Generational growth

“Inspire All” An Interview with An Indian Movement Leader

movement leader interview

Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down for a conversation with the leader of a growing movement in India. Knowing my readers would not have that same opportunity, I decided to record our conversation and share it with my readers.

C. Anderson: How did you begin your disciple-making work?

Movement Leader: We began by doing prayer walks, visiting the many unreached villages nearby. For three months all we did was pray. We then began to distribute tracts and share the good news with those who expressed interest. read more

Want Groups to Multiply? Stay Simple & Consistent

groups multiply

Imagine someone running in a baton race carrying a large, heavy piece of wood. It would be hard to pass on to the next runner, right? One person may be large and strong and able to run with it. But the next runner may not. Discipleship groups are very similar to this.

 

The baton used in a race is lightweight. It is designed to be easily transferred from the hands of one runner to another.

 

It is the same in a Disciple Making Movement. Discipleship methods must be simple and light. In DMMs, we are intentional about making everything we do easy for others to also do.

Reproducible Discipleship

Keeping your discipleship structure and meeting format consistent lends toward multiplication. While it is fun and interesting to do things with a lot of variety, it often doesn’t reproduce well.

 

Random discipleship doesn’t reproduce. Follow a simple plan. This is much more effective in rapidly equipping new disciple-makers.

 
A Coaching Conversation

 

What did you talk about in your Discovery Bible Study (DBS) today?” I asked.

We chose one of my favorite passages,” he said.

That is a good one! I like it too,” was my reply after hearing the Bible reference.

I’m curious. How do you decide which scripture to study each week?” was my next question.

We pray and find something that we think will be good,” he said.

Hmm,” I pondered, considering his situation.

 

This DMM effort had been struggling to see multiplication. They were doing regular Discovery Bible Studies. But the group members seemed hesitant to start their own groups. They lacked confidence and self-initiative.

 

Have you ever considered using an established set of stories? Or a list of verses everyone leading DBS groups follows? Instead of choosing verses randomly?” I asked.

 

This was a new idea to him.

We talked about how to go about deciding on a short and read more

Why and How to Track Progress in a Disciple Making Movement

track progress

Why track DMM progress?  Let me illustrate.

I come from a city in America called Minneapolis. It has many beautiful lakes. We like to rent canoes and go boating on them. I learned something about canoeing. Keeping my eyes fixed on the other side of the lake matters. Otherwise, it is easy to paddle around on the lake for hours without actually crossing it.

Some people engage in disciple-making efforts without tracking their progress. They are a bit like me on the lake.  They take their eyes off their goal.

That is fine if you just want a fun way to spend a day off. But if you are serious about making progress in starting a DMM, you have to measure forward movement.

You need to know where you are at. You must be able to determine whether or not the movement is multiplying.

Multiplication is your destination.  Stay focused on it. The only way to know if you are getting there (or not) is to keep careful records and regularly measure progress. Are you seeing multiplication growth or only addition? Tracking allows you to celebrate, assess, and make needed changes.

“How do I do this well?” you may ask. Few people like to fill out monthly reports! Especially volunteers and unpaid workers like we have in house church movements.

Indicators, Charts, and Evaluation

  • First, identify which DMM indicators you want to track.
  • Then, create a simple way of monitoring those things. Many people use generation charts or maps to help them do this. Particularly with oral culture people, a visual picture is very helpful. Compare previous charts with current ones. This makes it easy for trainees to see their progress (or lack of it).
  • Lastly, evaluate. Diagnose problems and make plans in response to what you have learned through the reporting process.

Big Reports- Pride and Exaggeration

In an email from a mentor, I read the following words.

“Big reports are driven by one of two reasons; Ego/pride, or the desire to influence funders and donors.  The first is always sin and the second can become sin when it leads to exaggeration, claiming other’s fruit and dishonesty.”

Wise words of caution when we talk about reporting.  If your goal in tracking movement progress is either of these things, take note. Carefully guard your heart.

