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.
“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.
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.
Kids are easy to distract. When my children were young they’d start crying. Maybe they were angry about not getting a piece of candy they craved. I’d point out the window. “Look! See the birds?” Suddenly, their attention shifted. We can be like kids too- easily distracted from our goals. Staying focused as we pursue Disciple Making Movements is a major challenge!
Not Focusing Is Serious
Failure to focus is serious. The eternal destiny of thousands of unreached people is at stake. Their future depends on our actions and decisions. Can we keep from being pulled in a million different directions? If not, they may never hear the gospel and believe. Thankfully, there are simple keys to keeping our concentration on DMM goals.
Do you have a favorite tool for gardening or working in the kitchen? At our house, we have a favorite knife. It is sharp and the handle is just the right size. It works well for chopping about anything. If my husband and I are both in the kitchen, there sometimes is a competition for who gets to use that knife! Tools are important in seeing progress and becoming effective. The T4T Lost and Saved list is one of the best tools I have used. It will help you train people to start Disciple Making Movements.
Coaches can be scary! I remember one I had when playing American baseball as a kid. He had a good heart, but he intimidated us a lot! Just knowing he was watching me try to hit the ball made me strike out. Coaching in disciple-making movements, however, shouldn’t be frightening.
Similar to me, many people have bad experiences with coaches or teachers. These so-called mentors have been harsh, have scolded them or expected more than they were capable of. Even worse, some have shamed them when they failed. These negative experiences affect how we think about coaching. It doesn’t have to be like that. Coaching is a very fruitful and helpful practice in Disciple Making Movements (DMMs).
Whether it is a cricket match between England and Australia or two teams playing in the Super Bowl- we like to pick a side. Who are you cheering for? The same is true in many other aspects of life. Disciple making urgency or transformational discipleship? Which is more important? Put more simply- what matters most? Getting people saved or transformed?
Both-And Not Either-Or
Many Kingdom priorities are not either/or issues. Instead, they are very much both/and. Jesus is both God and man. We must both love God and also love our neighbor. Our human tendency, however, is to put ourselves into one camp or the other on theological issues.