My husband and I like to run at least one half-marathon each year. To get a decent time in a 21 K race, you need a good strategy. If you start too fast in the beginning, you won’t get a good time. You have to slow yourself down at the start, to speed up at the end. This isn’t easy. At the beginning of the race, there is a lot of adrenaline and excitement. It is similar in starting a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). Start too fast and push for results too soon? Big mistake. You won’t get the acceleration and multiplication you want later. The desire for rapid disciple-making results can be a major 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!
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.
Ever heard the phrase, “Never listen to your critics?” It’s popular in business circles. I get it! Critics of Disciple Making Movements abound. We shouldn’t waste time defending ourselves, arguing with those who disagree with us. Why not invest that time in evangelism and disciple making instead?
We never want to come under a spirit of controversy. But, Solomon said in Proverbs 15:31, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” NLT. Sometimes we ignore critics and sometimes we consider what they say. It is good to know how to filter criticism. We should not be confused by it. We must learn how to weigh it with grace before the Lord. One of the major criticisms of Disciple Making Movements is that its discipleship is weak and ineffective.
Our resources are limited. Time, money, energy, and personnel are all stretched far too thin when pioneering in new areas. Some people seem to only drain our precious resources. As disciple makers, how do you avoid wasting time on the wrong people? How do you discover the potential leaders who will be most helpful in growing the movement?
Don’t Just Guess- Give Assignments
While it is tempting to try to guess who will be worth investing in, we are often wrong in our guesses. The best way to discover who to invest in is to first train a larger group of people. Give them assignments to apply the training. Then, watch to see who does what they were trained to do. Those who actually take steps to begin working are the ones worth investing in. These are the people who will most likely be the most fruitful.
Kidnapping and even martyrdom are possibilities. Unusual illnesses are common. Intense spiritual warfare and stressed out marriages- sign me up! I want to start a DMM. Or not. It is no joke to pursue the launching of a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) among the Unreached. Suffering and Disciple Making Movements seem to go hand in hand.
The costs are real and the challenges great. How do we keep from being destroyed by the incredible cost of this effort?
What Makes It Worth It?
Suffering is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is particularly noticeable though, in the lives of those who pursue DMMs. It is not just likely, it is highly probable that you will face intense suffering as you work to start a movement. Some would say that experiencing suffering is characteristic of those who launch movements.
Do you have a favorite tool for gardening or working in the kitchen? At our house, we have a favorite knife. It is sharp and the handle is just the right size. It works well for chopping about anything. If my husband and I are both in the kitchen, there sometimes is a competition for who gets to use that knife! Tools are important in seeing progress and becoming effective. The T4T Lost and Saved list is one of the best tools I have used. It will help you train people to start Disciple Making Movements.
Every single second someone in India dies not having heard the gospel. That’s 60 people in a minute. Each one is precious to God. The number of hairs on their head are known by Him. He watched them cry and laugh. He saw their joys and pain. Yet they die, having never heard of His love. India is one of many places where the needs of the unreached are massive. We could talk about the Middle East, China, Africa, or Bangladesh. Sometimes, when we see this great need, we feel completely overwhelmed by the task.
Whether it is a cricket match between England and Australia or two teams playing in the Super Bowl- we like to pick a side. Who are you cheering for? The same is true in many other aspects of life. Disciple making urgency or transformational discipleship? Which is more important? Put more simply- what matters most? Getting people saved or transformed?
Both-And Not Either-Or
Many Kingdom priorities are not either/or issues. Instead, they are very much both/and. Jesus is both God and man. We must both love God and also love our neighbor. Our human tendency, however, is to put ourselves into one camp or the other on theological issues.
When we work hard but don’t quickly see results, it’s just plain difficult. We need to know how to stay motivated in disciple making and evangelism while we wait for the fruit to come.
Lessons From Our Superheros
“With great power comes great responsibility,”
says Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movie.
I love that quote. I can see the scene in my head and hear his voice. It’s an “Aha” moment for young Spider-Man. I guess that I just like superheroes.
These champions inspire us. They help us to dream of what might be possible, with a little superhuman strength.