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.

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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 Your Movement Moving

What makes a 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.

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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? Get moving on these 6 key areas and watch your movement take off to greater growth!

 

Prayer- A Leader’s first ministry

A 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 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 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.

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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?

God sized Goals

I train and cast vision for Disciple Making Movements and most people I meet are excited to hear what God is doing around the world.  As a Christian worker, who wouldn’t want to see a movement of genuine Jesus followers?  We all do!  It’s not hard to get people on board with the vision.  What is more difficult is when it comes to motivating people to make the changes that are needed in what they believe about ministry and how they do ministry.  Many also struggle with believing that it is possible to see these kinds of movements in their area, or through them.

I want to write today about the absolute necessity of faith as we talk about starting Disciple Making Movements.  I regularly return to Hebrews 11 to stir up my own faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is believing for things we can not see yet and verse 6 says that without this kind of faith it is impossible to please God.

How does that play out in our daily lives?  What does it look like for us to be people of faith as we attempt to start a DMM?

Our faith takes shape in our actions and goals.  What we believe, actually believe, shows up in these areas.  I was recently training a group of church planters.  We talked about multiplication and movements, about disciples making disciples and groups starting groups. Everyone seemed on board with what I was sharing.  Then it came time to set goals for the coming months.  Suddenly, faith was tested.  What do I really believe is possible?  What will I attempt to do?  It is not easy to set God sized goals that reflect multiplication.  We are afraid of failure.  We may not reach those goals.  If God doesn’t intervene, those things may not happen and I might be disappointed in myself.  Other’s may also see me as a failure.

miniature-1700629_640There are risks involved in setting faith filled goals.  There are risks in speaking out something and going after it.  There is indeed a chance that you won’t reach that goal.  But there is also a chance that you will!  If you never attempt something, you are unlikely to achieve it.  If you never ask God boldly for something, He probably won’t give it to you.

Why set small goals that are humanly achievable?  We all know that nothing is possible without God. Not even small things.  So when we ask, wy shouldn’t we ask Him for more?  It is going to require Him working anyhow.  Even to see the small things. Why shouldn’t we attempt the impossible, in faith, believing that in the coming days God will show up and work miracles?

The only thing that limits God is our own inability to believe in His greatness and goodness.  Does He love lost people around you?  Yes.  Does He desire that they be saved?   Yes.  Is He able to convict the world of sin? To change hearts? Yes. Did He choose you to bear much fruit?  Yes.  So why aim for something less than a God sized goal to see multiplication?

I’m not encouraging foolish goals that have no basis in reason, or that we randomly pull numbers out of the air.  What I am advocating is that we ask Him boldly for things that He is able to do and wants to do through us!  I’ve always liked the quote “I would rather attempt to do something great and fail, then attempt to do nothing and succeed.”  God is able.  God is willing.  Are we?

Set bigger goals, pray bigger prayers, and let’s expect to see God work in bigger ways through us!

Trainees – what gospel do they share?

christianity-1868365_640I’ve been concerned as we have been training in various locations. We have been training people in how to share the Jesus story, Creation to Christ stories, the basic gospel message.  I’m quite shocked at the number of pastors, church planters, elders and local believers who seem to have little understanding of what the gospel is.  Many are not able to easily and clearly share a simple gospel story.  Some of those unable to do this have been through credible Christian training and discipleship programs.  This is worrying.

Many things contribute to this problem, but the main root of this problem is the model these dear ones have seen.  The gospel they have heard, the style of evangelism they have seen modeled, is one where people are told that if they become Christians, God will bless them.  God will heal them.  God will help them.  Forgive me if I am stating the obvious, but this is a very incomplete gospel.  If this is the foundation of the gospel on which we try to make disciples, we can only expect weak and conditional faith.  We can expect to be accused by opponents of Christianity of trying to convert the simple minded with enticements and manipulative methods.  What they say, if this is all the gospel we share, will indeed have some truth to it.  This situation is cause for grave concern and serious efforts to bring about change.

