British ministry 3DM invited various Church leaders in the New England area to join them on a quest to re-imagine discipleship and church culture in America earlier this month.
The ministry discussed its origins, and introduced some of the innovative tools it uses to teach during this Discipleship and Missions Workshop that took place from Feb. 4-6 at the Church of Emmanuel in Foxboro, Mass.
The first day and half of the workshop consisted of teaching, the introduction of an innovative shape-based discipling language, and those in attendance participating in unique gatherings coined by 3DM as Missional Communities, Social Space and Huddles that are detailed in the first part of the article. Read it here.
3DM concluded the second day of the workshop by introducing its Learning Communities, which are 2-year programs used to teach local church leaders how to use their tools and materials.
The Learning Community allows these leaders to interact with an official 3DM coach and participate in an online Huddle before starting their own, which is strongly recommended by 3DM
"3DM is a simple vehicle to show leaders the things we've been learning," said Eric Pfeiffer of 3DM Central. The ministry encourages leaders to join a community for the firsthand experience. Leaders sometimes sell themselves short by just reading the material and trying to apply it without formal training, he explained.
3DM believes Christians should desire to be discipled by those who have been properly discipled. These Learning Communities help begin that process, but not for free: Pfeiffer introduced pricing information afterwards.
The workshop featured a diverse group, with some leaders who were already involved in 3DM and others hearing about it in detail for the very first time.
"My first exposure to 3DM was through a mentor of mine who talked a lot about how we have moved away from a discipleship culture because our world is so fast and so I'm really intrigued over the things I've been learning about how to almost formalize a way to re-introduce discipleship into our everyday culture starting with our marriages, kids and friend group," said Carl Lubbe, Community Life Pastor at South Shore Community Church in Brockton, Mass. "I would say I'm brand new with a little bit of an idea of their flavor and DNA."
Opinions on the presentation seemed to remain pretty optimistic.
"I would steer away from [calling what 3DM does] a model. To me it has clear biblical roots. It's just an understanding of scripture, the book of Acts and what Jesus has called us to do. It is a holistic response to the gospel," said David Cronin, who also hails from South Shore Community Church.
The third and final day of the workshop consisted of a sermon preached by Matt Tebbe of 3DM Central, the second part of the mock Huddle, and a final thought from the folks at 3DM.
Tebbe's sermon touched on today's current culture and how Christians need to decide which way they will respond to the decaying society around them.
"How will the church respond in the midst of a cultural earthquake?" asked Tebbe.
He used an example of two men who lived in New York City during the post WWII era who responded to the aftermath of the war in different ways. They were On the Road author Jack Kerouac and Sayeed Qutb, the writer of Milestones, a work on which al-Qaida bases much of its beliefs.
Each of these men responded to their culture through powerful works that shaped the next generation: Kerouac penned the guidebook for beatniks in the 1950s and '60s, while Qutb spawned a culture of isolationism, tribalism and staunch demands for Shariah law to rule over the U.S. in response to the immorality he saw within the Christian church at the time.
"When the world shakes, God is shaping his people to be a family on mission," he said, citing the book of Hebrews. Instead of retreating or isolating, the church needs to create a community to care for those caught in the rubble.
During the second and final part of the mock Huddle, members were asked to make a plan for how they would respond to what they were hearing from God and were given accountability partners to make sure they followed through.
The day concluded with a final thought from Eric Pfeiffer, who encouraged the crowd.
"Make space for whatever it is God is trying to do in your life in this season," he said.
The last day ended with a brief exercise where those in attendance were given two post-it notes to write what they hoped to leave behind and one thing they wanted to take with them after the workshop. Everyone placed them on a board at the front.
After the weekend, many knew where they stood with 3DM and its material.
"I have a much more clear vision for how the really rich resources that 3DM has apply to my context," said Lon Sherritt, who leads an intentional Christian Community in Boston. "I feel like God really brought 3DM to my attention. I'm just delighted that they held this workshop. I get to roll up the sleeves and start digging in [to their material]."
3DM's approach to discipleship features a unique language with age-old concepts. The group desires to restore the church to an extended family model that mirrors the relationships between Jesus Christ and his disciples. Much of what the ministry teaches could be found in scripture in some form, however, 3DM extracts and explains it in a way that is simple to understand. Their tools and language helped to birth more than 500 churches in the European Union and could be effective in areas in the U.S. where the traditional church model is failing.
"All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on Earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," reads Matthew 28:19
Still, the ministry refuses to blame current established methods and leadership; 3DM believes that many of the church's current resources can be utilized for the extended family. More about 3DM's views will be discussed in our upcoming interview with Central member Eric Pfeiffer.