Do you have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions? You’re not alone. We love the opportunity to have a fresh start, a new beginning. We resolve to do better this year in those difficult areas of our lives like health, exercise, and other things. At the same time, it can be disillusioning. Year after year you make the same resolutions only to abandon and forget about them. I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. In contrast, setting God-inspired goals for the New Year is a powerful practice in our lives.
Motivations matter. Your why comes before your what. Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why is a best-selling business book. His premise is true in more than business. It’s true in life. Motivations affect us as we pursue Disciple Making Movements. If your reason for wanting to launch a movement is not clear, you may not experience what you are hoping for. Our first important motivation must be a passion for God’s glory.
How deeply do you long for His glory? What does that mean?
In my last article, I described the many different motivations we have for wanting to multiply disciples. Some of those motivations are inappropriate. Some are healthy and good. Not all motivations will sustain you in the long road of launching a movement.
“It sounds so easy on the mission field to share the gospel! It is harder here,” said a young woman attending one of our talks. She went on to explain. The people around her didn’t want to hear the gospel. She was afraid of offending them. So, she kept quiet. Inside, she longed to share the good news of Jesus. Outwardly, she found it difficult. The key issue was her belief that the people around her really didn’t want to hear the message she had to share. This false belief can paralyze us in evangelism.
What Exactly Is The Meaning Of Tenacity?
Tenacity is defined as “the quality of being very determined.” I love those words- very determined. How tenacious are you about seeing your people group reached? Or the one God called you to work among? Victory is ours in Jesus. We already know that. But there is still an enemy who so often looks hard to defeat. Like in Churchill’s quote, sometimes we are tempted to “yield to the overwhelming might” that is displayed around us. We must not.
We must be extremely determined to overcome the obstacles.
We Have To Be All In
When we look at our gifts, talents, and abilities- they seem so small compared to the need. Have you tried for more than a few months to launch a movement? Then you know it is way beyond possible unless miracles take place. At the same time, God wants us to give Him our all as we work on the vision He has given us. He wants us to be all in. Don’t hold back when you feel overwhelmed by the task.
Saving A Bit Of Cake
The other day in our village community, we celebrated a festival. There was a dance and a special meal. Everyone brought food. My husband was out-of-town, so I went alone. I decided to make a cake. I knew everyone would enjoy that.
Knowing my spouse was returning the next day, after baking the cake, I took out a piece. I wanted to save one for him. I didn’t want him to miss out. After removing a slice, the cake didn’t look very nice anymore. Hmm. What should I do? I decided to cut the whole cake into squares and serve it on a plate. That would hide the fact that I had taken out a piece beforehand. Smart right?
Overwhelmed By The Fear Of Not Having Enough
Sometimes I do that with God and His Kingdom work. I am afraid that I won’t have enough left for myself or my family if I give Him my all. My fear causes me to hold back. I will give God a lot, but I need to make sure my own needs are taken care of too. Sound familiar?
In the gospels, we read the story of the feeding of the five thousand. It is repeated several times.
I’ve been thinking about that story. There were thousands of hungry people that day. The need was incredible compared to their extremely limited resources. Still, Jesus wanted to know what they had to give. Andrew managed to come up with something. He found a boy with a packed lunch.
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9- NIV
Think about that child for a minute. Doesn’t it seem a little mean to take away a kids lunch? I wonder how the boy felt?
Whatever took place, I know that the boy offered what he had to Andrew and Jesus. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t say, “Well, you can have four of these loaves and one fish, but I need to keep one of these for myself first.” I might have done that if I was him. After all, mom did pack this for me to eat…not for this crowd!
The point I’m trying to make is this.
As we look at the needs of the unreached around us, it can feel so huge. It can seem so impossible to make a difference. We look at what it will take to start a movement with thousands of Jesus followers. We think about hundreds of new churches starting within a few years. That task is daunting.
The massive need demands we embrace the goal of a movement. There are so many millions dying apart from knowing Christ! We have to do something that makes a greater impact than what historical efforts have made. But when we look at our own resources, who we are, or at our own capacity, we feel overwhelmed and sometimes a bit scared. It is not enough, we think.
True. It’s not. That is a fact we must face.
But just as true, is that God will take what we have and multiply it. He will do miracles through our greatly insufficient capacity and resources! And He loves us. He will take care of our personal needs as well.
There is one thing that is necessary. Giving what we have – and giving it all. We can’t hold back in our hearts. Though overwhelmed by the task, we can’t keep our options open. We have to be all in.
Offer Him Your Loaves & Fish Once Again
Are you tempted to hold back when it comes to Disciple Making Movements (DMMs)? To take a wait and see approach? To “order the trial version”? I often do that with apps or software I want to experiment with. Let me try this first, then maybe I will buy it.
