I've been thinking a lot about the different phases of the growth of the church. In a place like Turkey where the church is small - well less than 1% of the population are followers of Jesus - the church looks different than it looks in a place like Europe or the United States - places where the church has been established for hundreds, even thousands of years.
When I came across the video below, I found it helpful as I struggle with some of the realities of my context in the U.S. where the church has largely been institutionalized and professionalized and is quickly moving into a post Christian reality. It was helpful as well as I thought about the many works we are helping to support in unreached areas of our world - places like Turkey.
There are some good lessons to be drawn from Ray Vaughn's explanation. Church historians will undoubtedly find flaws in the explanation, but I found it helpful to think about. As we consider the different contexts where we seek to be faithful to proclaim the good news and make disciples, there are lessons that we need to learn and apply.
This teaching is 30 minutes long. It is a basic overview of what missiologists have observed in each of the phases of the growth, expansion and decline of the church throughout history and throughout the world. It is descriptive not prescriptive, a backwards glance at what has happened, not theoretical thinking about what we should do. I'd encourage you to find some time to watch it with a few questions in mind.
When a student says to me, "You're so talented, I could never do what you do." I shouldn't be flattered.
Transferability in the ministry context is the idea the that the tools, strategies and methods that we use in ministry could be easily copied and used by anyone we are working with. Another way of talking about this is to ask the question:
Is it reproducible?
Could my 14 year old son use a particular method or ministry tool? Could he do what I'm doing? And could he help someone else do it?
These are important considerations when we think about making disciples who can make disciples. When Jesus gave us the great commission, his command was to make disciples and teach them to obey all that he commanded.
In that regard, everyone who is a disciple of Jesus should be making disciples of Jesus. If the process has somehow become overly complicated, if our methods require so much knowledge or training or expertise that the average follower of Jesus can't obey Jesus, then we've got something wrong.
If we desire to see our disciples make disciples then we have to begin to examine what we are doing to disciple them and ask a few questions:
If the answer to any of those questions is NO then we may need to ruthlessly evaluate what we are doing and how we are teaching.
Movements are not built on the expertise and charisma of a few but on the on the priesthood of all believers equipped and released to make disciples who make disciples.
Disciples need faith, they need vision, they need to be released with authority to do the work. But they also need to be equipped with tools that they can use and teach others to use.
And to do that, we must evaluate the tools and methodologies we are using and determine if they are reproducible.
[check out Giving Up Control, a great ebook by A. J. DeJonge for $0.99 on Kindle]
Zume is a small group training module focused on helping small bands of Jesus followers learn how to obey the great commission and to multiply.
And in that, it is not your average small group study.
Zume is an online training that has ten lessons of roughly two hours each.
Zúme means yeast in Greek. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus is quoted as saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who took yeast and mixed it into a large amount of flour until it was all leavened." This illustrates how ordinary people, using ordinary resources, can have an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom of God. Zúme aims to equip and empower ordinary believers to saturate the globe with multiplying disciples in our generation.
Gather a group of like minded friends and get started today!
Over the last decade I've been regularly learning about discipleship and particularly, the principles of discipleship that lead to multiplication and the rapid expansion of the kingdom of God. One of the sources of that continued learning which has perhaps had more influence than any other is the Movements Podcast by Steve Addison.
Steve regularly interviews practitioners from across the world who are applying these principles and seeing movements emerge. I'd encoueage you to skip over to Steve's website right now and find out how you can subscribe to the podcast.
Visit Movements.net Now
One of those practitioners who has been frequent guest and who is one of the leaders of the No Place Left movement across the world is Jeff Sundell. It is not without reason that Jeff, who hales from Bugger Hollow North Carolina and who spent much of his life making disciples in Asia, has been perhaps the most frequent guest on the Movements Podcast.
And so when the most recent episode of the podcast featured a report from Jeff and his wife Angie's summer in Athens, I queued it up on my phone to listen to right away. I was not disappointed and there were so many nuggets of insight in their reporting that I went back and listened again, taking notes of the things that seemed extra important.
And so with this post I'd like to share those insights and encourage you to find some time in the next week to listen to the interview for yourself (or you can watch now below).
Here are a five of the nuggets that I gleaned from their conversation. If there are any "nuggets" that you hear that I didn't mention, feel free to share them in the comments below.
