Part 1 – Church Commitment Continuum
The first way the Holy Spirit might lead a church to be involved with DMM is to pray for it and BLESS it when it begins to make an impact in your city. This path doesn’t require any kind of church-wide commitment to embrace DMM. This is simply understanding and supporting DMM in your area and not resisting it.
This may not seem like much of a commitment to DMM, but it’s a very important one. Let me explain why.
As I’ve talked to people connected to movements overseas or read some of their writings, I continue to hear something that is very surprising to me. They often say that their greatest resistance in making more disciples comes from “traditional Christians.”
What?!?!? Yeah, it’s not good.
Nothing against traditional Christians, in fact, I’m probably a traditional Christian. By traditional Christian, I think they just mean Christians that go to traditional churches and aren’t very open-minded but think everyone should do things the way they do things (even on minor theological & methodological issues). And the truth is that traditional Christians often resist what they don’t understand or don’t like.
As an example of this, in a recent issue of Mission Frontiers magazine, an article titled, “A Church Planting Movement Advancing Through Barriers,” describes the struggle. The article is written by Andy Walker, a pseudonym for one of the leaders in the movement.
In this particular CPM, he said they’ve seen 30,000 house churches planted and around 200,000 new believers baptized. Amazing! Andy then lists some of the key factors in this movement followed by two “key barriers to progress.” Guess what he lists as one of the two key barriers to progress?
In his own words: “Traditional Christians.” Then he said, “This continues to be the biggest hurdle.”
WOW! Not sure about you, but that makes me sick. How is it that traditional CHRISTIANS are opposing the multiplication of disciples and churches in a region that has very few of either? That’s crazy!
Then he said, “[The traditional Christians] interrupt baptisms and church meetings and cause trouble asking about theology they don’t even understand. They also question the authority of the movement’s leadership since this work is not institutionally based. This has brought confusion to the churches…”
Yeah, I can understand why they’re confused. I’m sure they’re thinking, “We just became Christians & we’re so excited to tell everybody about Jesus. Why are other Christians persecuting us?”
I know it’s hard to believe, but I hear this over & over again.
I’m sure some of those “traditional Christians” are godly, well-meaning people. They just have no framework for what’s happening in these movements & since they don’t understand it, and may not even like what they’re seeing, they tend to resist the movement. Even persecute it at times.
And let’s be honest, for those of us that have been Christians for many years, haven’t we “resisted” other Christian groups before? They were doing a good work, we just didn’t understand it. And we likely regret the resistance in hindsight. We’re definitely not throwing stones here, just trying to acknowledge the fact that a lack of support from traditional Christians can negatively affect a movement.
So, back to this first way a church might be involved in DMM. Bless the movement and pray for it!
For a traditional church to bless & pray for a movement, even if they aren’t a part of it, is a great contribution to movement work in an area. It keeps movement workers from being burdened by the opposition of the traditional churches. And it encourages movement workers to know the churches are praying for them.
Hopefully, the workers will have the chance to continually cast vision to these churches so they understand the movement work in their area, and as a result, are less likely to resist or oppose it.
As we discuss each of these ways a church can be involved in DMM, I also want to spend time talking about the role of the pastor in each case.
In this particular case, where a church blesses DMM work in their area, almost any pastor can do this without pushback from the church. Nothing is changing at the church. No one is having to get on board. The proverbial “boat” isn’t being rocked at all. It’s simply a pastor leading his/her church to bless, not curse, DMM work in their area by supporting the workers and praying for the work.
My prayer is that every church would at least engage in DMM at this level. There’s no commitment and no cost. And, again, I think this is a significant contribution to DMM work in an area because it creates less opposition and more partnerships.
Let me take a minute to challenge the traditional pastors like me out there.
Many of you have heard of Andy Stanley. He’s a traditional American pastor who has been highly influential in my own ministry. He spoke recently to pastors & business leaders at a Global Leadership Summit and talked about the importance of recognizing, not resisting, next generation ideas in your industry.
He said that somewhere somebody is pioneering new approaches that are “uniquely better,” as he called it. He said it’s possible that in your industry, someone has already stumbled upon “uniquely better,” and you just don’t know about it yet.
Stanley said the odds are that you aren’t going to be the one to discover the “uniquely better” idea. He quoted Al Ries from his book Focus where Al said, “The next generation product & idea almost never comes from the previous generation.”
But even if you aren’t likely to be the one who discovers it, Stanley says the odds of recognizing it are much greater. He said, “Our best hope and our responsibility as leaders is to create organizational cultures positioned to recognize rather than resist uniquely better. Regardless of how successful you are, create a culture that naturally recognizes rather than resists uniquely better. The earlier you recognize it & less you resist it, the more successful you’ll be in whatever you do.” Then he said, “We naturally resist things that we don’t understand or we can’t control. We must overcome that tendency.”
I thought Andy’s whole talk was profound. You may not discover the next generation idea that transforms a business or a church, but just make sure you recognize it and don’t resist it when it comes. Amen!
Traditional pastors, I understand if a church-wide commitment to DMM is not the direction God leads you. But I don’t want that to make you think there’s no way for you to be involved. There certainly is!
Catch the vision, don’t resist it. Bless the movement when it comes to your area. And join the movement workers in prayer that God would be glorified through the multiplication of disciples & churches throughout your area until your entire city is reached for Jesus.
Part 3 – Release