To get this blog in your inbox, Subscribe Here for free

“How do I create Lean Experiments?”

Several people wrote in in response to last week’s post regarding Lean Experiments for finding People of Peace. All were essentially asking for more ideas about experiments to run, or how to create experiments.

In this post, I’m briefly going to share the system I use for creating “Lean Experiments.” The idea is to have something very simple, which enables you to run new experiments just as fast as the last experiment can be evaluated.

On a large table, I’ve set up a series of 9 Post-It Notes, running vertically down the table one right after the other, each forming a “row.”

The Post-It notes are, in order:

  1. Leap of Faith Assumption
  2. Hypothesis (Specific, Measurable description of LoA)
  3. Experiment: minimum req’d to test hypothesis
  4. Behavior: how experiment shows results (aim for visible action–no surveys)
  5. Success Goal / Target Metric / Commit to the Finish Line
  6. Actual Result
  7. Why / Observed Behavior
  8. New Insight
  9. Resulting Decision

I “create” an experiment simply by putting Post-It notes to the right, in a column, answering these questions.

The Leap of Faith Assumption is the broad overarching idea you have.
“There is a Person of Peace in this town.”

The Hypothesis is the specific thing you want to test with regard to the LoA:
“People of Peace can best be found through interactions in marketplaces.”
You can develop hypotheses by mapping out a place and asking questions about who/where/when/how People of Peace might be found. Markets? Streets? Business relationships? Refugee camps? Clinics? Mornings? Afternoons? Evenings?

Now, you need an Experiment to test the Hypothesis (basic science here).
“I will visit the market once a day, using _x_ story set.”

As a result of the experiment, what “behavior” would be a success? This behavior needs to be visible. For some businesses, it would be signups or sales or the like. For you, it might be a response that suggests a Person of Peace, whatever that response may be (ask for more stories? positive response to suggestion of a Bible study or the like?).

Success Goal: define a level of behavioral response which represents a success line. Choose the target you’re reaching for before you see results. (We aren’t shooting arrows at the tree and then painting targets around them.)

Actual Goal: the actual results of the experiment you ran.

Why/Observed Behavior: ask yourself why you got the results you did. Were they close to the success goal, and maybe just need tweaking? Were people not responding at all? Was it a bad time of day–too crowded? Look for insights.

New Insight: this is what you come away with, that forms the basis for your Decision.

Decision: this is what you decide on the basis of the experiment. It may be to drop the story set, or change times, or whatever. A decision usually leads into a new experiment.

By using an approach similar to this – doesn’t have to be this exact one, but this has a lot of user testing behind it – you are documenting your experiments and learning from them. It’s a lot better for you to use a system of rapid experimentation and iteration than for me to try to give you tactical ideas that someone else has used, which you’ll have to adapt anyway.

Be a 2015 Missions Research Patron
We're ad free. The resources and analysis we offer take hundreds of hours a month to create. If you find value in it, please consider being a Patron with a gift of $100 toward our 2015 year, or a recurring monthly donation.

Weekly Roundup, 11/27

Have you found our weekly roundups useful? Please consider a gift in support.
If each reader contributed $10 in November, we’d make 100% of our monthly budget.
You can give any gift, large or small, here:

Two most interesting links of the week
Pew: Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa. Link.
North Korea: long read on the man who smuggled a Bible into the country, imprisoned. Link.

Current Events / Trendlines / Articles
Afghanistan: fighting disrupts harvest, food prices rise sharply. Link.
As China’s workforce dwindles, the world scrambles for alternatives. Link.
China establishes first military outpost outside its borders: in Djibouti. Link.
Chinese overseas falling victim to terrorism, and Beijing struggling with response. Link.
India: a data interactive on how/how far, people in the top 53 cities commute to work. Link.
Pakistan: number of recent attacks on religious minorities. Link.
Syria: an interesting model of what is going on. Link.
USA: Americans are increasingly skeptical of Muslims. But most don’t talk to Muslims. Link.
Would Jesus take in Syrian refugees? A roundup of the debate. Link.

Charts / Graphs / Reports / Statistics / Resources
UN: The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, 1995-2015 (PDF). Link.
Demographics rules the global economy: how the developed world workforce will decline. Link.
AIDS: the latest report from UNAIDS shows great progress. Link.
The world is not falling apart. In reality, for most, never been safer. Link.
+ The human mind estimates probability based on how easy it is to recall examples
+ Nightly news provides regular examples of bad events
The definition of a refugee, the process for vetting them, and Biblical thinking. Link.
Europe’s misconceptions about its Muslim population. Link.
Pew: social media usage, 2005-2015. 65% of adults use networking sites. Link.
Map: Where Islamic face veils or headscarves are banned or mandatory. Link.

