“Oh No! I Wouldn’t Know What to Say!”

“So, what exactly do you missionaries do?” *Betty asked.

*Lisa was surprised by the question. The two women had struck up an immediate friendship when they met in language class. Betty had retired to the same South Asian country where Lisa and *Travis had recently moved to become full-time missionaries with BEYONDBetty’s question was a surprise because she had just mentioned that she had put her trust in Jesus 50 years earlier and had been a faithful church attendee ever since. Betty said she knew many missionaries but had no idea what they did. No one had ever explained mission work to her.

“Well,” Lisa stammered, “our focus is to reach people here who have never heard the name Jesus, and therefore have never had an opportunity to say yes to Him.”  

“What does a typical day look like?” Betty pressed.

“There is no typical day, but one constant is prayer. Learning to “pray without ceasing” is not just wishful thinking. We pray a lot and schedule prayer time into our day. We spend several hours praying for our supporters, an hour each week praying for our national partners on our team, and lots of prayer for the people around us. One of the ways we pray is to prayer walk.” 

Betty didn’t know what that was. So Lisa explained that they simply walk through a local neighborhood, or sit in an open-air food court, and pray quietly for those around them. Lisa and Travis were already planning on prayer walking in a nearby village. Lisa invited Betty to come along.

“Oh, no!” Betty replied. “I wouldn’t know what to do or what to say.” (She imagined that they would be loud and obvious and thus be offensive.)

“We don’t stand on a corner and proclaim aloud,” Lisa said. “It’s all very low-key.” She went on to explain that they take Scripture verses on small note cards and quietly pray those verses as they walk along. “People looking on just assume we are conversing with each other.” 

Betty agreed to go. 

A few days later, they walked past traditional houses as they read Bible verses and prayed what the Spirit brought to their minds. “There’s a house with a tricycle in front,” Lisa said. “Let’s pray for wisdom and patience for those parents as they raise their children.” “There’s an elderly woman hanging laundry on the line,” Travis pointed out. “May she have dreams and visions of Isa al Masih, Jesus the Messiah,” he prayed. Betty relaxed, and soon she was praying too. 

Following a bend in the path, they met a woman hanging newly ironed shirts on her front door. They stopped to chat with the woman and her family and had a pleasant conversation over glasses of iced tea. Lisa asked if they could pray for them. “Yes, please do! And come back again soon for tea,” the woman invited.

Betty was delighted with the morning. It wasn’t at all like what she had first imagined when she heard Lisa mention prayer walking, Betty had to admit that prayer walking can be easy and enjoyable, as well as useful in God’s kingdom.

*pseudonyms used

“He Will Take You to a Better Place”

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.Part Two:

Last week we began following the journey of a church (eLife – pastored by Chris Galanos) so intent on making disciples that they were willing to transition away from the traditional church model to do so. We continue with our story just after they found Stan, a coach who would guide them through the process of becoming a church focused on catalyzing movements.

In our training, Stan explained that there are certain elements consistently found in the lives of ordinary believers who are successfully making disciples in movements all over the world.  

Here are a few of the elements briefly summarized:

  • Multiply Extraordinary Prayer. Stan said, “Your prayer life now is ordinary for you. Add something to it to make it extraordinary for you. Keep repeating the process.” 
  • Go Out Among the Lost. We learned to expect the hardest places to yield the greatest results. We began to refer to such places as PIPSY places: P-poor, I-international, P-prisoner, S-sick. (The Y doesn’t stand for anything— it just turns PIPS into an adjective.) Our teams have borne the most fruit by going to PIPSY places to make disciples.
  • Casting Vision – One of the great tragedies of the American church model is an attitude that results in suppressing the gifts, ambitions, and callings of ordinary believers. Churchgoers don’t typically hear the terms disciple-maker or church-planter and think, “That’s me!” We’ve got to recover the “culture of empowerment” of ordinary believers that was evident in the first-century church. Pastors and leaders, I implore you to join me in setting believers free to make disciples and plant churches!

