Written by: Chris Galanos
DMM stands for Disciple-Making Movement. This acronym is also closely related to CPM which stands for Church Planting Movement.
While I will attempt to give a brief explanation of these concepts in this article, you’d be best served by reading the following books for a more detailed explanation:
In the Millions article, I mentioned that we have several friends in other parts of the world that have seen millions of disciples made in a short period of time. Missiologists (those who study missions) call these incredible works of God “movements,” or specifically, “Church Planting Movements.”
David Garrison, author of the book Church Planting Movements, wrote:
Without exaggeration we can say that Church Planting Movements are the most effective means in the world today for drawing lost millions into saving, disciple-building relationships with Jesus Christ. That may appear to be an ambitious claim, but it is an accurate one, and an honest description of how God is winning a lost world.
A Disciple-Making Movement is one of the strategies that can lead to a Church Planting Movement. It is the strategy employed by several of the friends I was referring to in the previous article.
Let me share a few definitions of Disciple-Making Movements from reputable sources so that you get an idea of what we’re talking about.
According to Stan Parks, a DMM Trainer, “DMM is obedience-based discipleship that sees disciples reproducing disciples, leaders reproducing leaders, churches reproducing churches, and movements reproducing movements.”
According to Roy Moran in Spent Matches, “DMM is a strategy that has six key characteristics: God ordained, Spirit dependent, Bible centered, obedience focused, discovery based, and disciple driven. In brief, DMM turns average followers of Christ into event planners, rather than salesmen for Jesus, so that they can invite their friends, neighbors, and workmates into small groups designed to hear from God through reading the Bible, obeying what He says, and sharing it with their social networks.”
According to Jerry Trousdale in Miraculous Movements, “In a nutshell, Disciple-Making Movements spread the gospel by making disciples who learn to obey the Word of God and quickly make other disciples, who then repeat the process. This results in many new churches being planted, frequently in regions that were previously very hostile to Christianity.”
To better understand the concept, it’s helpful to know how they measure “success.” How someone measures success tells you a lot about why they do what they do.
For many American churches, including ours at times, “success” is having as many people as possible fill up worship services on Sundays to hear teaching from God’s Word. That explains why you hire a church staff to facilitate those services. That explains why those staff members spend their whole week planning for those services & the programming surrounding those services. That explains why you need to raise a lot of money from the congregants to fund those salaries. That also explains why buildings are so important. You need a place to have these worship services. And you need the money, often millions of dollars, to be able to build & maintain these facilities.
What most people don’t know, especially in America, is that this is quite an unusual way of doing church. It’s what most of us grew up with so we assume everyone does it this way. But this way of doing church is so expensive that it takes a wealthy country like America to even begin to attempt to do it this way. The majority of the Christians in the world today don’t even live in America, and in many of these places, they wouldn’t even be able to afford a building to meet in or to pay pastors to spend all week planning the services. And in most cases, they wouldn’t want to.
Those that implement a DMM strategy measure “success” totally different. In most places where DMM is implemented, they don’t even have “traditional weekend services” like an American Church so they’re unconcerned with the many of the things I mentioned above.
Success to those executing a DMM strategy can be summed up in 2 words — generational discipleship. They are measuring whether disciples are making disciples that make more disciples that make more disciples. When that happens, disciples naturally form into churches & many new churches are planted. They don’t plant churches hoping to get disciples (that’s what I did). They make disciples & from those disciple-making efforts, churches are planted.
In fact, the way an active “movement” is often defined is “multiple streams of 4th generation groups/churches among lost people.” They’re not counting Sunday attendance, money in the offering plates, & participation in programs as much as they’re counting generations of disciples.
Just to be clear, four generations of churches planted among lost people would look like this.
A Church Planting Team makes disciples & sees Church #1 planted among previously lost people. Church #1 makes disciples and sees Church #2 planted among previously lost people. Church #2 makes disciples and sees Church #3 planted among previously lost people. Church #3 makes disciples & sees Church #4 planted among previously lost people. That’s 4 generations of church planting.
To be clear, if Church #1 plants 4 churches, that’s not 4th generation growth. All 4 of those churches are 2nd generation churches. It’s best to think of generational growth like generations in families. 4 generations is great-grandparent to grandparent to parent to child. I’m the 4th generation from my great-grandfather.
You might be thinking, “Wow, if generational growth really happened, I can see how these movements would grow so quickly.” Right! Because their focus isn’t addition. It’s not about adding people to a weekend service. It’s about multiplying disciples. Multiplication always grows much more quickly than addition.
