Updated: Jul 26, 2022
“There are some “I Will” statements that people make that we initially think are great, but we then realize very quickly that — nope — we messed up and it’s not going to help them move forward in their walk with Jesus at all.”
In “I Will’ Statements That Will Ruin Your DBS,” on the CDM Podcast, Paul and Rebecca talk about bad ’I Will’ statements that will keep your DBS from instilling the essential DNA and habits of a disciple of Jesus.
What Is an ‘I Will’ Statement?
When participants respond to the question “If this is true, how should I change” during the DBS process, we ask them to commit to a simple action that they can complete in the next 24-48 hours or between the current meeting and the next. This commitment is called an I Will Statement because they start with “I Will.....”
‘I Will’ statements are all about obedience.
“Obedience is the difference between a person who is just verbally and mentally assenting to a new set of beliefs versus one who is actually living them out and sharing them with others.”
Now that we have a grasp of what an ‘I Will’ statement is, it’s important to note that some ‘I Will’ statements may seem good on the surface, but will actually hinder the process of change. Let’s take a look at those kinds of statements!
Statements that Aren’t Specific or Are Too Big
Some ‘I Will’ statement attempts can be deceiving because they often reflect good principles and general rules about how we should live and interact with others (“I should be more kind, generous, selfless, helpful, etc.”) or important life changes that should happen (“I need to get clean and sober.”).
The problem is that these statements are either so vague that they cannot possibly be quantified or so big that they cannot be completed within 24-48 hours or a week.
It’s best to ask questions that help the person narrow down their statement to something small, specific and doable.
Ask, “What do you think the first step in this process would be? How can you get started this week? How will you do that specifically?”
Statements that Don’t Relate to the Passage
You read Isaiah 53 and someone says, “I’m going to walk my dog,” or “I’m going to be nice to the lady at the DMV tomorrow.”
Statements that don’t relate to the story could be a sign that a person’s observations about God and people are too vague.
Sometimes, action points that seem unrelated to the passage may actually have a connection for someone that simply isn’t obvious to you.
Here are some helpful rules of thumb for getting clarity on action points that seem unrelated to the passage:
Ask, “How did you get this from the passage?”
Remind them, “You said such-and-such about God and man, so how do those things practically change the way you live?”
Do NOT give examples of how you’ve obeyed this passage because that’s teaching.
Statements that Are Just Religious Practices
Some people have been taught that responding to God is always some sort of religious, ceremonial or devotional exercise like reading the Bible, meditating on what they read, going to church, praying the rosary, lighting a candle, or praying about how to obey.
Religious “I Will” statements like these are typically nothing more than trained responses that have no relation to the passage or have no practical import for people’s daily lives.
“Praying about God making us obedient is not actual obedience.”
Be on the lookout for statements like these with people who have some sort of religious background, especially a Christian background.
Statements that Are Abstract and Not Concrete
Someone may say, “I just need to walk in the light of God instead of trusting in my own strength.”
While abstract applications of religious jargon like this feel good, without a concrete, specific way to apply them, nothing will happen. As explained in James 2 “Faith without works is dead,” trusting, believing, and having faith is realized by taking action— obedience to what God wants us to do.
Instead of settling for religious buzz words like “trust,” “faith”, and “believe”, we should ask:
“Is there a particular area of your life where you can trust God?”
“What is something a person who trusts or believes God in this area of their life would do?
Help them get to a concrete, doable goal.
Statements that Illustrate What They’ve Already Done
A person may read the story, be reminded of something they did the other day, a week ago, 5 years ago, or something they currently do on a regular basis, and submit that as their ‘I Will’ statement.
We want to positively reinforce that the ‘I Will’ statement is all about living out what we’re learning in fresh and new ways. Life is about growing, and we are always looking for ways to grow. <iframe title=""I Will" Statements That Will Ruin Your DBS" allowtransparency="true" height="150" width="100%" style="border: none; min-width: min(100%, 430px);" scrolling="no" data-name="pb-iframe-player" src="https://www.podbean.com/player-v2/?i=k4zik-ff376b-pb&from=embed&share=1&download=1&skin=1b1b1b&btn-skin=ff6d00&size=150"></iframe>
Sometimes, people justify themselves by pointing to what they already do so they don’t have to do the work of changing, like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. Other times, people just don’t realize you’re asking them to do something new.
Statements that Are Other Action Points
It can feel exciting when someone says something concrete and specific like, “I’m going to visit this person in the hospital,” or “I’m going to share this story with so-and-so,” but if those don’t necessarily relate to the passage, then they haven’t come up with an ‘I Will’ statement. They’ve only answered the needs of community and sharing questions.
Respond to these kinds of statements by saying, “Hey, that’s really great for the needs of community and/or sharing question(s)! But how are we applying this particular passage to our lives?”
If you found this blog helpful and would like to learn more, be sure to check out the “I Will Statements That Will Ruin Your DBS” podcast! Paul and Rebecca cover so much more, including other elements of the DBS that can affect ’I Will’ statements. You can find the podcast at the link below, or via the podcasts section of the CDM App.
Podcast: ‘I Will’ Statements That Will Ruin Your DBS
In this podcast, Paul Watson and Rebecca Ewing share some applications people often give that can be detrimental to a fruitful Discovery Group, and how to respond to them!