Addressing Disciple-Making Movement Critiques

Fellowship International has embraced Disciple-Making Movements (DMM) as the primary thrust of missions efforts for our Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. Training programs and coaching initiatives are in full swing with several missionaries seeking to apply the DMM principles and practices within their ministries.

However, ever since evidence for the success of DMMs has been brought to the attention of the church in the west, cautions about both the claims made and the methodology proposed by practitioners have been raised. Some critiques have been valid and have led to corrections and adjustments. Others have led to deeper missiological reflections in order to consider DMM within appropriate biblical and theological categories. Some critiques have been based on misunderstandings, requiring a clearer description and more detailed perspective. Others identify a challenge to traditional assumptions about approaches to ministry, church formation, and biblical teaching. Dialogue about these paradigm shifts and their implications is ongoing.

Several team members within Fellowship International have been part of this dialogue with a desire to clarify our ministry efforts, answer critiques, and develop our ability to communicate and apply DMM principles and practices in a manner consistent with God’s Word and that is fruitful in our ministry contexts. See below for articles written in response to critiques of DMM.


 A Response to "No Shortcuts"

[original post written by Pam Arlund and Warrick Farah (Facilitators of The Motus Dei Network)]


Pam Arlund and Warrick Farah address the importance of a collaborative effort to address movement theology. They specifically address the “misunderstandings and ambiguous logic” evident in Matt Rhodes’ critique of DMMs: No Shortcut to Success: A Manifesto for Modern Missions. The authors’ reply to concerns raised about multiplication, “obedience-based discipleship” and the place of “teaching” in disciple-making. They conclude with a helpful call to gracious and constructive dialogue on movements that honors all that God is doing in His mission today.

Response to Stiles' Critique of DMMs

[original post written by Mark Naylor DTh (missiology)]


Among other responses to Stiles’ expressed concerns about DMMs, the author points out the DMM principles and practices focus on (1) Multiplication not speed, (2) Making disciples as the means to a healthy and indigenous expression of church, (3) God’s Word as the main defense against heresy, and (4) People of Peace as an entry way into natural networks in a context.

Defending DMMs
[original post written October 5, 2020, by Mark Naylor DTh (missiology)]


In response to an article by Chad Vegas criticizing DMM, the author first makes an appeal for critiques to “support, correct and build up,” rather than undermine ministry. The following claims by Vegas are then responded to:

  • Proponents of DMM have “faulty and dangerous understanding of church history”
  • Obedience-based discipleship does not follow the biblical pattern
  • Obedience-based discipleship is not “consonant with a biblical gospel”
  • The “person of peace” concept “does not have a solid biblical foundation”
  • DMM undermines the role of the teacher
  • Discovery Bible Study (DBS) is harmful as an evangelistic tool
  • Unbelievers cannot evangelize

The author concludes that Vegas has employed faulty arguments and has failed to demonstrate that DMM is not a work of God. Those engaged in DMM ministry are encouraged “to press forward in confidence that those who study the Word of God in order to obey it will not be disappointed and that the Holy Spirit will continue to open people’s eyes to the truth and move them to obedience.”