Faith and Works- Opposites or Equally Important?

“I’m living by faith. If God wants it to happen, it will. ” This sounds so spiritual.  It can also deceptively hide an unwillingness to risk failure or to work hard.  Sometimes we unknowingly deceive ourselves. We actually are struggling with having faith in God’s ability to reward those who take steps of obedient action.

This issue shows up in many different areas of our lives as disciple makers.  It shows up in our evangelism.  We see it in our fundraising and finances.  We see it in how we set goals.  We see it when we are discouraged in the discipleship process as we help new believers grow and change.

village-2530753_1920God designed faith and works to go together.  It is both/and, not either/or.  We live by faith and we work hard too.  We devote ourselves to the work of the ministry while trusting with all our hearts that God will do what we can’t.

I met a church planter in a closed country some years ago.  He was a good guy.  Deeply committed to Christ, he had given up a great deal to come and serve the Lord in this  unreached place.  He had been working on learning the language, and had built a few local friendships.  I immediately liked him and felt drawn to his obvious love for God.  At the same time, he seemed discouraged.  As we talked about what he had hoped to see happen, he said something like “This place (name of country he was in) is hard and I guess it is just not God’s time here yet.  When God wants to save people in ________, He will do it.  I just need to wait and keep living by faith.”

I wish I had asked him how it was going as far as sharing the gospel.  Had he shared his testimony with anyone that past week or month?  What was the response? I suspect he might have admitted to me that he had not shared a clear gospel message with anyone since he had arrived there several years before. I may have been able to help him more, had I kindly asked these questions.

It says in James 2:18,  But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. (NIV)

Faith doesn’t mean we don’t have a role to play.  Faith that God will save people in our community must be reflected by our active witness.  Faith that God will provide for our needs is reflected by our willingness to approach potential supporters, share about our vision and work, inviting them to be a part.  Faith that God is going to bring transformation to a community means rolling up our sleeves to rake leaves, pick up trash, or counsel a couple in marriage trouble who live near us.  Faith and action go together.  They are not opposites, they are deeply connected!

Is it possible to move into empty works of the flesh?  To start trying to do things in our own strength? Placing too much confidence in our own ability and past experience? Absolutely.  We must careful not to do this.

That means I need to keep allowing God to fill me with His dreams, which always are bigger than my own.  When I do that, I’m stretched to a place where I always know that no matter what I do, He has to come through with His part, or whatever I’m attempting will fail.

We live in utter dependence on God to work (convict someone of sin, bring them to repentance, speak to them to support us, help them see their need for transformation, etc.) We also faithfully do our job (share the gospel, lovingly confront and train disciples, share our needs, etc.)

Disciple making movements among the unreached are a miracle of God.  They can never happen through our own strength or activities.  They require us to be people of faith, continuing to hold tightly to God’s character and the promises of His Word.  Whether it is one person being saved, healed, delivered, one group started, or finances for one need being met, it is all because God was good and because He acted that these things become reality.

What area of action have you allowed yourself to stop pursuing? Where have you convinced yourself what you were doing was “trusting God”?  Maybe the Lord would have you take action in that area once again. He will be there with His help and strength.




In the beginning- Prayer cells or Training groups?

Many people I’ve worked with follow a strategy that eases slowly into evangelism and discipleship, starting first with the beginning of prayer cells.  Interested people are invited to attend a worship time of some sort and to receive prayer.  As God begins to answer their prayers, they are more interested and slowly they begin to believe.  This is not a bad model, but it is not the model I would encourage if you want to see a Disciple Making Movement.


Why? You may ask.  It seems good.  People encounter the love and power of God.  This approach doesn’t scare off interested seekers.  No one seems to persecute us if we are just praying for people in a new place.

There are a few reasons why I don’t believe the prayer cell strategy is the best approach if we want to develop the DNA that leads to movements.  Allow me to explain these reasons and then suggest an alternative that is much more likely to lead to movements.

1.Our goal is to make disciples, not gather seekers

Many of these “prayer cells” meet for many months or even years, taking up the church planter (or discipler’s) time and energy without actually ever becoming a church that reproduces.  Seekers who feel comfortable receiving prayer but are not being challenged to make a commitment tend to stay at that place.  Jesus didn’t do this.  He clearly called people to count the cost, leave all other loyalties and follow Him.  He never told his disciples to gather seekers.  He told them to make disciples.  It is natural for seekers to show up when miracles happen.  As we pray for the sick or cast out demons, seekers will come.  When they do, we must clearly present the gospel and challenge them to make a decision to follow Christ.  If they believe, we immediately begin to train them to also make disciples of others and to share the good news they have received.

