When I first heard the term “filtering” being used in DMM/CPM circles I wasn’t sure what I thought about it. It was definitely NOT a part of my organizational culture to do this! I wasn’t sure it was biblical. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I particularly didn’t like the idea of “filtering people out” of our trainings and priorities. It just sounded kind of….mean. The pastoral, member care side of me reacted to it.
Crisis brings out the best and worst within us. Some personalities love a challenge. Adversity inspires them. Climbing Mount Everest, participating in a Triathalon, winning an Olympic medal…these people amaze me! Not everyone has an extreme adventure personality. Some of us freeze when there is a crisis. We have no idea what to do. Others are pessimistic by nature. When a major problem hits, they see all the possibilities of what could go wrong.
In the midst of the COVID-19 global crisis, what kind of person will you be?
“I don’t feel qualified to train others in DMM,” she said to me. “I haven’t started a movement yet.” Her face was downcast and sad. This active, field practitioner felt unworthy to speak to others about Disciple Making Movements. They hadn’t yet seen multiplication as they hoped. Who is qualified to train others?
The reverse is also common. “This is the way you should do it,” he declared. His speech was dogmatic. “Without this (fill in the blank) you’re wasting your time.” When asked about the fruit of his ministry, it became clear. This person was a theorist, not a practitioner. I find it hard to listen to people who teach but don’t do.
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Not Focusing Is Serious
Failure to focus is serious. The eternal destiny of thousands of unreached people is at stake. Their future depends on our actions and decisions. Can we keep from being pulled in a million different directions? If not, they may never hear the gospel and believe. Thankfully, there are simple keys to keeping our concentration on DMM goals.
I Never Planned to Do That!
Do you ever go through the day and think, “How did it get to be 3 pm?” You glance at your watch and say, “I haven’t done anything I planned to do today!” That happened to me a few days ago. I had decided I would write for an hour, exercise, go visit my neighbor to share a testimony, and study language. At 3 pm, I hadn’t done any of those things! Instead, I’d read emails, followed some social media feeds, chatted with my husband about an upcoming trip and watched a video link or two. Oh yeah. I also made coffee and suddenly cleaned out the refrigerator which I’d noticed was dirty.
It is so easy to get off track and forget about what is important! Steven Covey describes this in his book “First Things First”. We easily do “the urgent” and fail to do “the important.” Or, we end up doing what is easiest, rather than things that take a more determined effort.
3 Keys To Staying Focused On Your Disciple Making Movement (DMM) Goals
1. Decide Ahead Of Time What Is Important.
As humans, we follow patterns and typical behaviors. Most of us are in the habit of letting ourselves be easily distracted from our most important goals. We quickly postpone work on our real vision- starting a Disciple Making Movement! To change habits and become more focused, clearly determine what is most important to you. When distractions come your way, you have already made decisions. You know how you will handle those things.
Ask yourself these questions:
1) What are my 3 most important Disciple Making Movement (DMM) related goals?
2) What activities will significantly help me get those things done?
3) What activities prevent me from having time to work on those goals?
Here is an example to make it more clear.
John’s 3 most important DMM related goals are:
A. Abundant seed sowing- 5000 gospel presentations this year.
B. Start 4 new 2nd generation churches.
C. Train 30 people in the first six T4T Lessons until they can train others.
Activities that will help him make progress are:
– Training local believers to share their testimony and the Jesus story. Several 2-day trainings are planned already.
– Running a weekly training for the blue and green people from the 1st generation churches.
– Visiting these faithful and fruitful people for one on one discipleship at least weekly.
Some activities that might prevent John from doing those things:
– Serving on an organization’s board that doesn’t have to do with his DMM goals.
– Preaching on topics not related to DMMs, even though he will get a good honorarium for doing that.
– Wasting time on Facebook and other social media when he could be visiting the leaders he is developing.
Make sense as this relates to John?
Now Do It For Yourself
Now think about those 3 questions for yourself.
1) What are my 3 most important DMM related goals?
2) What activities will significantly help me get these things done?
3) What activities prevent me from having time to work on these goals?
Write down your answers.
Take a few minutes to think through specific examples or scenarios. Think about the times when you will have to make choices to stay focused on your most important goals.
Using John’s example, he might think about this scenario.
John’s best friend Peter is the president of a Christian organization. It does wonderful mercy ministry in his area. They have been friends for a long time. Peter requests John to serve on his organization’s board of elders. It is an honor to be asked to do this. It will also mean an all-expense paid trip to Singapore each year. That is a place John has always wanted to visit. What will he do?
By thinking about these kinds of scenarios ahead of time, John can see that he would need to say “no” to this. It is a kind offer and a good ministry. If he says,“yes”, though, he will not have time to train the local believers and disciple his blue and green people. “If I am offered those kinds of opportunities this year, I will say ‘no’. I want to stay focused so I can accomplish my most important goals. I want to see a DMM take off in my region!” he thinks.
