Missions

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

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

Suffering and Disciple Making Movements

Suffering and Disciple Making Movements

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. read more

Evangelism Starts With Love

evangelism starts

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. read more

3 Keys to Finding a Person of Peace

person of peace

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. read more

How to Develop the #1 Habit That Releases Movements

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution and then failed to do those things? Most people have. We say, “I’m going to lose 10 kilos.” Or we might say, “I’m going to start exercising.” We make resolutions, we set goals- then we go back to our old ways. Sometimes this makes us not even want to set goals! The problem isn’t with goal setting. If a goal is to become a reality though, you have to change your behavior. There is one regular practice that will make a bigger difference than any other. It is the development of a daily intercessory prayer habit. read more

No Fruit Yet? 4 Ways to Stay Motivated

stay motivated

When we work hard but don’t quickly see results, it’s just plain difficult.  We need to know how to stay motivated in disciple making and evangelism while we wait for the fruit to come.

Lessons From Our Superheros

“With great power comes great responsibility,”

says Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movie.

I love that quote. I can see the scene in my head and hear his voice. It’s an “Aha” moment for young Spider-Man. I guess that I just like superheroes.

These champions inspire us.  They help us to dream of what might be possible, with a little superhuman strength. read more

Women in Disciple Making Movements- Why Not Women?

women in ministry

There is a simple way to almost immediately double or triple the number of people you are reaching with the gospel. Do you want to hear how? Most people would! Here it is. When you properly understand the key role of women in disciple making movements,  your disciple making efforts will take a leap forward.

The tremendous potential of mobilizing and releasing women is a blind spot for many people. There are various reasons for hesitation to release women in ministry.  This article will not address them all.  Instead, I hope to shine some light on this topic, share my story, and take a look at scripture. The goal is not to convince you of a particular position on this topic.  I hope, instead, to give you a key to growing your movement rapidly.  By considering changes in how you release women, many more lost people come into the Kingdom of God. read more

Want to start a DMM? Heal the Sick!

Healing the sick is an important part of a disciple maker’s life.

What?  Heal the sick?  How can I do that?  Only God can heal the sick! True.  Not true.  Wait! It can’t be both.  Or can it?

There are several foundational things needed in disciple making movements.  Obedience to God’s Word is one of them.  In DMM training, we often focus on obedience to Christ’s command to share the gospel or be baptized.  These are vitally important! If movements are built only on miracles, they tend to be shallow and often don’t see generational growth.  At the same time, Jesus gave us an important model. He healed the sick and trained His disciples to do the same. read more

What is Just In Time Training?

“Just in Time Training” was an unfamiliar concept for me. Why are they not applying what I taught them?  We taught how to create a set of stories for discipleship in the Orientation Program, but they are just preaching. They seem to have completely forgotten everything they learned in the training!  Argghh!!

Have you ever felt frustrated that you invest a lot in training people only to see little field application happen?

I sure was!  Then I put into practice what is called Just in Time TrainingJust in Time Training (sometimes called Micro-Learning) is when you give people only what they need to use immediately. You train in small learning segments. read more