2. A clear understanding of the cost of discipleship leads to a higher level of commitment in disciples

For quite a few people, they go through a process as they move toward faith in Christ.  This seems especially true for those who do not come from any kind of biblical worldview in their home culture.  It can take time for understanding to come. It can be  difficult to point to a particular point of conversion.  I don’t personally believe that people who pray a “sinners prayer” are “in”, and others who haven’t prayed that prayer are “out.”  I don’t see a biblical basis for that.  At the same time, I see that for most, there is a point of decision making, when they choose to surrender their will to His and shift their loyalties to Jesus.  For many in Asia that point is when they decide to be baptized.  Whatever the process, until people are at that point of high commitment, its hard to expect them to reproduce more disciples. We don’t want people to stay seekers who comfortably attend prayer or worship cells, come to Jesus when they have a need, but fail to understand the commitment involved in following Him.

3. Training those who believe to immediately put their faith into practice causes people to mature much more rapidly than if they simply attend a group with no friendly accountability.

I’ve seen many examples of church planters who lead someone to faith but then don’t do much else besides encourage them to attend the “prayer cell” for weeks, months or even years.  This is a very, very slow way to make disciples!  As soon as someone believes in Christ and expresses faith in Him, you must begin to train them.  Don’t wait.  They are ready.  Start with a basic set of short term discipleship lessons and then move into more long term lessons or a story set.  Immediately encourage them to share their faith with others.  Immediately get them involved in evangelism, and if they lead someone to faith, let them be the one who disciples that new believer.  This makes strong disciples very quickly!

Let me suggest some alternatives to prayer cells as you get started in a new place.  Two great options are widely used by DMM and CPM practitioners.  One is to do abundant seed sowing where you share testimony, the Jesus story, and continue to share the good news until someone believes.  Then only do you start a group around that person as you immediately begin to disciple them.  You help them to reach their oikos or family and friends circle.  You train them in how to share their own testimony, and as you teach them simple discipleship lessons, they pass those on to others.

Alternatively, as you share good news and find interested people, you gather them into groups where you teach a short series of evangelistic bible studies or stories.  At the end of those few weeks you call for a commitment and decision to follow Christ. You then continue to disciple those people, training them how to do the same with others.

In both scenarios, you pray for those who come and they encounter God’s goodness. They may be healed, or get a job, or see God work a miracle in a relationship.  You do more than pray for their needs, however, you share the gospel and call for them to make a commitment to Jesus.

Lets pray for the sick and see miracles.  But lets never stop there.  Lets welcome seekers, but never fail to challenge people with the truth of what it means to follow Christ.  Jesus is the pearl of great price, worth selling everything to receive.  Lets not be afraid to make this truth known.

6 Factors that Get Discipleship Movements Moving

What makes a disciple making movement move?  How can you get multiplication type of growth to happen (and be sustained) as you make disciples?

Here are a few of the most important keys to pushing your disciple making into multiplicative growth.  Some are obvious.  Some are more easy to ignore.

what makes a movement move

VISION CASTING– Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (KJV)  How deeply ingrained in the heart of each disciple is the vision to see lost people around them come to know the Lord?  When we talk about vision as it relates to Disciple Making Movements, we are specifically talking about the vision for lost people to meet Jesus and be saved.  This passion, this vision for lost souls must be spoken out repeatedly in every meeting and in multiple ways.  It has to become a part of the “talk” of the movement.  It has to move beyond something only leaders think about and become ingrained in the hearts of all.  This happens by creative and consistently motivating people to reach the lost around them.  Cast Vision to see your movement move!

PRAYER– Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people“(NIV).  DMM leaders are people of constant prayer.  Prayer is what we model, what we live and what we impart to others we train as disciples.  We pray fervently for the believers, for the lost around us, for God’s supernatural work, for victory over the enemy, for healing and deliverance, etc.  Prayer moves the movement forward!

OBEDIENCE– John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.”  Radical and immediate obedience to the commands of Jesus is a characteristic of movements that move.  As we train disciples to immediately obey what they are learning in God’s word, a DNA of obedience begins to take root in the movement.  We can not compromise on this area out of fear of turning people off.  We must give opportunity for people to immediately obey His Word.  We need to expect and anticipate that they will obey, rather than making it “normal” to learn God’s truths, but not do them.  Whether we are teaching disciples to love their neighbor, be baptized, give, or go, we give a chance to them for immediate actions of obedience. This will make the movement move!

FOCUS– 1 Cor 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Athletes and soldiers share something in common with Disciple Making Movement practictioners.  They are incredibly focused and refuse to be distracted by things that “ordinary” people engage in.  There are so many things that pull our attention away from evangelism and disciple making activities!  As someone once said,”the good is the enemy of the best.”  Focus your time, energy, finances and prayer on training disciples to make disciples.  Help others to do the same.  Focus moves movements forward!

FRIENDLY ACCOUNTABILITY- Luke 19:15 “When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.”  In this parable of Jesus, the master gives out ten minas and goes away.  When he returns he asks his servants to report back to him what they have done.  Friendly accountability is Biblical and important in making disciples who multiply.  When you encourage disciples to share application steps in response to God’s word, follow up!  Ask them how it went.  Encourage positive actions and help people overcome obstacles when not able to reach their goals to share the gospel or reach their neighbors and friends.  Don’t just preach and teach and hope for the best!  Train people through practicing friendly accountability.  Make sure you are also willing to be accountable yourself too!  This kind of accountability moves movements forward!

