Facing Obstacles

When You Press Through and Persevere

perseverance

What is the most important quality in a disciple maker or church planter’s life?” she asked. I was thoughtful for a moment. Many things rose to my mind. Diligence, prayer, passion for the lost, ability to call others into the vision, my list was long. One thing rose to the top. Perseverance. Without an ability to stick to the task, in spite of obstacles, to resist distractions and press on, Disciple Making Movements don’t get launched.

God gave you passion and vision or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Somewhere along the line, He breathed His heart into yours. It caught. A dream of multiplication began. read more

Will You Miss What God Is Doing In This Crisis?

crisis

Crisis brings out the best and worst within us. Some personalities love a challenge. Adversity inspires them. Climbing Mount Everest, participating in a Triathalon, winning an Olympic medal…these people amaze me! Not everyone has an extreme adventure personality. Some of us freeze when there is a crisis. We have no idea what to do. Others are pessimistic by nature. When a major problem hits, they see all the possibilities of what could go wrong.

In the midst of the COVID-19 global crisis, what kind of person will you be? read more

The Real Issue: Are You Seeing Rapid, Organic Multiplication?

rapid organic multiplication

Our team in South Asia started using the terms 1G, 2G, 3G, about ten years ago. We were trying to track the growth of emerging movements. It was kind of funny. At the very same time, Indian telephone companies were using those terms for their data plans! For us, 1G stood for a first-generation church. 2G for a second-generation church, etc. In the early days as we pursued movements, getting to the mark of fourth-generation growth was a huge milestone! As thrilling as it is to reach this point, 4G is not a magic number. There is not much in the Bible to support the emphasis we in the DMM world put on this particular milestone. read more

How Controlling Leaders Can Block Movement Growth

controlling leaders

I see a problem. It’s disturbing my sleep. I wake up praying about it. Know what it is? It’s when Christian leaders don’t release their people to do the work of the ministry.

This issue bothers me because it can block the growth of Disciple Making Movements (DMMs). That must not happen! Leaders, we can not behave this way if we want to see God’s Kingdom spread rapidly through our regions.

It’s not easy to release people. I know. Huge issues arise in our hearts and heads.

Are they ready? Mature enough? What if they fail? What if they succeed (maybe even surpassing me)? read more

Can Children and Teenagers Be Part of a DMM?

children and teenagers

My teenagers need a youth group!” they said, as they told us they were no longer going to join the regular disciple makers meeting. It was disappointing to hear. Concerned parents want to see their children’s spiritual needs met. This can be a real issue. Parents express apprehension about whether their children will get what they need in a DBS or story group. How do we best disciple the children of families in our teams and disciple making groups?

This issue requires us to speak into the parent’s lives in a unique way. It can be difficult. It also creates an opportunity to help those we are training to return to a more biblical style of parenting. One where disciple making happens within families. read more

Do We Need to Focus on Just One Group?

people groups

Urban slum communities are ethnically mixed. The desperately poor tend to live together, regardless of their ethnicity. How does this impact disciple making efforts among them? Can we focus on more than one group at a time in DMM efforts?

It is easy to become stretched too thin. Our time, energy, and effort to identify with those we’re reaching become complex when engaging with more than one group at the same time.

Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) grow through natural relationship networks. Most of the evangelism and disciple making happens with people in that circle of friends, relatives, and neighbors. Because of this, the streams of the movement naturally develop according to ethnic lines. read more

Are You Willing to Fail Forward?

fail

I must be doing something wrong,” she thought. They had been working for almost ten years in a restricted access nation. They’d pressed through to learn the language, worked hard to build relationships and led a few people to the Lord. Talking with a key church planting movement mentor she asked, “What are we doing wrong? I thought by now we would have seen hundreds of groups/churches begin!

The mentor carefully listened to them describe their disciple making activity. Then he said, “You aren’t doing anything wrong. Movements take time. This mentor had coached well-known movement leaders. They had started thousands and thousands of churches, pioneering the largest movements in history to date. He knew what he was talking about. read more

Is Your Motivation Going to Get You to DMM?

motivation for DMM

Thousands of new churches rapidly starting…a Jesus movement sweeping through…bringing transformation! Our hearts are stirred. We want to be a part. “It would be so amazing if that could happen in my area,” we think.

After a few months (or years) of effort, things may not be happening quite as you expected. You’ve prayed, fasted, shared the gospel often, but not yet seen breakthrough.