Long Reads / Mission Industry News
Book Notes, Tony Sheng: on Gaining by Losing: why future belongs to sending churches. Link.
Families & Faith: how religion is passed down across generations. Link.

Pioneer Mission Startups / Startup Thinking / Work / Lifehacking
What kind of thinker are you? Different thinking styles in organizations. Link.
UPG Profiles
BBC: The Turkmen of Syria. Link.
Town of Kobani, Syria, scarred by ISIS, strives to rebuild. Link.

Futuristics / Tech
How mobile will transform business in 2016: predictions from Forrester. Link.
$152.7 billion robot, AI market will drive industry by 2020. Link.
Will the world be malaria free by 2040? Link.
51% of total time spent on the Internet is on mobile devices, first time ever. Link.
1995, top 15 Internet companies worth $17 billion; 2015, worth $2.4 trillion. Link.
3 smart city trends to expect in 2016: IDC. Link.
20 predictions for the next 20 years. Link.

“Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.” Eric Sevareid

“It takes courage, stamina, and spark to be intentional, but it also takes failure.” Brad Lomenick

“To escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

“We over estimate what we can do in the short run, and underestimate what we can do in the long run.” Craig Groeschel

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” Plato

“A minimum viable product doesn’t mean half-finished. It’s doing a small number of things to a high standard.” via Vala Afshar.

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Bill Gates.

Missional Accounting

Every dollar spent by a church or other organization typically pays for some form of time spent in support of a program.

I suggest a form of “missional accounting” which divides up the total hours expended by a church (or influenced by it).

We identify the hours – in services, in programs, in small groups, in service opportunities, in mission trips, etc. We can sum up the total amount spent on these hours based on the amounts spent on things like salaries, rents, etc.

We can then divide these hours into those that provide for church members and regular attenders (can we call these “pastoral”, “discipling”, and “community” or “fellowship” based on the precise nature of them), and the hours spent on people outside the church (which could be further divided between existing believers, non-believers, and unevangelized).

Obviously, some “hours” are shared by many people – for example, the “hour” (or two) of a Sunday morning service, perhaps shared by several hundred or even several thousand. Not all of these people are believers.

One way to deal with this in terms of accounting is to sum the hours from the perspective of the people who share them, not from the actual number of hours spent: thus, a 2-hour Sunday morning service shared by 1,000 people becomes 2,000 missional hours.

Then, these hours can be estimated as the % of ‘pastoral’ hours (e.g. for believers) and the % of ‘outreach’ hours (e.g. non-believers in the service).

Having done this sort of rough accounting, one might look at the two categories – the share of church hours spent on believers, and the share spent on non-believers. We might then ask ourselves: are the percentages wildly out of balance? Is there a way to ‘shift’ the balance?

This sort of missional accounting can then be used as a baseline for experiments of the kind we discussed yesterday. What sorts of experiments will enable us to spend less time on our selves, and more time on others? Might we have to shift budgets? time allocations? programs?

If all of our time is spent on the believers inside our church, we will never have an impact on the outside world. But we often don’t realize just how much time we spend on ourselves until we take the time to add it up. “Statistics are signposts from God”–what are these numbers telling us?

“How do I find People of Peace?”

Q. I would be really interested on any research or any more details on the PoP particularly in Urban vs Rural contexts. We are in _______ now, although we are preparing for __________ to be in a more rural context (actually a bigger town in the region, but it is probably like 5,000-10,000 people). I have found it difficult to talk to anyone on the street for any length of time, but there is a carpooling service that immediately guarantees a more drawn out conversation. I would DEFINITELY see as the easiest way to get to know locals who you would otherwise never have the occasion of meeting and talking with.

Every time I talk to anyone about how they find People of Peace (PoPs), or any kind of seekers, the “pool” they fish in is almost always different, and the tactics used to discover them are almost always different.

I don’t always agree with the folks at The Upstream Collective, but I have to say their book Tradecraft is excellent when it comes to some of these basic skills. I’m not saying I agree 100% with everything in it, but there’s a lot to learn from it. Tradecraft’s chapter on People of Peace says there are three basic marks: receptivity, reputation, and the ability/willingness to pass the Gospel into their social networks via referral. These seem to be three good things to keep in mind and “search for.” Where might you find people that exhibit these three features (and the reputation doesn’t necessarily have to be “good”–it could be a “bad” person who has been markedly turned around, as in the case of the demoniac Jesus healed).

