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Discipleship Material Development – Transferability and Reproducibility

Discipleship Material Development – Transferability and Reproducibility

– by Aila Tasse – (Edited from a video for Global Assembly of Pastors for Finishing the Task) – 

I’m the President of Lifeway Mission, based in Nairobi. Kenya. I also serve as Director for New Generations East African region. I’d like to share about the importance of developing discipleship materials. When you make disciples, you need to have content that will help in that process. Many churches and mission organizations have attempted to obey Jesus’ command to “Go make disciples.” But some of these ministries are ineffective at making disciples because they lack fitting materials for making others into Jesus’ disciples. I want us to explore together the process of developing discipleship material that can help us make others into Jesus’ disciples. 

I see three stages in developing discipleship material. The first stage is preparation. This stage addresses the things we need to know before we start developing discipleship material. The second stage is organizing our materials into sessions and topics that address the needs of new disciples. The third stage involves developing the content. We will look at principles for developing discipleship material, focusing in on preparation. 

Preparation involves four activities that anybody who wants to prepare discipleship material needs to do. First is prayer. A disciple-maker needs to pray for God’s leading in developing materials that fit the new disciples. We need to know the mind of God, the leading of his Spirit. The Spirit will lead us to the best content – the best food we can give a newborn baby. Because a new disciple needs to learn new things. If we can’t pray effectively, we will not know God’s mind and the leading of the Holy Spirit in this area. So the first step is to engage with God in prayer. 

Second is getting to know your audience or your target people group. In reaching unreached people groups, we can’t just feed them bowls of solid food when they’re newly coming to saving faith in Jesus. We need to get to know where they are in their spiritual journey. What do they know? What they don’t know? What is their level of education? What is their economic situation? What are their challenges? Are they from a Muslim background or Hindu background? How old are they? We need to know all these things before we start thinking of developing discipleship material. That is why any disciple maker who wants to develop discipleship material needs to understand their audience. I’ve seen too many people taking material from one place or group and thinking it can apply directly to a different group in just the same way. This will not work effectively. For example, we have people who are oral learners and others who have significant education. If you don’t really understand your audience, it will be very difficult to develop effective discipleship material. That’s why the second step in preparation is so important: get to know the audience we are discipling, as individuals and as a group. We need to know them very well. 

The third activity is to develop a team that will work on developing the discipleship material. This team has to consist of people who have experience working among the target people group or community: the kind of people you want to disciple. This team can brainstorm, think together, and pray together. They can get to know the details of the focus group. A team is critical to the process because one person sitting alone cannot come up with all the issues that will need to be addressed in the discipleship of this focus people group.

I’ve seen people around the world going online and downloading material that sometimes doesn’t address or even fit a people group’s issues. We can sometimes borrow ideas from other tribes or other people groups, but that doesn’t mean the issues in that tribe are the same issues that this tribe has. That’s why it is critical that this team have knowledge and understanding of this specific people group. 

The fourth activity is analysis. This team comes together to look at issues and start analyzing issues they need to address in the discipleship process of this people group. The team will collect information and look at all the issues and challenges the focus group has. What are their world view issues that the Scriptures need to address? What beliefs do they have that the discipleship process needs to work on? 

That is how you can choose your topics and sessions in the discipleship material. If you are not able to collect and analyze information about the beliefs and practices of the people group, you will come up with something you think fits them, but it may not. Many discipleship materials being used today do not address either the spiritual needs or the physical needs of the people groups. That is why we need to have a team of people who can analyze and develop the topics needing to be addressed for each tribe or people group. These activities are important in this first step of preparing yourself to develop discipleship material. You don’t need to rush into this. The more time you take, the more you will understand the needs of this people group. This will enable the development of materials effective for making disciples of Jesus within their own context.

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A Two-Rail Model for Existing Churches to Reach the Unreached – Part 1

A Two-Rail Model for Existing Churches to Reach the Unreached – Part 1

– by Trevor Larsen & a Fruitful Band of Brothers –

Our country is very diverse. Many areas have no believers in Christ. Yet some regions have established churches. Some of these churches have potential to reach Muslims. However, most churches in majority (90 to 99 percent) Muslim areas have not added Muslims as believers for years. They often fear a reaction if some were to believe. In many majority Muslim areas, churches hold on to Christian cultural traditions. They don’t connect with the unreached peoples in their communities. Cultural practices of the visible (“above-ground”) church, and reactions to it, make it difficult to connect with Muslims. The culture of above-ground (“first-rail”) churches differs greatly from the culture around them. This increases social obstacles for spiritually hungry Muslims. We propose a different model: a “second-rail” church. This underground church comes out of the same “station,” but meets in small groups and is not easily noticed by the community. Can a traditional church in a majority Muslim area start a “second-rail” (underground) church? Can they disciple Muslims in small groups, while also protecting the “first-rail” ministry of the church? 

Many Pilot Projects Testing a “Two-Rail” Model

In nominal Muslim areas of the country, most denominational church growth has slowed or declined over the last ten years. In these same ten years, an underground model of multiplying small groups has grown rapidly among unreached people groups. 

Some churches ask us to train them in small group multiplication to reach Muslims, yet they want to keep their existing “first-rail” church. We have piloted a “Two-Rail” model in twenty diverse types of churches in different regions. Four of these pilot projects have finished a four-year pilot project period. This chapter presents the first of four experiments with the “Two-Rail” model. Additional insight and the other three experiments can be found in the book Focus on Fruit! See end note for details.

Case Study: Our First Two-Rail Church

Zaul completed a four-year “Two-Rail” pilot project in a 90 percent Muslim area. This area has many nominal Muslims and also many fundamentalists. Zaul explains what they learned from this first “Two-Rail” model. 

  1. Careful Selection of Church and of Trainees 

A good model requires selection. We wanted to start with churches likely to succeed, so we chose carefully. I selected Church A for a pilot project because the elderly pastor expressed great interest in bridging ministry to Muslims. Church A is part of a denomination from Europe but has included some features of local culture. They use local language for worship, but are otherwise very similar to churches in Europe. Fifty-one years after it started, this church had 25 families attending regularly. 

I had known the pastor of Church A for many years. We had many small groups multiplying in the area around his church, started by workers from our local mission team. The pastor liked the fruit of our ministry, and wanted to learn from us how to reach Muslims. 

  1. Memo of Understanding 

As this pastor showed interest, we began discussing the terms of our partnership. We wrote what we had agreed to into a Memo of Understanding. I felt that a letter of agreement would decrease misunderstandings and make success more likely. So we signed an MoU between our mission team and the church pastor, describing the roles of the two parties in the partnership. 

First, the church agreed to provide ten trainees willing to be “sent” out to minister to Muslims in the community.  We discussed the criteria they should use to select the trainees, so they would be more likely to succeed in ministry to Muslims. The church promised a training location, budget for food, and the full support of the pastor. The pastor also invited some other area pastors to the training. 

Second, the church agreed that field direction would be done by our team. The pastor’s role with the trainees was limited to broad oversight. He agreed to not interfere in our mission team’s decisions about field ministry. He also agreed that the ministry patterns of the existing church did not need to be followed by his trainees in their ministry to Muslims. They agreed that the focus of the “second-rail” model would be on unbelieving Muslims outside the current church. The underground rail of the church would be free to operate with contextual patterns. 

The church agreed that any fruit among Muslims that came from this partnership would be kept separate in small groups as a “second-rail” church. The new believers would not be mixed with the above-ground church. This was to protect the new believers from being westernized as well as to protect them from a backlash against the church from fundamentalists. 

Third, we, the mission team, agreed to provide training for a period of one year. We promised to give training and mentoring to those active in ministry. I agreed to facilitate the training. We provided the budget for the training materials. We also agreed to provide coaching for a period of four years, for the most active trainees. 

Fourth, we, the mission team, agreed to provide a percentage of funds for the underground rail of the church to do community development ministries during the first year. We integrate our community development work with our model of multiplying small believer groups. The church agreed to provide any living or travel expenses of the field workers, as well as a percentage of the community development budget. 

Fifth, a report would be made every three months. This would include finance, ministry fruit, and character development of the trainees. 

My long-term friendship with the pastor both allowed this partnership to begin and strengthened it. The two tracks were designed to produce two separate churches that would look very different, but have a common leadership. The church agreed that the trainees would provide data on their fruit to me as facilitator, and that they would not interfere. As facilitator, I agreed to provide a summary of fruit data to the church leaders. They, in turn, agreed that they would not publicize the data to the church nor report it in their community.

In Part 2 of this post we will share the fruit God brought in four years of applying the two-rail model, along with obstacles we faced and future  vision.

 

Trevor Larsen is a teacher, coach, and researcher. He finds joy in finding apostolic agents God has chosen and helping them maximize their fruit through sharing fruitful practices in bands of brother-leaders. He has partnered with Asian apostolic agents for 20 years, resulting in multiple movements in Unreached People Groups.

Excerpted and condensed from the book Focus on Fruit! Movement Case Studies & Fruitful Practices. Available for purchase at www.focusonfruit.org.

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Surrendered: Movements Start Movements in the Middle East

Surrendered: Movements Start Movements in the Middle East

– By “Harold” and William J. Dubois –

When the encrypted message came across my phone I was stunned by its simplicity and boldness, and humbled again by the words of “Harold,” my dear friend and partner in the Middle East. Though a former Imam, Al Qaeda terrorist and Taliban leader, his character has been radically transformed by the forgiving power of Jesus. I would trust Harold with my family and my own life – and I have. Together we lead a network of house church movements in 100+ countries called the Antioch Family of Churches. 

I had sent Harold a message the day before asking if any of our former Muslim, now Jesus-following brothers and sisters living in Iraq would be willing to help rescue Yazidis. He replied:

 “Brother, God has already been speaking to us about this for several months from Hebrews 13:3 (NLT) ‘Remember…those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.’  Are you willing to stand with us in rescuing persecuted Christians and Yazidi minorities from ISIS?” 

What could I say? For the last several years our friendship had bonded into a deep commitment to walk the same path with Jesus and work together toward fulfilling the Great Commission. We were working feverishly to train leaders who would multiply our passionate surrender to Jesus, carrying His message of love to the nations. Now Harold was asking me to take another step deeper into rescuing people from slavery to sin and the horrific crimes of ISIS. 

I responded: “Yes, Brother, I am ready. Let’s see what God will do.”

Within hours, teams of trained, experienced local church planters from the Middle East, volunteered to leave their posts to do whatever it would take to rescue these people from ISIS. What we discovered changed our hearts forever. 

God was already at work! Broken by the demonic, barbaric actions of ISIS terrorists, Yazidis began pouring into our underground secret locations we called “Community of Hope Refugee Camps.” We mobilized teams of local Jesus-followers to provide free medical care, trauma-healing counseling, fresh water, shelter and protection. It was one movement of Jesus-following house churches living out their faith to impact another people. 

We also discovered that the best workers came from nearby house churches. They knew the language and culture, and had the heartbeat of evangelism and church planting. While other NGO’s who registered with the government had to restrict their faith message, our non-formal church-based efforts were filled with prayers, Scripture readings, healings, love and care! And because our team leaders had been lavishly forgiven by Jesus, they lived completely surrendered and filled with courageous boldness. 

Soon letters began to pour in: 

I am from a Yazidi family. For a long time the condition of my country has been bad because of war. But now it has become worse because of ISIS. 