Maybe a few have believed, some groups started (and maybe not lasted). Where is that rapid, incredible experience you thought was coming? In these times, we must examine our motivation for pursuing a DMM in the first place. read more

Am I an Insider or an Outsider?

insider

He looked like an “insider.” His hair was black, his skin brown. When he wore a kurtah shirt and walked down the street, he looked like an Indian. He had even picked up some Hindi language skills. My friend Jordan* was definitely not an insider though! He had been raised in America by adoptive parents. Though born in India, he was definitely an outsider. Movements that grow rapidly are led by insiders. Who is an insider? Who is an outsider? This week’s blog explains the difference and why it matters. read more

When Spiritual Warfare Threatens Your Disciple-Making Efforts

spiritual warfare

One after another the problems came. It was an unending stream of difficulties. Moral failure in a team member. Sickness and near death in a key leader we were mentoring. Unusual conflicts between spouses and children. It was soon clear. This was not just normal life, we were facing an all-out spiritual attack.

This is the final article in this series on obstacles to Disciple Making Movements. See the full list of barriers I’ve addressed in the blog.

As we contend for the release of a movement, we must learn to discern when we are facing spiritual blockades. They are put there by the enemy to discourage, causing us to pull back in defeat.

Spiritual warfare can be a major movement killer. Sometimes we face it and are unaware. We respond in the flesh instead of by using the appropriate weapons in our spiritual arsenal.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Recognition of the spiritual battle we face is the beginning point. Winning this war means taking an intentional stance. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. It is foolhardiness. We face a very real spiritual enemy when we attempt to launch a rapidly multiplying Disciple Making Movement (DMM). This is especially true when it is in an unreached place or among an unreached people group.

We can not ignore this factor if we want to be successful in our endeavor. Instead, we must take actions to be on our guard. Through discernment, steadfast prayer, and wearing our spiritual armor, we fight. We do battle against forces of darkness in order to gain ground for the Kingdom of God.

Demons At My Gate

Some years ago, we were doing abundant seed sowing with a certain people group. We invited Create International to help us make a contextual film in the local language. This mega people group had almost no media resources in their own tongue. This was hard to believe when their population was well over 80 million people! We enjoyed making the film and finally, the day came for it to be introduced to those in our city.

Below is an excerpt from my soon to be released book, God Encounters in the Wild Places.

“About a week before the showing, I began to get threatening calls. A local pastor had gone to one of the church matriarchs of our city. He had convinced her that she must stop me from airing this film. She came to visit and I listened to her. I tried to show honor and respect, but I knew deep inside that we had not done anything that wasn’t Biblical.

In fact, we had followed the leading of the Lord and made decisions as a group each step of the way. Our goal was not to please the local Christian community with our film. Instead, our desire was to make something that would touch the hearts of unreached people. We wanted to give them a chance to hear the gospel message in a way that they could easily understand.

On the morning of the first showing of the film, I was having my quiet time. It was early. The bell for our compound rang. A group of men was at my gate. I dressed and went out to meet them.

As I walked toward the gate, I felt the Presence of Jesus strongly within me. I sensed Him warning me not to welcome them inside.

Opening the gate, I stepped out. Before me stood a group of about 4 or 5 pastors. One of them was the man who had been causing all sorts of trouble for us.

Discernment took over. I immediately understood somehow that several of these men were being influenced by the demonic.

I could not see the demon with physical eyes. But with my spiritual eyes, I “saw” a tall dark presence standing behind two of the men. It is a bit hard to explain. I turned though and spoke only to one of the pastors on the far right. He didn’t seem to be influenced as much by the dark presence.

“You can not show this film!” they demanded.

Crying out to God silently, I asked Him what to do. Clear direction came through a still small voice within me, “Don’t negotiate with demons.”

I was not to engage or discuss anything with them. I was to honor the men, but stand firm and strong against the demonic realm. The enemy wanted to hinder the showing of this gospel movie.

Thanking them for coming, I listened a bit. Then I politely disengaged. “We will pray and do what God tells us to do,” I quietly stated.

As I walked back into my house that day, I thought about the verse in Ephesians.”

“Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:12 NIV

God had made it so very clear to me! These pastors were not the ones who were trying to stop the spread of the gospel. This film was a key tool God wanted to use. The enemy clearly wanted to stop it!

Don’t Be Confused

The spiritual warfare we face is not always as clear as it was for me that day. Often it is under the surface. It is rare that you actually see (even with your spiritual eyes) the demonic forces you are up against. But as you ask God to release discernment, you can begin to recognize spiritual attack for what it is.

Don’t be confused by the fact that spiritual warfare is often mixed in with other factors. Most of the time, in my experience, the difficulties we face are a combination of things.

They include:

  • our own sin (the enemy will capitalize on our areas of weakness),
  • the fact that we live in a fallen world,
  • spiritual forces that are coming against us.
  • read more