In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul says “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles…”(NIV). If our gospel presentations do not include Jesus crucified, risen and coming again, we are not sharing the gospel.  The message we communicate must be about Jesus; why he came, why he died, how he rose and what it means for us today.  We must speak about sin, repentance, and how Christ’s death on the cross paid the price for us to be restored in our relationship with God. We must share about how His sacrifice made a way for us to know God, have our sins forgiven, and to become spiritual children of God.  This seems obvious, yet in many, many places, this is not the gospel message that is preached, nor do ordinary believers in the churches we have planted know how to share it simply and effectively.

God’s love and goodness, His power to heal, deliver, provide, free, protect …this is all part of the good news.  I’m not saying leave those out, they are definitely part of the message!  We can not give in to the temptation, however, to leave out the vital message of why Jesus had to die in order for us to be saved.  Yes, its hard to communicate about sacrificial death to a high caste Hindu or a Buddhist.  It may take time for them to understand it.  This was true for the Gentiles of Paul’s time as well.  For the post-modern American, it may come across as cruel and they may question why a good Father would ever dream of asking His son to die such a terrible death.  Its still the message we must share.  We can not…we must not..remove the cross from our message.  To do so, will not lead to more true disciples, it will lead to fruitlessness.  I can’t say this strongly enough.

Contextualize, adapt, pray for the sick, cast out demons,  and heal people!  By all means do! I long for more outpouring of God’s power through every team I train and in my own life as well.  People need to see demonstrations of the Kingdom, of God’s goodness and love! They also need to hear the gospel in ways that make sense in their cultures and worldview. I long for every team and church planter to have a great understanding of the language and culture of the people they are reaching. I pray for more of both of these things (better understanding of culture and greater anointing) in my own life every single day.

Just don’t remove the cross.  In the message of the cross lies the greatest and most foundational truth of the gospel.  Lets share it and train everyone we disciple to share it clearly and simply as well.  This message, to those who are being saved, will be “the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18 NIV).

 

 

 

 

Being contextual without being a zealot

One of the important factors in growing a movement is that it becomes indigenous.  What does that mean?  Miriam Webster defines indigenous as: produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment.

We speak of indigenous plants, indigenous people, indigenous culture.  Basically what we mean is that these things grow naturally there and have not been imported from the outside.

When we talk about church planting and disciple making movements, it is widely accepted that indigenous movements grow faster than when we import culture and traditions from outside.  Most people involved in cross cultural church planting accept this at least in theory.

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Indigenous peoples have their own culture, customs, language and worldview

The main thing I want to discuss in this blog, is the degree to which we focus on indigenization or contextualization as we pursue a DMM.  I realize that what I write here may be controversial or offensive to some people. Please forgive me ahead of time and hear me out.  Feel free to comment about what you agree or disagree with.  I won’t be offended and maybe we can learn together!

I have seen both sides of the spectrum of contextualization efforts and emphasis. I  find myself wanting to stay in the middle, not getting out of balance either way.

On one side of the spectrum are people who don’t care much about adapting their methods, tools and efforts to the local culture.  They don’t take the time to research, understand the people they are trying to reach.  They impose models from other places rather than adapting them to fit the worldview of those they are reaching.  They seem to rely on miracles and power encounters to see people saved, but not to concern themselves much with deeper level culture and worldview change taking place.  While sometimes getting quicker fruit than those who take time to learn the language and understand culture more deeply, these church planting efforts seem to stay shallow and have little broader community impact.  They don’t seem to attract influencers in the society but mostly reach fringe (rather than core) people in the unreached group.  For those people, as a coach, I encourage them to go deeper, adapt more, learn the language and worldview better, and work to reach not only people on the fringes but also to share good news with those who others in that society respect.  As these core people come to faith, the potential for massive growth and transformation is much, much greater.

