“Every week they come. They are faithful…to attend church at least. But they are not fruitful. I can barely get them to witness to their neighbors. How will I ever get them to start new disciple-making groups (house churches)?” Many who want to launch Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) struggle to motivate local believers. Whether toward evangelism or group formation, it can feel like “pulling teeth.” Numerous people would rather participate in an existing group, than be involved in starting a new group. This aspect of human nature can be a DMM obstacle. The good news is that it can be overcome!
They stood in front of my gate. A group of angry men. Impatiently, they rang the bell again and again. They had demands to make. Emotions ran strong. Who were they? Angry Hindu fundamentalists? No. Surprisingly (or not), they were a group of pastors from our city. One obstacle we often face in starting Disciple Making Movements is resistance from traditional pastors.
I went to the gate cringing inside. How would I answer them? I knew why they had come. I’d broken their “rules.” We had done some things that went against their church traditions. It violated their ability to control. That was a tough day. I had to lean hard on God for His grace to answer them. It was difficult to do that with honor, while still standing firm in the convictions of my heart.
On May 6th, 1954 Sir Roger Bannister did something that everyone said was impossible. He ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Up until then, people had said it was an unbreakable barrier. Doctors made strong statements saying it was not only dangerous to try to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. They, in fact, said that it was humanly impossible. This was a record that would never be broken. Until it was. After Roger did it, in a few short months, many others also ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Today the world record is held by a man named Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco. He ran a mile in 3:43:13. We think some things are impossible and difficult barriers to Disciple-Making Movements. They are not.
“Never, never, never, give in!” These were the words of Winston Churchill during one of England’s bleakest moments. It was 1941 and Hitler’s troops were advancing. The American forces had not yet entered the war and things looked bad for Europe. He went on to say, *“Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” We need great tenacity in Disciple-Making Movements (DMMs). We must never, never, never give in until God’s Kingdom is established and growing among the unreached.
There is a part of the shopping mall I avoid. It’s where they give out free samples of perfume and makeup. The salespeople there are quite annoying. If I even glance their direction, I end up stuck. I have to listen to their speech about a product I don’t want. Pushy evangelists feel the same way. I hate the idea of forcing people, in any way, to “listen to the gospel.” Yet, we have a life-saving message. How pushy should we be in our evangelism?
Many cultures teach us that to make anyone feel uncomfortable, or forced to do anything, is wrong. The big unspoken rule in evangelism today is “Don’t make them feel pressured.” I have been wondering. Is that a biblical way of thinking about sharing the gospel or not?
Ever heard the phrase, “Never listen to your critics?” It’s popular in business circles. I get it! Critics of Disciple Making Movements abound. We shouldn’t waste time defending ourselves, arguing with those who disagree with us. Why not invest that time in evangelism and disciple making instead?
We never want to come under a spirit of controversy. But, Solomon said in Proverbs 15:31, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” NLT. Sometimes we ignore critics and sometimes we consider what they say. It is good to know how to filter criticism. We should not be confused by it. We must learn how to weigh it with grace before the Lord. One of the major criticisms of Disciple Making Movements is that its discipleship is weak and ineffective.
Our resources are limited. Time, money, energy, and personnel are all stretched far too thin when pioneering in new areas. Some people seem to only drain our precious resources. As disciple makers, how do you avoid wasting time on the wrong people? How do you discover the potential leaders who will be most helpful in growing the movement?
Don’t Just Guess- Give Assignments
While it is tempting to try to guess who will be worth investing in, we are often wrong in our guesses. The best way to discover who to invest in is to first train a larger group of people. Give them assignments to apply the training. Then, watch to see who does what they were trained to do. Those who actually take steps to begin working are the ones worth investing in. These are the people who will most likely be the most fruitful.
Kidnapping and even martyrdom are possibilities. Unusual illnesses are common. Intense spiritual warfare and stressed out marriages- sign me up! I want to start a DMM. Or not. It is no joke to pursue the launching of a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) among the Unreached. Suffering and Disciple Making Movements seem to go hand in hand.
The costs are real and the challenges great. How do we keep from being destroyed by the incredible cost of this effort?
What Makes It Worth It?
Suffering is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is particularly noticeable though, in the lives of those who pursue DMMs. It is not just likely, it is highly probable that you will face intense suffering as you work to start a movement. Some would say that experiencing suffering is characteristic of those who launch movements.
Ding, dong. They are at your door. Or maybe they are walking through the train. They’re selling something you don’t need or want. It is a children’s encyclopedia set, some kind of kitchen gadget, or cheaply made toys. How do you feel? The primary thought in my mind is always, “How do I get rid of these people as fast as possible?” I want to stay polite and kind, but not have to listen to them! Many people feel that way toward us when we share the gospel. Are we just salespeople, pushing our goods? No. Absolutely not. But, our evangelism is no more than a slick sales tactic, if it doesn’t flow from genuine love for the unreached.
Were you ever lost in the woods and couldn’t find your way out? Maybe you’ve played a video game and were stuck in a room (in the game). You couldn’t find the door to get to the next passageway or level. That is a difficult place to be! You wander around not making progress, getting more frustrated each moment; searching, searching, searching. Disciple making among the unreached can feel similar! “Where is that key person?” we wonder. Finding the Person of Peace is important to starting a Disciple Making Movement. It takes you to the next level.