Keeping in mind what a Person of Peace is can inform the tactics we use for search. But just as searching for something on the Internet can take lots of tries and lots of keywords and lots of failures, so searching for a Person of Peace can be different in different contexts. In terms of figuring out tactics for search, I highly recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Yes, this is a book about technology startups–but there are many parallels between startups and pioneer church planting. The idea of the “Minimum Viable Product” (in your case, an MVP would be a “pool” to “fish” in and a method for “fishing”) and the Build-Measure-Learn loop would be very useful to anyone who’s trying to rapidly test ways to find People of Peace.

With regards to organizing and tracking “search experiments,” I suggest both the Mini Guide to the Experiment Loop (PDF, downloadable) and The Lean Experiments Dashboard at the Lean Brand book website (and the Lean Brand book as well). I have found this approach very useful in rapidly designing testable experiments.

The point I’m making: unfortunately, there’s no “silver bullet”–a method for finding People of Peace that always works. It’s an area where you must try to “fail fast” – try out lots of different things to figure out what doesn’t work, and by process of elimination figure out what does. In order to “fail your way to success,” you must avoid the error of repeating failed experiments. This requires experiment design, testing, and tracking. These tools I’ve linked are very easy ways to do that (I use them myself with other related experiments in communication, for example).

If you’re interested in being part of a CPM/DMM-focused training community that swaps resources, stories, case studies, tactics that have worked in some settings (and may in yours with some adaptation), and encouragement between various movements, email (and also see

Weekly Roundup for 11/20

Have you found our weekly roundups useful? Please consider a gift in support.
If each reader contributed $10 in November, we’d make 100% of our monthly budget.
You can give any gift, large or small, here:

Two most interesting links of the week
A bedtime prayer for terrorists. Link.

Roundup of Paris articles
Paris attacks, what is known as of 11/18. Atlantic.
The Paris Attackers, and links between them (all known are French/Belgian). Link.
Were they Syrians? The flourishing black market in Syrian passports. Link.
Christians debate state bans [in America] on Syrian refugees after Paris attacks. Link.
Republican presidential candidate Trump ‘not opposed’ to Muslim database for USA. Link.
France President Hollande commits to taking 30,000 refugees in next 2 years. Link.
3 facts about the Syrian refugee crisis many Christians overlook. Link.
“We have a theological problem if we ask ‘are we safe’ and not ‘who is my neighbor’?” Link.
2016 GC2 Summit: the Global Refugee Crisis & the Christian Response. Link.

Current Events / Trendlines / Articles
Chinese students in the USA: 300,000 and climbing. Link.
Indonesia: 1,000+ churches closed in Aceh (didn’t think there were that many!). Link.
Nigeria: bombings kill dozens, Boko Haram named world’s deadliest group. Link.
Nigeria: $2 billion in stolen funds is a drop in the corruption bucket of $148 billion missing. Link.
Nepal: in the end, ban is on proselytization, not conversion. Link.
USA: Does living together before marriage increase the risk of divorce? Link.
USA: More Mexican immigrants leaving US than entering. Linkjjj.

Charts / Graphs / Reports / Statistics / Resources
Global terrorism index, 2015. Link.
The World’s Women, 2015: Trends and Statistics. Link.
Pew: The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society. Link.
7 Documentaries to change your view of Egypt. Link.
Brent Fulton on what to expect from his book, China’s Urban Christians. Link.

Long Reads / Mission Industry News
IBMR: October 2015 issue on migration & refugees is timely. Link.

UPG Profiles
Some of the many breakfasts consumed in a French refugee camp. Link.
China from above: a collection of aerial images showing the vast diversity of landscape. Link.
Tunisia: “My hometown–forgotten once, forgotten still.” Link.

Futuristics / Tech
Your phone is listening to the television, so advertisers can determine which devices are where. Link.
The Doomsday Invention: will AI bring utopia or destruction? Link.
a16z Podcast on artificial intelligence: past, present, future, how it fits with machine learning. Link.
India Internet users to reach 402 million by December 2015. Link.
… 87% of those mobile connections are 2G; make sure web apps are fast enough. Link.
How drones will drastically transform US agriculture [and maybe other nations, too?]. Link.
The end of thirst: how we will find enough water. Link.
The secretive world of social media monitoring. Link.
Encrypted messaging apps face new scrutiny after Paris bombing. Link.


