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From No Motivation to Seeing Multiplication

Justin is a disciple-maker in Slovenia. Upon moving there with his family and a team of missionaries, he thought reaching the lost would be a matter of crafting appealing programs and getting people plugged into his organization. What he soon discovered was that his plans weren't working and he was rapidly burning out. Running low on motivation and open to new ideas, Justin heard about Disciple Making Movement and began changing the way he and his team engaged the lost around them. What followed was fruit like he'd never seen before. Here is Justin to share his experience of seeing God move mightily in and through his team.

Great Expectations

"I was tired, burnt out and, frankly, just felt like quitting."

My family and I moved to Slovenia about eight years ago. We're employed by a missions organization that sent us to focus on the youth here, mostly university and high school students. People in Slovenia, like anywhere else, are hungry for something to give their lives purpose. Obviously we know they're looking for God but they don't know where to look, so they turn to all kinds of other things. We came ready to show them where to look.

In hindsight, it's easy to see that I came here with a lot of pride believing we were going to save the day. I thought we'd simply implement the trainings we received in the U.S. and watch things in Slovenia take off within a couple years.

That didn't happen.

After five years with very little to show, it was painfully obvious that we had no idea what we were doing. We had no shortage of spiritually open people that we were interacting with, but we didn't have a good way to journey alongside them.

Most of them were biblically illiterate, yet we were using tools — the tools we were told were standard — and speaking in a manner that assumed they knew more about God and the Bible than they actually did. They couldn't understand what we were telling them and we didn't know anything different. It simply wasn't working. On top of all of that, I was tired, burnt out and, frankly, just felt like quitting.

Champions Adjust

"I got in touch with some of the folks I'd heard of and learned what it was they were all buzzing about. Something called DMM. Disciple Making Movement."

It was through this process of failure and burnout that God started opening me up to trying new things and convicting me of my priorities. You see, when we would meet a non-Christian, we would immediately try to get them to come to our programs and get plugged into our organization.

As I reflected on this, I felt God ask me whether I was trying to build up the kingdom of my missions organization or build up His kingdom. Of course I wanted to believe that all I did was for God and His glory, but I had to be honest and admit that I was preoccupied with establishing my own little sphere of influence and making sure my ministries succeeded.

That admission, mixed with the agonizing sense of futility and burnout I felt, produced in me a profound realization that something needed to change. I didn't know what it was, but there had to be a better way.

I started hearing whispers and rumors about Christians who, instead of striving to get people to come to their churches or programs, were helping nonbelievers start groups in their homes, or at the bar, or in the park.

Well that's interesting, I thought.

I heard of another guy, a church planter here in Slovenia, who cancelled his Sunday morning service and was having people meet together in their homes. It all sounded pretty radical to me, maybe even heretical; nonetheless, I knew my team and I had to change the way we reached the lost or we'd be doomed to repeat the failings of the last five years.

I got in touch with some of the folks I'd heard of and learned what it was they were all buzzing about. Something called DMM. Disciple Making Movement.

It wasn't long after that that I got connected with Contagious Disciple Making and began changing the way my team and I engaged the lost people around us. Instead of finding a few spiritually interested people scattered here or there and trying to get them to come to us, which we'd tried before, we left them right where they were. Instead of using a gospel presentation, we simply shared Bible stories with them.

These could be stories the Holy Spirit put on our hearts to share or stories that we thought could resonate with them based on the needs they expressed. If they shared the stories with their friends and family and asked what they thought about them, then we'd see if they were in a position to start a Discovery Group.

That's when we started seeing successes.

Next-Gen Disciple-Making

"The Discovery Bible Study is that simple and that reproducible."

There's a local Slovenian woman on our team who is absolutely fantastic. We’ll call her Deborah. Deborah helped another woman in our city start a Discovery Group in which the members all non-believers, are reading, sharing and obeying God’s Word together.

The woman who facilitates it told Deborah, “You know, before I met you, my Bible was just sitting on the shelf collecting dust. But now I’m opening it and it’s changing my life. I have some other friends who would like to do this too; would you be willing to meet them and help them start a group?”

