You Will Lose Your Job!

DMM counter-intuitives—“It’s about discovery not preaching.” Jesus used questions so people discover the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 13:44-46).

I first heard about what we are calling Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) in November of 2003. My wife and I had been invited to a fund-raising dinner and we just could not say, “No.” As we listened to stories about what God has been doing among the Bhoujpori in Northern India, I noticed a passion in my heart to go to West Africa to envision what he might do there. While I did very traditional up-front teaching there that first trip, I was invited back to do something that was revolutionary the next year.

Between those trips in 2004 and 2005 I listened to CDs of the training that was held in March of 2005, many times. As I began to formulate my plans for training Africans in doing their own inductive Bible studies, I shared some of my thoughts with a College/Young Adults class I was teaching. One of the students told me after class one Sunday, “You realize that if people here buy into this you will end up losing your job, don’t you?” I told him I was willing for that to happen for real transformation to happen, but I figured there would be training I could do even if my position as a preacher was no longer needed.

DMMs are not dependent upon preachers, pastors or other religious professionals. These roles often become obstacles to movements. As we know them, they generally reflect a spectator/performer cultural role more than the biblical function of proclamation upon which they were originally based. But I am talking more about Western traditions than the heart of this counter intuitive.

Biblical proclamation calls hearers to investigate truth claims. It engages the audience in a process of evaluation of spiritual insights. Jesus was the best at it the world has ever seen. He called his disciples and his audiences to a process of checking out the validity of his claims. He launched them into an exploratory process of discovering what God has revealed of himself and whether or not Jesus truly is God’s Son—his exact representation. Everyone comes to personal faith through a discovery process—everyone! God does not have any grandchildren. You don’t get into his family on someone else’s faith. You may start down the road on the faith of others, but ultimately you will accept or reject it based on your life experience (which includes others much more significantly in non-Western areas of our world).

Watching Jesus make disciples in the gospels has convicted me of the incredible role good questions play in the process of discovery. He asked the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). They needed to chew on the options that people were batting around. After that happens, “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Are they going to agree with one of the current theories? Does Jesus make them think of John, Elijah or Jeremiah?

After Peter answers, Jesus pronounces a blessing upon him for getting this revelation from God. Who taught Peter, Jesus’ identity? Who is going to teach the identity of Jesus to people today? We intentionally pursue a process of discovery for this very reason.

Yes, it is easier for us to give people the answers, in the short-term. But there are tragic consequences when they don’t learn to discern them. We avoid damaging dependency through discovery.

Yes, I lost my job. Not because people decided they did not need me any longer. I fell in love with the discovery process and my passion for training others in that overwhelmed my desire to have people dependent upon me.


  1. Hi John,
    I was interested in this post because I, too, went to West Africa—in 2006. I did some evangelistic preaching and teaching of pastors. I’m hoping to return for a short-term vision trip in the next 12 months, leading to a longer-term ministry. I have a desire to preach the gospel, church plant, and train local pastors. I’m in a season of seeking and waiting on the Lord for His direction. I’m curious to know how your second trip went.


    1. Brian, my second trip is when I learned experientially that people can learn to do inductive studies in simple, easily reproducible ways. I will send you an article that I wrote about those experiences. I pray your season of seeking results in your hearing the voice of Jesus.


  2. John I would give you a big hug if I could! May your tribe increase! I have been very discouraged at times with those who get paid to preach. I have yet to find one that will embrace what God is doing in CPM’s. I personally think it comes down to the money. God bless you for putting His Kingdom first!


    1. Darrell, it is hard to give up on your dreams until they are replaced with greater ones. Many have never heard enough of what God is doing through DMMs to be able to envision them. There are many paradigm shifts to make and we have to open ourselves to God taking us down a new path. I would encourage you to pray for these brothers and share the stories of what God is doing with as many as you know. Thanks for the hug, I accept it. Blessings.


  3. John, once when I was telling a classmate that my future mission plans included discovery and no preaching, I was overheard by another student who said that such a plan was “unbiblical,” citing passages such as Romans 10 and Acts 2 and Acts 17. I’m sure you’ve heard similar arguments from DMM skeptics. How do you overcome these exceptions?


    1. The closest thing to what your classmate calls preaching, in the Bible, would have been Paul’s teaching in the synagogues, but even that proclamation would have been more dialogical than he would recognize. Students like this one fail to realize that the connotations he attaches to Biblical words like “preach” and “proclaim” are shaped more by experience than the text. Ask him to read what 1 Corinthians presents in chapters 10-14 and then affirm that the typical preaching arrangement he believes in is represented there. What he has traditionally experienced keeps him from hearing the text and that is eisegesis. Further, Acts 2 is clearly a setting where the apostles respond to the move of the Spirit and the reactions of the people in Jerusalem (e.g., these men are drunk, “What must we do to be saved?” rather than a scripted production.

      Beyond all of this, I would call this student to spend a lot of time in the gospels and ask him where he sees what he affirms. Jesus discipled the twelve through a process where they learn from God. That is what a discovery process does. An inductive approach is more biblical than the deductive one he trusts.


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