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Key Prayer Points for Movements

Key Prayer Points for Movements

By Shodankeh Johnson –

A Church Planting Movement cannot happen without a prayer movement first. God’s people need to spend time in prayer and fasting. We should teach and coach our disciples to pray earnestly. If we hope for any success among the unreached, we need a praying ministry and praying disciples. Prayer is the engine of a movement, and effectiveness in prayer often depends on knowing what to ask. 

Here are the top twelve prayer points we use in our movement in West Africa. 

Pray: 

  1. For God to send laborers into the harvest field. For an increase in disciple-makers and intercessors.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2 NIV) 

  1. That God touches people’s hearts and draws them to Himself.

Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. (1 Samuel 10:26 NIV) 

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” (John 6:43-45 NIV) 

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. (Acts 16:13-14) 

  1. For open doors for the gospel. 

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:3-4 NIV) 

  1. To find persons of peace. 

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. (Luke 10:5-7 NIV) 

  1. That every stronghold and lie of the enemy be broken. 

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) 

  1. That God would grant boldness in sharing the gospel. 

And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word…” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29,31 NLT) 

  1. For fresh anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit on the disciple-makers. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18 NIV) 

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NIV) 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV) 

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52 NIV) 

  1. For an increase in signs, wonders, and miracles. 

Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:30 NIV) 

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. (Acts 2:22 NIV) 

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV) 

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV) 

  1. For protection for workers in the field. 

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16 NIV) 

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:18-19 NIV) 

  1. For resources for the work to be done. 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV) 

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV) 

  1. For multiplication leading to movements to burn in people’s hearts.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) 

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7 NKJV) 

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 NIV) 

  1. For other movements and disciple-makers all around the world. 

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NIV)

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About Movements

Generational Dynamics and Challenges – Part 2

Generational Dynamics and Challenges – Part 2

By Steve Smith and Stan Parks –

In Part 1 we addressed the dynamics and challenges of the first two stages of generational church multiplication. Part 2 continues discussing these dynamics in subsequent stages.

Stage 3: An Expanding Network – Initial 3rd Generation Churches

  • Gen 1 & 2 churches are solidly established and growing.
  • Multiple Gen 3 groups are starting, with some Gen 3 groups becoming churches.
  • Key leaders are actively identified and being mentored and discipled.
  • Strong focus on ensuring multi-generational group health and leadership development.
  • Most movements are using generational trees (showing children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren churches).
  • Desire for “grandchildren” churches (Gen 3) is a strong emphasis.
  • Clear vision and reproducible group processes are used across the expanding network.
  • Inside leaders at all levels are sharing testimonies of breakthroughs.
  • Inside leader(s) with big vision has emerged and is the key catalyst(s).

Challenges

  • Leaders still go to outsiders or Gen 0 Christians for answers rather than discovery from Scripture.
  • Excitement over 1st and 2nd Generation can blind leaders to working toward 3rd Gen and beyond. 
  • Some key parts of church meetings are missing. (Vision casting, accountability, and training others make the difference between just talking about the Bible in the group versus really growing in discipleship and reproducing disciples.)
  • Weak vision. Vision doesn’t pass down generationally. (Early generations have greater vision than later generations.)
  • Vision is not caught and owned by all or most disciples in the movement. 
  • Fear has set in; trying to avoid persecution.
  • Poor leadership development; need to develop Timothies. 
  • Insufficient movement DNA in leaders/groups can stall growth. For example, groups not reproducing or local leaders not growing in their call and oversight of other generations and leaders.
  • The alongsider(s) departs prematurely.

Stage 4: An Emerging CPM – Initial 4th Generation Churches

  • Stable Gen 3 churches, with some Gen 4 (or even Gen 5, Gen 6) groups and churches.
  • A growing group of indigenous leaders overseeing the movement. 
  • Local and alongside leaders intentionally seek to replicate movement DNA in all generations.
  • Alongsider(s) still play key roles in mentoring key leaders.
  • Intentional development of leadership networks (leaders meeting with other leaders for mutual support and learning)
  • Perhaps beginning to spark work in new areas
  • Internal or external challenges have helped bring maturity, perseverance, faith and growth to the leadership and churches.
  • If movements get to Gen 3 churches they usually get to Gen 4 churches.
  • Overcoming challenge of sharing leadership – truly raising up other leaders

Challenges

  • Lack of vision for reaching beyond their natural sphere (outside their own language/people group)
  • Too much reliance on one key movement leader
  • Inconsistent or wrongly-focused mid-level training
  • Not shifting the priority from outsiders to inside leaders and reaching new population segments
  • Change of key leadership
  • Saturation of natural sphere (oikos) and not yet going cross-cultural or cross-regional
  • Relying on foreign funding 
  • Outsiders not connected to the movement offering salaries to inside leaders 
  • Lack of preparation through biblical learning to resist influence of outside Christian leaders who want to “correct” their theology/ecclesiology

Stage 5: A Church Planting Movement 

  • Multiple streams of consistently reproducing 4th+ Generation churches (the accepted definition of a CPM)
  • This stage is usually reached 3-5 years after the first churches are started.
  • Usually 100+ churches
  • Most growth is still to come, but the core elements or processes for that sustained growth have been established or started.
  • Ideally four or more separate streams
  • Ideally a solid leadership team of local believers leading the movement, with the alongsider(s) mostly just working with the leadership team
  • While stages 1-4 can be vulnerable to collapse, collapses rarely happen at stage 5 (and beyond).
  • Since the greatest growth of movements occurs in stages 6 and 7, it is important to continue training leaders and passing on vision and movement DNA to all levels.

Challenges

  • A CPM may plateau at this stage if leadership development is weak.
  • Not having a clear process to track and ensure health in all generation of groups. 
  • The greater the quantitative and qualitative growth, the more likely outside traditional Christian groups will be motivated to offer funds in exchange for control.
  • Not continuing to start new streams
  • Alongsider being too involved in decision processes

Stage 6: A Sustained and Expanding CPM

  • Visionary, indigenous leadership network leading the movement with little or no need for outsiders, and multiplying leadership at all levels
  • Spiritually mature inside leaders
  • The movement grows both numerically and spiritually
  • Significant penetration and expansion throughout the people group 
  • Enough streams, leaders, and churches to be able to find and refine best practices to help with the continued growth of the movement
  • Stable Gen 5, Gen 6, and Gen 7+ churches in multiple streams actively multiply groups and churches, with movement DNA being replicated in all generations.
  • The movement has weathered strong internal and/or external challenges.

Challenges

  • Up to stage 5, movements may still be “off the radar,” but at stage 6, they become more well-known and navigating this can present challenges.
  • This visibility can lead to opposition from traditional churches/denominations.
  • This visibility can also lead to increased persecution and sometimes targeting of key leaders
  • Leadership networks need to continue expanding to keep up with the expanding ministry.
  • Need to continue wise use of internal and external funding.
  • Stage 6 growth can be significant, but is usually limited to one people group or people cluster. To get to stage 7 often requires special vision and training to get a movement to jump to new people groups and regions.

Stage 7: A Multiplying CPM

  • The CPM is usually both organically and intentionally catalyzing CPMs in other people groups and/or regions. 
  • The CPM has become a movement that multiplies new movements. This should be the end vision for all alongsiders when they start their work at stage 1.
  • Movement leaders adopt a bigger vision to complete the Great Commission in their entire region or religious group.
  • Movement leaders develop training and equipping resources to help start other movements.
  • Typically, 5,000+ churches

Challenges

  • Stage 7 leaders need to learn how to equip and send others to effectively cross cultures.
  • It is important to learn how to develop movement leaders who are not dependent on the original CPM leaders.
  • Leading a network of multiplying movements is a very rare role. It requires relationship and mutual learning with other Stage 7 leaders from the outside. 
  • Stage 7 leaders have a lot to offer to the global church, but there must be intentional effort to give them a voice and for the global church to listen to and learn from them.

Key Principles (Some of the most important principles, as agreed upon by a group of 38 CPM catalysts and leaders)

  • Importance of “letting go”: not all groups, disciples, leaders, will reproduce; so let some go. 
  • Invest deeply in those we work with – relationship with God, family, workers, character issues. Be transparent as pilgrims together.
  • The mentor not only “gives” but also receives info and is vulnerable to those he/she mentors.
  • Multiplying “nurture.” Avoid slowing down reproduction. Mentor new mentors to equip next generations. (Matt 10:8 – a real disciple freely receives and freely gives.)
  • Create a counter-traditional Christian culture without bashing the traditional church.
  • Tracking progress is important – evaluating and diagnosing for growth.
  • We all start out ministries with high levels of intentionality, but we don’t always adjust as it works out into the future. We must keep that level of intentionality and reliance on God. We should not “coast” on a system already established.

Steve Smith, Th.D. (1962-2019) was co-facilitator of the 24:14 Coalition and author of multiple books (including T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution). He catalyzed or coached CPMs all over the world for almost two decades.

Stan Parks Ph.D. serves the 24:14 Coalition (Facilitation Team), Beyond (VP Global Strategies), and Ethne (Leadership Team).  He is a trainer and coach for a variety of CPMs globally and has lived and served among the unreached since 1994.

This material was originally published as Appendix D (pages 333-345) in 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon

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About Movements

Generational Dynamics and Challenges – Part 1

Generational Dynamics and Challenges – Part 1

By Steve Smith and Stan Parks –

Movements are messy, and might not always develop as neatly and sequentially as presented here. However, as we study hundreds of movements around the world, we see that movements typically grow through seven distinct stages. Each stage represents a new breakthrough, but also brings new challenges. A brief overview of these stages and challenges follows. Since Church Planting Movements (CPMs) so often work counter to our traditions, it is difficult to stay on track. CPM efforts need great intentionally at each stage.

First, two clarifications: when we speak of generations (Generation 1, Generation 2, Generation 3…) within a movement, we mean new groups/churches of NEW believers. We do not count the original believers, team, or churches who initially worked to start new groups. We consider the believers/churches initiating the work Generation 0, indicating that they are the baseline generation.

Also, our working definition of a church comes from Acts 2:37-47. A church is born when a number of people in a group commit to Jesus as Lord and are baptized. They then begin to live out together their love for and obedience to Jesus. Many of these churches use Acts 2 as a pattern of the main elements of their life together. These include repentance, baptism, the Holy Spirit, God’s word, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, signs and wonders, giving, meeting together, giving thanks, and praise.

Stage 1: Key Dynamics For Starting a CPM Effort

  • A CPM team is present, ideally working together with others.
  • Initial CPM efforts are often started by outside disciples – sometimes called “alongsiders.” These disciples from outside the culture work alongside cultural insiders or near-cultural neighbors.
  • Movements require a shared God-sized vision, so alongsiders focus on hearing God’s vision for this group.
  • Movements require effective processes, so alongsiders focus on laying a foundation for these. 
  • Initial catalysts focus on extraordinary prayer and fasting – personally and with co-laborers.
  • It is also important to mobilize extraordinary prayer and fasting (continues at all stages).
  • One high value activity is casting vision and searching for local or near-culture partners with whom to work together.
  • Developing/testing access strategies is necessary to gain opportunities to engage with lost people.
  • This access must lead to searching, sowing widely and filtering for Households (or networks) of Peace (via People of Peace).
  • At this stage the first Households of Peace are encountered.

Challenges for Initial CPM Efforts

  • Trying to turn friendly people into Persons of Peace. (A real PoP is hungry.)
  • Mistaking an interested individual for a Person of Peace. (A real PoP can open up their family and/or network of friends.) 
  • Rather than training as many believers as possible to join the search, the outsider works alone to find the Persons of Peace/4th Soil people.
  • Not a broad and bold enough outreach
  • Not relying fully on God; relying too much on “the methods” of a certain CP model
  • Not working hard enough (Fully supported people should be working at this full time; people with other jobs must give significant time to prayer and outreach as well.) 
  • Spending time on good (or even mediocre) activities rather than on the most fruitful activities
  • Focusing on “what I can do” versus “what needs to be done”
  • Lack of faith (“This area is too hard.”)
  • Alongsiders not being doers, but rather just “trainers” who do not model what they train

—————The hardest hurdle is from 0 to 1st Generation churches—————

Key Dynamics for 1st Gen Churches 

  • The new church must base their understanding and practice of being disciples and being the church on Scripture – not on the opinions and/or traditions of the outsider.
  • They must be dependent on Scripture and the Holy Spirit, not the outsider.
  • There must be a clear CPM path. Though there are many variations, CPMs have clear paths for all involved. The key elements are: 1) training believers, 2) engaging the lost, 3) discipling, 4) commitment, 5) church formation, 6) leadership formation) 7) starting in new communities.
  • There must be a strong and clear call to commitment.
  • There must be a clear understanding of some crucial truths: Jesus as Lord, repentance and renunciation, baptism, overcoming persecution, etc. 
  • The outsider must not be the leader(s) of the church; they must empower and coach insiders to lead the new church.

Challenges for 1st Gen Churches

  • One common failure is not finding key local co-laborers with vision (not “hired workers” doing ministry mainly for funding).
  • Outsiders can sabotage growth by not having a high tolerance for error. They must avoid the temptation to become the expert. Obedience-based discipleship corrects errors and keeps the Holy Spirit and Bible as the leaders.
  • Leaders must gently move on when unproductive people don’t produce.
  • One mistake is mentoring people who do not mentor others.
  • A related mistake is mentoring just the ministry aspect and not the whole person (personal relationship with God, family, work, etc.). 
  • Inexperienced alongsiders can slow or thwart growth by not knowing how to empower and release insiders to facilitate or even initiate new groups. 
  • Alongsiders sometimes do not realize or are not committed to the intensive coaching needed for new leaders.
  • One oversight is an emphasis only on “profession of faith” and not also on renouncing allegiances that separate new believers from God.

