People as the Minimum Viable Product
In a startup, a “minimum viable product” (MVP) is the thing the startup is offering to the public. A startup has a promise it makes to the market–we will help you organize your email better, or we will help you schedule appointments better–and the MVP is the product that meets this promise at the bare minimum. It may not be very elegant, it may be a little buggy, but it’s out there. The first iPhone was an example of an MVP–it didn’t even have cut-and-paste.
If we think of a disciple-making movement as a kind of startup, then I propose that, in a sense, people are the ‘minimum viable product.’ DMMs produce disciples–but more than that, DMMs produce disciple-makers; if they don’t, the movement isn’t sustainable.
Like a startup’s MVP, a disciple-maker may not be elegant, poised or well-developed when they start out. In fact, a disciple-maker can be a little buggy. Their gospel delivery may not be pristine. They may be nervous facilitating a DBS. They may (gasp) make theological mistakes from time to time.
At bottom, the minimum requirement for a disciple-maker is not perfection but willingness. They have to want or be willing to make disciples – they have to be able to overcome their short-comings and fears and uncertainties and reach out.
If 86% of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists (in fact of all non-Christians) don’t personally know a believer–personal contact is the primary barrier that must be overcome. If a believer is unwilling to make personal contact, all the information in the world will just be a waste.
So before we train, we have to filter for people who meet the minimum requirements of viability. One man who did micro finance training filtered by asking people to raise the $10 in capital required to start a business (the program brought the training and knowledge to the table). We at Beyond filter for our online trainings by asking people to gather a group to participate–if someone can’t gather a group of friends for a training, are they likely to have the ummph to gather a group of nonbelievers?
Are there other “minimums” to be “viable”? Things that people have to be willing to be/do in order for a movement to multiply? While I don’t claim these are all of them, I suggest a few:
1. a willingness to feed themselves from Scripture, and adapt their behavior (obey) to its demands
2. a willingness to live their faith out loud, sharing Scriptural stories, values, etc. with nonbelievers, at the risk of persecution
3. a willingness to invite people into their homes to study Scripture
4. a willingness to lead people to Scripture and let them learn from Scripture rather than being the “authorized teacher”
5. a willingness to submit themselves to others, for accountability, and to shape behavior based on feedback
6. a willingness to hold others accountable to obedience to Scripture
I’m sure, in this casual list, I’ve missed a few. What would you add?
Nowhere in this list am I adding things like seminary training or literacy. By not including them, I’m not saying these things are bad. All I’m saying is – what’s the minimum you have to have to be a disciple-maker in a DMM?
Here’s another way to consider it: 90% of all disciple-makers are simply parents of children. What does one need to be successful in parenting?