Let me warn you, though. Transitioning a church to focus on Disciple Making Movements (DMM) will cost you in many ways. In Jerry Trousdale’s book The Kingdom Unleashed, David Broodryk, another pastor who embraced DMM, describes the process of pursuing DMM this way:

I really do think that entry into DMM is a death experience: unless the seed falls to the ground and dies, it can bear no fruit. But the problem is, you can’t risk failure without that; risking failure in itself is a sort of death experience. If who you are is dependent on whether this thing works or fails, then you will never take a risk. But if your identity is in Christ, then you say, “I’m going to try this; if it works, great, He gets the glory; and if it doesn’t work—well, it didn’t work, but I am still secure in Him.

You may be asking what happened in eLife. Many people caught the vision! Hundreds went through our DMM training, and some of those formed DMM churches that meet in their homes. Those we sent out began to pursue the lost, not by inviting them to eLife, but by inviting them and their family or friends to read and apply the Bible together in their home. And it’s working! 

In an average week, those in just my DMM church alone will talk to almost as many lost people as our megachurch would receive as first-time guests on a weekend in our heyday. And there are just 35 of us (including kids). It’s amazing what a small group of sold-out, on-fire disciple makers can do when they strategize together and go out among the lost to make disciples and plant churches.

I think I can speak for most people involved in DMM churches by saying it’s one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever been a part of. In so many ways, it’s what I’ve always longed for in church. Not that I didn’t love our church. I did! But our DMM church is just what I pictured when I read the New Testament but felt like I’d never experienced. It’s what I had heard happened overseas but never truly understood.

I hope our story will inspire you to be led by the Spirit because He will take you to better places than anything you could’ve dreamed up. You may not even have a framework for where He’ll take you now. But if you follow Him, He’ll show you just what to do. And chances are, He’ll do infinitely more than you could ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21). Just like he continues to do with us.

Chris’s book, From Megachurch to Multiplication, 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. Get it here.

 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. Read the whole article.

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.

“What Happened Next Was a Blur . . .”

Muharis and Ani met and married shortly after they had each been through a multi-week discipleship training on Disciple Making Movements (DMM) led by Beyond field leaders Ryan and Anna. Muharis and Ani wondered: How would Father God have them serve, in light of his desire for all peoples to hear of his Son? Both couples sought the Lord’s direction for Muharis and Ani’s life. The answer came. Muharis and Ani felt led to live and work among the Bimanese Muslims. Working with Ryan and Anna, they would form a new DMM team. They desired to see the knowledge of Christ and obedience to God’s Word transform this unreached people group. 

Muharis and Ani moved to serve the Bimanese people and soon learned of another upcoming transition. They were expecting a baby! In 2017, Muharis held his baby girl for the first time and heard the doctor pronounce that all was good. Although Ani had needed an emergency C-section to deliver the baby, she would recover as they enjoyed their precious daughter. Muharis was elated.

It should have been a time of pure rejoicing. 

What happened next was a blur to Muharis. Ani was in the recovery room when Muharis noticed a steady stream of blood oozing from his wife’s suture. He called for help. When the doctor arrived, he ordered her back into surgery. As he left to prepare, the doctor stated, “There is a 50-50 shot for me to be able to save your wife.” Muharis turned, saw his newborn daughter next to him, then fell to the floor in shock. He cried out to Father God in prayer. Then he called Ryan. Ryan and Anna mobilized their entire discipleship network in prayer for Ani.

Ani survived the ordeal. But the doctor removed her womb. 

The removal was probably not necessary. A more proficient doctor might have saved Ani without removing her womb, but skilled doctors are rare in such remote places. 

Since that day, God has blessed Muharis and Ani. He has honored their commitment to serve him no matter the personal cost. Their team has seen 117 discovery Bible study groups form. They have four house fellowships of baptized followers who meet regularly and are facilitating a second generation of discovery Bible groups!

Jesus told his disciples that following him would not be easy. We need to count the cost of discipleship.

“Your Words Are No Help to Me . . .”

Not long ago, some disciples of Jesus visited a nearby village in rural north India. Just as Jesus commanded in Luke 10, this small group walked through the village until they found a family interested in talking. They were invited into the hut of this very poor family. After quietly listening to the disciples share their personal testimonies for a while, the wife finally looked at her visitors and said, “You are outsiders. You’re not like me. Your words are no help to me.”

