Discipleship

5 Things That Destroy Discipleship Movements

Death Factors

Some months ago I wrote about 6 Factors That Get Your Movement Moving.  It’s always good to look at positive things we can do to see greater fruit and growth!

It is also important to be aware of what kinds of things kill a Disciple Making Movement(DMM).  Sometimes we call these “Death Factors.” These are things to be extremely careful about.  While seemingly normal or innocent, if your goal is a multiplying movement, they will definitely “sink your ship.” When these things start to happen, you can be sure that the movement will stop growing.  If you are just getting started, the movement can die before it every really starts.  There are other “death factors” to consider, but here are five of the most common. read more

Why Saying “No” is a Crucial Skill

say no

I personally don’t like saying no.  It feels…not nice.  It seems…unkind, or like I don’t value the person who is asking me to do something.  Yet saying no, and meaning it, is a crucial skill for those of us pursuing DMMs.  This is why we need to learn not only what to say no to, but also how to say no with honor and respect.

Lets start with the what part.  What do we need to say no to as a DMMer?  (Is that a thing? Can I call us that?) Sorry.  Rabbit trail.  Okay, so my point is, we need to say “No” to things that side track us, that pull us away from the main vision we are going after- a Disciple Making Movement.  Anything that seems good but isn’t related to making disciples who make more disciples or to reaching lost people should go on our “I might need to say no” list. read more

Starting Strong with New Believers

Starting strong with new believers is important. Unfortunately, many times we don’t do our discipleship job well as people come to Christ. Here is an example.

You shared the story of Jesus. At the end, you asked the question – Do you believe that what I’ve been sharing with you is true? Do you want to receive the free gift of salvation Jesus offers you today? They respond with a yes! Woohoo! Praise God! You pray with them introducing them to Jesus for the first time. He becomes their Lord and Savior. Things are going well. You are thrilled at what is happening in their lives!

What Is Next For New Believers?

It is at this critical point when the “slow down” factor often happens in our disciple making. This is not the time to reduce our engagement with this person. Not if we want to see a disciple making movement take place. Sometimes we don’t take the next steps because we don’t know what to do. Or perhaps we are just relieved that they are now “saved.” We feel we can relax just let them grow slowly by attending church.

A Critical Time

Immediately after someone receives Christ is as critical a time in their spiritual life. It is the same as the first month is for a newborn baby. We would never think of bringing a child into the world and then telling the baby, “Now come once a week to this meeting we have and you will get the food and care you need.” Would we? Of course not! Yet this is exactly what often happens with new believers.

If we train people in evangelism but don’t train them in how to disciple new believers, they don’t know what to do next. At this point, many simply invite the person to start attending church with them. That is all the follow-up they do. This is a major loss of opportunity for that person and for the movement. If we train on this issue and make a few key changes, we can see much greater multiplication!

There are a few critical things we must train our disciples to do with new believers.

new believers
Share the good news with boldness
1) Get them to immediately start sharing their story (testimony) with others.
2) Start meeting with them regularly to teach the basics of what it means to follow Christ.

Jesus Told New Believers To Immediately Share Their Testimony!

In Mark, chapter five, we read the story of Jesus casting many demons out of a man. The man begs Jesus to let him stay with him. How did Jesus respond?

“Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.'”(Mark 5:19)

Immediately after this man met was set free, the Lord instructed him to begin evangelizing others. If Jesus felt new believers were ready to start ministry immediately, then we too can follow that model!

Teach Simple Baby Lessons

In addition to encouraging new believers to witness, start meeting with them often. They need to quickly learn some basics. Ying Kai, of T4T, calls these the Baby Lessons. There are different foundational discipleship tools you can use. They need to be simple and reproducible. Make sure you get the new believers to start praying, receiving from the Word of God daily, and connecting with their new spiritual family. For this to happen, those who led them to Christ will need to meet with them often. Generally speaking, I’d recommend a few times a week in the first few months.

Obstacles- Time and Training

What are the biggest obstacles to quality discipleship for new believers? They are training and time.

  1. Training. We often train disciples to evangelize but don’t train them in how to disciple new believers. It is not hard to train them in this. Equipping in this way will make a huge difference in releasing multiplication. Give trainees a simple system to do this. A system makes it easier and less time-consuming than creating from scratch. (Sign up with the form below to learn how to use the oral culture friendly “Baby Lessons” we recommend).
  2. Time. People with full-time jobs and families, don’t have a lot of free time to follow-up on those who respond. Encourage them to give adequate time to care for those who receive Christ. Show them how to train the new believers to witness to their friends and family. This may mean they will have less time for evangelism. That is okay.

