Discipleship

How to Choose an Effective Initial Discipleship Plan

Systems manager. That doesn’t sound like a very exciting title! Are systems restrictive and boring? Do they take away our freedom? Or do they actually set us free? When it comes to Disciple Making Movements, using simple systems is extremely freeing. They help the movement reproduce naturally and easily. A DMM practitioner is in some ways a systems manager. One of the first simple systems you need in place is a Short Term (Initial) Discipleship Plan.

As soon as people begin to believe, establish a reproducible plan for training new believers. The lessons must be simple enough that anyone can teach them. The new disciples must quickly be able to use the same system with those they lead to faith. This reproducibility is key in multiplying a movement. read more

How to Do A Start-Stop Exercise: Gain Victory Over Your Busy Life

start-stop exercise

Have you ever made a “To-Do” list and found it far too long? No one could possibly do all those things in the time available? Or maybe you don’t make lists, but experience a sense of inner pressure. You have too much to do. Disappointing people around you by not completing tasks on time, frustration is growing. You are disturbed that in spite of all the busy activities, you’re not seeing much progress. Not in the things that matter most to you – multiplying disciples among the unreached. Doing a Start-Stop exercise will help you get focused. read more

“Inspire All” An Interview with An Indian Movement Leader

movement leader interview

Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down for a conversation with the leader of a growing movement in India. Knowing my readers would not have that same opportunity, I decided to record our conversation and share it with my readers.

C. Anderson: How did you begin your disciple-making work?

Movement Leader: We began by doing prayer walks, visiting the many unreached villages nearby. For three months all we did was pray. We then began to distribute tracts and share the good news with those who expressed interest. read more

Need a Great List of the Most Vital DMM Startup Tools?

DMM Tools

Rice, meat, spices, herbs, onion, garlic…you make your list and go to the market. Before making a special meal, you first prepare the ingredients you need. You wouldn’t want to start cooking and then have to stop and run to the store. In the same way, as you begin your journey with Disciple Making Movements (DMMs), it is good to get your tools, training, and material in place. This will give you a better chance of moving forward in your DMM journey.

Invest in Your DMM Toolbox

There are many different tools you can add to your “toolbox” as you make disciples. But there are several things that are most essential. Get those basics in place. Then, as a builder or carpenter does, when you come across various new materials and skills, you can also add them to your DMM tool belt. read more

How To Overcome The Confusion And Develop A DMM Strategy

strategies

Yesterday morning, I stepped out the door for my early morning run. A heavy fog hung on the streets. It reminded me of times in Nepal when fog would hang low in the valley where we were church planting. The sun didn’t come out to clear away the fog until mid-morning. Until then, it was hard to go anywhere and the roads were dangerous. It was difficult to see a clear pathway. Finding your way to a clear Disciple Making Movements strategy can feel a bit like that heavy fog.

Sorting Through The Many Approaches

The Disciple Making Movement (DMM) and Church Planting Movement (CPM) world can be confusing. There are many different resources, approaches, and training. These are constantly changing and evolving. Trainers like myself adapt, evaluate, and learn. While approaches do overlap, it can be confusing to determine which strategy to use. read more

What Does the Great Commission Have to Do With Christmas?

Great Commission and Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve. We gather around the tree. Dad opens his Bible to read the Christmas story. Squirming and anxious to open our gifts, we listen, wanting him to finish so we can open presents. These are my childhood Christmas memories. They always include the reading of the story of Jesus’ birth. It was a vital part of our tradition. Does the Great Commission fit with the Christmas story?

Maybe we can set it aside for awhile as we focus on the birth of Jesus, the wise men, angels, Mary and Joseph. Or maybe not. Could it be that the Great Commission is actually a vital part of the Christmas story? read more

Want Groups to Multiply? Stay Simple & Consistent

groups multiply

Imagine someone running in a baton race carrying a large, heavy piece of wood. It would be hard to pass on to the next runner, right? One person may be large and strong and able to run with it. But the next runner may not. Discipleship groups are very similar to this.

