Missions

Motivation #2: When God’s Heart for the Lost Grips Yours

God's heart

The mountain was high, the trail steep. I’d started out enthusiastic. Now each step felt hard. Up, up, up, I went. What would keep me going until I reached the top? Starting a Disciple Making Movement can be a bit like that hike. We start well, our passion high. A few months (or years) later, it’s an uphill climb. We need solid motivations clear in our hearts. They will carry us upward toward the release of a DMM.

As mentioned in previous blogs, some motivations will sustain you on the DMM journey. Others will not. In my last article, we talked about the number one reason for wanting to start DMMs all over the world. A passion for God’s glory will keep you through the messy, dry or painful seasons of launching DMMs.

Motivation #2

The second most important motivation is a deep God-given love for lost people.

This deep, heartfelt compassion for the lost, is placed there by God. It comes into our hearts as we spend time with Him. It rubs off on us. The more we draw close, the more His love fills us. This sacrificial love will keep you motivated. It will compel you to pursue a DMM and keep you going until you see the radical multiplication you dream of. read more

Do you Assume They Are Closed to the Gospel?

closed to the gospel

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.

Why should we overcome our own fears and inhibitions, give up our precious time? If they won’t listen anyhow?

It may be true that some do not show interest or even resist your message. That doesn’t mean everyone will feel that way. In fact, sometimes those who reject you are actually hearing more than you realize. Evangelism and faith must work together.

Start From a Position of Faith

We can assume that God is working in people’s lives around us. As we share the gospel, we begin from a place of faith, believing that He is already at work in this person’s life. He loves them. He created them. He has been preparing them to hear what we have to say. read more

4 Important Ways to Develop a Strong Missional Movement

missional

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.”[1] 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. read more

5 Principles for Offerings in House Churches

offerings

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)

Address Money Issues in Discipleship

Whether you work with rich or poor, you will need to address the use of money in your discipleship process. The Bible has much to say about money. It comes up naturally as we study God’s Word. Train disciples to be free of the love of money, and generous in giving.

In previous blogs, I’ve written about the importance of taking offerings as you move a Bible study group toward becoming a church. What do you do with the offerings? Who should be in charge of what is given and how it is used? read more

Deliverance Ministry and Disciple-Making

deliverance

We looked down the path and saw him there. A young man lying on the ground, thrashing back and forth. His body out of control with some kind of seizure. Was it epilepsy? A demonic manifestation? What was going on? What should we do? Casting out evil spirits was something Jesus instructed His followers to do. Was that what was needed here?

In this case it was. Laying our hands on him gently, we commanded the demon to leave. As we prayed in Jesus’ name, he calmed. His eyes focused and he looked up at us. We shared with him and his relatives that Jesus Christ had set him free and invited Him to learn more.

Many times it’s not quite so obvious or easy.

As disciple-makers focused on unreached peoples, we must embrace deliverance ministry. It is a normal part of a disciple-makers life. In the gospels, we see that Jesus’ followers regularly practiced this ministry. In Luke chapter nine, when Jesus sent out the twelve, he gave them authority to drive out demons and heal the sick. These two things often go together. read more

How to Release a Spirit of Generosity in Your House Church

money

We moved around the room silently. One person was given a watch. Graciously receiving it, he silently prayed. Should he keep it or pass it on to someone else? Another person turned to his neighbor, he gave him a newly purchased jacket. The power of generosity was being released in the room as we did a giving exercise.

Generosity breaks the curse of poverty over our lives. It’s also a sign of revival. We help new disciples be free from constant physical need by training them to give to others.

In the early church an unusual spirit of giving was evident. Though many of the early believers were not wealthy, they gave both to the church (via the apostles) and to one another in what can only be described as extreme generosity.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Acts 2:44-45

What Does This Mean for Disciplemaking Movements?

As groups of disciples form they must be trained to practice regular giving. Not only is it a command of Jesus, but it is key in developing unity, love, and selflessness in a disciple’s life. read more

4 Things You Need to Study…If You Want to Multiply

culture

“If I become a Christian, do I have to wear white when I get married?” That was question number one. It was followed by another pointed question. “Do you eat beef?” My Hindu friends were interested in Jesus. When I shared my testimony with them, they were touched by His love and kindness. But cultural issues like these were at the forefront of their minds. They could not consider Jesus’ invitation to follow Him until they answered these questions. I needed to understand the bridges and the barriers in their culture if I was going to effectively share Christ with them.

If you are attempting to launch a Disciple Making Movement among the least, last, and lost, it is likely you will be reaching across cultures.

This is true whether you are working in the USA, Europe, Africa, Asia or anywhere really. Taking time to understand the religion, culture, and worldview of those you are sharing Christ with must be a part of your plan. Evangelism and discipleship efforts without cultural adaptation are less likely to bear fruit. They almost never end up being reproducible. read more

When Spiritual Warfare Threatens Your Disciple-Making Efforts

spiritual warfare

One after another the problems came. It was an unending stream of difficulties. Moral failure in a team member. Sickness and near death in a key leader we were mentoring. Unusual conflicts between spouses and children. It was soon clear. This was not just normal life, we were facing an all-out spiritual attack.

