Missions

Key #3 DMM Breakthrough Growth: Train Don’t Teach

trainer of trainers

Do you long to see more multiplication through your discipleship training?  Are you tired of only seeing a few new disciples each year?

The last two blogs talked about Keys for seeing DMMs released. The first keys were  Key #1: Praying With Faith and Key #2: Perseverance.

There is another crucial key to releasing a movement. If you want to multiply disciples, an important change needs to happen in how you do discipleship training. You need to shift from being a teacher to becoming a trainer. read more

A Vital Key to Breakthrough: Perseverance

My previous blog was about Praying with Faith. That is the first key to seeing breakthroughs in Disciple-Making Movements. The second key for breakthrough and growth is perseverance.

Perseverance – Lessons from Snoozy

When I was a kid we had a dog named Snoozy.  She loved to play.  We would take an old sock, tie a knot in it, and let her grab hold of the end.  A game of “tug of war” soon started.  If I got the sock away, (and it was hard work to finally do that) Snoozy would lunge after it again.  The game could go on for hours! read more

Tracking and Reporting in DMMs

disciple making movements

Many people struggle with the idea of reporting progress on church or ministry growth. Reporting in disciple making movements can be controversial.

Recently, I had a meeting with some people to bring a better understanding of this issue. There was a lot of confusion related to this topic. Emotions ran high.

Why report and track? There are lots of reasons people choose not to report.

For some, it can feel controlling. Others think it isn’t loving. Some feel it isn’t necessary. It can feel too business like and not very spiritual. Some think we are obsessed with results and don’t care about people.

As I was considering this the other day I asked myself “Is the “value” reporting and accountability? Is that really the core value?” As I thought more about this I concluded that it was not. The core value is not reporting or accountability. The core value is

a deeply held commitment to be obedient to the vision God has given read more

Are Your Goals Too Small? Lessons from a Nepalese Farmer

On New Year’s Eve, I wrote a post called “3 Important Things to Do as You Start the New Year.” I hope you took the time to think about the questions I listed there. Have you started thinking about your goals for the coming year? As you are goal setting for disciple making movements, I hope you will set God-sized goals.

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.

School Books

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!

A Bicycle

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.

goal setting for disciple making movements

“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. read more

What NOT to Depend on in Disciple Making

discipleship

Discipleship, especially when you are wanting to make true disciple makers, is a process that can seem long and difficult. We often look for shortcuts.

Have you ever found yourself trying to go somewhere fast and then decided to take a shortcut? You see this little lane and you are pretty sure it will cut through to the main road? “I’ll go for it,” you think. It seems like a good idea that will save you time and get you there faster.

As you are driving along on your motorbike or in your car, suddenly, the road narrows and there is a huge truck parked in the road. You can’t get by because the road is too narrow. That has happened to me more than once. Another time, I came up the road and suddenly found a big pile of rocks dumped in the road for the construction of a nearby building. Then there were the times I took a shorter road but hit an avalanche. When this happens, you back up, turn around, and by the time you get back to where you started from, you are frustrated, annoyed and it is 15 minutes later but you are still at the same place.

This reminds me of when we try to make disciples using only a weekly meeting with them. It looks like a shortcut, but it’s not.

Discipleship Is Not A Meeting- It Is Doing Life Together

Discipleship doesn’t happen only in a weekly meeting. It is an intense investment of our lives into others. This is a whole lot more than what happens in a weekly gathering where you “preach” to them, or even do a Discovery Bible study or tell a Bible Story.

Discipleship happens when we do life together. It’s when we become a community of Jesus followers who challenge, encourage, support and commit to helping one another grow in following Jesus. Our lives “rub off” on others and they “catch” from us a passion for the lost, a faith in the God of the Impossible, a love for God’s Word, etc.

I’m always interested in strategies and structures. I’m fascinated to learn about what different people are using for their short and long-term discipleship. Having a good system can facilitate a lot of things being released. Sometimes, though, we look for the “perfect” system and think that is what will turn things around for us in our efforts to multiply disciples.

Discipleship Is Not A Structure Or System

The last few years I have been doing a lot of training in T4T (Training for Trainers). The T4T meeting structure includes all the important elements that are so vital to multiplying disciples; celebration/accountability, member care, worship, the Word, goal setting, fellowship. It’s a proven structure that has produced great fruit around the world.

The same could be said for DBS (Discovery Bible Study) groups- another great system to use.

As much as I like these systems, I must say that both T4T and DBS are just structures and systems. They will not produce fruit unless coupled with a deep commitment to relational discipleship. We must “go deep” with those in that T4T or DBS circle.

We must get into their lives and let them into ours.

That is what Jesus did with his disciples. They lived together, spent hours around the fire cooking fish and eating together. They did ministry together, and Jesus spoke into their lives not only as a group, but one on one.

We can’t do that with everyone. We need to choose a few key people, those who are faithful, fruitful and focused.

I know you are busy. You might be thinking, I just don’t have time to give more than I already am.

Here’s is what you need to do.

This doesn’t take a ton of time, but it will get you started in going beyond trying to just disciple people in a meeting.