 

The baton used in a race is lightweight. It is designed to be easily transferred from the hands of one runner to another.

 

It is the same in a Disciple Making Movement. Discipleship methods must be simple and light. In DMMs, we are intentional about making everything we do easy for others to also do.

Reproducible Discipleship

Keeping your discipleship structure and meeting format consistent lends toward multiplication. While it is fun and interesting to do things with a lot of variety, it often doesn’t reproduce well.

 

Random discipleship doesn’t reproduce. Follow a simple plan. This is much more effective in rapidly equipping new disciple-makers.

 
A Coaching Conversation

 

What did you talk about in your Discovery Bible Study (DBS) today?” I asked.

We chose one of my favorite passages,” he said.

That is a good one! I like it too,” was my reply after hearing the Bible reference.

I’m curious. How do you decide which scripture to study each week?” was my next question.

We pray and find something that we think will be good,” he said.

Hmm,” I pondered, considering his situation.

 

This DMM effort had been struggling to see multiplication. They were doing regular Discovery Bible Studies. But the group members seemed hesitant to start their own groups. They lacked confidence and self-initiative.

 

Have you ever considered using an established set of stories? Or a list of verses everyone leading DBS groups follows? Instead of choosing verses randomly?” I asked.

 

This was a new idea to him.

We talked about how to go about deciding on a short and read more

How to Turn the Problem of Migrant Workers into an Opportunity

migrant

“How is your new disciple doing?” I asked. “Last week you said *Ram Bahadur took a step to follow Jesus and was baptized. That was so great to hear!”  With disappointment, *Ashok told me this new person had moved away. He had found work in another area. It was unclear, but he would likely not return for a year or so.

It can be difficult to make disciples who make disciples when the people you are focused on are constantly moving. Whether they are seeking work or moving for other reasons!

For the past several months I have been writing about key barriers to launching a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). See the full list here. Trying to make disciple-makers among a nomadic people group can feel impossible. It can seem like a major blockade to the movement’s growth.

Obstacle Or Catalyst?

This doesn’t need to be a barrier, however, to starting a DMM. It can instead become a major cause of movement expansion.

The key is to disciple the new believers rapidly using simple, reproducible approaches. Then, teach them to train others and start groups wherever they go. This was the model that led to much growth in the New Testament.

“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Acts 8:1 NIV

Scripture Guides Us

Always look to scripture for foundational answers to the DMM problems you encounter. This problem of believers scattering was very present in the book of Acts!

The cause of the believers constantly moving was persecution, not searching for work. There are great parallels to learn from, however.

We read in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts how persecution caused many of the believers to move away from Jerusalem. The growing church was still in its early stages of development. Many had not received much training yet. Most had only been following Jesus for less than a year.

Interestingly, it says in Acts 8:4, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

How was it possible that they were equipped enough (in such a short amount of time) to preach the gospel effectively? They were able to start new groups (churches) in so many new locations as they scattered!

How Scattering Believers Became Church Planters

1) They powerfully received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, Acts 8:15).

This is an important reason. Those who came to faith received the power of the Holy Spirit and developed a relationship with Him. They used their spiritual gifts and learned to listen to the Spirit’s voice. When no mentor was present, the Holy Spirit was there to correct, guide and instruct them.

The apostles trusted the Holy Spirit in the new disciples’ lives. They encouraged them to obey His leading. That doesn’t mean they never brought correction or instruction to them. They did! But their default mode was the empowerment of local believers, not control and restriction.

Be sure to pray for new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.

2) They met daily for fellowship and discipleship (Acts 2:46).

Daily discipleship of new believers is key to developing them into disciple-makers. In the short-term discipleship phase, much contact is necessary. They are still new babes in Christ.

Meet as often as possible with those coming to faith. This is especially needed the first few weeks after they believe.

Training them quickly in the basics of what it means to follow Jesus will bear much fruit. Make sure they are encouraged to immediately begin sharing their testimony with others.

Using the T4T “Baby Lessons” can be a good way to do this. Train them until they can train others. Then if they disperse, they will pass on what they have learned from you.

