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.