DMM counter-intuitives—“Do no personal evangelism at all so that masses will hear.” Lead whole households to faith together (Ax 16:15, 31).
Remember that our goal is to catalyze Disciple Making Movements among the least-reached people groups of our world. Most of them live in nations that will not grant missionary visas. Often they perceive Christianity as a form of foreign cultural dominance and oppression.
We do personal evangelism because it is the highly contextualized strategy that was developed to plant the gospel into individualized cultures. Since Western nations are individualized North Americans and Europeans have primarily been reached through personal evangelism. Since it worked in our lives, we assume it will work with everyone else. But what if their culture is not individualistic?
What should you do if you are attempting to plant the gospel into a people group in West Africa or Southeast Asia that always makes important decisions as a family or community? When we finally allow that question to sink deep into our heart we may begin to hear Scripture differently. We may start to realize that there are many more references to households coming to faith together than there are examples of individuals who reach such a point through a one-on-one encounter.
Luke reveals that Lydia “and the members of her household were baptized” (Acts 16:15). In response to the jailor’s question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” he was told, “‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house….then immediately he and all his family were baptized….he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family” (Acts 16:31-34).
We have found when believers go to the least-reached people groups and do personal evangelism there are often tragic results. The family turns against this new believer and throws him/her out of the household for being deceived by this foreign ideology. They hate Christians for “brain washing” their son or daughter. They refuse to hear the gospel because it has brought them such excruciating pain. And then some believers quote passages that make it sound like God takes great pleasure in setting children against their parents.
Rest assured the gospel entails challenges to any culture. It presents obstacles to any human religion. But that is not what has just happened. A strategy was employed that withheld the gospel from the rest of the family. A divide-and-conquer strategy was used (it is not that in a highly individualized culture, but it is in the rest of the world).
By contrast, a Discovery Bible Study encourages the whole family to explore the God of the Bible together. Story by story they are encouraged to move from Creator to Christ. Through this process the household is equipped to make a collective decision. Together they are called to fall in love with God. While some may still choose not to surrender to Jesus, they at least understand the rationale for the faith of those who do believe. They have heard.