1. The Gospel is worth it.
Angie started the inteview talking about the many times they heard heartbreaking stories from refugees who had lost everything. People whose homes were destroyed, who had lost jobs, who had lost everything and over and over again they would say, "It was worth it! It was worth it because when I came here I got to hear about Jesus." The Gospel is worth it!
2. Train everyone to be a disciple maker.
One of the adjustments that the disciple makers had to make as they worked with refugee populations had to do with the transient nature of the people. A new believer from a Muslim background might be in Athens for a year or they might just be there for a month or even days. The workers on the ground began to cast vision early and often for the great commission and to train everyone to identify lostness, to share their faith and to make disciples. Everyone they worked with was seen as a potential missionary carrying the gospel to the next location whether that was further into Europe or back to their own country. Train everyone!
3. Little happens if disciples of Jesus are not broken for lostness.
Again and again, they saw that the hearts of those who had found faith in Christ and who were sharing that faith boldly, were broken for the lost. Their families didn't know Jesus. Their people didn't know Jesus. That was a heavy burden on their hearts which compelled them to go and to pray and to share. All the methods and tools in the world will do little good if the people of God are not broken by the lostness around them.
4. Focus on the grandchildren.
This was one of the most interesting and powerful lessons from the interview. As the summer progressed, one of the changes they made in coaching and relating to the leaders in Athens, was to stop asking about how they were doing at sharing the gospel, discipling new believers and leading new churches and to begin talking with them only about how their grandchildren were doing at those things. In other words, they began consistently asking about their disciples' disciples. This shift lead to more concientious focus on training disciples to train disciples and resulted in better discipleship.
5. A Hub stategy allows for local, national and global mission to exist.
I had first heard the idea of a hub strategy from Steve Smith in a 2016 article in Mission Frontiers Magazine. That article caught my attention and over the last few years I have continued to think about what home hubs would actually look like. It was Troy Cooper's Great Commission Pipeline video about a hub strategy which was published in April of 2018 that really fleshed out the idea for me though. Jeff and Angie got to see the fruit of that kind of strategy in Athens and it is exciting to see it develop and grow.
Those are five things that I gleaned from the interview.
What about you?
Watch the interview below!
I have heard the sentiment from a number of different people over the last few years - usually from moms.
Aren't there any missions experiences or training events that we can do as a family?
Too often, in order to get trained or to go out on a mission trip, we have to find someone to watch the kids and yet we want desperately to model for our kids what it means to live on mission.
Not easy to do when we are forced to leave the kids at home.
Everywhere to Everywhere has always been an event that is open to families coming and we've worked to create an experiential weekend of learning and training that older kids can enter into along with mom and dad.
Our regular E2E training weekends are good for high schoolers and mature junior high students who come with a parent. The learning is often discovery based and interactive and much of the weekend is experienced outside of the training room at the local mosque, ethnic restaurants and in neighborhoods.
But it still hasn't been conducive to a family with elementary aged children. And so in May we will have our very first E2E Family Weekend.
The idea is to create a weekend of learning and ministry that the whole family can come to together. It will be for school aged kids and above. We still aren't ready for babies and toddlers but are working to create a great weekend that the whole family can enter into together.
We will continue to working on the details and adjustments that need to be made and even today I came across another challenge that we need to consider: early bedtimes!
Our family is working together to create a weekend that your family can enter into together. But we'd love your feedback as well. Stop by and read through the program description page and then share your ideas in the comments for adaptations and adjustments that would help create a family friendly E2E weekend.
The dates for the first E2E Family will be May 31 - June 2 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
It’s not often mentioned in the list of important qualities of disciples of Jesus but in our strung out western world, it may well be the most important gift followers of Jesus have to offer a broken and hurting world.
It is what Moses had when God called him to lead the people of Israel out of captivity. He was not a gifted speaker. He made bad decisions. He wasn’t very brave. But he was available and in his going back to Egypt he allowed God to work through him to rescue slaves unto freedom and to move God’s redemptive story forward.
Availability is what Gideon had when God called him to lead an army. Granted, Gideon was hiding in a winepress when God found him, and he wasn’t exactly excited to jump on God’s bandwagon. Once Gideon’s fleece was wet however, he obeyed even as God reduced his regiment to a hilariously small number that gave all the glory to God in victory.
