I believe Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) are critical to the growth of Christ’s kingdom in Canada. Typically, ‘church’ growth in Canada happens when people move from one ‘church’ to the next. And, if there are new people coming to Christ, rarely is anyone discipling them. The goal is to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. But sadly, traditional church growth is falling out of line with Jesus’ Great Commission.
However, with DMMs, the Gospel appears to spread more freely led by Holy Spirit, and within sub cultures that are typically hard to reach, with little to no money, seeing often whole families and neighbourhoods transformed, and with disciples making disciples (multiplication).
If we are honest, traditional church planting in Canada looks much like franchising a business – get a pastor, a worship leader, a building, and then run programs, a marketing program, and pray for a harvest. This takes an incredible amount of time and money navigating multiple variables and headaches.
On the other hand, I have noticed DMMs are primarily focused on building God’s kingdom, rather than little man-made kingdoms on the backs of one or a few pastors competing with other little kingdoms down the street. But, if we are competing, are we actually building God’s kingdom?
Two years ago, while digging in the Word after stepping down from 10 years of traditional pastoral ministry, I really saw how Jesus left the building and sent out His disciples to do the same with incredible power to displace the darkness. Since starting DMMs myself, I have seen God move faster than ever. I am seeing Him do things I never dreamed of.
Typically, a traditional church in Canada has been built on what God did in the past, and is often then forced to put tradition in the way of the Gospel.
Several years ago, as a pastor, I visited a strong Roman Catholic country which never saw the European Reformation. My heart broke watching people do things in order to feel like God loved them. Coming back to Canada, I realized we weren’t that far off in our Evangelical circles. So much of what we do in church is putting tradition above the Gospel. We tend to do things according to church membership and culture that is not necessarily the Gospel. Therefore, too often the Gospel is an afterthought behind running programs, recruiting volunteers and sitting in a pew listening to one person tell us what they think the Bible means. Where and when do we even personally interact with Jesus and hear God’s voice?
On the other hand, I have found DMMs to be more easily in flow of Holy Spirit, with people abiding in relationship with Jesus, hungry to hear what Divine appointments God has for His people each day, much like in the book of Acts. People learn to be directly taught by Holy Spirit, while in meditation of the Word, while in relationship with Jesus and others, and then immediately walking in obedience. I see so much opportunity to partner with Jesus in spreading the Good News, healing the sick, and bringing new life!
In this new season, each day is a new adventure!
For example, I wake up to pray: “Jesus, I’m thirsty for you!” After spending time with Him and His Word, I then ask: “What do you have planned for today?” One day, it looks like an incredible conversation with a person while walking my dog, or praying for someone while grocery shopping. One day, it is feeding the homeless with my family. Another day, it is praying for a woman walking with a cane on the street in her 70’s suffering with sciatica and watching Jesus heal her completely. Another day, it is sharing the Gospel to a man involved in a cult. Another day, it is hosting 2-3 people in our home for Bible reading and refection, fellowship and prayer.
The emphasis is on relying on Holy Spirit to direct us to the person of peace. No marketing required.
In the first year of focusing on DMMs, I found myself discipling a dozen new people I had met just out on the town. There were so many Divine appointments. I have a new passion and joy in disciplemaking, without the need to find volunteers for any programs. I love it!
Jesus loves to take us on treasure hunts, but we need to step out to search for Him and for those He is calling to Himself. I see how the ‘build it and they will come’ mentality is not at all what He called us to do. That was actually Constantine. Jesus called us to go.
Jesus also restricted 90 percent of his time to 12 men. And out of the 12, he restricted a large portion of his time to three: James, John, and Peter.
This is now my focus: A dozen people and primarily three, teaching others to do the same. It appears even within a ‘Bible Belt’, God is doing a new thing and people are hungry for more of Him outside the traditional church experience. I am finding so many people walking away or disillusioned with the traditional church. No worries. It appears to be an advantage. DMMs appear to be the way to find those who are hungry for Him. After all, it’s Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, not our programs, or the effectiveness of someone’s preaching delivery, or style of music.
If you seek to build a church, you rarely produce disciples, but if you seek to make disciples, you always get the ‘church’ …building God’s kingdom.
DMMs are refreshingly focused on God, worship, fellowship, discipleship and evangelism. Disciples are trained immediately on how to make other disciples. It’s contagious!
But, what if you’re in a traditional church??
When a person sees their self as a missionary in a traditional church and has a hunger for Holy Spirit, I believe more movement can happen within the traditional church too. (In fact, some traditional churches are seeing the reality of the Great Commission vs. the obstacles of their church model and are making these necessary changes.) The key is whether the church leadership is surrendered to Holy Spirit or willing to be. After all, we are leading people, not to a belief system, but to the person of Jesus whom we are in love with, to hear His voice for themselves, and know His abundant life.
(But, if you are in a traditional church and your leadership is not open to Holy Spirit, you will experience great resistance. Fast and pray for hearts to be hungry and thirsty for God.)