What is the number one enemy you will face as you pursue the release of a Disciple Making Movement among the unreached? One would imagine that it would be intense spiritual warfare, keeping a visa platform, persecution, or some other kind of external challenge. Those are real and they are there to be sure. In my opinion, however, the greatest obstacle for those pursuing the release of a movement, is the inability to stay focused on what is most important. The tendency to become distracted doing many good things without doing what is most important is typical of those who hope to see movements but don’t.
I’ve always wanted to be fruitful in God’s kingdom. I longed to make a true difference. Doubt often filled my heart. Would God really use me to start Disciple-Making Movements? Was I the right kind of person? Did I have it in me? I needed to know my disciple making identity.
I looked back on my years in missions and saw lots of evidence that maybe the answer was no. False starts. Failed attempts. Lost people I’d made friendships with but never managed to truly share the good news with, or not very effectively anyhow.
Was it unwise to even hope that God would want to start a movement of disciples through me? Maybe I was setting myself up for failure and further disappointment by embracing this goal.
If you can identify with this, you are not alone. Many of us who God calls to his kingdom work of seeing multiplication among the unreached feel that way at one time or another. (Or sometimes fairly regularly.) So what is our baseline? What do we go back to when deciding whether or not Disciple Making Movements- DMMs are for us? (Sometimes we have to decide and re-decide this fairly often).
In this post and the next few that follow, I’d like to give you my scriptural baseline. This is where the foundation for faith that God can use me to start DMMs comes from.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.– John 15:16 NIV
That is my bottom line. God chose and ordained me to bear lasting fruit. This is my disciple making identity.
Out of all the millions on this planet, He looked around and He saw me and said, “I want her on my team.” Remember those days back in elementary school, when they picked teams for kickball? It felt so good to be chosen by the captain to play for their team!
That is exactly what God has done for you. He chose you to play for His team. He chose you to bear fruit that would last. That is what this verse proclaims!
It takes away the ifs and buts of DMMs for me. Its not about if I am smart enough, capable enough, outgoing enough, persevering enough, or anything else (fill in the blank) enough! All we need to know is that we are His chosen ones. Since He chose us; He will coach us, train us, guide us, empower us, anoint us, and use us to bear much fruit in His Kingdom.
A Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) leader’s most important job is to intercede for those they lead. Leader’s who accomplish much, do so on their knees. It is in the place of prayer that we hear His voice, gain direction, strength, perspective, encouragement and where ultimately our real breakthroughs happen. Prayer in leadership is essential.
Prayer Can Not Be Delegated
The work on our knees can not be delegated to others. It is the responsibility of every Christian leader to pray themselves. We need to lead the way in prayer. That is not to say that we don’t also mobilize and raise up many others to intercede. We do. We must. There are others who may spend more actual hours in prayer than we do, or who may carry the work of intercession in very significant ways. As leaders, delegation is an important skill. This is one that you cannot delegate away though.
Similar to me, many people have bad experiences with coaches or teachers. These so-called mentors have been harsh, have scolded them or expected more than they were capable of. Even worse, some have shamed them when they failed. These negative experiences affect how we think about coaching. It doesn’t have to be like that. Coaching is a very fruitful and helpful practice in Disciple Making Movements (DMMs).
Having a good DMM coach makes a major difference. It can be a major factor in whether or not you see a movement get started and be sustained.
This Advent season, I’ve been reading again the incredible story of Jesus’ birth. There is so much to be amazed about, to ponder and think about in this story.
Today I asked myself the question: If I were the Messiah coming to earth, who would I first announce my arrival to?
I’d probably look for people of influence, good communicators, people who are believable and have credibility. I’d want to choose those who are well-educated and could clearly and eloquently articulate the message of my coming.
Jesus chose to announce His long-awaited, miraculous arrival to shepherds in a field. Let that sink in for a minute. Uneducated laborers. Common people who lived outside among sheep.
Why in the world would God choose them? Doesn’t He know they don’t understand things very quickly?!! (I’m kidding of course, though I have definitely experienced first hand how it can sometimes be hard to get less educated people to understand certain concepts and principles!)
Why not the Rabbis? Why not the High Priest? Why not the upstanding citizens of the big city of Jerusalem, or at least the scribes who could properly write it all down??
God chose to give the first announcement of His coming to Earth to very ordinary people. He then chose to spread that word, the testimony/witness of His birth, through them.
Luke 2:17-18 “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
If God chose to do this, maybe we should consider the key role that ordinary people play in sharing His message. Maybe we should trust and empower the less educated, the less articulate, the day laborers and field workers to do the work of the ministry. Maybe it isn’t God who thinks we need lots of qualifications to share His good news. Maybe it is us as humans who have put all these conditions on who is qualified to do the work of the Kingdom.