This is the final article in this series on obstacles to Disciple Making Movements. See the full list of barriers I’ve addressed in the blog.

As we contend for the release of a movement, we must learn to discern when we are facing spiritual blockades. They are put there by the enemy to discourage, causing us to pull back in defeat.

Spiritual warfare can be a major movement killer. Sometimes we face it and are unaware. We respond in the flesh instead of by using the appropriate weapons in our spiritual arsenal.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Recognition of the spiritual battle we face is the beginning point. Winning this war means taking an intentional stance. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. It is foolhardiness. We face a very real spiritual enemy when we attempt to launch a rapidly multiplying Disciple Making Movement (DMM). This is especially true when it is in an unreached place or among an unreached people group.

We can not ignore this factor if we want to be successful in our endeavor. Instead, we must take actions to be on our guard. Through discernment, steadfast prayer, and wearing our spiritual armor, we fight. We do battle against forces of darkness in order to gain ground for the Kingdom of God.

Demons At My Gate

Some years ago, we were doing abundant seed sowing with a certain people group. We invited Create International to help us make a contextual film in the local language. This mega people group had almost no media resources in their own tongue. This was hard to believe when their population was well over 80 million people! We enjoyed making the film and finally, the day came for it to be introduced to those in our city.

Below is an excerpt from my soon to be released book, God Encounters in the Wild Places.

“About a week before the showing, I began to get threatening calls. A local pastor had gone to one of the church matriarchs of our city. He had convinced her that she must stop me from airing this film. She came to visit and I listened to her. I tried to show honor and respect, but I knew deep inside that we had not done anything that wasn’t Biblical.

In fact, we had followed the leading of the Lord and made decisions as a group each step of the way. Our goal was not to please the local Christian community with our film. Instead, our desire was to make something that would touch the hearts of unreached people. We wanted to give them a chance to hear the gospel message in a way that they could easily understand.

On the morning of the first showing of the film, I was having my quiet time. It was early. The bell for our compound rang. A group of men was at my gate. I dressed and went out to meet them.

As I walked toward the gate, I felt the Presence of Jesus strongly within me. I sensed Him warning me not to welcome them inside.

Opening the gate, I stepped out. Before me stood a group of about 4 or 5 pastors. One of them was the man who had been causing all sorts of trouble for us.

Discernment took over. I immediately understood somehow that several of these men were being influenced by the demonic.

I could not see the demon with physical eyes. But with my spiritual eyes, I “saw” a tall dark presence standing behind two of the men. It is a bit hard to explain. I turned though and spoke only to one of the pastors on the far right. He didn’t seem to be influenced as much by the dark presence.

“You can not show this film!” they demanded.

Crying out to God silently, I asked Him what to do. Clear direction came through a still small voice within me, “Don’t negotiate with demons.”

I was not to engage or discuss anything with them. I was to honor the men, but stand firm and strong against the demonic realm. The enemy wanted to hinder the showing of this gospel movie.

Thanking them for coming, I listened a bit. Then I politely disengaged. “We will pray and do what God tells us to do,” I quietly stated.

As I walked back into my house that day, I thought about the verse in Ephesians.”

“Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:12 NIV

God had made it so very clear to me! These pastors were not the ones who were trying to stop the spread of the gospel. This film was a key tool God wanted to use. The enemy clearly wanted to stop it!

Don’t Be Confused

The spiritual warfare we face is not always as clear as it was for me that day. Often it is under the surface. It is rare that you actually see (even with your spiritual eyes) the demonic forces you are up against. But as you ask God to release discernment, you can begin to recognize spiritual attack for what it is.

Don’t be confused by the fact that spiritual warfare is often mixed in with other factors read more

A Relentless Commitment to Focus on the Most Important Activities

focus

As a kid, I enjoyed going to the circus. I especially liked watching the jugglers. How did they keep all those balls in the air? When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought me a set of bean bags to practice juggling with. It was fun to try to keep a few of them up in the air at the same time.

The challenge excited me, but often they would all fall to the ground. Our lives as disciple-makers and trainers can feel a bit like we are juggling.

We become very skilled at doing it all. One more meeting. Just one more thing that someone has asked us to help them with. Another ball in the air.

Sadly, these balls can come crashing down in a mess. The goals we hoped to accomplish don’t get done and the passion to see a movement launched dwindles. We face discouragement at our lack of progress.

Obstacles To Starting A Movement

The last six weeks I’ve written about major obstacles to releasing a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). Click here to see the full list. Today’s blog is about one of the biggest obstacles. The inability to focus time and energy on the most important DMM activities is a movement killer.