3) They learned the stories of Jesus well enough to reproduce them (Acts 2:42).

It takes many years to train a new disciple to the point where they can preach an expository sermon. Do you still think hearing a weekly sermon is what it means to be a church? I hope not!

If that is what you need, new believers on the move will probably not end up being church planters!

Instead, using a storytelling or Discovery Bible Study (DBS) approach works much better. As we practice and repeat the stories of scripture, it becomes natural to tell them to others.

In the book of Acts, when the believers gathered, the apostles told stories of Jesus’ life. They were first-hand witnesses. They shared about His miracles, His parables, and what it was like to be with Him. Then, those stories were passed on to others following an oral tradition. We can do the same today!

4) Though there was a council of elders, they practiced the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9).

The New Testament church was not without leadership. But the structure was different from what is typical in churches today. There was no part of the Great Commission that the leaders reserved only for themselves.

Jesus’ gave some basic commands. He told us to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them, practice the Lord’s Supper often, give to those in need, love God and our neighbor, etc.

In the New Testament church, these were the responsibility of every Jesus follower. They were not only for the apostles or leaders.  Spiritual hierarchy and the professional clergy came much later. This slowed the growth of the church.

As you train disciples immediately empower them to be disciple-makers. Help them to start new groups themselves rather than just adding to existing groups.  Then, when they have to move for work, they will naturally do this in the new places where they go. Your movement will expand into regions you never dreamed of reaching.

5) Churches mostly met in homes (Acts 16:40, Acts 2:46, Acts 21:8,16).

In the New Testament church, they didn’t suffer from the same misconception of what the church was. They knew the church was people, not a building.

As you disciple new believers, be sure to instill this New Testament understanding in them.

6) The apostles visited and wrote to them (Acts 8:14, Rom. 15:23,28).

New Jesus followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, did share the gospel and start new churches. But they were not without input and care.

The apostles visited them as often as they were able to. They sent letters to encourage (as well as correct them) in areas of church practice and doctrine.

When people you’ve led to faith scatter, stay in touch with them. Call, message and visit them. As they lead others to Christ, do what you can to help them stay on track.

Today we have the ease of text messaging, phone calls and many means of ongoing discipleship. Consider those moving to new places church planters rather than as people who have left your church. Keep investing. The result might be multiplication rather than a loss for the movement.

Multiplication Through Migration? read more

How to Make Sure Your DMM Efforts Are Headed in the Right Direction

Dmm basics

Have you ever gotten on the wrong bus or train and not realized it? I have! Without a good understanding of Disciple Making Movement (DMM) principles, we can easily get off track. We waste time going in the wrong direction in our discipleship or church planting efforts.

Oh No! I’m On The Wrong Train!

A few years ago, I was heading to Bangladesh to train a group of church planters. I went to the train station. A local porter helped me carry my bag and get on my train. Being a bit late and in a rush, I didn’t check the name of the train carefully. I was lazy to read the Hindi script fully, so only read the first part of the train’s name. It was Kanchan something.

Not a good idea! Instead of getting on the Kanchenjunga train, I boarded the Kanchankanya train instead. I went in the completely wrong direction.

A few hours later the train conductor came to my berth. He checked my ticket. “You are not on the right train!” he announced.

I had to get off at the next station, board another train and return back to where I had started from. Arghh!! My husband kindly booked me a new ticket and the next day I started my journey again. This time, I got on the right train.

In our attempts to multiply disciples among the unreached, we can similarly go the wrong way.

When we aren’t familiar with the basic DMM principles we end up on the wrong path. read more

Are You Tired of Initiating All the Momentum for Growth?

initiative in disciple making movements

My husband and I like to run half-marathons together. A few years ago, we were running a race in a South Asian city. The day before the race, one of the church planters there heard about our upcoming event. Excitedly he declared, “Next year I will run the race with you!” I looked at his short, quite round body and smiled. I appreciated his enthusiasm. But I wondered if he truly had the initiative or self-discipline to train for a 21-kilometer race.

