How to Radically Increase the Lasting Nature of Your Fruit

fruit that will last

A core activity in YWAM’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) is regular one-on-ones. Staff meet individually with students to listen, pray and speak into their lives. One-on-one discipleship and individual decisions for Christ have been the primary strategy in missions for years. Did you know that in the book of Acts, there are 21 recorded conversions, and in 19 of those cases, it was a group that together decided to follow Jesus? Can you guess who the two individuals were?

Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was one of them. The Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion is the other. These are the only two examples in the entire book of Acts of people coming to faith alone. What should that stir us to consider as disciple-makers?

Individualistic Western Culture

Western culture is very individualistic in nature. American culture, in particular, values the rights and decision-making power of the individual. There has been some positive global impact that has come from this in the area of human rights. I want to acknowledge that as well as the Biblical understanding of God’s love for each individual. Unfortunately, when it comes to evangelism and disciple-making, a Western cultural worldview has been unknowingly imposed on non-western cultures. Many cultures, unlike the West, are group-oriented in their decision-making processes.

American culture is highly individualistic

America and Europe are becoming more diverse culturally. An awareness of the difference in how various cultures make decisions is also important for those working in Western nations. Beyond culture, there are also other vital reasons to consider a shift toward a group disciple-making approach.

What in the World is Entitativity?

Groups help people take more risky actions than they would take alone. This is what is called the “entitativity principle” in social science. Those who study groups and how groups react, use this term to describe what happens when people see themselves as a group. When we are part of a group, and together the group is doing something, we feel bolder and more courageous to do those things.

Following Christ, not just as a church member, but as a radically committed Jesus-follower is risky. It demands major changes in our lives. Especially in cases where there is high risk (say for a Tibetan Buddhist person, or someone from a Somali Muslim background), if they make that decision together with others who are already in their group, the decision is far more likely to stick. They are also more likely to have the courage to make it. Let’s look at a real example of how this plays out. This will also help us understand the idea of stickiness.

Media Projects in Indonesia

Indonesian culture is very group-oriented.

Friends of mine have been running Gospel media projects in Indonesia. After years of effort, they were seeing about 150-200 people each month identified as potential Persons of Peace. They watched the data as they tracked these people and discovered something important. In situations where the person interacting with the Person of Peace took an individualistic (one-on-one) approach, there was about an 18% stickiness rate. In other words, only about 18 out of 100 people were continuing to stay committed to Jesus and were following His command to make more disciples.

But, in situations where there was a group approach, they saw vastly different results. When they viewed that Person of Peace as a leader, and immediately formed a group around them, that person had an 85% stickiness rate. That means that 85 out of 100 of those people were becoming disciples who made disciples and continued to obey Jesus over the next few years.

That is a pretty radical difference! A mindset shift from individual discipleship to group disciple-making dramatically changes the amount of lasting fruit. After all, it is what Jesus and Paul did, so we know it’s Biblical and works.

Fruit That Will Last

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.

Jesus Called Groups to Follow Him Together

In Luke chapter five, we find Jesus interacting with a group of fishermen. Peter (then called Simon) is the obvious leader of this group. The Lord addresses him directly in the presence of the others and calls him to follow Him. He tells him, “follow me and you will become a fisher of men.” It is an individual call made in the presence of the others in the group, not alone in a corner.

Luke 5:1 says something interesting. It says, “they left everything and followed Jesus.” Peter, James, and John followed Jesus together. It was a group decision and action.

It is also fascinating to consider how this group of fishermen continues to interact with Jesus, their new Rabbi, and Teacher. Jesus doesn’t usurp Peter’s natural leadership in the group and take over. Instead, He continues to give Peter a place of leadership in the group, and in many ways works through Peter to influence and disciple the others.

There are many other examples of group decisions in Scripture.

Woman at the Well

This is another example of something that begins with one person but moves to a group decision-making process where many believe together. John 4 describes the conversation that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman. At the end of her conversation with Jesus, as she is beginning to have a revelation of who Jesus is, she goes to others in the village for confirmation. Verse twenty-nine says “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (John 4:29 NLT.)

A big decision like this needs group confirmation in her culture and circumstances. Many from the village come streaming out to learn more about Jesus and in verse thirty-nine it says that many believed.

Chepang Village in Nepal

When we were working in Nepal, we saw this to be true as well. There was a tribe of honey hunters who lived in a hill area. They were called the Chepang. One of the church planters we trained, Ezekiel, worked among them.

He began to share the stories from the Bible and to pray for the sick. He prayed for one man’s cow and it was healed. Then a very strange sickness came into the village. The headman of the village called Ezekiel to come and pray. Not wanting to take glory for himself, Ezekiel explained to him that all power came from Jesus alone. He then prayed and God touched many in the village, delivering them from the sickness. The village leader then called the entire village together. They listened to the message of Christ and more than forty adults put their trust in Jesus together and were baptized. Praise be to God!

What About the West?

Some who are reading this will be from communal cultures. Follow your culture. Observe the natural oikos lines of relationships. Enter the group through that person without subverting the group’s leadership, as Jesus did with Peter.

Others reading this may be working with individualistic cultures. Some say that we don’t see as many DMMs in the West because of this difference. This has validity but can also be overcome. Many Westerners are lonely and long for deeper community and relationships.

If there is already a natural group the person is a part of, definitely form a group around that person’s natural relationships. They may not be familial. Their group may be a friend group (college buddies for example) or a group of colleagues from work. In the West, you need to become (and train others to become) a community builder to see things multiply.

Be the person who invites neighbors over for a backyard barbeque. Create a community in your neighborhood or workplace where there is none. As you do this and natural community and relationships form, in a natural way, introduce Scripture and share how it’s impacted your life. Those you disciple to be disciple-makers in the West will need to grow in ways that are natural for our Global South friends. They’ll need to learn how to offer hospitality. Disciple-makers must learn to have other-focused conversations and ask good open questions of those around them. They will need to learn to create a community. This they will learn as you model this important skill and practice.

Even in the West, the Gospel seed will have far greater “stickiness” when it’s planted in the soil of a group.

What stood out to you in this article? How will you apply it?

Let us know in the comments below or on the DMMs Frontier Missions Facebook group. Share this article with your team or friends and talk about it more this week.


  1. Ademola John

    I read the whole over and over finding a person of peace. with all the subjects, I must confessed that I’m better informed . with this I hope for better results. My gratitude to mama Anderson.and all the support in hands.

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