Leadership

4 Important Ways to Develop a Strong Missional Movement

missional

A recent editorial by Mark Galli of Christianity Today addressed the purpose of the church. Some theologians say, “Wherever the church exists, it exists for the sake of the world.”[1] Should this be true of the house churches we start? The movements we launch?

Perhaps Galli is attempting to pull us back from a doing theology to one that is more about being. I can appreciate that. What I don’t agree with is a rejection of the church’s missional purpose.

In Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) we must be very intentional about staying outwardly focused. This is especially true as we begin to grow and multiply. It’s not uncommon for churches and growing movements to drift toward an internal focus. read more

How to Vision Cast in Your Disciple-Makers Meeting

vision casting

Have you ever heard an advertisement jingle on the radio, then found yourself singing it later? Catchy tunes get stuck in our heads. Advertisers know the power of repetition and simplicity. As we work to motivate disciples to become disciple-makers, we must use the power of repetition to influence them toward action.

Jesus knew the power of repetition. He repeated important concepts again and again. Take Luke 15 for example. He tells not one, not two, but three parables about the importance of reaching the lost. He was casting vision to His disciples, wanting them to engage in the things that mattered most to Him. As disciple-makers and trainers, we must do the same. read more

How to Release a Spirit of Generosity in Your House Church

generosity

We moved around the room silently. One person was given a watch. Graciously receiving it, he silently prayed. Should he keep it or pass it on to someone else? Another person turned to his neighbor, he gave him a newly purchased jacket. The power of generosity was being released in the room as we did a giving exercise.

Generosity breaks the curse of poverty over our lives. It’s also a sign of revival. We help new disciples be free from constant physical need by training them to give to others. read more

Are You a Trainer of Trainers?

trainer of trainers

A DMM practitioner is always thinking about multiplication. Can those you trained, immediately train others in the same way?

If not, your training style may need to be adjusted. Everything you do in disciple-making must pass the test of reproducibility. When we make things too complicated, we don’t get “rabbit” churches that multiply quickly.

Did you know that according to the House Rabbit Society, one pair of rabbits can end up with 4 million offspring in only 4 years time? That is rapid growth! 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

How to Avoid Burnout and Painful Member Care Obstacles

member care

Burnout! That common condition that we hate to see our friends go through. Depression. A mental health issue more common in ministry leaders lives than you would think. Marital difficulty or divorce. Again, not unusual. Heart attack! Almost predictable in busy leaders who don’t take care of their health.

 

These issues are a major concern for those trying to start movements, especially in pioneer regions of the world. Member care issues join our list of obstacles that block a Disciple Making Movement.

Not Only Strategy Matters

Many of the things which block a movement’s growth have to do with strategy. But the health of those initiating the movement also plays a key role. When team members are overworked, emotionally drained and struggle in their own lives and families, it has a major impact on the movement.

Exhaustion That Runs Deep

I had never felt so exhausted in my life. One doctor who saw me called it “chronic fatigue”. I could barely walk up the stairs without becoming so tired I had to sit down. I was completely depleted. A few weeks off helped me to recover…somewhat.

 

Then another crisis hit. A medical evacuation of a fellow missionary. They nearly died. I came home and collapsed. There was absolutely nothing left inside of me. I didn’t realize that following that pattern in my life would lead me toward medically diagnosed depression. I would later face a season when I needed to take significant time off to get medical care and help.

 

Paul, the great movement initiator knew what this kind of exhaustion felt like. The pressure of ministry can be incredibly heavy upon us.

 

“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” 2 Cor. 11:28 NIV

Stop It!

A pastor I often listen to online said recently, “Don’t give out more than you take in. That is just plain dumb! Stop it.” That is about as direct as it can get.

 

There is real truth in his statement. At times, we need to hear it said that way. We can be a bit dumb when it comes to taking care of ourselves.

 

As passionate people deeply committed to the Great Commission, we give and give and give. We push ourselves to help others, even when there is little left inside. Sometimes we give out more than we have taken in. Eventually, it catches up with us and we pay the price. Often the movement does too.

