“It sounds so easy on the mission field to share the gospel! It is harder here,” said a young woman attending one of our talks. She went on to explain. The people around her didn’t want to hear the gospel. She was afraid of offending them. So, she kept quiet. Inside, she longed to share the good news of Jesus. Outwardly, she found it difficult. The key issue was her belief that the people around her really didn’t want to hear the message she had to share. This false belief can paralyze us in evangelism.
A recent editorial by Mark Galli of Christianity Today addressed the purpose of the church. Some theologians say, “Wherever the church exists, it exists for the sake of the world.” Should this be true of the house churches we start? The movements we launch?
Perhaps Galli is attempting to pull us back from a doing theology to one that is more about being. I can appreciate that. What I don’t agree with is a rejection of the church’s missional purpose.
In Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) we must be very intentional about staying outwardly focused. This is especially true as we begin to grow and multiply. It’s not uncommon for churches and growing movements to drift toward an internal focus.
You meet every week for worship, prayer, and study. Is your house church healthy? Under the surface, there seem to be tensions. Relationships don’t go very deep, and resentments mount between some members. A few people are close friends, others feel excluded. Some have stopped coming who initially seemed interested. You wonder why.
In previous blogs I wrote about the elements and activities of a church; things like worship, giving, baptism, Lord’s supper, etc. A healthy house church maintains a balance between its internal and external focus. The sense of community and fellowship within the church needs to consistently deepen.
He looked like an “insider.” His hair was black, his skin brown. When he wore a kurtah shirt and walked down the street, he looked like an Indian. He had even picked up some Hindi language skills. My friend Jordan* was definitely not an insider though! He had been raised in America by adoptive parents. Though born in India, he was definitely an outsider. Movements that grow rapidly are led by insiders. Who is an insider? Who is an outsider? This week’s blog explains the difference and why it matters.
Money can easily destroy a life…or a movement. A few days ago I was talking to another Disciple Making Movement trainer. In the course of our conversation, I blurted out, “I think we have killed as many movements as we have started.” It is not difficult to destroy a budding movement. Money can be a major movement killer. Or, if offerings are handled well, they can greatly help it grow.
The early church struggled with money issues too. In 1st Timothy, Paul (the trainer) writes to his trainee Timothy. He warns him of two big problems that come in a growing movement; false teaching and money problems. It is in this context that we find the well-known phrase, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10)
“Is what we are doing really a church? I thought churches were buildings with crosses on top. Don’t we need to have a pastor? And a pulpit?” These are typical questions people ask when we talk about multiplying house churches. We must help new believers understand what the church is.
This is much easier to do after they’ve experienced church life together. For most, it is a significant paradigm shift to understand that the church is not a building. Without a deep change in this kind of thinking, the movement will struggle to grow.
Many people who come to our discovery home groups would never enter a church building. As a devout Muslim, they may be afraid of what their relatives would say if they saw them go to a “church.” They may have attended church at some point and had a bad experience. People want to know God, but some have little interest in organized religion.
Introducing the concept of church in your home group is important in launching a Disciple Making Movement. After people have committed to following Jesus, move them gently toward becoming a body of believers.
Studying God’s Word brings life, transformation, and hope. Both believers and seekers encounter God in His living Word. Studying the Bible together, however, is not enough. Disciples need to function and grow together as the body of Christ. DMM practitioners must learn to transition Discovery Bible Studies into fully functioning churches. Without this critical transition, a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) will not take place.
In the next few blogs, I will be writing about how to go about doing this. We will look at five steps; 1) Call to Commit 2) Introduce Church 3) Elements of Church 4) Life of the Church 5) Multiply Church.
Long-term, pioneer, frontier missionaries can get a bit cynical. We’ve seen lots of problems. Many things have gone wrong over years of service. It is easy to start to see the negative, rather than the positive in both people and situations. Seeing young people God sends your way on short-term mission teams, as God sees them, is important. Finding ways to help them be a blessing, as well as being blessed, is even more vital.
Not a New Phenomenon
Short-term teams are actually not a new invention! Pioneers like Loren Cunningham (and others) led the way in their acceptance in modern missions. Yet they are a very ancient (and Biblical) strategy.
Rabbits are one of the fastest animals in the world to multiply. Did you know that one rabbit averages around 1000 babies in a lifetime? If one rabbit has 1000, and those rabbits have another 1000 babies…you do the math. Within a very short amount of time, you have a lot of rabbits! When talking about the rapid multiplication of disciples, we often compare the growth to that of rabbits. Thus the term, “rabbit churches“.
DMM trainers, like myself, contrast these “rabbit churches” to what we sometimes call “elephant churches.” Elephants are big, heavy and they reproduce very, very slowly. In fact, for an elephant to give birth, the gestation (pregnancy} period is twenty-two months! Most elephants average around five or six babies in a lifetime.