Stage 2: Focused Growth – Initial 2nd Generation Churches

  • Generation 1 (Gen 1) churches are actively growing.
  • Alongsiders intentionally focus on developing Gen 1 leaders.
  • Gen 1 churches are starting Gen 2 groups/churches.
  • Gen 1 disciples have come to faith with movement DNA so it is more natural for them to reproduce the key dynamics and processes than it was for Gen 0 disciples.
  • As the numbers of disciples and churches grow, opposition and persecution may sometimes grow in response.
  • Gen 0 leaders need to prioritize helping Gen 1 leaders and churches reproduce rather than prioritizing starting new groups.

Challenges

  • The CPM path has been made too complicated; it can only be done by mature Christians, not new disciples. 
  • Different CPM path pieces are missing; it’s easy for believers to miss key elements (of the six items above). 
  • Group process is weak (looking back, looking up, looking forward); accountability is weak.
  • Not finding Persons of Peace/4th soil people at Gen 1
  • Not setting the “follow Jesus and fish for people” DNA (Mark 1:17) within hours/days
  • Not coaching the “Model-Assist-Watch-Leave” process at every stage
  • Not harvesting oikos (family and friends network) at Gen 1

—————The second hardest hurdle is from 2nd to 3rd Generation churches—————

In Part 2 we will address this challenge, along with the dynamics and challenges of stages 3-7.

Steve Smith, Th.D. (1962-2019) was co-facilitator of the 24:14 Coalition and author of multiple books (including T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution). He catalyzed or coached CPMs all over the world for almost two decades.

Stan Parks Ph.D. serves the 24:14 Coalition (Facilitation Team), Beyond (VP Global Strategies), and Ethne (Leadership Team).  He is a trainer and coach for a variety of CPMs globally and has lived and served among the unreached since 1994.

This material was originally published as Appendix D (pages 333-338) in 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon

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About Movements

A Mission Agency Discovers the Fruitful Practices of Movements – Part 2

A Mission Agency Discovers the Fruitful Practices of Movements – Part 2

By Doug Lucas –

In part 1 we shared how the Lord led our agency to transition into applying the core fruitful practices of disciple-making movements. Here is how God has led us through the transition and into much greater fruitfulness.

The Fruit

Exactly how does this DMM process unfold and what do we ask our team members to do daily? We teaching them how to move into a new area, learn the language and culture, pray a lot, and live in a “conspicuously spiritual” way, while meeting felt needs in the community.  Our workers seek to become disciples worth multiplying, anticipating that someone (seekers) will notice. We introduce these “open people” to stories about Jesus and His life. We might mention a passage in which Jesus teaches about honesty and explain that, for this reason, we’re returning a small amount of money that many would consider petty. Then we ask if the individual likes that idea. If the individual responds positively, we ask if the person would like to hear more teachings of Jesus. 

The people who say “yes” to these kinds of questions are of the utmost importance to us. They are what some trainers call “persons of peace,” harking back to Jesus’ words in Luke 10, when sending out the 72 disciples. Our workers start three-thirds groups with these interested parties. In those studies, our workers simply introduce a new story from Scripture, then ask questions such as, “What did you like about this passage? What seemed difficult? What does this passage teach us about God? What does this passage teach us about people? If we believe this passage is from God, how should we obey? Who are you going to share this passage with before we meet again? With whom will you tell God’s story or your own testimony?”

Those who are seeking will want to meet again. Those are the people in whom we want/need to invest our time. We repeat these processes until our new “people of peace” become believers, then disciples, then group leaders on their own. Using this simple approach, our workers expect to start groups which multiply. It works in the developing world, and it also is working in the USA.

In one field, our team worked for about 15 years to establish the first beachhead church. Then by introducing DMM principles, they multiplied into seven groups within the next 12 months. In another field (a Muslim land), the group struggled for 10 years with almost no fruit. Upon beginning to apply DMM principles, they had five new groups launched (and multiple baptisms) within the first year. In yet another field, our workers weren’t even sure how to begin for the first five years. Upon implementing simple DMM practices, in the next 17 months, they saw 112 groups begin with more than 750 individuals attending weekly. During those 17 months, 481 of those new followers were baptized, and many of those are already discipling others. 

Now, some years later, that field has seen groups multiply over 16 generations (the original group has had great-, great-, great-, great- [to the 16th generation] spiritual grandchildren). This movement has grown to the point that as of the end of 2017, 3,434 people meet in these groups. During May 2018, 316 people gave their lives to Christ and were baptized, bringing the total added in early 2018 to 1,254. Also during May 2018, 84 new groups sprang to life, making a total of 293 groups so far during 2018.

As a whole, our workers worldwide have seen a major increase in fruit since transitioning to DMM practices. (See accompanying graphs.) During 2018, God raised up 1,549 new simple churches, with 5,546 baptisms, and a combined attendance (as of the end of 2018) of 41,191 souls. God is at work through the 278 Team Expansion missionaries in some 40 countries.

The Transition

In years past, we’ve heard some horror stories about transitioning to DMM models from the traditional, “proclamational” (or attractional) approach. Some agencies like ours have reported that when they changed to DMM approaches, they lost 30 or 40% of their personnel. Apparently, some people don’t like to change. Thanks only to God above, we haven’t yet seen that kind of disenfranchisement. Here are some factors that might be helping us — but keep in mind [disclaimer], these are only guesses, and problems could arise at any time.

  • From our early roots, our organization has always treasured innovation. One of our seven Great Passions is, “Creative, strategic perseverance until the results are achieved.”
  • We had pushed “extraordinary prayer” from the outset as well. Our first publication was a prayer calendar for our first field. Garrison’s writing just sealed the deal even further. So when DMM practices came along, they seemed culturally appropriate because they were already part of our DNA.
  • It was hard to deny the fruit. First, we observed it in the case studies we saw and in the stories told by trainers. But then, a couple of our early-adopting teams experienced similar harvests. How could we argue with God’s blessing on their ministry?
  • Several of our senior leaders quickly embraced DMM practices. I, however, wasn’t among them. I wasn’t opposed. But I initially had trouble grasping it. The training seemed too “fuzzy.” It wasn’t until I broke it down into practical, bite-sized steps that I could see it as doable. (See the outcome at www.MoreDisciples.com)
  • We purposely decided not to rush people into this transition. We allowed them time – in fact, years. Once they saw fruit among their peers, it became easier for them to transition. 
  • Stories helped ease the jump. We changed names of people and places — but told plenty of illustrations to convey the reality. Some stories were good news, while others were sobering.
  • Senior leaders gently and humbly modeled the behavior for me (their president). But for complete alignment, I had to become personally involved. I couldn’t just teach it. I had to do it.

If your organization or church is considering transitioning to DMM principles, try one or more of these options:

  • Listen to the podcasts and read the blog entries at www.MoreDisciples.com
  • Take a “trial” group through the Zume training material at www.ZumeProject.com. (Both Zume and MoreDisciples are free of charge.) 
  • Read Stubborn Perseverance by James Nyman and Robby Butler.
  • Read T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, by Steve Smith and Ying Kai.
  • Read Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale. 
  • Read The Kingdom Unleashed: How Ordinary People Launch Disciple-Making Movements Around the World by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine.

Don’t hesitate to contact Team Expansion for more updates on our journey — www.teamexpansion.org.

In 1978, God called Doug Lucas, a student in Bible college, to bring together a prayer meeting in a dorm room — and that prayer meeting became the genesis of Team Expansion. Since that time, Doug has served as both missionary (in Uruguay and later in the USSR/Ukraine) and Founder/President of this global organization (learn more at www.TeamExpansion.org). Based in Louisville, KY, Doug has a BA in Bible, an MA in Missions, an MBA, and a doctoral degree in Business Administration. In 1995, he created a weekly email/web newsletter www.Brigada.org  to provide resources, motivation, and trends in global missions. He’s passionate about multiplying disciples. Toward that end, he and a colleague have launched training websites at www.MoreDisciples.com and www.MissionsU.com.

Edited from the article “Discovering the Fruitful Practices of Movements,” originally published in the November-December 2017 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 6-11, and published on pages 287-295 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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About Movements

A Mission Agency Discovers the Fruitful Practices of Movements – Part 1

A Mission Agency Discovers the Fruitful Practices of Movements – Part 1

By Doug Lucas –

Introduction

Our mission organization launched in 1978 with a noble goal: Send lots of missionaries to work among the unreached. In the 1990’s, thanks to careful thinkers like Dr. Ralph Winter, we sharpened our focus toward unreached people groups. Our goals no longer counted workers alone, but in addition, the number of unreached people groups engaged. We carefully trained all our workers in language learning and identification with local people. We emphasized church planting. We hoped and prayed that, once each team of workers was engaged with the people, those workers would only need a year or so to plant each new congregation. We fully expected that it would take longer, of course, to train up a nucleus of new leaders.

Sometime after the year 2000, thanks to researchers like Dr. David Garrison, we began setting goals for church-planting movements (CPMs). In this “third version” of our organization, we noticed that our “beachhead churches” sometimes stayed beachheads. By contrast, in the book of Acts, the disciples did more than establish a single new church in each region or country. God “added to their numbers.” Accordingly, we began urging our workers to plant churches that would plant churches. Our goal-setting process began measuring not only churches planted, but also churches planting new churches.

By 2010, we were engaged in a bit of a revolution. I’m not even sure what to call it but, for lack of a better term, we’ll call it disciple-making movement (DMM) thinking. The difference might seem subtle at first. In fact, it was very fuzzy to me at first as well. But once understood, the outcome was quite profound.

 

The Fruitful Practices

Regardless of your opinion of DMM practices, the electricity and sheer energy generated by DMM thinking is hard to miss. While earlier trainings focused on tactics and strategy, DMM was, at first, too simple for my mind to grasp. One of the central tenets, as articulated by DMM trainer Curtis Sergeant, is simply to “be a disciple worth multiplying” (BADWM). (Isn’t it just like Jesus to bless a system of practices that focuses on changing from the inside out?) David Garrison had identified extraordinary prayer as being the first of several critical factors in launching church-planting movements. But for some reason, it took us a decade or more to understand that this extraordinary prayer had to begin inside of us as workers rather than in some infrastructure or campaign. In other words, to change the world, we had to change ourselves.

Our early efforts at launching movements had been heavily influenced by American business practices such as strategic planning. Now, it almost seemed too simple to tell a new worker that he or she needs to acquire a “passion for telling God’s story.” I guess we all want our jobs to be tactical and strategic. Maybe somehow we must think it makes us look more intelligent. Training workers to do prayer walking and facilitate “three-thirds groups” seemed too… easy. (The group’s time together consists of three simple elements: 1. Look back – to evaluate and celebrate obedience to God, and recalling the vision. 2. Look up – to see what God has for them in that week’s discovery Bible study. 3. Look ahead – to determine how to obey God and pass on what they have learned through practicing it and setting goals in prayer.)

Another practice first described by Garrison in his landmark book, Church Planting Movements, was even harder to grasp. Our temptation when new believers begin encountering persecution was to remove them from the context. Some have referred to this practice as extraction. No matter what it’s called, it’s the first response of the human heart. The trouble is — once we remove a practicing believer from his or her context, the momentum stops. Not only can this new believer no longer reach his or her household (oikos), but in addition, the fire and energy are gone. Somehow, in ways we don’t understand, God seems to bless those who are persecuted. And the outcome is amazing.

It seems odd to highlight obedience and accountability as core practices of launching movements. Haven’t we believed in obedience all along? Yes, but somehow we had begun to equate obedience with (mostly) learning about Jesus… instead of focusing on doing what he told us to do. It’s good to measure church attendance. But it’s even better to figure out how to measure whether or not those attenders actually do anything about their faith. Again, pointing back to a core teaching of Curtis Sergeant, “It is a blessing to follow Jesus. It is a great blessing to bring others into a relationship with Jesus. It is a greater blessing to start a new spiritual community. But the greatest blessing is to equip others to start new spiritual communities.” For a couple of decades, our organization focused on bringing others into a relationship with Jesus, then we focused on teaching them the concepts of the Bible, almost equating spirituality with knowing concepts. But Jesus didn’t want people who merely knew things. He told them that if they loved him, they would do His commands. 

One of the toughest practices to grasp is discovery-based learning. Perhaps it’s so difficult because it’s so easy. Critics are quick to accuse DMM practitioners of dumbing down the gospel. After all, shouldn’t new believers receive in-depth training before we entrust them with the job of telling the Jesus story? But the truth has been staring us right in the face for centuries. How long had Jesus known the man possessed by an impure spirit (Mark 5:1-20) before he sent him back to his household (oikos) to tell them how much the Lord had done for him? Maybe a half-day at the most. Whoa. We’ve been seriously overthinking this. And this man in Mark 5 was about to change history for his home region of Decapolis.

Those are essentially the core elements. BADWM, passion for telling God’s story, praying for those in persecution (but not extracting them), obedience, and discovery-based learning. The truth is it now can take as little as 20 hours or so to train a disciple to start multiplying. 20 hours.

In part 2 we will share our transition process and the fruit God brought through it.

In 1978, God called Doug Lucas, a student in Bible college, to bring together a prayer meeting in a dorm room — and that prayer meeting became the genesis of Team Expansion. Since that time, Doug has served as both missionary (in Uruguay and later in the USSR/Ukraine) and Founder/President of this global organization (learn more at www.TeamExpansion.org). Based in Louisville, KY, Doug has a BA in Bible, an MA in Missions, an MBA, and a doctoral degree in Business Administration. In 1995, he created a weekly email/web newsletter www.Brigada.org  to provide resources, motivation, and trends in global missions. He’s passionate about multiplying disciples. Toward that end, he and a colleague have launched training websites at www.MoreDisciples.com and www.MissionsU.com.