And Rahab was available too.
She was a woman of ill repute, a foreigner and a prostitute who at the time we can assume knew very little of the God of the Israelites except what she has overheard; that He had been victorious in recent skirmishes and miraculously parted the Red Sea. She steps into God’s redemptive story when two of Israel’s spies step into her room and she risks her life to hide them.
If we survey the prominent characters of the Biblical narrative, few are chosen because they are highly qualified leaders. A few were of course – King Saul, Judas, Saul of Tarsus, but most of these didn’t work out so well. It seems the highly qualified often lean a little too deeply into self reliance and self reliance usually leads to trusting in man rather than trusting in God.
Relying on his own gifts and abilities and education, Saul of Tarsus was hunting down followers of Jesus to have them arrested and thrown in prison. It was only when he left his highly qualified self behind that Saul became available to become Paul and the man whom God could use to build his church.
When we look through the hall of fame that is Hebrews eleven, the number one thing each of the faithful had to give to God was themselves.
They said yes. They were available.
And while Jesus is highly qualified in every way, he models the radical availability that allowed him to say, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
And that is why Jesus’ ministry looks so vastly different than the successful ministries of today. His is the ministry of availability, of responding to the interruptions of the masses, of walking miles out of his way to heal a leader’s son, of inviting the little children to come to him.
Jesus’ model is not that of the best leadership style but of availability.
Jesus' avalibility in ministry begins as He models an availability to abide. Despite an incredibly full ministry, Jesus routinely makes time to be with the Father. He is part of the triune forever relationship of God and Son and Holy Spirit and this carries on into His thirty three years on earth.
He is a master of scripture, a mastery that most certainly came from years of immersion in those same scriptures. He is a master as well of prayer, of interceding on behalf of the sick and the demon possessed and the lost. There is authority in his prayers. And Jesus is the master at communing with God, of walking in a living relationship with the Father.
He is the master of abiding and he invites us first and foremost to do the same. And so while the immediate needs of the masses continually pressed in around him during his ministry on earth, we see the clear model that, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
When Peter and John were before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, the characteristic recorded for all posterity is not that of highly qualified leadership skills or a refined speaking ability. It was that they had been with Jesus. The Sanhedrin note that while they were “ordinary unschooled men”, they had been with Jesus. Peter and John had become masters of abiding with God because it is the model that Jesus gave them.
And so at the forefront of the discipleship journey, we as followers of Jesus must learn to be available to abide with him. Despite the chaos of our frenzied western existence, we must learn to set aside time to be with Jesus.
Abiding is to be our first act of availability.
It was from this lifestyle of abiding availability that Jesus’ ministry flowed. And in his three years of ministry as recorded in the gospels, He models again and again the servant heart that makes him available to engage hurting, lost people – even when they interrupt him.
It seems an almost regular occurrence that Jesus responds to a pleading father, a frightened and sick woman or a shouting blind man. He is regularly going one way and then – in response to a need – heads another way. It seems at times haphazard and yet it’s not.
His ministry is focused.
He went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. There was purpose in his journeys. He trained up twelve men who would go on to launch His movement. He gave his followers what they needed – himself – to spread the good news of His kingdom.
Like Jesus we must live strategic lives of engagement with a clear goal in mind. But the way to do that – as modeled by Jesus – is first and foremost to be with God. To make knowing God our first priority.
And when we do. When we learn to discern the voice of God. When we begin to do only what the Father is doing.
Then we will be working in the ministry of availability.
Dyann was baptized just 5 years ago. She knew she was committed, but wasn’t sure what to do next. She decided to read through the Bible. On doing so she naturally evaluated her life against what she was learning about God and His people.
Coincidentally, her church was gearing up for an extended mission conference where there were many missionary guests. She was deeply moved by the whole-life surrender of the individuals and families she was meeting. She decided to take the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course and had her entire world opened up before her.
What she learned is that her role was to reach her neighbors, whoever they may be, with the good news of the Gospel.
“It really is my job to get to share this.”
Perhaps the most precious thing about her testimony is her heart that is obviously broken for the lost who do not know the love of God.
