When sharing the vision for Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) most people are excited to hear what God is doing. As a Christian worker, who wouldn’t want to see a movement of genuine Jesus followers? We all do! It’s not hard to get people on board with the vision. It is more difficult motivating people to make necessary changes in what they believe and how they do ministry. Many also struggle with believing it is possible to see these kinds of movements in their area, or through them.
One of the important aspects of a growing movement is that it becomes indigenous. Disciples are free to live out the gospel message in a contextual way. What does the word indigenous mean and how can we contextualize without going too far?
Miriam Webster defines indigenous as: produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment. We speak of indigenous plants, indigenous people, indigenous culture. What we mean by indigenous Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) is that within these movements disciples grow naturally in their own context and culture.
An interesting and profound story is found in Joshua chapter seventeen. It speaks of a man named Zelophehad who had no sons but only daughters. This is an amazing tale with many lessons about spiritual inheritance.
Inheritance For the Daughters
There must have been others in Israel who only had girls. These daughters of Zelophehad were different though. What was different about them? What does this have to do with seeing disciple making movements released??
Joshua 17:3 “However, Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. 4 They came near before Eleazar the priest and before Joshua the son of Nun and before the leaders, saying, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.” So according to the [c]command of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among their father’s brothers. 5 Thus there fell ten portions to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is beyond the Jordan, 6 because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance among his sons. And the land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the sons of Manasseh.” (NASB)
What is the number one enemy you will face as you pursue the release of a Disciple Making Movement among the unreached? One would imagine that it would be intense spiritual warfare, keeping a visa platform, persecution, or some other kind of external challenge. Those are real and they are there to be sure. In my opinion, however, the greatest obstacle for those pursuing the release of a movement, is the inability to stay focused on what is most important. The tendency to become distracted doing many good things without doing what is most important is typical of those who hope to see movements but don’t.
Our beliefs about who we are, dramatically impact how we behave. In the last blog I talked about who we are as people God has chosen to bear much fruit. We are the chosen ones. Today I want to focus on another aspect of identity – who you are as a royal priest of God.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- NIV
It’s important to understand the major shift Jesus brought about when he went to the cross and rose again. He destroyed the old system of Levitical priesthood and established a new system where all who followed Him would be royal priests. In the new covenant you are not physically born into the priesthood. Instead, when you receive Jesus, you are spiritually born into this status.
I looked back on my years in missions and saw lots of evidence that maybe the answer was no. False starts. Failed attempts. Lost people I’d made friendships with but never managed to truly share the good news with, or not very effectively anyhow.
Was it unwise to even hope that God would want to start a movement of disciples through me? Maybe I was setting myself up for failure and further disappointment by embracing this goal.
If you can identify with this, you are not alone. Many of us who God calls to his kingdom work of seeing multiplication among the unreached feel that way at one time or another. (Or sometimes fairly regularly.) So what is our baseline? What do we go back to when deciding whether or not Disciple Making Movements- DMMs are for us? (Sometimes we have to decide and re-decide this fairly often).
In this post and the next few that follow, I’d like to give you my scriptural baseline. This is where the foundation for faith that God can use me to start DMMs comes from.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.– John 15:16 NIV
That is my bottom line. God chose and ordained me to bear lasting fruit. This is my disciple making identity.
Out of all the millions on this planet, He looked around and He saw me and said, “I want her on my team.” Remember those days back in elementary school, when they picked teams for kickball? It felt so good to be chosen by the captain to play for their team!
That is exactly what God has done for you. He chose you to play for His team. He chose you to bear fruit that would last. That is what this verse proclaims!
It takes away the ifs and buts of DMMs for me. Its not about if I am smart enough, capable enough, outgoing enough, persevering enough, or anything else (fill in the blank) enough! All we need to know is that we are His chosen ones. Since He chose us; He will coach us, train us, guide us, empower us, anoint us, and use us to bear much fruit in His Kingdom.
We are creatures of habit. Habits are not things we think about. We just do them. I don’t think about if I will drink coffee in the morning. I just do. I don’t think about brushing my teeth either. It happens automatically. When I meet someone, I always say, “How are you?” Another habit.
There are many important habits we need in our life if we want to release movements. Sharing your testimony freely needs to become a habit. Praying for the sick should become normal behavior. Making room in your calendar to focus on discipling new believers – it needs to be a typical thing for you.
The most important habit to develop, out of all of these, is the habit of regular prayer and intercession.
How can you develop this habit? How do you make intercessory prayer a regular, natural, normal part of your life?
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV
Keystone Habits- One Change That Creates Others
“The Power of Habit”, a popular business book by Charles Duhigg, describes what he calls keystone habits. A keystone habit is a new behavior that once it develops, catalyzes change in many other areas of our lives. The habit of regular intercessory prayer is a keystone habit for a disciple maker. It makes evangelism easier. You will see the release of the anointing you’ve been wanting. A powerful passion to reach the unreached around you will grow.
5 Things You Can Do To Develop This New Habit
1) Make a fresh decision to develop an intercessory prayer habit.
