Praying the price (part 2)

Are we praying the price?

David Watson, whose book Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery I featured here, once asked his top 100 church planters–those who were starting at least 20 churches per year–a series of questions to find out the common elements among them. They found many similar factors, but there was only one present in every team: a high commitment to prayer.

Here’s what is described in the book:

These leaders spent an average of three hours per day in personal prayer. They spent another three hours in prayer with their teams every day. These leaders were not all full-time religious leaders. In fact, most of them had regular jobs. They started their days at 4:00 a.m., and by 10:00 a.m. were at work.

These top performers also spent one day per week in fasting and prayer. The whole team spent one weekend per month in fasting and prayer.

One group had started more than 500 churches the previous year.

I’m not talking about legalism here; we cannot earn a move of God. But I firmly believe we will not see the move of God we long for in this country without praying the price.

Children praying

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A successful pattern for multiplying disciples

It’s 2001, and Tony and I are in India where we are speaking at a conference. Another of the speakers is from India, and he’s someone we’ve wanted to meet for a long time because we’ve heard that he’s in the middle of an extraordinary, multiplying church planting movement. So in every break, I take the opportunity to pummel him with questions.

One of the first is this: “Where do you find the principles that are leading to the extraordinary growth you are seeing?”
His answer? “They come in Luke 10.”

In fact, it doesn’t matter where in the world you go, if you ask the people who are seeing exponential church multiplication, they come back to this same passage.

So let’s take a look at Luke chapter 10. Note that there are similar principles discussed in Luke 9 and Matthew 10. It seemed to be Jesus’ modus operandi when reaching out to places he hadn’t yet visited. We’ll meander through these verses over a series of blog posts.

*The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.* (Luke 10:1)

Often when we train people, we’ll have them study this passage looking for four symbols: a question mark (is there something you don’t understand?); a light-bulb (what was an “aha” moment for you in this verse, something that seemed to make things come clear?); an arrow (what do you need to do or change in order to obey this verse?) and an ear (who do you know who needs to hear what you’ve been learning? Who will you share it with?)

Here are some of the points that usually come out of verse 1.

1. Jesus chose 72 others. Who were they “other” to? The twelve (see the beginning of Luke 9). So in all, he had 84 disciples he was working with.
2. He sent them ahead of him to all the towns and places he planned to visit. If Jesus sends you somewhere, for example, if you change jobs, or move house, it’s because he wants to touch the new workplace or neighborhood via you.
3. He sent them out in pairs, not in large numbers. Often, when an established church is trying to reach a new neighborhood, they send out a team of people including a musician, someone who can teach, people to take care of the kids etc. That wasn’t the way Jesus operated.
4. Why in pairs and not alone? For support and accountability.

Jesus had a plan for that area and a strategy for reaching it. He sent the disciples out—“You two can go to this village. You two will meet someone at an inn on the road to this city….”

What did the disciples have to do? They listened to Jesus and then they obeyed him.

Does Jesus have a strategy for your area? Of course!
How do we find out Jesus’ strategy? We listen to Him and we obey him.

multiplication

Photo Credit: Tense (Creative Commons)

What in the world is God up to?

God is doing incredible things all around the world.

  • There are probably more Christians in China now than members of the Communist Party.
  • In Asia, the T4T training has resulted in more than 1.7 million baptisms over the past 10 years.
  • In India, a Hindu nation, one house church network with which I am familiar, is seeing around one million baptisms per year.
  • Now seems to be God’s time for the Muslim world. In one nation we know, there are thousands of house churches. In another area of the Middle East, there is a movement that has more than12,000 house churches.
  • A Buddhist nation has seen more than 110,000 new believers in the past 10 years.
  • In 1991, when the Communists lost control of Mongolia, there were maybe 4 or 5 known Christians. Estimates are that now, just over 20 years later, there are around 100,000.
  • In Africa, Rolland and Heidi Baker have seen more than 10,000 new churches formed in Mozambique and the surrounding nations.

A few years ago, all of this would have seemed impossible. We may not be seeing huge numbers here in the West, but God is on the move in much of the rest of the world. Most (not all) the examples I’ve given here have occurred with disciple making movements/church planting movements. In these movements, the emphasis is on what is going on outside of the traditional church building. Ordinary believers are making disciples and leading small groups that eventually meet as churches.