Last month they attacked our village. They killed many people and kidnapped me along with other girls. Many of them raped me, treated me like an animal and beat me when I didn’t obey their orders. I begged them, “Please don’t do this to me,” but they smiled and said, “You are our slave.” They killed and tortured people many people in front of me. 

One day they took me to another place to sell me. My hands were tied and I was yelling and crying as we walked away from the men who sold me. After 30 minutes, the buyers said, “Dear Sister, God sent us to rescue Yazidi girls from these bad people.” Then I saw there were 18 girls they had purchased. 

When we arrived in the Community of Hope camp we understood that God sent His people to save us. We learned that the wives of these men gave up their gold jewelry and paid for us to be free. Now we are safe, learning about God and have a good life.

(From a leader of one of our Community of Hope Refugee Camps.)

Many Yazidi families have accepted Jesus Christ and have asked to join with our leaders in working and serving their own people. This is very good because they can share with them in their own cultural way. Today, as Jesus-followers we are praying for the affected people that God will provide for their needs and protect them from the Islamic fighters. Please join with us in prayer. 

A miracle had begun. A movement of surrendered Jesus-followers from nearby nations – all formerly trapped by Islam – had been freed from their own sin to live for Jesus as their Savior. They were giving their lives to save others. Now, a second movement of Jesus followers has begun among Yazidis. 

How could this happen? As D.L. Moody wrote: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” 


“Harold” was born into an Islamic family, raised and schooled to be a radical jihadist and Imam.  After his radical conversion to Jesus, Harold used his education, influence and leadership capacity to grow a movement of Jesus Followers.   Now, 20+ years later, Harold helps to mentor and lead a network of house church movements among unreached peoples. 

“William J Dubois” works in highly sensitive areas in which the gospel is spreading powerfully. He and his wife have spent the last 25+ years training new believers from the harvest to grow in their leadership capacity and multiply house churches among unreached people.

This is from an article that appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 36-37, and published on pages 192-195 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon..

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Launching Movements among Muslims: Case Studies of Best Practices – Antioch Family of Churches

Launching Movements among Muslims: Case Studies of Best Practices – Antioch Family of Churches

– By William J. Dubois –

I’m William J. Dubois, the Co-leader of the Antioch Family of Churches, a global alliance of indigenous Church Planting Movements. For the last 30 years, we have focused on building the leadership capacity of first-generation Christians who live in closed countries and helping them learn to multiply house churches. Today I will focus on launching movements among Muslim peoples. 

For the first 20 years of our work, much of our efforts were filled with missteps, mistakes, and failures. However, it was through a personal crisis in my own life that we learned to make adjustments that would lead to breakthroughs. In 2004 I was helping underground house church leaders from Iran learn and understand 2 Timothy. After this training was completed, I was poisoned by an Al-Qaeda operative and nearly died. A lot of people were praying for me, and after two and a half months of doctors’ and hospital visits trying to determine what had happened, I was miraculously healed.  I’m very grateful for that!

But the power of the story came later – years later as a matter of fact. I was co-hosting a church planting movement training for leaders from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and at the beginning of our time together we were introducing ourselves. I found out that one of our church planters there was the man who had commissioned my poisoning! 

At that moment I began to understand that multiplying movements requires much more than cross-cultural language and culture ability. The power of incarnation begins with learning about the soul of people. And in this case, developing a deep understanding of those who were radicalized for evil. The Lord put me on a journey to begin to understand the heart of what it would take to start movements among Muslims. 

Today that same Antioch Family of Churches has 1,225 movement engagements in 748 languages in 157 countries. There are 2.3 million house churches with 42 million adults. What God has started, in and among us, began with our brokenness, our missteps, and our misunderstandings. But after the Lord graciously allowed us to learn of some powerful tools and effective principles, exponential breakthrough has taken place. 

We focus on three priorities. The first one is rescuing people from slavery into sonship. That slavery may be human trafficking, but it’s always the slavery of sin. And it’s a life filled with discrimination, pain, and heartache. But when they enter into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, they become sons and daughters of the living God, and co-heirs. So our relationship, even with new believers, is not hierarchical. It’s like a family because we’re asking them to be baptized into Jesus, and then into the Church, and then into the world. We never ask anyone to join our culture before they find our Savior. We make sure they meet our Savior first. Then together we discover what church would look like in their own culture. So, the first priority is to rescue from slavery into sonship. 

The second one is to empower people to bring others to Christ. You may have heard the term “seeking out a man of peace.” In our model, we seek out a man or woman of influence. We call it the Cornelius Model, from Acts chapter 10. We ask the Lord to show us people who have incredible influence in their village or their community, or their country. By bringing the gospel to them, they in turn have the ability to spread that good news to all the people in their social network. Then, just like the Apostle Paul asked Titus to establish elders in every church, we ask these Corneliuses to help raise up leaders and establish elders in every house church. Our ministry, then, is from church to church. Not organization to church but a local church partnering with another indigenous house church to ask God what needs to be done and then work on it together. 

Then comes our third priority which is multiply. Second Timothy 2:2 says that the things we have heard from reliable people, we are to pass on to those who can share it with others. It’s a three-generation multiplication. We’ve found that if we focus on growing generations of leaders, we can multiply movements. Our leadership training is based on obedience, not knowledge. I’ll give you an example. Several years ago, we opened up a new ministry in a major city, and we found someone interested in spiritual things. One of our workers began having a conversation with them, and soon they were asking about Jesus. But before explaining the depth of the Kingdom, we asked that person to go find five friends. 

The goal was not to bring these five friends together into a house church meeting, but rather, have each one of them be mentored by this “Cornelius.” These five would begin immediately sharing with five of their friends, and those five friends would find five of their own friends. So from the very beginning, multiplication was embedded into the whole ministry. 

With these three things – rescue, empower, and multiply – we discovered that we can learn so much from people who are just coming to Christ. So instead of us teaching them with declarative statements, we begin by asking powerful questions. Here are the three questions that we ask. We ask, “Who is spiritually hungry? When are they spiritually seeking? And where are they spiritually attentive?” We try to find the cultural and spiritual rhythms of those to which we are ministering. 

For instance, Easter weekend isn’t going to be a high holy day for a Muslim because they don’t know Jesus yet. We found, actually, that Ramadan is the most important calendar moment when we can share the good news with Muslims. Why? Because that’s the month when they’re seeking God. Granted it’s not the same God. They’re not seeking after Jesus the Son of God; they’re just trying to find a way to earn enough credit that God might accept them. So instead of introducing them to our holidays first, we’ve decided to come alongside them, understand their spiritual rhythms, and pray for those who are spiritually hungry. We find where they’re hungry and what they’re attentive to. Then through spiritual conversations, we can find a Cornelius. We ask him to find his friends and the multiplication process begins. 

We have equipped our leaders with a translation of Scriptures or key verses. We often provide them Wi-Fi boxes, so that with the push of a button they can spread the JESUS film or portions of the New Testament, at least in trade languages. If the people group is unengaged, we provide our teams mobile backpacks, so that if they’re in villages they can show the JESUS film to as many as 300 people. And we give them lots of training in how to start spiritual conversations with people – so that people want to know the God who can rescue them, empower them and multiply their influence. They can meet God, Jesus, who can forgive them of their sins. 

In the midst of all of this, we found that if we come together and pray, if we build teams to intercede, there’s tremendous opportunity in these moments. There’s one special day, toward the end of Ramadan (the 27th day actually), called the Night of Power. On that single night, many Muslims all over the world believe that their prayers carry a thousand times the weight of other days. And on that night, they ask God for a revelation of who he is. They ask God for forgiveness of their sins, and they ask for dreams and visions. So we send our people in, to mingle with those seeking a God they don’t know, so we can share about the God that we do know. 

On May 19th, 2020, more than one billion Muslims gathered together in homes to fast and pray. For the first time since 622AD, the mosques were closed, because of the coronavirus. They prayed on this “Night of Power” for a special revelation from “Allah” and for forgiveness of their sins. At the same time, more than 38 million Jesus followers from 157 nations – all former Muslims – lifted their voices in prayer asking the one true and living God to reveal Himself through signs, wonders, dreams and visions to the Muslims around the world. They prayed that for the first time, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Muslims would understand the mercy, love, and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ. And on this “One Miracle Night” God heard our prayers. 

When we agree together in prayer and go to the throne room of heaven, we ask Jesus to intercede on our behalf – so we’re going to have spiritual conversations at the right time in the right place. We can expect miraculous things to happen. I want to tell you a story that happened this year during the month of Ramadan. We sent teams from village to village during this time, asking the Lord to give us open doors and open hearts. One team went to a country (I apologize that for security reasons I am not able to share the details of the country), but they went to a village where no one received them. No one showed hospitality, no one opened their door. 

By the end of the day, the team was very discouraged. They went outside the village and all sat under a tree and built a campfire so they would be warm for the night. They began to pray and ask the Lord what to do, asking for a way to have a breakthrough in this village. As the night went on they fell asleep. Soon they were awakened and one of the leaders saw a blazing fire coming their way. It turned out to be 274 people with a fire torch in their hands, walking toward them. The team was initially filled with fear until one of them said, “Hey, we prayed that we’d have an opportunity to go to this village and share Jesus. Now the village is coming to us!” 

Just before they met these people, one of the 274 men stepped forward and said, “We don’t know who you are, we don’t know where you’re from, and we didn’t open our homes to you when you were in our village today. But tonight, every single one of us has had the exact same dream. And in that dream an angel appeared to us and said, “These people who came to your village are the ones who have the truth. You should go and ask them, and follow what they say.” 

That was the moment: spiritual conversations with the right people, at the right time, in the right place occurred. And before the night was over, 274 leaders of homes all made professions of faith and left their religion to walk in relationship with Jesus. That’s the power of prayer and having spiritual conversations in the right place. 

I want to leave you with one other story about launching movements among Muslim peoples. It comes not from the idea that the worker or the missionary is the one who’s supposed to do this. It’s about equipping and building leaders, a Cornelius, who will multiply the work. Several months ago, leaders came to me and said, “You know, we haven’t been able to reach certain villages and there’s no way to get to them using regular means. So we prayed, and we feel the Holy Spirit has asked us to set aside teams of people who will go across the desert and make sure that all of the unengaged people, all of those who are unreached and untouched, would hear the good news.” 

You and I have an opportunity to launch movements among Muslim peoples. It begins when we train local people who are living nearby and are near culture. We find a Cornelius, we invest in that person, and he helps us understand how to mobilize his friends to tell their friends. It can be as far away as the deserts of the Middle East on camels. If we empower local churches to take on the responsibilities God has given them instead of us being at the front, we become the Barnabas who supports these apostles and people who are sending. So I would say that our responsibility is to equip people with training and tools and to build trust. They appoint leaders and they send church planters to multiply other people who will then share the good news. 

In summary, I think we can look at launching movements among Muslim peoples in this way. First, a book of Acts culture can produce a book of Acts breakthrough. Second, we launch movements among Muslim peoples by adjusting our conversations, so the conversations are spiritually led with the right people, at the right time, in the right place. 

We ask people to be baptized into Jesus, then help them discover what their church looks like, rather than asking people to find their way in the culture of our church. We need to also ask God for a Cornelius, a man or a woman of influence, who will use their influence to multiply the Kingdom among the relationships they already have. I want to encourage you as you consider launching movements among Muslim peoples, to look for tools, to find quality training, and to build trust. One church, connecting with the nearby and near culture church, so that together you can go to unengaged, unreached peoples, and see a Cornelius multiply the Kingdom in partnership with you. God bless you.