The disciples had to agree. Their lives were very different from hers. They knew that though their words wouldn’t make a difference in her life, Jesus’ words would. They offered her an audio speaker with excerpts of Scripture on it. They said, “Please take this. Listen to God’s Word. His stories will always bring benefit. Listen to them over and over again. But don’t just listen. At the end of each story is a set of questions. Understanding comes through discussing these questions; not just listening to the stories. We can’t always visit you, but you can always have God’s Word.”

After several months, the disciples returned to the village, expecting to find the same depressed woman. Instead, they found happy people! Lots of happy people! The first time they visited, the disciples had only met with the wife and children. This time, the husband was also present, as well as many neighbors and extended family. The disciples asked, “What is the reason you are so different from before?”

The wife began to cry tears of joy. Others cried too. When she was able to speak, she explained that she and her children had listened to the stories. Every day during their afternoon chai break from the fields, they had listened to and discussed a story. Like most Indians, their eldest son and his wife live with them. It was not a happy marriage. Their son was a drunkard who beat his wife regularly. The day he heard Genesis 2 and the creation of Adam and Eve, however, that all changed. Astonished, he had cried out: “This story says that my wife was taken from my rib. That means we are of the same body! But…” looking at his wife he said, “. . . I beat you and drink too much!”

The son repented of his attitude. His marriage improved. Others in the community joined the daily story-hearing and discussion time. Those husbands began to recognize the value of their wives. Those marriages also changed. The wives shared with other women about the stories they were hearing and how their lives were changing. Their husbands no longer beat them, but now saw them as part of themselves.

The disciples of Jesus were thrilled. While their words had been powerless to produce change, God’s Word had been enough. The Holy Spirit had given life to the stories. Today that original family and others in the village have been baptized, are being mentored by a local leader, and are reaching out to their extended families in other villages.

Bold Risk Taking

Bold risk-taking does not come naturally to Jin Yee*so she relied on the Holy Spirit for courage to speak. She remembered the discipleship training she had attended a week before. In the training, they had read through Luke 10:1-16 and Matthew 9:35-10:16 — passages where Jesus instructs his followers on how to go out among the lost. They had also practiced what they would say to someone when moved to do so by the Holy Spirit. Finally, they had prayed for the opportunity and boldness to carry through with all they had learned.

The first woman Jin Yee prayed for wasn’t the person who had come to her mind during the training. But, recognizing the leading of the Holy Spirit, Jin Yee called the woman and asked if she could pray for God’s blessing on an upcoming medical procedure the woman was having. 

During the training, Jin Yee had felt called to pray for her work supervisor. Talking to her about Jesus was a bigger challenge for Jin Yee. The opportunity to talk did not come up naturally during the workday. Being faithful to the leading of the Holy Spirit, however, Jin Yee called her supervisor after hours. She expressed care for her and asked if she could pray in Jesus’ name over some difficulties in the woman’s life.

“I did it!” Jin Yee told Amy, the Beyond missions catalyst who had led the discipleship training. “I faced my fears and openly offered to pray for this woman, and she said ‘yes!’. Not only that, I did it again with the woman we prayed for last week, and she said ‘yes’ too! Now, I realize that this kind of conversation is not as hard as I’d imagined it was.”

Together, the women thanked God for His faithfulness and prayed for broader openings to have spiritual conversations with these women in the following weeks. In faith, they chose and practiced telling short stories from the Bible to share when those openings came.

The work of birthing and sustaining a Disciple Making Movement remains the work of the Holy Spirit. Both the sharer and the receiver of the message rely on his power and guidance.

*pseudonyms used

“What Are We Going to Do When These People Show Up . . .”

It was the night before ten of Alison’s* friends would come over to study what the Bible said about God’s heart for the lost. Her roommate, Karly, a Beyond field worker, had just finished making muffins and asked, “How are you feeling about leading the training?”  But Alison thought Karly’s team leader was coming to facilitate the training!  “Oh dear!” Alison said. “What are we going to do when these people show up in twelve hours?”  Even though Karly had only had four months of learning the local language, she was convinced they could do it without the guest “expert.” Alison could give the introduction, and Karly would lead the Scripture study herself. Feeling good about Karly’s plan, Alison turned to comfort her friend, “Don’t worry. You can speak English.”