“Accurate bad news is superior to inaccurate good news.” David Binetti.

“No matter how expert or smart you may be, if you can’t inspire people, your future as a leader is bleak.” Phil Cooke.

“The no. 1 thing you need is an accountability partner – someone who will call you on your B.S.” Eric Ries.

“Going into the broken places of our world requires exposing ourselves to its agony.” Rich Stearns.

“Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker.

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” G.K. Chesterton

“Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.”  Austin Kleon.

“Where persecution is worst.”

We love to make lists of where things are best or worst, improving or worsening. Persecution and martyrdom is one of the things we measure.

Measuring martyrs is the easier of the two, because in order to have a martyr someone has to die, roughly in conjunction with their faith–an event that doesn’t actually happen all that often. Yet there is some debate about the statistics. The two numbers generally cited are those from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) and those from Open Doors (OD) et al. CSGC’s numbers are quite large – over a hundred thousand martyrs per year – but show an average decline. OD’s numbers are quite small – a few thousand – but increasing.

The disagreement is rooted the definitions. CSGC counts all Christians who die prematurely in situations of witness as martyrs (because, among other things, martyr comes from a word that meant witness in the New Testament): some percentage of people who die in religious wars are therefore considered martyrs, even though many might be not directly caused by their faith. (See their methodology, and a sample of martyrdom situations.) OD counts only believers who are killed specifically for their faith, so their numbers are much smaller (here is a discussion of the differences in methodology). There is a tension between these two numbers: the world is becoming “generally” safer for believers (regulation is more common than generic persecution) but in those places hostile to believers, a more intense danger is felt in specific situations.

Measuring persecution is more difficult, because persecution doesn’t require death. It’s a matter of degree of restriction of liberty. Different people have different ideas about what level of restriction constitutes persecution (as the firestorm of around Starbucks in the USA demonstrates). Pew Research has done good work in the area of quantifying different levels of persecution and quantifying it by country. Open Doors’ Worldwatch List is similar.

Additionally, saying persecution is worse in a place can be measured qualitatively (“the possible penalties for faith are greater”) or quantitatively (“more people are under persecution here”). Afghanistan has severe penalties for conversion to Christianity, but very few believers. India has somewhat less severe consequences for conversion, but far more believers under those restrictions. Both are, to me, valid ways of saying “persecution is worse.”

When someone says “persecution is growing” or “persecution is worse” or “persecution is lightening,” it’s important to understand the definitions they are using. Two people can use different definitions and say completely different things about the exact same situation (in fact, CSGC says the martyrdom trends are improving, while OD says they are worsening–and it’s because of this difference). That doesn’t mean either is wrong; it could just be they are using different definitions.

We want simple statements, but the world is complex, and we have to live in situations of complexity.

“No Syrian refugees allowed in.”

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, it was discovered that portions of the plot originated in Syria. The data are still confusing and unclear, but almost immediately came the fairly predictable response: calls to shut borders and halt the resettlement of refugees (RubioBushGovernors).

Caesar will do what Caesar must, or wishes. But agreeing with this line of action is unbiblical for believers.

God’s heart for the refugee was made clear as far back as the Old Testament: Deut. 10:18-19 says “The Lord your God loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing; you shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deut. 24:14 instructs the Israelites not to withhold wages of poor and needy laborers, whether citizens or aliens residing in the land. V. 17-18 commands not to deprive a resident alien of justice.

The prophets were strong on their response to those oppressed, even foreigners. Jeremiah 22:3-5 says, “Do no wrong to or violence to the foreigner…”, Ezekiel 47:21-22 promises an inheritance allotted to aliens; Zechariah 7 commands Israel not to oppress the foreigner.

If we discover any particular Syrian to be a Christian, then John 13 applies: “The world will know you are my disciples by your love for one another” (and 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what that love is). So does Romans 12:13: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

If we think of any Syrian as our neighbor–even a hated neighbor–then Luke 10 (the Parable of the Good Samaritan) applies.

If you find the Syrian to be oppressed, fatherless, or a widow, then Isaiah 1 at least applies. If we find them hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or oppressed, then Matthew 25 applies. (And in the case of the oppressed, so does Luke 4).

If we think of the possibility of a Syrian as our enemy, who might do us harm, then Romans 12:17-21, especially v. 20: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; in doing this you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As Christians obedient to God and His Word, we simply have no excuse for turning our back on refugees, whatever the state may decide.

“You can’t plant churches any more.”

You might expect that statement from a persecutor.

In this particular case, it was a ministry leader speaking to a large number of church planters.

