 Days until launch
- Order your materials through the Freedom Session Store. Larger churches/Freedom Session ministries tend to order Participant Guide bundles whereas smaller churches tend to order a personal workbook set for each participant. Both have their advantages. We always suggest you order 10% more workbooks than you think you will need. Then pray you will need them. Last minute rush orders can incur significantly higher freight bills. For more information on ordering materials, refer to the Freedom Session 1st Time Buyer guide.
- Advertise your Freedom Session 01 launch or special introductory evening in your church, Christian book store and/or local newspaper. Realize that non church-goers are as interested in the healing Jesus offers as church people. Each year we see numerous people accept Christ as their Leader and Savior. One pastor calls Freedom Session Alpha for the broken.
- Ask your pastoral staff to invite people they are currently counseling to attend Freedom Session. For example, “emotionally needy” individuals going through a very difficult time can be more than a typical small group is equipped to minister to. These are people who should be invited to “take a year of Freedom Session to deal with the painful issues or crisis in their lives.”
- Many churches ask people seeking counseling to complete their Freedom Session Step 4 before being scheduled for pastoral counseling sessions. By that point, many realize they don’t actually need counseling as much as a place to talk about and deal with the issues they are facing. For others who do seek counseling, their issues are now out in the open and pastoral staff can much more effectively minister to them.
- Young adults preparing for adulthood or marriage also should also be invited. Freedom Session is great pre-marital counseling and can be very enjoyable when taken together with others considering marriage.
- Recruit potential participants. Word of mouth and personal invitations are the best. Do everything you can to get as many out to Session 01 or your intro session as you can.
- If possible, continue meeting with your leadership team to complete the first four sessions and the Session 05 Going Deeper event.
- Thoroughly study the Freedom Session Director Briefings and distribute the Facilitator Briefings to your team.
- Recruit a worship team and media team if needed.
- Larger Freedom Session ministry find this easier than smaller ones. If you do recruit a worship team, ensure they understand they will generally be playing 2 songs at the start of each session except a handful of sessions where a worship set near the end of the teaching time is suggested. In some of the longer freedom sessions, we suggest foregoing worship. This is always suggested in the Director Briefings.
- If your anticipated group is small or you can’t field a worship team, it is important to have worship music playing as people arrive. Do what works best in your setting.
- If possible, have your Freedom Session leadership team give short testimonies in church about the healing they have experienced in their lives and why they are excited about Freedom Session.
- Pray! And make sure to be faithful to your commitments at home.
- Organize your launch event: We suggest you prepare coffee/tea and snacks for your initial session. Use a good quality coffee!!! In subsequent meetings, you can ask various small groups or individuals to take turns bringing a snack. One or two worship songs is a nice touch on your first night.
- Launch your ministry and be used by God to bring about healing and freedom in the lives of many. Freedom Session is one of the most difficult ministries in the church but it is also one of the most rewarding. Make sure you plan a “graduation” where participants who complete the course are asked to share their story of:
- Why I came to Freedom Session?
- My most significant breakthrough:
- The difference completing Freedom Session has made in my life and relationships.