Our team in South Asia started using the terms 1G, 2G, 3G, about ten years ago. We were trying to track the growth of emerging movements. It was kind of funny. At the very same time, Indian telephone companies were using those terms for their data plans! For us, 1G stood for a first-generation church. 2G for a second-generation church, etc. In the early days as we pursued movements, getting to the mark of fourth-generation growth was a huge milestone! As thrilling as it is to reach this point, 4G is not a magic number. There is not much in the Bible to support the emphasis we in the DMM world put on this particular milestone.
Never in history has a world-wide shut down of this magnitude occurred. With so many self-isolating and practicing social distancing, it could make our job of disciple making much harder. Many would say, “Take a break. Start disciple making efforts again when this is all over.” The problem is, we have no idea when that will be. During this time, we must stay active in disciple making. Let us even look for ways to increase our efforts.
There are many ways to look at a situation like this. How is God looking at it? What is He wanting to do through it?
Acronyms are funny. They don’t translate well into other languages. At the same time, they do help us remember things. One of the acronyms I’ve heard used from my early days in church planting is M.A.W.L. I believe it was first used by David Garrison in his Church Planting Movements booklet. What does it stand for and how can it help your disciple-making?
M.A.W.L. stands for Model, Assist, Watch and Leave. It has to do with the disciple making process.
Jesus used this process with His disciples. He modeled how to do the work of the Kingdom. They went with Him, watched Him and learned. He then invited them to assist Him in the work. They joined Him in feeding the five thousand, and in healing the sick, casting out demons, etc. He then sent them out to do the same. Then He checked in with them (watch) to see how they were doing. Jesus left and returned to Heaven, giving them a command and commission to carry on the work.
“We’ve been looking for a place to have our Discovery Bible Study. I’m so excited! The pastor has said we can use the church! It solves our childcare problem too. We can use the nursery area for the kids.” She sounded so happy. Inside, I cringed. “Oh no! That doesn’t sound like the best option. How do I help her avoid making this strategic mistake?” Gently, I began asking questions. Eventually, she began to see. It’s probably better not to have Discovery groups meet within the church building. Not if her goal is to start a Disciple Making Movement.
“How do I get started with DMMs? I’m finding it difficult to find a Person of Peace. I can’t even find someone ready to have a spiritual conversation!” my trainee said. The frustration in her voice was notable. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting an Asian movement leader who has seen incredible fruit. Their movement is now well over 20,000 believers. He shared an excellent entry strategy. As my trainee asked this question, his example came to mind.
To find a Person of Peace, or several at one time, you have to cast your net wide. You can’t “fish” with a pole…you need a big net. The Asian movement leader’s example demonstrated how he did this.
This week I’m privileged to introduce you to a fellow trainer and coach. In this short video, he addresses the question of how DMMs grow, strictly from a New Testament perspective. In Disciple Making Movements, everything we do and train others to do needs to be built on the foundation of what we see in the life of Jesus.
I hope you will watch this video and gain insights into what we can learn about movements from Jesus himself. He writes further about it in the text that follows.
It was 2011. Having done church planting work since 1997, and planted one church in an unreached area, I received training about a new approach. It was called Church Planting Movements, or Disciple Making Movements (DMM).
Stories are powerful and each person’s story unique. I love to listen to the testimonies of the “ordinary” people I coach and train. It’s amazing how God has been at work in each individual’s life bringing them to the place they are today.
A few days ago as I sat and listened to a movement leader’s story. I was once again touched by the power of God to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
He was not outwardly impressive. His English was decent, but not fantastic. The ways God has used him to multiply disciples…that was pretty great though!
I see a problem. It’s disturbing my sleep. I wake up praying about it. Know what it is? It’s when Christian leaders don’t release their people to do the work of the ministry.
This issue bothers me because it can block the growth of Disciple Making Movements (DMMs). That must not happen! Leaders, we can not behave this way if we want to see God’s Kingdom spread rapidly through our regions.
It’s not easy to release people. I know. Huge issues arise in our hearts and heads.
Are they ready? Mature enough? What if they fail? What if they succeed (maybe even surpassing me)?
“My teenagers need a youth group!” they said, as they told us they were no longer going to join the regular disciple makers meeting. It was disappointing to hear. Concerned parents want to see their children’s spiritual needs met. This can be a real issue. Parents express apprehension about whether their children will get what they need in a DBS or story group. How do we best disciple the children of families in our teams and disciple making groups?
This issue requires us to speak into the parent’s lives in a unique way. It can be difficult. It also creates an opportunity to help those we are training to return to a more biblical style of parenting. One where disciple making happens within families.
Most of us want our lives to make an impact. We long for significance. God put the desire inside us. He wants us to leave a unique and lasting mark on our world. This is part of what motivates us to pursue DMMs. It is the nature of movements to see thousands coming to Christ. This happens through deep investment in a few emerging leaders, who then invest in others.
“In the midst of dreaming for the thousands or tens of thousands, don’t forget the vital importance of investing well in a few.“