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God at Work During the Pandemic

God at Work During the Pandemic

– By Jon Ralls –

Amid a pandemic and uncertainty, God is still at work. His Spirit is moving in the lives of people all around the world.

As people have found themselves at home, at times alone, and with questions, many are seeking answers to the challenges and emotions they are feeling. One of the places that people are turning to for answers is the internet. The number of people online – searching on Google, watching videos on YouTube, making comments on Facebook, and more – continues to rise.

Facebook has over 2 billion users, and YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google (which owns YouTube). This increase in social media users is also increasing opportunities for social media ministry and discipleship.

God is truly opening doors for the gospel for many who are seeking.

 

From One Comes Many

God opened a door to the gospel for Azzibidiin through an evangelistic ad he saw on social media. He responded to the ad and was connected with a local disciple-maker named Bishara. Bishara had come to faith a year ago and has enthusiastically shared his faith with anyone who will listen. As a result, 300-400 have come to faith, representing 30 unique communities of faith. Bishara has been greatly persecuted for his faith but has kept his hand to the plow and is currently discipling and equipping Azzibidiin for ministry.

 

You Are Not Alone

For college students in one Asian region, God opened a door to the gospel through video clips from the Jesus Film used in a social media ad campaign. One student responded to an ad with a message saying, “I thought I was the only person feeling so lonely during the pandemic, yet I hear of you Christians and your love for us.” This student was not alone in hearing the love of Christ. At least three people have accepted Christ after responding to these ads.

One ad campaign asked, “What kind of prayer would you ask God to answer?” Hundreds of students replied with statements such as “God, please forgive me.” “God, please help me with the things that make me afraid.” “God, please bring me someone who understands and loves me.” “God, please show me what choices to make.”

 

The Unreached Reaching Out

Social media is allowing many in unreached areas to connect with those who can share the good news. For example, a Facebook ministry page gained more than 1,800 followers from an unreached group in Southeast Asia. Local Christians have been connecting with those interested in the gospel, and at least one person has already been baptized.

 

Not A Coincidence

Through the use of targeted ads and organic (non-paid) content, people are hearing about Jesus. In a country that is 99.9% Muslim, this message arrived to a team using mass media to find seekers: “Everywhere on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube I always came across things about Jesus and so on. I don’t think this could be a coincidence. I wonder if … I can believe in Jesus. I wonder if I can see a miracle.”

 

Extraordinary Times and Tools

Since the beginning of the Church, people have been sharing the good news. We share the hope within us as we interact with people throughout the day in our work, schools, and elsewhere. With the power and scale of the internet, we now have tools and technology that allow us to reach out to distant locations 24 hours a day. Even as we sleep, God’s Spirit is at work drawing seekers to those who can share about His Son, Jesus Christ.

Digital outreach does not replace us personally living out a missional life, but it does allow for a radically different ministry paradigm as seekers reach out to Christian workers. These seekers are contacting people who can start a conversation with them (both online and then offline), which can ultimately lead to a disciple who can make disciples.

 

Not A Magic Bullet

Digital outreach is not a magic bullet. We cannot just run a paid ad and expect thousands to be saved. Much strategy, training, and thought is needed to best leverage these digital opportunities. But with those in place, this powerful tool can be used for God’s glory and the advance of his kingdom.

If you are curious or want to start finding seekers via mass media, several ministries offer coaching and provide resources for Christian workers using such media. A few are:

 

Media to Movements – The Media To Movements team equips disciple makers in media strategies to identify and engage spiritual seekers who accelerate a movement of reproducing disciples. They provide coaching and mentorship from the first steps through ongoing outreach. www.Mediatomovements.org 

 

Kingdom Training – This group has been doing digital outreach for years and has several excellent courses to help people get started. www.Kingdom.training 

 

Mission Media U – MMU is a mentored, online training platform designed to help Christ-followers be more effective in making disciples and establishing churches by using media, story, and innovative technology. www.missionmediau.org/foundations-of-media-strategy 

 

Kavanah Media – Specializes in helping mission teams and churches find seekers in their context. Specializing in training, media creation, management of campaigns, and coaching, they work with ministries to make the most of their advertising budget. They also host of a weekly media outreach podcast: “Christian Media Marketing.” www.Kavanahmedia.com 

 

A coalition of Media to Movements, Kingdom Training, and Mission Media U have put together  a great video reflecting what these teams are working towards. Watch the video What Is Media Outreach? to see a great example of collaboration.

 

The strategy that the above groups use all begins with the end in mind: reproducing disciples. The research-informed, creative, and culturally sensitive media content—videos and social media posts, combined with strategic marketing, invites people to explore and respond to Scripture. I pray that we might look at these times, and like the men of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32) understand the times and use all possible means to see that all can know of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.

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Why We Need to Stop Doing Good Things

Why We Need to Stop Doing Good Things

– By C. Anderson . 

This blog was originally published on C. Anderson’s blog, Pursing Disciple Making Movements in the Frontiers. –

Pruning makes things ugly. We don’t usually like the way it looks at first. In front of my home in Thailand, we have flowering shrubs. They must be pruned to stay healthy. Every few months, I go outside and trim away branches. It’s especially hard to cut off the ones that still have flowers on them. Pruning unfruitful activities and investing in fruitful actions is a must if we want to see a Disciple Making Movement. In the last few articles, I’ve written about the key characteristics of leaders God trusts with movements. Let’s add one more.

The movement leaders God uses are willing to stop unfruitful activities. They focus on doing things that yield Kingdom fruit. We must evaluate everything we do in light of the vision God placed in our hearts to obey Christ by multiplying disciples.

Leaders who refuse to let go, or make necessary endings to unfruitful programs and efforts bog down. They do not see multiplication. Good leaders evaluate what they do. They are willing to prune away the good to give time to the best.

Are You Willing to Stop Doing Good Things?

One leader I coached continually struggled to fulfill his action steps. He made little progress in his movement vision. When we met by phone, or he attended training, this young Asian man was enthusiastic. Passionate prayers, tears flowing down his cheeks, flowed out of his mouth in times of intercession. I could see how greatly he longed to see his people know God. He embraced movement principles, convinced they were true, as he studied the book of Acts. 

After a few years of working with this brother, the problem was clear. His commitment to father, Christian community the mother church, prevented him. He could not focus on fruitful disciple making activities.

After a coaching session, he set goals to meet lost people in his oikos and share a Bible story. A few weeks later we spoke. He said he had been busy that week with a pastor’s conference, a wedding for his cousin, and running errands for his father, the pastor of a large church.

Each time we met, there was a different set of things he had been busy with. The pattern was the same. He was not willing to stop doing some of the things in his life that were based on his loyalty to others, to focus on disciple making.

This brother had potential as a movement leader. Today, many years later, he only has one small church. He needed to let go of good things, and choose to do fruitful things instead. This was not a choice he was willing to make.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Prune Unfruitful Practices

Pruning means cutting off. We take our trimmers to the branch and sever it. It drops to the ground and dries up. We throw it in the field or trash bin.

What must you be willing to prune as a disciple makers? This is a question to ask of God. To get you started, let me give some examples from my own life. These are things I’ve had to “prune” away to make space for prayer, discipling my neighbors, training and mentoring upcoming leaders in the movement, and giving time to lost people.

  • Training programs that were not resulting in obedient disciples who could train others
  • Leadership teams I was part of that took much time but didn’t further my DMM vision
  • Speaking in schools when the topics were not related to disciple making
  • Attending conferences because I was “supposed” to be there
  • Draining activities and meetings that didn’t give life
  • Being at every family event that took place

These are difficult choices to make, no doubt. Not everyone understands when you make them. Be careful how you do these things as well. Don’t tell people, “I don’t have time for you because I’m focusing on more fruitful things” for example! Be wise but make choices to focus on what God has called you to do.

Increase Fruitful Activities

As you prune away other things, you create space in your life for fruitful or innovative activities. We don’t always know what will bear fruit. Especially in times like these, we must creatively try new ideas God has given. They may or may not be fruitful, but we need to experiment and then check.

Do you have space in your life to create or experiment with new methods of outreach?

Perhaps even more important is to observe what is fruitful and invest in that. Give more time, more money, more man-power to those things that are working well for you or others in similar situations. This is why being part of a community of people pursuing Disciple Making Movements is so important. We learn from and with one another.

Here are some fruitful practices I work hard to make space for in my life.

  • Extraordinary prayer for the lost (setting aside hours in my day, and days in my month for fasting and prayer)
  • Formal and informal conversations with those I am coaching
  • Prayer walks in my neighborhood, pausing to greet and chat with those I see
  • Discovery Bible Studies online and in person
  • Leadership development training for my team
  • Ongoing learning for my own spiritual development and growth as a DMM trainer

It’s time to apply.

What do you need to stop doing to make space for the activities that will take you forward in launching movements?

Write down whatever popped into your mind. In the next day or two, take time to process with God the possibility of letting go of that. Post on the DMMs Frontier Missions Facebook Group, or in the comments below, the action you will take to apply what you learned in this article.

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About Movements

How the Bhojpuri CPM has Started Other Movements

How the Bhojpuri CPM has Started Other Movements

– By Victor John –

God is working in amazing ways among the Bhojpuri speakers of North India, with a CPM of more than 10 million baptized disciples of Jesus. God’s glory in this movement shines even brighter against the backdrop of this area’s history. The Bhojpuri area of India is fertile in many ways – not just in its soil. A great many religious leaders were born here. Gautama Buddha received his enlightenment and gave his first sermon in this area. Yoga and Jainism originated here as well. 

The Bhojpuri area has been described as a place of darkness – not just by Christians, but by non-Christians as well. Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, after traveling in eastern Uttar Pradesh, wrote a book entitled An Area of Darkness, describing well the region’s pathos and depravity. 

In the past, this region was very, very hostile to the gospel, which was viewed as foreign. It was known as “the graveyard of modern missions.” When the foreignness was removed, people started accepting the good news.

But God does not want to only reach the Bhojpuri speakers. When God began to use us to reach beyond the Bhojpuri group, some people asked, “Why don’t you stick with reaching the Bhojpuri? There are so many of them! 150 million is a huge number of people! Why don’t you just stay there until that job is finished?” 

My first response is the pioneering nature of gospel work. Doing apostolic/pioneering work involves always looking for places where the good news has not taken root: looking for opportunities to make Christ known where He is not yet known. That’s one reason we expanded our work to other language groups. 

Second, these various languages overlap in their usage, one with another. There’s no clear-cut line where use of one language ends and another begins. Also, believers often move because of relationships, such as getting married or having a job offer elsewhere. As people in the movement have traveled or moved, the good news has gone with them. 

Some people came back and said, “We see God working in this other place. We would like to start a work in that area.” We told them, “Go ahead!” 

So they came back a year later and said, “We’ve planted 15 churches there.” We were amazed and blessed, because it happened organically. There was no agenda, no preparation, and no funding. When they asked what was next, we began to work with them to help the believers get grounded in God’s word and quickly mature. 

Third, we started training centers which expanded the work, both intentionally and unintentionally (more God’s plan than ours). Sometimes people from a nearby language group would come to a training and then return home and work among their own people. 

