Being Contextual Without Being a Zealot

contextual

One of the important aspects of a growing movement is that it becomes indigenous.  Disciples are free to live out the gospel message in a contextual way. What does the word indigenous mean and how can we contextualize without going too far?

Miriam Webster defines indigenous as: produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment.  We speak of indigenous plants, indigenous people, indigenous culture.  What we mean by indigenous Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) is that within these movements disciples grow naturally in their own context and culture. read more

Filtering: What it is, How it Helps

filter-192936_640When I first heard the term “filtering” being used in DMM/CPM circles I wasn’t sure what I thought about it. It was definitely NOT a part of my organizational culture to do this! I wasn’t sure it was biblical. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I particularly didn’t like the idea of “filtering people out” of our trainings and priorities. It just sounded kind of….mean. The pastoral, member care side of me reacted to it.

After a few years of working with this concept, I have seen however, that it is necessary to “filter” for what I call the 3F people- the faithful, fruitful and focused. I like to call it “filtering up” rather than “filtering out”. read more

Why Saying “No” is a Crucial Skill

say no

I personally don’t like saying no. It feels…not nice. It seems…unkind, or like I don’t value the person who is asking me to do something. Yet saying no, and meaning it, is a crucial skill for those of us pursuing DMMs. This is why we need to learn not only what to say no to, but also how to say no with honor and respect.

Lets start with the what part.  What do we need to say no to as a DMMer?  (Is that a thing? Can I call us that?) Sorry.  Rabbit trail.  Okay, so my point is, we need to say “No” to things that side track us, that pull us away from the main vision we are going after- a Disciple Making Movement.  Anything that seems good but isn’t related to making disciples who make more disciples or to reaching lost people should go on our “I might need to say no” list. read more

Evaluate & Tweak or Stay Consistent?

One of the beliefs my organization is promoting these days is this…

We must humbly and deliberately evaluate our tools, methods and schools in light of the results we desire.

This is truly important! Without evaluation we get stuck in old ways of doing things and patterns of behavior that don’t lead to fruit. We need to evaluate all that we do and make it a priority to take the time to regularly do this. We must be willing to look at what we do and then be willing to change if what we are doing isn’t working!

At the same time, we need to be careful not to change what we do too often or we lose the momentum that comes from repetition and consistency of approach. In the midst of evaluating, we must avoid the temptation to constantly change and tweak what we do. Doing this becomes confusing, especially for the grassroots people we are training.

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The Power of Momentum

When we have many different versions of a tool that are all slightly different, people can easily go back to their default of more traditional methods and tools because those are less confusing to them.

We need to balance evaluation and tweaking, with having consistent, clearly explained, and repeatedly used tools and methods. Sometimes the benefit of having the same tool is higher than the benefit of having a slightly better tool. Familiarity helps reduce stress. Constantly introducing new tools or remaking the tools we have causes stress and wastes a lot of valuable time when we have to retrain people we have already trained in one skill or with one tool. Having consistency also helps a lot when we are using various different trainers to train or when we are having people advance from one level to another.

One of the biggest keys I have found to moving things steadily forward toward movements and growth has been to keep the message and method clear, consistent and simple. Some years ago in our organization, we tried an options based approach. We had lots of options we offered people. Westerners and people who are highly educated appreciate and enjoy this. It affirms their freedom, individuality and ability to choose. It was an approach where we said, for example, “Here are 5 different ways you can present the gospel. Choose the one that is best for you and your context.” This works well for Westerners and well-educated people who have a more individualist world view. They like it even better when we say, “Create your own approach. You know your situation and context best.”

Experience has taught me that this options based, create your own approach simply doesn’t work well with grassroots indigenous people. In fact, it significantly hinders multiplication. It is much more fruitful to simply give only one option (even if it isn’t the absolutely best one that could ever be created). Then, train them how to use that particular approach or skill and use it well. Repeat, repeat, repeat until they can do it in their sleep…until it becomes natural for them and they can train others. This builds confidence, capacity and results in reproducibility. It reduces confusion and the energy drain that it takes to “choose” or “create.” It enables grassroots people and very new believers to immediately become effective and empowered.

Some people have wondered why I don’t welcome lots of outside speakers or CPM/DMM programs that bring similar principles but teach them in slightly different ways. Some people have even gotten quite angry with me about not welcoming them to come and teach or bring their program. It’s not that I haven’t tried this. I have. I have found, however, that these slightly different and new approaches that are not in sync and consistent with the things we are already training people in…they are just not that effective. It’s not because they aren’t good methods or trainings. It’s just that consistency, simplicity, and only training people in one main method with the same tools over and over builds the momentum that yields much more fruit.