“I mean, I could," Deborah replied, "but since you’ve been doing this for a little while and know how it works, how about you help them get it started instead?”

Some time later, Deborah visited this other group, still expecting that her friend was in need of guidance to get it off the ground. To her utter shock, Deborah found that the woman she was discipling, who was not yet a believer, had already guided her three other friends through six meetings without Deborah being involved in a single one.

She had stuck faithfully to the DBS format that Deborah had shown her and was now helping her unbelieving friends discover God even as she discovered Him herself.

In the past we would’ve been lucky to have a person come to one of our programs, let alone take initiative to invite someone else as well. We are now seeing nonbelievers not only study God’s Word to discover who He is for themselves, but also obey what they learn and share it with their loved ones until they have Discovery Groups. Then those Discovery Groups multiply out to the next generation.

The Discovery Bible Study is that simple and that reproducible. We’re not merely seeing addition, we’re seeing multiplication, and lives are being transformed.

An Instagram Page Is Reaching 700 People

"One user noticed how many young people were on the page and asked if being forty-seven made them too old to do this with their friends."

It's been an absolute joy getting to train and empower the local Slovenians on our team to reach the lost around them. They've been invaluable in our efforts here because they obviously speak the language better than we do, know the culture and customs better than we do, and know how to reach their lost countrymen better than we do.

Here's a story to illustrate this point.

Over the summer, a group of women started an instagram page in which they'd share Bible verses and their experiences of how God had been working in their lives. Now, there is a strong Roman Catholic presence within the culture of Slovenia and so many people would consider themselves religious, though they have never experienced God or His Word for themselves.

Within a couple months of starting this page — just for themselves, mind you; not to become internet influencers or anything — these women gained something like 700 followers. Seven hundred people on this page where they share prayers, scriptures and celebration stories. They’ve even shared about the Prayer Calendar tool, how to use it, and regularly ask members how they can be praying for them.

A few folks have messaged them saying, “Hey! I’ve seen the way you guys read the Bible. Can you show me how to do that?” One user noticed how many young people were on the page and asked if being forty-seven made them too old to do this with their friends. I think they were legitimately concerned their age disqualified them from Bible study.

All this to say, I couldn’t do what these women did, or what any of the Slovenians we're discipling can do, for that matter. The simple reason being who I am and where my passport is from. I'm a foreigner, an outsider. Certainly there’s a role that a foreigner like me has to play here but, like I said, these local men and women just understand the culture in a way that I don’t, and the multiplication proves that.

We're Always on the Same Team

"There's no competition for whose organization has more disciples or territory covered. We celebrate their victories and they celebrate ours because we’re all on the same team."

This shift to DMM hasn’t simply changed our relationship with nonbelievers either, it’s brought us closer to other missionaries who are doing the same thing that we are.

There are believers here from other missionary agencies who are doing the exact same thing we are and so we keep in touch. There's no competition for whose organization has more disciples or territory covered. We celebrate their victories and they celebrate ours because we’re all on the same team.

We share a love for this country and its people, as well as a deep yearning to see God's kingdom come to them.

No Prayer, No Progress

"A missionary who doesn’t pray is no missionary at all."

In closing, I would just add that prayer has been an essential part of this entire process.

If a basketball player never plays basketball, they’re not really a basketball player. The same goes for a missionary and prayer. A missionary who doesn’t pray is no missionary at all.

The most important work we can do is pray and mobilize others to pray because prayer is the fuel for everything. My team and I pray personally, go on prayer walks, and mobilize prayer exponentially more than we did when we first came to Slovenia. And we've seen it make such a difference.

God has a plan and is doing something wonderful here and we've seen some amazing victories and overcome some tough obstacles. But this is only the beginning and there are still so many more obstacles to overcome. We keep pressing on knowing that God knows what He’s doing and that we need to get on the same page as Him.

Please continue to pray for the work here, that God’s kingdom would come and for His will to be done in and through us.

Thank you.

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