The next day everyone arrived and began to meet, greet, and catch up in the local language. As Alison introduced the training in their native tongue, Karly started to think through all the questions she planned to ask . . .. “Who would like to read 2 Peter 3:9?”  “What can we learn about God’s heart from these verses?”  “Who does God want to be saved?” etc… “Can I do it in my new language?” Karly wondered. She knew it was worth a try.  “Give me words, Lord!” she prayed. “You are the Teacher.” 

God came through for Karly, and Alison’s friends were able to learn about Jesus’ strategy in their native language. As they closed, Alison encouraged the group to pass it on. “Anyone can lead this training. See, Karly’s had only four months of language learning, and she can lead it!” Karly agreed, “It’s not about us. I love that God set me up to lead my first training through a miscommunication, long before I would have felt ready!”

Don’t Give Up

When Ying Kai was a young student in Taiwan, he worked hard to pass an important exam that would enable him to get into a good middle school. He really wanted a new bicycle to ride 30 minutes to the new school, but doubted he would get it since his family was so poor. One day, however, as he passed his parents’ bedroom, he heard his father comment to his mother that he would buy a new bicycle for Ying. Ying was overjoyed. That night before bed, he asked his father for a new bicycle. But his father said “no!” Ying was perplexed but did not give up because he knew his father’s heart! As he persisted, his father finally said “yes.” The next day he had a new bicycle.

Ying says: “Because I knew my father’s heart, I never gave up. If I didn’t know his heart, I probably would have given up. So if we know our heavenly Father’s heart, we will have more confidence to do what He wants us to do.” 

God chooses you to save you and all those who belong to you. This is your heavenly Father’s heart. If you know his heart, then you will not give up asking Him for what is on His heart. The responsibility is yours – to witness to your own. Don’t give up! God will eventually save many of them.*

The Heart of the Father is the topic for Beyond’s first Nugget of 2020! Nuggets are free, online discipleship trainings led by experienced missions practitioners. This semester our Nugget training series will cover the essentials to building and sustaining a Church Planting Movement through a tool called “The Heart and Four Fields.” It’s easy to join. All you need is an internet connection, a device with audio and video capabilities, and a desire to participate. 

*excerpted from T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution by Steve Smith with Ying Kai

The First Christmas Celebration: Not What You May Think

This year, some people are celebrating their first Christmas ever!  Many others, twenty centuries after the first Christmas, are still waiting!

In the 1950s, my parents saw in a new way the true joy of Christmas. A young Indonesian man had recently come to faith and was thrilled that “now, I can celebrate Jesus’ birth too” as he joined the all-day Christmas celebration held by a fledgling church in a previously unreached area.

About the same time, a 70+ year old Indonesian woman heard (via a tape recording in her own language) her first story ever about Jesus.  She turned to my dad with tears in her eyes and with sobs in her voice and said, “If what this man says is true, my whole life has been in vain!  Why did it take so long for someone to tell me this news?”

60+ years later, we continue to hear reports of essentially the same question asked by many in the Middle East, in Africa, in India, in China and in many other places: “If people have known of this Jesus for so long, why has it taken so long for someone to tell us?”

Have you noticed who God selected to hear His first Christmas announcement: ordinary – you might even say poor – people (the shepherds). And people from a distant land: (the Magi / Wise Men). The shepherds responded in faith by both hurrying to the new baby and by spreading this amazing story to all who would listen.  The Magi responded with such faith in God that they understood the meaning of the star, were willing to make a long journey, gave expensive gifts, and bowed in worship to Jesus.

Please help speed the Christmas message to the 2.3 billion who have never heard and are still waiting!  Join us in the joyful urgency of getting the news of Christmas to the poor and those in distant lands. We want to do this as soon as possible, so that hundreds of thousands (or more) will celebrate Christmas for the first time next year!

S. Kent Parks, Ph.D.
President & CEO