They didn’t like being asked to count the number of believers and report on progress in a numeric way. Why do we measure these things anyhow? It was important to explain the why behind the questions.
There is a big difference between the way rabbits and elephants reproduce! We know this. It is often referred to when explaining what a Disciple Making Movement is. Movements multiply rapidly. They grow and reproduce organically. Getting your disciples to take off and multiply like rabbits can be easier said than done.
To see rapid, rabbit-style reproduction of disciple makers, you must depend heavily on the Holy Spirit. Many of us lean too much on our own skills and experience as we train disciples. The Holy Spirit lives within even the newest of believers.
He is able to help them as they step out in obedience and faith. Another key is intentionally using simple patterns that can quickly be learned by everyone you train.
Rapid reproduction in a movement looks messy, but without it your movement won’t ever begin to see organic growth.
Trusting the Holy Spirit
“Do you trust me?” the Holy Spirit’s still small voice seemed rather loud in my ear. I was arguing with Him. Yes, sometimes I do that. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s okay. We are friends.
Crisis brings out the best and worst within us. Some personalities love a challenge. Adversity inspires them. Climbing Mount Everest, participating in a Triathalon, winning an Olympic medal…these people amaze me! Not everyone has an extreme adventure personality. Some of us freeze when there is a crisis. We have no idea what to do. Others are pessimistic by nature. When a major problem hits, they see all the possibilities of what could go wrong.
In the midst of the COVID-19 global crisis, what kind of person will you be?
While much of our natural response to a crisis is driven by our personality or background, we have a choice to make as well. Will we respond in faith? Will we look to God and seek Him for the opportunities these difficulties afford us? Or will we freeze, paralyzed, and pessimistic?
Hope is contagious. Faith is too. The world is looking for those who are full of hope, who are confident in this crisis. They will notice those who are compassionate and responsive to the needs around them.
The movement is beginning to multiply. You have second and third-generation groups beginning. You sense that the leaders of the groups need more input. What is the best way to train leaders in a movement?
As we look at this issue we first look to Jesus. How did He train leaders for His movement? We can also draw best practices from growing movements happening today.
Birthing a Movement
When I first began to learn about church multiplication, I attended a two-day seminar with George Patterson. George was one of the “fathers” of movement thinking. I learned so much from him in those two short days!
One of the things that George spoke to us about was that our role needed to be that of a mid-wife. The churches being born were not ours. They had to be the responsibility of the local people in the groups or churches. In order for that to happen, we had to be careful not to take away the baby church and try to raise it ourselves! That was their role.
As many new parents are young and experienced, so these young believers would need help in how to care for and lead the new groups/churches. If we got too involved, they would not bond with the others in the group. They wouldn’t take the necessary responsibility to care for, grow, and multiply those groups.
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)?
We must change. If we do not, we will block the work of God’s Spirit in and through us. The dreams we say we have, for thousands of people to come to know our Savior, will not become a reality.
Two Kinds of Leaders
As I coach and train around the world, I observe two kinds of leaders. Those who release and give away power, and those who are territorial and controlling. The ones who multiply, are those who’ve learned the joy of releasing others.
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).
After a difficult transition, our team started to see significant fruit. It was far beyond what we had imagined!
This experience challenged my idea of what the church is and how to do church planting. I started my personal quest to find out for myself what Jesus modeled and what His Apostles continued.
“I don’t feel qualified to train others in DMM,” she said to me. “I haven’t started a movement yet.” Her face was downcast and sad. This active, field practitioner felt unworthy to speak to others about Disciple Making Movements. They hadn’t yet seen multiplication as they hoped. Who is qualified to train others?
The reverse is also common. “This is the way you should do it,” he declared. His speech was dogmatic. “Without this (fill in the blank) you’re wasting your time.” When asked about the fruit of his ministry, it became clear. This person was a theorist, not a practitioner. I find it hard to listen to people who teach but don’t do.
DMM trainers need to speak from real experience. Our worthiness to speak on this topic does not come from our fruitfulness in the field alone, however. DMM principles are worth teaching because they are biblical. The worthiness comes from the content, not from your fruit. Yet, our commitment must be to stay personally engaged with disciple-making ourselves. This needs to happen before, and as, we train others.
They introduced me to the crowd. Camera’s flashed as I walked up to the stage to speak. “We now welcome ‘Rev. Dr. C. Anderson!,’” the MC announced with enthusiasm. The crowd’s applause was loud and vibrant. I didn’t know what to think. I was an ordained minister, so the Rev. title fit. I definitely didn’t have a doctorate degree yet. To honor me, they’d given me an extra title. With the goal in my heart of launching Disciple Making Movements, would the title help? Or, could it prevent me from training people to be disciple makers?
In my flesh, it felt good to have all those people cheering for me. Something inside didn’t feel right about it though.
In that situation, I didn’t have control over what had happened. Never had I told them that was my title, or asked for it to be used. What I could do though, was be humble and honest enough to correct the record with the MC. I could tell him how I’d like to be introduced in the coming sessions.
Culture Issues and Titles
In many parts of the world, titles are important. They are used to designate who you are. They are used to show respect.
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.“C. Anderson
I Was on Your List!
I sat with him while we ate a plate of rice and curry. It’d been a few years since we had the opportunity to meet face to face. My heart was glad. It was good to be sitting with him and sharing a meal together after so long.
We talked about his family and the various health struggles he’d faced lately. He shared about a loss he’d experienced. My brother was grieving deeply.
I sat and listened, reflecting back, asking a question or two.
My heart and mind were fully engaged. I deeply love this brother and his family. For some years, I regularly visited his area, coached him every few weeks, and prayed daily for his family and ministry.
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.
As the movement grows, we naturally want to develop structures. We begin programs to serve youth, women, to provide leadership development, etc. Before you know it’s happened, you find the movement is devoting ninety percent of their effort internally. They drift away from a missional focus on the lost. This can easily stagnate or even kill a movement.