As you address the issues of time and training you will make disciples who both evangelize, make disciples and start new groups of disciples. We call these people green and blue people. 🙂

Start New Groups Through New Believers read more

How to Radically Increase the Lasting Nature of Your Fruit

fruit that will last

A core activity in YWAM’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) is regular one-on-ones. Staff meet individually with students to listen, pray and speak into their lives. One-on-one discipleship and individual decisions for Christ have been the primary strategy in missions for years. Did you know that in the book of Acts, there are 21 recorded conversions, and in 19 of those cases, it was a group that together decided to follow Jesus? Can you guess who the two individuals were?

Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was one of them. The Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion is the other. These are the only two examples in the entire book of Acts of people coming to faith alone. What should that stir us to consider as disciple-makers? read more

Top 15 Barriers to Starting a Disciple Making Movement

Barriers to starting a disciple-making movement

On May 6th, 1954 Sir Roger Bannister did something that everyone said was impossible. He ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Up until then, people had said it was an unbreakable barrier. Doctors made strong statements saying it was not only dangerous to try to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. They, in fact, said that it was humanly impossible. This was a record that would never be broken. Until it was. After Roger did it, in a few short months, many others also ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Today the world record is held by a man named Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco. He ran a mile in 3:43:13. We think some things are impossible and difficult barriers to Disciple-Making Movements. They are not.

Instead, they are problems waiting for a faith-filled person to turn them into an opportunity. When we do that, we not only change our own idea of the impossibility of that barrier. We open the door, like Roger Bannister did, for others to also follow us. As you overcome barriers to seeing Disciple-Making Movements, you make a path for others to follow. Be a creative, persistent, barrier breaker in DMMs!

All things are difficult, before they are easy- Thomas Fuller

Attitude Is Everything

One of my oldest leadership mentors is John Maxwell. I’ve read many of his books and greatly benefited from his leadership teachings. He often speaks of the importance of having a “Winning Attitude.”

Our attitude can turn our problems into blessings- John Maxwell

Maxwell didn’t originate this idea! Jesus was the ultimate leader in turning a painful cross into a bridge of salvation. He turned death into resurrection. Because of Jesus, we can break through any difficult problem finding victory and hope.

Paul wrote, in the book of Philippians, “I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13 NKJV. With God’s strength, Spirit, creativity, and mind at work in us, every barrier we face becomes an opportunity for growth. Barriers become breakthroughs. Obstacles become opportunities.

I’ve been surveying people who are involved in starting Disciple-Making Movements. From their input, I have come up with a list of their top 15 barriers people face when trying to start a DMM. I’ll share these below.

Over the coming months, I will be writing blogs about these different barriers. I may take a break once in a while. But you will be seeing regular articles about these over the coming months.

An Invitation

As I start this series, I’d like to invite you into the process of praying, thinking and working with me on it.

None of these are new to me, though they mostly come from you, my readers. I’ve experienced and encountered each one. I’ve also seen them overcome. I’ll be sharing examples of how people have broken through these barriers. I’ll share how they have been turned them into opportunities for growth.

Before I start the series, I wanted to focus though, on our attitude, as we consider these barriers. Are you someone who sees a problem as a chance to grow? Do you see it as an opportunity for God to lead you in creative ways?

2 Questions

As you read through the list, identify the one that is most present in your area.

Then think with me about two questions:
– How could this problem become an opportunity for growth? In me and in those I am discipling?
– What solutions could be experimented with to creatively overcome this difficulty?

Before I publish an article related to the problem you are facing, God will have begun to give you solutions! I’m sure of it!

The 15 Most Common Barriers to Starting A Disciple Making Movement

  • Resistance from Pastors and Traditional Churches
    2. Human Nature- Need to “join” is higher than the desire to form/create a new group
    3. Cultural and Worldview Backgrounds related to Priesthood of All vs. an Ordained Leader
    4. Societal Fears- Rejection, Marriage, Burial concerns
    5. Unwise Partnerships with those who have resources but are not like-minded
    6. Difficulty in finding Person of Peace quickly
    7. Distractions and Lack of Focus- a post-modern idea that everything is equal. A need to be inclusive of other’s visions and priorities, so feel they can’t make DMMs a higher purpose to pursue.
    8. Cultural Misunderstandings of Christianity
    9. Wrong Focus- On Strategy instead of Lostness
    10. The desire for Quick Success and Results- Not willing to take time to build the right DNA
    11. Transient or Migrant People group- Believers Scatter
    12. Platform Issues- Takes Time, need for a visa, need to explain yourself, security issues
    13. Unable to Self Start and Plan (easier to join a program)
    14. Member Care related issues- team, burnout, loneliness
    15. Ignorance – Lack of understanding of the basics of how to get started in multiplying disciples
  • read more

    Before Your First Discipleship Group – DMM Basics 101

    “I love the idea of making disciples of new believers and seeing those discipleship groups multiply! I’m in!” you might be saying.  “But where do I start?  What do I need to do first to see a disciple-making movement begin?”

