“The most significant change comes when there is a paradigm shift.” – Ken Jolley
God calls us to be disciple makers (Mt 28:19-20) because he seeks to use us for his glory. Fruitful ministry requires our conformity – head, heart and hands – to what God desires for us. When we join God in his mission (the missio Dei) as disciple makers, we embrace the NT priority of disciple making that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can result in multiplying movements.
At the same time, healthy and productive ministry requires thoughtful strategies, planning, and execution. Identifying CPM/DMM principles and practices (P&P) used by effective practitioners sheds light on what leads to fruitful ministry. These principles and practices create a ministry environment in which the fruit of multiplying disciple makers can reasonably be expected. Ignoring fruitful practices inhibit the birth and growth of disciple-making movements.
The following list of CPM/DMM P&Ps are those paradigm shifts that I consider to be particularly significant and impactful. None of them originate with me and all have been discussed in books and articles on DMM. Some of them are practices I have employed in my ministry, others are practices I did not focus on and regret not doing so, since I believe they would have resulted in greater fruit. I propose that these paradigm shifts in ministry activities, priorities, and resources are needed to “make the road straight” for the Spirit to come (See “DMM P&Ps Described as Paradigm Shifts” for further explanation).
The list is designed to be used as discussion points for your disciple-making team. As you consider these changes, keep in mind that there are no shortcuts or silver bullets. Each item is like a facet in a diamond that is significant when viewed as part of the complete diamond. Neglecting a key aspect can hamper the development of a multiplying movement. As your team discusses these shifts, you will reflect on several implications for ministry, from grasping the God-sized vision (WIGtake) to leadership development. Making disciples requires a multi-pronged approach so that multiplication occurs.
“Q” refers to coaching questions to guide your team towards personal application and contextualization of these paradigm shifts.
Pre-engagement and Preparation (Prayer, Vision, Team)
1. From “what can we do” to “what is God’s plan (missio Dei).”
Q: What is God’s vision for the people we are working with?
Q: Who should be involved in discovering God’s plan (missio Dei)?
2. From “what can we do” to “what’s it going to take? (WIGTake)” – ruthless, single-focused vision that drives choices, changes, and sacrifices.
Q: What will it take to see the fulfillment of God’s vision?
Q: How can we be a catalyst towards God’s vision?
3. From “ministry strategy” to “movement strategy” (Identifying and networking with potential workers to focus on multiplication. Mobilizing denominations / churches in order to multiply workers / church planters).
Q: Who should we be partnering with and challenging in order to encourage multiplication potential that goes beyond what we can accomplish by ourselves?
4. From “satisfaction with early success” to “maintaining a vision for the many.”
Q: How can we maintain a multiplication mindset based on a commitment to God’s vision?
5. From “limited vision” to “wholistic transformation” (e.g., not just spiritual but social, not just family but community, not just service but gospel, etc.).
Q: What other dimensions of God’s vision should we attend to?
6. From “jumping into ministry” to “being exposed to the fruitful ministry of others” (Visit a thriving movement and experience the Spirit’s presence – find ‘positive deviance’).
Q: What multiplying ministries can we explore and who are the reproducing leaders we can talk to?
7. From “what can I do” (independence) to “what can we do” (team / interdependence / cooperation / partnership).
Q: Who should we partner with in order to multiply efforts?
8. From “prayer” to “extraordinary prayer.”
Q: How can we move our regular expressions and activities of prayer to a new level of commitment?
Q: What special times of group prayer can we engage in that focus on multiplying disciple making?
Q: How can our prayers be “extraordinary” in terms of bold vision, risky requests, and needing God to miraculously answer?
9. From “being an intercessor” to “multiplying intercessors.”
Q: Who should we pray with and challenge in order to multiply prayer efforts?
Initiate a DMM-focused ministry
10. From “passive waiting for people to come” to “initiating contact and pursuing people.” That is, from asking people to “come and see” our space to entering the space of others so that we “go and catalyze” (engage people where they live rather than inviting them into a setting that we are comfortable with and that we control – “crossing the bridge” is the responsibility of the minister).
Q: What actions should we be involved in to identify and pursue others for the gospel?
Q: What initiative does God want us to take in order to engage people in their context (this week)?
11. From “looking for interest” to “generating interest through segue comments that lead to significant conversations.”
Q: What are some good questions we could ask people to stimulate a significant conversation?
12. From “good activity (tasks)” to “fruitful activity (reproduction).”
Q: What good activity needs to stop and be superseded with a fruitful activity?
13. From “low personal risk” to “high personal risk.
Q: What risk does God want us to take (this week)?
14. From “avoid discomfort and persecution” (maintain limits within personal roles and tasks) to “expect / embrace discomfort and persecution” (Address challenges as spiritual warfare – overcome the fear of rejection).
Q: What potentially fruitful activity are we avoiding because of fear or discomfort?
15. From “friendship evangelism” (limited number) to “network filters / abundant sowing” (leveraging access to ministries or business for multiple new conversations). Many potential disciples are discovered through an abundant gospel-sowing process that filters out those without serious interest. From “spend time with anyone who is willing based on common interests” to “invest only in those with a hunger for God, looking for those prepared to hear and who willingly respond to the gospel.”
Q: What filtering activity are we involved in that identifies those who may be potential disciples of Jesus?
Q: What filtering ministries already exist and are engaging the people group we work with, and how can we connect with them in order to further identify those in whom the Spirit is at work?
16. From “private spirituality” to “being conspicuously spiritual” (Be about the Master’s business in the presence of and with people, living and speaking about how following Jesus is different from the world).
Q: How do we communicate our primary identity as followers of Jesus to those we meet?
Q: What introductory phrase / symbol can we use so that everyone we meet recognizes our commitment to Jesus?
17. From “wanting to be liked” to “wanting Jesus to be seen in us – in word and deed.”
Q: How do we maintain a discipline of communicating Jesus as our motivation?
18. From “serving the community” to “serving with the community” (Seeking connections with leaders in the community to win trust, communicate gospel motives and find People of Peace (POP)).
Q: Who are the community leaders and how can we develop relationships with them?
Q: What community initiatives can we join that will provide scope to be accepted by the community and identify People Of Peace?
19. From “building programs” to “building trust” (maintain a solid focus on the relational dimension of connecting and communicating positively with people, rather than assuming that our deeds will be interpreted as intended).
Q: What are we doing to develop trust with people in the community and what are the indicators that people are coming to trust us?
20. From “persevere at all costs” to “disengage and move on” (discernment).
Q: What activities are we doing or relationships are we involved in that are not bearing fruit, and how should we disengage from them?
21. From “try new methods” / “search for the silver bullet” to “persevere with proven fruitful practices” (Maintain proven fruitful practices even if there is little fruit at first).
Q: What activities are we doing or relationships are we involved in that are currently not bearing fruit, and yet have a proven track record of doing so, and what should we do to persevere without losing heart?
22. From “following fruitful practices” to “adapting fruitful practices” (contextualization).
Q: How can we adapt proven fruitful practices so that they resonate appropriately with our ministry context?
23. From “practicing a few CPM/DMM principles and practices” to “attending to all CPM/DMM principles and practices.”
Q: What is our team evaluation process to ensure that we are not neglecting any key CPM/DMM principles or practices?
In part 2, we will consider Paradigm Shifts for Greater Ministry Impact in the realms of Disciple Making and Disciple Making in Groups.