What is a Disciple Making Movement?
By Danny Armstrong
Around Globe International, we talk about Disciple Making Movements a lot. What is it? How do I recognize it? Do I want to be a part of it? Christian terminology can be confusing sometimes. Let’s try to bring some clarity to this term “Disciple Making Movement” – we’ll use DMM for short.
First of all, DMM is often used with another term CPM (Church Planting Movement). Some use these terms somewhat interchangeably, some do not. Usually, if there are disciples making disciples, you will have groups (or churches) multiplying as well.
Back to the original question, “What is a DMM?” Simply put, a DMM is a rapid multiplication of disciples. Paul charged Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim 2:2 NIV). This illustrates 4 generations of disciples – from Paul to Timothy to reliable people to others. This basic pattern is how the small band of Jesus Followers in the first century became dominant in the Roman Empire within four centuries. This is also how in our time small groups of believers, usually in very restrictive cultures and governments, have grown to millions of Christ Followers within years, NOT decades or centuries. In some of these places, we see examples of growth that is even faster than the population growth, which means that the percentage of Christ Followers (disciples) is growing in relation to the total population.
There are several key characteristics that will help to clarify a true DMM. First of all, there are obedient disciples (Jesus Followers). These are disciples who are actively sharing the Gospel with others. Secondly, these are local (indigenous) disciples. For a DMM to rapidly multiply there must be local disciples active and leading the movement, wherever it is. Thirdly, groups must be multiplying rapidly. The groups may be called house churches, discipleship groups, story groups, etc. Whatever they are called they are a group of people who are following Jesus and committed to obeying HIS commands together. In DMMs the emphasis is not on growing a large church that requires buildings, staff, and large budgets but in multiplying small groups of disciples who make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples…
There was one man who was challenged to share the Gospel and attended a week of DMM training. He returned home and began to pray and share. He began praying and walking through a community in his city. He met some people who were already Jesus Followers and they met others who soon became disciples. Within a few years, there were many new disciples – in the 100s. There were scores of groups, “house churches”, and these disciples came from many different religious, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. This happened in a US city! But, it doesn’t end there. One of the disciples was from the Caribbean. He returned home and is seeing the beginnings of a DMM there.
Another was from Asia. He returned home and has seen the beginnings of a DMM in a South Asian nation. You may say this is unbelievable! How can this happen? I agree, but I have met the people involved in this. It is true. This started with one man, an obedient disciple of Jesus. What if we could be part of something like this? Why not?