Reading this question you might think, “the apostolic leader.” Having a charismatic leader who motivates, trains, and inspires people is definitely helpful. They are not, however, the driving force in movements. The multiplication we see in rapidly multiplying movements is driven by ordinary disciples.
A less dynamic leader, who knows how to train and mobilize every believer will see greater fruit. It’s one of the key characteristics of movements. Every believer makes disciples.
Disciple-making and evangelism are not only the role and responsibility of trained clergy. In their jobs, neighborhoods, and families, lay people share their testimonies, pray for people, and invite them to read and study God’s Word. This leads to movements. This drives disciple-making forward.
Many churches and organizations say they want to fulfill the Great Commission. I don’t doubt their sincerity. The problem is that it’s not working. Millions still remain unreached. Having a desire to see the Great Commission completed is not enough. We need to actually do it!
Evaluating why we’ve been unsuccessful in finishing this great task is critical.
One of the barriers to the Great Commission’s completion is our limiting mindset regarding the role of ordinary lay people. Equipping, inspiring, and utilizing local believers in disciple-making is key. It accelerates gospel spread dramatically.
Let’s look more closely at the prevailing mindset in most churches today. We’ll then look at what our new mindset needs to be and the behaviors that change will cause.
Limiting Mindset: Ordinary Believers Are Not Qualified to Minister
The separation of the clergy and laity came about in the 3rd century. It continues today. In the first few hundred years after Jesus’ ascension, church structure developed. More and more knowledge and credentials were required of those who would preach, teach, and perform spiritual service.
We see the same progression in new mission fields and church plants. In the beginning of the work lay people are involved. As the work develops, ministry becomes the role of professionals. Growth stops.
Let’s illustrate this with an example.
A church planter goes to a new area. They are there alone with a small team. They lead people to the Lord. Because the team is small, they naturally involve those people into their ministry activities. They need more “hands to do the work” and have no money to hire professional staff. Consequently, they use the people God gives them – ordinary people who have other jobs. These people serve as volunteers and embrace the vision of seeing the church established. As everyone works together to reach the community, the church begins to grow.
What typically happens next is this. When the church gets big enough, they rent a building. They hire a staff, and begin to focus on their church structure and program. Evangelism and disciple-making (reaching the lost in the community) slows or stops. Lay involvement grinds to a halt as does the church planter’s engagement with the community. The team is too busy with organizing the church programs now. Youth programs need a youth pastor. Children’s ministries need full-time people to serve. If the church continues to grow, it mostly grows through transfer growth. People from other churches and those already Christians are attracted to the church because of good preaching or worship. It’s programs draw in those dissatisfied with their current church.
There is nothing evil about the above. But it’s very, very slow when it comes to reaching the lost and fulfilling the Great Commission. With Disciple Making Movements, we aim at multiplication not addition growth. For that to happen, we need a different mindset, not only in the beginning of a church plant, but as an ongoing strategy. What is that mindset?
Multiplication Mindset: Every Believer Involved
Every believer has been commissioned by Jesus to make disciples and do the work of the ministry (Matt. 28:18-20). They can learn to start (and multiply) groups of disciples.
In Acts 4:13, it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Unschooled, ordinary men turned the world upside down. Fishermen, a tax collector, and a doctor, filled with the Holy Spirit became the foundation of the Church. They started movements that continue to this day. None of Jesus’ twelve disciples were trained ministry professionals. He chose to invest and train ordinary men and women.
In Luke 9 and 10 Jesus sends His disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom, to heal the sick and cast out demons. First he sends the twelve, later the 70. These people were not trained rabbis, nor had they been following Him for many, many years before He trusted them to go and do His work. As pastors, leaders, and trainers, our job is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry, not to do it all ourselves (Eph. 4:12). In DMMs, we see this pattern. Ordinary believers are equipped and sent. New disciples make more disciples. Everyone is challenged, trained, and mobilized to make more disciples and start new groups.
Two Ordinary Women Who Are Making a Great Impact
Paula* is a bank examiner in an Asian city. She works 14 hours a day six days a week. A few years ago, she heard about Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) and received training. She began to reach out to those around her. In her limited free time, she started a Discovery Bible Study group. She challenged those in the group to share with others and start new groups. Paula actively shared about DMMs with her church leaders and anyone who would listen. She had several attempts that failed to get groups to multiply. Refusing to quit, she started over. Today she has six solid DBS groups going in her city and one is a third-generation group. Paula is an ordinary woman, doing extraordinary things for God.
Fidelia is a pediatrician and professor. She lives in a West African nation. She too learned about DMMs and grabbed hold of the vision. Together with another friend, they began to launch new disciple-making groups. They went to slum communities and visited drinking establishments. Sharing the gospel there, they found Persons of Peace. Fidelia also helped train believers in her church network to make disciples, not just be church members. Today there are over 55 groups of disciples and three generations. Hundreds have been baptized and lives are being transformed as every day people are being saved.
There are hundreds more stories like these. As ordinary people are inspired, trained, and equipped to make disciples, amazing things happen! Let’s shift our mindsets and determine to train everyone to share Jesus’ love and make disciples who make disciples.
Who can you train and inspire today?
*name has been changed.