Why not, Canada? Learning how to create Disciple-Making Movements

Carol and Murray Moerman

By Murray Moerman

My colleague Trevor Larsen (not his real name) has seen thousands of people come to Christ in a movement doubling every 18 months for the last 10 years – in a cultural environment more resistant to the gospel than post-Christian Canada. The principles are simple and applicable anywhere.

I first heard of Trevor as part of my work with the Global Church Planting Network, and I’m thrilled that he is coming to speak and train at Missions Fest Vancouver this month (and at two local churches in the following days, as you can see below).

We Canadian Christians can learn a lot from people like Trevor. Don’t we often feel the cultural gap between the church and those they seek to reach in the name of Christ? Many Christians sense themselves to be at the margins of society.

At the same time we often hear stories from Africa and Asia reporting effective disciple-making on a comparatively large scale.

Why not in Canada?

A variety of Canadian groups are asking this question also and experimenting with various responses. Here are some examples, many from here in British Columbia, that we should all know about.

International students

International Student Ministries Canada has been refining what has been learned overseas and adapting that to the university campus.

Yaw Perbi is the African-Canadian national director behind the decision to train all ISMC staff and volunteers in the principles of engaging students with values questions.

The goal of this approach is not framed in terms of bringing non-Christians to a decision to accept Christ; rather it’s framed as a discussion-based learning process leading to disciple-making and faith-sharing. Details are available here.

Effective discipleship

Rob Stewart has been district superintendent of the Lower Pacific District of the Evangelical Free Church for 15 years. He comments:

While every church will speak of discipleship, few do so effectively. Recently, we have begun church planting through focusing on making and growing new disciples of Christ, who will then multiply and become part of new churches.

We already see that God is using this approach to build new works and encourage existing churches. A symbiotic relationship is developing, where churches, by assisting church plants in this disciple-making process, are themselves better equipped for outreach and discipleship.

Allen Chang, a church planter with the Evangelical Free Church in South Surrey, says Discovery Bible Study and Disciple-Making Movement (DBS and DMM) principles have helped empower his entire core church planting team as makers of disciple-makers:

The principles are helping to shape a posture of listening to the Holy Spirit, trusting God’s Word, and responding with our lives. We are witnessing dramatic testimonies of personal transformation and engagement with non-believers.

From the Czech Republic to Canada

Jonathan Luesink, a church planter in Prague, Czechia with Avant Ministries, used DBS principles with his team to start a church there. Upon returning to Canada he got to chatting with several men in restaurant in Saskatoon and, describing this to them, one non-believing fellow interrupted saying “I’d do that!”

So, why not in Canada?

Tools available

High quality tools and training are emerging. Consider some of these links:

  • What is a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM)? here
  • What is a Discovery Bible Study (DBS)? here
  • Clear, helpful app from International Student Ministries: here

Training opportunities

Following his time at Missions Fest, Trevor will share case studies during Why Not Canada? events at two churches, one in Burnaby (Jan. 29) and one in Surrey (Jan. 30).

His focus here will be on helping church leaders develop a “second rail” in which lay leaders are trained to coach discovery groups outside of the church. Trevor has seen – after four years on average – coaches in each church multiply disciples leading to a fourth generation of about 400 believers.

Download a brochure here. Here’s some great related reading material (those who will be attending are invited to read these ahead of time):

  • Two-rail case studies from Trevor’s ministry here
  • Summary of Roy Moran’s Spent Matches here
  • Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery here

For readers in B.C., details on joining these training opportunity details are available at Outreach.ca.

Why not, Canada?

Before his involvement with the Global Church Planting Network, Murray Moerman was founding pastor of New Life Community Church in Burnaby, B.C., and with his wife Carol joined Outreach Canada to undertake a DAWN-type initiative which came to be known as Church Planting Canada. This post is adapted with permission from ChurchForVancouver.ca.

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