What on Earth is a Disciple Making Community (DMC)?
Erica Morrison (with Yaw Perbi)
The mission of every believer in Jesus is to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ[i] from every nation, people group, tribe and tongue[ii] until the whole earth is filled with the knowledge and awareness of the glory of God just as the waters fill the seas[iii]. A disciple of Jesus is one who is led by Jesus (intimacy), lives and leads like Jesus (character) and leads others to Jesus (mission)[iv]. In the quest to be and make disciples, Disciple Making Communities (DMCs) have been found to be a strategic and non-negotiable element in order to see not just trickles of disciples but Disciple Making Movements (DMMs).
In this simple but comprehensive article, we explore the following:
- What a Disciple Making Community (DMC) is
- What a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) is
- What We Do in a DMC
- DMM Tools to Practice.
1. What is a Disciple Making Community or DMC?
A Disciple Making Community is a community of Christians that meets together regularly (weekly or biweekly) to talk together about how the last week’s disciple-making efforts went, look into scripture and learn about the principles of Disciple Making Movements, strategize about the coming week, encourage and pray for one another. You are God’s disciple-making arrows (Psalm 127:4) and a DMC is your quiver (Kwiverr).
The purpose of a DMC is really about what happens OUTSIDE the meeting. It is a very “action-focused” meeting in which attendees are challenged to take specific steps in the next week or two that will build habits of effective disciple-making in their lives. There is also positive accountability built into the group, in order to motivate members to take those next steps.
Various disciple making tribes globally have varying forms of a DMC, but most of the ideas of a DMC here can be attributed to Contagious Disciple Making, an organization dedicated to helping Christians go out there to make disciples and start Disciple Making Movements.
A DMC is meant to, ideally, be an ongoing group that helps with continued growth in disciple-making the DMM way.
2. What is DMM or Disciple Making Movements?
The simple definition of a Disciple Making Movement is when disciples of Jesus make more disciples of Jesus and it multiplies out with more and more people coming to Christ and making Him both Saviour and Lord of their lives. These disciples are not simply “converts” who call themselves Christians, but they are people who truly seek to follow the Lord in obedience and in sharing God’s stories with others.
The technical definition of a movement regarding how many people having come to Christ and/or how many indigenous church plants over a three to four-year period can be found here.
The key tool for DMM is the Discovery Bible Study which helps unbelievers discover for themselves the story of God and what He is saying to them specifically and individually. They are taught through the Discovery Bible Study to hear from God for themselves and to obey what He is saying to them right away as well as share the story with others.
One of the first Disciple Making Movements in modern times was started under the leadership of David Watson, a missionary who worked in dangerous, very hard-to-reach places. After coming to the end of his rope in an area of northern India because many missionaries he trained were killed not long after (with seemingly no results for the gospel), he sought God in desperation about how to make disciples there. Over several months he believed God revealed to him certain principles of disciple-making from the Word that he had not seen before. After putting that learning into practice over the following years, in time the place he was working that had been called the “graveyard of missionaries” is now called a “reached people group” because of all the thousands and thousands of disciples that have been made who are obedient followers of Christ and multiplying because of the principles of DMM.
3. What do we do in a DMC (Disciple Making Community)?
It’s important to realize that a DMC is not a course where we simply learn, discuss and memorize the information. It is a community very much focused on action outside the group. What we want to see is each person in attendance doing the assigned action steps each week as God enables them and any other little steps they sense God is leading them into. We focus on doing “stretching baby steps”. Everyone is at different places in different areas of their lives, and we just ask that each person take action based on where they are—we celebrate that!
DMCs typically have a three-part rhythm to them: looking back, looking up and looking ahead.
Looking Back: We usually start the DMC by asking each person (often in small groups) how the action steps went last week, such as the prayer calendar or forming a friendship with an unbeliever. This positive accountability keeps us moving forward, since we know that next time we will be asked how things went.
Looking Up: After the celebration/positive accountability time, the leader teaches on a certain principle of DMM and/or they all practice Discovery Bible Study together. There is often discussion and then…
Looking Forward: There are action steps assigned for the next week. Finally, we get in small groups and pray for each other and specific unbelievers on our hearts. Along with the action steps, there is often homework of a few podcasts, videos and/or articles to take in in preparation for the next DMC meeting.