Edited from the article “Discovering the Fruitful Practices of Movements,” originally published in the November-December 2017 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 6-11, and published on pages 287-291 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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About Movements

The Role of Existing Churches in an African Movement

The Role of Existing Churches in an African Movement

By Shalom –

Existing local churches play a vital role in this disciple-making movement. From the beginning of our ministry, we underlined this principle: whatever ministry we do, we make sure the church will be actively involved in kingdom ministry. Sometimes people think, “If a church isn’t traditional it won’t be accepted by existing churches.” But I believe the vital key is relationship. We approach church leaders at whatever level they are and share the bigger vision: the Great Commission. That’s more than the local church, more than their neighborhood, more than their immediate context. If we share with love, relationship, and sincere motive of kingdom expression, we have found that churches will listen. 

In one area, we currently have formal partnerships with 108 totally indigenous groups. Some are local churches and some are indigenous ministries. From the beginning, we approach them through informal conversation. We talk about the task God has given in the Great Commission, and that takes us toward formal discussion with whoever is responsible in the church. If they are open, we set up a training for initial exposure. That may be two to five days. We strongly encourage them to make sure the right people are invited. We want to have about 20 percent of attendees be people in leadership and about 80 percent be practitioners. That proportion is very important. If we only train leaders, they are so busy that even though they have a good heart, they usually don’t have time to really implement what they’re learning. If we only train field leaders or church planters, it will be very difficult to implement because the church leaders will not understand what needs to happen. So we make sure we have the decision makers and the implementers being trained together. 

We focus first on heart issues. We talk about the Great Commission, the unfinished task, and the challenge. Then we talk about opportunities and how we can fulfill the Great Commission. That’s where the disciple-making movement strategy comes in. The final question is: “What are we going to do about this together?” 

Whenever we do a training, we commit to follow it up and really involve the decision makers in the development. One training event with a church is not the end. We want to walk with them on a journey. Our motto is: “Ignite, accelerate, and sustain disciple-making movements.” We don’t stop at just igniting. We work for accelerating and sustaining.

We have a strategic coordinator and grassroots coordinators doing follow-up after trainings. At the end of each training, an action plan is laid out. A copy is given to each person who received the training and a copy to the church, as well as a copy for our ministry. The plan includes the name and phone number of the church’s contact person. Our leaders then follow up by phone – both individually with those who have taken the training and with the church’s contact person. After three months, we make a formal call to follow up and learn what’s happening, relative to the plan they made. 

We then continue communication with those going forward in doing the ministry. We make sure to cultivate those relationships and provide the needed training, mentoring, and coaching. We link them with other field workers in that area so they have a network to encourage them. Then we watch for workers who show significant potential to become a strategic coordinator for their area. 

As people begin to implement, their reports from the field must pass through their church. The church has to stand with it and verify what’s happening. We don’t want to go around the local church. We want the church involved with the ministry. That gives the church a sense of ownership and helps the relationships to grow stronger.

We always make sure to update church leaders on what progress is being made. Some unreached groups being reached are quite sensitive. In those cases, the church may not need or want to be directly involved in progress with that movement. But the church will be aware of and praying for the ministry and helping in appropriate ways. They also allow the new churches being planted to worship in a ways that fit the new believers’ cultural context and feel appropriate to the new believers. 

In this process, we don’t try to change the ministry patterns of the existing churches, which would just make them feel threatened. The existing church can go on as it is. Our mission priority is to reach the unreached. The paradigm shift we aim for relates to the unreached. So we challenge, train, and equip the church to reach the unreached. We communicate clearly that the church’s normal patterns will not effectively engage unreached people groups. We want them to have a movement mentality and attitude towards the unreached people groups. 

Sometimes that new mentality ends up coming back and transforming the whole church. Some of the church leaders also become practitioners and become movement leaders. So the paradigm sometimes impacts the local churches directly. But that’s a by-product; not our goal. 

Partnering with existing churches is a critical element that has helped us accelerate the disciple-making movement. We all came from those churches and our goal is to impact other churches and start new churches. So we praise God he is present and working – in and through existing churches – to bring movements of brand new churches planting churches among the unreached.

Shalom (pseudonym) is a movement leader in Africa, involved in cross-cultural ministry for the past 24 years. His passion is to see Disciple Making Movements ignited, accelerated and sustained among unreached groups in Africa and beyond.

This was originally published in 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon, pages 263-266.

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About Movements

Small Groups That Have the DNA of a Disciple-Making Movement – Part 2

Small Groups That Have the DNA of a Disciple-Making Movement – Part 2

– By Paul Watson –

In part 1 we described four elements of the DNA needed for groups that multiply and become reproducing churches. Here are the remaining essential elements. 

 

Obedience

As I said before, obedience is a critical element of Disciple-Making Movements. Obedience has to be present even at the small group level, even with groups of lost people. To clarify, we don’t look at groups of lost people, shake our finger, and say, “You must obey this passage.” Instead, we ask, “If you believed this passage is from God, what would you have to change in your life?” Remember, they don’t believe in God yet, so “if” is totally acceptable.

When they choose to follow Christ, you adjust the question, very slightly, “Since you believe this is from God, what are you going to change in your life?” Because they’ve asked this question all along, new believers don’t struggle with the idea that they need to obey God’s Word; that God’s Word requires something of them; that God’s Word requires them to change.

Accountability

Building accountability into the group DNA starts in the second meeting. Look at the group and ask, “You guys said that you were going to help (fill in the blank) this week. How did it go?” Also ask, “Several of you identified things that needed to change in your life. Did you make those changes? How did it go?” If they didn’t do anything, encourage them to give it a try this time and be ready to share what happened the next time you get together. Emphasize that it is important for the group to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.

Initially, this will surprise everyone. They won’t expect it. The second meeting, however, several will be ready. After the third meeting, everyone will know what is coming and will be prepared. Obviously, this practice continues after everyone is baptized.

Worship

You can’t ask lost people to worship a God they don’t believe in. You shouldn’t force them to lie by singing songs they don’t believe. But, that being said, planting the seeds of worship into the group DNA is possible.

When they talk about things they are thankful for, it will become worship. When they talk about the changes they made in their lives as they respond to Scripture, it will become worship. When they celebrate the difference they made in their community, it will become worship.

Worship songs are not the heart of worship any more than a flower is the same as its seed. Worship is the product of a relationship with God. Singing praise songs is one expression of the joy our relationship with God brings. Yes, eventually they will sing praises. The DNA for worship, however, is embedded long before they start to sing.

Scripture

Scripture is central to the meeting. The group reads Scripture, discusses Scripture, practices recalling Scripture with each other, and is encouraged to obey Scripture. Scripture does not take second chair to any teacher. Scripture is the teacher. We’ll discuss this more in the next Group DNA element.

Discovery

When working with lost people, we have to avoid falling into the role of explaining Scripture. If we do, we become the authority rather than allowing Scripture to be the authority. If we are the authority, replication is limited by our leadership capacity and the time we have to teach every group. Consequently, shifting from Scripture being the authority to the teacher being the authority, will keep groups from replicating like they should.

This is a hard shift to make. We love teaching. It makes us feel good. We know the answers and want to share that knowledge with others. But if we want to disciple people who look to Scripture and the Holy Spirit for answers to their questions, we can’t be the answer-person. We have to help them discover what God says to them in His Word.

To reinforce this idea, we call the outsiders who start groups “facilitators.” They facilitate discovery rather than teach. Their job is to ask questions that get lost people to examine Scripture. After they read a passage, they ask, “What does this passage say about God?” and, “What does this passage tell us about humanity (or mankind)?” and, “If you believed this was from God, what would you have to change about the way you live?”

The discovery process is essential to replication. If groups do not learn to go to Scripture and rely on the Holy Spirit to answer their questions, they will not grow like they should and they will not replicate much, if at all.

Group-Correction

A vast majority of our group leaders and church leaders have no institutional biblical training. When people hear this, they ask, “What about heresy? How do you keep your groups from going crazy?” This is a great question. As leaders, we should ask this question.

First of all, all groups have the tendency to be heretical in the beginning. They don’t know everything about God’s Word. They are in a process of discovering God which moves them from disobedience to obedience, but it is impossible for them to know everything from the beginning. As the group reads more together, as they discover more about how God wants them to relate to them, they become less heretical. That is part of discipleship.

If we see them going too far away from Scripture, we’ll immediately introduce a new passage and lead them through a Discovery Bible Study on that passage. (Notice that I didn’t say “teach” or “correct.” The Holy Spirit will use Scripture to correct their behavior. They just need to be directed to the right passage.) After they go through the additional study, they recognize what they need to do. More importantly, they actually do it.

Secondly, we need to realize that heresy usually begins with a highly charismatic (I’m referring to charisma, not the denomination!) leader, with some education, who teaches the group what the Bible says and what they must do to obey it. In this case, groups accept what the leader says and never examine it in the context of Scripture.

We teach groups to read the passage and examine how each group member responds to the passage. Groups are taught to ask a simple question, “Where do you see that in this passage?” When someone makes a weird obedience statement, the group asks this question. When someone adds in a detail when they retell the passage, the group asks this question. This question forces all group members to focus on the passage at hand and explain their insights and obedience.

The facilitator models group-correction. They also model focusing on the passage at hand.

Priesthood of the Believer 

New Believers and Not-Yet Believers need to realize there are no intermediaries standing between them and Christ. We have to embed DNA that removes the barriers and perceived intermediaries. That is why Scripture must be central. That is why outsiders facilitate rather than teach. That is why the group is taught to self-correct based on what Scripture says.

Yes, leaders will emerge. They have to emerge. It is natural. But leadership is identified by functions that define a role. Leaders are not a different class of spiritual or a special status. If anything, leaders are held to a higher level of accountability, but their accountability doesn’t give them special status.

If the DNA for the Priesthood of Believers is not present, you will never have a church. The discipleship process must establish this DNA.

By using these essential practices in group meetings we have seen non-believers become obedient disciples of Jesus that go on to make more disciples and start new groups that become churches.

Paul founded Contagious Disciple Making (www.contagiousdisciplemaking.com) to build a community for Disciple-Makers and coach them as they apply Disciple Making Movement principles in the USA and Canada. He is a regular instructor for Perspectives on the World Christian Movement and co-authored Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Spiritual Journey of Discovery with his father, David Watson.

Adapted from an article in the November-December 2012 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 24-25, and published on pages 65-73 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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About Movements

Small Groups That Have the DNA of a Disciple-Making Movement – Part 1

Small Groups That Have the DNA of a Disciple-Making Movement – Part 1

– By Paul Watson –

Groups, and the group process, are a strategic element of our strategy to plant the gospel all over the world. Underestimating the power of groups, and the importance of group process, is one of the biggest mistakes a gospel planter can make. 

 

Discipling Groups

Use existing groupings. There are many benefits to engaging existing groupings rather than starting groups that are a composite of people from different groups. One is that when you engage existing groups, you reduce many cultural barriers that slow down (or stop) the group process. Families have existing authority structures. Well-established affinity groups already have leaders and followers. That being said, groups still need to be discipled. In other words, they need to be taught how to study the Bible together, how to discover what God says through His Word, how to change their lives to obey God’s Word, and how to share Bible passages with friends and family. Here’s how to establish healthy group DNA.

Establish DNA early. Groups establish the habits and DNA for meetings very quickly—by the third or fourth meeting. Groups are very resistant to change once they’ve established their pattern for meeting. Consequently, group DNA must be established during your first meeting with the group.

Establish DNA though action. You cannot tell people what DNA they need to have. You have to get them to do things, or think about things in a way, that leads them to build habits. These habits become DNA. If you establish DNA well—through action, not instruction—then groups will replicate that DNA naturally within their silos and in overlapping silos. We will talk about this more in the Group Process section.

Establish DNA through repetition. Group DNA is the product of what you do, and do often. You cannot do something once or twice and expect it to become DNA. 

Establish the right DNA. There is a minimum DNA required for groups to replicate past the first generation. Let’s take a look at each element.

 

What DNA do you need for groups that multiply and become reproducing churches?

Prayer

Just as prayer is an essential element of movements, prayer is also a critical element of groups. From the first meeting, we embed prayer in the group process. Remember, we never ask lost people to bow their heads and pray. We don’t explain what prayer is. We don’t have a lecture about this being an important part of group DNA. Instead, we introduce a simple question, “What are you thankful for today?” Each person in the group shares. Later, after they choose to follow Christ, we say, “You remember how we open each meeting with the question, “What are you thankful for?” Now, as followers of Christ, we talk with God the same way. Let’s tell Him what we are thankful for?”

Intercession

All intercession is prayer, but not all prayer is intercession. That is why we separated intercession and prayer as parts of the DNA of groups that replicate. Intercession involves sharing personal concerns and stresses as well as the concerns and stresses of others. A simple question, “What things have stressed you out this week?” introduces this DNA element to groups of lost people. Again, each person shares. After the group becomes a baptized group of believers we say, “In the same way that you shared things that stressed you out with each other, now you can share those same things with God. Let’s do that now.”

Ministry

David Watson defines ministry as, “God using His people to answer the prayers of the lost and of the saved.” As any group—lost or saved—shares needs, there is going to be a group desire to make a difference. All the group needs is a little nudge. Ask the question, “As we shared things that stressed us out, is there any way we could help each other during the coming week?” Follow it up with, “Do you know anyone in your community that needs our help?” Embed this DNA from the beginning and you won’t have to worry about motivating the group to transform their community when they become Christian.

Evangelism/Replication

Did you know that lost people can do evangelism? Well, they can if you keep it simple enough. Evangelism, at its core, is sharing the gospel with someone else. When working with lost people, they don’t know the whole gospel. That is totally ok. We just want them to share the story they just heard with someone who wasn’t in the group. We get them to think this way with a simple question, “Who do you know that needs to hear this story this week?”

If that person is interested, rather than bringing them into the existing group, we have the first lost person start a group with them, their friends, and their family. So the first lost person experiences the study in their original group and then replicates the same study in the group they started with their friend.

We have had groups that started four other groups before the first group ever became a group of baptized believers. Within a few weeks after the first group was baptized, the other groups came to a place where they chose to follow Christ and were baptized as well.