A fourth reason for expansion: sometimes people have come to us and said, “We need help. Can you come help us?” We assist and encourage them as best we can. These have been the key factors in moving into neighboring areas beyond the Bhojpuri. 

The work began among the Bhojpuri in 1994, then spread into other languages and areas in this order: Awadhi (1999), Cousins (2002), Bengali (2004), Magahi (2006), Punjabi, Sindhi, Hindi, English (in urban communities) and Haryanvi (2008), Angika (2008), Maithili (2010), and Rajasthani (2015). 

We praise God that the movement has spread in a variety of ways to different language groups, different geographic areas, multiple caste groups (within those language and geographic areas), and different religions. The power of the good news keeps breaking through all kinds of boundaries. 

The work among the Maithili people serves as a very good example of partnership. Our partnership with one key leader was an experiment in expanding the movement. Instead of us opening our own office with our own staff, we accomplished the same goal in a more reproducible way.

While these movements are led indigenously, we continue to partner together. We recently began training 15+ Angika leaders in Eastern Bihar in holistic (integrated) ministry. We plan to help start holistic ministry centers in three different Angika locations in the coming year and raise up more local Angika leaders. Our key partner working among the Maithili is also extending work into the Angika area.

Victor John, a native of north India
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.

This post is excerpted with permission from the book Bhojpuri Breakthrough. (Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2019), pages 4, 121-123, 137, 142-143, and published in this form on pages 185-188 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

Categories
About Movements

UUPG Coverage Ministry

UUPG Coverage Ministry

– By Lipok Lemtur –

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

I come from Nagaland, a small state in the Northeast part of India. I’ve been in church planting for the past 17 years. I represent today a huge number of leaders who have come together to agree on the [Matthew] 24:14 vision. Irrespective of our denominational background or mission agencies, we’ve come together, agreeing on this vision and saying, “Let’s get the job done.” 

Today my country has the world’s largest harvest field: a population of 1.5 billion and growing each day. We have 615,000 villages 1,757 people groups that have been identified so far. Out of those 1,757, 1,517 are on the unreached people groups list. The list of unengaged unreached people groups lists 688 in India. So, with the overwhelming task ahead of us, we as the 24:14 family in India have prayerfully agreed: we will finish the task of getting the gospel to every people group, so that by December 31, 2025 there will be no unengaged people groups. So we have a sense of urgency and an overwhelming task. 

We could get caught up with the huge numbers ahead of us. But we want to go back to the simple tools: the simple paths the Bible has shown us for the work that has been assigned to us. The Great Commission has been given to every believer: to go and preach the gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. This Great Commission was given to all believers, so we believe in the priesthood of all believers. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter writes: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood.” We agree, not just on a piece of paper; we agree in practice. 

It’s like in John 4, where Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well and revealed who he was. This lady had lived a very dark past: with five husbands, and the sixth one was not even her husband. But she just received Jesus Christ and believed, then she left her water jar and want back to the village and said: “Come see this man who told me everything I have done in the past. Could this be the Christ?” And the whole village came to faith. So this woman, who had just believed, became a child of God. She received an identity as a priest and was willing to immediately exercise her priesthood. 

We also we want to mobilize all our believers, so they become the workforce to take the gospel to every people group. We want to train them with a simple plan, giving them a simple tool for how to enter a new village. That is from Luke 10, where Jesus sends out 70 people, two by two. That means 35 pairs going to different places: praying and asking God to give them the person of peace. We equip them with a simple tool: being able to share their story and God’s story. And we give every believer training on simple discipleship and how to form a church. 

For that, we looking at Acts 2:41-47. What did the first believers do as a church? It was simple. Where did they meet? They met in their homes. We see examples of this throughout the New Testament . In Colossians 4:15 Paul writes: “Greet the saints that meet in your home.” To Philemon also: “Greet the saints that meet in your home. And in Romans 16 and 1 Corinthians 16 we read of believers meeting in their homes. The normal place of gathering was in their homes. 

So we equip the believers with a simple path and simple tools. We want them to know how to form a church and what to do as a church. Then they choose leaders from among themselves. So they have a simple five-step plan: Entry, Gospel, Discipleship, Church Formation, and Leadership Development. We would like to mobilize all believers and send them out into the harvest. We want every believer beginning to take ownership of the gospel, and able to share their story and God’s story. We have them make a list of their friends and relatives that they know. The goal is to touch a lot of these people groups that have never heard the gospel. These are people who we come across every day in the marketplaces and in businesses. Even when we socialize we meet many of them. 

So we equip every believer to take ownership of the gospel and to make a list of their family and friends – similar to the demoniac in Mark 5. Jesus had just delivered this guy, who was sleeping half of his life in a graveyard. When the villagers told Jesus to leave the area, this brand new believer (now clothed and in his right mind) begged Jesus: “Take me with you!” But Jesus did the opposite: instead of taking him with him, Jesus released him and gave responsibility to a brand new believer. He had no educational qualifications and no Christian background. But Jesus just released him into the harvest and said: “Go to your family and tell them what the Lord has done.” 

So if we mobilize all believers and train them, we will be able to achieve this task. As we go on engaging these people groups, many people would ask, “How can we measure engagement?” We as the 24:14 family in India have said we want to measure engagement. We consider a people group engaged when a movement has begun: four generations of churches being planted. Where the churches are led by an insider – a local person. Where churches are planting other churches. That means local sending – sending to the next village to plant another generation of churches. When we see four generations, it shows that the churches are now able to sustain themselves; there is a local ownership and local leadership in place. That means the new believers themselves are taking the gospel to others. The churches are healthy, self-governing, self-supporting, choosing their own leaders, and sending out laborers to other villages where the gospel has not been preached. They are self-correcting and self-feeding. They don’t need an outsider to come and lead the movement. When four generations of churches have started, we say that a people group has been engaged. 

A movement needs to be self-sustaining. If we exit a field too early, or just send out one or two laborers for prayer and just sharing the gospel, we don’t say the people group has been engaged. The word that comes to mind is Christian stewardship. Are we being good stewards? Have we left the field too early? If the gospel is not able to sustain itself, we left the field too early. We could fall into the danger of leaving some people groups behind, taking it for granted that they have been reached just because we have sent one or two laborers. But we need to aim for and measure according to the CPM practices of four generations of churches, where it is self-sustaining. We want to be good stewards of these people groups. We want to meet these people groups in heaven. Revelation 7:9 describes people groups of different languages coming together to worship Jesus Christ. So we do not want to leave any people group behind. As a request from the 24:14 India family, we ask you all to pray for the Indian church. Pray that we would take ownership of this gospel and be able to finish this task. Remember the urgency of our timeline: by December 31, 2025. So please join us in prayer that we would mobilize and train every believer, to get the gospel to these unengaged unreached people groups. And that we would be good stewards in this; that we would not leave the field too early and leave the task unfinished. Pray that God would also provide us the resources to build this momentum everywhere. 

We have seen that when a movement takes place, other movements are sparked. So as movement leaders, we want to have more and more laborers trained up to become church multipliers. Then we want to send them out to the harvest field. So please join us in prayer for this overwhelming and urgent task, and for the Indian church to walk in unity. Pray that at such a time as this, we can have unity to agree on the 24:14 vision and say, “Let’s come together and get the job done!”

[1] In many Indian CPM networks (and some other countries as well), they have seen enough progress that they aim for four generations of churches as their standard for engagement – in other words, a group is effectively engaged when a movement starts. Networks in other locations consider long-term catalysts among a group as the marker for movement engagement and multiple streams of four generations of churches as the marker for a movement.

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About Movements

The Storyline of History – Finishing the Last Lap

The Storyline of History – Finishing the Last Lap

– By Steve Smith –

Too often we start with the wrong question: “What is God’s will for my life?” That question can be very self-centered. It’s about you and your life. 

The right question is “What is God’s will?” Period. Then we ask, “How can my life best serve that?” 

To glorify God’s name, you need to understand what God is doing in our generation—His purpose. To figure that out you need to know what God is doing in history: the storyline that began in Genesis 1 and will finish in Revelation 22. 

Then you can find your place in the historical plot. For example, King David uniquely served God’s purpose in His own generation (Acts 13:36) precisely because he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He sought to contribute his efforts toward the Father’s storyline. The Abrahamic promise (inherit land and become a blessing to the nations) took a huge leap forward when God found a man who would have his heart and serve his purposes. According to 2 Samuel 7:1, his promise of inheriting the land was fulfilled as there was no place left for the Israelites to conquer. 

Our Father’s heart is the storyline of history. He speeds up the plot when He finds protagonists who have his heart. God is calling up a new generation that will not just be in the plot but will finish the plot, hastening the story to its climax. He is calling out a generation that will one day say, “There is no place left for the Kingdom of God to expand” (as Paul wrote of one large region in Romans 15:23). 

Knowing the storyline is knowing God’s will. 

Once you know the storyline, you can take up your place in it, not as a side character but as a protagonist driven forward by the power of the Author. 

The grand storyline began in Creation (Genesis 1) and will end at the Consummation (the return of Jesus — Revelation 22). It is the story of a great race. Each generation runs a lap in this relay race. There will be a final generation that runs the last lap—a generation that sees the King receive His reward for His history-long efforts. There will be a last-lap generation. Why not us

 

The Purpose of History

This central storyline runs throughout the Bible, weaving its way through each of the 66 books. Yet it is easy to forget or ignore the storyline, and many people scoff at such a thought. 

Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4)

This reality describes our generation as well as Peter’s. 

What is the storyline of history? 

  • CREATION: In Genesis 1-2, God created humanity for one purpose: to become a Bride (companion) for His Son, to dwell with Him forever in loving adoration. 
  • FALL: In Genesis 3, through sin, humans fell away from God’s design—no longer in relationship with the Creator. 
  • SCATTERING: In Genesis 11, languages were confused and humanity was dispersed to the ends of the earth—out of touch with the redemption of God. 
  • PROMISE: Starting in Genesis 12, God promised to call the peoples of the earth back to Himself through the blood-price of a Redeemer proclaimed by the good-news-sharing efforts of the God’s people (the descendants of Abraham). 
  • REDEMPTION: In the Gospels, Jesus provided the price to pay the debt of sin, to buy back the people of God—people from every ethnos (people group). 
  • COMMISSION: At the end of His life, Jesus launched God’s people to finish God’s mission: the great storyline. And he promised his power to do so. 
  • DISCIPLE-MAKING: From the Book of Acts until today, God’s people have been blessed in order to accomplish one great mandate. “Go into all the world” and fulfill this redemption: making disciples of all ethnē, to be the complete Bride of Christ. 
  • CONSUMMATION: At the Consummation, Jesus will return to take up His Bride— when she is complete and ready. Everything from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 is about calling back Jesus’ Bride from among the nations. Until the Bride is complete, the mission of the church is not finished.

Peter refers to this storyline in the last chapter of his second epistle.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10, emphasis added) 

God is patient. He will not send His Son back until the story is finished. God is not slow; he does not wish any people group (ethnos) to perish. He wants all the scattered nations of Genesis 11 to be a part of the Bride of Christ in great number. These are the ethnē Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:14. These are the ethnē he spoke of in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20 “make disciples of all ethnē”). These are the ethnē pictured in Revelation 7:9. 

