There are viruses that can extinguish human life, but there are also viruses that hinders the disciple making movement of Jesus. Often the very methods we use to plant the gospel are counter-productive to it reaching the commission Jesus gave us.
Disciple Making Movement killing viruses come with a variety of expressions. Let’s look at five viruses that find their way in our disciple making efforts.
Exceptionalism: a dependency on individuals with exceptional passions, enthusiasm, temperament, skill and gifts.
Materialism: the naive practice of allowing money into the wrong places in movements.
Professionalism: the inherent belief that the trained, qualified or certified are more dependable than those who lack formal training.
Mechanicalism: a belief that movements are a matter of physical effort rather than spiritual power.
Partialism: the practice of fusing several different movement strategies together.
Exceptionalism is a cultural phenomenon that plagues humanity. Those with exceptional skills are often elevated to positions of influence or counted more valuable than the rest.
Exceptionalism in movements arises when we become dependent—for instance—on highly gifted trainers. This eliminates ordinary disciples from passing on the training. The problem is not with having some gifted practitioners, but for disciples to consistently multiply through ordinary people everything has to multiply at every level. That means that all activities that foster movement must be available to the everyday people. If outreach strategies require special skills, if training can’t be delivered by ordinary people, if coaching practises can’t be accomplished by ordinary people, then a movement will experience friction due to the dependence on exceptionally talented people.
The theological antidote to exceptionalism is found in the concept of the priesthood of the believer. Peter calls each follower of Christ a royal priest (1 Pet. 2:9) and declares that we have everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Not to mention that Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations is given to every disciple.
Materialism addresses the relationship between money and movement. There is no argument that it takes resources to get the strategy of Jesus where it is not. The controversy arises with how much, when and from whom does the money come.
Money paid to those involved in movement activity challenges the motives of those receiving the money and potentially creates a dependency between giver and receiver. The question arises: if there is no money will there be movement activity? Often, there is not.
Frequently money is best used to further activity that was already in progress.
Professionalism is a two-edged sword. Certainly, gaining greater excellence of knowledge and skill is a worthy cause. When professionals appear, however, the masses begin to develop the attitude of leaving it to the professionals and it unintentionally creates passivity.
One of the keys of movement is that an untrained insider is always more effective than a trained outsider. This cuts against the grain of a culture that values subject matter experts. It especially challenges cross-cultural workers and those who love to ‘do ministry’ in foreign fields. In movements there are no heroes nor hero-makers, only ordinary people responding in obedience to Jesus.
Jesus, upon healing the Gerasenes demoniac, refused to allow him to accompany the disciples but instead sent him home to speak of what God had done for him. This was a far cry from the route of qualifying, certifying or even the ordaining practices that we use today. Jesus’ practice was to release the willing rather than trust the qualified.
Mechanicalism denies the supernatural nature of the Spirit in the movement of the gospel. With great regularity we can correlate impressive movements of the gospel with equally impressive outpouring of prayer. It would be a mistake to think we can simply raise the amount of hours we pray to generate movement. We cannot bribe God with our prayers. But when extraordinary prayer and radical obedience meet with God’s heart for the lost, He tends to do amazing things.
Similarly, many have gone through Disciple Making Movements training and become enamored with Discovery Bible Study (DBS). Mistakenly believing that Disciple Making Movements are synonymous with the obedience-based discovery Bible processes, they aggressively pursue the implementation of DBS believing a movement will break out. Again, God rejoices when His followers are obedient to His wisdom, but this one element rarely generates a movement.
There are no mechanical processes that can be reproduced that guarantee movement. When God ordains and humans cooperate, movements can break out.
Partialism: Smart individuals from historic institutions sit in training by experienced movement catalysts, only to leave the training and during implementation add, subtract or self-style the habits of movements.
In the face of experience and proven results, we often believe we can make it better. Rather than practice what we are taught and let experience be our teacher, we practice an ignorant ‘I know better mentality’ by changing well-worn practices.
The word “movement” describes a gospel-phenomenon that signals changing from addition thinking to multiplication thinking. This thinking moves the potential of the progress of the gospel beyond population growth and bringing into view the prospect of fulfilling the Great Commission.
That potential should be shepherded as aggressively as humanly possible. Viruses that threaten to kill movements must be brought into the light and killed as quickly as possible.
Kingfisher trust our Father for you to experience a movement of disciple makers in 2021.