In part 2 we will describe additional elements of the DNA needed for groups that multiply and become reproducing churches.

Paul founded Contagious Disciple Making (www.contagiousdisciplemaking.com) to build a community for Disciple-Makers and coach them as they apply Disciple Making Movement principles in the USA and Canada. He is a regular instructor for Perspectives on the World Christian Movement and co-authored Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Spiritual Journey of Discovery with his father, David Watson.

Adapted from an article in the November-December 2012 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pp. 22-24.

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About Movements

Security in Intercession for the Unreached: Secret or Wise?

Security in Intercession for the Unreached: Secret or Wise?

By Chuck Baker –

The worldwide Body of Christ wants to know how God’s kingdom is advancing among the nations. Gospel workers in the field want other believers to be well-informed –for effectual prayer, for encouragement, and for finding partners. Sometimes these good goals can only be partially met, due to the very real risks of damaging ministries or bringing harm to local believers by sharing too many details. Information we share must be thoughtfully limited on a need to know basis, not to hoard secrets but to serve others wisely. Countless ministries among the unreached have been damaged by published accounts trumpeting great numbers of conversions in a less-reached area or people group. Others have been harmed by sharing specific names and details with a trusted partner, who then shared it with someone else, who then shared it in a forum accessed by enemies of the gospel. So we need to be wise as serpents in considering what information to share with whom. 

At the same time, we don’t want our limits on information sharing to block cooperation and partnership. Field ministries would do well to establish trusted channels of communication – both technically (such as secure email or messaging) but more importantly with trusted people who know how to appropriately share information. Intercessors can stick close to the biblical patterns of prayer (as found, for example, in the Psalms, Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-12). These express timeless prayer material not dependent on specific details of various situations. 

Effective intercession doesn’t require knowing everything possible about ministries and situations. A good question for us all to consider would be: “How much do I really need to know or to share, in order to obey Christ and serve His disciples living in danger?” Our goal in guarding information is not perfect security but reducing unnecessary risks. We want to leave room for the very necessary risks willingly taken to bring a witness in dangerous areas not yet reached with the Good News of Christ. 

We see value in circulating people groups’ information such as is readily available on Joshua project and other public sources. Including some basic information about movements and how to pray for movements is also very helpful. At the same time, we recommend thinking ahead five or ten years, to a time when movements actually happen in a specific region and we start to wonder if we had previously said too much about specific places or called attention to a specific method of outreach. We recommend that some of God’s children become more careful in the details we mention in prayer guides and to those on our mailing lists.

Here are some thoughts to help frame material we share for mobilizing prayer.

  1. It may not hurt to mention the numbers of believers but in some cases it can ignite problems. If opponents of the gospel know the numbers of believers in a certain people and/or place, could it lead to specific action against those believers? This is especially true if a large number inspires an effort to find and stamp out this “dangerous” new group. How essential is it for the intended audience? And what is our motive for mentioning numbers? Is it to make a particular organization look good? Raise funds? We should ask ourselves, “Does this publication bring attention to God’s work or my organization?” And then be willing to keep the focus on God’s glory among the nations.
  2. Consider how the material would look if read by someone in authority among the focus group. If this were read by a policeman in the area, what would he think of it? As much as possible, we want to convey a winsome perspective: not opposing people of the majority religion, but phrasing things as seeking the blessings and guidance of God for people we care about. Knowing that our material might eventually be read by such people, we want to come across as seeking their highest good: personal health and wholeness, joyful families, living at peace with people even from other religions. 
  3. We want all believers everywhere to have those sorts of winsome conversations with and around unreached friends. Consider writing as if you were going to share your message with unreached friends. Convey that we long for a real change and breakthrough, that we want all of God’s great promises in Christ to be theirs!
  4. Assume that any written material could be read by people strongly opposed to any spread of the gospel among unreached peoples. Ask yourself: “Would someone using Google and this prayer information be able to more easily find the workers and new believers in these places?” Have you mentioned specific ports, mountains, mosques, holy sites, etc., in an “unnamed” people group, which could easily be located on Google maps as within a certain district? Could an inquiry to that district tip off local people looking to discover “newcomers” or “strangers” or “foreigners” living in the area? We recommend written materials drop all references to numbers of believers and baptisms among groups smaller than 100,000 in population. We can instead say something like, “There are very few known believers, but we are asking God to multiply them and their witness.”
  5. You might be sharing information only with a group of people you trust, but you never know when some of them will share things they learn with less secure people or in non-secure ways. For high-security areas, it is better for most of us to not know the details of what is happening and where. Better to not even say: “Something is happening [in a specific location]”; rather, “As far as we know, that is an especially needy area/people group.”
  6. A simple rule is: if you share specific details, avoid sharing the people group or place or any identifying specifics. If you share about the people group or place, communicate only readily available information. One way to share specifics is to use code names for peoples, places, and other details. You can also describe the efforts in a coded way such as using business language instead of evangelism and church planting language (a new client group was started in XYZ people) but even here you should probably use code names. Crucially, the code names must never be associated with the real names even in what is thought of as a secure data location (which all too often is not secure forever). 
  7. When you can, include actual Scripture texts for people to pray over. Choose texts that express dimensions of God’s heart for these peoples in ways that would be attractive to someone from that people group who read them. In this way, you help intercessors listen more closely to God, and help local people to know the blessings of God which we are seeking for them. 
  8. Describe people’s felt needs, as though you were trying to find a way to meet them. Empathize with local pain, as you prepare material for intercessors, apostolic agents, and supportive alongsiders who call on God to bring real movements! 
  9. As movements grow, persecution and backlash against contextual ministry in general, and movements in particular, tends to rise. We can say something like, “Pray for the few believers among these peoples who meet in simple discipleship groups to share a relevant witness, display the love and power of God, and multiply new simple groups among their friends. Some disciples have paid a very high price for their obedience, and some have even been martyred. Pray for the martyrs’ families, and pray for their persecutors to be saved.” 
  10. Because God is releasing church planting movements in many peoples and places, our role in mobilizing the whole church to disciple all UPGs is also changing. The many thousands of new believers in these movements are also the Lord’s church. And they are the portion of the church actually winning thousands of new believers from the UPGs. So we must ask ourselves: “What is our best contribution? To try to send more Christian-background workers from distant cultures? To help teams in the field as they begin to see movements – to enable them to stay the course and help movements develop? Or to put more effort into praying for, supporting and not killing the movements that are already happening?” While the global Church still needs to do the first two, especially in areas with no movements, we need to put far more priority on the third approach, which may well be the most fruitful one in a growing number of areas. 
  11. How to help and not harm movements and movement leaders needs to be a new priority area of learning for us. Much direct and indirect opposition to movements comes not from governments or other religions, but from existing denominations and church leaders. We need to help churches understand how to help movements grow and stay healthy, and how not to harm them. This will take some new levels of cultural sensitivity, spiritual discernment, and concerted prayer.
  12. We recommend some changes to prayer and mobilization publications associated with various UPGs. We especially want to exercise wisdom in mobilizing prayer for the many thousands of new believers in low-profile house church movements. We believe the time has passed for publishing specifics about UPGs, especially those under 100,000 in population. Whereas 20 years ago, mobilizing anyone to do anything for UPGs was the priority, the highest priorities today are: a) for the new believers in movements to reach more of their friends and neighbors through prayer and love, and b) for those movements to catalyze new movements in near-neighbor unreached groups.
  13. In light of these things, we are rewriting some prayer guides, giving more emphasis to how to pray and what Scriptures to pray, and less specific information on peoples and numbers of believers. This quieter mode of involvement is unpopular with some, but we need to prioritize the salvation of real people, discipling them into maturity, with prayerful advance of God’s kingdom. This higher goal means adjusting some mobilization efforts to put less spotlight on sensitive locations and groups. In some cases it might mean less funding or shifting funding to more strategic and less flashy projects and ministries. We follow in the spirit of John the Baptist: “He must increase: I must decrease.” Our goal is not to feel good about ourselves and our activities, but to do whatever will really tend toward major advance of God’s kingdom.

Teaching people how to pray, and especially key Scriptures to pray over the lost and over the witnesses among them is so valuable! Our not knowing specific details does not hinder God from hearing and working through our prayers. Surely non-detailed prayers like those of the psalmist and Paul can accomplish great things before the throne of grace. We need to grow in maturity to not let a shortage of information sap our enthusiasm and dedication to prayer for the unreached. Let’s keep up and even accelerate the good work of praying to the Lord of the Harvest… but share specific information very selectively.

Chuck Baker has trained church planters and missionary candidates for over 35 years in Asia and California. He has edited prayer guides and led many concerts of prayer for Unreached People Groups. This article developed out of recent correspondence with a team who has adopted an Unreached People Group in a sensitive region where new believers have been martyred. 

This is from an article that appeared in the January-February 2021 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 33-36.

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About Movements

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

Excerpted with permission from the highly recommended book

The Kingdom Unleashed: How Jesus’ 1st-Century Kingdom Values Are Transforming Thousands of Cultures and Awakening His Church by Jerry Trousdale & Glenn Sunshine. 

(Kindle Locations 761-838, from Chapter 3 “Praying Small Prayers to an Almighty God”)

Prayer was … central to Jesus’ life and the lives of believers in the early church. In monasteries, life was structured around regular times of prayer. Monasticism has a generally negative reputation among evangelicals, but it is worth noting that every major reform in the church, up to and including the Reformation, started in monasteries. 

We can also say unequivocally that every major revival and every movement of the Spirit was preceded by long, intense prayer. The question, then, is why do Christians in the Global North spend so little time and attention on prayer? The answer is found in a significant shift in culture that took place between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

 

From Deism to Materialism

As early as the seventeenth century, thinkers in Europe were becoming increasingly rationalistic. Some began moving toward deism, the idea that God created the universe and then stepped back and let it run on its own without ever intervening in it. This was done in a misguided notion of protecting the glory of God; if God did intervene in the world, they reasoned, it would suggest that He did not make it right in the first place. Deists thus had no place for revelation, for miracles, for the Incarnation— or for prayer. 

Deism is a fundamentally unstable worldview. It suggests that God acts only as the Creator of the universe, not as its Sustainer. Therefore, it becomes very easy to drop God out of the system altogether if you can find another explanation for the universe that does not require a Creator. By the early nineteenth century, the scientific establishment began to argue that the universe was eternal, and therefore God was unnecessary. They thus became materialists; that is, they argued that the only things that exist are matter and energy. Given these assumptions, a materialist must conclude that all physical events have purely physical causes, and empirical observation and science are the only things that qualify as true knowledge. 

Christians have never adopted a materialistic viewpoint, for obvious reasons, yet elements of materialism have so shaped the cultural mindset in the Global North that they have also shaped the de facto worldview of the church. When combined with the fact/ value distinction, which we discussed in the last chapter, materialism has had a devastating effect on prayer and on reliance on the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. We acknowledge (at least in theory) that God can act in the physical world— but we tend not to expect Him to. When praying for the sick, for instance, we tend to assume that God will work through the mind and skill of the physician or through medicines or through the normal healing processes of the body, or even by miracles, and so we pray that way. We tend not to pray specific prayers asking for divine intervention in the physical world. Why? Because we have erred in our thinking, unconsciously believing that physical events have only physical causes; and because we have erred in our practice, relegating God primarily to the realm of values— intangible things— rather than giving Him Lordship over the world of facts that can be measured and studied by science. 

 

The Problem of Affluence

The affluence of the Global North has also had a negative impact on prayer because we unconsciously believe that we do not need to rely on prayer for most things in our daily lives. The Global North is so wealthy that most of us do not have to worry about having our basic needs met. The things that we think we need are better described as things that we want, and our problems are mostly “first world problems,” and our “prayers” are more like selfish wishes. Scripture often warns us of the dangers of affluence, including presuming on the future (Luke 12: 16– 21) and forgetting the Lord (Deut. 8: 17– 18) because we assume that we got where we are by our own power or abilities. Jesus’ instructions to pray for our daily bread seem irrelevant when we have a refrigerator full of food. 

This abundance of resources also seduces the church away from relying on prayer. Consider how decisions are typically made in churches: there is a short prayer followed by a long discussion about the issues; a proposal is made and voted on; and a short prayer is said asking God to bless the decision that was made. We would be far better off spending more, if not most, of our time seeking God’s wisdom through prayer rather than relying on our own ideas. Yet we are so used to making our own decisions and relying on our own resources that it seems natural to do that in the church, as well. We pay marketing, media, and management consultants to tell us how to grow the church, how to run stewardship campaigns, how to raise money for a building fund— all examples of relying on our own resources rather than on prayer and the Holy Spirit. 

The simple truth is this: secular methods will never produce spiritual results. There are no consultants in the places where the church is growing the quickest. Those brothers and sisters have to depend on prayer and on obeying the instructions given in Scripture for spreading the Gospel. 

 

Lifestyle and Mindset Issues

Another barrier to prayer is lifestyle: we are simply too busy. Churches are built around programs that keep us doing things, and individually we have so much going on that we do not have time to pray. Or so we think. Martin Luther reportedly said that he was so busy that he could not possibly get everything done without taking at least two hours a day to pray. He knew something that we have forgotten. 

Our busyness is connected to a cultural bias toward acting to make things happen. Our culture loves slogans and aphorisms such as “God helps those who help themselves” or “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” We know in our minds that these notions are not scriptural, yet too often our actions don’t line up with that thinking. Our cultural ideal is to be strong, independent, and self-reliant. Yet the Bible tells us that we are strong when we are weak, that we are dependent on God and on one another, that we can do nothing apart from Jesus. Churches hold classes and seminars on personal evangelism, they encourage people to invite their friends to church, but they rarely hold prayer meetings focused on disciple-making and growth of the Kingdom. Yet Jesus tells the disciples not to try to spread the Gospel without waiting first for the Holy Spirit, and every major endeavor in the Gospels and Acts is preceded by deep and intense prayer. In other words, if we want to move the church forward, the critical action that we must take is prayer. 

