British-born 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 last week.
The group, whose headquarters are now based in Pawley's Island, South Carolina held a Discipleship and Mission Workshop at the Church of Emmanuel in Foxboro, Mass. from Feb. 4-6 that attracted church leaders from all over the northeast region of the U.S.
"We're not getting discipled, we're [learning how to use 3DM's tools]," said Vincent Gressi from Oasis Christian Center in New York City in regards to his experience with the material. "I've been discipled, now I should be discipling someone else. [3DM created tools], not a system [to make this possible]."
For Gressi, this workshop will influence his decision to continue the process laid out by 3DM, or to leave it behind.
The event began on Tuesday with host Tom Flanders addressing the New England area, where church attendance has hit an all-time low. 3DM Central member Matt Tebbe started with a bold proclamation.
"Our vision is to change the world by changing the churches in America," he says. To 3DM, Jesus Christ aimed to replicate himself in others in scripture. "It's an effort to do discipleship in a way that multiplies."
3DM believes the current model of discipleship is no longer effective in a post-Christian culture.
One video discussed failing church attendance and a drop off of Generation Y engaging with the church. A solution proposed by a small church in the U.K. lead to 500 church plants in the last 5 years in the European Union. 3DM represents this movement for those in the U.S.
"God always has his heart set on the world and always chooses the few to get to the many," 3DM Central member Eric Pfeiffer said, assuming the ones who were scattered in Acts 8 were sent for this very reason.
In Matthew 28, Jesus tells his followers to make disciples. To Pfeiffer, this is no different than God telling Adam to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis. "God said to multiply to represent him, Jesus came to return and restore us to an old thing," he said, claiming that this is what discipleship is all about.
The group delved next into a brief swan exercise labeled "Social Space," which is actually a sample of 3DM's learning community. Tebbe returned and said that every church should be asking two questions: "Do we have a plan for making disciples and is it working?"
The leaders returned to the main sanctuary after the exercise concluded to hear Pfeiffer begin to lay out 3DM's proposed plan.
"We refuse the label of being experts in anything," Pfeiffer said. "We're committed practitioners."
He described 3DM as practitioners in a system developed by founder Mike Breen that involves the fusion of simple shapes such as triangles, circles and squares with principles for discipleship laid out in scripture. The shapes allows one disciple to easily teach and pass off information to another. Pfeiffer uses triangles to illustrate God's Covenant and Kingdom.
Breen developed this shape system while reading through the Bible. Suffering from dyslexia, he was able to remember various principles in scripture by applying them to shapes. This created a new language for Christians that makes discipleship easily accessible. This language is the main tool used by 3DM to teach.