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Have you ever heard an advertisement jingle on the radio, then found yourself singing it later? Catchy tunes get stuck in our heads. Advertisers know the power of repetition and simplicity. As we work to motivate disciples to become disciple-makers, we must use the power of repetition to influence them toward action.
Jesus knew the power of repetition. He repeated important concepts again and again. Take Luke 15 for example. He tells not one, not two, but three parables about the importance of reaching the lost. He was casting vision to His disciples, wanting them to engage in the things that mattered most to Him. As disciple-makers and trainers, we must do the same. read more
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
I went to the gate cringing inside. read more
We never want to come under a spirit of controversy. But, Solomon said in Proverbs 15:31, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” NLT. Sometimes we ignore critics and sometimes we consider what they say. It is good to know how to filter criticism. We should not be confused by it. We must learn how to weigh it with grace before the Lord.
One of the major criticisms of Disciple Making Movements is that its discipleship is weak and ineffective. read more
While it is tempting to try to guess who will be worth investing in, we are often wrong in our guesses. The best way to discover who to invest in is to first train a larger group of people. Give them assignments to apply the training. Then, watch to see who does what they were trained to do. Those who actually take steps to begin working are the ones worth investing in. These are the people who will most likely be the most fruitful.
I was invited to speak in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) for Youth With A Mission (YWAM). There were about 15 students. I was teaching for a week on the Biblical Foundation for Missions. My goal was to present the need of reaching the unreached. I would then call people to get involved in church planting efforts.
Some of the students looked like they would be wonderful church planters. They were attentive to my training. They spoke up in discussions. Good questions were asked and they seemed to understand the concepts.
Others, well, they seemed pretty “villagy.” I wasn’t sure they were understanding well, even
though the translator did a good job. Sometimes they stared off into space blankly.
This was especially true of one older man named *Jeremiah. He didn’t seem very “with it” and he wasn’t very educated. I would never have chosen him as the person in the class who would produce the most fruit. But he did! Jeremiah applied everything I taught. God spoke to him during that week about an unreached nomadic group of honey hunters. He quickly made plans to go live among them.
Later, through this uneducated man, whole villages came to Christ! The others who had looked so bright? Most of them ended up doing ministry things of some kind. But they didn’t lead very many unreached people to Christ. Who would have known Jeremiah would be the one worth investing in? Certainly not me!
Ying Kai of T4T says it so well, “Train everyone, not some.” Jesus taught this principle in the parable about the net.
We could say that this parable refers to evangelism efforts. Jesus, however, never really separated evangelism and discipleship the way we do. His goal was to call people to follow Him. He wanted to make disciples who would obey His command and would multiply His Kingdom. So the principle definitely applies both to evangelism and discipleship.
Often we are tempted to “pre-filter” those we will train as disciple makers. Consciously or unconsciously, we pre-determine who has potential. Our rationale behind this is that we don’t want to waste our time on the wrong people. We have limited time, energy and finances to use. But, so often, the people we think will be faithful and fruitful are not the ones who actually are! I can’t emphasize this enough.
It isn’t the person who is the most charismatic, extroverted and educated. Neither is it the smart, responsive, well dressed, organized or passionate that end up being most fruitful. It is the person who is the most willing to obey and put into practice what they learn.
Many Good Hearted People Don’t Have Time read more
The costs are real and the challenges great. How do we keep from being destroyed by the incredible cost of this effort?
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.
There are two main things that make the cost worth it. One is that in the midst of the pain we encounter, we know God more. Secondly, we have the joy of knowing our sacrifice will not be wasted. Lost people will be found by our Almighty God. The unreached will know the power of His radical, unconditional love. Whether today, tomorrow or years from now, the seeds sown by our tears and pain will bear much fruit.
It seemed like every time we had a forward advance in our work, I got sick. A divine appointment with a potential national apostle happened. I got hepatitis. We launched a new type of training for church planters, my back went out. We hosted a large missions conference calling thousands into ministry among the unreached. With it came unusual challenges in our marriage. It seemed we were at odds with one another for little reason.
Other times, it was the challenge of getting visas to remain in the country. This took a toll on our sense of well being and emotional health. There was also the loss of death. At key moments of forward movement in ministry, tragedy seemed to strike. A co-worker was killed in a sudden accident. This happened just a week after we had prayed for special covering and protection over all our staff.
“What was I to do with this continual loss and suffering? How would I keep it from destroying me? Was it just part of what was necessary to see breakthroughs and movements released?”
Questions swirled in my mind when we faced these difficult challenges.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8: 17- NIV
Dan Allender writes in his book Cry of the Soul,
“Suffering may be caused by the hand of an enemy, but God uses sorrow for the sake of redemption.” read more
Evangelism starts with love. Allow God to continually fill you with His heart for lost people. If we are doing evangelism out of a sense of duty, obligation, or an “I should”, we will not be effective. Nor will our efforts bring pleasure to God. He wants us to have His heart. Is this still your primary motivation for sharing His story? God’s aching heart for the lost?
Our tendency toward performance orientation can affect us. We may develop an underlying sense that we must do evangelism to win (or keep) God’s love. It is a lie. But it can still impact us. Instead of sharing good news from a heart of love, we start to share it out of duty. We begin to do it because we should. We need to return again and again to our loving Father. Let Him fill us once more with His heart, with His love- for us and for others.
It is helpful as we train people to have them learn a method of evangelism. We teach them how to share their testimony and the Jesus story. It builds confidence and competency. This is important. But in training, always start with the trainee’s heart. Evangelism starts there. People sense whether you love them. They know if you are sharing the gospel to “convert” them, or because you genuinely care about them.