 

Maintaining spiritual, physical, emotional and relational health is crucial. It is necessary if we want to release a thriving, multiplying, and sustained movement. Below are some of the things I have tried to practice to keep myself and my team healthy.

 
How to Keep Yourself And Your Team Healthy

1) Practice spiritual disciplines like Sabbath.

Do you take a weekly day to rest and refill? Or do you go week after week without any breaks? Many church planters do.

 

We tend to think we are somehow superhuman and able to keep going without rest. But God didn’t create us to function that way. The Sabbath is a command of God for a reason. He gave us that law to bless us with the health we need. We can not give out what we don’t have. Each week, find a way to practice Sabbath personally and as a team. I’ve written several articles on this that you may find helpful.

2) Maintain boundaries, even when growth is happening.

In community-oriented cultures, this is quite difficult. But it is necessary. Brene Brown in her book, Rising Strong, says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Henry Cloud has also written an excellent book called Boundaries for Leaders.

 

It is easy to feel like the needs of those you minister to and lead must take priority. Christian ministers can feel they must have their phone on 24-7. They must always be available to those they lead.

 

This is a recipe for burn out. While we are called to love others deeply, we must also love ourselves. We show that by setting and upholding boundaries.

 

That means learning to say, “I will meet you tomorrow. Today I have another appointment.” Even when that “appointment” is your date night with your spouse or taking a nap on your Sabbath.

3) Seek out mentors and peer community.

Make sure you have upward mentoring in your life. The more we grow in leadership and ministry the more difficult it can be to find mentors who speak into our lives. We are helping many, but who is helping us? Take responsibility to find those people and seek them out.

 

Also, look for peers you can relate with. Take time for those Skype or WhatsApp calls with an old friend. Join a peer group like the one we have for DMMs. Cultivate meaningful relationships, even when it takes energy to do so. It is vital to your emotional health.

4) Practice “friendly accountability” related to your physical health.

Do you have someone who holds you accountable for things like exercise, healthy eating, and sleep? If you crash and burn, chances are the movement will too. Maintaining your health is much easier than recovering from burn out or depression. Set goals in these areas and then find someone to hold you accountable and encourage you.

 

We are whole people. Our physical health is as important to God as the rest of us. Make space in your life for exercise and sleep. Don’t believe the lie that you are superhuman and don’t need sleep like other people. Get regular physical check ups.

 

Your healthy lifestyle speaks loudly of what you value. It’s part of being a disciple-maker to model this too.

5) Make space in your life for friendships and play. read more

A Relentless Commitment to Focus on the Most Important Activities

focus

As a kid, I enjoyed going to the circus. I especially liked watching the jugglers. How did they keep all those balls in the air?  When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought me a set of bean bags to practice juggling with. It was fun to try to keep a few of them up in the air at the same time.

The challenge excited me, but often they would all fall to the ground. Our lives as disciple-makers and trainers can feel a bit like we are juggling.

We become very skilled at doing it all. One more meeting. Just one more thing that someone has asked us to help them with. Another ball in the air.

Sadly, these balls can come crashing down in a mess. The goals we hoped to accomplish don’t get done and the passion to see a movement launched dwindles. We face discouragement at our lack of progress.

Obstacles To Starting A Movement

The last six weeks I’ve written about major obstacles to releasing a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). Click here to see the full list. Today’s blog is about one of the biggest obstacles. The inability to focus time and energy on the most important DMM activities is a movement killer.

These most important DMM activities are:
-prayer,
-abundant seed sowing/evangelism,
-finding the person of peace,
-training believers,
-developing and mentoring leaders.

Not Everything Is Equal

Not everything that dances around trying to get our attention has the same eternal value. Some things we do have much greater importance to God.

When I stand before Him do I expect God to ask me about how many meetings I attended for my organization? Or about how many emails I wrote? No. He is going to ask me how faithful I was with what He had specifically given me to do.