We also have to be careful not to say something doesn’t work just because it didn’t work once in one context. Sometimes it just needs more repetition and more momentum to take off. It was like that with T4T for us. We find that people need to be trained in it, the same way, three times, before it really sinks in and they “get it.” But, repetition wins the game. And once they get it…wow! The fruit is quite amazing.

This creates a bit of a quandary and a dynamic tension. We need to evaluate regularly, faithfully and I would even say ruthlessly. We can’t have any “holy cows” in our methods, tools, etc. We can’t afford to be so loyal or committed to something that we won’t change it even though it’s not effectively yielding fruit. At the same time, let’s be careful about how (and how often) we evaluate and tweak so we keep a consistent and clear approach that is easily reproduced and isn’t confusing for grassroots people. They are the ones who will really cause the rapid multiplication we desire.

Originally posted on June 8, 2017 @ 2:52 am

What In the World Is Friendly Accountability?

friendly accountability

Asking “What will you do to obey?” can seem an awkward question. The following week, when we ask them to tell us if they actually did what they said they would, well, it can feel down-right invasive. This is especially true for those of us from a Western culture where privacy and individualism are highly valued.

What business is it of mine if they are obeying or not? Shouldn’t that be their worry, not mine?

Could this approach border on legalism? We definitely don’t want to promote a rule-oriented gospel. Yet accountability is a vital essential in growing a DMM. It is strongly tied to one of the main characteristics we find in growing movements- obedience-based discipleship. read more

Women Cry Out- Give Us Our Inheritance!

spiritual inheritance

An interesting and profound story is found in Joshua chapter seventeen.   It speaks of a man named Zelophehad who had no sons but only daughters. This is an amazing tale with many lessons about spiritual inheritance.

Inheritance For the Daughters

There must have been others in Israel who only had girls.  These daughters of Zelophehad were different though.  What was different about them? What does this have to do with seeing disciple making movements released??

Joshua 17:3 “However, Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. They came near before Eleazar the priest and before Joshua the son of Nun and before the leaders, saying, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.” So according to the [c]command of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among their father’s brothers. Thus there fell ten portions to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is beyond the Jordan, because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance among his sons. And the land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the sons of Manasseh.” (NASB)

These daughters of Zelophehad were willing to ask for their inheritance along with their cousins or as we say in India “cousin brothers.” The fact that they were women didn’t stop them from thinking that they were worthy of receiving an inheritance in the land.  It stopped many other women.  It didn’t stop them.  They asked…and they received.

In Psalms, God says…

“Ask of Me, and I will surely give the [f]nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” Ps 2:8 NASB

Jesus said…

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  John 16:24 NASB

To see a movement of Jesus follower’s released, every believer must get involved.  Every believer needs to ask God for their inheritance among lost people. Every believer must begin to see themselves as a disciple maker, as a trainer of trainers, not just a church member.  This most definitely includes women!

God Calls Women To Ask For Their Spiritual Inheritance

God is calling women today from every strata of society and from every class; educated, uneducated, urban, village, old and young to join with their husbands and brothers in asking God to release their inheritance among the nations. 

He wants women to be bold and ask Him for the lost people around them.  read more

Staying Focused as Disciple Makers

What is the number one enemy you will face as you pursue the release of a Disciple Making Movement among the unreached? One would imagine that it would be intense spiritual warfare, keeping a visa platform, persecution, or some other kind of external challenge. Those are real and they are there to be sure. In my opinion, however, the greatest obstacle for those pursuing the release of a movement, is the inability to stay focused on what is most important. The tendency to become distracted doing many good things without doing what iblack-and-white-1845826_1280s most important is typical of those who hope to see movements but don’t.

Busyness is a major enemy in our lives. We can easily get so busy that we don’t have time to pray, to listen to God, to share good news with the Lost, or to adequately spend time with those who are expressing interest in coming to faith. These things usually happen in the early stages of our efforts to start a movement. When we don’t see things “take off” as fast as we had hoped, we allow ourselves to get involved in other ministry tasks that give us a bit of a sense of fulfillment. Teaching here or there, doing emails, making a video for a church about what we do, attending a seminar or conference someone invited us to…suddenly we realize we have had little time for the task of disciple making.