A key movement trainer frequently tells this story; I heard it again just today.

The problem: many churches were being planted – but not enough.

Continuing to plant churches one-by-one meant not reaching the current generation (or, really, future generations). Multiplication was required.

So, the leadership of the ministry told the church planters in their network: “You can’t plant churches any more.”

“You have to help your people – the ones in the churches you have started – to go out and start new groups themselves.”

About half of the leaders in this particular network ended up saying – “No. We plant churches. That’s what we’re called to do.” They left.

The ones that remained began working on the task, and today there is a vast, multiplying movement as a result.

The question articulated is “not what I can do” but “what needs to be done.” As evidenced by the situation, it’s a challenging question to answer. Not everyone will say “yes” to the vision. It’s not always what God has called them to. But sometimes–perhaps often–the hard task of stopping something, and helping someone else do what we have done, and perhaps do it better – for them to increase, and us to decrease – is the challenge we must meet.

Roundup for 11/13

This Week’s Meeting:
11/13, 1pm CST, with David Joannes, talking about Southern China. On Blab.

Two most interesting links of the week
Refugee Republic, a virtual exploration of a refugee camp. Link.
Building a growth machine: scientific method, how to design, track viral growth experiments. Link.

Current Events / Trendlines / Articles
Burundi: descent into lawlessness. HRW. Link.
The countryless children: refugee children with no nationality, born on the run. Link.
China is losing interest in learning English, wants to spread Chinese culture. Link.
China, 2-child: “the real reason… millions of new consumers…” Link.
China, 2-child: “one child culture is entrenched in China.” Link.
China, 2-child: the 13 million ‘nonpersons’, 2nd/3rds born illegally over past 40 years. Link.
Related, in Europe: policies & processes for reversing low fertility rates. Link.
China’s Singles Day is about shopping, sexism and shame. Link.
… by 2020, China will have more than 24 million surplus bachelors.
… ambitious women are balking at the idea of marrying for convenience or duty.
… median age for women to marry in Shanghai hit over 30 for the first time in 2012.
China: Guizhou church raided. An odd little data point. Link.
… “the Religious Affairs Bureau wants to build a large church, but … not enough members…”
… “the authorities are forcing us to join their government church…”
India: “religious places of Muslims, Christians in Odisha should be under state regulation.” Link.
… as the increase in Christian population would soon be a demographic challenge …
India: why BJP defeat in Bihar could send it down a more nationalist road. Link.
Iraq: Christian militia fighters, defending their villages against IS advance. Link.
Myanmar: the first free election in 25 years. Link.
Nepal: Hindu vs Secular constitution crisis, fuel boycott, 50% church attendance drop (no travel). Link.
Russia: the young princelings and the neo-feudal state. Link.
Syria: video, “Who’s fighting and why,” short overview. Link.
Vietnam, others, relaxing Chinese visa rules. Chinese believers into Vietnam? Link.

Charts / Graphs / Reports / Statistics / Resources
Afghanistan: 10 facts about hunger in Afghanistan. Key statistics. Link.
India: 21% of the world’s annual population increase from 2015-2015. Link.
Africa’s road death rate is double Europe’s. Bigger safety hazard than persecution. Link.
Color-coded map of ethnicity in Africa. Link.
Infographic: Global adult, youth literacy rates rising, approaching/over 90%. Link.
Missiographic: Words of Life for a Thirsty World. Link.
Saudi Arabia ranks 8th globally in terms of teens using Snapchat. Link.
Corruption, the hidden tax on growth (and a problem faced by field workers). Link.

Long Reads / Mission Industry News
Zwemer: Will Muslims take over? Keep calm, and think Biblically. Excellent points. Link.
IMB Spending Crunch: down to $300 million and 4,000 professional missionaries. Link.
… a victim of it’s own success?
USA: the labor market 25 years from now (also, the mission candidate market). Link.
Issachar Initiative: 2 page PDF, recommendations of Next Steps for engaging UPGs. Link.
WPost: ~40% of Millennials have tattoos (mission candidates…). Link.

Pioneer Mission Startups / Startup Thinking / Work / Lifehacking
50% of YC’s 1,000 startups have failed, but successes > $65 billion. Link.
… are we willing to endure 50% failure rate in missional startups to get to success?
Why herds of unicorns are inevitable in the Network age. Parallels to movements? Link.
Failure isn’t the goal, learning is. Learn fast. (Also lesson of Lean Startup). Link.

