From Big to Small – for a Big Movement

Part One:

If you were to walk into our church during the first ten years and then walk in now, you’d probably feel as if you’d entered two totally different churches. And you’d be right.

As Experience Life approached its tenth anniversary, I reflected on our journey. Our church had grown from 12 people meeting in my living room to a megachurch in less than ten years. More importantly, we had exceeded our goal of seeing 10,000 people commit their lives to Christ. I began asking the Lord, What do you want our vision to be for the next ten years?

That’s when I stumbled upon WIGTake.

WIGTake is a question David Watson initially formed in his work among an unreached people group in India. He asked, “What’s it going to take to reach everyone in the people group?”

This question led our Leadership Team into a season of prayer and fasting about the direction of our church for the next ten years. Our WIGTake became: What’s it going to take to reach 1,000,000 Americans in the next ten years so we’re on track to reach 200 million in 20 years?

 We knew there was a strategy that could take us to the million. It’s the strategy Jesus encouraged in the Gospels and the early church implemented in Acts. DMM, or Disciple Making Movement, is a strategy that can lead to seeing God start a Church Planting Movement. Success in a Disciple Making Movements can be summed up in two words: generational discipleship. DMMs measure whether disciples are making disciples who make more disciples who make more disciples. It’s multiplication, not addition.

 After much prayer and discussion, eLife’s Leadership Team was united in the belief that the Lord wanted us to pursue a Disciple Making Movement strategy in the next ten years

 As we began venturing into the world of disciple making, I knew we needed a coach. I met Stan Parks, Beyond’s Vice President of Global Strategies, and knew he would be able to help us get started, avoid common mistakes, and answer questions as we ran into difficult situations. 

 We asked Stan what he wanted us to do first. He said he wanted to take us through a 12-week DMM Catalyst Training. This training was based on principles God had used around the world. Stan would pass on biblical lessons the Holy Spirit had taught him through personal study of Scripture and movement catalysts like David Watson, Victor John, and many others. 

 I said, “Great! Can you send it to me?” He said, “Nope.”

 I asked, “Why not?”

 Stan made it clear that this training was not information to be transferred but biblical principles to be obeyed. Because I come from a knowledge-based culture, my tendency would be to read the twelve lessons and think, “Okay, I’ve got this; let’s move on.” But, again, this wasn’t information; these were biblical principles he wanted to coach us to obey! That means you don’t even look at lesson two until you’ve obeyed the passage from lesson one. Stan told us that the Holy Spirit would speak to us as we took a fresh look at these Bible passages. He wanted us to see the DMM principles in Scripture, so we’d be dependent on God, not on him. 

Next week we will conclude with some key principles Stan taught eLife’s leadership team. We will learn what their church looks like after transitioning from being a traditional church to a Disciple Making Movement church.

Read the whole story in Chris’s book, From Megachurch to Multiplication, which tells the story of Experience Life’s journey from being one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States to a church now focused primarily on catalyzing movements.

 This piece was summarized with permission from Mission Frontier’s article “From Big to Small – for a Big Movement” by Chris Galanos with Lorena Wood.

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