These are the things that must carry greater importance for us. The things we know we are called to.

Are you called to see thousands of lost people come into the Kingdom? Do you know that reaching the unreached is your primary calling from God? Then you must be relentlessly committed to staying focused on doing the most vital DMM tasks.

Someone At My Door

Ding-dong. The doorbell to my gate rings. Who is there?  I am in the middle of a project and email. I’m already running behind schedule.

I look out the window. It is my neighbor, the one I’ve been praying for every day using my Lost and Saved list. What will I do?

It’s easy. I’ve already decided ahead of time that when lost people on my list come to my door, I am available. I stop what I am doing, welcome them into my home and make some tea.

It’s not the same for the person who calls me on the phone wanting me to speak in their conference on Member Care topics. For them, my automatic response is “I am so sorry. My calendar is already full.”

My priorities have been pre-determined. That makes it easy for me to decide.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 NIV

Jesus knew how to focus on the things He was called to do. In some translations it says, He “set His face like a flint.” Jesus was clear, focused and determined to move toward His goal. He was determined to fulfill His destiny. We must be the same.

What competes for your time and attention?
– Meetings (Organizational, Pastor’s gatherings, Conferences, Learning Opportunities/Trainings)
– Email, Phones and Social Media
– The person at our door
– Ministry opportunities not related to DMMs and the Unreached
– Extended Family Responsibilities

Why Don’t We Say “No” To The Demands?

Why are we so easily pulled away from giving time to evangelism? Or disciple-making and leadership development? Below are some possible reasons.

1) We fear offending people or being seen as proud. read more

Is Your Culture in a Fight with a New Testament Worldview?

qualifications for ministry

“If you want the movement to multiply, ordinary believers must be released to baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper,” George Patterson, our speaker, announced. “What? Is that right?” I thought. “Did ordinary believers have the necessary qualifications for ministry?”

We were a group of young church planters and missionaries. We had come to this seminar to learn from George, a church planting expert.

It Sounded Strange

It sounded strange to me. I had well-established ideas from my upbringing and education about the qualifications for ministry.

Those ideas didn’t include brand new believers serving the Lord’s Supper. That was for sure!

I did not know that many of my ideas about who was allowed to do what in the church came from my own church traditions. They didn’t come from the model given in the New Testament.

Mindsets About Qualifications For Ministry – An Internal Obstacle

Many barriers to the growth of a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) are external. But this one is a barrier in our own minds. Our culture and background often influence us more than the New Testament example. It did in my life until I was exposed to teaching about how to multiply disciple-makers.

I Had Arrived

“You are now an ordained pastor!” the District Superintendent said as he shook my hand. I felt so proud. I had done it.

The requirements were not unusually high. They were similar to most denominations, but it had taken me many years to complete them.

I’d gone through Bible college, completing a four-year degree in Bible and Theology. I had finished my master’s degree from a seminary. There were tests and interviews with committees. Now it was done. I was Reverend C. Anderson.

I now had the full blessing of my denomination to officiate any religious ceremony; a wedding, burial, baptism or baby dedication. Woohoo! I had arrived.

A Disclaimer

In this article, I in no way want to put down the significant role of spiritual leaders in the church today. I admire, respect and honor pastors for their the devoted and sacrificial service. They give so freely to the Lord and to their churches.

Pastors work hard under very tough conditions. They are paid little and under tremendous continual stress and demands. They deserve our love and appreciation. Like I said above, I am a pastor and an ordained minister.

Instead, my goal is to address what can be a major barrier to the growth of a movement.

When we elevate the role of pastor above what the New Testament does, we create a barrier. It can prevent us from multiplying disciples in a rapid way.

So often, our own cultural worldview about leadership gets in the way. We read scripture through the filter of our personal backgrounds.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…”

1. The Non-Christian Worldview And It’s Impact

Let’s look first at the person coming from a non-Christian worldview. In organized religions like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, there is an established clergy.

For the Muslim, it is the Imam.