This doesn’t work with God and His Kingdom! Even when we feel overwhelmed by the task, we must fully commit to the things He calls us to.
Are you all in? Take a minute to examine your own heart.
Is there anything you are holding back about? If this is the path and dream God has given you to pursue, then give Him everything. Offer Him your “loaves and fishes” once again.
Would you pray this prayer with me?
Lord Jesus, if you want my bread and fish, I give it to you. Looking at the needs, what I have to offer seems so small. I am often afraid. But here I am Lord. I don’t want to give myself to you half way. I don’t want to hold back. All I am, all I have, it’s yours. Do your miracles. Feed the thousands through my life and efforts. Amen.
What? Heal the sick? How can I do that? Only God can heal the sick! True. Not true. Wait! It can’t be both. Or can it?
There are several foundational things needed in disciple making movements. Obedience to God’s Word is one of them. In DMM training, we often focus on obedience to Christ’s command to share the gospel or be baptized. These are vitally important! If movements are built only on miracles, they tend to be shallow and often don’t see generational growth. At the same time, Jesus gave us an important model. He healed the sick and trained His disciples to do the same.
Jesus said, “Heal the sick.”
It is interesting that Jesus told His disciples not just to pray for the sick, but to heal the sick.
8 “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”– Luke 10:8 & 9- NASB
Sometimes in what Michael Hyatt calls the “messy middle” we stop believing. The “messy middle” is a place between the vision’s beginning and it’s realization. It’s the place where we wonder if our dream is possible.
My Struggle For Faith
There was a long “messy middle” for me. It was 20 years from when I heard about DMMs (back then we spoke of multiplying daughter and grand-daughter churches) and the time I first saw 4th generation groups. On that journey, I often wanted to quit. I regularly doubted it could happen.
I remember saying, “This isn’t a fair thing to ask people to do. For the vast majority of people, movements are just a dream. It’s like asking a junior league baseball team to attempt to win the World Series.”
Stuck In Unbelief
Let’s just call it what it was. I was stuck in the sin of unbelief. I didn’t believe God was able to do this through me or through the people I was training. Thank God, He took me through a process and convicted me of my unbelief. He renewed my faith. Faith not in myself, but in Him.
Jesus was never soft with his disciples regarding the sin of unbelief. He regularly rebuked them for their lack of faith.
I recently re-read the account of His resurrection. The words “stubborn refusal to believe” jumped out at me.
9 “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.”
12 “Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.
It is sometimes hard to know how ambitious to be in goal setting. Some of us struggle with risk aversion. We want to set nice safe discipleship goals we can achieve.
Some years ago, I was visiting Nepal, a country I had worked in years before. It was early morning and I was sitting outside in the crisp air, overlooking a beautiful valley of terraced rice fields. I remembered back to the early days in our ministry when we had traveled each week by scooter, our baby strapped on in a front pack, driving up and down the windy mountain roads to the unreached valley area God had called us to. I love Nepali villages!
For the first and only time in my life so far, God spoke to me by filling my mind with a story. It was about a Nepali farmer. God used it to speak to me about disciple making movements.
The Story Of A Nepali Farmer
A Nepali farmer had 3 sons. He worked hard, saved his money, and rather than wasting it on immediate needs invested it in a small business he heard about. Those businesses grew and some prospered greatly.
One day, one of those businesses he had invested in sold and paid off all the shareholders. He received a huge payout of about 50 lach rupees (about $75,000). This was a lot of money in the village! His years of careful investing had paid off.
“I want to share this money with my sons”, he thought. “But I don’t want to spoil them. What should I do?”
The Nepali farmer decided to call his sons and tell them that he had received some extra money and that if they had any needs they should come to him and let him know. He would see what he could do about those needs.
The oldest son was grown, married, and had a child in elementary school. He went home and thought about what his father had said. “My father is a good man,” he thought. “But he is just a simple farmer.” He wondered to himself about how much money a simple and not very well-educated man could have.
He decided to ask his father for money to pay for his son’s school books for the year- for about 1,500 rupees (about $15 USD).
He went to his father and presented his request. Lovingly, his father replied, “I’m happy to do that son.” He went to his bedroom, came out and gave him the money. The elder son left happy!
The second son was working in the capital city, Kathmandu. He had a job working for a travel agency there. Every day he had to go by bus or a shared auto into the city. “If I had a bicycle, I could save money and get there faster too,” he thought. He wondered about how much money his father had received. “My father is a good man and a great farmer. But, he is just a simple guy. I don’t think he has that much money to give and my other brothers will also be asking him.” He decided to ask his father for money to buy a bicycle that cost about 5000 rupees ($50 USD).