I know that numbers are not everything, but they are an indication of what God is up to. Several years ago, Wolfgang Simson did a survey of the largest churches in the world. If you include networks of churches that meet in homes, then numbers one through 19 are networks of house churches and number 20, at the time of his survey, was Paul Yonggi Cho’s church in Seoul, Korea.

Throughout the world, God is using ordinary people—just like you—to start churches. What is there to stop you doing the same?

Dandelion seeds

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On CPMs and DMMs

It seems that the terminology is changing. People now are referring to Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) rather than Church Planting Movements (CPMs).

After my last post on this subject, one where I am just beginning to explore the differences, a few people, who have far more experience (at least of DMMs) than I do, commented. Their comments were so insightful, I decided to post them where more people are likely to read them.

John King: 

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. (Here we assume giving people new information will result in transformation. It won’t. On-the-job training, just in the nick of time additional training is critical to DMM).

Larry:

That is a great observation Felicity. Having been involved in a CPM in India I would say from my observation that to a certain extent a CPM is a disciple making movement. You can’t have a CPM without leaders developing leaders several levels deep. The exponential growth is a result of leaders being developed and trained to reproduce. To me that is a level of discipleship. You can’t make disciples without being first a disciple. However, I think the real question is depth of discipleship. You know the old saying, “A mile wide and an inch deep”. So on one hand a CPM is in itself a DMM to a certain level. But on the other hand, there is a need for the next level of a DMM to help sustain and grow the maturity level of each church.

Jay Pratt:

My study of CPM’s & DDM’s is that they are driven by what I call Ordinary Christians. They are non-professional, with no special theological training, who are average people but love to spend lots of time with Jesus. Many of these ordinary christians are just months or even weeks old. Another form these kinds of movement that has started in the US is the T4T Training with Jeff Sundell in North Carolina. He’s a former IMB Missionary who ignited a movement in Nepal but now is igniting one in N. America.

Anyone else with experience of DMMs like to comment?

The Rabbit and the Elephant from simplechurch.com on Vimeo.

 

 

3 predictions for 2014

For most of us, the New Year is marked by a sense of anticipation. The old year is done with; what will 2014 hold? Here are three of my ideas for what 2014 might bring for those of us in the simple/organic/house church movement (or those with an interest in the role of women in ministry).

  1. There will continue to be an increasing emphasis on disciple-making movements. Profoundly effective disciple-making movements are beginning to emerge in this country, with, at this stage, hundreds of new believers stretching several generations. This is an exciting development, and one that I believe will continue to gain momentum. More to come on this in future posts.
  2. The simple/organic/house church movement will maybe lose some people as those who joined it to be fashionable drop out. However, it will become a foundational platform for other things God is doing–for example, discipleship in the marketplace, Kingdom finances etc.
  3. The conversation about women in the Kingdom will increase in intensity and become a (probably controversial) focal point.

Am I right? Only time will tell. What do you think will happen in 2014?

What will 2014 hold

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Miraculous Movements

Erich Reber, a friend of Wolfgang Simson, is a Swiss prophet with a remarkable ministry. For example, God warned him in advance of both 9/11 and the London tube bombings. In the Starfish Manifesto, written in 2008, Wolfgang writes:

In a vision in 1991, God showed him [Erich] the sequel of the last harvest. According to his vision, it will happen in four phases: first God is going to visit the eastern Block countries (Russia etc. 1991 -1993), then God is going to bring in a huge harvest in Middle and North India from 1996 onwards. The third phase will be God visiting first the soft-Islamic, then the hard-Islamic nations, and finally, as the last phase, Europe and the West. All of this seems to be coming true. What happened after the Soviet Union went out of business in 1991 is history. Since 1996, as many empirical researchers have since shown, there is an unprecedented spiritual harvest in Middle and North India. The number of newly planted house-churches has already reached several hundred thousand. Today, one of the most fascinating developments is the increasing number of Muslims finding Christ: many thousands of new churches have developed in nations like Bangladesh,Indonesia or Pakistan….

For many years, ever since being involved in an incredible move of the Holy Spirit in an Islamic country which resulted in thousands of house churches planted, I have watched what God is doing in the Muslim world with keen interest. Imagine my excitement when I was asked to endorse a copy of  Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale.

