1. ESTABLISHING THE RIGHT SPIRITUAL DNA
When a baby bird is first born it’s mental DNA is programmed by to lock onto the first adult bird it looks at and from that moment on assume it is their parent. This really helps when you have a flock of birds in the thousands. However, funny things then happen if another animal is the first thing they see when they are born!
So the first things that happen in the first week or two after a person, a family, or a group become a new disciples will set in place the DNA of their future walk with God. If the first thing they do is go to a traditional Western church that pattern of doing Christianity will become locked in and growth stops. However, if it is praying for and winning their friends and family for Jesus then that will become locked in as normal instead.
We MUST set up the right DNA from the beginning.
2. WHERE TO START?
1. Ground zero
Start by remembering that many things will have just happened to them such as:
1. The creator of the universe entering their heart for the very first time.
2. A healing or a miracle.
3. Sudden concern for spiritual condition of others.
4. An inner peace and an awareness of sin.
5. Strange but wonderful feelings hitting their heart, washing them on the inside.
6. A new found ability to overcome sin.
7. A desire to read the Bible.
These are all the exciting things Jesus meant when he declared his mission statement in Luke 4:18-19 was to set people free. This is the heart of the Good News (Ezekiel 36:24-32). They will be ready to go!
2. Instant growth
Next, ask them if they know anyone else close by who needs to hear this message that has just changed their life. If so, ask the new disciple to go get them and together share the Gospel with them. Give time for the new disciple to share about how Jesus just set them free. This cements their role as an evangelist straight away, declares their new faith publically, could see others come to faith, and makes them responsible for the salvation of their oikos.
3. Begin a DBS on the 9 commands of Jesus
Next, organise to start doing Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) with them as soon as possible so they can begin to discover how to live the Christian life. Nearly all experienced DMM trainers and leaders will also say that if you do not start discipling within 48 hours it becomes harder to gain momentum. They call it the Rule of 48! So try to have the first one within two days.
The first lessons will be on the 9 specific commands of Jesus:
1. Turn and believe
4. Make disciples
Do as many DBS studies as they are happy to do, but don’t drag it out. Let them set the pace but definitely do more than one a week. These commands are elaborated on in more detail in a later lesson called The Nine Commands Of Jesus. A DBS will challenge the new disciple or disciples to share what they have learned with someone else, and to put into practice what they have learned. They are then held accountable the next meeting to have obeyed the lesson.
As well as starting a DBS, encourage them to dive into the scriptures on their own as much as possible, showing them where the Gospels are and starting there. Prayer with the Lord will come naturally for most if they are from a Muslim background as many will be coming from a religious tradition that strongly emphasises ritual prayer. However, now it is personal and relational, with God speaking to them directly (John 17:3). This will be very exciting for them. Encourage it.
4. Start fishing immediately
Always ask them to invite their friends and family to the DBS and always have the DBS at their preferred location, not yours. The Gospel grows best where it is planted. The change in their lives will be evident to their oikos. They will be excited and this will create interest. Older traditional Christian believers sometimes feel ashamed of sharing the Gospel. A new believer will be excited to do the exact same thing (Romans 1:16, 2 Timothy 1:8).
If in a hostile culture then these studies may be need to be one-on-one for a while until they are sure of their new faith. If you are working with a person of peace (Luke 10:1-7) or a 4th soil person (Luke 8:8) who has influence over their household or community then it will be totally different and they can gather others easily.
Most Indian DMM movements teach a new disciple how to prayer walk their local area immediately after salvation. They ask the Holy Spirit for the next soul and Person of peace and opportunities to see healings and miracles. The first time you go out they watch you do it. Next time they participate. Soon they can do it on their own or with other new believers. This is a great practice for them to later repeat when they are discipling others. It’s great spiritual DNA.
Ying Kai saw 2 million people discipled in his movement and he set a minimum of five Gospel seeds being sown by every believer in the movement every week. This is a good idea and if you model it they will automatically pick it up as well, especially if you take them out sowing with you as soon as possible. This is also great spiritual DNA.
5. Teach them about God’s voice and the Holy Spirit
These are two vital things to impart early. The earlier they can clearly hear God’s voice the more quickly he can guide them directly. He said his sheep will hear his voice (John 10:27-28). Hearing the Father’s instructions was the cause of most of Jesus’ miracles and healings. However instead of weighing down this lesson with details on how to do this, it is treated separately in today’s lesson called The Role of the Holy Spirit in Discipling.
5. Just love them!
Sometimes in traditional evangelism we count numbers and brag. Not so with DMM. It is NEVER about numbers. God takes care of that because it’s his church. He owns the movement and we are privileged participants. Your motivation should be a heart of love reaching out to a heart that is suffering under Satan (1 Peter 5:8). Love is the language of heaven. It is the heartbeat of God. It is the core of his being. Reflect this to those you win for Jesus (John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:7-21). Everyone responds well to love.
3. WHEN TO STOP!
1. Rule: Women disciple women, men disciple men.
If you are of the opposite gender as your new disciple, such as in Luke chapter 4 when the woman at the well met Jesus, then stop discipling as soon as possible after their salvation and fetch someone of their gender to take over. Satan has ruined too many salvations because of temptation. This should not be a problem in most countries across the Middle East and South Asia as evangelism is mostly along gender lines.
2. Backing off is healthy
Normally you will lead the first 3-5 Discovery Bible Studies but after than you should watch and help as the new believer or group of new believers slowly assumes ownership of the Bible study once they know the pattern.
If there are several people being discipled then you should eventually stop going to their DBS, but only after you know things are on a solid foundation. From then on you are an outside mentor to the emerging leader. We will talk more about this when discussing the Fourth Field. Your new disciple could be already seeking to duplicate the discipleship process in even more people. If you lead much longer than 4-5 times you will automatically create relational dependency. This is not healthy spiritual DNA. This is all about their salvation and their discipleship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You are just the coach.
The same principle applies to the many other aspects of their training and growth in God that will be taking place as well; train them to competence and obedience then back off. Spiritual children need to test their wings. Restricting most believers from the work of the ministry is the great failing of Western Christianity. Encourage your new disciple to grow and test their new skills, and in pairs if at all possible.
3. Final Thought
All of the above wisdom in this lesson is just a guide gleaned from many movement leaders sharing their own experiences of discipling new believers. Always be led by the Holy Spirit in everything.
Any follower of Jesus can disciple others. Every believer should actually be discipling someone. If you do not know any new believers yet, start discipling someone in your family or among your friends using the methods outlined in these lessons. This is great training. As you disciple an existing believer they may just begin to get the vision of joining you in the harvest!