  • Choose 2 key people you are training who you will invest in more.
  • Think of one simple way to let them into your life in a deeper way. (For example, have coffee and share a time of failure you had and how you overcame it).
  • Think of one simple way you can get more involved in theirs. (For example, show interest in one of their hobbies or children).
  • Do those two things this week.
  • read more

    Key #1 DMM Breakthrough Growth: Praying With Faith

    praying with faith

    In the next few blogs I want to share some keys to seeing breakthroughs that lead to a Disciple Making Movement. The first one is praying with faith.

    Let’s start with a funny story to illustrate.

    A journalist was assigned to the Jerusalem bureau of his newspaper. He gets an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. After several weeks he realizes that whenever he looks at the wall he sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously. The journalist wondered whether there was a publishable story here. He goes down to the wall, introduces himself and says: “You come every day to the wall. What are you praying for?”

    The old man replies: “What am I praying for? In the morning I pray for world peace, then I pray for the brotherhood of man. I go home, have a glass of tea, and I come back to the wall to pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.”

    The journalist is taken by the old man’s sincerity and persistence. “You mean you have been coming to the wall to pray every day for these things?”

    The old man nods.

    “How long have you been coming to the wall to pray for these things?”

    The old man becomes reflective and then replies: “How long? Maybe twenty, twenty-five years.”

    The amazed journalist finally asks: “How does it feel to come and pray every day for over 20 years for these things?”

    “How does it feel?” the old man replies. “It feels like I’m talking to a wall.”*

    Frustrated With Prayer?

    Do you ever feel that way about prayer? Ever feel frustrated and like it isn’t making much difference, so why do it? Ever feel like it is something we do first before we get to the “real work” of church planting?

    There have been times in my life when I felt like prayer was a duty and a chore more than a joy.

    That has changed a lot for me in the past few years. Prayer is now a great blessing to me. Prayer is my first priority. It is now some of the most meaningful kingdom work in my life. I have repeatedly seen God use prayer to dramatically impact the amount of fruit He releases. I’m sure that all those who have seen disciple making movements truly multiply would say the same.

    Not all prayer feels that way or produces those results. What makes the difference?

    Jesus And The Fig Tree

    In Matthew 21, there is an unusual little story of Jesus and a fig tree. Jesus is hungry. He sees a tree without fruit. A bit frustrated (it seems), He curses it and it withers. His disciples are amazed at His power and comment about it. He then tells them, this is nothing…

    “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt 21:22)

    What makes the difference in our prayers according to Jesus? Faith.

    When we pray with faith, amazing answers are released. read more

    3 Important Things to Do as You Start the New Year

    The New Year approaches! One of my favorite moments this Christmas came the day after. I sat for a few hours beside our Christmas tree. It was early morning. I found myself reflecting on the goodness of God in my life over this past year. I allowed those moments to surface in my memory- the times when He had protected me, given guidance to me, surprised me with His kindness or favor. How very, very good He has been!

    New Year

    Remembering His goodness in the past year

    1. REFLECT.

    -How has God shown you His goodness this past year?

    -When did you experience unusual kindness or grace?

    -When did you sense His support, protection or presence in a unique way?

    I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, but I do appreciate the way it helps me keep in touch with people. That morning as I scrolled through my news feed, I was struck by how many smiling faces I saw…people wishing me a Merry Christmas…people who didn’t know about Jesus before our paths crossed. Now they were posting pictures and videos of Christmas gatherings, people dancing, preaching, celebrating the amazing story of the King of Kings born into this world. I saw pictures of spiritual grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My heart was warmed. Disciples were making disciples. His kingdom and His government had and were increasing. I had somehow played a part in that. What a blessing! What a gift!

    -Who is celebrating Christmas this year who wouldn’t be, if it wasn’t for your witness?

    -Who is passing on the gospel message to others because you were willing to live out the message before them?

    2. RELEASE.

    As we reflect, painful feelings also surface. There are things we wished for but didn’t see accomplished. People we prayed for, who still seem so hard and closed. Times we hoped and fought for a miracle, but it didn’t happen like we expected. There might be memories of offense and disappointment you experienced. Heading into the New Year,

    RELEASE read more

    Starting Strong with New Believers

    Starting strong with new believers is important. Unfortunately, many times we don’t do our discipleship job well as people come to Christ. Here is an example.

    You shared the story of Jesus. At the end, you asked the question – Do you believe that what I’ve been sharing with you is true? Do you want to receive the free gift of salvation Jesus offers you today? They respond with a yes! Woohoo! Praise God! You pray with them introducing them to Jesus for the first time. He becomes their Lord and Savior. Things are going well. You are thrilled at what is happening in their lives!

    What Is Next For New Believers?

    It is at this critical point when the “slow down” factor often happens in our disciple making. This is not the time to reduce our engagement with this person. Not if we want to see a disciple making movement take place. Sometimes we don’t take the next steps because we don’t know what to do. Or perhaps we are just relieved that they are now “saved.” We feel we can relax just let them grow slowly by attending church.

