Posts Tagged ‘evangelism

16
Jan
14

Church as the Gathered

Here in the West, we think of church as “gathered.” No doubt, you must gather to accomplish some of the “one anothers” and other functions of church (as the body of Christ). But what we generally fail to recognize is how much our cultural individuality impacts how we understand “gathered.” We often overlook the household language of scripture.

The gospel was planted into existing households.

Church was not primarily isolated believers who come together to act like a quasi-family. The gospel took root in the families, friends and employees that were 1st Century Roman households. It is not that church took the household structure.

Because we start from an individualistic bias, we miss this. Because we start from an individualistic bias, our strategies and tactics are often damaging to households, and thus extractional. Yes, there are times when some members of a family will come to trust in Jesus and others will reject them because of that, but Disciple Making Movements want that whole household to hear the gospel, interact with the gospel and not make their decision just because they incorrectly view the gospel as a Western oppressive intrusion.

This is why we evaluate our approaches to insure that they can be reproduced within any existing culture that highly values close-knit, multi-generational families. This is why we work to disciple the whole household to faith. The last thing we want is for the household to feel like Christian families do when one of their children converts to the Moonies or another cult–“they kidnapped and brain-washed” her/him.

Too much of the church planting talk is about gathering unconnected individuals and trying to get them to act like family. Real movements come when the gospel is being planted into existing family/friendship structures where people are discipled to trust and obey Jesus.

[NOTE: I originally wrote this as a comment on an article by Felicity Dale (http://simplychurch.com/on-cpms-and-dmms/). She moved it and a couple of other comments to her main page and there has been some interesting dialogue there. I decided to re-post it here on my site so that my networks could interact with it, also. You probably ought to check out the other dialogue.]

14
Jan
14

Why Change from CPM to DMM?

Multiple factors have produced this change in terminology. Some suggested it because Jesus directed “make disciples,” while he is the one who builds his church. Churches (communities of faith practicing the “one another” passages) will result when people are discipled to Jesus. Secondarily, the shift happened because CPM terminology was being hijacked by folks who are not seeing rapid, multiplicative and indigenous growth. When terms are used to mean whatever you want them to, they really mean nothing (sort of like the guy shooting the side of his barn and then painting a bull’s eye around where the shot landed).

Intentionally discipling disciple makers forces you to:

  • Use only resources, tactics and strategies that the indigenous people group can readily replicate.
  • Strip away all the catalyst’s cultural “over-hang” and trust the Holy Spirit to guide family/friendship groups to contextualize the gospel as they learn and obey it (since different cultures already have strong, deep views of the context in which spiritual activities transpire and how they are conducted, that will impact the kinds of gatherings they develop and eventually call “church”).
  • Model and train discovery of who God is and how he wants us to live at every level of growth and maturity. Jesus’ discipling of the 12, 72 and 500 was as much through the flow of life as it was what he said. (In traditional evangelism and missions we assume giving people new information will result in transformation. It won’t. On-the-job training and “just-in-the-nick-of-time” additional training is critical to DMM).

[NOTE: I originally wrote this as a comment on an article by Felicity Dale (http://simplychurch.com/what-is-a-church-planting-movement/#comments). She moved it and a couple of other comments to her main page and there has been some interesting dialogue there. I decided to re-post it here on my site so that my networks could interact with it, also. You probably ought to check out the other dialogue.]

09
Jan
14

How Deep Is The Well?

No, I am not suggesting anyone else has to open a non-profit coffee shop (while I am also not opposed to you doing that, but if you do, let me connect you with Rob so you can benefit from his experience). I am telling you this true story to illustrate that “first steps” are going to be greatly impacted by where you are on the journey to making disciple-making disciples (true replication).

While we say we don’t, most of us really want the ease of a “one-size-fits-all” strategy. We don’t want to spend the time getting to know a coach/mentor who will ask a gazillion questions about what we are already doing in order to answer the question, “What are the first steps I ought to take to reach this God-sized vision and overcome my dissatisfaction by pressing through the resistance I am already facing?”