This is hard if you have wanted to prioritize prayer in the past but haven’t. It is difficult to try to do something again and again but fail. Don’t let the enemy’s lies tell you this isn’t important enough to try once more. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says, “I’m not really an intercessor. That is a gift for other people.”
The Father wants to help you become like His Son. Jesus regularly went away and prayed. If it was a habit in His life, it can become one in yours. Start with a fresh decision to try again.
2) Write down 5 reasons why developing this habit will help your ministry.
Knowing your “why” is key to moving forward in anything new or difficult. A lot of us don’t like to take time to write things down. You may like to talk more than pick up a pen. Maybe you even hate journaling. Recording things in written form, however, makes them clear. It helps us to commit. Take a minute right now. Jot down 5 benefits to your disciple-making efforts if you started interceding daily.
3) Choose a time to start. Mark it on your calendar and set a reminder.
Now you need to commit. We put our good intentions into practice by marking our calendars. A lot of people are not very calendar oriented. I understand that. Perhaps you are someone who has a diary somewhere, but you can never find it. Using a calendar is another important habit. I’ll write about it in another post sometime! But for now, at least set a reminder on your phone every day for a month. Choose a specific time you will intercede daily. Don’t start with huge goals. Start small. Maybe it is only 10-15 minutes a day. Later, you can increase this if you want to. Consistency is more important than quantity when it comes to habits.
4) Find someone to join you.
Encourage a friend, spouse, or colleague to take this journey with you. Share your new habit with a like-minded person and set goals together. We are much more likely to succeed when we have a partner in our journey. Who can you talk to this week about developing a stronger intercessory prayer habit? Ask them today to join you. Set up the first time you will check in with one another about this.
5) Decide now what you will do to celebrate when this becomes a habit.
Sometimes this message seems so incredible it is almost scary. The shepherds definitely felt afraid when they first heard of Jesus’ birth through the angels. It was so incredible, so supernatural, so beyond them.
Luke 2:9 “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
For me, the end of the year is a time when I look back on the past year. This past week I’ve been busy writing end of year reports, comparing data, making sure everything is properly accounted for. This season can also be a busy time with parties, events, gifts to buy, sermons/messages to prepare, family visiting, guests coming by, etc.
In the midst of these details, added tasks and the stress comes with them, it is so easy to lose our sense of awe and meaning. It’s easy to feel anxious, bothered, frustrated. It’s easy to forget about the angels. It’s easy to forget to notice the “glory” around us, or to give God “glory.”
His glory is what it is all about!
The angel’s declared “Glory to God in the Highest.” He must receive glory! Pause a minute…okay, even half a minute…and give Him glory today. Quiet your heart and notice His Presence. Let His peace enter your earthbound heart. It’s why Jesus came.
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)
Take one more minute. Thank Him for His favor in your life. Ask Him to let His favor rest on you and all those you influence; on those you train, mentor, disciple, and pray for.
Join me in this prayer today.
Increase your Glory Lord! Fill us, and those who don’t yet know you, with the peace that only You can give. Let them “see” your glory in my life. Let your favor continue to increasingly rest upon us. This Christmas, fill the nations…every nation, tribe, and tongue, with Your Glory Lord… on Earth as it is Heaven.
In Luke 15, we find three very similar stories; the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. Each of these stories ends with a description of what happens in Heaven when even one person repents. Can you imagine the party in heaven if 50 people repented? What if it was a hundred? Or 500? That would be a pretty big angelic celebration! I can imagine Jesus joining right in the dance! Woohoo! My beloved ones have come home!
I’m thinking that what really makes a party a party for Him is when there are lots of new names written in the Book of Life He keeps.
This Christmas, what if instead of focusing on our having a great party on earth, we focused on what would give Him a fun party in Heaven? It is His birthday after all!
Many of our Christmas traditions, feasts, songs, dances and programs are geared to help Christians enjoy themselves. We might even invite people who aren’t yet believers and include a little message at the end, especially for them. This year I’ve been asking though, what could we do differently to see more lost people get introduced to Jesus- the One who the Big Celebration is all about. What if we did something different and the people we invite, not only met Him casually (prayed some kind of prayer of response) but what if they actually made a decision to repent, follow Him and become a disciple? What if what we did at Christmas actually resulted in new groups of disciples meeting together regularly to learn His ways and obey His commands?
I think that would make a pretty awesome Jesus present!
Seriously… as disciple makers, let’s re-evaluate what we have done in the past at Christmas. How fruitful was it, in light of the goal of making disciples who make disciples? What could we do differently this year to see a different result?
I’ve talked recently with a few people about this. Plans are being made to include more one on one sharing of testimonies. Plans are forming to prioritize follow-up immediately after the “program” on Christmas day, to immediately invite the seekers or new believers into groups where they can learn what it means to be a disciple. Church members are being challenged and trained to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection more this month than normal- believing for many new disciples to be made in December.
Jesus is going to have an incredible Christmas Birthday party! What gift will you bring Him this year?