Discipleship

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

What In the World Is Friendly Accountability?

friendly accountability

Asking “What will you do to obey?” can seem an awkward question. The following week, when we ask them to tell us if they actually did what they said they would, well, it can feel down-right invasive. This is especially true for those of us from a Western culture where privacy and individualism are highly valued.

What business is it of mine if they are obeying or not? Shouldn’t that be their worry, not mine?

Could this approach border on legalism? We definitely don’t want to promote a rule-oriented gospel. Yet accountability is a vital essential in growing a DMM. It is strongly tied to one of the main characteristics we find in growing movements- obedience-based discipleship. 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 discipler 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.

Originally posted on April 29, 2017 @ 10:50 am

You Are a Royal Priest

royal priest

Our beliefs about who we are, dramatically impact how we behave. In the last blog I talked about who we are as people God has chosen to bear much fruit. We are the chosen ones. Today I want to focus on another aspect of identity – who you are as a royal priest of God.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- NIV

It’s important to understand the major shift Jesus brought about when he went to the cross and rose again. He destroyed the old system of Levitical priesthood and established a new system where all who followed Him would be royal priests. In the new covenant you are not physically born into the priesthood. Instead, when you receive Jesus, you are spiritually born into this status. read more

God Chose You to Bear Fruit

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.

disciple making identityWas 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.

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

Are We Making Jesus Followers (I like Jesus) or Disciples (I obey Jesus)?

allegiance

How do we move a seeker from “I like Jesus, He is a great man (prophet/teacher)” to surrender and a shift of allegiance? Muslims acknowledge Jesus as a prophet. Hindus have little trouble calling Him one of the gods. Buddhists believe He was a good man, and atheists think He was a great philosopher.

Jesus didn’t call us to make church members. Nor did He call us to start discovery groups or plant churches. He called us to make disciples. We need to remember this.

What is a Disciple?

A disciple is someone who is completely surrendered to Jesus. They have shifted their entire system of allegiances to make Him Lord of their lives. They commit to obeying His commands and following His ways, though they stumble and fall. read more

When Pride and Insecurity Raise their Ugly Head in Disciple Making

pride and insecurity

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. read more

5 Problems With Our Current Discipleship Models and Suggestions For Change

discipleship models

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? read more

Why Individualistic Disciple Making Will Keep You Stuck in Addition Growth

start groups

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. read more