Disciple-Making Movements (DMMs) are a bit like a long-distance run. They require a significant amount of self-discipline. It takes initiative and perseverance to launch, grow and sustain a multiplying movement. Often, when hearing about movements, people are excited to get involved. They like the vision of multiplication. But they are like my friend who wanted to run the marathon. They lack the self-initiative and perseverance needed.

We also experience this within the movements we are trying to launch. Some disciples show great passion for the Kingdom. Others seem so passive.

Without the ability to self-motivate, it is hard to see a DMM get going. Initiative is “taking responsibility for disciple-making efforts without having to be told to do so.” Lack of initiative can be a major obstacle to the release of a movement.

Overcoming The Barrier Of Motivation

How do we overcome this obstacle? What action can a trainer take when disciples you train lack initiative? You may notice this problem in yourself as well.

I have been writing a series of blogs on how to overcome common obstacles to starting a DMM. Click here to see the full list. Search the archives for many other articles on some of the most typical barriers.

Initiative Flows From Purpose

Some personalities have more of a bent toward self-initiative than others. For everyone, however, self-initiative flows from a sense of purpose. This is true no matter what your individual temperament. The desire to take action comes from passion motivated by compelling truth.

The desire to take action comes from passion motivated by compelling truth.

That is why it is critical that we make vision casting a vital part of every training session. Regularly share about the urgent need of lost people in your region. Also, work to increase the disciple-makers’ understanding of their Biblical identity. Build a sense of ownership in the trainees. This will release them to do the work of disciple-making in their own ways. The result will be an increase in the kind of initiative needed to grow a DMM.

Two Very Different Personalities

This week I had the chance to visit a house church we started many years ago. It was wonderful to see them. They have grown strong in their faith, despite many challenges.

In the group, there are two disciples who are very different from one another. One is a young, fairly educated man. His personality is outgoing. As the oldest, somewhat spoiled son of the family, he has a lot of natural confidence. It has always been easy to motivate him to share Jesus with others.

Another person in the group, *Asha, is the mother of three young boys. She is also very smart, but she sometimes lacks confidence. Her poverty affects the way she thinks about herself. This is also true of her gender. As a woman in an Indian society, she has little voice or recognized value.

When we first started training her as a disciple-maker, she didn’t take initiative. She didn’t know she could. Asha had no idea how valuable, gifted and powerful she was in God.

Working with these two disciples required different efforts. One was a natural leader, one quite reluctant. With both, we spent a lot of time helping them to understand their gifts and roles in the Kingdom. We talked about how they were royal priests. We taught them that God Himself had chosen them to bear fruit. He had given them spiritual authority.

The Great Commission was a powerful scripture for them. “All authority on Heaven and Earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:18-20). “Jesus has given you His authority,” we declared to them.

Another thing that helped was regular vision-casting about the need to reach the lost. Each week when we met, we told short stories or shared scriptures about God’s heart for the unreached around them. Asha soon started to lead a women’s fellowship. She brought her neighbors and relatives to Christ. One after another, her brothers believed. A passion to see others know the Jesus who had saved and transformed her own life grew strong inside of her.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18a

What Can Turn Someone Into An Initiator?

1) Vision + faith inspires initiative.

Every single time you meet, take a few moments to talk about the need to reach lost people around you. Share scriptures that inspire faith. Testimonies of what God is doing in other places can also be very powerful. These stories build faith and hope that God can also use them. Make sure that the disciples get their regular faith and vision “vitamin” intake!

2) Understanding of identity makes room for self-leadership.

One of the first things I encourage people to train disciples about is their identity in Christ. As disciples learn: who they are as a son or daughter, as a royal priest, and as someone chosen by God to bear fruit, confidence grows.

3) Buy-in and ownership are necessary for initiative.

Participatory, discussion-based discipleship meetings build a sense of ownership. Instead of just receiving their teaching, they discover principles from the Word of God themselves. Give them an opportunity to make their own decisions about Bible application. This builds a sense of ownership rather than just obedience to you, as the trainer.

4) Freedom to take action without too much control encourages initiative in trainees. read more