Later, when (and if) we do have some disciples and the first church gets going, it is again easy to become busy with things related to that church’s programs rather than continuing to pursue relationships with the Lost, or to invest in quality disciple making. We make the mistake of thinking that a weekly meeting of a few hours will make quality disciples. We fail to truly invest our lives in those God has given us whether it be in detailed prayer for them, or in developing deep relationships.

One of my favorite Old Testament Bible Heros is Nehemiah. In tnature-1984314_1280he sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, messengers come asking Nehemiah to attend a meeting with Sanballat and Geshem. Instead of agreeing he says,

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)

Nehemiah is completely focused on his God-given task. He is not going to stop his work to go and resolve a conflict, listen to his enemies, or attend a meeting. He knows how to say a clear “no.” He continues to focus on what is most important. We need to do the same.

How hard is it for you to stay focused on what is really important? Do you clearly know in your own mind what is most important in light of your goal to see a movement of disciples?

In a recent training I asked the participants to make a list of everything they had done in the last week that took more than an hour of their time. After they had listed at least 15 things, I asked them to circle which of those things directly related to making disciples among the unreached. It was eye-opening for many of them to see how little time they actually devoted to the task they said was their primary vision. We all would benefit from a similar exercise from time to time.

Feeling convicted? I truly hope you don’t feel condemned. It’s very human to get distracted and not at all uncommon! Instead of feeling bad, look carefully at where you are at. Recommit yourself to stay focused on your true calling as a discipler and messenger of the good news. Be willing like Nehemiah to say no to some things so you can say yes to what is really important.

The unreached wait to hear your message. New disciples wait to be encouraged, trained and mentored. Let’s get busy doing the most important things that lead to the release of movements.

Originally posted on April 29, 2017 @ 10:50 am

You Are a Trainer of Trainers – a Disciple Maker!

trainer of trainers

In every mission’s conference we talk about the Great Commission. It is found in several places in the gospels, but most often referenced from Matthew 28.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”– Matt. 28:18-20 NIV read more

You Are a Royal Priest

royal priest

Our beliefs about who we are, dramatically impact how we behave. In the last blog I talked about who we are as people God has chosen to bear much fruit. We are the chosen ones. Today I want to focus on another aspect of identity – who you are as a royal priest of God.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- NIV

It’s important to understand the major shift Jesus brought about when he went to the cross and rose again. He destroyed the old system of Levitical priesthood and established a new system where all who followed Him would be royal priests. In the new covenant you are not physically born into the priesthood. Instead, when you receive Jesus, you are spiritually born into this status. read more

God Chose You to Bear Fruit

I’ve always wanted to be fruitful in God’s kingdom. I longed to make a true difference. Doubt often filled my heart. Would God really use me to start Disciple-Making Movements? Was I the right kind of person? Did I have it in me? I needed to know my disciple making identity.

I looked back on my years in missions and saw lots of evidence that maybe the answer was no. False starts. Failed attempts. Lost people I’d made friendships with but never managed to truly share the good news with, or not very effectively anyhow.

disciple making identityWas it unwise to even hope that God would want to start a movement of disciples through me? Maybe I was setting myself up for failure and further disappointment by embracing this goal.

If you can identify with this, you are not alone. Many of us who God calls to his kingdom work of seeing multiplication among the unreached feel that way at one time or another. (Or sometimes fairly regularly.) So what is our baseline? What do we go back to when deciding whether or not Disciple Making Movements- DMMs are for us? (Sometimes we have to decide and re-decide this fairly often).

In this post and the next few that follow, I’d like to give you my scriptural baseline. This is where the foundation for faith that God can use me to start DMMs comes from.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.– John 15:16 NIV

That is my bottom line. God chose and ordained me to bear lasting fruit. This is my disciple making identity.

Out of all the millions on this planet, He looked around and He saw me and said, “I want her on my team.” Remember those days back in elementary school, when they picked teams for kickball? It felt so good to be chosen by the captain to play for their team!

That is exactly what God has done for you. He chose you to play for His team. He chose you to bear fruit that would last. That is what this verse proclaims!

It takes away the ifs and buts of DMMs for me. Its not about if I am smart enough, capable enough, outgoing enough, persevering enough, or anything else (fill in the blank) enough! All we need to know is that we are His chosen ones. Since He chose us; He will coach us, train us, guide us, empower us, anoint us, and use us to bear much fruit in His Kingdom.