When he asked his father, he received the same loving response. He got his 5000 rupees and left happy!
A Tata Truck
The third son was still living at home in the village. He worked closely with his father on the farm each day. He too thought about what his father had said, but his thoughts were a bit different.
“My father is the smartest man I know! He isn’t that educated, but he is incredibly wise. I’ve watched his life and how he uses money. I bet he has a huge amount of money saved,” he thought. “I am going to ask him for money to purchase a Tata truck. Maybe I can start my own business to take vegetables from our village to the city for sale.”
That was what he did. He went to his father and asked for a Tata truck. The cost would be about 22 lach (about $35,000 USD).
When his father heard his request, his response was the same as with the other sons. “Sure son, I’d be happy to do that for you.” His father went to the bank, got the money and they purchased the truck.
When the other two brothers saw that their son was starting a business and driving a new truck, they were incredulous! “How did you get the money for a truck?” they asked.
“I got it from Dad,” he replied.
Angry, they stormed into their father’s room that night. “Why didn’t you give us a truck too???” they exclaimed. “We have much greater needs than our younger brother does!”
The father calmly replied to his sons, “My beloved sons, didn’t I tell you to ask me for what you needed? And didn’t I give you what you asked for?” He then told them to stop complaining and be happy as they had been before. “I gave you, exactly what you asked. You have no reason to be upset, with me or with your brother.”
My Limiting Beliefs About God
That morning, sitting outside and looking over the fields, I thought about the story God had put in my heart. The limiting factor (Michael Hyatt calls them limiting beliefs) in the elder sons’ lives was their view of their father. They couldn’t see him for who he really was. This limited view of their father affected their ability to ask him for more.
Many times I can’t see God for who He really is. I don’t really understand or acknowledge His incredible power and greatness or His goodness. I might say I believe He is great, but my actions, my goals, show me that isn’t my real belief. My God can be pretty small.
The only thing that limits what God can do through me is 1) how much I am willing to believe in His greatness and 2) how much I am willing to ask Him for.
I knew this was His Word to me that day.
As we think about our goals for disciple making movements, as we look at what we want to see God do through our lives to impact the lost…let’s remember we serve a BIG God who is able to do the IMPOSSIBLE through us.
Don’t set too small of goals. Don’t set disciple making goals that you can accomplish on your own.
Faith and works are not opposites.
Faith Is Necessary
Faith is a necessity as we talk about starting Disciple Making Movements. I regularly return to Hebrews 11 to stir up my own faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is believing for things we can not see yet and verse 6 says without this kind of faith it is impossible to please God.
How does that play out in our daily lives? What does it look like to be people of faith as we attempt to start a DMM?
Our faith takes shape in our actions and goals. What we believe, actually believe, shows up in these two things.
I recently trained a group of church planters. We talked about multiplication and movements, about disciples making disciples and groups starting groups. Everyone seemed on board with what I was sharing. Then it came time to set goals for the coming months. Suddenly, faith was tested. What do I really believe is possible? What will I attempt to do?
It is not easy to set God-sized goals that reflect multiplication. We are afraid of failure. We may not reach those goals. If God doesn’t intervene, those things may not happen and I might be disappointed in myself. Others may also see me as a failure.
Take Risks In Goal Setting
There are risks involved in setting faith filled goals. Speaking out a goal and going after it feels dangerous. There is indeed a chance that you won’t reach that goal. There is also a chance that you will! If you never attempt something great, you are unlikely to achieve it. If you never ask God boldly for something, He probably won’t give it to you.
Why set small goals that are humanly achievable?! There is no place for God to be glorified when we do that.
We all know that nothing is possible without God. Not even small things can be done apart from Him. So when we ask, why shouldn’t we ask Him for more? It is going to require Him working anyhow.
The only thing that limits God is our own inability to believe in His greatness.
Does He love lost people around you? Yes. Does He desire that they be saved? Yes. Is He able to convict the world of sin? To change hearts? Again, yes. Did He choose you to bear much fruit? Indeed. So why aim for something less than a God-sized goal to see rapid multiplication?
I’m not encouraging foolish goals that have no basis in reason, or that we randomly pull numbers out of the air. What I am advocating for is that we ask Him boldly for the things that He is both able and wants to do through us! I’ve always liked the Schuller quote “I would rather attempt to do something great and fail, then attempt to do nothing and succeed.”
God is able. He is ready to work. Are we?
Set bigger goals, pray bigger prayers, and expect God to work in bigger ways through you this week!