Yet another barrier is a lack of mental discipline. Our fast-paced culture and the constant availability of the internet, often in our pockets, have so affected our minds that our attention span has shrunken from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015— and the average attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds! We can, of course, focus longer on things that truly captivate our attention, but unfortunately, it seems prayer is not one of them. It is thus difficult for us to manage anything beyond short prayers— unlike our brothers and sisters in the Global South who often spend all night in prayer. 

Another area where we lack discipline is in the practice of fasting. Fasting is closely associated with prayer, biblically, historically, and currently in the Global South, yet it is rare to find Christians in the Global North who fast. The fact/ value distinction discussed in chapter two is again at work here; we do not understand what fasting is supposed to accomplish since we do not see a close connection between body and spirit. And in a consumerist culture like ours, self-denial seems strange, alarming, and unhealthy. all. If we did believe in prayer, we would do it more. 

Part of the reason for this is, once again, the fact/ value distinction, along with the materialistic mindset. The physical world of fact is separate and distinct from the world of the spirit according to this false worldview, and consequently, it is hard for us to see how praying can produce change in the physical realm. We know intellectually that God can make things happen in the physical world, but we do not expect Him to. 

Psychologically, we also have to deal with the problem of unanswered prayer (or, more precisely, prayer that God answers with a “no” or a “wait”). People fear to pray specific prayers because too often God has not granted us what we asked for. We provide ourselves with cover in these situations by making sure that we pray “if it be Your will,” but we do not believe or trust that God will give us what we ask. Our prayers seem ineffective, which reinforces the fact/ value distinction in our minds and makes us less inclined to pray, preferring instead to act.

The effect of all this is that, even in our discipleship programs, we tend to discount prayer. We offer regular classes on the Bible and train people to lead small group Bible studies, yet most churches have little if any teaching on how to pray. When we do pray, our prayers tend to be so vague that we cannot really say with certainty whether God actually answered them, or whether things would have worked out the same way even without prayer or divine intervention. Often this vagueness is put in spiritual language— bless so-and-so— without any concrete idea of what blessing would look like. 

Prayer is the lifeblood of movements. The church in the Global North does not rely on prayer, and if behavior is any indication, it does not believe in it, either. If we are going to see movements in the Global North [or anywhere else], we will need to see a new, ongoing commitment to serious, intense, persistent prayer for God to open heaven, to raise up disciple makers and church planters, to guide us to His people of peace, and to empower our work.

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About Movements

PRAYER LESSONS TO LEARN

PRAYER LESSONS TO LEARN

Excerpted with permission from the highly recommended book

The Kingdom Unleashed: How Jesus’ 1st-Century Kingdom Values Are Transforming Thousands of Cultures and Awakening His Church by Jerry Trousdale & Glenn Sunshine. 

(Kindle Locations 2470-2498, from Chapter 9 “Abundant Prayer”)

Serious dedication to prayer and fasting is central to Disciple Making Movements. Nothing happens without prayer. Yet churches in the Global North are weak when it comes to prayer. What lessons can we learn from the experiences related here from the Global South? 

  • The best way to learn prayer is by praying with people who know how to pray. Classes and training can help, as can mentoring and modeling, but with prayer, experience is truly the best teacher. 
  • Use the Psalms and scriptural prayers to guide your prayer. 
  • The Lord’s Prayer is particularly important for this. Listen for the voice of the Spirit
  • nudging you to pray for specific things in specific ways. 
  • Start small. Do not attempt all night prayer, forty days of fasting, or anything else that is not sustainable, and check with your doctor before engaging in fasting. Start with a simple dawn to dusk fast once a week. As you grow accustomed to that, increase the rigor, either by expanding the time or the frequency of the fasts. Review the prayer schedule from Africa in chapter three to get ideas on how to do this. Be sure as you fast to devote extra time to prayer. You can develop a similar approach to learning to pray more. 
  • As an individual, you can (and should) invite others in your church or fellowship to join you in your fasting and prayer. 
  • Get new followers to pray. 
  • Along with private prayer and corporate prayer in both small groups and the congregation, take prayer walks, inviting God to bring His Kingdom reign into a community and to show you where and how to begin. Some people on prayer walks begin to prophetically rename the streets of an area to themes God puts in their hearts, like Redemption Place or Deliverance Way. 
  • Experiment with highly participatory prayer formats. 

For example, years ago some Korean churches began to make corporate prayer a huge priority to the extent that many Christians would spend vacations in prayer. Prayer meetings became participatory, and these kinds of prayer meetings spread rapidly in the Global South. Leaders in prayer meetings would name a specific area for prayer, and everyone would then begin praying verbally about that topic. After a few moments another theme would be announced and the group would transition their prayers to that issue. 

For some Americans accustomed to prayer meetings being quiet, led by one person at a time praying, this might at first seem chaotic. However, in much of the Global South this is a common and powerful way of keeping everyone actively engaged in the process of praying, while leaders are constantly guiding and shaping the prayer meetings with intercession themes, and then perhaps moving to praying Scriptures that transition prayers to worship, thanksgiving, repentance, times of singing, or even silence. This approach is also used in half-night and all night prayer meetings. 

Spiritual warfare is real. Prayer and fasting are major weapons in that warfare. Learn to use them.

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About Movements

The Story of Movements and the Spread of the Gospel

The Story of Movements and the Spread of the Gospel

By Steve Addison –

Luke begins the book of Acts by telling us that what Jesus began to do and teach, he now continues to do through his disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Luke’s story of the early church is the story of the dynamic Word of the gospel which grows, spreads, and multiplies, resulting in new disciples and new churches. We get to the end of Acts and yet the story doesn’t end. Paul is under house arrest awaiting trial; meanwhile the unstoppable Word continues to spread throughout the world. Luke’s meaning is clear: the story continues through his readers who have the Word, the Spirit and the mandate to make disciples and plant churches.

Throughout church history we see this pattern continue: the Word going out through ordinary people, disciples and churches multiplying. While the Roman Empire was collapsing, God was calling a young man named Patrick. He lived in Roman Britain but was kidnapped and sold into slavery by Irish raiders. Alone and desperate, he cried out to God who rescued him. He went on to form the Celtic missionary movement that was responsible for evangelizing and planting roughly 700 churches: throughout Ireland first and then much of Europe over the next several centuries.

Two hundred years after the Reformation, Protestants still had no plan or strategy to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. That was until God used a young Austrian nobleman to transform a bickering band of religious refugees. In 1722 Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf opened his estate to persecuted religious dissenters. Through his Christlike leadership and the power of the Holy Spirit, they were transformed into the first Protestant missionary movement, known as the Moravians.

Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann were the first missionaries sent out by the Moravians. They became the founders of the Christian movement among the slaves of the West Indies. For the next fifty years the Moravians worked alone, before any other Christian missionary arrived. By then the Moravians had baptized 13,000 converts and planted churches on the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Kitts.

Within twenty years Moravian missionaries were in the Arctic among the Inuit, in southern Africa, among the Native Americans of North America, and in Suriname, Ceylon, China, India, and Persia. In the next 150 years, over 2,000 Moravians volunteered to serve overseas. They went to the most remote, challenging, and neglected areas. This was something new in the expansion of Christianity: an entire Christian community—families as well as singles—devoted to world missions.

When the American War of Independence broke out in 1776, most English Methodist ministers returned home. They left behind six hundred members and a young English missionary named Francis Asbury who was a disciple of John Wesley. 

Asbury had left school before he turned twelve to become a blacksmith’s apprentice. His grasp of Wesley’s example, methods and teaching enabled him to adapt them to a new mission field while remaining true to the principles.

Methodism not only survived the Revolutionary War, it swept the land. Methodism under Asbury outstripped the strongest and most established denominations. In 1775 Methodists were only 2.5% of total church membership in America. By 1850 their share had risen to 34%. This was at a time when Methodist requirements for membership were far stricter than the other denominations. 

Methodism was a movement. They believed the gospel was a dynamic force out in the world bringing salvation. They believed that God was powerfully and personally present in the life of every disciple, including African Americans and women, not just the clergy. They also believed it was their duty and priority to reach lost people and to plant churches across the nation.

American Methodism benefited greatly from the pioneering work of John Wesley and the English Methodists. Freed from the constraints of traditional English society, Asbury discovered that the Methodist movement was even more at home in a world of opportunity and freedom. 

As the movement spread through the labors of young traveling preachers, Methodism stayed cohesive through a well-defined system of community. Methodists remained connected with each other through a rhythm of class meetings, love feasts, quarterly meetings and camp meetings. By 1811 there were 400-500 camp meetings held each year, with a total attendance of over one million.

When Asbury died in 1816 there were 200,000 Methodists. By 1850 there were one million Methodists led by 4,000 traveling preachers and 8,000 local preachers. The only organization more extensive was the U.S. government.

Eventually Methodism lost its passion and settled down to enjoy its achievements. In the process it gave birth to the Holiness movement. William Seymour was a holiness preacher with a desperate desire to know the power of God. He was the son of former slaves, a janitor and blind in one eye. God chose this unlikely man to spark a movement that began in 1906 in a disused Methodist building on Azusa Street.

The emotionally charged meetings ran all day and into the night. The meetings had no central coordination, and Seymour rarely preached. He taught the people to cry out to God for sanctification, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and divine healing.

Immediately, missionaries fanned out from Azusa Street to the world. Within two years they had brought Pentecostalism to parts of Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. They were poor, untrained, and unprepared. Many died on the field. Their sacrifices were rewarded; the Pentecostal/charismatic and related movements became the fastest growing and most globally diverse expression of worldwide Christianity.

At the current rate of growth, there will be one billion Pentecostals by 2025, most of them in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Pentecostalism is the fastest expanding movement—religious, cultural, or political—ever. 

Jesus founded a missionary movement with a mandate to take the gospel and multiply disciples and churches everywhere. History is replete with examples of movements just like in the book of Acts; I have named only a few. Three essential elements are necessary for Jesus movements: his dynamic Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and disciples who obey what Jesus has commanded.

Steve Addison is the author of Pioneering Movements: Leadership That Multiplies Disciples and Churches www.movements.net.

Adapted from an article originally published in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 29-31, and published on pages 169-173 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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Focus-on-Fruit Brief Overview 2021

Focus-on-Fruit Brief Overview 2021

By Trevor Larsen –

I came to the Lord as I entered college, and grew spiritually during my college years. The Lord kept giving me roommates from different cultures, which piqued my interest in the world. I later became a math teacher and wrestling coach. I found that coaching really influenced my ministry. A coach asks the question: How do you help other people become as effective as possible at what they’re doing? What I’m doing now is helping local movement catalysts in my SE Asian context become as effective as possible, in church planting and leadership. After teaching and coaching, I went to seminary, where I ministered to many Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian refugees who had just arrived after the Killing Fields, with stories of multiple millions killed. These refugees were placed in 10 cities in America, including the city where I attended seminary. 

I recruited and formed teams with 15 other seminarians, according to the language groups on which we were focusing. I found it was a good fit for me to also mobilize local Southeast Asians to disciple others. We were stunned by the fact that some of those we were training (who we thought of as receiving our ministry) actually turned around and started other churches – both in their city, and also in Cambodia, through their relatives. We began at that time to do multiple-generation thinking, which has continued up to this day. I was a pastor in California for seven years and then have been teaching in an Asian seminary since 1993 – for 28 years. I teach at the Doctoral and Masters’ level, in a set of 15 linked seminaries. That’s my visa reason for being in the country. But we moved into UPG work about 22 years ago, focusing on majority-religion UPGs. I developed an organization of local church planters who reach the UPGs of our country. It has become a bigger part of my life than the seminary teaching, though I continue to do both. 

Some may struggle to accept the unconventional church I talk about. Keep in mind: As a seminary professor, I’m strongly connected with conventional churches, and the denominational leaders here tell me about their challenges. When I first moved here, the conventional churches were very fruitful. But during this 20-year period, the conventional churches that had been very fruitful have declined in their fruitfulness, and they are getting more and more frustrated. Conditions changed in our context when fundamentalism increased in 2000, and conventional churches have been very slow to adapt their methods to new conditions. They are talking to me more and more about their frustrations. 

Conventional churches had not been fruitful among UPGs, so in 1998 we started quietly experimenting with four young seminary graduates, trying to develop a different model – aiming for better results in a UPG. The graph of fruit reported by this small ministry team kept increasing, while the conventional church leaders were telling me stories of how their fruitfulness kept declining. I found myself in quite an interesting juxtaposition of two worlds: two sets of people serving the Lord with different models and having very different results. That’s my background. I understand the stories of both kinds of ministry models: the conventional churches, and the “church without walls” our team was developing. 

To make a long story short, I started with local evangelists who I thought were good at evangelism among people of the majority religion. I then coached four full-time local evangelists who were developing our experiment. We decided we would only count people of the majority religion who were being reached, because we didn’t want to slide back into the easier-to-reach portions of the country. It took us three years to get to our first small group of five believers. Then it took us four more years of struggle to get to 22 groups, while we learned about what worked and what didn’t work. Most of those groups were first generation groups that our church planters led; the ministry had not yet become rooted with local leaders. It took another three years to get to 52 groups, while we were discovering other fruitful practices. Then in just two more years, the ministry had grown to 110 groups. At that time, we were stunned to find that believer groups were doubling more quickly, and surprised when we found our first third generation groups. It was starting to get rooted in local culture and local leaders!

I was counting these 110 groups on a plane to the U.S., to present a case study in a conference. I began crying on the plane, as I added up all the little handwritten notes I’d been given at the airport, when I realized we were picking up our doubling speed. The number of years it took us to double had decreased quite a bit from 2006 to 2008, as compared to what it had been before that. I started thinking, “Wow, if we can get to the third generation of groups, what’s keeping us from getting to the eighth generation? Can this become a continuously expandable system? What are the obstacles to continuous expansion?” 

