He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Throughout the gospels, Jesus presents principles for ministry through parables. These principles are then modeled by Jesus and applied in his assignments for the disciples. This particular parable includes a number of important principles for discipleship and has been an influential part of shaping the Everywhere to Everywhere training weekend event. Nathan and Kari Shank, long term workers and movement catalysts in India, have unpacked the parable of the growing seed in their training manual Four Fields of Kingdom Growth.
[Download the manual for free HERE]
The Five Parts of the Four Fields
In Four Fields of Kingdom Growth, Shank points out that in the parable of the growing seed there are four contexts or fields. There is also a fifth element that is important in every movement of God. He offers a key question for each that focus both our kingdom work strategy and our training of new believers.
Field #4 - The Harvested Field - Eventually a season of harvest comes and the farmer is there to cut and bundle the harvest.
Key Question: How do I form a new believers into groups or churches?
Leader Multiplication - Generational Multiplication Potential - Out of the harvest comes both fruit for this year and seed for the coming growing season.
Key Question: How do I develop and multiply movement leaders?
Jesus says that this is what the kingdom of God is like. It seems then that the parable of the growing seed could be a helpful framework around which to build a life of discipleship and ministry. It is the framework that has shaped much of the training we do at Everywhere to Everywhere events across the Midwest. And within it are principles that have been observed in every movement of kingdom expansion throughout history.
Every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to identify and understand how to enter the fields of lostness in their context, whether that be a Muslim village in Central Asia or their suburban neighborhood in Wichita or Fresno.
Every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to proclaim the good news of the gospel with anyone, anywhere and anytime.
Every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to disciple new believers into a mature, healthy and growing relationship with Jesus and into the lifestyle of disciple making.
And every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to gather believers together as the body of Christ.
The final element, leadership multiplication, is an important part of healthy discipleship and kingdom growth. The Apostle Paul always had two to three disciples with him who he was training up and releasing into ministry.
Without the multiplication of leadership, the making of disciples will always come to a bottleneck. But as young disciples take what they have learned and pass it on to other disciples who will pass it on to others (2 Timothy 2:2), the kingdom will expand, our churches will grow and great commission discipleship will be a reality.
This is exactly what we see in this parable, in the workings of Jesus and in the unfolding story of the the growth of the early church in the book of Acts. This is what we see in the the great movements of kingdom expansion throughout history. And this is what we see happening in the kingdom movements spreading across countries all around the world today.
The Kingdom parables serve as a framework for understanding Jesus’ kingdom agenda across the gospel accounts. Jesus’ kingdom agenda serves as a working job description for both his disciples and our lives and ministries.”
The four fields framework also creates a helpful rubric against which we can assess our own discipleship journey. It is a bit of a diagnostic tool which can help us see the places where we need more discipleship and training so that we can become the kind of kingdom agents that Jesus has called us to be.
Just as he was sent, he is sending us into a lost and broken world to be his ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) and witnesses (Acts 1:8).
Work through the following questions to help you understand where you might need additional training in order to step into your role as an ambassador and witness.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions or just felt unsure of whether you understand what or how to step into these kingdom assignments, find your pastor or a trusted mentor and ask them to help you get equipped.
Reach out to your nearest Multiply regional mobilizer and ask them to come and do some training with your congregation.
Consider coming to an Everywhere to Everywhere three day missional training event or hosting one in your region.
And check out the great training opportunities at the No Place Left website.
However you respond, do something!
Amidst this need to learn to do the work of the kingdom, we must remember that applying the principles of this parable to the ministry of making disciples and planting churches demands dependency on the Holy Spirit.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit - the unknown doer in the parable - that causes the seed to sprout and to grow.
As Christ’s disciples, there is a path laid out in the parable for how we can join in the work of the Spirit, but it is the Spirit that brings the growth. This was the understanding of Paul, who in 1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted, Apollos watered but it was God who made it grow.”
There are things that Paul and Apollos need to do and to train others to do, but spiritual fruit is always because of the power of God.
My hope is that this parable will help you discover some of the places where you need more training or encouragement to become those who go and make disciples.
We are excited to announce that we have three Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) training events scheduled for this spring!
This three day training event will prepare you to make disciples who make disciples among the unreached.
You can learn more about the event by reading the program description and looking at a sample schedule a the Program Page.
You can find all your registration, training dates and pricing information at the Trainings Page.
I've been a Christian all of my life and this is the most practical training about sharing my faith that I have ever received!