By the way, if you come to love the theories and practices of Disciple Making Movements, we highly recommend the course offered by Contagious Disciple Making called “The Philosophy and Strategy of Disciple Making Movements”. There you will learn even more about DMM principles and strategies, philosophies and tactics, theologies and stories. Yaw has taken this course and highly recommends it.
Contagious Disciple Making also now has an app you may be interested in checking out—Contagious Disciple Making App—where you can find podcasts, articles, and stories of how God is working through disciple-makers around the world, using the DMM methods.
4. DMM Tools we will Practice Using:
Contagious Disciple Making has developed certain effective tools to help Christians put the Disciple Making Movement principles into action. We seek to understand and implement these tools as we go along in the DMC. Here are some details about some of the main tools below:
1. Prayer Calendar: Call, text or email 30 people you know, one each day of the month (then repeat next month and so on). When you get the person’s prayer request, leave a typed or recorded prayer or pray out loud for them on the phone. The prayer calendar’s purpose is to raise a culture of praying for one another (as the Bible commands us to) and raises people’s belief in God’s desire to work through our prayers. Prayer is the #1 thing we need in a disciple making movement, so raising a culture of prayer will lead others to pray more for disciple making. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work,” says Oswald Chambers.
2. Social Media Prayer Platforms: You will be asked to join one or more social media prayer platforms (usually WhatsApp and Facebook). This is a place where we are each encouraged to leave a prayer request each week and where others in the group can leave typed/recorded prayers below the request. At Kwiverr, we encourage this on two levels: first, small groups of five called ‘Hi Five’ groups and then joining the larger conglomeration of “Hi Five’ groups on Facebook. Again, prayer is key.
3. Conversation Quadrants: This is a simple tool we do on paper, which helps us make genuine friendships with unbelievers who are on our hearts and keep track of where we are on a conversational level with them. The emphasis is on praying for God to move the conversation forward, not on us to “make” it move. If people are enjoying the discovery conversation stage (talking about stories in the Bible), they will likely want to start a Discovery Bible Study with you.
4. The Discovery Bible Study: It bears repeating that this is a key tool of DMM. We practice the DBS together in DMCs and you will learn many tips for facilitating a Discovery Bible Study. In a DBS, there are certain questions that are always asked during each study. The other person or people in the group respond to the questions.
The purpose of the DBS is for God to reveal himself to the participants in the study, so that they will come to see the truth and accept him as Lord and Saviour. But even from the beginning of the study, unbelievers are expected to come up with a small goal of how they will apply the Bible story to their lives that week, therefore already being disciples of Jesus—obedient to what He is telling them. They will also be asked to share the story with someone of their choosing. When they do these things consistently, this is a good indication that they are a true disciple who is on their way to crossing the line of faith and committing themselves 100% to the Lord. These new believers are then ‘gathered’ into groups of fellow believers where they are baptised and continue on in obedience to the Lord and pursuing his mission. These may be called churches or missional communities.
5. Coaching: No Disciple Making Movement has ever happened without ongoing coaching, according to Contagious Disciple Making. As a member of a DMC, one receives periodic coaching through email, SMS and voice recordings back and forth, phone or video calls and of course, in-person. Coaching will help you have even more motivation, resources, positively accountability and help you better discern your next steps. Coaching may be on-on-one or one-one-few. One-on-ones outside of the DMC are powerful and effective.
When at the end of time, a great multitude which no man can count (quantitative) gathers before the throne of God and before the Lamb in worship from every nation, tribe, people group and language (quantitative), how many would you have contributed through your disciple making lifestyle and resources, communities and movements? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more or are interested in starting or joining a DMC. Start or join a DMC today!
[i] Matthew 28:18-20
[ii] Revelation 5:9, 7:9
[iii] Habakkuk 2:14
[iv] Modification of Leighton Ford’s mantra which has become the tagline of the ministry he founded called Arrow Leadership.
Erica Morrison lives near London, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two young boys. She is staff of International Students Ministries Canada (ISMC) and Associate Coach with Kwiverr, pursuing her passion for reaching out with the love of God to encourage and help students maximize their full potential. She is being coached by Contagious Disciple Making on how to see disciple making movements among international students, and she is passing on what she is learning to staff and others who want to learn same. Dr. Yaw Perbi is the immediate past President of ISMC and founding International Director of Kwiverr.