I want to share a little about one of the key aspects of Disciple Making Movements (DMM): multiplication. Rapid multiplication is something which characterises DMM.
What do I mean by multiplication? Well, multiplication of Discovery Groups (doing Discovery Bible Studies), multiplication of new Christians, multiplication of leaders and multiplication of new churches. Note that new churches come at the end — to bring together the new Christians — not at the beginning (as you may have been used to).
You may well say that multiplication is what we are all trying to bring about, whether we’re involved in DMM or not. That is true, of course. However, DMM approaches multiplication in a different way. How is it different?
With a traditional church home group, for example, we usually let the group grow to the point where it is becoming a bit too large and then we split the group into two. To do this, we need three things: a new leader, a new venue and the agreement of the members of the group. All three can pose significant problems. A new leader needs to be able to teach and lead — good leaders are often in short supply! A new venue needs to be suitable and convenient for the members. People in the group have got used to each other and like the old (large) group: resistance to splitting into two can be quite strong… These issues can be seriously magnified when we try to split a whole church into two by planting a new church in a new location. Wow, multiplication seems very difficult! In fact, trying to do things this way too often results in failure. The problems can be overcome, of course, and this type of multiplication is perfectly valid.
DMM avoids these issues in several key ways. First, we never split a group into two. So how do groups multiply? A Discovery Group is ideally composed of 5 to 8 family members and friends: it generally works much better not to invite a group of strangers to get together. Now, when one of the members of the group, Peter, says “I’ve been talking about what we are doing here with my friend John and he would like to come along too — is that OK?” the answer is ALWAYS “No!” Why? Because adding new people quickly takes the group beyond its optimal size. Secondly, the new person may be a friend of John, but he may well not be known to the other group members, which means sharing in the group is impeded. Thirdly, adding new people often impedes multiplication, because splitting into two groups often does not work.
So what do we do with Peter’s friend John? We say to Peter: “It’s great that your friend is interested! What we will do is form a brand new group with you, John and some of John’s family and friends, at John’s home.”
The obvious question is now “But who will lead the new group?” The answer is “Nobody!” Discovery Groups do not have leaders or teachers, only facilitators: the only leader and teacher is the Holy Spirit! So this means Peter can become the facilitator of the new group. Usually at this point someone will point out that Peter may not yet be a Christian! There are two aspects to the response to this. Firstly, the fact that Peter is talking with his friend John about what he has been doing means that he is somewhere on the road to eventually becoming a disciple of Jesus (even if he’s not there yet). Secondly it does not matter anyway, because Peter is a facilitator and not a teacher or leader. Of course, the experienced Christian who began facilitating the original group will help Peter to facilitate the new group, by getting together with him regularly to coach and mentor him — which helps Peter even more towards becoming a disciple of Jesus.
The same ideas can apply, with modifications, to multiplication of churches. Effectively, DMM takes every possible opportunity to form new groups, not by splitting existing groups but by forming a new group around one member of an existing group. It is this “form a new group whenever possible” idea which results in the significant and rapid multiplication for which DMM is known.
So, please can we ask you to pray that when we are able to see Discovery Groups started God would help us avoid the temptation of adding new members to the groups and then trying to divide by splitting. Pray that God would make us alert to the Peters in the groups we facilitate, who are ready to facilitate their own group with family and friends, coached and mentored by us. Please pray that God would graciously allow us to see significant multiplication here on the Plateau Picard: of Discovery Groups, of new Christians and of new churches. Pray that we would be ready to take every opportunity to start new groups. Pray that we would be ready to coach and mentor new facilitators.
We know that multiplication usually takes some while to get going, we do need to be patient, but we need also to keep our eyes on the goal.