I devoured the manuscript, unable to put it down. Story after story described how God is reaching out sovereignly to transform the lives of those who are seeking him. Dreams, visions and miracles are drawing Muslims to the person of Jesus. Imams, sheikhs and even entire entire mosques are embracing a lifestyle of following Jesus. But Miraculous Movements does more than tell stories. This isn’t happening in a vacuum. The book describes the principles involved–principles that we can all use, not just to reach out within an international context, but right here at home too as we interact with our neighbors.

This book is destined to become a classic! I give it my highest recommendation.

Free novel by Steve Smith, author of T4T

I have been very challenged and inspired by the book, T4T over recent weeks. It encapsulates the principles of rapid disciple-making movements in an easy to read and apply format.

Picture 4

The main author, Steve Smith, has just finished a book, The Final Assault: A Novel about Finishing the Task that covers these same principles. He is offering it free for this week only. Obviously I haven't yet had a chance to read it, but it comes highly recommended by people I trust, and I wanted to let the readers of my blog have the opportunity for a free copy. Here is part of an email I received:

CPM Training Colleagues!

See my note below about a novel I have self-published to help us mobilize believers & churches effectively. The book ties in well to the sacrifice, faith and reproducible ways we need for CPMs. For this week only anyone can download it for free. 

Can you guys help me by sending this to any trainers and colleagues worldwide? Feel free to send to your training networks.  Feel free to send this to your personnel and prayer networks. 

Together may we see His kingdom come!

Steve Smith – Singapore 

As an attempt to mobilize the worldwide church to finish the task, I have finally published a novel that has been 18 years in the making from my USA church planting/pastoring days to my Strategy Coordinator for an unreached people group days to my CPM trainer days to my current role in Southeast Asia. Its goal is to provide a fast-paced, inspiring, readable alternative to average believers and pastors that might not read a normal book on missions.

STORYLINE:

This novel follows multiple intertwined story lines revolving around a small church pastor in Los Angeles who gets captivated by the ancient mission of the church to finish the task of engaging all people groups with the gospel. With the finish line in sight, this group begins to rally Christians around the world by their dedication and wartime mindset to join them in final assault on the enemy’s ground. 

Their goal is to be the in the last generation that welcomes the return of Christ. Swirling around this dedicated, growing band are the events that Revelation describes will assault the kingdom before the end. The novel follows a captivating, realistic (yet fantastic) story line of the enemy and his mechanisms to attempt to thwart this final run for the finish line.  The book finishes in a glorious climax that makes the sacrifices more than worth it. 

The novel incorporates faith-filling and practical pieces that will inspire believers and churches in HOW to get involved in the task seriously, how to plant reproducing churches and even how to tie it into current best practices. 

As the church becomes sufficiently mobilized around the world and walks in great devotion to the Lord and His Commission, we CAN finish the task. Help us spread the word! 

LIMITED-TIME OFFER:

Since I am self-publishing this on Kindle (not hardcopy), I have been able to price this very cheaply to put it in as many hands as possible, including a limited-time free offer. There are multiple ways people can get this onto their Kindle or Kindle Reader (almost any computer, pad or smartphone can download Kindle Reader for free):

·        Purchase it on Amazon for just $2.99

o    http://www.amazon.com/The-Final-Assault-Finishing-ebook/dp/B007RMTJSI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1333765079&sr=1-1

§  (To get a free Kindle reader for almost any platform, go to the following website: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771)

·        Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free for the next 90 days

·        Special 5-day offer – From approximately April 10-14, 2012 (Pacific Standard Time) anyone can download this book for FREE from Amazon (see website above) on their Kindle. Please let as many people as possible know about this. I would like to request that downloaders post a review on Amazon if possible. 

PLEASE PUT A REVIEW ON AMAZON

I would like to ask your help in not only reading the book but placing a review on the Amazon website. This will help us get the word out as we try to mobilize the church worldwide. 

PLEASE SEND THIS TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE

I would like to ask you to forward this email to as many people as possible, especially church and mission leaders to distribute to their email networks. Let’s get the word out so that the church may be built up and equipped for its calling. 

Thanks for your help! 

Steve Smith