Dyann has already received training to share her faith and has begun training others to do the same even as she shares her own faith regularly. She has also served cross-culturally in Argentina, Lebanon and next up, Mexico.
Do you want to see this kind of transformation in your life?
We'd love to help you. Join us for our next Everywhere to Everywhere training event.
Learn about Perspectives
The Rock Community Church
Every fourth Saturday of the month, a group of Jesus’ disciples gather in Sioux Falls South Dakota for what we call Sent Saturdays. We spend some time training through Luke 10, do a little role play, pray together and then head out into the city to knock on doors, offering to pray for people. After about an hour in the harvest, we return for a time of debrief.
We are not wanting to do door to door evangelism with Sent Saturdays.
We are looking for persons of peace.
At the heart of Jesus’ ministry was the conviction that, since the Father is Lord of the harvest, he will provide the workers. God alone initiates the mission. So in each location the disciples’ assignment was to find the people that God had prepared. In this way Jesus laid the foundation for a missionary movement that would reach the world.”
A person of peace is a God prepared person. Troy Cooper, in the video below, defines a person of peace as someone who:
The woman at the well (John 4), the demoniac (Mark 5), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), Cornelius (Acts 10), Lydia at the river’s bank and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16 ), Jason in Thessalonica (Acts 17) and Crispus the synagogue leader (Acts 18) are all examples of people in the Bible - persons of peace - who received the messenger, the message and the mission.
God had prepared them to encounter the gospel witness and when they did, they became the conduits of the good news in their families and communities. They, not the apostles who shared with them, become the main vehicle for the spread of the gospel in their regions.
The person of peace is not the only strategy that God uses to expand his kingdom in families, cities, nations and people groups but it was one strategy that we see Jesus training his disciples to use.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
Jesus sent the “seventy two others” out on mission. These aren’t even his closest disciples but “others” who’ve been hanging around, learning, growing, observing. And Jesus sends them out on mission. They are to go into the villages of the region, sent as sheep among wolves. They’re not to take anything with them but rather to depend on the hospitality of strangers. They are to find the peaceful person who will accept them and feed them and listen to them. They are to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom. If they don’t find the peaceful person, they are instructed to brush the dust off their feet and leave.
Who does ministry this way? . . . Jesus does.
Think of it this way. You may be the person of peace in your neighborhood, the person through whom God will work to introduce your friends and neighbors to the life of faith in Christ. You know these people. You have regular chances for interaction. You understand their culture, language and history.
But you probably won’t be the one to reach the apartment complex on the other side of town. The harvesters are in the harvest. The person of peace living in that apartment complex, who knows the culture, language and history of those living there is better positioned to naturally share the good news of Jesus with everyone in the apartment complex.
Jesus commands his disciples to pray for harvesters as they are going into the harvest. Why? Because the harvesters are in the harvest. And so when we go into neighborhoods and apartment complexes and new communities, we are not looking to evangelize the whole area. We are looking for the person of peace and, when we find them, we don’t leave. We invest there. We cast vision. We train them to be disciples of Jesus so that they can disciple their friends and neighbors.
This is the basic idea behind the idea of the person or house of peace. Again, it’s not the only way that God works to expand his kingdom but it is an important principle that we see again and again in scripture.
I want to encourage you to explore this principle more. First, study Matthew 10:5-14 and Luke 10:1-11. Read the book of Acts as well. Look for how and where the person of peace principle shows up. Take notes and ask what it would look like to apply the principle in your context.
Next, take some time to look through the resources in the links below. I’ve added approximate times to read or watch each. In it all, be like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12) and examine the scriptures to see if what we’re talking about here is true.
Learn it - Apply it - Share it - Today.
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER LEARNING
The Person of Peace by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine
(article -5 minutes)
Kingdom Kernels by Steve Smith and Nathan Shank
(article - 15 minutes)
Testimony of a person of peace at Movements
(article - 3 minutes)
Searching for a House of Peace in the U.K. at Movements Podcast
(podcast - 30 minutes)
House of Peace by Jeff Sundell
(youtube training - 12 minutes)
Four Fields of Kingdom Growth by Nathan and Kari Shank
(training manual - 2-3 weeks)
Here is a question for you: Are you training or teaching your disciples?