A major key to seeing a DMM (Disciple Making Movement) released is that we believe in and give genuine authority to ordinary believers to do the work of the ministry. God was willing to trust lay people without much training. Shouldn’t we?
In Luke 15, we find three very similar stories; the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. Each of these stories ends with a description of what happens in Heaven when even one person repents. Can you imagine the party in heaven if 50 people repented? What if it was a hundred? Or 500? That would be a pretty big angelic celebration! I can imagine Jesus joining right in the dance! Woohoo! My beloved ones have come home!
I’m thinking that what really makes a party a party for Him is when there are lots of new names written in the Book of Life He keeps.
This Christmas, what if instead of focusing on our having a great party on earth, we focused on what would give Him a fun party in Heaven? It is His birthday after all!
Many of our Christmas traditions, feasts, songs, dances and programs are geared to help Christians enjoy themselves. We might even invite people who aren’t yet believers and include a little message at the end, especially for them. This year I’ve been asking though, what could we do differently to see more lost people get introduced to Jesus- the One who the Big Celebration is all about. What if we did something different and the people we invite, not only met Him casually (prayed some kind of prayer of response) but what if they actually made a decision to repent, follow Him and become a disciple? What if what we did at Christmas actually resulted in new groups of disciples meeting together regularly to learn His ways and obey His commands?
I think that would make a pretty awesome Jesus present!
Seriously… as disciple makers, let’s re-evaluate what we have done in the past at Christmas. How fruitful was it, in light of the goal of making disciples who make disciples? What could we do differently this year to see a different result?
I’ve talked recently with a few people about this. Plans are being made to include more one on one sharing of testimonies. Plans are forming to prioritize follow-up immediately after the “program” on Christmas day, to immediately invite the seekers or new believers into groups where they can learn what it means to be a disciple. Church members are being challenged and trained to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection more this month than normal- believing for many new disciples to be made in December.
Jesus is going to have an incredible Christmas Birthday party! What gift will you bring Him this year?
This is not unusual to hear from the church planters I am coaching. What can we do to increase boldness and help the disciples we work with to overcome their fears?
3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism
1. Receiving the Holy Spirit
The classic biblical example is Peter in Acts Chapter 2. When Jesus was being tried, three times he denied even knowing Him. He certainly wasn’t witnessing at that point! But after he received the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he stood in front of thousands and boldly proclaimed the gospel with authority and conviction. If your church members aren’t witnessing, pray for them to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It will make a world of difference.
Many people lack confidence to witness. They are embarrassed when they stumble over their words or don’t know what to say, how to answer questions, etc. After teaching them how to share their testimony, make sure to take time practicing it in a safe environment with other believers. Let them share it several times and get feedback. Do the same when training people to share a Creation to Christ story. Practice builds confidence and helps them to overcome fear of failure.
3. Making a List
Ying Kai of T4T says that people don’t share because they don’t know who to share with. He encourages people to make a two column Lost and Saved list. Pray daily for the people on that list. The lost side of the list are those in your friend and family circle (oikos) who don’t yet believe in Christ. The saved side of the list are those you are discipling. Regularly pray for them too!
After making a list, you can choose a few people each week and make plans to share your testimony with them. Being specific and accountable about plans to share the gospel helps us move forward. If you are training others, be sure to affirm and encourage a lot. Do this even if their efforts don’t yield success in the beginning.
It goes without saying that we as trainers also need to really pray for believers in this area. Model bold evangelism in your own life too! If we are demonstrating a lifestyle of evangelism and courageous witness, they will see it is possible and that they too can do the same.
Bold evangelism is a major characteristic of growing DMMs. Believe God to help you increase the believer’s boldness!
Which of the “3 Things” will you start to work on this week? Mention it in the comments and we will pray with you as you work on this!
The following are the most important keys to pushing your disciple making into multiplicative growth. Some are obvious. Some are more easy to ignore.
Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (KJV)
How deeply ingrained in the heart of each disciple is the vision to see lost people around them come to know the Lord? When we talk about vision as it relates to Disciple Making Movements, we are specifically talking about the vision for lost people to meet Jesus and be saved. This passion, this vision for lost souls must be spoken out repeatedly in every meeting and in multiple ways. It has to become a part of the “talk” of the movement. It has to move beyond something only leaders think about and become ingrained in the hearts of all. This happens by creative and consistently motivating people to reach the lost around them. Cast vision to see your movement move!
Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.“(NIV)
DMM leaders are people of constant prayer. Prayer is what we model, what we live and what we impart to others we train them as disciples. We pray fervently for the believers, for the lost around us, for God’s supernatural work, for victory over the enemy, for healing and deliverance, etc. Prayer moves the movement forward!
John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (NIV)