    There Are 3 “Basics” That Are Needed As Every DMM Gets Started.

    1. A Prayer Strategy
    2. Abundant Seed Sowing
    3. Finding the Person of Peace

    I played basketball in college.  I wasn’t amazing, but I enjoyed it.  It was fun to be a part of a team.  I loved the games.  I hated the practices.  Our coach would push us hard on the court in the early morning practice.  We had to dribble, shoot lay-ups and free throws until we were sick of it.  We ran back and forth, up and down the court dribbling and passing the ball until we could do it in our sleep.  It was these basics that won the games. read more

    Staying Focused as Disciple Makers

    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 iblack-and-white-1845826_1280s most important is typical of those who hope to see movements but don’t.

    Busyness is a major enemy in our lives. We can easily get so busy that we don’t have time to pray, to listen to God, to share good news with the Lost, or to adequately spend time with those who are expressing interest in coming to faith. These things usually happen in the early stages of our efforts to start a movement. When we don’t see things “take off” as fast as we had hoped, we allow ourselves to get involved in other ministry tasks that give us a bit of a sense of fulfillment. Teaching here or there, doing emails, making a video for a church about what we do, attending a seminar or conference someone invited us to…suddenly we realize we have had little time for the task of disciple making.

    Later, when (and if) we do have some disciples and the first church gets going, it is again easy to become busy with things related to that church’s programs rather than continuing to pursue relationships with the Lost, or to invest in quality disciple making. We make the mistake of thinking that a weekly meeting of a few hours will make quality disciples. We fail to truly invest our lives in those God has given us whether it be in detailed prayer for them, or in developing deep relationships.

    One of my favorite Old Testament Bible Heros is Nehemiah. In tnature-1984314_1280he sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, messengers come asking Nehemiah to attend a meeting with Sanballat and Geshem. Instead of agreeing he says,

    “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)

    Nehemiah is completely focused on his God-given task. He is not going to stop his work to go and resolve a conflict, listen to his enemies, or attend a meeting. He knows how to say a clear “no.” He continues to focus on what is most important. We need to do the same.

    How hard is it for you to stay focused on what is really important? Do you clearly know in your own mind what is most important in light of your goal to see a movement of disciples?

    In a recent training I asked the participants to make a list of everything they had done in the last week that took more than an hour of their time. After they had listed at least 15 things, I asked them to circle which of those things directly related to making disciples among the unreached. It was eye-opening for many of them to see how little time they actually devoted to the task they said was their primary vision. We all would benefit from a similar exercise from time to time.

    Feeling convicted? I truly hope you don’t feel condemned. It’s very human to get distracted and not at all uncommon! Instead of feeling bad, look carefully at where you are at. Recommit yourself to stay focused on your true calling as a disciple-maker and messenger of the good news. Be willing like Nehemiah to say no to some things so you can say yes to what is really important.

    The unreached wait to hear your message. New disciples wait to be encouraged, trained and mentored. Let’s get busy doing the most important things that lead to the release of movements.

    When On-line Simple Church Spills Over

    online simple church

    A fresh wave of regulations and lock-down orders has hit many nations. It can feel discouraging.  How do we continue our disciple making efforts in times like these?  A week or so ago, I interviewed a leader from South Asia who recently tried something new.  His on-line simple church efforts rapidly multiplied. They spilled over to many in-person groups also beginning across the region.

    WATCH THE FULL 9 MINUTE INTERVIEW 

    What stood out as you watched?

    Here are a few things to consider: read more

    Five Ministry Gifts – Part 3 on DMM Leadership Development

    Five Fold Gifts

    Some people have all the fun,” my kids would say. “Why don’t we get to have fun too??” When we look at gifts in others, a similar question can creep into our hearts. “Why do they get all the spiritual gifts?” God gives His gifts generously. He told us to desire the gifts of His Spirit. Five of those gifts are described in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

    In my last article, I wrote about the dangers of ministerial titles. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul mentions five important ministry gifts. read more