Is Your Culture in a Fight with a New Testament Worldview?

qualifications for ministry

“If you want the movement to multiply, ordinary believers must be released to baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper,” George Patterson, our speaker, announced. “What? Is that right?” I thought. “Did ordinary believers have the necessary qualifications for ministry?”

We were a group of young church planters and missionaries. We had come to this seminar to learn from George, a church planting expert.

It Sounded Strange

It sounded strange to me. I had well-established ideas from my upbringing and education about the qualifications for ministry. read more

When Disciple-Making Strategy Becomes a Hidden Barrier to Growth

disciple-making strategy

Effective movement leaders don’t focus on disciple-making strategy. Instead, the focus that consumes them is a passionate urgency to reach lost people. Concentrating on the wrong thing (even good disciple-making strategy) can hinder a movement starting.

Strategy is important and has its place. It’s not, however, what drives a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). A sense of urgency to reach the lost at every level in the movement does. This compelling love for the lost has to start with the trainers and 1st generation leaders. read more

DMM Obstacle: Cultural Misunderstanding Gets In the Way

cultural misunderstandings about Christianity
“Nobody likes you. It would be better if you and your Jesus had never been born. We hear that you are all cannibals–you eat the flesh of your children in your sacred meetings.” This was said by Caecilius to his friend Octavius in the 2nd century. Pretty significant cultural misunderstanding about Christianity, don’t you think? Cultural barriers are not new to us today.  As we work with people from other faith backgrounds, these misunderstandings feel huge. Could they even prevent the starting of a Disciple Making Movement? How can they be overcome?

Good News: It’s A Short-Term Problem

Many cultural misunderstandings about Christianity exist. These do create difficulty in the early stages of the movement. Over time, the problem lessens. More and more indigenous people come to Christ and express the gospel in simple ways. Barriers fall. One of the characteristics of DMMs is that they are locally led. As outsiders recede into the background, cultural expressions of the gospel emerge naturally. The image of Christianity (and of Jesus followers) in the region begins to shift.

Aren’t You A Christian?

I was riding first class on an Indian train. I almost never did that, but no other seat was available. A well-educated Muslim businessman sat in the opposite seat in my compartment. I was tired, so I relaxed and read a book.  He was busy on his cell phone, talking to clients. I noticed that he was articulate. He spoke excellent English and was clearly well-traveled.  After a few hours, he too relaxed a bit and pulled a book out of his briefcase. He began to read a publication put out by a group called Osho. Having had some experience with this group, I was surprised to see him reading this.  We began a conversation. I asked what he thought of the book and the Osho philosophy of life. “What do you think about their attitudes toward freedom and sexuality?” I inquired. Slowly, the door opened to share that I believed God (using the Muslim word- Allah). “He has given us guidelines about how to function well in this aspect of life,” I shared.  I believe the all-powerful Creator loves us and gave these rules to us for our good and blessing,” I said. Surprise showed on his face.  He then asked a revealing question. “Aren’t you a Christian?”  He automatically assumed I was. After all, I was from a Western country.  “I am a follower of Jesus,” I replied. “I worship the Creator of the world.” His face twisted into a confused look. “I thought all Christians believed in free sex,” he said.  Though educated and well-traveled, he had never met a genuine follower of Christ. His only perception of Christianity came from Hollywood movies. I was so happy to share with him more about who Jesus is and how He taught us to live.  

4 Tips For Overcoming Initial Cultural Barriers

1) Don’t promote Christianity, share Jesus.

“It is He whom we proclaim as we admonish and wisely teach everyone, so that we may present everyone mature in the Messiah.” Col 1:28 ISV (Italics added).

 Many times, cultural misunderstandings about Christianity relate to organized religion. I often say, “I don’t care if people become Christians or not, I want them to become disciples of Jesus.”  Our goal should not be to promote our religion or to convince anyone to change religions. We must change our mindset. We are there to share about Jesus. Introduce people to Him. Focus on who He is, what He taught and that He is alive today.  Barriers fall away when we stop trying to get people to become Christians and simply introduce them to the One who changed our lives. If it helps, call yourself a Jesus follower, and don’t use the term Christian at the beginning (or at all).

2) Learn about the cultural barriers and how to bridge them without watering down the power of the gospel. read more

Not Immediately Finding a Man of Peace?

man of peace

Days, weeks and months go by. For some teams, it can even be years. You have prayed, fasted and have been doing evangelism. But you still haven’t found the man of peace in your village or city. Frustration and hopelessness build inside.

The temptation to give up on Disciple Making Movement (DMM) principles is growing.

“Maybe this doesn’t work and I should just try a more traditional method of evangelism,” you think.  Or perhaps anger toward God is also there. “If the harvest truly is ripe as Jesus said it was, why doesn’t God bring them to me?” read more

When Do Powerful Partnerships Help or Harm?

partnerships in disciple making movements

Pioneering is tough. We can feel alone and overwhelmed. Partnerships are sometimes a help. They can bring powerful solutions to the gaps in our own team. Or they can cause problems. Unwise partnerships in Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) may later become an obstacle.

I’ve been writing a series of blogs on DMM Obstacles. Check out some of the previous articles.

Obstacles will definitely come up as you pursue a DMM or Church Planting Movement (CPM). But some pitfalls are easily avoided.  Unwise partnerships in Disciple Making Movements is one of them. read more

Desire for Quick Disciple-Making Results

disciple-making results

My husband and I like to run at least one half-marathon each year. To get a decent time in a 21 K race, you need a good strategy. If you start too fast in the beginning, you won’t get a good time. You have to slow yourself down at the start, to speed up at the end. This isn’t easy. At the beginning of the race, there is a lot of adrenaline and excitement. It is similar in starting a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). Start too fast and push for results too soon? Big mistake. You won’t get the acceleration and multiplication you want later. The desire for rapid disciple-making results can be a major DMM obstacle. read more

DMM Obstacle: Join Is Easy – Launch Is Harder

Dmm obstacle

“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! read more

Top 15 Barriers to Starting a Disciple Making Movement

Barriers to starting a disciple-making movement

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. read more

What Do You Have In Common With Winston Churchill?

tenacity in disciple making movements

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; tenacity in disciple making movementsnever 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. read more

Pushy Evangelism- Is it Wrong?

evangelism

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? read more