The climax of history’s storyline is a complete Bride presented to the Son with a great wedding banquet to celebrate. In Peter’s last chapter, he referred to the gathering of this Bride and also to Paul’s writings: 

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters.… (2 Peter 3:14-16, emphasis added) 

Paul referred to the same storyline using the same words: 

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish…. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:25-27, 32, emphasis added) 

Paul referred to the same plan in Ephesians 1: 

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ— which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ….everything in heaven and on earth. (Ephesus 1:9-10, NLT, emphasis added) 

God’s plan from Creation to Consummation has been to regather people from every language and culture to return to life in Christ, as His Bride forever. But right now, that Bride is incomplete. She is still missing an arm, an eye and a foot. Her dress is still blemished and wrinkled. While the Bridegroom stands at the altar ready to wrap his Bride in his arms, the Bride seems to be in little hurry to prepare herself for the Wedding Day. But the posture of the Bride is changing. This is one of the great distinctives of our generation, and it points us to the uniqueness of our lap in the race of history. Over the last two decades the global church has increased the pace toward engaging the remaining 8000+ unreached people groups in the world—the parts of the world still not well represented in the Bride. 

This is a good first step, but engagement was never the end goal. Since over two billion people in the world still have no access to the gospel, our efforts to engage them must change. We need to reach them, not just engage them. 

Jesus told us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come fully on earth as in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). When the gospel engages an unreached place, the Kingdom of God must break loose. Jesus always envisioned his disciples making disciples to make disciples and churches planting churches which can plant churches. This is what happened in the Book of Acts. The DNA of early discipleship was that each disciple would be both a follower of Jesus and a fisher of men (Mark 1:17). 

Jesus is not satisfied with a small or incomplete Bride. He wants a Bride that no one can count, from all the ethnē. The only way to do this is through the Kingdom multiplying in every one of them. Momentum is building for movements of God to become common again. In the last 25 years the number of these Church Planting Movements around the world has grown from fewer than 10 to over 1,000! God is accelerating the timeline of history! 

Yet thousands of unreached people groups and places still have no multiplying church among them. With Peter, we must join God in speeding up the plot line toward its finale. 

Become a protagonist in the story—not a side character. Choose to focus on reaching every unreached people and place, and do so through Acts-like movements of multiplying disciples, churches and leaders. 

Ask “What is God’s will?” and “How can my life best serve that purpose in this generation?” 

Jesus promises His powerful presence to all who join in that effort (Matthew 28:20). 

Some generation will finish the final lap. Why not us?

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.

Adapted from “Kingdom Kernels: The Storyline of History— Finishing the Last Lap,” in the November-December 2017 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 40-43, and published on pages 17-24 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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About Movements

My Journey Toward Movement Thinking

My Journey Toward Movement Thinking

– By Doug Lucas
President, Team Expansion –

I remember trying to define Team Expansion with the lawyer who helped us incorporate, back in 1978. It wasn’t easy. We were a collection of independent thinkers, each focused on a different location, yet united behind a common vision: church planting.

That hard-won clarity might be one reason I struggled as Team Expansion’s President, nearly 35 years later (in 2013), when I heard rumbles of a different strategy for missions. As I look back on my journey and our organization’s journey, I wonder how it took me so long to embrace it. Why was it difficult? How did I navigate the transition personally? And how are we, as an organization, seeking to apply these strategies?

First, movement thinking seemed too “fuzzy” for me, with no single source of truth. And what I heard people describe seemed too simple. Surely, if all we had to do was live out the book of Acts, why would it have taken 19 centuries for us to sort it out? I asked myself: “If there really are 1000+ movements, with millions upon millions of participants, why can’t we see them? And can we really be sure those aren’t just inflated numbers?”(1) I also wondered: “Even if the reports from Asia and Africa are true, if this is so simple, why doesn’t it seem to work in North America and Europe?”

Besides, I reasoned, we had always focused on a central nucleus: a group with 100 people in a rented or purchased building. I had been trained to define a church as having a staff, programs, and a budget. My years of training had prepared me for one paradigm: the “standard” model of a church. With all those expectations and definitions imprinted in my mind, the mold was hard to break.

So what changed – in me and in our organization? The following elements aligned to bring a paradigm shift:

1) An advocate: a person I trusted championed the cause. In our case, he’s our Executive VP. Eric has been my lifelong friend. I respect his vision and passion for the lost. As I look back at how he “won me over,” I can identify some additional things he did that were helpful.

2) Patience: the advocate spoke my language and understood how to influence me.  He didn’t lecture me or talk in a condescending way. He asked if we would allow him to begin  experimenting with training selected field workers in our organization. We gladly blessed his efforts, and he often invited me to those training to get me involved. He was sneaky in a good way. How could I welcome all those workers to a training in this new approach if I didn’t endorse it? But I still wrestled. For months and months, I poked around, trying to “get it.” But I kept asking: what exactly is “it”?

3) Endurance: The advocate never gave up on me. He held a steadfast belief that our organization would transition to movement thinking more effectively if its founder and CEO was in favor of the change. I’m not the kind of CEO who calls all the shots. But he saw the clear benefit of  having the CEO on board. He just never gave up on me. I remember specific discussions like they happened yesterday. “You mean this all happens rather simply? It just keeps multiplying? There has to be more to this.” He would just gently walk through case studies and principles with me, helping me understand.

4) Case Studies: he showed me examples.  He always looked for stories, so I could embrace an illustration – especially from one of our own fields. Once we started seeing some fruit from our early adopters, he knew I’d start talking it up. That’s part of the CEO’s role: telling stories about the organization’s ministry at its best. It helps people believe in the organization’s effectiveness and helps people feel good about partnering with our workers.

But besides these four things, I still needed TIME. I had to break the entire process down into components that I could digest a little at a time. Rather than eating the entire elephant, I just focused on one meal… sometimes just one bite. I started prayer-walking in neighborhoods of my own city (Louisville, KY) where internationals live and work. I began inviting others to meet with me in training cohorts and peer-mentoring groups. I worked with two other families to start a “My Spiritual Family” weekly gathering, using the easily-learned three-thirds (DBS) style format. (Learn more about these simple ideas at www.Zume.training.) As I took these simple steps, some groups flourished while others seemed to fail. Once I started experiencing the process personally, it suddenly just clicked, within a two-week period.

Along the way, I began to group together ideas and jot them down as principles. I did this with a friend, trying to multiply from the beginning. These principles, for me, turned into a training website for my own needs, along with those of others on a similar journey. Writing down what I learned was a good practice for me. (It’s available free of charge at www.MoreDisciples.com.) As I worked on More Disciples, we were blessed to have a part in testing and implementing the online training materials at www.Zume.training. That course now trains thousands of others in dozens of countries and languages all over the world. 

As an organization, we began doing frequent trainings. Thankfully, many of our workers began implementing CPM/DMM principles both personally and as teams. Today, we estimate that 80-90% of our workers have embraced DMM strategies as their primary approach. And in the entire transition, we might have lost just one family over it. It’s been a huge success. We are now a much more effective organization because of the change. Even in the middle of a pandemic, God has worked through our team members and those we’re training to baptize 2,400 people and launch 796 new groups. There are now over 4,000 active groups in the 50 countries where we serve, with over 25,000 people attending faithfully.

We’ve wondered why more people aren’t implementing these simple and effective principles in North America. Perhaps it’s because we’re so accustomed to defining the Christian life as attending a service on Sunday morning. Maybe our lives are so full of sports and leisure activities that we think we don’t have time to live out these simple, reproducible principles. Whatever the reason, we need to find a way to mobilize hundreds and thousands of prayer advocates and implementers if we intend to catch up with what God is doing in many other parts of the world.

My journey toward movement thinking was slow. But it was a huge transition. I’m thankful to the advocate who helped me along the way. And I’m most thankful to God for his patience and grace in my life. I look forward to stories like this from other leaders and organizations.

(1)  For answers to questions such as these, see, for example, “The Story of Movements and the Spread of the Gospel,” “A Still Thriving Middle-aged Movement” and “How Movements Count.”

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About Movements

How God is Moving Toward No Place Left in Haiti

How God is Moving Toward No Place Left in Haiti

By Jephte Marcelin

I am one of the servants in No Place Left Haiti. Our vision to faithfully obey Jesus by making disciples who make disciples, planting churches that plant churches, and mobilizing missionaries to the nations until there’s no place left. We do this by entering empty fields, sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen, discipling those who respond, forming them into new churches, and raising up leaders from within them to repeat the process. This is happening in every different location in Haiti. As these churches gather in homes, under trees, and everywhere, we are seeing new leaders and teams being raised up from the harvest. 

A great example of this is Joshua Jorge, one of our team leaders. He is laboring for no place left in Ganthier, an area located in Southeast Haiti. Recently, he sent out two of his Timothies, Wiskensley and Renaldo, to an area called Anse-à-Pitres. Following the example of Luke 10, they went with no extra provisions and searched for a house of peace. They arrived and immediately began sharing the gospel house-to-house, asking the Lord to lead them to God-prepared people. After a few hours, they met a man in the street named Calixte. As they shared with him about the hope found only in Jesus, he received the gospel and gave his life to Jesus.

Wiskensley and Renaldo asked Calixte where he lived and he led them to his home. They entered the house, shared Jesus with his entire family and they all chose to follow Jesus that day. These two ambassadors spent the next four days with this family, training them and taking them out into the harvest to share with their neighbors. During those four days, 73 people turned and believed in Jesus, 50 of them were baptized, and they formed a new church in Calixte’s home. Wiskensley and Renaldo continued to return to train a few emerging leaders in simple, biblical, reproducible tools. Within just a few weeks, this new church had already multiplied into two other churches! Praise Jesus! 

My people have been physically and spiritually oppressed for generations. Haiti tells people, “You cannot follow Jesus until your life is clean.” They say, “Do not read the Bible because you will not understand it.” Jesus says, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Now we are listening to Jesus. Haitians are finding freedom in the Gospel of Grace. As we follow Jesus’ Kingdom strategy given to us in the Gospels and in the book of Acts, being faithful to obey all of His commands, the Lord of the harvest is doing a great work. We are truly experiencing a movement of the Spirit of God. Thousands of Haitians are accepting their identity as ambassadors for Christ and thousands of new Jesus gatherings are being formed. We are not seeking to build our own kingdom, but giving away God’s Kingdom. And He is multiplying it!

We began implementing movement principles in February 2016. We are now tracking seven streams of 4th generation churches (and more) representing more than 3,000 new churches and 20,000 baptisms. 

Jephte Marcelin is a native of Haiti, laboring to see no place left where the gospel has not yet been made known. At age 22, Jephte turned down a bright future as a medical doctor to pursue God’s plan for his life as a movement catalyst.

This is from an article that appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 21-22, and published on pages 133-135 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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About Movements

Clarifying Some Misconceptions – Part 2

Clarifying Some Misconceptions – Part 2

– By Tim Martin and Stan Parks –

In part 1 we will addressed eight questions related to frequent misconceptions.Here are five more.

9. Are there CPMs in the Bible?

“Church Planting Movement” is a modern term to describe something that has happened throughout Church history.

Church Planting Movements have existed since the first century of the Christian era. You only have to read between the lines to see Church Planting Movements as the back-story for the rise of Christianity from Christ to Constantine. In the Book of Acts, Luke reported that: “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10, NIV). The Apostle Paul commended the Thessalonians through whom “the Lord’s message…has become known everywhere” (1 Thess. 1:8a, NIV), and near the end of his life declared: “there is no more place for me to work in these regions” (Romans 15:23a, NIV), because of his desire “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (Romans 15:20a, NIV).

