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.
Both Being and Doing
Jesus called us to both be and do, not one or the other. We are to be a community of faith, to love one another and worship Christ. We are also called to share His message with the world – to multiply His Kingdom influence. This happens both through evangelism and social action. The movements we begin need to embrace a whole-hearted vision for reaching the lost. We also must continue to give ourselves to the transformation of individuals, families, and communities.
The movements we begin need to embrace a whole-hearted vision for reaching the lost. We also must continue to give ourselves to the transformation of individuals, families, and communities.
Last week’s blog focused on the life of the church and how to build strong community within your house church.
This week we will discuss the external focus; how to keep it strong, front and center, in a house church movement.
It Starts With Vision
Determine from the beginning to launch a mission-minded Disciple Making Movement (DMM). If your vision is only for one area or people group, that will be the DNA of the movement.
Is it part of your dream to see not only this group or area reached, but to see them catch a vision to send people to other groups and regions of the world one day? Discipleship must include not only local, but global missions from the very start.
A Near Culture Missionary Joins Us
It was a dream come true. The movement we started in Nepal was sending out missionaries. They weren’t going far, only to neighboring India, but it was happening! Perhaps one day they would support missionaries to go even further abroad.
My husband and I had moved to India and begun to work to reach a new people group there. We continued to travel to and from Nepal from time to time, but we now had a new focus. There were thousands of unreached people groups in this nation. Millions in our state that waited to hear the gospel.
As God gave us further direction, we began to build a team to pioneer in this new location.
On a visit back to Nepal, the movement leader we’d raised up, asked if we would consider mentoring a young woman from their church. He wanted to send her as a missionary to India. Could she come and work with us?
After meeting her briefly, we prayed and said a happy “Yes!” A few months later she came to work with us. What a joy it was! She was an amazing young woman to mentor and quickly grew into an effective cross-cultural missionary there in India. A great help to us in our work, we were so grateful for a near culture partner to work with us.
We were thankful. The movement we had started kept the missionary vision we had planted from the beginning.
“Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”Mark 16:20 NIV.
4 Ways to Develop Missional DNA in Your Movement
1) Train everyone to pray for unreached peoples.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to make sure your movement has a missional DNA is to pray for other unreached people groups.
I recommend the use of the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World and the 15 Days of Prayer for Hindu Guides as ways to begin. Many other options are available. Encourage all believers and every group to join these seasons of prayer and fasting for those who are waiting to hear the good news. As disciple-makers pray, God will call and send. They will catch a heart and vision to give and welcome.
The 15 days of Prayer for the Hindu World Guide is now available. It will take place October 20th-November 3rd. Why not order your copy today?
2) Give to missionary efforts outside your own target area
As your house churches begin to take regular offerings, set aside some of that money for cross-cultural missionary efforts. These should be OUTSIDE your own people group and immediate area. Is there a cross-cultural missionary you could join together to support? Four or five house churches could join together to give a monthly amount. They could support someone who is working among the unreached.
Even if it is a small amount, do this from the very beginning. It will then become “normal” in the movement.
In some countries like India, churches practice something called a handful of rice giving. Every time they cook rice, they set aside one handful for missionaries.
3) Include cross-cultural missions content in your discipleship
As you train on the Great Commission, be sure to highlight other people groups. If you are primarily working among Buddhists, for example, educate them about the needs of nearby Muslim nations.
Many times, there are cultural biases against certain people groups or religious blocks. As you talk about stories like the Good Samaritan, address these issues. Be intentional about helping new believers develop a God’s missional heart for all peoples.
4) Equip believers to minister cross-culturally
Training every believer to share their testimony, the story of Jesus, and become effective in evangelism is vital in a DMM. It is usually best to help them gain confidence in sharing with those of their own culture and worldview. As the disciple makers grow, introduce them to strategies for sharing with people around them of other cultures as well.
A country like Kenya has a large Muslim community. Train disciples to adapt their gospel presentation in a way that will create bridges not barriers when sharing with Muslims. Pray about starting a new movement out of yours that will especially be for Muslim background believers.
Dream Even Bigger
It may seem like a huge dream to think of seeing hundreds of house churches started in your area. If you are just getting started, this can feel almost impossible.
Thank God He delights in doing things that are impossible! Pray for God to give you a DMM with a strong missional vision. Out of your movement many other movements will begin in other regions and among other people groups.
Those who grow up in Christ within a movement already have a strong multiplication model to follow. Give them a bit of cross-cultural training and they will transform nations!