I played basketball in high school and college. Our coach made us spend hours on the fundamentals. Dribbling, passing the ball, shooting layups…over and over again. “Fundamentals win games,” he said with confidence. I felt bored. I wanted to learn how to spin the ball on my finger or shoot a fancy shot. Nope. Fundamentals were what he drilled us on. In starting Disciple-Making movements, there are some key fundamentals. One is the skill of learning to share your story (testimony), quickly and with clarity.
“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.
Human beings are complex. We like to complicate things. Jesus knew how to keep it simple. This is easier said than done. Simple doesn’t mean easy or light. When we keep things straight-forward, they are easily reproduced by others. The baton we try to pass to others can quickly become heavy. If you want to see a multiplication of disciples and leaders, work hard to keep things simple.
Experiencing the Kingdom
I sat on the floor in their tiny home. A group of women and a few kids had joined me. We chatted about their children. It was then time for the Bible story. The day before I had come to this same home. I’d shared the story with the beautiful lady whose house we now occupied. We’d practiced it until she could repeat it easily. She was not highly literate, but she was a fantastic storyteller.
You’ve got to ask if you want to make the sale. It’s basic business practice. After presenting your product, you ask them to buy. A salesperson who never asks the customer to commit will not make sales. Though what we are doing is not business, the principle applies. If you never ask people to commit to following Christ, you will make very few (if any) disciples.
We can not let fear prevent us from asking people to commit. After sharing a gospel presentation, testimony, or praying for someone, you must ask. You must extend the invitation.
In recent weeks I’ve had numerous conversations with people. The topic of tracking has surfaced more than once. Is it biblical?
Tracking numbers and setting goals can feel like it isn’t relational. While the feeling is real, it doesn’t need to be true. We can be both relational and also track fruitfulness. Led by the Holy Spirit and deeply dependent on Him, we can set goals and evaluate progress while still valuing each individual involved.
Admittedly, some people swing one way or the other. Many leaders don’t hold this tension well. We tend to err on one side or the other. Sometimes we say we don’t care about results at all- “God knows my heart and how much I want to see people saved! That is enough.” It sounds spiritual, but is it?
You meet every week for worship, prayer, and study. Is your house church healthy? Under the surface, there seem to be tensions. Relationships don’t go very deep, and resentments mount between some members. A few people are close friends, others feel excluded. Some have stopped coming who initially seemed interested. You wonder why.
In previous blogs I wrote about the elements and activities of a church; things like worship, giving, baptism, Lord’s supper, etc. A healthy house church maintains a balance between its internal and external focus. The sense of community and fellowship within the church needs to consistently deepen.
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.
Money can easily destroy a life…or a movement. A few days ago I was talking to another Disciple Making Movement trainer. In the course of our conversation, I blurted out, “I think we have killed as many movements as we have started.” It is not difficult to destroy a budding movement. Money can be a major movement killer. Or, if offerings are handled well, they can greatly help it grow.
The early church struggled with money issues too. In 1st Timothy, Paul (the trainer) writes to his trainee Timothy. He warns him of two big problems that come in a growing movement; false teaching and money problems. It is in this context that we find the well-known phrase, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10)
“Is what we are doing really a church? I thought churches were buildings with crosses on top. Don’t we need to have a pastor? And a pulpit?” These are typical questions people ask when we talk about multiplying house churches. We must help new believers understand what the church is.
This is much easier to do after they’ve experienced church life together. For most, it is a significant paradigm shift to understand that the church is not a building. Without a deep change in this kind of thinking, the movement will struggle to grow.
Long-term, pioneer, frontier missionaries can get a bit cynical. We’ve seen lots of problems. Many things have gone wrong over years of service. It is easy to start to see the negative, rather than the positive in both people and situations. Seeing young people God sends your way on short-term mission teams, as God sees them, is important. Finding ways to help them be a blessing, as well as being blessed, is even more vital.
Not a New Phenomenon
Short-term teams are actually not a new invention! Pioneers like Loren Cunningham (and others) led the way in their acceptance in modern missions. Yet they are a very ancient (and Biblical) strategy.