In the Hindu religious worldview, there is a special caste of people- the Brahmins. They are uniquely qualified to do religious work.

For the Buddhist, it is the monk or the Lamma. Only those who wear the orange robes can perform certain religious duties.

The idea that an ordinary person can do spiritual work is very much against the norm. This is true in almost all non-Christian cultures. The priesthood of all believers is a radical shift of thinking for them. For those coming out of Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism, their default thinking is this: only special people meet the qualifications for performing religious duties.

Bringing a shift to this worldview is absolutely central to seeing multiplication happen.

You will not have lay disciple-makers who; start groups, baptize, train and take initiative unless you strongly teach on this. Without clear Biblical teaching, their natural cultural bias will hinder them from stepping up to do “spiritual work.”

2. The Christian Worldview And It’s Impact

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom (Luke 23:45). God’s sovereign action in doing that was an incredible symbol to the Jewish disciples of Jesus.

Now everyone had access to God! No longer was it only the priests who could come into His presence. The Old Testament Levitical priesthood was over and a new age of the Spirit began. It was to be a time when all who followed Jesus would serve as His chosen ambassadors, His priests.

Hierarchy ended when the New Covenant began.

Study Hebrews 8 and what it has to say about the New Covenant if you’d like to dig deeper.

Sadly, in Christianity today, many shadows of the Old Testament remain.

In the book of Acts, we see certain roles played by apostles, deacons and elders. You also see ordinary believers, filled with the Holy Spirit going everywhere making disciples. Wherever they went they shared their faith. They started groups of disciples (churches) and the movement multiplied.

The word pastor in the New Testament describes a spiritual gift (Eph. 4:11). In the Bible, the word pastor is not a title describing a special position in a spiritual hierarchy.

Many of us come from Christian backgrounds. Like Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims or others, we too have been influenced strongly by our worldview. The religion of Christianity seems to say that there are certain spiritual tasks that are only to be performed by a pastor. This is why we often face resistance from traditional pastors when starting a DMM.

qualifications for ministry

But is that typical Christian view Biblical? Or is it something that developed later in the history of the church?

The church’s structure was dramatically influenced in the 3rd century by the Roman Emperor Constantine. At that time, a hierarchy elevating the clergy above ordinary believers developed. Christian leaders took on the rank and even began to wear the clothing of the Roman elite.

Start With Your Own Mindset

If you want the movement you start to grow and multiply, you will need to address this mindset in yourself first.

As a trainer or leader, what makes me qualified? Is it my special training? My education?

Issues of spiritual pride creep in quickly causing us to want to control rather than empower. Remind yourself often of the priesthood of all believers and that your job is to equip them to do the ministry (Eph. 4:12).

Let’s Assess And Examine Ourselves

Ask yourself these questions.

  • How much do I equip and release ordinary (even brand new) believers, to do ministry?
  • Does my cultural worldview influence me more than the New Testament example in this area?
  • Have I set up any qualifications for ministry not in line with the model of the New Testament and book of Acts? (Asking them to attend this or that training before they can serve for example).
  • read more

    DMM Obstacles: Resistance from Pastors and Traditional Churches

    resistance from pastors

    They stood in front of my gate. A group of angry men. Impatiently, they rang the bell again and again. They had demands to make. Emotions ran strong. Who were they? Angry Hindu fundamentalists? No. Surprisingly (or not), they were a group of pastors from our city. One obstacle we often face in starting Disciple Making Movements is resistance from traditional pastors.

    I went to the gate cringing inside. read more

    What Do You Have In Common With Winston Churchill?

    tenacity in disciple making movements

    Never, never, never, give in!” These were the words of Winston Churchill during one of England’s bleakest moments. It was 1941 and Hitler’s troops were advancing. The American forces had not yet entered the war and things looked bad for Europe. He went on to say, *“Never yield to force; tenacity in disciple making movementsnever yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” We need great tenacity in Disciple-Making Movements (DMMs). We must never, never, never give in until God’s Kingdom is established and growing among the unreached.

    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. read more