My “go to” chapter when love for the lost is getting a bit cool is Luke 15. There are three stories in a row about God’s heart for the lost; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Take a few minutes to read and meditate on this chapter sometime this week.
Are we “gongs and cymbals”?
Sign 1- If I love the lost, I sincerely and specifically pray for lost people. read more
I remember when my husband and I took our first ministry position. We were straight out of Bible college and full of ideas. We had a great passion to change the world. It only took a few months, however, before we hit major obstacles and massive challenges. We soon realized we were in far over our heads!
In his book, “Leading with a Limp,” Dan Allender writes,
“The leader who doesn’t feel pressed to the wall often is not involved in a work that is advancing sufficiently against the forces of darkness. But the burned-out leader has allowed the intensity and exhaustion of his calling to take away the pleasure of hope.” read more
Failure to focus is serious. The eternal destiny of thousands of unreached people is at stake. Their future depends on our actions and decisions. Can we keep from being pulled in a million different directions? If not, they may never hear the gospel and believe. Thankfully, there are simple keys to keeping our concentration on DMM goals.
Do you ever go through the day and think, “How did it get to be 3 pm?” You glance at your watch and say, “I haven’t done anything I planned to do today!” That happened to me a few days ago. I had decided I would write for an hour, exercise, go visit my neighbor to share a testimony, and study language. At 3 pm, I hadn’t done any of those things! Instead, I’d read emails, followed some social media feeds, chatted with my husband about an upcoming trip and watched a video link or two. Oh yeah. I also made coffee and suddenly cleaned out the refrigerator which I’d noticed was dirty.
It is so easy to get off track and forget about what is important! Steven Covey describes this in his book “First Things First”. We easily do “the urgent” and fail to do “the important.” Or, we end up doing what is easiest, rather than things that take a more determined effort.
As humans, we follow patterns and typical behaviors. Most of us are in the habit of letting ourselves be easily distracted from our most important goals. We quickly postpone work on our real vision- starting a Disciple Making Movement! To change habits and become more focused, clearly determine what is most important to you. When distractions come your way, you have already made decisions. You know how you will handle those things.
Ask yourself these questions:
1) What are my 3 most important Disciple Making Movement (DMM) related goals?
2) What activities will significantly help me get those things done?
3) What activities prevent me from having time to work on those goals?
Here is an example to make it more clear.
John’s 3 most important DMM related goals are:
A. Abundant seed sowing- 5000 gospel presentations this year.
B. Start 4 new 2nd generation churches.
C. Train 30 people in the first six T4T Lessons until they can train others.
Activities that will help him make progress are:
– Training local believers to share their testimony and the Jesus story. Several 2-day trainings are planned already.
– Running a weekly training for the blue and green people from the 1st generation churches.
– Visiting these faithful and fruitful people for one on one discipleship at least weekly.
Some activities that might prevent John from doing those things:
– Serving on an organization’s board that doesn’t have to do with his DMM goals.
– Preaching on topics not related to DMMs, even though he will get a good honorarium for doing that.
– Wasting time on Facebook and other social media when he could be visiting the leaders he is developing.
Make sense as this relates to John?
Now think about those 3 questions for yourself.
1) What are my 3 most important DMM related goals?
2) What activities will significantly help me get these things done?
3) What activities prevent me from having time to work on these goals?
Write down your answers.
Take a few minutes to think through specific examples or scenarios. Think about the times when you will have to make choices to stay focused on your most important goals.
Using John’s example, he might think about this scenario.
John’s best friend Peter is the president of a Christian organization. It does wonderful mercy ministry in his area. They have been friends for a long time. Peter requests John to serve on his organization’s board of elders. It is an honor to be asked to do this. It will also mean an all-expense paid trip to Singapore each year. That is a place John has always wanted to visit. What will he do?
By thinking about these kinds of scenarios ahead of time, John can see that he would need to say “no” to this. It is a kind offer and a good ministry. If he says,“yes”, though, he will not have time to train the local believers and disciple his blue and green people. “If I am offered those kinds of opportunities this year, I will say ‘no’. I want to stay focused so I can accomplish my most important goals. I want to see a DMM take off in my region!” he thinks.
Once you have done the above, take the next step. Schedule a time to regularly evaluate yourself. Are you staying focused?
I do this through quarterly retreats. During that retreat, I review my goals and activities. I invite the Holy Spirit to refocus me on His priorities for my life. I make adjustments.
It is important to evaluate more frequently too. It can be done every Monday morning before you start your work week. Team meetings are another good weekly evaluation point you can use. Keep your top 3 goals in front of you. Check yourself often. Are these the 3 areas you are spending most of your time on? If not, make adjustments to your activities.
Only say “Yes” to opportunities that contribute toward your top 3 goals.
This is difficult! It is especially hard to say “no” to friends, family members and leaders we respect. Remember, when you say “Yes” to things not related to your goals, you are saying “No” to more important things. When you say “Yes” to helping someone plan a conference in your area, you are actually saying “No” to having time to share Christ with your neighbors. If the conference planning takes your time away from the new believers, you are in reality saying “No” to them.
Who does God want to say “Yes” to? Be courageous and say “No” often!
Staying focused is challenging, but it’s possible. The main thing is to change our regular behavior. As we develop new habits by saying “no” and regularly evaluating, we will make progress. Changing in this area is worth the effort. The unreached around you wait to hear the good news. Jesus died for their salvation. Your great calling is worth giving a focused effort to!