Arrogant, cocky, and with more than a little bit of attitude, a South Asian movement leader stood before me. “I’ve seen hundreds of people come to Christ this month and started over 60 new groups,” he declared, bobbing his head side to side. His demeanor made me sad, though I couldn’t deny the fruit he was seeing. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen these kinds of attitudes displayed by a movement leader. Young, apostolically gifted movement leaders need mentors to encourage and train them. They also can speak into issues of arrogance and pride when there is a strong relationship. We all need to check our attitudes and motivations as we pursue DMMs.
“My job is to honestly preach the word, not to hold people accountable,” said the slightly defensive Christian leader to my friend. It is a common perception among us pastors. A hands-off approach lets us off the hook. We say things like; “I will do my part, God will do His.” Or “Everyone has free will. Our job is to give them the Gospel (information), they choose what they want to do with it.”
There is truth to these statements. Where we go wrong is when we label the above as discipleship. Is the idea of “live and let live”, a Biblical approach to discipleship? Is a “you do you” worldview taking precedence over living and ministering like Jesus?
Western culture is very individualistic. “Every person has a right to make their own decision,” we say. My passport culture places a high value on individual rights. Individualism is deeply embedded in the American worldview. The impact of the West on the way we do evangelism and disciple-making around the world is significant. It’s a hindrance to starting movements. If we want to launch DMMs, we must shift our mindset and actions toward always starting groups.
This will cause the movement to spread rapidly and exponentially. A focus only on individual discipleship will multiply much more slowly.
“What? Did Jesus teach seven commands? I’ve never seen a list like this in the Bible!” he exclaimed. “I thought Christ came to set us free from the law of sin and death.” This brother thought we were heretical for even using the phrase “the seven commands of Christ” as we trained new believers. I see his point. We certainly don’t want to re-impose an Old Testament system of legalism.
What we do want is to obey the Great Commission. Jesus said, “Teach them to obey all I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:18-20)
Practice. Practice. Practice. “But I don’t like to practice, I like to play.” When I was a teenager, I played on a basketball team. I hated practices. We would dribble the ball up and down the court and shoot layups for hours. It was tiring and boring. I preferred the games. They were fun! Without practice though, we didn’t win games. Practicing disciple making skills is no different.
For some reason, we think that doing things like evangelism and disciple making shouldn’t need practice. It should flow out of us without any training or effort. This is not actually what either Jesus or Paul said. They used the word practice to describe the learning and applying process.
If you had to choose between building relationships with lost people and going to church, which one would you do? Seriously. Most would answer, “Go to church, obviously.” Going to church is what “good” Christians do.
True. It’s a worthy thing to do, especially if being part of that church community is causing you to grow as a disciple. So often, though, there is a big difference between being a Christian and being a disciple.
What do “good” disciples do? I believe that engaging with, befriending, and loving on lost people and sharing the good news with them, is what disciples do. It’s what Jesus did. He hung out with lost people a lot more than he went to synagogue meetings and conferences right?
A few days ago, a friend from Bangladesh used the term “borderless nets” in a chat message. It caught my attention. I’m not sure where he got the term, or if someone else used it first. I immediately asked the question that is now the title of this blog. “What are ‘borderless nets’ and how do I cast one?“ I thought about Luke chapter five. Could casting “borderless nets” help us catch the huge number of fish not possible in other ways?
Covid-19 forced us to think and work in new, innovative ways. It pushed us out of the box (or rut) we were in. God is like that. He turns horrible things the enemy intends for evil into good for His kingdom.
Is it possible to be both deeply committed to emotionally healthy discipleship and also to the rapid multiplication of disciples? It’s an important question worthy of consideration. Can natural fruit grow fast without being eaten by worms? I’m not saying it’s easy. Is it possible?
We live in a world that tends to divide into camps. It’s an either/or world. Jesus wasn’t like this. In fact, He refused to be put in one camp or the other.
Jesus was not Democrat or Republican, or Independent for that matter. Please excuse the reference to American politics, but it so clearly illustrates our tendency toward joining a camp and being loyal to it without learning from and understanding others who are in a “different camp.”
Americans are used to kids learning separately from adults. Age-appropriate learning has value. In Disciple Making Movements, however, we welcome kids as disciples. They must be trained to follow and obey Jesus the same as adults. They can learn, apply, and contribute to a disciple making movement in significant ways.
Jesus didn’t separate children from adults. They were always around Him, included in His circle. In non-Western cultures this is more common than in the West.
How Did Jesus Interact With Children and Disciple Them?
One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.
Your goal is a rapidly multiplying movement of disciples who make disciples. Or at least that was what you heard someone share a vision about. It’s what you’ve been hoping for.
You’ve worked hard. Shared the gospel often. Prayed much. People have even come to Christ!
But multiplication isn’t happening…