On the other side, I have seen many examples of people who are deeply committed and passionate about contextualization and adapting every tool and method and word they speak to fit the Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim mindset.  They are fearful of making mistakes in their communication of the gospel or causing offense.  They sometimes seem so focused on not creating walls that they don’t actually share the gospel very clearly and seem afraid to let the gospel be what it is and speak for itself, even if it is a stumbling block to some as Jesus said it would be.  (1 Cor 1:18 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.-NIV). People on this side of the spectrum seem to somehow think that the key to seeing a movement is contextualizing enough.  Their commitment to contextualization sometimes seems higher to me than their commitment to see the lost saved and to see a movement happen.  This tends (in my opinion) to make them hesitant to do honest evaluation of the fruitfulness of their contextual methods and strategies or to listen to the ideas of fruitful indigenous workers who are not as contextual as they think everyone should be.   This too is dangerous and ineffective when it comes to the goal of seeing a DMM in an unreached group.

I’ve kind of opened the proverbial jar of worms here and probably made people on both sides upset with what I’ve written.  Again, I apologize.  My intention is not to make anyone upset, but to advocate for a balanced approach to the issue of contextualization.  It is important, vitally important, that we adapt what we do to fit the context, language and culture!  We must be extremely careful about imposing outside ways of doing things (be they Western or from somewhere nearby but still not indigenous to that place and people).  At the same time, we need to be careful that we don’t start to think that contextualization is the only or even the main key to seeing a movement start.  There are many other things we need to also consider and emphasize too.  Things like abundant seed sowing, prayer, finding people of peace, participatory worship, training trainers, indigenous giving, etc.

Be contextual and work hard to understand and adapt to those you want to reach.  Be careful not become a zealot who only sees one thing as the key to starting movements.  Always listen to and learn from fruitful indigenous workers around you.  They have much to teach us!

 

Filtering: What it is, How it helps

filter-192936_640When I first heard the term “filtering” being used in DMM/CPM circles I wasn’t sure what I thought about it.  It was definitely NOT a part of my organizational culture to do this!  I wasn’t sure it was biblical.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.  I particularly didn’t like the idea of “filtering people out” of our trainings and priorities.  It just sounded kind of….mean.  The pastoral, member care side of me reacted to it.

After a few years of working with this concept, I have seen however, that it is necessary to “filter” for what I call the 3F people- the faithful, fruitful and focused.  I like to call it “filtering up” rather than “filtering out”.

When you can identify who those 3F people are and give the majority of your time and energy to them, it leads to more fruit. I’ve walked through a process within my heart related to some of the feelings I had about this initially. I’ve searched the scriptures to find out if it is Biblical and godly to do this or not.  My conclusion over time is that filtering is vital, Biblical, healthy and part of quality disciple making.

First, a brief description to make it clear what I’m talking about when I say “filtering.”  Filtering needs to take place after you have trained a larger group of people in basic evangelism and church planting skills- be they local believers or full time workers.  After a short period of time (one to 3 months), it is necessary to evaluate who has put into action what they were trained to do.  Who is really implementing?  Who is showing significant interest to grow in this area?  Who has acted like they were interested, but in reality done very little with the training they received?  After evaluating this, you need to focus your attention on those who have been faithful, are beginning to be fruitful and have been focused on disciple making and the lost (at least to some degree).  If you are selective in who you invite to the next training rather than generally inviting a whole new group, or inviting everyone who wants to come, the next training is more productive and worthwhile.  As you continue to evaluate the 3Fs and give your time and energy to these people, you see greater impact happen.

I find it difficult to tell people they don’t qualify this time for a training because they didn’t focus enough on their goals and implementing what they learned last time.  As difficult as it is, I also find that it is very helpful to do this.  It raises the standard of the training. It sets boundaries on limited time and resources so that they go toward what has the best potential for fruit.  It also significantly motivates people to prioritize putting into practice what they have learned rather than embracing a culture of learning without applying.