10. Is the CPM approach against traditional churches?

God is using many kinds of churches to accomplish His purposes in the world. We are all parts of the Body of Christ and we need to honor each other. At the same time, church history and current global realities make this very clear: the Great Commission cannot be completed using only traditional church models. The amount of resources needed for a traditional Western-style church does not allow for Kingdom growth to exceed population growth. Also, cultural patterns from the Western world often make a poor medium for bringing the gospel to non-Westerners. And most of the world’s unreached peoples are non-Western. The primary push for CPMs is to reach those not being reached and unlikely to be reached by traditional church patterns. Simple and easily reproducible biblical patterns offer the best hope for bringing the gospel to all peoples. God is using patterns such as these to bring CPMs among the unreached. So for anyone serious about reaching the unreached in significant numbers, we strongly recommend ministry patterns aiming to catalyze a CPM.

11. Doesn’t rapid multiplication increase the possibility for heresy?

Actually, heresy seems less prevalent in movements than in some traditional churches. This is because of the very interactive nature of their discipleship. The enemy sows seeds of heresy among groups of believers whether in movements or traditional churches. The question is not whether the enemy will sow such problems. The question is whether we are equipping disciples and churches to guard against false teachings and address them when they arise. Even the New Testament church faced such challenges. Equipping believers to rely on Scripture as their authority and study the Scripture together as the body (one example is that in Acts 17:11 the Bereans seem to have received and examined the Scripture together) helps guard against creative and eloquent false teachers.

Heresy usually comes from influential, dynamic, and persuasive leaders and/or institutions. We avoid and deal with heresy by going back to God’s Word and self-correcting according to God’s Word. The strategies movements use to make disciples are very Bible-based. They bring questions back to the Word of God, in order for God’s Word to be the source for answers, not a human authority.

A focus on obedience-based discipleship instead of knowledge-based discipleship also protects against heresy. Disciples don’t just gain knowledge. The measure of their discipleship is obedience to that knowledge.

12. Does rapid growth of a movement lead to shallow discipleship?

Shallow discipleship tends to take place when new believers learn that:

  • The main thing expected of them is to attend church meetings once or twice a week.
  • Obedience to Scripture is encouraged but not required.
  • They will receive God’s most important teachings from a church leader.

Sadly, these are among the messages many believers around the world receive.
The best way to nurture real discipleship is to train new believers to:

  • Interact with God’s Word (the Bible) for themselves and discover (together with other
    believers) what it says and how it applies to their lives.
  • Obey what they believe God is telling them to do through His Word.
  • Share the “real situation” of their lives with other followers of Jesus, pray for and encourage one another, and apply the “one anothers” of the NT.
  • Share the reality of life in Christ with those who don’t yet know Him.

These patterns of real discipleship are at the heart of Church Planting Movements.

13. Aren’t movements just a fad?

Movements have existed throughout history. Note the book of Acts, the Celtic movement led by Patrick, the Moravian movement, the Wesleyan movement, the Welsh revival, etc. A new wave of movements began in 1994. This wave is increasing exponentially through the present, with over 700 identified movements.

Like the early church, these movements are messy. They are full of humans and human weaknesses and God’s strength despite those weaknesses. If you have other questions or other answers we would be glad to dialogue. You can contact us through our website at www.2414now.net.

After a career in international oil and gas where Tim served as VP of International Exploration and Development, in 2006 he became the first missions pastor at WoodsEdge Community Church in Spring, Texas. His role became more focused in 2018 when he became the “Pastor of Disciple-Making Movements.”  Tim has been a student and trainer in biblical movements for several years and has a passion to see Matthew 24:14 fulfilled.

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.

Edited from an article originally published in the January-February 2019 issue of Mission
Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 38-40, and published on pages 323-330 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

(1) This paragraph is excerpted and edited from “10 Church Planting Movement FAQs”
(http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/10-church-planting-movement-faqs) by David Garrison, in the
March-April 2011 issue of Mission Frontiers.

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About Movements

Clarifying Some Misconceptions – Part 1

Clarifying Some Misconceptions – Part 1

– By Tim Martin and Stan Parks –

1.  24:14? Who are you?

We are a coalition of like-minded individuals, practitioners and organizations who have made a commitment to a vision: seeing movements in every unreached people and place. Our initial goal is see effective kingdom movement engagement in every unreached people and place by December 31, 2025. We do this based on four values:

  1. Reaching the unreached in line with Matthew 24:14 – bringing the gospel of the Kingdom to every unreached people and place.
  2. Accomplishing this through Church Planting Movements, involving multiplying disciples, churches, leaders and movements.
  3. Having a wartime sense of urgency to engage every unreached people and place with a movement strategy by the end of 2025.
  4. Doing these things in collaboration with others.

2.  Why do you use the name 24:14?

Matthew 24:14 forms the cornerstone for this initiative. Jesus promised: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnē), and then the end will come” (NIV). Our focus is to have the gospel go to every people group on earth. We long to be in the generation that finishes what Jesus began and what faithful workers before us have given their lives to. We know that Jesus waits to return until every people group has had an opportunity to respond to the gospel and become part of His Bride. 

3.  Are you setting 2025 as the year that all nations will be reached?

No, our goal is to engage every unreached people and place with an effective kingdom movement strategy by December 31, 2025. This means that a team (local or expat or combination) equipped in movement strategy will be on location in every unreached people and place. We make no claims about when the Great Commission task will be finished. That is God’s responsibility. He determines the fruitfulness of movements.

4.  Why do you feel such urgency in moving this forward?

2000 years have passed since Jesus spoke the Great Commission. 2 Peter 3:12 tells us to “hasten the day of his return.” Psalm 90:12 tells us to number our days. A group of 24:14 founders waited on the Lord and asked if we should set a deadline or not. We felt Him telling us that by setting an urgent deadline, we could make wiser use of our time and make the sacrifices needed to fulfill the vision.

5.  Are you trying to get all missions organizations to align around your strategy?

No, we recognize that God has called many churches, mission organizations and networks to specialized ministries. The 24:14 Coalition consists of people and organizations focused on catalyzing movements. Some have already done and are doing this; others are working toward that end. Various organizations and workers have unique methods and tools but we all share many of the same CPM distinctives. These are strategies based on applying in modern contexts patterns of disciple-making and church formation we see in the Gospels and the book of Acts.   

6.  There have been other attempts to get people to collaborate on finishing the Great Commission. What is different about 24:14?

24:14 builds on these other good initiatives. Some of the previous ones helped the global church reach certain milestones (e.g. adopting people groups). 24:14 aims to finish what others have started by catalyzing movements. These movements can reach entire people groups and places in a sustained manner. The 24:14 coalition partners with other networks such as Ethne, Finishing the Task, Global Alliance on Church Planting Multiplication (GACX), and Global Church Planting Network (GCPN). 24:14 is unique in being led by church planting movement leaders. And experience in movements (particularly among the unreached) has increased substantially in recent years. This has resulted in much-improved “best practices.”

7.  What is a “Church Planting Movement?”

A Church Planting Movement (CPM) is defined as the multiplication of disciples making disciples and leaders developing leaders. This results in indigenous churches planting churches. These churches begin to spread quickly through a people group or population segment. These new disciples and churches begin to transform their communities as the new Body of Christ lives out Kingdom values.

When churches reproduce consistently to four generations in multiple streams, the process becomes a sustaining movement. It may take years to begin. But once the first churches start, we usually see a movement reach four generations within three to five years. In additional, these movements themselves often reproduce new movements. More and more, CPMs are starting new CPMs within other people groups and population segments.

8.  What is your definition of church?

Acts 2:36-47.

There are a variety of definitions around the world. Yet most of these movements would agree on core elements in a definition of church. These are found in the description of the first church in Acts 2. In fact, many movements lead a newly baptized group of disciples to study Acts 2. They then begin to pray and work out how they can become this type of church. We encourage you to do this exercise with your own church.

These churches go on to study and apply many more aspects of being church from the New Testament. We encourage you to have a definition of church, no more and no less than the New Testament gives us. 

In part 2 we will address five additional questions related to frequent misconceptions. 

After a career in international oil and gas where Tim served as VP of International Exploration and Development, in 2006 he became the first missions pastor at WoodsEdge Community Church in Spring, Texas. His role became more focused in 2018 when he became the “Pastor of Disciple-Making Movements.”  Tim has been a student and trainer in biblical movements for several years and has a passion to see Matthew 24:14 fulfilled.

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.

Edited from an article originally published in the January-February 2019 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 38-40, and published on pages 323-326 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

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About Movements

Mindshifts in Movements – Part 2

Mindshifts in Movements – Part 2

– By Elizabeth Lawrence and Stan Parks –

In part 1, we shared some ways the Lord’s great work in CPMs calls us to adjust our thinking. Here are some additional ways we see CPMs calling us to adjust our thinking.

From: We are looking for partners in our ministry.
To: We are looking for brothers and sisters to serve God together. 

Sometimes missionaries are taught to look for “national partners.” Without questioning anyone’s motives, some local believers find this phrasing doubtful. Some of the wrong (often subconscious) meanings could include: 

  • “Partnership” with an outsider means doing what they want done.
  • In a partnership the person(s) with the most money controls the partnership.
  • This is a “work” type transaction rather than a genuine personal relationship.
  • The use of “national” may feel condescending (as a more polite word for “native” – why are Americans not also called “nationals”?).

In the dangerous and difficult work of starting movements among the lost, inside catalysts are looking for a deep family bond of mutual love. They don’t want work partners but rather movement family who will bear each other’s burdens and sacrifice in any way possible for their brothers and sisters. 

From: Focusing on winning individuals.
To:
Focusing on groups — to bring the gospel into existing families, groups and communities.

90% of salvations described in the book of Acts describe either large or small groups. Only 10% are individuals who experience salvation by themselves. We also see Jesus focusing on sending out his disciples to look for households, and we see Jesus often reaching households. Note examples such as Zacchaeus and his entire household experiencing salvation (Luke 19:9-10), and the Samaritan woman coming to faith along with a great many from her entire town (John 4:39-42).

Reaching groups has many advantages over reaching and gathering individuals. For example:

  • Instead of transferring “Christian culture” to a single new believer, local culture begins to be redeemed by the group.
  • Persecution isn’t isolated and focused on the individual but is normalized across the group. They can support each other in persecution.
  • Joy is shared as a family or community discovers Christ together.
  • Unbelievers have a visible example of “here’s what it looks like for a group of people like me to follow Christ.”

From: Transferring my church or group’s doctrine, traditional practices, or culture.
To:
Helping believers within a culture discover for themselves what the Bible says about vital issues; letting them hear God’s Spirit guide them in how to apply biblical truths in their cultural context.

We can too easily confuse our own preferences and traditions with scriptural mandates. In a cross-cultural situation we especially need to avoid giving our cultural baggage to the new believers. Instead, we trust that since Jesus said: “They will all be taught by God” (John 6:45, NIV), and the Holy Spirit will guide the believers “into all truth” (John 16:13), we can trust the process to God. This does not mean we don’t guide and coach new believers. It means that we help them see Scripture as their authority rather than us.

From: Starbucks discipleship: “Let’s meet once each week.”
To:
Lifestyle discipleship: My life is intertwined with these people.

One movement catalyst said that his movement trainer-coach offered to talk to him whenever he needed…so he ended up calling him in a different city three or four times every day. We need this type of commitment to help those who are passionate and desperate to reach the lost. 