In our heart of hearts, we know that canned answers will not work. But we also know that change is going to mess with our lives. That is why we stay in dead-end jobs. That is why many stay unhappy in their marriages–the work of change will be demanding. We dance the dance we dance because we won’t do the hard work of learning a new dance and doing it long enough that it becomes our new norm, our new default.

Our default evangelistic strategies, developed to reach individualists, isolate people from their existing affinity groups (family and/or friends). Perpetuating them will contribute to extraction and undermine any true movement potential! We have seen the enemy and he is us.

The Well rooms

Too much work has gone into making The Well different to tack on traditional missional strategies. Our post-Enlightenment young adults are wary of the communitylessness of my generation. They want authentic community. Those who are disciples want to discover ways to plant, water and harvest the gospel within their affinity groups, wherever possible, rather than ditching them for surface-level small groups which are not authentic. They go to third spaces looking for something meaningful

12
Dec
13

Provoke to Jealousy

The vision of movements captured my attention! Considering the possibilities became what I thought about while showering (I have read these are the “big” ideas that you don’t get paid to ponder). I wondered what could happen if thousands of Discovery groups started happening here in North America.

No, that has not happened, yet. But there are hundreds. Some of these have even jumped to homelands of immigrants who are here in the U.S.

I know people who reject those results as insignificant because these are not Anglos. While I continue to pray for my people group to experience sweeping spiritual transformation, I will not wait for that to reach out. In Acts, the earliest evangelistic efforts of the apostle Paul were among Jews. But God told him he was being sent to the Gentiles. But then there is that shocking statement in Romans that Paul was working diligently to reach Gentiles in hopes that their response might provoke Jews to jealousy and they too would come to faith.

What if the best way to light the fires of revival among Anglos is to reach Hispanics and Latinos? Wouldn’t it be just like Papa God to use Native Americans to launch national transformation? Turning to those who are spiritually open does not mean we are giving up on the people groups that we know the best and possibly love the most. Maybe we can provoke them to jealousy, for the kingdom. Many will only perceive the vision when they can see it with their own eyes. Let’s start it wherever!

20
Dec
12

Contextualization and Post-modernity (pt. 2)

Before I write more about James Choung’s material, let me be open with you. I like it—for a post-modern setting like Southern California—for which it was written. I recommended it to my theologian friend, John Mark Hicks, right after I found it, purchased and read his first book. While I have not purchased Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out, I anticipate there is much in this book that I will find useful, especially if I am coaching/mentoring someone who is targeting a post-modern people group.

My desire is to use Choung’s material to get you to think about the wisdom of making cross-cultural applications of highly contextualized material! Lest you assume I am being overly cautious or erecting a straw-man, consider a lengthy quote from his blog commenting on the first book:

I know that I might risk sounding a bit brazen, but I hope that you hear only my excitement about what God has done so far. Starting back in 2005, those of us in San Diego InterVarsity created the material to reach Southern California college students, and did extensive field-testing and multiple drafts before the book was released in 2008. Since then, I’ve been surprised by its international appeal. It’s been used to introduce people to Jesus and His message on every inhabited continent. (I don’t know, nor think it probably, that anyone has taken it to Antarctica.) And so far, it has been translated into Korean, Mongolian, Polish, Thai, Mandarin, German and Spanish.

It’s also spread to the evangelism curricula for denominations and national campus ministries, and has been reported on by Christian media outlets such as Christianity Today, Leadership Journal and JCTV. It’s been shared with seminary students in New England, lakeside villagers in Malawi, college students in Texas, house churches in China, youth in Australia, megachurches in Orange County, inmates in Fresno, slum dwellers in Thailand, and gang-bangers in Boston — one even tattooed the fourth circle on his bicep! One chaplain of a county jail thought it would help reduce the recidivism rate, giving inmates not only a vision of what they’re forgiven from, but what they’re forgiven for.

I’m thankful to God. It’s been His doing.

Is this really the best way to reach large groups of people in Malawi and Thailand? Let me unpack my concerns with that in a few posts.

29
Sep
11

We All Need a Specialist!

DMM counter-intuitives: Focus on discipling ordinary people not developing “professional” Christians.

We love experts! We need experts! The more important the issue is to us the more we demand highly trained, extensively experienced and recognized experts.

