“What is the most important quality in a disciple maker or church planter’s life?” she asked. I was thoughtful for a moment. Many things rose to my mind. Diligence, prayer, passion for the lost, ability to call others into the vision, my list was long. One thing rose to the top. Perseverance. Without an ability to stick to the task, in spite of obstacles, to resist distractions and press on, Disciple Making Movements don’t get launched.
God gave you passion and vision or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Somewhere along the line, He breathed His heart into yours. It caught. A dream of multiplication began.
On the dusty, long road toward the release of a movement, we can get discouraged. Other ways of working seem appealing. Whatever happened to that promise that we would see a rapid multiplication of disciples transforming our area? Was it a crazy idea, or a missions fad?
You still long to see this happen, but doubts fill your mind. Maybe I’m not the right person to do this. Maybe it happens in other countries but can’t happen here. This is hard work!
A certain amount of what we call “gritty determination” is needed to launch a movement. For many, it takes years of effort. You’ll have attempts that look like they will take off, then fail. You find a Person of Peace and they move to another state. Team members get disillusioned and drop off.
If that is happening, don’t despair. What you are experiencing is normal!
Behind the success stories of tens of thousands coming to faith in a few years, there are years of effort and prayer. Many experience failures and efforts that seem to lead nowhere. Starting a DMM is not a short-term calling. For many, it becomes a life-long dogged pursuit marked by great sacrifice.
Will you be one who not only starts down this road, but perseveres till you actually see a multiplying movement of radical Jesus followers growing in your region?
When I Refuse to Get Discouraged
I could tell stories from 30 years ago or stories from yesterday. I could write of my own struggles or of those I coach. The stories though are much the same. Those who are willing to evaluate, grow, learn, and persevere eventually see fruit.
This week I’ve been trying to reach out to my own neighborhood here in the United States. I’ve had fits and starts. I met someone from South Asia in an unusual place. She seemed thrilled to meet someone who had lived in her land. We exchanged phone numbers. Excited, I got in touch with her, only to have her tell me she was too busy to get together.
I reached out to another neighbor and invited them to study the Bible with my husband and I. He’d seemed interested before when we’d brought it up. “I’ll think about it,” he said. He never showed up at the appointed time. I approached another neighbor from Africa to see if she could come over for tea. I hoped to share my testimony with her that day. “I’m sorry, I have to go to work today. Maybe this weekend,” she said.
“Wow. I’m striking out this week,” I thought.
I’m not discouraged, though. No. I know God has that person out there who is ready and waiting to hear the good news I have to share. If I persevere, I will find them. Through them, I’ll reach many.
We must not give up when we face a few barriers, big or small. You might read this and think, that is nothing compared to the disappointment I’m facing. Maybe you stepped out in faith and prayed for someone in a wheelchair and they were not healed. Or perhaps you face great persecution if you share your faith with those around you. It’s not easy to be bold when the threat of a violent attack is present. You hold back, waiting for the perfect moment.
6 Situations When Disciple Makers Shouldn’t Give Up
Don’t Give Up When…
1) You share your testimony and it’s not received.
Share it again…and again. The more you share, the more you practice this, the more natural it will become. Eventually as you sow seeds, they will begin to grow. You will be surprised one day when you find someone who God has prepared to receive Him. Our job is to sow seeds of the gospel faithfully. His job is to make it grow.
2) Your prayers are not immediately answered.
Jesus taught us to pray with perseverance. In Luke 18:1-8 we find the story of the persistent widow. How much more will our Heavenly Father who loves us answer our cry? We pray and we continue to pray. We knock and the door will be opened.
Extraordinary prayer is a key factor in the release of movements. This means we pray not once, not twice, but continually. We pray in faith and we don’t give up.
3) You feel alone in the vision.
It is common to experience isolation when running after a big, impossible dream like the release of a DMM. Even if you have a team, at times you will feel as if you are the only one who “gets it.” You train others but at times they will not seem to understand or apply the principles you are teaching.
Jesus felt this way too. Often in Scripture we read about His frustration with His disciple’s lack of understanding. He had to repeat and explain again and again. If our Lord went through this, it’s no surprise we do to!
You are not alone, my friend! Jesus is with you. He promised in the Great Commission that He would never leave you or forsake you. He would be with you always.
Many others are also pursuing Disciple Making Movements around the world. Join our Facebook group and connect with others who are like-minded. Ask for prayer or share your obstacles. Join a peer-mentoring group. You are not alone.
4) Discouraging words are spoken.
People are quick to say things that will get you down. Don’t listen. They may tell you your dream is too big or unrealistic. They may say things like, “I’ve worked here already for twenty years and we’ve only seen a handful of people believe from that community. How could you think it could happen so fast for you?”
Resist those lies with the truth of God’s Word. The Lord of the Harvest s aid that the harvest is ripe!
5) Those you hoped would bear fruit fall away.
You will face losses if you haven’t already. It’s okay. Remember the Parable of the Soils. Not everyone who looks good at first will last. Others will bear fruit thirty, sixty, and one hundredfold.
6) It doesn’t happen as fast as you expected.
As a human, I can be quite impatient. Instead, we must be steadfast, immovable, and faithful. DMMs are very rapid once they take off, but getting the first foundation laid can take many years. Every situation is different but if it isn’t happening as quickly as you had hoped, don’t be dismayed. Keep going. Invest now for fruit down the road. Stay focused and on track. Make needed adjustments as you evaluate. Look for fruitful practices in your location and people group.
We have need of perseverance. Let the trials and challenges build within your heart a steadfast hope that won’t give up. Our hope is never in the strategy. It is in God and His supernatural power to bring about what is on His heart to do. When we join Him in His purposes, we can not fail. We need only persevere.