E2E Training Location and Dates:
Wichita, Kansas - March 9 - 11 (register here)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota - April 26-28 (register here)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota [E2E Family Training] - May 31 - June 2 (learn more)
Help Spread the Word
Will you help us spread the word about these great training opportunities. Please take a moment to share this post on your favorite social media platform.
Feel free to print off a few of these flyers to hang up at your local church. [E2E Flyer]
Thanks so much!
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]
So you are going on a short term missions trip and you're beginning to ask the question, "Should I work at learning the language before I go?"
It is a question everyone seems to ask for which there is but one answer . . . .
YES! Yes you should!
But . . .
The missionary anthropologist Charles H. Kraft was recently asked, "How much time should one who goes to serve as a two month short-term missionary spend in language learning?"
Charles Kraft holds a high value on learning the local language. Learning the local language is often seen as little more than a means to an end. The end for most followers of Jesus is the proclamation of the gospel.
And yes, this is essential! This is why we go.
But it too often reduces to the local language to nothing more than a tool. This is unfortunate because language is always so much more than just a tool. Language is the carrier of culture and worldviews, of relationships, of love and joy and pain and fear and hope.
When we reduce language to merely a tool, we often come to the conclusion that we need not bother learning any of that language when we travel as part of a short term mission trip.
This is unfortunate for a number of reasons.
Practically speaking, language is important to survive. At the very least we can all understand just how important it might be to be able to say, "Do you know where the bathroom is?" Learning 10 - 20 survival phrases will go along way to saving you from the embarrassment of being lost or unable to find the nearest bathroom.
Relationally speaking, our efforts to posture ourselves as learners of the language and culture communicate fundamentally important respect and honor for the people to whom we have gone to serve. Nothing says that you actually care about the person in front of you quite as powerfully as stepping into the humble place of a language learner. In doing so, by taking on the role of the learner, of the one without the power, you invite your host to in effect, take you by the hand lead you.
This is an act of kindness. This is laying down our rights. This is love.
I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to read a four page essay written by Thomas and Elizabeth Brewster. They were at the forefront of helping generations of missionaries learn the languages of the people they were going to serve. The Charles Kraft quote above comes from this powerful essay.
You can read it here: Language Learning is Communication -- Is Ministry
So you have a trip on the horizon. You are a few weeks away from departure or perhaps you have many months to prepare. Regardless of how much time you have, here are a few things you can do to begin learning the language. These are the things I'm doing to learn French for an upcoming trip to West Africa.
Sign up for Duolingo: Ten minutes a day will give you a beginning in the language and get you started with a foundation of vocabulary and basic grammar structures. You can find it on the app store for your smart phone or you can access it on your computer. (learn more here)
Begin Listening to Worship Music: For the past month or so I've had a French worship mix from Hilllsong playing in the background while I work during the day. In a way, what I am doing is training my ear to hear and distinguish sounds, intonation and rhythms of the French language. You can find worship music by searching for it on Youtube. For example, by searching on Youtube for "French Worship", I found this mix of French worship songs.
Listen to a Gospel: Chose one of the gospels and begin listening to a chapter or two every day. When you finish, start over from the beginning. You'll be surprised how much you begin to understand. You can find many languages available on the Youversion app or the Bible.is app.
Memorize Phrases: Find and memorize 10 - 20 important phrases in the language. Make sure that one of those phrases is, "Can you help me learn your language?"
Here are 25 phrases I'll be starting to learn in French.
Keep Learning: While in the country take every opportunity to practice with your local hosts. Keep learning. Ask questions. Boldly step into the role of being the town clown! Yes, people will be entertained by your language foibles, but it is worth it!
A language mentor of mine used to say that "it takes a million mistakes to learn another language --- So get started!"
Don't Miss Out
Investing as much time and energy as you can in learning the language will do much to make your trip more meaningful and transformational. We all have different capacities and time constraints but we can all do something. It is what you'd want someone to do for you if they were coming to visit you. Jesus tells us to "do to others as you'd have them do to you."
Learning the language then is an act of obedience to Jesus.
Don't miss out.
My Language Learning Story
In a past iteration of life, I was a language coach, helping everyday, ordinary people be more effective, more efficient and have more fun with the language learning journey. I created a number of resources that I'd love to be able to pass on to you if you would find them helpful. I have a number of ebooks as well as a series of videos. You can watch the language learning tips videos HERE. If you would like to have any of the ebooks, leave a comment below.
Below is one of those language learning tip videos. Enjoy!
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.
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.
The E2E Community
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers dedicated to equipping and encouraging everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.