Is it biblical to do this?  Absolutely.  Building a norm (or culture) of application and obedience in the disciples we train is exactly what Jesus did with his. He spoke extensively about the importance of obedience and putting into practice what he taught.  He wasn’t okay with head knowledge that didn’t lead to action!  He said that those who loved him also obeyed his words. The parable of the wise and foolish builder is one of the most obvious examples of this. It begins with the words,

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matt 7:24 NIV

Jesus expected people to put things into practice.  He evaluated this in his disciples and held up a standard of total commitment to obedient discipleship.

What do you do with those who don’t qualify, who you have to say no to, and who feel bad or still want to come?  What do you do to avoid a culture of performance orientation in the midst of this?  These are real questions related to filtering.  We don’t want to hurt anyone and we don’t want to make people feel that we love them more if they are more fruitful or perform well!  These situations provide opportunities for discipleship conversations with people that are actually very loving and important.  Lets not avoid those conversations any more than we avoid discipline with our children.  Lets not say we love people but be unwilling to say no when they haven’t done what was expected.  As we demonstrate “tough love” as well as “gentle love”- as we bring a gospel to them of both grace and truth together, we will be loving and serving them well.  This kind of a situation gives me opportunity to demonstrate Kingdom values and principles to my disciples and trainees.  I get a chance to help them understand that God’s love is not conditional on their performance- he loves them absolutely and fully no matter what they do!  That, however, doesn’t mean he doesn’t expect and desire their obedience.

I’ve come to understand that by filtering, I am actually demonstrating the character of God to those I’m training.

If we want to make disciples who will be Kingdom leaders, who will make many disciples who will make disciples, let’s not be afraid of filtering.  It’s a major key to seeing both individuals, and your DMM grow.

 

 

Why Saying “No” is a Crucial Skill

I personally don’t like saying no.  It feels…not nice.  It seems…unkind, or like I haven’t valued the person who is asking me to do something.  Yet saying no, and meaning it, is a crucial skill for those of us pursuing DMMs.  This is why we need to learn not only what to say no to, but also how to say no with honor and respect.

Lets start with the what part.  What do we need to say no to as a DMMer?  (Is that a thing? Can I call us that?) Sorry.  Rabbit trail.  Okay, so my point is, we need to say “No” to things that side track us, that pull us away from the main vision we are going after- a Disciple Making Movement.  Anything that seems good but isn’t related to making disciples who make more disciples or to reaching lost people should go on our “I might need to say no” list.

What else do we need to say no to?  We need to say no to anything that will prevent the movement from reproducing on its own (self propagating).  For example, as mentioned in the last post, boots donated from a foreign team to make it easier for locals to walk on the muddy trails.  Say no to someone who wants to help you build a church building with outside funds. Say no to people who want to buy all your workers motorcycles. Foreign teams are usually something you want to consider saying no to. Having them come, especially in the early stages of the movement, is something to be very careful about.  All of these things make the local insiders feel “less than” or “less powerful” to build the movement on their own. They hinder reproducibility.

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I could go on and on.  We need to say no to projects, trainings, conferences and meetings that talk about good things, but don’t actually lead to fruitfulness increasing.  Why do we have to say “No” so often?  It’s because these things crowd out the important work of making disciples.  I haven’t even mentioned other things like our endless emails, constant engagement with social media, many whatsapp groups, numerous social obligations that don’t lead toward true relationships and discipleship opportunities, etc.

Having hopefully established that we must say “No”, and quite often, if we want to see a DMM, lets ask: How do we do that?  Many of us come from, and/or work in cultures where a direct NO, especially to a leader, feels close to impossible. It can easily be perceived as being rude and impolite.

Is the answer to just say yes, but then not do those things?  Do we say “Okay. I’ll come” then not show up for the meeting?  Or what?

I don’t think so.  Jesus lived in the same kind of community oriented, relational culture that most of us do.  He said to his disciples,

37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.[a] Matt 5:37 RSV

We need to give a clear but appropriate “Yes” or “No”, with grace and kindness.

Here are some of the ways I say no.  I hope it helps you!

“Thank you so much for your invitation.  I’m so honored that you would want me to be there.  I’d love to come but I have other important commitments, so I won’t be able to.  I hope you understand.”