2. Review And Check Yourself Regularly.
Once you have done the above, take the next step. Schedule a time to regularly evaluate yourself. Are you staying focused?
I do this through quarterly retreats. During that retreat, I review my goals and activities. I invite the Holy Spirit to refocus me on His priorities for my life. I make adjustments.
It is important to evaluate more frequently too. It can be done every Monday morning before you start your work week. Team meetings are another good weekly evaluation point you can use. Keep your top 3 goals in front of you. Check yourself often. Are these the 3 areas you are spending most of your time on? If not, make adjustments to your activities.
3. Say “No” Often.
Only say “Yes” to opportunities that contribute toward your top 3 goals.
This is difficult! It is especially hard to say “no” to friends, family members and leaders we respect. Remember, when you say “Yes” to things not related to your goals, you are saying “No” to more important things. When you say “Yes” to helping someone plan a conference in your area, you are actually saying “No” to having time to share Christ with your neighbors. If the conference planning takes your time away from the new believers, you are in reality saying “No” to them.
Who does God want to say “Yes” to? Be courageous and say “No” often!
Focus Is Possible!
Staying focused is challenging, but it’s possible. The main thing is to change our regular behavior. As we develop new habits by saying “no” and regularly evaluating, we will make progress. Changing in this area is worth the effort. The unreached around you wait to hear the good news. Jesus died for their salvation. Your great calling is worth giving a focused effort to!
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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!
We must humbly and deliberately evaluate our tools, methods and schools in light of the results we desire.
This is truly important! Without evaluation we get stuck in old ways of doing things and patterns of behavior that don’t lead to fruit. We need to evaluate all that we do and make it a priority to take the time to regularly do this. We must be willing to look at what we do and then be willing to change if what we are doing isn’t working!
At the same time, we need to be careful not to change what we do too often or we lose the momentum that comes from repetition and consistency of approach. In the midst of evaluating, we must avoid the temptation to constantly change and tweak what we do. Doing this becomes confusing, especially for the grassroots people we are training.
When we have many different versions of a tool that are all slightly different, people can easily go back to their default of more traditional methods and tools because those are less confusing to them.
We need to balance evaluation and tweaking, with having consistent, clearly explained, and repeatedly used tools and methods. Sometimes the benefit of having the same tool is higher than the benefit of having a slightly better tool. Familiarity helps reduce stress. Constantly introducing new tools or remaking the tools we have causes stress and wastes a lot of valuable time when we have to retrain people we have already trained in one skill or with one tool. Having consistency also helps a lot when we are using various different trainers to train or when we are having people advance from one level to another.
One of the biggest keys I have found to moving things steadily forward toward movements and growth has been to keep the message and method clear, consistent and simple. Some years ago in our organization, we tried an options based approach. We had lots of options we offered people. Westerners and people who are highly educated appreciate and enjoy this. It affirms their freedom, individuality and ability to choose. It was an approach where we said, for example, “Here are 5 different ways you can present the gospel. Choose the one that is best for you and your context.” This works well for Westerners and well-educated people who have a more individualist world view. They like it even better when we say, “Create your own approach. You know your situation and context best.”
Experience has taught me that this options based, create your own approach simply doesn’t work well with grassroots indigenous people. In fact, it significantly hinders multiplication. It is much more fruitful to simply give only one option (even if it isn’t the absolutely best one that could ever be created). Then, train them how to use that particular approach or skill and use it well. Repeat, repeat, repeat until they can do it in their sleep…until it becomes natural for them and they can train others. This builds confidence, capacity and results in reproducibility. It reduces confusion and the energy drain that it takes to “choose” or “create.” It enables grassroots people and very new believers to immediately become effective and empowered.
Some people have wondered why I don’t welcome lots of outside speakers or CPM/DMM programs that bring similar principles but teach them in slightly different ways. Some people have even gotten quite angry with me about not welcoming them to come and teach or bring their program. It’s not that I haven’t tried this. I have. I have found, however, that these slightly different and new approaches that are not in sync and consistent with the things we are already training people in…they are just not that effective. It’s not because they aren’t good methods or trainings. It’s just that consistency, simplicity, and only training people in one main method with the same tools over and over builds the momentum that yields much more fruit.
We also have to be careful not to say something doesn’t work just because it didn’t work once in one context. Sometimes it just needs more repetition and more momentum to take off. It was like that with T4T for us. We find that people need to be trained in it, the same way, three times, before it really sinks in and they “get it.” But, repetition wins the game. And once they get it…wow! The fruit is quite amazing.
This creates a bit of a quandary and a dynamic tension. We need to evaluate regularly, faithfully and I would even say ruthlessly. We can’t have any “holy cows” in our methods, tools, etc. We can’t afford to be so loyal or committed to something that we won’t change it even though it’s not effectively yielding fruit. At the same time, let’s be careful about how (and how often) we evaluate and tweak so we keep a consistent and clear approach that is easily reproduced and isn’t confusing for grassroots people. They are the ones who will really cause the rapid multiplication we desire.