Nine years ago, we had 100 teams and about 9000 believers in the churches those teams had started. We had many workers but were not seeing disciple-making movements.
We had taught and prayed for years and years about multiplication, disciple-making, and church planting movements. We had never really experienced one. Only a few teams had second-generation growth and none of them had gone beyond the 3rd generation.
Disciple-Making Movement: Dream or Disappointment?
Believe me, when I say I’ve experienced deep disillusionment in this whole process of pursuing a rapidly growing disciple-making movement among the unreached! There were many times where I thought it was impossible and that DMMs were something others would see but not us.
Today, we have about 140 teams. In 114 places those teams have seen at least one 4th generation fellowship! Total believers are now around 33,000 and rising rapidly.
What changed? How did we move from disillusionment with disciple-making movements as an idea (often a much taught, but failed idea) to DMMs as a growing reality in our work?
First, we had to get desperate. Then, we made significant changes.
I was reading my Bible one day. I read the passage in Matthew 23 where Jesus talks about hypocrisy. One verse shot off the page as I read.
“So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matt. 23:3)
Jesus is defining hypocrisy here.
“Am I a hypocrite?” I asked myself. “Do I teach and train about rapidly multiplying movements of Jesus followers but not practice it, not experience it? Am I all talk and no reality?”
“Oh, God!” I cried out. “What has to change inside of me? What has to change in my organization? We simply can’t keep going this way…talking, and talking, and talking, about multiplication but not experiencing it!”
4 Change Factors That Helped Us See Disciple Making Movements Happen
1) The change started with me
Bottom line, as the leader, I had to be willing to model growth. I had to stop saying, “I’m not a good evangelist.” I had to model a lifestyle that showed I believed the harvest was ripe around me. I had to stop being an “expert” who didn’t personally make disciples myself. I had to change my priorities to make room in my schedule to personally start a Discovery Bible Study/T4T group.
2 ) Let go of old systems that weren’t working anymore
We were willing to re-evaluate everything, and I mean EVERYTHING we did in disciple making. If it wasn’t bearing fruit, we asked God if we should drop it or how to change it. This made a lot of people angry with us. We had to be willing to give up systems and things we had emphasized before. This made space for the new things God was releasing.
3) Examine our Disciple Making Movement Beliefs (not the ones on paper, but those our practical behavior revealed)
We went through a process (with a group of other leaders) of looking carefully at our beliefs and assumptions about disciple making movements and church planting. We then intentionally embraced “New Beliefs” based on God’s Word. We shared these with our teams and grassroots workers, helping them to understand and own these new beliefs. This is a lengthy but critical process and it is still ongoing.
4) Start tracking different Disciple Making Movement factors
Another change we made, was what we tracked and reported. We wanted to see multiplying generations of disciples. We wanted to see at least 4 new generations of discipleship groups within several years. We started asking those questions on our annual team reports. Together with this, we added making generation charts in our training. It made a major difference.
If you have read this far, you must be a little bit like I was…wanting to see a DMM, but not yet seeing what you are longing for. This is really hard. It can be so disappointing and so frustrating!
It doesn’t have to stay that way. God wants to see DMMs released through your organization, in your city, village, and among the people, you work with.
Look back through the 4 points above. Choose one or two that stood out to you.
How will you apply that change factor to your current situation?
Spend a moment and talk to God about it. Commit to Him what He is putting in your heart. Then tell one other person about your commitment to change before today is over.
Change starts today. Change starts with you. Movements of disciples wait to be released through you and your team or organization.