“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.
DMM trainers need to speak from real experience. Our worthiness to speak on this topic does not come from our fruitfulness in the field alone, however. DMM principles are worth teaching because they are biblical. The worthiness comes from the content, not from your fruit. Yet, our commitment must be to stay personally engaged with disciple-making ourselves. This needs to happen before, and as, we train others.
YWAM, my parent organization has a value that says “Do first, then teach.” I like and believe in this. When it comes to DMMs though, I would state it differently. “Do first, do now, and keep doing…as you teach.”
We Are All Trainers
Some of the best trainers are not the most fruitful practitioners. Having said this, I have never seen an effective trainer who doesn’t also model and practice what they preach.
There are definitely some people who are more gifted by God to coach and train. It’s also easy to see that there are some who are amazing evangelists. In some circles, we sometimes call these people super-sowers.
We need to remember that in DMMs we are all trainers of trainers. It’s one of the foundational principles of how DMM functions. Every disciple is a disciple-maker. Every trainee is also a trainer.
You don’t need a seminary degree to be a disciple-maker and trainer of other disciple-makers. Nor do you need to have seen a movement with 10,000 believers in it yet. What you do need is to be one step ahead of those you are training, and to be committed to not only teach but also do.
Action Steps Are For All
In a disciple maker’s meeting, we ask friendly accountability questions. Did you share the story/lesson with anyone last week? How did that go?
We might ask them if they have prayed for anyone who was sick or shared their story (testimony) in the past week. The leader of the group must also be sharing regularly with lost people. When we get too busy training, speaking, and mobilizing others to be disciple-makers ourselves…something is not in sync.
It can be a very real struggle. Busyness and opportunities to teach abound. Staying focused is not easy.
We can run training on disciple-making, but fail to make space in our lives to be disciple-makers. This seems the ultimate fallacy. Yet it is accepted practice in many ministry circles.
Pastors preach on the great commission or teach a class on evangelism, but rarely witness. Missionaries attend conferences and meetings to strategize about how to reach the lost in their nations. Yet they don’t know their neighbor’s names or anything about them. I don’t mean to sound condemning.
This is a constant challenge in my life as well. This is why we need coaching or peer accountability in disciple-making, even as trainers and leaders.
We absolutely must commit to obey and live out the Great Commission in our own lives as a higher priority than talking about it. Talking is easier. Talking is less messy. Talking requires less of us. But talking about disciple-making and making disciples is not the same.
Jesus Modeled Everything He Taught
Jesus modeled for us how to live this way. If anyone had the right to just teach, it was Him. Instead, he demonstrated. His life was the lesson for his followers, as much or more than His words. They picked up much by simply watching him. His methods were more caught more than taught.
The Lord told a parable about the man who built his house on the sand. When the winds and waves came, it fell flat. It had no foundation. That is the man who hears the word of God but doesn’t put it into practice.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.Matt 7:26 NIV
Jesus scoffed at the Pharisees for the way they knew all the rules, but their hearts and behavior was unchanged (Matt 23:37-52).
Stay Engaged, But Don’t Be a Perfectionist
As DMM advocates and trainers, we must stay engaged with lost people. We must do more than write, speak, or hypothesize about it. Our lives must model disciple-making principles.
At the same time, don’t get stuck in the mindset that says, “I’m not worthy to teach until I see massive fruit and a movement.” We can teach and train the principles we are currently practicing and working to apply.
If this is your scenario, admit that you are not an expert. You are also on a learning journey. Invite others to learn and experiment with you. Then, base what you say not only on your expertise, but on the words of Jesus, and the practices of the New Testament church.
A Single Preacher’s Tale
I once heard of a young single man who was a pastor. He had many married people in his church who were struggling in their marriages. Knowing he couldn’t teach from experience, he simply preached the Word of God about marriage. He let the passage speak for itself and humbly acknowledged his own lack of experience. It was received and had an impact. His qualification to speak came from the Biblical principles themselves, not from his expertise.
Stay a Practitioner
Commit yourself again to being a practitioner. The Cambridge English dictionary defines a practitioner as “someone involved in a skilled job or activity.” As you mobilize, train, teach, and coach others to be disciple-makers and start movements, carve out time to reach out to the lost around you. Be willing to personally start a group of disciples yourself if people respond. This heart attitude makes you qualified to train others.
Being part of a peer community helps provide accountability in this area. Coaching can also greatly assist. Check out the upcoming Online course Getting Started in Disciple Making Movements: Even if You are Busy, Can’t Speak the Language Well and Have No Money. This course includes coaching with the Premium price.
How are you actively engaging in personal disciple making while also training others? Is this a challenge for you? I’d love to hear about your journey with this in the comments below. You can also initiate a discussion about it in the Disciple Making Movements Facebook group.