From that first group in 2000, this movement has become thousands of groups, a family of movements. There are movements of 1,000 believers or more, in at least six generations of groups, in many different UPGs, and in many other countries, reached by movement catalysts from an Asian country. It’s amazing that I’m saying this, because my initial goal, my lifetime career goal, was 200 groups, which at the time seemed nearly impossible. I think the Lord gives you a number to begin with, at the limits of what you dare to imagine. And while pursuing that first smaller target, you can set up a system that is expandable. We use the term “scalable” to describe this: a system with fruitful-practice DNA which supports continuous expansion.

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About Movements

Ordinary People as Witnesses Making Disciples – Part 2

Ordinary People as Witnesses Making Disciples – Part 2

By Shodankeh Johnson, Victor John, and Aila Tasse –

The leader of a large movement in India shares these testimonies of God’s work through ordinary people.

The main leader in one area of our country, Abeer, has consistently reported that the Discovery Study approach is a great tool for growing people’s faith quickly. This is especially true for illiterate people, because each person can easily listen to the story on the speaker and discuss the questions.

Abeer has many generations of disciples that have reproduced from his ministry. One of the 5th generation leaders, Kanah, is 19 years old. He has already started Discovery Groups in three villages. One day, this young man went to G. Village, and was surprised to discover that a family there said they were followers of Jesus! Kanah visited the seven members of the family, including the 47-year-old mother, Rajee. During their conversation, Rajee said, “Yes, we know about Jesus, but we have no idea how we will ever grow in our faith because pastors do not come here.”

Kanah felt great sympathy for this family because his testimony was the same. When he first gave his allegiance to Christ, there had been no pastor to teach him in the ways of his new faith. Pastors would come to his village occasionally, just as one had visited this family, but the pastors would only come to preach for a while, collect an offering, and then leave. They had never committed themselves to regular visits or actual disciple-making of any kind. They had only been taught to preach, so that is what they had done. 

After listening to Rajee, Kanah said to her, “Auntie, I tell you truthfully, my story is just like yours. But one day, after I had been alone in my faith for a long time, I met a team who told me that while it was so good I had given my allegiance to Christ, I hadn’t been told the whole story. Not only are we to follow Jesus and be His disciple, but we’ve also been commanded to go and make disciples of all nations.” 

Rajee said, “We don’t have a Bible and we don’t know how to read. Kanah said, “Yes, I understand.  In my village there are also many people who cannot read, but this team gave me a speaker with Bible stories on it. If you listen to this speaker, you’ll hear God’s word and learn it, and as you discuss the questions on the speaker the truths will go deeper into your heart and life.”

Rajee asked if she could have such a speaker. Two days later, he returned to that village and gave the family a speaker. He explained: “After listening to these stories, it’s very important to discuss the five questions so you can grow in your faith without depending on someone to come from far away and teach you. 

Rajee’s family had waited a whole year for a pastor to return and teach them, but no one ever came. Then this young 19-year-old visited one day and gave them the tools they needed to grow in their faith. In ways like this, the Holy Spirit is working and this movement is growing. Kanah isn’t a pastor; he’s not had any Bible training. He’s not even a member of a big church. He’s just a simple guy from a village. And because he himself has followed this pattern for learning and growing in faith, he is able to share it with others. We praise God that even simple people are functioning as a royal priesthood – serving God and bring His salvation to others. 

What if, instead of relying upon sermons as our mode of instruction, we focused on discussing the Bible: everyone interacting over a passage in a small group and then obeying what they learned? Thousands of small churches in India today are doing exactly that. Here is a recent testimony of how this approach is helping followers of Jesus grow in their faith.

A woman named Diya lives in “K. Village,” which is far from any town. Residents there cannot travel or leave their village very often because it is so remote. This isolation really bothered them. They wondered how they would ever learn more about God. Once, they heard a man talk about Jesus, that He is great and able to do miracles. But in their isolation, they wondered if they would ever hear more about Him.

One day, several disciple makers met in the home of a church leader in that general area. The leader asked: “What do we do about people with whom we’ve been able to share a little bit about Jesus, but they need to know more? How can we follow up with people who live so far away that it’s hard for us to reach them?” This question touched JP, one of the disciple makers. 

He thought, “I have a bicycle. I could go visit with people who live in remote villages.” This is how JP ended up in Diya’s village. He met with her and her whole family and they talked about Jesus. He told them about Matthew 28, that we who are His disciples are commanded to go and make other disciples. He told her how she and her family could also obey Jesus’ commands and that as they applied Jesus’ instructions to their lives, their faith would grow. Diya and her whole family were so happy that someone from “the outside” had come all the way to their village to meet with them to talk about Jesus! 

JP gave them a speaker saying, “Sister, here is a simple way you can worship Jesus together in your home. I, too, am illiterate. I am not wise. I was never trained in an official pastor training program. But I have this speaker with many Bible stories on it.” JP told Diya how she and her family could use the speaker to study God’s Word. He left it with her, and worship to Jesus began in that village for the first time. 

One day, a neighbor family came to Diya’s house to join them in their Bible study. However as soon as they heard the voice start to narrate the Scripture, the 19-year-old daughter in the neighbor’s family began to cry out – truly wailing. Priya had a demon in her, and everyone was very afraid. 

What would happen? None of them were pastors. What were they supposed to do? What would the demon do? No one knew. So they all just kept listening to the story. The narration went on while Priya kept wailing and everyone else present was silently asking God to do a miracle. As the story ended, finally someone was brave enough to say, “Let’s pray!” So they all prayed for Priya and she was freed of the demon! And that’s not all. She also had been ill for a long time, and during that meeting, God not only freed her of the demon but also healed her illness. After witnessing these two miracles, both families declared that they wanted to be followers of Jesus! Priya’s family has now also started hosting a Bible study group in their own home. 

Diya and Priya have since visited 14 different villages for the purpose of spreading Jesus’ story! In those 14 villages, 28 Discovery Bible studies are taking place regularly. These groups are not yet spiritually mature. They are infants in the Lord, but the ladies have faith that many disciples will be made in those places. The main church leader in the area, the one who hosted the meeting that JP attended, has visited these groups himself and talked to them about growing mature in Christ.

This is the power of God’s Word and His Spirit, working where there are no seminaries or paid clergy. Just simple people hearing God’s words and putting them into practice, like the “wise man” Jesus described in Matt 7. Jesus said that anyone who hears His words and obeys is like a wise man who built his house on rock so that nothing moved it, not rain or even floods. How precious and wonderful to be taught this lesson by people who can’t even read! 

Our God is making clear that he can use all kinds of people to make disciples. He delights to show his amazing power through human weakness. As the Apostle Peter told the household of Cornelius: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34 NIV). God delights to do extraordinary things through ordinary people. As we read the testimonies of these “ordinary” witnesses around the world, what might the Father want to say to us about our role as his witnesses? 

Shodankeh Johnson is the leader of New Harvest Ministries (NHM) in Sierra Leone. Through God’s favor, and a commitment to Disciple Making Movements, NHM has seen hundreds of simple churches planted, over 70 schools started, and many other access ministries initiated in Sierra Leone in the last 15 years. This includes churches among 15 Muslim people groups. They have also sent long-term workers to 14 countries in Africa, including eight countries in the Sahel and Maghreb. Shodankeh has done training, catalyzing prayer and disciple-making movements in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. He has served as the President of the Evangelical Association of Sierra Leone and the African Director of New Generations. He is currently Director of prayer and Pioneer Ministries at New Generations.

Victor John, a native of north India, served as a pastor for 15 years before shifting to a holistic strategy aiming for a movement among Bhojpuri people. Since the early 1990’s he has played a catalytic role from its from inception to the large and growing Bhojpuri movement.

Aila Tasse is the founder and director of Lifeway Mission International (www.lifewaymi.org), a ministry that has worked among the unreached for more than 25 years. Aila trains and coaches DMM in Africa and around the world. He is part of the East Africa CPM Network and New Generations Regional Coordinator for East

(1) Excerpted from “Discovery Bible Studies Advancing God’s Kingdom,” in the May-June 2019 issue of Mission Frontiers; published on pages 174-184 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon

(2) For security reasons, all personal names within these vignettes have been changed.

The five questions, as recorded in the mp3 audio DBS story sets, are: 

  1. In this whole story that you’ve heard, what one thing do you like the most?
  2. What do you learn from this story about God, about Jesus or about the Holy Spirit?
  3. What do you learn from this story about people, and about yourself?
  4. How should you apply this story to your life in the next few days? Is there a command to obey, an example to follow, or a sin to avoid?
  5. Truth is not to be hoarded. Someone shared truth with you that has benefitted your life. So, with whom will you share this story in the next week?
Categories
About Movements

Ordinary People as Witnesses Making Disciples – Part 1

Ordinary People as Witnesses Making Disciples – Part 1

By Shodankeh Johnson, Victor John, and Aila Tasse –

In the manuscript for his upcoming book on CPM, Shodankeh Johnson says of the movement in Sierra Leone: 

I want to tell how God is using a lot of ordinary people. For example, we have a lot of blind church planters. We disciple them and coach them. We send some of them to the blind school to learn Braille, so they can read the Bible. And although they’re completely blind, those men and women have planted several churches and discipled many people. The Lord has even used them to disciple people who are not blind. They lead discovery groups and some of the members have normal sight.

We’ve also seen God use illiterate people who never went to school. If you wrote the letter “A,” they wouldn’t know it’s “A.” But over the years, because of the discipleship process, they can quote Scriptures. They can explain Scripture, and train educated people as disciples, though they themselves never went to school. 

For example, my mother is illiterate. But she has trained people who are now highly educated pastors and church planters. She has brought more Muslim women to the faith than any other woman I know. She never went to school, but she can stand and quote Scriptures. She can say, “Turn to John 4:7-8.” And by the time you’ve turned there she’s already explaining that portion of the Scripture.

This testimony of God using “ordinary people” is echoed by leaders of movements in other parts of the world. Victor John, in his book Bhojpuri Breakthrough, writes:

Among the Bhojpuri, God is now moving among every caste, even with lower caste people reaching upper caste people. Believers from different castes may not socialize a lot with each other, but they have worship meetings together and pray together. We have one low caste woman who leads a worshiping community on the low caste side of the village, then goes to the high caste side of the village and leads another worshiping community there. Although she comes from a low caste and is female (which makes her an unusual leader in any village), God is using her effectively in both the high caste and low caste contexts.

The leader of another large movement in India concurs: 

If you’ve been told that only Brahmins can reach Brahmins, you’ve been misled. If you’ve been told that only the educated can reach the educated, you’ve been misled. God uses the least of these.

From movements in East Africa, Aila Tasse shares these stories of God at work:

A Drunkard Becomes a Disciple Maker

Jarso is the leader of a stream that has planted 63 churches in two years among a least reached people group in East Africa. Four months ago Jarso was baptizing new Christ followers from that people group. Jillo, who was not a follower of Christ, was watching from a distance while Jarso was conducting the baptism.

With a beer in his hand, Jillo observed the proceedings and began to make fun of the baptism preliminaries. Before conducting the baptism, Jarso read the story about Jesus’ baptism and began to talk about it. Now within the hearing distance of the preaching, Jillo found himself deeply absorbed with what he heard. At the end of the story, he knew he needed to follow Jesus. Right away he decided to stop drinking and even threw away the half-finished bottle of beer he was holding.

He went home early that evening. His wife was amazed to see him sober and empty handed because he usually brought home a couple of bottles to drink. His wife offered to bring him a bottle of beer which she had bought for him earlier in the day. Jillo shocked her by telling her that he had stopped drinking, and she should take the bottle back to the shop and get a refund.

Jillo, who did not read or write, then asked his wife to bring the Bible that they had in the house and read for him the story of Jesus that Jarso had read at the baptismal ceremony. The wife came with the Bible and when she finished reading the story, Jillo shared with her what he had heard from Jarso.

That evening, Jillo and his wife made a decision to follow Jesus. The next day, Jillo contacted Jarso who showed him how to do family Discovery Bible Study. From the next day onward, Jillo and his wife together with their children began to do a DBS every evening.

Two weeks later, Jillo, his wife and some neighbors who joined their Discovery Bible Group were baptized. Jillo and his wife have continued this journey by facilitating the launch of eight more Discovery groups. Jillo concludes his testimony that if the current trend continues, it is likely the whole district will be transformed through the gospel.

A New Testament Rahab

Our church planter, Wario, met a young woman two years ago named Rahab. This woman was very beautiful, and when Wario first met her, she was, like her Bible namesake, a sex-worker. 

Wario began to tell her the story of Rahab from the Bible including the one quoted about her in Hebrews 11. He told her how the life of Rahab was transformed from a life of prostitution to a woman of faith and how she entered into the genealogical line of Jesus.

Rahab had never read the Bible for herself. But she knew that in the Bible there was a woman who was called Rahab and that she had been a prostitute. This she had learned from various people who heard her name.

But when she first heard the full story of Rahab from Wario, she was touched and asked Wario if she could be like the Rahab of the Bible. Wario said “yes” and offered to pray for her. In that process she was eventually delivered from demonic bondage. After that her life changed dramatically.

She became a very strong follower of Christ and a disciple maker. She married a Christ follower and the couple became committed disciple makers. Over the last year they have planted six new churches in their community.

Shodankeh Johnson is the leader of New Harvest Ministries (NHM) in Sierra Leone. Through God’s favor, and a commitment to Disciple Making Movements, NHM has seen hundreds of simple churches planted, over 70 schools started, and many other access ministries initiated in Sierra Leone in the last 15 years. This includes churches among 15 Muslim people groups. They have also sent long-term workers to 14 countries in Africa, including eight countries in the Sahel and Maghreb. Shodankeh has done training, catalyzing prayer and disciple-making movements in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. He has served as the President of the Evangelical Association of Sierra Leone and the African Director of New Generations. He is currently Director of prayer and Pioneer Ministries at New Generations.