GENEROSITY– 2 Cor 8:1-3 “We want you to know, brothers,[a] about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord.”  Movements that give are movements that grow.  Internally generated funds and a DNA of obedient and cheerful giving is key to seeing poverty broken over the lives of disciples and the resources released for evangelistic efforts.  As much as external funding can be a killer of movements, generous giving from inside the movement spurs it onward.  Don’t be afraid to train brand new believers to give of their time, talent and treasure from the very beginning.  When they experience the joy and blessing of giving, they will grow, and so will the movement!

Which of these 6 Key Movement Movers are you doing well at?  Which of them need some work?

Leave a comment telling me your answers and your commitment to do something about it will increase. We all work that way.

As you get to work on these 6 key areas, you will watch your movement take off to much greater growth!


Prayer- A Leader’s first ministry

A DMM leader’s most important role is to intercede for those they lead.  Leader’s who accomplish much, do so on their knees.  It is in the place of prayer that we hear His voice, gain direction, strength, perspective, encouragement and where ultimately the real breakthroughs happen.

hands-2168901_640Prayer can not be delegated to others, it is the responsibility of every Christian leader to themselves pray.  We need to lead the way in prayer.  That is not to say that we don’t also mobilize and raise up many others to intercede.  We do.  We must.  There are others who may spend more actual hours in prayer than we do, or who may carry the work of intercession in very significant ways.  As leaders, delegation is an important skill.  This is one are you can not delegate away though.

In scripture we find many examples of leaders who saw prayer and intercession for their people as one of their most important tasks.  We read of Moses and the way he interceded on behalf of Israel.  We read of King Hezekiah’s prayers of intercession.  Paul prayed much for those among whom he planted churches.  Of course, the greatest example is Jesus.  He not only prayed for his disciples, for Jerusalem, and for the multitudes but even now He, our great Lord and Leader, still prioritizes making intercession for us (Rom 8:34).

I often find in missions efforts, that church planters see prayer and intercession as something they do in the mornings or at certain prayer meeting times, but then they go on to do their “real work” after that.  Prayer is part of our ministry as leaders of movements and as trainers of trainers.  We must pray much for those we train, coach and lead.  We pray for revelation, for protection, for anointing, for breakthrough.  We pray for those they are training and sharing Christ with.  We pray for the lost around us and the lost around those we have trained.  We pray for revival and outpouring of God’s spirit in each and every life, in each and every house church that is started.

These days I find myself crying out often throughout the day “Lord, send your Spirit.  Visit your people once again.  Come and let your Presence be felt in our lives again.  Set us ablaze.  Send fire from heaven to rest on each church planter.  Overflow from them and spill over to touch the lost around them.  Raise up radical, obedient disciples of Jesus who passionately share good news and make disciples everywhere they go.  I want an outpouring like we have never before seen Lord.  This I boldly ask you for!”

Join me to pray, to intercede for breakthrough and revival.  God promises to respond to our heartfelt prayers.  What better way could a leader spend their time and energy then in prayer?

A Bulldozer anointing for DMM Breakthroughs

“You are like a bulldozer” he said.  Wow.  That was interesting to hear.  I wasn’t sure I liked him saying that.  What did it mean?  I understand better now what this prophetically gifted man was referring to.  I’ve come to believe that to see DMMs (Disciple Making Movements) we need to move in a Bulldozer anointing, pressing through obstacles until we get to the breakthrough God wants to give.


In life we all face obstacles.  This has got to be even more true for those who are boldly pursuing the release of a movement of disciples among the unreached.  We face financial obstacles, visa related obstacles, persecution related problems, family issues, discipleship and marriage problems and many other things.  Big or small, the obstacles come with regular frequency.  What we do when faced with a barrier that stands in our way  determines what kind of a leader we become and what results we will see.

Joshua faced big barriers when he moved into the Promised land as well.  A huge one he faced right away was the fortified city of Jericho.  Big walls.  No way in.  No way over.  Armies that were bigger than his.  What did he do?

He didn’t get stuck.  He didn’t retreat.  He certainly didn’t give up.  No, he simply listened to God and found a way to destroy the barrier he faced.  God showed him an unusual strategy to “get the job done” in relationship to Jericho.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is able to makes the walls fall down!

What barrier is making you feel overwhelmed today?  What situation are you facing that looks impossible?  Ask God to fill you with a breakthrough anointing.  Be a spiritual bulldozer.  Tear down that wall through prayer and obedience to His instructions.

Obstacles make us stronger if we respond to them in faith not fear, if we listen to God and obey rather than pull back and stop fighting.  Dmms are more than possible.  They are on God’s heart and a part of His will.  Are you ready to drive that spiritual bulldozer now?