When our daughter was born she had a rare genetic malformation that resulted in part of her esophagus turning and connecting her stomach to her wind pipe. The upper portion of her esophagus just dead ended down in her tiny chest. Because a developing child breathes and swallows amniotic fluid prior to birth, her life was at risk if those fluids were pushed back into her air-filled lungs. Major surgery was essential.

I was thankful to discover that the specialist to whom she was referred was the pre-eminent surgeon on the east coast for this type of surgery. He was a confident doctor who set me at ease through his bed-side manner and the way he explained what would take place. He even gave me a photo-copied a diagram from his medical journal that allowed me to visualize the problem.

We all need the pre-eminent specialist to experience spiritual healing! His name is Jesus.

People who have not heard of Jesus, yet, need to see living testimonies of his handiwork. They need to see families that are evidence of his transforming power. They need ordinary people doing extraordinary works by his resurrection power to be able to envision themselves being part of God’s answer to the world’s greatest needs. Taxi drivers and shop keepers become wonderful disciple makers. Quarter backs and hair dressers can learn to lead people to Jesus.

Pastors and cross-cultural missionaries all have their place in kingdom work, but we must re-capture the biblical teaching on the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9)! When you look at the twelve men Jesus chose to disciple, their normalcy jumps out. There was not one expert in the group. There were no specialists. Except Jesus!

Being willing to hear and obey Jesus—that’s what is needed. When ordinary folks hear Jesus and obey some fruitful promises are fulfilled (John chapters 14 & 15)!

In evangelism, my position in pastoral ministry was an obstacle more often than an aid. For thirty-one years I watched people pull back when they asked, “What kind of work do you do?” I know of a taxi driver who discipled many passengers who brought their households to faith. Then somebody offered to support him to make disciples full-time. After a while he turned in his “professional” badge because it became a hindrance.

When ordinary people make disciples, the ordinary people they disciples realize they can do it too! Whether they are discipled by “ordinary” people or “professionals,” they are ultimately treated by the same specialist—Jesus!

15
Sep
11

Radical Reform

DMM counter-intuitives—“Do no personal evangelism at all so that masses will hear.” Lead whole households to faith together (Ax 16:15, 31).

Remember that our goal is to catalyze Disciple Making Movements among the least-reached people groups of our world. Most of them live in nations that will not grant missionary visas. Often they perceive Christianity as a form of foreign cultural dominance and oppression.

We do personal evangelism because it is the highly contextualized strategy that was developed to plant the gospel into individualized cultures. Since Western nations are individualized North Americans and Europeans have primarily been reached through personal evangelism. Since it worked in our lives, we assume it will work with everyone else. But what if their culture is not individualistic?

What should you do if you are attempting to plant the gospel into a people group in West Africa or Southeast Asia that always makes important decisions as a family or community? When we finally allow that question to sink deep into our heart we may begin to hear Scripture differently. We may start to realize that there are many more references to households coming to faith together than there are examples of individuals who reach such a point through a one-on-one encounter.

Luke reveals that Lydia “and the members of her household were baptized” (Acts 16:15). In response to the jailor’s question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” he was told, “‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house….then immediately he and all his family were baptized….he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family” (Acts 16:31-34).

We have found when believers go to the least-reached people groups and do personal evangelism there are often tragic results. The family turns against this new believer and throws him/her out of the household for being deceived by this foreign ideology. They hate Christians for “brain washing” their son or daughter. They refuse to hear the gospel because it has brought them such excruciating pain. And then some believers quote passages that make it sound like God takes great pleasure in setting children against their parents.

Rest assured the gospel entails challenges to any culture. It presents obstacles to any human religion. But that is not what has just happened. A strategy was employed that withheld the gospel from the rest of the family. A divide-and-conquer strategy was used (it is not that in a highly individualized culture, but it is in the rest of the world).

By contrast, a Discovery Bible Study encourages the whole family to explore the God of the Bible together. Story by story they are encouraged to move from Creator to Christ. Through this process the household is equipped to make a collective decision. Together they are called to fall in love with God. While some may still choose not to surrender to Jesus, they at least understand the rationale for the faith of those who do believe. They have heard.




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