These most important DMM activities are:
-prayer,
-abundant seed sowing/evangelism,
-finding the person of peace,
-training believers,
-developing and mentoring leaders.

Not Everything Is Equal

Not everything that dances around trying to get our attention has the same eternal value. Some things we do have much greater importance to God.

When I stand before Him do I expect God to ask me about how many meetings I attended for my organization? Or about how many emails I wrote? No. He is going to ask me how faithful I was with what He had specifically given me to do.

These are the things that must carry greater importance for us. read more

Platform Demands Competing with the Movement’s Growth?

missionary platforms

Missionary platforms– a necessary evil, or a tool for launching a Disciple Making Movement (DMM)? Good question!

There is a lot of talk in missions circles today about Business as Mission (BAM). Can BAM and DMMs go together? Are they a good fit? Another good question.

Ignoring Platform Issues- Not An Option

We sent a team to a new area. It was a national team, though they would be focusing on another people group. They quickly faced the issue of platform.

“What do I tell people when they ask me, ‘Why are you here?’” they asked in a coaching call.

Even when you don’t need a visa to live in a country, these issues come up. We need to be able to explain why we live somewhere and what we do. Otherwise, we create barriers of mistrust. We call this way of explaining who we are and what we do our platform. Finding the right one is a real challenge.

“Finding the right one is a real challenge.”

As followers of Jesus, we must walk in integrity and honesty. We don’t want to say we are doing something we are not.

Yet, it is a genuine reality in many locations, that we can not just come out and say, “I am here to share about Jesus with you and your people.” Or can we?

In many cases, directly calling yourself a missionary is not a good idea. But not all platforms are equal. Many do not fit well with the goal of a DMM. They can become a significant obstacle to seeing the DMM launched.

Those who want to launch a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) must carefully examine this issue. They need to evaluate their platforms in light of the results they desire. Otherwise, your platform could easily become a major obstacle to the release of a movement.

The Unending Language Learner

When we tell people back in America how many languages we speak, they are pretty impressed! In Asia, it is no big deal. We certainly wouldn’t have learned quite so many if it wasn’t for needing a platform.

In one country where we lived, my husband took every class at the University in every language they offered! It gave us a visa though and only required 2 hours per day of class time.

“Each one must examine his own work…” Gal. 6:4

Examine Your Platform

How do you go about examining and evaluating your platform?

First, make sure your church planting goal is clear. Is your goal to do some church planting on the side, or to start a DMM? Many platforms can work if it is the former. But if it is the later, you will need to ask yourself some hard questions.

1) Evaluate the time, energy and money it takes.

How much time, money and energy does your business or development platform “cost” you? Is it worth that investment for the amount of Kingdom fruit you are getting out?

Time+Money+Energy

vs.

Disciples Made & Churches Started

One successful DMM trainer I interviewed said this. “Once I saw the amount of time I was putting into the businesses in comparison to the fruit, I stopped doing them. It was hard because I enjoyed doing business! I needed to be freed to do the main things. Things like seed sowing, finding the person of peace, training disciples, and raising leaders.”

He went on to say, “Very, very few people can get the balance of business and missions right.”

I have to agree with him. There are some who do. But there are many examples that have not worked out well. The business or development project has hindered rather than furthered the DMM goal.

2) Evaluate synergy.

Look for a platform that has synergy with your DMM goal. What that means is: by doing that platform, you also further your ministry.

One example of a platform with synergy is having a small tailoring shop. Through this, you can build many connections in the community. Another example is selling a product door to door like coconut oil for hair, or cloth from the city, etc.

Does your missionary platform help you build meaningful relationships where you can share the gospel?

3) Regularly submit your platform to God and be willing to change.

Don’t assume that what God spoke to you 5 years ago is still His way for you today.

In his excellent book, Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud mentions the principle of “Sunk Cost.” The more you have invested in something emotionally the harder it is to let it go.

This can be true of our platforms. We work so hard to develop them. Even if they are not giving us the opportunity to do what we want and aren’t giving us the fruit we desire, we struggle to change. It is because of our “sunk cost.” You’ve already sunk a lot into this!

Many missionaries invest huge amounts of time and money in their platform development. One missionary I talked to said he thought he had invested almost $100,000 over the years in his platform business and projects. That is a lot of money!

Could the level of investment (whether time or money) you’ve made be hindering you from an honest assessment of it?

4) Consider “out of the box” or unusual options

A coach can help you explore options. It is easy to get stuck and feel like you have no other choice. That is usually not true.

Take time to consider options you had already ruled out as impossible or impractical. Are you limiting your options because of money, lack of faith or lack of skill?

Talk to people in similar situations but other contexts. What creative ways have they found to share the gospel while still having a good answer for their community (and the government)?

What Options Do You Recommend?

I would love to hear your recommended options for missionary platforms. Comment below, in the Facebook group, or write to me.

As we discuss this on FB this week, I will throw in my top 3 platform recommendations and 3 platforms I suggest you stay away from!