Ignition (which has been been called ‘Squad Preach’ or ‘New Voices’ in other contexts) is a tool for raising up new speakers and leaders. It was developed originally by Luke Smith for G2, an Anglican church in York
In Ignition, the church sets aside a whole Sunday service once a term for several people to give short talks. G2 is about to come up to its 100th Ignition talk.
Ignition has been used at a wide variety of churches to encourage, inspire and give a platform to new speakers.
An Ignition service is dedicated to having several individuals who haven’t spoken before in a church context, have a go at delivering a talk or leading the church in some form of worship. Often ordinary people don’t get the chance to speak and as a church there was a desire to hear from a wide group of people. It helps to ‘fan into flame’ the multiplicity of gifts that God has given to the church. It is an opportunity for the congregation to encourage each other, and it is a chance to hear more of the diversity of the church. Some Ignition speakers have written a poem or a song and performed it, others have taught from the Bible, others have led the church in prayer.
The key to Ignition is the feedback, encouragement and support of the new speakers to enable them to flourish. Ignition starts with a more experienced speaker supporting the new ones by listening to their message in advance, giving them feedback on their communication and encouraging them. It is then followed up by a debrief of how it went and what might help them to improve.
As Hannah Smith, a senior leader at G2 who has helped to pioneer Ignition, explains:
I have seen many many Ignition talks at G2 over the past 8 years and each one gives a platform to someone who hasn't had one before. I have seen people give talks which has been their springboard into speaking regularly. I have seen young people share how they came to know the love of God and old people share their heart for praying for others. I distinctly remember a guy with learning difficulties read a poem he wrote after his brother died which was amazing! We have had people sharing worship songs they have written, giving testimonies and unpacking their favourite Bible verse!
Doing Ignition is a great way of spotting leadership potential in lay people, its not just about talent-spotting, but about seeing what people are carrying, what they are learning and how they are responding to God. It's not just about trying to find more people who could preach, but how, as a church, you could fan into flame the gift that is within people. If someone shares a passion for prayer, could they be released to gather a group of people to pray every week? If someone talks about their heart to serve to homeless - can they be supported in setting up something to do it?
The key to Ignition, or raising up people in any way, is to set them up to succeed. It's so important to meet with people and help them plan it. I also meet with people a minimum of 2 times - once to brainstorm and set them off with an idea. I give them tips of how they can connect to the congregation, what tone to go for, and to stick to one main point. I then meet with them again to run through their talk, give feedback and help make any changes. We always time them at this point - the aim is 5 minutes so if its 7 minutes we cut it down a bit! We also bring the rest of the congregation on a journey - setting their expectations so that they are not judging the Ignition team, but cheering for them, willing them to do well! Our attitude as leaders is that someone's failure is our fault, but someone's success is all theirs.
And as Adam Mitchell-Baker, another of the G2 senior leadership team, with much experience helping to raise up Ignition speakers, describes:
Ignition has been a brilliant method for giving a platform to a wide variety of people and voices from within our church community. It has helped us to identify and develop new leaders, as well as ensuring that our entire church feel validated in knowing they have something to contribute and bring to the table, that the microphone is not something only leaders or staff can use! For us as a church it has helped us keep both the vision of raising up leaders and a commitment to innovative practice as key parts of what we do and who we are.
So if you want to find out exactly how it might work in your context, then contact us.
Ignition in practice:
Ignition is very work intensive, it requires lots of feedback, encouragement and prayer. But the effects can be phenomenal. In fact, it can challenge the more regular speakers to improve their own communication and leadership. Moreover, it can help change the culture of a church, to one in which the aim is not to be entertained but to empower the whole body of Christ to live out their faith and mission.
Ignition was an empowering opportunity to speak about God, to share with others a personal story very close to my heart, and to have a 5-minute taste of what it means to speak at church on a Sunday
- Jamie Nguyen
Doing an ignition talk was great fun! It was challenging to do a whole talk in only 5 minutes but it was so encouraging to see how God can use a short talk for huge things.
- Suzanna Ling