UPG Profiles
Uighurs: China is trying to limit Muslim births, which are 4x national average. Link.
Eritrea: Exodus after independence dream became a nightmare. Link.
Tibetan Buddhists gather for the Bliss Dharma assembly. Photos. Link.
Syria: devastation of Deir al-Zor. 2-year-old, haunting apocalyptic photo. Link.
Syria: life in a Kurdish-controlled enclave in NE Syria along Turkish border. Link.
Photos: “inside the Al Nusra academy training the next generation of jihadis.” Link.
ISIS: The true horrors of life under Islamic State. Reuters podcast. Link.
Germany: for some Muslim asylum seekers, Christianity beckons. Link.
USA: First Muslim city council, portrait of a changing Michigan city. Link.

Futuristics / Tech
Tripcase: Infographic on current mobile trends. Link.
Facebook’s AI expert, explaining Deep Learning and the current AI revolution. Link.
… affects computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, more…
How smart Facebook’s AI has become (a little scary smart). Link.
Long paper: How robots, AI, machine-learning will affect employment, public policy. Link.
Toyota investing $1 billion in AI research. Link.
You, only better: what if you could upgrade your body like your phone? Link.
Scoble: you will be tracked, and you will like it. (Maybe.) Link.
Atlantic, on tracking: “if you’re not paranoid, you’re crazy.” Link.


“It’s not that I’m so smart. I just stay with the question longer.” Albert Einstein

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure will.” Suzy Kassem

“If a man isn’t willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he’s no good.” Ezra Pound

“Rebelling against God & wrestling with God are two very different things. It’s hard to wrestle with someone without being in close contact.” Beth Moore

“You can create a stronger movement with 12 disciples than with 1200 consumers.” Alan Hirsch

Belief is not Knowledge is not Obedience

Two of the critiques I have sometimes heard leveled at disciple-making movements:

a) they add extra requirements (‘works’) to the Gospel

b) without properly-trained teachers teaching what the text means, people will fall into heresy.

The idea of a disciple-making movement is, however, thus:

a) The “salvation prayer” is not a magic spell uttered to gain eternal fire insurance. This is a common “trope” in Christianity; we all know it. We decry “nominal” believers who “maybe prayed the prayer but don’t walk the walk.” Belief is important, as the first step. Yes, Romans 10:9 promises if we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart, we will be saved; this is good news for the guy in the prison cell, about to be executed, who finds faith at the end of a lifetime of evil. But it doesn’t mean we stop there.

b) Knowledge about what we believe and who we worship is important. God calls us to know him. But knowledge can be dangerous, too. Jesus (Matthew 15:8) quoted Isaiah (29:13) where God says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” I was struck when I read Isaiah 1 (especially in the Message version, but just about any translation is striking):

I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals
They are a burden to me
I cannot stand them
When you lift your hands in prayer I will not look
Though you offer many prayers I will not listen
for your hands are covered
with the blood of innocent victims
Wash yourselves! Be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight
Give up your evil ways
Learn to do good
Seek justice
Help the oppressed
Defend the cause of the orphans
Fight for the rights of widows

If you obey me,
you will have plenty to eat
But if you turn away and refuse to listen
You will be devoured by the sword of your enemies

Yes, properly trained teachers are important. But DMM, DBS, CPM, T4T methodologies all say this: much (most?) of Scripture can be easily understood by anyone who simply reads it, guided by the Holy Spirit promised to each new believer. There are direct commands in the Isaiah 1 passage. There are obvious commands in all of Paul’s epistles. 1 Corinthians 13 doesn’t require significant exegesis in Greek; you don’t have to delve into the original language to understand the Sermon on the Mount, or Jesus’ prayer at the Communion Table. You can read Acts 2 and know what a church should do.

3) Obedience is important. This is not a works-based gospel: obedience doesn’t save us. Jesus saves (see Romans 10, cited above). But as new citizens of Jesus’ kingdom, we are obligated to obey. If we do not obey what he tells us to do, then we have to ask whether “our lips profess him, but our hearts are far from him.”

When you hear “obedience-based discipleship,” contrast this with the common situation in the West: we know much and do little. Obedience-based discipleship isn’t a call to know less: it rather says, however much or little we know, we ought to do (and obviously we ought to seek to know God more–which means delving into the Scriptures more than we delve into the sayings of a famous pastor).

A “disciple making movement” is simply a rapidly multiplying movement of people toward Christ, who seek to follow him, know him, obey him, and lead others to do the same. is a new coaching website for existing or would-be DMM practitioners; it may be useful to you.