From: Lecture – to transfer knowledge.
To:
Discipleship – to follow Jesus and obey his Word.

Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commands” (John 15:14, NCV) and “If you obey me you will remain in my love” (John 15:10, author’s translation). Often our churches emphasize knowledge over obedience. The people with the most knowledge are considered the most qualified leaders. 

Church planting movements emphasize teaching people to obey all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:20). Knowledge is important but the primary foundation must be first loving and obeying God.  

From: Sacred/secular divide; evangelism vs. social action.
To:
Word and deed together. Meeting needs as a door-opener and an expression and fruit of the gospel.  

The sacred/secular divide is not part of a biblical worldview. Those in CPMs don’t debate whether to meet physical needs or share the gospel. Because we love Jesus, of course we meet people’s needs (as he did) and as we do that we also share his truth verbally (as he did). In these movements we see the natural expression of meeting needs leading people to be open to the words or to ask questions that lead to the truth. 

From: Special buildings for spiritual activities.
To:
Small gatherings of believers in all kinds of places.

 Church buildings and paid church leaders hinder the growth of a movement. Rapid spread of the gospel happens through the efforts of nonprofessionals. Even reaching the number of lost people in the USA becomes prohibitively expensive if we attempt to reach them only through church buildings and paid staff. How much more so in other parts of the world that have fewer financial resources and higher percentages of unreached people!

From: Don’t evangelize until you’ve been trained.To: Share what you’ve experienced or know. It’s normal and natural to share about Jesus. 

How often are new believers asked to sit and listen for the first several years after they come to faith? It often takes many years before they are considered qualified to lead in any way. We have observed that the best people to lead a family or community to saving faith are insiders in that community. And the best time for them to do that is when they have newly come to faith, before they’ve created separation between themselves and that community.

Multiplication involves everyone and ministry happens everywhere. A new/inexperienced insider is more effective than a highly trained mature outsider.

From: Win as many as possible.
To:
Focus on the few (or one) to win many.

In Luke 10 Jesus said to find a household that will receive you. If a person of peace is there they will receive you. At that point, do not move around from household to household. We often see this pattern being applied in the New Testament. Whether it’s Cornelius, Zacchaeus, Lydia or the Philippian jailer, this one person then becomes the key catalyst for their family and broader community. One large family of movements in harsh environments actually focuses on the tribal leader or the network leader rather than individual household leaders. 

To make disciples of all nations, we don’t just need more good ideas. We don’t just need additional fruitful practices. We need a paradigm shift. The mindshifts presented here reflect various facets of that shift. To the extent we wrestle with and apply any one of them we will likely become more fruitful. But only as we buy the whole package – trade in traditional church DNA for CPM DNA – can we hope to be used by God in catalyzing rapidly reproducing generational movements that far exceed our own resources.

 

 

Elizabeth Lawrence has over 25 years of cross-cultural ministry experience.  This includes training, sending, and coaching CPM teams to unreached peoples, living among refugees from a UPG, and leading a BAM endeavor in a Muslim context.  She is passionate about multiplying disciples.

Adapted from an article in the May-June 2019 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, and published on pages 55-64 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.

Categories
About Movements

Mindshifts in Movements – Part 1

Mindshifts in Movements – Part 1

– By Elizabeth Lawrence and Stan Parks –

God is doing great things through Church Planting Movements (CPMs) around the world in our day. CPM does not mean traditional church planting becoming very fruitful. CPM describes the God-given fruit of a distinctive ministry approach – unique CPM-oriented “DNA.” The perspectives and patterns of a CPM differ in many ways from the patterns of church life and ministry that feel “normal” to many of us. 

Note, we want to identify paradigms we have seen God change for many of us involved in CPMs. But before examining these, we want to clarify: we don’t believe that CPM is the only way to do ministry or that anyone not doing CPM has a mistaken paradigm. We greatly honor all those who have gone before; we stand on their shoulders. We also honor others in the Body of Christ who serve faithfully and sacrificially in other types of ministries. 

For this context, we will mainly examine paradigm differences for Westerners seeking to help catalyze a CPM. Those of us who want to be involved need to notice what shifts have to happen in our own mindsets to create an environment for movements.  Mindshifts enable us to see things differently and creatively.  These perspective changes lead to different behaviors and results.  Here are a few ways the Lord’s great work in CPMs calls us to adjust our thinking.

 

From: “This is possible; I can see a path to accomplishing my vision.”

To: A God-sized vision, impossible apart from His intervention. Waiting on God for his guidance and power. 

 

One of the main reasons so many CPMs seem to have started in modern times is that people accepted a God-sized vision of focusing on reaching entire people groups. When faced with the task of reaching an unreached group consisting of millions of people it becomes obvious that a worker cannot accomplish anything on their own. The truth that “apart from me you can do nothing” applies to all our endeavors. However, if we have a smaller goal it’s easier to work as if fruit depends on our efforts rather than on God’s intervention. 

 

From: Aiming to disciple individuals.

To: Aiming to disciple a nation.

 

In the Great Commission Jesus tells his disciples to “make disciples of panta ta ethne” (all ethne / every ethnos). The question is: “How do you disciple an entire ethnos?” The only way is through multiplication — of disciples who make disciples, churches that multiply churches, and leaders who develop leaders.

 

From: “It can’t happen here!”

To: Expecting a ripe harvest.

 

Over the last 25 years people have often said: “Movements can start in those countries, but they can’t start here!” Today people point to the many movements in North India but forget this region was the “graveyard of modern missions” for 200+ years. Some said, “Movements can’t happen in the Middle East because that’s the heartland of Islam!” Yet many movements now thrive in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world. Others said, “It can’t happen in Europe and America and other places with traditional churches!” Yet we now have seen a variety of movements start in those places as well. God loves to overcome our doubts.

 

From: “What can I do?”

To: “What must be done to see God’s Kingdom planted in this group of people (city, nation, language, tribe, etc.)?

 

A training group was once discussing Acts 19:10 — how approximately 15 million people in the Roman province of Asia heard the word of the Lord in two years. Someone said, “That would be impossible for Paul and the original 12 believers in Ephesus – they would have had to share with 20,000 people a day!” That is the point – there is no way they could accomplish that. A daily training in the hall of Tyrannus must have multiplied disciples who multiplied disciples who multiplied disciples throughout the region.

 

From: “What can my group accomplish?”

To: “Who else can be a part of accomplishing this impossibly great task?”

 

This is similar to the mindshift above. Instead of focusing on the people and resources in our own church, organization, or denomination, we have realized we need to look at the entire body of Christ globally with all types of Great Commission organizations and churches. We also need to involve people with a variety of giftings and vocations to address the many efforts needed: prayer, mobilization, finances, business, translation, relief, development, arts, etc. 

 

From: I pray.

To: We pray extraordinarily and mobilize others to pray. 

 

We aim to reproduce everything. Obviously personal prayer is crucial, but when faced with the overwhelming task of reaching entire communities, cities and people groups — we need to mobilize the prayer of many others.

 

From: My ministry is measured by my fruitfulness.

To: Are we faithfully setting the stage for multiplication (which may or may not happen during our ministry)?

 

Growth is God’s responsibility (1 Cor. 3:6-7). Sometimes attempting to catalyze the first multiplying churches can take quite a few years. Field workers are told, “Only God can produce fruitfulness. Your job is to be faithful and obedient while expecting God to work.” We do our best to follow patterns of disciple-making multiplication found in the New Testament, and we trust the Holy Spirit to bring the growth. 

 

From: The outside missionary is a “Paul,” preaching on the front lines among the unreached.

To: The outsider is far more effective as a “Barnabas,” discovering, encouraging and empowering a nearer-culture “Paul.”

 

People sent out as missionaries have often been encouraged to view themselves as the front-line worker, modeled after the Apostle Paul. We now realize that the far outsider can instead have the greatest impact by finding and partnering with cultural insiders or near neighbors who become the “Pauls” for their communities.

Note first that Barnabas was also a leader who “did the work” (Acts 11:22-26; 13:1-7). So movement catalysts need to first gain experience making disciples in their own culture and then work cross-culturally to find those “Pauls” from the focus culture whom they can encourage and empower.

Second, even these “Pauls” have to adjust their paradigms. The outside catalysts of a large movement in India studied Barnabas’ life to better understand their role. They then studied the passages with the initial “Pauls” of this movement. Those leaders in turn realized that contrary to their cultural patterns (that the initial leader is always preeminent), they in turn wanted to become like Barnabas and empower those they discipled, to have an even greater impact.

 

From: Hoping a new believer or group of new believers will initiate a movement.

To: Asking: “What national believers who have been followers for many years might become the catalyst(s) for a CPM?” 

 

This relates to the common idea that we as a culturally distant outsider will find and win a lost person(s) who will become the movement catalyst. While this can occasionally happen, the vast majority of movements are started by cultural insiders or near neighbors who have been believers for several or even many years. Their own mindset shifts and fresh understanding of CPM principles open up new possibilities for Kingdom expansion.

In part 2, we will share some additional ways the Lord’s great work in CPMs calls us to adjust our thinking.

 

 

Elizabeth Lawrence has over 25 years of cross-cultural ministry experience.  This includes training, sending, and coaching CPM teams to unreached peoples, living among refugees from a UPG, and leading a BAM endeavor in a Muslim context.  She is passionate about multiplying disciples.

Adapted from an article in the May-June 2019 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org.

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About Movements

The Role of the Outsider in Movements

The Role of the Outsider in Movements

In 2019, a number of movement practitioners gathered to explore  new models of missionary training.  The room was mixed with a majority of western “missions workers” and several national disciple-making movement leaders.  We facilitated a listening session in which we asked these national leaders their insights on the role of outsiders catalyzing new works in their regions. While welcoming movement efforts, they spoke into the ideal posture of outsiders as they enter into new unreached fields. Their insights can apply to any outsider entering a new harvest field. They can help us understand our role and provide a gentle corrective lens to enable us to see the gold in front of us.

Their insights can be unpacked into ten recommendations that anyone looking to go to the mission field or send workers to a field would do well to listen to:

Be an Example. Outsiders need “street credibility.” Making disciples and planting churches involve trials and suffering. These things create a depth in the outsider that insiders notice and feel. They appreciate the patience and humility that come with walking those paths. Modeling involves not just learning theology or tools. It’s a lifestyle of prayer, labor, perseverance, releasing responsibility, and trusting God.

Be Relational. Locals can feel a difference when an outsider comes with a zeal for movement methods that outweighs love for people. Relationship precedes strategy. An overly-transactional desire to get the job done grates on people in a relational culture. Movement leaders in our meetings marveled at how much Western outsiders talked about “boundaries” without considering the needs and perspectives of the local people they were holding at arm’s length. Additionally, local believers are not especially impressed by outsiders’ great tools and methods. They need to know, love and respect the person with whom they partner. Working to become like family may feel slow, but it paves the best path to fruitfulness.

Be Humble. The world operates on a hierarchical framework. As a contrast, Jesus told us “not so among you” (Mark 10:43). Don’t come in as a boss, but treat the insider leader as a friend. Empower them and release control (something many of us find difficult!). Knowing that control tends to kill movements, work to establish “a round table, not a rectangular one.” Listening well to others shows respect, love, and care. Experienced ministers feel honored when you take the time to understand their world, and work with them and through them (not for them, or them for you).

