Navigating Complexity

I vividly remember learning, from the likes of David Watson and David Broodryk, about how God was igniting movements to Jesus all over the world. My wife Allison and I, having just gotten married a few months earlier, were eager to learn about how we could follow Jesus and make disciples together.

They described how God was using ordinary people like us, all over the world, to ignite movements that transform their communities. They described Disciple Making Movements (DMM) as a process of rapid multiplication of followers of Jesus. This phenomenon emphasizes the training and equipping of every Jesus follower to become Disciple Makers themselves, rather than relying on experts and complicated structures.

Since then, we’ve had the privilege of practicing, training, and studying disciple-making in a variety of contexts. We have been overwhelmed with God’s work among the nations. However, one challenge has become clear to us: Most of these Disciple Making Movements were born in relatively rural, homogeneous population groups. We have seen more limited success in diverse city centres. This has perplexed many of us in missions: Why do Disciple Making Movements not happen more often in cities?

When we asked ChatGPT the question: What would you currently do to optimize DMM? It answered like this:

To optimize DMM, consider…

  1. Contextualization: DMM should be contextualized to the culture and needs of the people it is being implemented among.
  2. Flexibility: DMM should be flexible enough to adapt to different situations, cultures, and contexts.

This answer illustrates a challenge to “traditional” DMM methodology:

  • In a city, we face true adaptive complexity. How can we possibly ignite a movement if we can’t “contextualize” to the future and specific needs of a city?
  • How do we navigate high-density, beautifully diverse communities of countless cultures, affinities, and preferences?
  • How can we make any progress when we face an unfathomably complex network of relationships?

These are some of the questions we set out to answer at Two Four Eight with our Research into Urban Movements project.

We, at Two Four Eight, are keen to multiply Disciple Making Movements in our increasingly eminent city centres. To actively pivot toward greater fruitfulness in cities, we must pay close attention to how God is currently using His people to ignite Disciple Making Movements in the city.

One trusted advisor said it like this: “To study Disciple Making Movements in cities, you must listen to its stories.”

Thus, we took up her worthy challenge through a grassroots research project: to find the hidden treasure of God’s kingdom in our beautiful, broken cities through its narratives.

Our hope is that by hearing the experience of a wide variety of fruitful city Disciple Making practitioners, we can begin to identify a few urban Disciple Making patterns that others can emulate.

You can learn more about starting Disciple Making Movements in cities through our free online training.

NEXT: Defining Movements