Have you ever heard of what missiologists have called a disciple-making movement (DMM)? These movements are defined by three common elements: the establishment of 100 churches, reaching the fourth generation within three years. Imagine this phenomenon taking place right here in central Wisconsin, with a hundred new churches multiplying up to the fourth generation within the span of three years.
Let’s jump into this concept. It's not one individual planting a hundred churches, but the movement itself multiplying through each generation. This replication is guided by the DNA of the movement, nurturing growth up to the fourth, fifth, and even sixth generation. The magic number is reached when these milestones align: 100 churches established, fourth generation achieved, all within three years.
Remarkably, over a thousand of these disciple-making movements are unfolding globally, igniting spiritual fire across continents. Yet, there's one exception – the United States. This compelling phenomenon begs the question: What's inhibiting such explosive growth in our western context? My intention is to unpack two key aspects stopping the acceleration of these movements: Cultural Diseases and Structural Issues.
Cultural Diseases: Barriers in Our Societal Fabric
1. Hyper Individualism: In our culture, the individual often stands at the center of their narrative. Unlike non-Western cultures, where a collective mindset prevails, we tend to prioritize personal gain. This individualism impacts our ability to actively engage in movements that require collaboration and selflessness.
2. Isolationism: Wealth and modern amenities have led to increasing isolation, fragmenting our connections. Unlike many other cultures where community is vital, we often live lives disconnected from strong relational networks. Movements thrive on intimate relationships – a challenge when our connections are weak or dispersed.
3. Consumerism: Our consumer-oriented identity can deter us from fully embracing and spreading the Gospel. In other parts of the world, consumerism has been recognized as a threat to the movement's progress, as it breeds a mindset focused on self-gratification rather than radical discipleship.
4. Anti-Authority: A cultural resistance to authority, stemming from past abuses of power, creates skepticism towards obedience-based discipleship. The essence of discipling involves submission to authority, but our society's inherent mistrust hinders this key aspect of spiritual growth.
5. Busy-ness: The pace of modern life leaves little room for dedicated commitment. Our society's busyness and over-scheduling make it difficult to allocate time for meaningful engagement in a movement, even when recognizing its significance.
Structural Issues: Unveiling Church Design Flaws
1. Low Bar of Christianity: Our culture's low expectations of Christian commitment result in a surface-level engagement. Many consider regular “church attendance” a sufficient requirement. This perception hinders the depth of discipleship necessary for movements to flourish.
2. Professional Christianity: The divide between professional clergy and the “normal person” obstructs full participation in the movement. Our culture's reliance on paid professionals and underutilization of people limits a holistic network where every member is a contributor.
3. Fractured Households: Western society's nuclear family structure contrasts with the extended families found in many other cultures. This family structure struggles to provide the foundational nodes required for a movement to propagate through households.
4. Prayerlessness: Vibrant movements are typically preceded by fervent prayer. However, our consumer-driven, fast-paced society often neglects the deep commitment to prayer required for a movement's growth.
5. Outdated Structural Templates: Church structures inherited from centuries past hinder the innovation and adaptation required for disciple-making movements. These rigid frameworks often fail to accommodate the unique demands of our times.
Embracing the Challenge: Joining the Experiment Despite these formidable obstacles, our faith assures us that our God is greater. The path to generating explosive disciple-making movements might be complex and challenging, but it's a journey we believe is worth undertaking. We're calling on those willing to engage in this experiment – to step into a space where our expectations are aligned with the reality that crafting movements in our culture will demand patience, persistence, and resilience.
Let's remember, it's not about instant success, but about nurturing an environment where the Kingdom of God thrives. We aim to navigate the hurdles of cultural diseases and structural issues, ultimately to witness the glory of God manifest through a movement that transforms lives, communities, and cities.