Victor John, a native of north India, served as a pastor for 15 years before shifting to a holistic strategy aiming for a movement among Bhojpuri people. Since the early 1990’s he has played a catalytic role from its from inception to the large and growing Bhojpuri movement.

Aila Tasse is the founder and director of Lifeway Mission International (www.lifewaymi.org), a ministry that has worked among the unreached for more than 25 years. Aila trains and coaches DMM in Africa and around the world. He is part of the East Africa CPM Network and New Generations Regional Coordinator for East Africa.

(1) Excerpted from “Disciple Making Movements in East Africa,” by Dr. Aila Tasse, in the November-December 2017 issue of Mission Frontiers.

(2) For security reasons, all personal names within these vignettes have been changed.

Categories
About Movements

Children and Youth: Missing Pieces of Movements?

Children and Youth: Missing Pieces of Movements?

By Joseph Myers, Senior Editor, Accel –

Edited and posted with permission, from the April 2021 issue of Accel, pages 14-18

Information abounds on children’s ministry and youth ministry in traditional church settings. And hundreds of webpages, articles and books discuss church planting movements and disciple making movements. But after searching diligently, I have come across only two references that seem to address children/youth and movements with any degree of detail. The first is George O’Connor’s Reproducible Pastoral Training: Church Planting Guidelines from the Teaching of George Patterson (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2006). Guideline 32 is “Let children do serious ministry” (pages 140–9). Although not necessarily formulated with movements in mind, the concepts presented in this guideline are relevant and contain enough detail that the reader can hope to implement them. A summary appears below.

  • Let children actively participate in worship instead of listening passively to a children’s sermon or story. For example, children love to act out Bible stories for adults during worship. Mixing different ages, including adults, to dramatize sermons makes a greater impact on hearers. 
  • Always segregating children and youth by age cripples their social development. Children benefit more from working and playing with adults and children of different ages.
  • Churches and parents should apply a practical, relational approach to the training and discipling of children and youth.
  • Christian parents, especially fathers, should do far more training of children, and churches should have more activities that include whole families.
  • Children of all ages desire the attention of those older than they are. Having older children disciple younger children and youth disciple older children grows both the discipler and the discipled.
  • Help children to participate actively in the Lord’s work.
  • Recognize what each child has to offer.
  • Children thrive on being creative. Give them opportunities to share the fruit of their creativity (songs, poems, skits, artwork) with other children and, as appropriate, with adults.
  • Children learn well from non-verbal teaching. For example, accepting children as a part of the fellowship from their earliest years instills in them a love for the church and, by extension, for the truths it teaches and models for them.
  • Teach the Word the way Paul did. Good Bible exposition lays a foundation for abstract doctrinal understanding. Beginning with a concrete Bible passage on events such as creation, the Fall, the Abrahamic Covenant, or the giving of the Law can help adults as well as children grasp the more difficult related concepts.
  • Vary the ways in which you present a passage of Scripture to increase engagement and understanding. Examples include reading, dramatizing, giving object lessons, and asking questions – even within the same teaching or preaching session.

The other helpful resource is an article by C. Anderson, appropriately entitled “Can Children and Teenagers Be Part of a DMM?” In the section “Principles for Dealing with Family Issues in DMMs,” she lays out six things parents and other adults can do to help children and teens develop as disciples and disciplers: 

  • Shift your mindset from entertaining kids to training them.
  • Children and teenagers need to be taught that they too are royal priests.
  • Cast vision for movement to children and teenagers; get buy-in from them as well as their parents. (Within this principle she counsels, “Help them see what God could do through them to start a movement and invite them to pray with you for this.”)
  • Expect more of children and teenagers. They will rise to the challenge.
  • Don’t always separate kids into their own groups.
  • Help parents understand their responsibility to train their kids to obey Christ and multiply disciples.

Although these principles address the issues of “what” more than “how,” they provide a good starting point for serious consideration of ways youth and children can become active participants in, and even leaders of, movements.

Anderson closes her article with a warning that anyone seeking to disciple young people should take to heart:

Very few churches expect teenagers to actually be disciple makers. They are not challenged to exercise their spiritual gifts in any significant way. We must work to change this paradigm if we want to see movements in the West. Those of you from Africa or Asia, this is one place where you should avoid adopting an ineffective Western church model of discipling children!

Youth are the future of our churches and movements. But we recognize as well that we think of them only as the future at our peril. Surely many more stories of how God has worked in, among, and through children and youth in movements are just waiting to be shared, if only we would take the time and effort to do so.

To that end, I’d like to issue you a challenge. Look at your own ministries. Talk to people who are part of your movements. Ask your colleagues who are involved with other movements. What is God doing to reach, disciple, train, and make leaders of children and youth? How is it happening? Isn’t that worth sharing for both His glory and the building up of the body (through others taking what you have learned and applying it)?

If you think so too, drop me an email at [email protected]. God willing, we can produce a follow-up issue on “Children and Movements” in the not-too-distant future.

(1) https://www.dmmsfrontiermissions.com/children-teenagers-dmm/

(2) Ibid.

Categories
About Movements

Prayer And Spiritual Warfare

Prayer And Spiritual Warfare

Excerpted with permission from the highly recommended book –

The Kingdom Unleashed: How Jesus’ 1st-Century Kingdom Values Are Transforming Thousands of Cultures and Awakening His Church by Jerry Trousdale & Glenn Sunshine. 

(Kindle Locations 2399-2469, from Chapter 9 “Abundant Prayer”)

Disciple Making Movements are not a program, not a strategy or a curriculum. It is simply a movement of God. Without Him, there is nothing. That is why all discussion about Disciple Making Movements begin with Prayer and Fasting. Our Sovereign God is passionately pursuing the lost to bring them to himself. Prayer and Fasting allows us to align ourselves with Him. There will be no results if we are walking in our own strength and according to our own resources. God says, “Ask me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” Also, “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses . . . .” Behind any success in planting churches and making disciples there is a lot of prayer and a lot of fasting, a lot of bending knees, a lot of crying and weeping before God. This is where the victory is won and then when you go on the field you see the results. 

—Younoussa Djao, Engage! Africa video series

PRAYER AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE 

Prayer is a critical element of the spiritual warfare that we face daily. It seems sometimes, that from the moment we open our eyes and open our phones to look at the news until the moment we tuck into bed at night and search for a movie to watch before evening prayers, we are inundated with sin— spiritual warfare is so commonplace that not only can we not ignore it, we hardly notice it anymore. Furthermore, the church in the Global North often ignores the reality of demonic activity, but the churches of the Global South cannot. 

A man whom we’ll call Gonda is a church planter in a central African country. He has seen God bring about miraculous outcomes in Central Africa, and he has survived and thrived in difficult situations. He told us that he has four principles that have shaped his ministry: 1. For him, everything depends on prayer, and listening to God’s voice; 2. He searches for people of peace; 3. When he finds them he catalyzes Discovery Bible Studies; 4. And he coaches and mentors his disciples, other leaders, and new churches so that they all reproduce themselves. 

Gonda had heard about a town named Hante. It was a fairly closed community that engaged in a horrific business of murder and exportation of human blood and body parts to other countries for demonic purposes. The town did not tolerate strangers very well. And Gonda’s research suggested that some people had not survived a visit to that community. 

So Gonda began to pray to God on behalf of this town. He knew the risk of seeking to bring the Kingdom of God into this place, but God had encouraged him in this endeavor, so the only thing to do was pray and obey— and do some more research. 

He learned that the community’s chief was very deep into ancestral fetishes that gave him supernatural abilities to get right into the middle of a herd of elephants, then summoning his helpers. People feared him and his mystical powers. 

Gonda prayed for guidance and waited. 

Soon, he met a Christian woman who lived in the town of Hante. The moment he met the woman, he sensed that the Lord’s clear calling to start the process. She wanted to see the Gospel engaged there, but she worried that her community was just too much of a challenge. Gonda came up with a plan to start first with a village seven kilometers away. He figured it could be a staging place to get close enough to Hante to explore and prayer walk around the area. 

Finally, on a Saturday afternoon, he made the journey to the “staging” village with two young disciples that he was coaching and mentoring, hoping to sleep there. But a former pastor happened to meet them on the way, and when he learned of their intentions, he insisted on taking them directly to Hante, to the target village itself. Gonda sensed that the pastor was a person of peace who could introduce them to the villagers, so he agreed to the change of plans. 

It was well after dark when the exhausted men trudged into Hante— and it did not feel at all safe. But it helped that they were escorted by someone who was already known in the village, especially when the pastor told the people that his friends were storytellers who told the stories of the Creator God. 

It was already 10: 00 at night, but the people who had first gathered to accost the group of strangers now insisted that they wanted to hear one of their stories; then they would judge whether or not they could stay. The residents built a fire and the men started telling the stories of the Bible, beginning with Creation and moving through the great narratives of the Old Testament and into the Gospels, all along giving the people time to discover what it all might mean for them if it was true. Sometimes Gonda would even sing a worship song and people would begin to dance. And so it went on for a couple of hours. At about two a.m. people started to leave the fire— but not to sleep. They rushed off to awaken their families to come and hear the wonderful stories. 

Eventually, approximately 150 people were gathered around the fire listening to chronological storytelling of the Bible. Gonda had never expected that people would stay awake all night to hear the stories, but he and his disciples were thrilled for this surprising development. 

Later, people reported that they stayed all night because they had a deep fear of dying, and these stories about the Supreme God resonated within their hearts. There were families among the group whose ancestors had done terrible things and some of them were still doing these things. They felt cursed and afraid, but they were intrigued with the stories— almost as if the stories were the first lifeline to hope and salvation they’d ever received. Whenever it seemed like the stories might end, these families insisted that the men continue. 

During the night, the elephant hunter (who was also chief of the village) fell ill. He went to a local animistic priest but there was no help for the chief. He knew that something was happening in the town but he was too sick to check on it. The disciple makers were told of the town chief’s illness and they knew that some of them should go to him and pray so that he would know that there was a greater power than his fetishes. By God’s grace, with the disciple makers by his side, he experienced an immediate healing, and decided to attend the early morning storytelling. 

The Bible storytelling did not end at daybreak or even at noon— it went on until three p.m.— seventeen hours of Bible storying from Creation to Jesus enthroned in Heaven. During all of that time, the team of disciple makers were amazed that the people were eager to give so much time and energy to this non-stop Chronological Bible Study. 

Dialogue and Discovery Bible studies went on for two weeks, after which, the chief decided to become the community’s first Christ Follower. He called a gathering of the town, confessed many sins including his fetishes, brought out all of his occult devices, and destroyed them before receiving baptism. More than forty more were baptized soon after, and a church was birthed in the village. Eventually, 280 people were baptized. Then the chief travelled to the other villages in the region to tell them of the loving Creator God who heals, forgives, and changes peoples’ heart. Miraculously, with each visit, more churches were planted. 

Gonda reports that, in the new town, people began to explain why they had become Christ Followers, simply stating, “We have discovered the Creator God who is very powerful!” In the new town, Christ Followers continued to grow and thrive with more answered prayers and evidence of the love of Jesus. A few months later, a rebel war caused all the villagers, many of whom had become Christ Followers, to evacuate to a much larger town for safety. 

The story ends there, except for one remarkable detail. In the town that the team had originally intended to use as a staging area, there was a very large temple dedicated to the town’s goddess— a malevolent presence who, the residents believed, periodically caused people to die when near the temple. The pastor whom the team had met on the road, the man who had been their person of peace to enter Hante in the first place— that pastor had been emboldened by what God was doing in the region, and he spent three days of fasting and prayer. Then, one Monday morning at eight a.m., he walked to the center of that “staging area” town— and he personally burned down the temple. Most of the residents were certain that he would die, but he didn’t. 

Thanks to that incident, powered by God through Hante’s persistent prayer, there was a surge of momentum among Christ Followers, as the worship of the goddess went into decline. 

 

THE DESTRUCTION OF SATAN’S KINGDOM

This story illustrates that Jesus’ ministry was not to deliver a new philosophy or religion; it was to destroy the kingdom of Satan. Jesus ended one of His dialogues with the Pharisees with these words: “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Matt. 12: 29). It is Jesus’ intent to destroy the works of Satan and his minions, and for Kingdom people to rescue others from darkness in order to populate the Kingdom of God. 

Categories
About Movements

Multiplying Movements – Initiation and Cross Pollination, Part 2

Multiplying Movements – Initiation and Cross Pollination, Part 2

By Benny –

Edited from a video for Global Assembly of Pastors for Finishing the Task

In part one of this blog, I shared three stages and three keys the Lord has used to encourage cycles of multiplication in our movements. In this post, I would like to share…

Three Factors Supporting Movement Multiplication

 

What factors support the multiplication of movements? I will mention three factors: patterns, potential and teams of leaders. First, patterns. Simple patterns. Patterns that are taught and repeated again and again. Patterns that are imitated by the next generation of believers. In the Scriptures, we often see that Jesus created a model which he repeated, then taught to his disciples in the same way. Paul, an apostle of Jesus said: “Imitate me as I imitate Jesus the Messiah.” Movement leaders need clear patterns to do their ministry effectively. They need patterns they can transfer to leaders in the next generations. Patterns help a movement stay on track. This is especially important in maintaining purity of teaching from the Bible. 

 

We discover patterns by doing research, then experimenting in different contexts for limited time periods. Then we evaluate the effectiveness of the patterns. We train people in the patterns that prove useful, so they can be used in other areas. 

 

One very helpful pattern is fruit tracking (which we call “egg management,” because the circles in the chart look like eggs). We train leaders in how to track their fruit: to write down their fruit data in a standard format. Every quarter we gather data from leaders: those in the most recent generations up to the leaders in the highest generations. We train and mentor these leaders to analyze several indicators within the standard data. This helps them improve their leadership.  