In fact, there are over 600 active movements in the world today & the average size is over 75,000 believers. Think about that. Just the average movement is larger than the largest American church. Wow!
Ok, so how does the strategy work?
This is where the strategy comes from. It’s the same strategy Jesus gave his disciples when he sent them out.
First, you pray and ask the Lord to show you the place he has prepared for you to go (Luke 10:1, Matt 10:5-6). We don’t just randomly pick a place to make disciples. God has already been preparing a place for us to go & we need to hear from him so we can join him where he’s working. And guess who’s praying & preparing to go? Ordinary believers. Not just pastors. Not just people on a church staff. Movements unleash ordinary people to make disciples & plant churches. That’s so different than a typical American Church.
Second, once the Lord has shown you the place he wants you to go, you begin to pray specifically for that place (Luke 10:2, Matt 9:37-38). Often disciple-makers will spend weeks or even months “prayer walking” this place asking God to open the hearts of people there.
Third, you begin to look for the “person of peace” whom God has prepared to receive the gospel (Matt 10:11, Luke 10:5-6). Notice, at its core, DMM is not a “come & see” strategy. It is absolutely a “go & tell” strategy. Instead of trying to get lost people to attend church services, which most lost people don’t want to do anyways, you’re taking the gospel directly to them where they live, learn, work or play.
Fourth, you begin to meet needs in this area & share about Jesus while doing so. Jesus said that after you enter this new place, “Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now’” (Luke 10:9, Matt 10:7-8). The need you meet could be praying for the sick like Jesus described or it could be meeting a practical need that opens someone’s heart to the gospel. Doing these things often reveals the person/household of peace. Stan Parks says, “Around the world, the #1 way DMMers find those interested in God is by serving them (healing prayer, kind deed, community service) while consistently, simultaneously, and culturally appropriately pointing to God.”
Fifth, once you find a person/household of peace that welcomes you & your message, you begin a discipleship process with them (Matt 10:13-14, Luke 10:8-9). This discipleship process is not what you’d typically think of in the American Church. You don’t bring in a teacher to start a series of Bible studies. Rather, you do what Jesus talks about in John 6. You invite them to “listen to the Father & learn from him” because “everyone” can be taught by God through his Word (John 6:44-45). And Jesus said that if people listen to & learn from the Father through his Word, then the Father will draw them to Jesus (John 6:44). This is often called a Discovery Group where the members of the group discover for themselves, with the Holy Spirit as the teacher, what God says through his Word. They do this by asking a series of questions about the passage they’re reading:  What does this teach us about God?  What does this teach us about people?  If this is from God, what should we do/obey in response?  Who should we share this with? The Holy Spirit speaks to them through the Word as they ask those questions. The emphasis is on immediate obedience (hence, obedience-based discipleship used in the DMM definitions above) & sharing with others. Typically a group will start with passages from the Old Testament that will take them from “Creation to Christ.” Often, as a group begins to do this, the Father draws them to Jesus (like he said would happen) & the whole group is saved & baptized together. Then they begin to function together as a new church.
Whole books have been written about this strategy so this brief explanation certainly doesn’t do it justice, but gives you an idea of the process.
Someone might ask, what are these new DMM churches like?
Garrison references a group of CPM practitioners & their response here:
What kind of churches do you find in Church Planting Movements? This is the question many outsiders want to know. In addressing this question, the panel of Church Planting Movement practitioners used several words to describe the nature of the churches in the movements they had known. We can group these qualities under the term “healthy churches.” One Strategy Coordinator put it this way, “I’ll put these churches up against any churches in the West and see how they stack up. They are more vibrant; more committed to God’s word; more long-suffering…you name it.” One can forgive this missionary’s pride in the churches’ character. It comes from an acute awareness not only of their heroic courage in the face of tremendous persecution, but also from a sad awareness of how anemic Western Christianity has become.
Stan Parks said, “The definition of church for these new churches is Acts 2:37-47.”
Beyond, a missions sending organization, recently put out a series of videos corresponding to these steps I mentioned above which I’ve found very helpful in giving an introduction to this strategy. I’ll share them here.
Since our Leadership Team knew that God was using DMM all over the world to reach millions of people, we believed it was the strategy we needed to execute in the next 10. We knew God had led us to this strategy, revealed it to us in his Word, & we came to believe it was the only strategy that could take us to the million. Our team was united & we knew our marching orders from Jesus for the next 10.
Next stop, announcing it to the church at our 10 Year Anniversary!
Part 6 – 10 Year Anniversary