DMM Obstacle: Join Is Easy – Launch Is Harder

Dmm obstacle

“Every week they come. They are faithful…to attend church at least. But they are not fruitful. I can barely get them to witness to their neighbors. How will I ever get them to start new disciple-making groups (house churches)?” Many who want to launch Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) struggle to motivate local believers. Whether toward evangelism or group formation, it can feel like “pulling teeth.” Numerous people would rather participate in an existing group, than be involved in starting a new group. This aspect of human nature can be a DMM obstacle. The good news is that it can be overcome!

This blog is the second in a series on DMM Obstacles. Click here for the list of 15 major obstacles.

The deep need for community exists in every culture. God designed us for community. He is a Triune God. He made us in His image, with a need for others. Because of this, it is natural to want to join a group.  In some cultures, this need is stronger than in others. Many unreached people groups are community oriented.

But there is another human need that is common to all people as well. That is the need for significance and purpose. We were created with a desire to do important work. It is natural to want to be part of something that is making a difference in the world.  We have a deep God-given desire to “be fruitful and multiply.”

“I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.” Lev. 26:9 NIV.

As DMM practitioners, make sure the need for community is being met by those who come to faith. As that necessity is met, we can challenge disciples with a vision. We invite them to partner with God in transforming their people, nation, and the world. And we tell them that to do this they will need to be willing to launch new groups.

What Color Are The People Who Attend Your Church?

A trainer came to teach us about the multiplication of disciple-making groups/house churches. We shared with him that many seemed stuck and are only seeing 1st generation growth. We were facing this DMM obstacle. He then gave us an example using colors to identify different types of people.

“Some people attend the group but they don’t obey. They don’t share the gospel,” he said. He called them red people. “Then there are those who obey and share the gospel, but they don’t form groups.” He called them yellow people. “Others will share the gospel, lead people to faith and start new groups. They are the green people.” Lastly, he told us, “There are those who do all these things and train others to do them too. They are your blue people.”

He then asked us a key question.

“How do you get more people to be green and blue people?”

That question helped us greatly. We began to look at who we had in our groups and how to help them become more active. Check out this little animation we made about the 4 kinds of people!

DMM Obstacle


4 Things That Are Necessary To Get People to Start New Groups

Here are a few things we discovered as we worked on this key question from our trainer.

1) Regular Vision Casting.

Where many fail is in not doing regular enough vision casting for reaching lost people. Without a clear vision, people will not give of their time and energy to reach out to friends and neighbors. Every week, the need of the lost around you must be emphasized.

2) Understanding of Lostness.

Regular training about the condition of humans apart from God is needed. Include this in the designing of your long-term discipleship set of stories or Bible studies. Also, emphasize it in leadership training.

3) Local Ownership of the Plan for Multiplication.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Multiplication of disciple-making groups requires a plan. DMMs are organic and flow through natural relationships. But without intentional effort, things often drift toward more traditional church models. Plans are necessary.

I would add to Saint-Exupery’s statement “a DMM plan without buy-in is just a great idea.” It is critical that there is local ownership of the vision to see multiplication. Emerging leaders, group leaders, and every believer need to be given a chance to process and say, “Yes! This is what I want to see happen here.”

4) Growing confidence and competency.

This that comes from:
a) using reproducible methods and…
b) imparting a theological understanding of every believer’s role as royal priests.

New believers will need encouragement to step out and lead or launch new groups. If the structure of how the groups run is too complex, they will be afraid. But if you keep it simple and encourage them a lot, they can do it! Make sure they understand a biblical basis for their identity. They need to know they are both chosen by God and are a royal priesthood.

As they start to lead in small ways, give much encouragement! You will be amazed at how they grow and as they do, at their willingness to pioneer more and more new work.

Designed To Multiply

The desire to join is strong in us. So too is the desire for significance. We were designed by God to be fruitful and multiply.

As we train new believers (and old ones as well), keep encouraging them to live out their destiny. They are sons and daughters of the King. Inspire them with the dream of seeing the lost reached. Many of your red and yellow people, will turn green and blue!

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