Building Trust

There is often resistance to gathering data. I used to get frustrated with this. Wanting to understand their reasons, I asked further questions.

The reasons eventually surfaced. They didn’t want to give me their numbers if I was going to use them to raise funds for myself.  I could understand that! They didn’t want to be used for my gain. Others feared being viewed as a failure if they didn’t have big “numbers” to report.

Building trust took time. We needed to go through a process of helping our trainees understand. The reason we were gathering reports was to help the movements grow. It was not to build our own egos or to raise funds. We certainly didn’t want to make them feel like a failure!  The reports were to help them.

A few others had concerns about whether it was Biblical to track numbers. They were concerned about God’s judgment on David when he wanted to count his army. If that is a concern for you, please see this blog I wrote on that years ago.

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” 1 Cor. 9:26 NIV.

How To Track Progress in a DMM

1. Identify which DMM indicators you want to measure.

There are many different things you can track as it relates to a movement’s growth. Keep it simple. Make a list of things you want to know, then cut it down to the absolute essentials. The shorter the report, the more likely they will complete it.

At the bottom of this post a free pdf download  with a list of indicators you could consider choosing from.  It’s not complete but will get you started.

2. Devise a simple way of monitoring that works for your group.

Many people use generation charts to track progress. When we began doing that with our teams, we saw a huge difference. Each training we had, the trainees made updated charts.

A circle represented a house church or disciple-making group. Looking at the chart you could easily see which generation it was (1st, 2nd or 3rd). You could also quickly see which groups were multiplying and which were not.

Then, as a coach/trainer you ask questions like this. “This group seems to be starting other groups. What is happening here that isn’t happening in your other groups?”

See my video that explains how to make a generational growth chart.

 

3. Determine how often and where you will collect reports and track progress. read more

Are You Tired of Initiating All the Momentum for Growth?

initiative in disciple making movements

My husband and I like to run half-marathons together. A few years ago, we were running a race in a South Asian city. The day before the race, one of the church planters there heard about our upcoming event. Excitedly he declared, “Next year I will run the race with you!” I looked at his short, quite round body and smiled. I appreciated his enthusiasm. But I wondered if he truly had the initiative or self-discipline to train for a 21-kilometer race.

Disciple-Making Movements (DMMs) are a bit like a long-distance run. They require a significant amount of self-discipline. It takes initiative and perseverance to launch, grow and sustain a multiplying movement. Often, when hearing about movements, people are excited to get involved. They like the vision of multiplication. But they are like my friend who wanted to run the marathon. They lack the self-initiative and perseverance needed.

We also experience this within the movements we are trying to launch. Some disciples show great passion for the Kingdom. Others seem so passive.

Without the ability to self-motivate, it is hard to see a DMM get going. Initiative is “taking responsibility for disciple-making efforts without having to be told to do so.” Lack of initiative can be a major obstacle to the release of a movement.

Overcoming The Barrier Of Motivation

How do we overcome this obstacle? What action can a trainer take when disciples you train lack initiative? You may notice this problem in yourself as well.

I have been writing a series of blogs on how to overcome common obstacles to starting a DMM. Click here to see the full list. Search the archives for many other articles on some of the most typical barriers.

Initiative Flows From Purpose

Some personalities have more of a bent toward self-initiative than others. For everyone, however, self-initiative flows from a sense of purpose. This is true no matter what your individual temperament. The desire to take action comes from passion motivated by compelling truth.

The desire to take action comes from passion motivated by compelling truth.

That is why it is critical that we make vision casting a vital part of every training session. Regularly share about the urgent need of lost people in your region. Also, work to increase the disciple-makers’ understanding of their Biblical identity. Build a sense of ownership in the trainees. This will release them to do the work of disciple-making in their own ways. The result will be an increase in the kind of initiative needed to grow a DMM.

Two Very Different Personalities

This week I had the chance to visit a house church we started many years ago. It was wonderful to see them. They have grown strong in their faith, despite many challenges.