“It is so generous of you to want to help us in that way.  You have such a heart for the Lord!  We are really trying to help those in our movement learn to be generous too. They are learning to give from their own resources, so we are trying not to do anything that would hinder that.  I need to say no to your offer of help.  Thanks again, though, for wanting to give this way.  I know God will show you where to use these funds in an amazing way that expands His Kingdom.”

To a leader- “I could come to that meeting if you really feel its important, but it would mean I won’t be able to do a good job in discipling those who are starting to believe in the area we are church planting.  Which would you like me to make a higher priority right now?”

These are some ways I say no, when I try to do it with grace and honor.

What about you?  How do you say no?

 

Money- it both helps and hurts

One of the greatest indicators that a true move of God is taking place is when new believers are generous in their giving.  This was true in the New Testament (see the Book of Acts for example). It is true today. In contrast, one of the greatest warning signs that a movement is headed toward major slow-down or death is when the money a movement uses is coming from outside the movement.

Its a serious dual reality:  Money helps.  Money hurts.

A friend and co-worker from Bangladesh told me a story which represents how fragile a new movement is in relationship to external finances and help.  He had been working in a village area and had seen really great things happening.  The new disciples of Jesus were boots-52414_1280really excited about their faith. They wanted to share it with others.  They had a heart for their relatives and friends in neighboring villages who had yet to hear the good news.  In spite of heavy monsoon rains, muddy and slippery foot paths, and other obstacles, they joyfully went regularly to these places to share the gospel.  New groups of disciples were rapidly being formed as people were believing in Jesus.  It was amazing!

With the harvest so ripe, the more workers he could bring, the better he thought.  So, he invited a foreign team to visit the village to “help” the locals to share and train believers.  The team came and served sacrificially, tromping through the rain to reach the villages where people were open.  Thankfully, they had rain boots which they had brought with them from their home country!  They had a good time and what seemed like fruitful ministry there. A few weeks later, with generous hearts, when they left, the team donated their boots to some of the local workers to use in the days to come.

My friend soon began to notice a change after the team left.  Strangely, it seemed like the fervor for evangelism died down.  Instead of showing their former passion and zeal to take the gospel to other villages, the local believers now seemed reluctant.  After a bit of investigation, my friend found out that they had decided that only people with rain boots should go.  The paths were now suddenly too dangerous and slippery for someone with only flip flops to wear!  The movement slowed and evangelism to other areas ground to a halt.

What was the cause?  A very small gift of rain boots from a foreign team.  This seemingly insignificant injection of external funds (or in this case goods) caused irreparable damage to the work.  It was a case of when “helping” hurt.  It’s almost hard to believe, but this is a true story!

On the other hand, when we see generous giving, sacrifice and ownership on the part of the new believers…the movement thrives and spreads quickly.  Things are done in local and organic ways that work well for them.  As they give, serve, and go in sacrificial ways they grow strong in their faith and the movement is theirs, not some outsider’s.

I’ve heard numerous Christian workers both foreign and national tell me that the local people they are working with are too poor to give> Or they tell me they are afraid to take offerings too soon with new believers.  “You just can’t imagine how backward and poor these people are!” an Indian national worker told me just last week.  Training new believers to give to God’s work, to the poor around them and to reach the lost is part of making true disciples.  Jesus said we must deny ourselves, give to those who ask of us, turn the other cheek when beaten…all pretty tough requirements of discipleship.  Watering down what it means to be a disciple, doesn’t lead to healthy reproducing churches or discipleship groups.  Generous giving from the heart as a part of our loving worship to God must be part of the DNA of the very first generations of groups that are started.

Avoid external funding from the beginning and you will save yourself a lot of headaches!  Resist the temptation and the lies that tell you that you are should give but the new disciples can not.  It is simply not Biblical, nor does it lead to fruit!

Internal money from generous giving- its a forward driver of disciple making movements.  External money and goods- though sometimes helpful in the short term or special circumstances- are a major danger and something to avoid as much as possible.  Even small things like rain boots matter!