You may be wondering, is there a difference?
There is a difference and despite the differences, they are both used powerfully by God to raise up disciples. Both are valuable and important, but we too often try to teach things that we should be training.
Teaching is the passing on and receiving of information to gain knowledge.
Training is the passing on and mastering of skills.
Again, both are important.
But consider the picture above. A man is helping a younger person become a bicycle mechanic.
There are many ways to become a bicycle mechanic. My wife once bought be a book called "Bicycle Maintenance" and it gave instructions on how to fix all sorts of problems that happen with a bicycle. There were even lots of pictures.
Reading a book is one way to learn about fixing my bicycle.
But I never really became a bicycle mechanic - I had a lot of knowledge, but I didn't master the skills. That is because fixing a bicycle is more about learning skills than it is about gaining a bunch of knowledge.
To become a competent bicycle mechanic, what I need to do is spend time with a bicycle mechanic - like the boy in the picture above.
I need to change hundreds of bicycle inner tubes. I need to adjust hundreds of bicycle break problems. I need to take a apart and put back together hundreds of bicycles.
Because the only way to get competent at fixing bikes is to fix lots of bikes.
Some aspects of being a bicycle mechanic are really just about knowledge.
But most of the work of a bicycle mechanic is a skill. And there is really only one way to get competent at a skill.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice.
And it is that way in almost every area of life.
Anything that you do well, you do it well because you have done it a lot. You have mastered a skill.
So now let's step back and look at how we make disciples. Much of what we know to do in order to obey Jesus are actually skills that we have learned. We don't just know about prayer, we have become better at prayer as we have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed.
We don't just know about reading our Bibles. We are a lot better at reading God's word and interacting with it and learning from it now than when we first began.
And with both, there was probably someone who modeled for you what prayer is and how to read your Bible and walked with you until you figured it out.
What are the things that disciples of Jesus do?
I would encourage you to make a list of five to ten things that you wish every member of your church was doing regularly as a disciple of Jesus and then ask yourself, "Have I trained them to do that?"
I'll give you one example that I am working to train as many disciples as I can in. We all know that as disciples of Jesus we are commanded to tell others about the gospel.
One way to do that is to share our personal testimony. Paul did this frequently in the book of Acts. In the video below you will see what we use at Everywhere to Everywhere events to train people how to share their testimony. We write out our testimonies and then we practice and practice and practice and practice until we have it memorized.
We won't be confident to share what we are not competent to share.
Learn it. Apply it. Share it. Today.
Last week I was listning to the Lifeschool Podcast hosted by Ceasar Kalinowski and Heath Hollensbe. For episode #178 they were talking with Rick Bartlett who gives leadership to Tabor College's Ministry Entrepreneurship and Innovation masters degree program.
The topic was mentoring.
Through the course of the conversation, I became inreasingly convinced that our decision create E2E as a multi-generational training event - not exclusivly a youth group event - was the right decision. As it is, we want youth groups to come to our E2E trainings but we ask that they come with adults from their church, ideally mentors who they know. We actually tell youth groups that they have to have at least one adult for every two youth that come.
I think we can help teens engage with their faith by walking with them, by doing it with them, by coming alongside them. And then doing mission with them. And I think those kinds of things are what help students grow."
Our thinking with that idea comes from our own experience. Too many youth in our churches think that the only adult they can relate to or learn from at their church, and perhaps, in their life, is their youth pastor.
Something special happens when a young adult sits down and digs into the word of God with adults from their church, when they watch adults wrestle with their faith and fight to overcome their fears.
What our youth need more than anything are models of radical obedience and surrender to Jesus.
Everywhere to Everywhere training events allow for that sort of modeling to happen on mission together.
So if you are a youth pastor - YES! We want you to bring your youth group to the next E2E event but we want you to bring adults along with them; adults willing to be challenged and stretched and pushed out of their comfort zone in full viewing of these kids. Adults willing to take what they learn back to your church and lead these young people out into the harvest as they lead them into an abiding relationship with Jesus.
Bring the kids . . . but bring Mr. Miyagi along with them.
Click the program tab above to learn more about what is invovled in an E2E weekend.
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers seeking to multiply disciples and churches locally, nationally and globaly among every segment of society until there's no place left.