 

The second factor in multiplying movements is potential. One of the challenges movement leaders must face is discovering the people with the most potential and developing them to be productive and effective. Because of this we must be aggressive in finding persons of peace, who can give access to their social networks. And we must be aggressive in finding people with potential to fill the leadership roles needed in a movement. I have discovered at least 12 different roles in a movement: 

  1. Leaders who carry out leadership responsibilities entrusted to them. 
  2. Apostolic agents from a variety of professions and social statuses, who carry the DNA of movements and start movements in new areas. 
  3. Researchers who research and analyze what they discover. 
  4. Counselors and mentors who come alongside others to help them discover answers to their problems. 
  5. Facilitators who coordinate various community development activities. 
  6. Spiritual teachers who love the word of God and discover and share its spiritual principles. They call others to live their lives according to the Scriptures. 
  7. Trainers who help others improve their skills. 
  8. Administrators who manage various administrative tasks. 
  9. Media creators who are imaginative, creative, and innovative in making media content. 
  10. Donors who provide financial support or other kinds of resources. 
  11. Intercessors who dedicate time and attention to prayer. 
  12. Catalyzers who connect people within various networks. 

 

I want to make special note of the role of the apostolic agent. A person with this apostolic gifting can extend a movement into other unreached people groups. They can live cross-culturally, understand the DNA of movements, and apply movement dynamics in a new cultural context. 

 

You also need to be aggressive in using various multi-purpose community development programs that support your spiritual ministry. 

 

Have you found people who can fill these kinds of roles within your movement? What will you do to maximize them? What would be the benefit of working with people who fill these roles? 

 

The third factor in multiplying movements is teams of leaders. The backbone of movement progress is maximizing leadership potential in multiple teams. Make every effort to weave your leaders together from the beginning, so strong brotherhood bonds develop between them. Weaving brotherhood bonds begins with the leaders of the first through the third generations to form a leader’s group over each cluster (10 or 15 groups). Next a brotherhood bond is woven between leaders of clusters to form a leader’s group over each small region (3 or more clusters). As a movement grows geographically and increases the quantity of fruit, you’ll need to form the top leaders into a leaders’ group over a wide region (3 or more small regions). At first your leaders’ meetings may not have a clear agenda, but eventually the leaders must become aware of the needs that must be addressed in each meeting.

 

The agenda of leaders’ groups includes:

  • Prayer 
  • Study of God’s word, using the Seven Questions
  • Sharing stories about ministry development and challenges they are facing
  • Giving presentations about experiments they are trying and their results 
  • Strategic planning together
  • Using coaching circles to help leaders address a current challenge 
  • Celebrating what you can celebrate. 
  • Giving sympathy to leaders who share bad news.
  • At the end of a leaders meeting give them a challenge. (For example, over the next three months try breaking ground in three new areas.)

 

Regularly scheduled meetings of leaders’ groups at the cluster, small region, and wide region levels should become a greenhouse. The greenhouse of a leaders’ group over one movement plants movement DNA with the potential to birth new movements in other unreached people groups (or even other nations). Leaders’ meetings help leaders to sharpen and empower one another. Leaders’ groups become places to grow and develop the capacity of your leaders. 



Questions for discussion with others in your ministry

Patterns: 

  1. What difficulties do you face in discovering good patterns? 
  2. Do local leaders replicate good patterns into the next generation? 
  3. Which of your ministry patterns are most effective or productive? 
  4. What other patterns do local leaders still need? 

 

Potential in your leadership team: 

  1. Who do you have in your Ring 1 (the top leaders you rely on)? How do you maximize your Ring 1 leaders? 
  2. Of the twelve roles mentioned, which roles are being done by your Ring 1 leaders? Which roles are not being done by them? What will you do to find people who can play these roles? 

 

Teams of leaders: 

  1. What leadership model sounds most like your ministry? 
    1. Centralized leadership: One or more top leaders are responsible for most of the ministry. 
    2. Shared leadership: A top leader is responsible for a limited number of people and issues. Three or more leaders share responsibilities in leadership teams. Multiple leadership teams are over different areas and generations. 
  2. How do these two different models influence how leadership happens? How is movement expansion impacted by each model? 
  3. In what ways do teams of leaders act as greenhouses that transfer movement DNA to new unreached people groups?
Categories
About Movements

Multiplying Movements – Initiation and Cross Pollination, Part 1

Multiplying Movements – Initiation and Cross Pollination, Part 1

By Benny –

I would like to share how one movement multiplied itself within an unreached people group, and how that movement, led by local believers, multiplied into several other unreached peoples. About nine years ago, I traveled to do research and prayer walking among an unreached people group. When I first visited this group, they had no believers and no workers serving among them. Three years later, I returned. At that time, I met a middle-aged fisherman in a restaurant. One topic he brought up was the use of evil spirit powers and black magic by a local shaman. This left many people terrified after several unusual deaths occurred. I listened carefully to his story, then I said to him: “We all need a protector nearby, who can help us feel safe and able to live in peace. 

He answered, “Oh yes! I sure agree with that statement!” 

I then asked him: “If you think this is an important subject, would you mind if we continue our discussion later in your home? Do you have other friends interested in this topic, who might want to talk about it together when I come visit? 

He replied, “Sure! Please come to my house.” 

So we set an appointment to meet at his house on another day. I stayed at his house for two days, and he had four other people come to his house for the discussion. They were from several ethnic groups who live in that area. We continued the discussion we had began, with the theme of God as a strong protector. We studied from the Psalms, using seven questions to guide the discussion. Their conclusion from the first meeting was that God is able to overcome every attack by evil spirits and black magic. And God is able to protect and give a sense of security to anyone. 

The next day, in our second meeting, we studied the theme: “God is the source of the ultimate blessing.” We examined the story of this blessing that was given to the prophet. They concluded that God wants all people to receive the ultimate blessing: salvation for this life and in the final judgment. When I had to return home from that city, I made a commitment to continue our discussion long-distance. I continued to share material with them using social media. 

The topic I raised was “God loves sinners.” They responded to this discussion by agreeing together that God has provided salvation by grace, and true forgiveness for everyone through the work of Jesus the Messiah. After they finished their discussion, they immediately shared what they had learned: with their family, their friends, and their neighbors. They also began to form more and more small formal discovery groups using the seven questions. 

Long story short: two years later, they sent me word that they had already reached five generations of groups. They had also reached two other unreached people groups, with discovery groups multiplying to the third and fourth generation. 

Three Stages Supporting Multiplication

How do we encourage cycles of multiplication in a movement? In my experience, three stages support cycles of multiplication. The first is to reach out to the unreached. The second is group discovery that encourages the multiplication of movements. The third is empowerment that maximizes leadership in multiple teams of leaders. 

Stage 1: Reach the Unreached 

The first key to reaching the unreached is survey trips. I am addicted to opening up new fields. As I mentioned in my story earlier, I visited an unreached people, completely unknown to me. They speak a different language, follow different traditions, and eat different foods. A few practices have proven fruitful in this kind of outreach. First is to pray for and visit the unreached peoples. We need personal prayer as well as a prayer team for this. I plan for a short-term team to do a research project. On the short-term survey trip, I also take the opportunity to find the first fruit in the area. The movement grows as we find apostolic agents locally who repeat this same process: short-term trips for prayer, research, and finding first fruit. 

The second key to reaching the unreached is transformation dialogue. This is like passing the ball back and forth in a soccer game. It’s an interactive process of moving the ball downfield from a general discussion toward the goal of a spiritual discussion. We can then add other people to the discovery group and introduce them to Jesus the Messiah. We begin with a topic that is discussed by a lot of local people. Learning about the thought patterns of local people will help us understand how to meet their needs and change their paradigm through the light of God’s word. 

The third key to reaching the unreached is to focus on groups rather than individuals. Reaching groups is much more effective than reaching individuals. When we focus on an individual, we only impact one person. This will wear us out and be very inefficient. Focusing on groups has many benefits. Every individual needs a community of believers in order to grow. Small groups accelerate the growth in an unreached people group. Groups give birth to other groups. And groups will not run out of resources: human resources, financial resources, or skills and ideas. 

Stage 2: Facilitate Group Discovery 

The second stage of the movement multiplication cycle is group discovery that encourages multiplication of movements. What model can facilitate a small group becoming like a greenhouse that creates spiritual growth and improves health? And help it expand to new regions, including unreached peoples? I use the Seven Questions discovery Bible discussion model as this greenhouse. This is a very simple method that can be applied to anyone. It makes clear to everyone learning it that the process has seven parts. So the leaders in earlier generations can easily transfer the process to later generations. 

The seven questions are: 

  1. What are you thankful for? 
  2. What challenges are you facing? 

These two questions help the members of the group deepen their relational bonds. 

Read a passage together.  

  1. What do you learn about God from this passage? 
  2. What do you learn about Jesus (Isa) from this passage?
  3. What do you learn about people from this passage? 

These three questions help everyone in the group recognize that the word of God is at the center of their spiritual growth; not a teacher or a group leader. They study the Scriptures together as a group using the inductive method. Then everyone has an opportunity to share what they’re discovering in the Scripture. 

  1. What will you do this week from what you learned from this passage? What can our group do together to apply what we learned together this week from the passage? 

This question helps everyone in the group understand that they are to be doers of the Word. They also learn to live as a part of a community of believers. 

  1. With whom will you share this week what you learned from this passage? 

This question will help them make disciples of others. They immediately begin sharing what they’ve learned and will naturally begin to form new groups in several areas. 

Stage 3: Empower Teams of Leaders

The third stage of the cycle of multiplication in a movement is empowerment that maximizes multiple teams of leaders. 

I often use slogans to transfer vision and to train field mentors. In my ministry, I have many leaders, coaches, and believers who are not from a high status background; many don’t have a good education. Simple slogans help them quickly understand and apply what they have seen and heard. We use slogans to develop a plurality of leaders in teams. 

We learn from the Lord Jesus that he chose a small group of leaders. He then selected a core team of three from among them. As we work among unreached peoples, we try to model what was modeled by our great Teacher, in the way he selected and raised up leaders. We watch to make sure the plurality of leaders provides healthy leadership within the movement. Plurality of leadership makes it possible to do problem solving together with several leaders. Leaders’ groups give us time to do strategic planning together with them. Plurality of leadership also helps us prepare for the loss of a leader if someone dies or moves or moves because of persecution. That way, the movement is not crippled by the loss of a single leader. 

Finally, we do multi-level leader empowerment. We need to be aware that leaders at different levels will face different kinds of challenges. Leaders in earlier generations carry a much heavier load than leaders in generations after them. How do we provide empowerment and training to leaders at each level, so they can serve at maximum capacity? How can we help them manage the movement and manage their responsibilities well, whether they lead 50 people, 100, 500, or 1000? Each of these levels of leadership brings unique complications and challenges they must face and come up with fitting solutions. This underlines the importance of multi-level empowerment, so the leaders at each level reach maximum effectiveness as they work together in the movement. 

These are a few of the stages and keys the Lord has used to encourage cycles of multiplication in our movements. I hope you will find them helpful in the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you. In part two, I will share three factors supporting movement multiplication. 

Questions for discussion with others in your ministry

  1. Who in your ministry team(s) has God used to open new fields?
  2. How are you finding local apostolic agents?
  3. How are you doing transformation dialogue?
  4. How are you reaching groups rather than individuals?
  5. Have you used the Seven Questions to guide discovery Bible discussion? What is going well?  What is challenging?
  6. Are teams of leaders forming?
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About Movements

How God is Making Simple Things Grow and Multiply

How God is Making Simple Things Grow and Multiply

By Lee Wood –

In March 2013 I attended a Metacamp discipleship training facilitated by Curtis Sergeant. The focus was on obedience and training others how to make disciples who make disciples, leading to multiplication of simple house churches. I came to the training with a passion for discipleship and a healthy dissatisfaction with my status quo. I understood why we are called to make disciples – that the world might know – but was confused as to how. At the training, we learned the how and the importance of disciple-making as an expression of our love for God and others.

I left eager to apply the principles: tell your story, tell God’s story, form groups and train them to do the same. Hitting the ground running, we started 63 groups in the first year and trained others to do the same. Some groups multiplied to the fourth generation. Hundreds of groups formed in the first two years, but with weak follow up, they were not sustaining or multiplying the way they should. We were so busy forming groups we failed to follow all the principles we had learned.

Thankfully Curtis didn’t give up on us. He continued to coach us, emphasizing critically important principles: 

  1. Take care of the depth of your ministry. God will take care of the breadth.
  2. Pour deeply into the few who are obeying. 
  3. Keep doing what you are doing and you will get better at it.
  4. Simple things grow. Simple things multiply.
  5. Obey and train others.

We went back to salvage what we could. We poured into those who were clearly obeying the call. (Not doing this was our most significant failure in our earlier efforts.) We began to prayer walk intentionally in some of the worst places in Tampa, to find persons of peace – people prepared to receive Christ and pass on the good news to their relationships – among the least, the lost and the last. As we learned more, we began to train others locally and eventually globally. Healthy groups began multiplying. The movement expanded to other Florida cities and four other states. With the help of some of our earliest disciples it expanded to ten other countries. We began to send out missionaries to unreached, unengaged people groups within two years, from a completely organic decentralized movement. 

In partnership with another network, we have sent trainers to over 70 countries where self-multiplying movements of people reaching their own for Christ are beginning or are well under way. Additionally others began coming to our city for immersion training in an emerging urban church model, engaging in CPM that transforms communities.

All of this comes from sharing our personal stories of how Jesus has changed our lives, telling Jesus’ story (the gospel) and following a few simple principles: pouring deeply into the few, keeping it simple, learning by doing, and trusting God for the outcome. 

How? Love God, love others and make disciples that make disciples. Simple things grow and simple things multiply.

Lee Wood, a former orphan, an abused, addicted young man received Jesus at 23, and his life was totally transformed. His outrageous energy is contagious to all those around him. His heart’s passion is discipling others for Christ until the whole world knows.

This is from an article that appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, page 22, and published on pages 136-138 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.