MoreDisciples.com is all about helping us figure out how to make more disciples! How can we launch “discovery Bible studies” [DBSes], sometimes known as ‘three-thirds groups,’ with a goal of leading to a disciple-making movement (DMM), sometimes known as a church-planting movement (CPM) or church-multiplication movement (CMM). If these acronyms are beginning to sound like alphabet soup, then this is the place for you! It sounds like we have some explaining to do. Let’s start right here, right now.
[Note: This post is also available in: Spanish ]
What’s a disciple?
At its simplest core, a disciple is one who loves Jesus, loves others, and makes disciples.
In short, a disciple obeys and multiplies!
What’s a three-thirds group (discovery Bible study or DBS)?
A three-thirds group or Discovery Bible Study (DBS or simply, “Discovery Group”) usually open with some kind of “look back,” referring to a recap of the previous study, complete with holding one another accountable to any intentions or goals expressed the last time the group got together. They typically involve a scripture passage in the “look up” phase, or middle third. In many cases, the studies focus on a story which reveals something about God, the enemy (Satan), or humanity. It’s a characteristic of most DBSes that participants let the Bible speak rather than asking an individual to lecture or preach about the passage. In the final third, the group “looks forward,” setting goals about “what I’ll do” as a result of the passage and “whom I’ll tell” about what I’ve learned or experienced. (Notice there are 3 ‘thirds’ — a look back, a look up, and a look forward. Thus the alternative name, “three-thirds study.”) These DBSes often multiply, sometimes quite rapidly, bringing about a DMM.
What’s a DMM?
DMM stands for Disciple-making movement, often made up of rapidly-multiplying cells, which might or might not be DBSes. One of the trademarks is that a lot of people are involved… A lot of LAY people. Another is that these cells are often in homes. In fact, there are at least 10 factors involved in most of these movements (see the next item).
Are there any common characteristics between DMM and CPM?
David Garrison did research on church-planting movements (CPM’s) back in the mid-nineties and found ten factors that seemed like “universals,” meaning that they were true in 100% of the cases he examined. These ten factors are:
- Extraordinary prayer
- Abundant gospel sowing
- Intentional Church Planting
- Scriptural authority
- Local leadership
- Lay leadership
- Cell or house churches
- Churches planting churches
- Rapid reproduction
- Healthy churches
Read the book Garrison wrote about church-planting movements (CPM’s) here: https://moredisciples.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/cpm_booklet_standard_english.pdf
How do these movements define a “church?”
Many DMM practitioners would define a church as, “A group of local believers who are being baptized, who gather together regularly to worship and study the Word, and who are seeking to engage in all the functions of church, particularly as expressed through the commands of Jesus, and the ‘one anothers’ of the New Testament.” Others would add the factor that these groups are a church when they start CALLING themselves a church. Still others wouldn’t call them a church until they have members who are discipling others.
What’s the difference between CPM and CMM?
Some would say — there is no difference. They are merely two different terms expressing the same concept — just seen from a different perspective. However, others differ.
City Teams defined the process of planting churches as “the work of God, a divinely produced phenomenon. Discovering what He is doing and cooperating with Him. The spontaneous and natural outcome of effective Disciple Making. Not a program or strategy which church leaders develop and implement. Perhaps a more meaningful expression is that of the church emerging. The church emerges (is planted) when the seed of the gospel is planted in the hearts of men and women and they are encouraged to gather together for worship, fellowship, encouragement, support, mutual accountability, and mission.” (For more on this, see their page at https://www.cityteam.org/idisciple/about/index.php .)
David and Paul Watson took the definition a step further when they defined effective church-planting as, “an indigenously led Gospel-planting and obedience-based discipleship process that resulted in a minimum of one hundred new locally initiated and led churches, four generations deep, within three years.” (Learn more at https://www.contagiousdisciplemaking.com/church-planting-movements-and-disciple-making-movements/ .) Later, however, they switched things up a bit and decided to drop the term “church-planting” altogether, opting instead for the term Disciple-Making Movement, or DMM, in order to illustrate our role in God’s redemptive work. There is no doubt that we have a role. Matthew 28:16–20, the Great Commission, tells us to make disciples. The implication is that these disciples would also make disciples, and so on. Thus the origin, and subsequent popularity, of disciple-making movement.
What’s a “Person of peace?”
Paul Watson wrote that disciples who make disciples “pray, engage lost communities, find Persons of Peace (the ones God has prepared to receive the Gospel in a community for the first time), help them discover Jesus through Discovery Groups (an inductive group Bible study process designed to take people from not knowing Christ to falling in love with Him), baptize new believers, help them become communities of faith called church, and mentor emerging leaders. All of these very intentional activities catalyze Disciple-Making Movements. Jesus works through His people as they obey His Word, a Disciple-Making Movement becomes a Church-Planting Movement, and Jesus gets the glory for everything.” (ibid.)
Persons of Peace are the ones God has prepared to receive the Gospel in a community for the first time. The term finds its origin in the biblical story of Jesus sending out the 72 in Luke 10. There, in verses 5 and 6, speaking to those who are being sent out, Jesus explains, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” The New American Standard Bible translates verse 6 as, “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.” Therefore, a “man of peace” began to signify someone who would welcome you into a community, maybe even becoming your advocate. It doesn’t necessarily imply that this person always accepts Christ as His Lord. This “man of peace” might just serve as your open door to the community — and that’s it.