In the group, there are two disciples who are very different from one another. One is a young, fairly educated man. His personality is outgoing. As the oldest, somewhat spoiled son of the family, he has a lot of natural confidence. It has always been easy to motivate him to share Jesus with others.

Another person in the group, *Asha, is the mother of three young boys. She is also very smart, but she sometimes lacks confidence. Her poverty affects the way she thinks about herself. This is also true of her gender. As a woman in an Indian society, she has little voice or recognized value.

When we first started training her as a disciple-maker, she didn’t take initiative. She didn’t know she could. Asha had no idea how valuable, gifted and powerful she was in God.

Working with these two disciples required different efforts. One was a natural leader, one quite reluctant. With both, we spent a lot of time helping them to understand their gifts and roles in the Kingdom. We talked about how they were royal priests. We taught them that God Himself had chosen them to bear fruit. He had given them spiritual authority.

The Great Commission was a powerful scripture for them. “All authority on Heaven and Earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:18-20). “Jesus has given you His authority,” we declared to them.

Another thing that helped was regular vision-casting about the need to reach the lost. Each week when we met, we told short stories or shared scriptures about God’s heart for the unreached around them. Asha soon started to lead a women’s fellowship. She brought her neighbors and relatives to Christ. One after another, her brothers believed. A passion to see others know the Jesus who had saved and transformed her own life grew strong inside of her.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18a

What Can Turn Someone Into An Initiator?

1) Vision + faith inspires initiative.

Every single time you meet, take a few moments to talk about the need to reach lost people around you. Share scriptures that inspire faith. Testimonies of what God is doing in other places can also be very powerful. These stories build faith and hope that God can also use them. Make sure that the disciples get their regular faith and vision “vitamin” intake!

2) Understanding of identity makes room for self-leadership.

One of the first things I encourage people to train disciples about is their identity in Christ. As disciples learn: who they are as a son or daughter, as a royal priest, and as someone chosen by God to bear fruit, confidence grows.

3) Buy-in and ownership are necessary for initiative.

Participatory, discussion-based discipleship meetings build a sense of ownership. Instead of just receiving their teaching, they discover principles from the Word of God themselves. Give them an opportunity to make their own decisions about Bible application. This builds a sense of ownership rather than just obedience to you, as the trainer.

4) Freedom to take action without too much control encourages initiative in trainees. read more

5 Steps for Moving from 1st Generation groups to 2nd, 3rd and Beyond

generational growth in disciple making movements

How Do You Get Generational Growth In Disciple Making Movements?

They were a faithful and passionate team of local workers.  They shared the gospel often and led people to the Lord.  They worked hard.  They had started 10 1st generation groups of disciples.  Not too bad by most peoples’ standards. Generational growth in disciple making had not yet begun though.

They were stuck at 1st generation (1G) growth.  They only knew how to start groups themselves.  They didn’t know how to get the believers in those groups to start new groups.  Sound familiar?

Is This Your Team? Or A Team You Are Training?

As we began to work with them, things began to change.  Today, they have reached 6th generation growth and the movement has grown by about 400%!

What do you do to get from seeing only 1st Generation growth in disciple-making to seeing many generations? 

5 Steps To Increase DMM Generational Growth:

1. Share A Clear Vision For A Disciple Making Movement.

A Clear Vision for a DMM must be understood and owned by the existing churches and believers or you will find it difficult to see generational growth.  Do all the believers understand what a Disciple Making Movement is?  Do they understand why a DMM will reach more lost people than if you are just a traditional church? Have they prayed and received this as their own?  Have you shared scriptures about how the gospel spread and multiplied in the book of Acts?

Regularly share the Vision for a Movement until it takes root in their hearts.

Then share the Vision over and over each time you meet.

2. Train Everyone To Share Their Testimony

Use a simple method to train everyone to share their testimony in 3-5 minutes. I like to use Ying Kai’s 3 steps from T4T.

  • Before I met Jesus-what was my life like?
  • How I met Jesus- briefly who shared with me and what they shared.
  • After I met Jesus- what changed and how was my life different?
  • read more