    A Critical Time

    Immediately after someone receives Christ is as critical a time in their spiritual life. It is the same as the first month is for a newborn baby. We would never think of bringing a child into the world and then telling the baby, “Now come once a week to this meeting we have and you will get the food and care you need.” Would we? Of course not! Yet this is exactly what often happens with new believers.

    If we train people in evangelism but don’t train them in how to disciple new believers, they don’t know what to do next. At this point, many simply invite the person to start attending church with them. That is all the follow-up they do. This is a major loss of opportunity for that person and for the movement. If we train on this issue and make a few key changes, we can see much greater multiplication!

    There are a few critical things we must train our disciples to do with new believers.

    new believers
    Share the good news with Boldness
    1) Get them to immediately start sharing their story (testimony) with others.
    2) Start meeting with them regularly to teach the basics of what it means to follow Christ.

    Jesus Told New Believers To Immediately Share Their Testimony!

    In Mark, chapter five, we read the story of Jesus casting many demons out of a man. The man begs Jesus to let him stay with him. How did Jesus respond?

    “Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.'”(Mark 5:19)

    Immediately after this man met was set free, the Lord instructed him to begin evangelizing others. If Jesus felt new believers were ready to start ministry immediately, then we too can follow that model!

    Teach Simple Baby Lessons

    In addition to encouraging new believers to witness, start meeting with them often. They need to quickly learn some basics. Ying Kai, of T4T, calls these the Baby Lessons. There are different foundational discipleship tools you can use. They need to be simple and reproducible. Make sure you get the new believers to start praying, receiving from the Word of God daily, and connecting with their new spiritual family. For this to happen, those who led them to Christ will need to meet with them often. Generally speaking, I’d recommend a few times a week in the first few months.

    Obstacles- Time and Training

    What are the biggest obstacles to quality discipleship for new believers? They are training and time.

    1. Training. We often train disciples to evangelize but don’t train them in how to disciple new believers. It is not hard to train them in this. Equipping in this way will make a huge difference in releasing multiplication. Give trainees a simple system to do this. A system makes it easier and less time-consuming than creating from scratch. (Sign up with the form below to learn how to use the oral culture friendly “Baby Lessons” we recommend).
    2. Time. People with full-time jobs and families, don’t have a lot of free time to follow-up on those who respond. Encourage them to give adequate time to care for those who receive Christ. Show them how to train the new believers to witness to their friends and family. This may mean they will have less time for evangelism. That is okay.

    As you address the issues of time and training you will make disciples who both evangelize, make disciples and start new groups of disciples. We call these people green and blue people. 🙂

    Start New Groups Through New Believers read more

    Advent Thoughts: Who Did God Use?

    Who does God delight to reveal Himself to? Who does He so often choose to spread His message of love? Is it the qualified and trained? Or the ordinary person?

    This Advent season, I’ve been reading again the incredible story of Jesus’ birth. There is so much to be amazed about, to ponder and think about in this story.

    Today I asked myself the question: If I were the Messiah coming to earth, who would I first announce my arrival to?

    I’d probably look for people of influence, good communicators, people who are believable and have credibility. I’d want to choose those who are well-educated and could clearly and eloquently articulate the message of my coming.

    sheep-2545387_1280

    Jesus chose to announce His long-awaited, miraculous arrival to shepherds in a field. Let that sink in for a minute. Uneducated laborers. Common people who lived outside among sheep.

    Why in the world would God choose them? Doesn’t He know they don’t understand things very quickly?!! (I’m kidding of course, though I have definitely experienced first hand how it can sometimes be hard to get less educated people to understand certain concepts and principles!)

    Why not the Rabbis? Why not the High Priest? Why not the upstanding citizens of the big city of Jerusalem, or at least the scribes who could properly write it all down??

    God chose to give the first announcement of His coming to Earth to very ordinary people. He then chose to spread that word, the testimony/witness of His birth, through them.

    Luke 2:17-18 “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

    If God chose to do this, maybe we should consider the key role that ordinary people play in sharing His message. Maybe we should trust and empower the less educated, the less articulate, the day laborers and field workers to do the work of the ministry. Maybe it isn’t God who thinks we need lots of qualifications to share His good news. Maybe it is us as humans who have put all these conditions on who is qualified to do the work of the Kingdom.

    A major key to seeing a DMM (Disciple Making Movement) released is that we believe in and give genuine authority to ordinary believers to do the work of the ministry. God was willing to trust lay people without much training. Shouldn’t we?

    What Makes a Church a Church? Part 3

    “Is my home group a church?” you may ask. “We don’t have a pastor and we are only a few families that meet together.”

    “Does time of day and day of the week have to do with if we should call this a church? Can a church meet on a Tuesday night and still be a church?” Again, good questions.

    It is important to answer these. What is it that makes a church a church? A great place to find answers is to look at the early church described in Acts.

    In Part 2, we looked at five of the functions of the early church from the passage below. We will now take a look at the remaining five. These are church essentials if we desire to be like the New Testament church.

    41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

    42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:41-26 NIV read more