Be a Culture Learner. Local believers often puzzle over how culturally unaware outsiders are as they bring the gospel message to a new harvest field. We need to recognize that when we arrive as an outsider we bring with us the fragrance of our home culture. This affects how we communicate, how we correct, the alliances we carry, the biases we live with, and the ways we get things done. Even the tools we bring in carry cultural baggage. Commit to learn the language and operate through the local culture, discovering with local people how to bring kingdom light that makes us all more like Jesus.

Be Patient. Movement leaders recounted how outsiders often arrive with their tools and methods and say: “I know this will work here because it has worked somewhere else.” A patient relational approach allows for a period of settling in, where outsiders and insiders learn from one other under the direction of the Holy Spirit and trust can blossom. Patience on the part of the outsider demonstrates humility and a recognition that the cultural insider has much they can contribute, to help enculturate the principles behind fruitful tools.

 Be a Prayer Leader. Outsiders need to lead out in prayer, though they may find that local people often do it better than they do. Outsiders do, however, have the ability to catalyze outside prayer networks in strategic ways that can change realities on the ground. Connecting local believers with these prayer networks allows them access to a resource that may be hard for them to find without the connection through an outsider.

Be a Vision Caster and Catalyzer of Insiders. Movement leaders tell stories of outsiders who cast a vision for them to be the “laborers in the harvest” and dreamed with them about what is possible. Outsiders can create a broad base of relationships and help various networks unify. We also heard movement leaders share how their connection with outsiders exposed them to a new vision to reach unreached people groups and connect to the 24:14 Vision for their region. Helping insiders connect to appropriate outside networks can also implant vision and catalyze new laborers.

Be a Mentor and Coach. Outsiders can play an important role as a life-on-life mentor. But movement leaders caution that transactional coaching strategies fall flat in relational cultures. What local leaders crave from their outside partners is time spent together exploring problems, with questions and cultural respect.

Be Dependent on the Word. Outsiders having a long history with God can help provide theological frameworks and dependency on God’s leadership through his word. A commitment to seek direction together from God and his word, and obey what it says, no matter what, models a reproducible life in God.

Be a Connector. An outsider will naturally be more trusted by other outsiders who have resources. An outside catalyst who has developed relationships with inside leaders can be a bridge, connecting them with Bibles, tools, or help with trainings that can help start new works. Outside catalysts can help with data gathering and reporting that helps the movement relate to other movements and networks.

As outside catalysts look to be effective in starting movements among the unreached, there is an example from many who have gone before on the most effective, God-honoring postures for those catalysts to take. May sending agencies send the kind of humble, honoring people that God can use to see His Kingdom come in every tongue, tribe, and nation.

  

Adapted from an Article by Chris McBride that appeared in the Sept / Oct 2020 Issue of Mission Frontiers Magazine..

Categories
About Movements

Definitions of Key Terms

Definitions of Key Terms

– By Stan Parks –

The Result and the Process: When modern “kingdom movements” began to emerge in the 1990s, the term “Church Planting Movements” (CPMs) was used to describe the visible results. Jesus promised to build his church, and these CPMs show him doing that in marvelous ways. He also assigned his followers a specific role toward that result: to make disciples of all ethnē. Our job is to implement the disciple-making processes by which Jesus builds his church. These processes, done well, can result in Church Planting Movements.

24:14 is not focused on just one set of tactics. We acknowledge that various individuals may prefer one approach or another or a combination thereof. We will continue to learn and use various methods – provided that they employ the proven biblical strategies resulting in reproducing disciples, leaders and churches. 

As CPMs emerged, best practice strategies and tactics to make reproducing disciples began to be identified and passed on. God has shown his creativity by using several sets of disciple-making “tactics” or processes to result in CPMs. These include: Disciple Making Movements (DMM), Four Fields, and Training for Trainers (T4T), as well as a variety of very fruitful indigenously developed approaches.  Closer examination of these approaches indicates that: 1) the CPM principles or strategies are mostly the same; 2) these approaches all are bearing fruit by reproducing disciples and churches; and 3) all reciprocally influence the other sets of tactics.

Key Definitions:

CPM Church Planting Movement (result): a multiplication of disciples making disciples, and leaders developing leaders, resulting in indigenous churches (usually house churches) planting more churches. These new disciples and churches begin spreading rapidly through a people group or population segment, meeting people’s spiritual and physical needs. They begin to transform their communities as the new Body of Christ lives out kingdom values. When consistent, multiple-stream 4th generation reproduction of churches occurs, church planting has crossed a threshold to becoming a sustainable movement. 

DMMDisciple Making Movement (a process toward a CPM): focuses on disciples engaging the lost to find persons of peace who will gather their family or circle of influence, to begin a Discovery Group. This is an inductive group Bible study process from Creation to Christ, learning directly from God through His Scripture. The journey toward Christ usually takes several months. During this process, seekers are encouraged to obey what they learn and share the Bible stories with others. When possible, they start new Discovery Groups with their family or friends. At the end of this initial study process, new believers are baptized. They then begin a several-month Discovery Bible Study (DBS) church-planting phase during which they are formed into a church. This process disciples the Discovery Group into a commitment to Christ, leading to new churches and new leaders who then reproduce the process.

Four Fields (a process toward a CPM): The 4 Fields of Kingdom Growth is a framework for visualizing the five things Jesus and his leaders did to grow the Kingdom of God: entry, gospel, discipleship, church formation, and leadership. This can be discovered from Mark 1. It follows the model of the parable of the farmer entering new fields, sowing seed, watching it grow even though he knows not how, and when the time is right, cutting and bundling the harvest together (Mark 4:26-29). The farmer works with the reminder that it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-9). Like Jesus and his leaders, we need to have a plan for each field, but it is God’s Spirit that causes the growth. The 4 fields is usually trained sequentially, but in practice, the 5 parts happen simultaneously. 

T4T (a process toward a CPM): a process of mobilizing and training all believers to evangelize the lost (especially in their oikos or circle of influence), disciple the new believers, start small groups or churches, develop leaders, and train these new disciples to do the same with their oikos. Discipleship is defined as both obeying the Word and teaching others (hence, trainers). The goal is to help every generation of believers to train trainers, who can train trainers, who can train trainers. It equips trainers using a three-thirds process of discipleship each week – 1) looking back to evaluate and celebrate obedience to God, 2) looking up to receive from his Word and 3) looking ahead by setting prayerful goals and practicing how to impart these things to others. (This three-thirds process is also being used in other approaches.)

Definitions:

1st Generation ChurchesThe first churches started in the focus group/community.
2nd Generation ChurchesChurches started by the 1st generation churches. (Note that this is not biological or age-related generations.)
3rd Generation ChurchesChurches started by 2nd generation churches.
Bi-VocationalSomeone who is in ministry while maintaining a full time job.
Church CircleA diagram for a church using basic symbols or letters from Acts 2:36-47 to define which elements of the church are being done and which need to be incorporated.
Discovery Bible Study (DBS) is the Process & Discovery Group (DG) is the PeopleA simple, transferable group learning process of inductive Bible study which leads to loving obedience and spiritual reproduction. God is the teacher and the Bible is the sole authority. A DBS can be done by pre-believers (to move them toward saving faith) or by believers (to mature their faith). A DG for pre-believers begins with finding a Person of Peace (Luke 10:6), who gathers his/her extended relational network. A DG is facilitated (not taught) by using some adaptation of seven questions:
1 - What are you thankful for?
2 - What are you struggling with / stressed by? After reading the new story:
3 - What does this teach us about God?
4 - What does this teach us about ourselves / people?
5 - What is God telling you to apply / obey?
6 - Is there some way we could apply this as a group?
7 - Who are you going to tell?
End VisionA short statement that is inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise, describing a clear long-term desired change resulting from the work of an organization or team.
Five-Fold GiftingFrom Ephesians 4:11 – Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd (Pastor), Teacher. APEs tend to be more pioneering, focusing on expanding the kingdom among new believers. STs tend to be more focused on depth and health of the disciples and churches, focusing on the same people over longer periods of time.
Generational MappingMultiple Church Circles linked generationally into streams to help determine the health of each church and the depth of generational growth in each stream.
Great Commission ChristianA Christian committed to seeing the Great Commission fulfilled.
Great Commission WorkerA person committed to investing their best time and effort in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Hub (CPM Training Hub):A physical location or network of workers in an area that trains and coaches Great Commission workers in practically implementing CPM practices and principles. The hub may also involve other aspects of missionary training.
CPM Training Phases (for Cross-Cultural
Catalyzing)
Phase 1 Equipping – A process (often at a CPM Hub) in the home culture of a team (or individual). Here they learn to live out CPM practices among at least one population group (majority or minority) in their context.

Phase 2 Equipping – A cross-cultural process among a UPG where a fruitful CPM team can mentor new workers for a year or more. There the new workers can see CPM principles in action among a group similar to the UPG on their hearts. They can also be mentored through general orientation (culture, government, national church, use of money, etc.), language learning, and establishing healthy habits in cross-cultural life and work.

Phase 3 Coaching – After Phase 2, an individual/team is coached while they seek to launch a CPM/DMM among an unserved population segment.

Phase 4 Multiplying – Once a CPM emerges in a population segment, rather than the outside catalyst(s) exiting, they help expand the movement to other unreached groups both near and far. At this stage, movements are multiplying movements.
IOI (Iron on Iron)An accountability session: meeting with leaders, reporting on what is happening, discussing obstacles, and solving problems together.
Legacy ChurchesA traditional church that meets in a building.
Majority WorldThe non-Western continents of the world, where most of the world’s population lives: Asia, Africa and South America.
MAWL
Movement Catalyst
Model, Assist, Watch, Launch. A model for leadership development.
Movement CatalystA person being used by God (or at least aiming) to catalyze a CPM/DMM.
OikosThe Greek word best translated “household.” Because households in the NT context were normally much larger than just a nuclear family, the term can well be applied as “extended family” or “circle of influence.” Scripture shows that most people come to faith in groups (oikos). When these groups respond and are discipled together, they become a church (as we see, for example, in Acts 16:15; 1 Cor. 16:19 and Col. 4:15). This biblical approach also makes sense numerically and sociologically.
Oikos MappingDiagram of a plan to reach family, friends, coworkers, neighbors with the Good News.
Oral LearnerSomeone who learns through stories and orality, may have little to no literacy skills.
Person of Peace (POP)/House of Peace (HOP)Luke 10 describes a person of peace. This is a person who receives the messenger and the message and opens their family/group/community to the message.
Regional 24:14 Facilitation TeamsTeams of CPM-oriented leaders serving in specific regions of the world, committed to implementing the 24:14 vision in their region. These regions roughly follow the United Nations geoscheme. However, as 24:14 is a grassroots effort, regional teams are forming organically and do not perfectly mirror the United Nations geoscheme.
StreamA multi-generational, connected chain of church plants.
SustainabilityThe capacity to endure. Sustainable methodologies allow a church or community to continue an activity for years to come without further outside assistance.
Unengaged UPG (UUPG)A subset of global UPGs; a UPG not yet engaged by a church planting team.
Unreached People Group (UPG)A sizable distinct group that does not have a local, indigenous church that can bring the gospel to the whole group without the aid of cross-cultural missionaries. This group may be variously defined, including but not limited to ethno-linguistic or socio-linguistic commonality.

 

 

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_geoscheme

These definitions were originally published as “Appendix A” (pages 314-322) of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.