/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Foundational Frameworks of Disciple Making Movements
Perhaps like many of us, encountering the concepts of “Disciple Making Movements” (DMM) was like hearing a new language for the first time, exciting, but overwhelming. To make matters worse, you soon discovered that there were a horde of different “dialects” with the paradigm shift, like the way some describe DMM as “Church Planting Movements” (CPM). How can we begin to make sense of it all?
The variety emerged organically over the last thirty years, as missionaries around the world have been re-discovering these simple yet comprehensive biblical principles of making disciples, leaders and churches that multiply.
In about thirty separate streams, mostly emerging in persecuted contexts, diligent workers were scattered around the world, labouring ten years or more to see multiplication happening to the fourth generation and beyond. With the advent of the internet, these isolated workers began discovering one another. As they compared notes on what God had been leading them back to, they summarized two key frameworks that undergird Disciple Making Movements (DMM), also commonly known as Church Planting Movements (CPM).
There are two “Rosetta Stones” that help us make sense of the decentralized dialects of movements.
God’s Heart in Four Fields
The first framework is often called “God’s Heart in Four Fields.”
Imagine it like a famous sourdough-starter that has consistently catalyzed new works in new contexts. Simultaneously it can serve as a simple stewardship matrix to assess and progress the health of any Kingdom endeavour.
- Do we understand God’s vision to gather people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to worship around His throne forever? (Rev 7:9-10)
- Do we receive God’s invitation and assignment to participate in fulfilling this mission? (Matthew 28:16-20)
- This leads us to ask, “Who are you sending me to Lord?” We might be challenged, like Jonah, to overcome our selfish interests by the cliffhanger question God asks the whining prophet, “And should I not have concern for …?” (Jonah 4:11)
- In order to “hear-the-who”, we learn to be disciples who have two ears tuned to the Lord’s heart: through abiding in Christ through our knowledge and obedience to the scriptures (John 15:1-17), and seeking the Lord in prayer and intercession, doing so not only ourselves, but in a community with others who also have two ears tuned to the direction of the Holy Spirit. (Mt 6:9-10, Lk 10:2, 11:5-11, Acts 1:14, Eph 6:18-20).
- The Great Commission clearly implies that disciples who receive this command, teach their disciples to obey this command, so that multiple generations of healthy disciples are perpetuated, even as Paul taught Timothy (2 Tim 2:2).
IN FOUR FIELDS:
These four pillars are pictured here in a farming metaphor. Because I’m a Baptist by training, I’ve chosen an alliterated set of words: Go, Gospel, Grow, Gather, Guide. These serve as a non-linear dashboard to focus foundational fruitful activities.
Where are the fields God has prepared for us to go into (Lk 10:1-15)? We go into the empty fields as messengers who must be sent to those who have not heard the glorious Gospel of Christ (Rom 10:14-15).
Whom shall we talk to? Those who already exist in my circle to share with (Jn 4:39ff), and after that, to whom should I go (Acts 16:13; 17:2, 10, 17)?
How shall we sow into these fields?
All who are new in Christ receive the role to be ambassadors entrusted with the message of reconciliation. Just like Jesus with the Samaritan women, then Nicodemus, and later Paul in the synagogues or the marketplace, we learn to broadly sow the seeds of the Gospel in a multitude of contextualized forms. We do so hoping that even some seekers might respond like the Ethiopian with Philip, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” (Acts 8:37).
What is the crop filling this field? New believers need help maturing lest they stay as, or revert to being, “infants” (Heb 5:11-14). As noted above, the goal is to create healthy disciples who reproduce even to the fourth generation and beyond (2 Tim 2:2).
What is the harvest we hope for? Healthy reproducing disciples form healthy reproducing churches who gather, even in the simplest of forms, to live out their core DNA design (Acts 2:37-47) according to the simple characteristics defined in the scriptures. Healthy disciples form healthy churches, healthy churches produce healthy disciples, this is the intended circle of multiplication.
Who stewards the work in the fields? Leaders, with a multiplicity of giftings (Eph 4:11-13), are developed to oversee and equip fellow disciple-makers to achieve the big picture. They are constantly surveying and assessing the comprehensive dashboard such that God’s Heart in Four Fields multiplies disciples, leaders and churches through cities, regions and beyond.
Picture what this would look like for a house building crew. The foreman starts with the blueprint and makes sure that everyone knows what they’re building, what the big picture is, “God’s Heart”. Each member gets trained to use the basic tools for each task and how to employ them in each phase: setting the foundation, framing the walls, sealing to lock-up, and finishing the interior. Skilled labourers mature to become foremen who can run construction crews of their own.
Just like those faithful workers who saw the multiplication of movements, using this framework, those who (GUIDE) can consistently and diligently assess:
- do we have the right tools to be fruitful in each field? (contextualized),
- do our disciples know how to use them? (trained),
- are they actually using them to pursue the vision? (motivated),
- are the tools simple enough for our disciples to equip their disciples? (reproducible)
If you’re wondering how to get started, Zúme Training provides a basic tool set built around this “toolbelt” framework of God’s Heart in Four Fields. Rather than getting lost in the ivory tower of theory, it helps you put the biblical principles into practice right away.
Another kickstarter is Discovery Bible Study (DBS). It intrinsically embeds the DNA from “God’s Heart in Four Fields” through the simple rhythms of a weekly gathering. As a specific application, it can be used as a (GOSPEL) tool, which naturally bridges to a (GROW) tool, which will have embedded the DNA that is needed to form simple, healthy churches (GATHER).
What is the second foundational framework? The essential companion to “God’s Heart in Four Fields” is the lost art of disciple making embodied in the framework of MAWL (Model, Assist, Watch, Launch). Following the patterns and rhythms of Jesus example, it’s all about tightening the training cycle so that disciples know how to make disciple who multiply. Stay tuned for the exploration of MAWL in an upcoming article.
Want to learn more?
Here are two expanded explanations:
1. God's Heart & The Four Fields (or watch below)
2. Four Fields Diagram from Zúme
Please note the caution expressed here by one of the founding missionaries in the CPM context, if we jump too far into the theory, we’ll get stuck in an ivory tower instead of working in the fields.
As noted in these more detailed descriptions, the MAWL training-cycle framework is the essential companion to “God’s Heart in Four Fields.” That’s in the next article.
Jon Luesink has been married to Jill for over 30 years and they have 4 children. After pastoring in Chilliwack for 12 years, the Lord called them to lead a church planting team in Czechia as missionaries for 8 years and then to serve with Avant Ministries Canada, raising up the next generation of missionaries. Now, as a DMM Catalyzer at Outreach Canada, Jon is focused on helping to reverse the disciple making crisis in Canada and beyond, through the catalyzation of disciple making movements.