I have spent some time reflecting on how our 3DM movement is different from various fads and trends that spread in the church, particularly the North American church, from time to time. We all know they happen—seeker-sensitivity as a fad, spiritual formation as a core focus and even missionality as a brand. Our culture loves novelty—new is always better than old and nothing is better than brand new—ever.
To be fair, some folks do interact with our movement at this level—another stop on a carousel of the latest and greatest magic bullets that will solve their congregation’s “underperformance” and take their ministry to the next level—whatever that is. Those leaders and churches often turn out to be passing and not permanent relationships on our journey as a movement. For some of us, however, this calling of discipleship-driven missionality resonates at a deep personal level—a level of calling and conviction.
Early in my personal 3DM journey I saw this and knew I had found a life calling that I had been groomed for from the moment of my spiritual birth—maybe even my physical birth as well. I am not saying that I “got it” right away or that I even fully comprehend it now—our movement is a dynamic community on a journey of listening to God and doing what he says to do. All of us are playing catch up to God and our movement pioneers as we listen to him and learn the new things he has for our lives, ministries and movement. That is a good thing, actually.
In my first months of movement participation I found myself retranslating the paradigm breaking language, structure and strategy that I was being taught into the old wineskins of how I had always done life and ministry. That is only natural, I think. Sometimes that is all the farther some people get—a hybrid 3DM experience that doesn’t require them or their congregation to change too much. I am skeptical about how long that lasts, but the jury is out and I am OK with that for those it helps.
But I, like many others, went “all in” with every expectation of doing this way of life and ministry the rest of my earthly sojourn. I think it is that phrase that is key to our movement—a way of life and ministry. We often teach that 3DM begins with discipleship and results in mission, but that is not actually the case. It is too easy to take for granted that the first step in discipleship is having “a life worth imitating” as a foundation. Without living what we teach, our whole strategy breaks down. In other words, without adopting a healthy lifestyle, there is no healthy ministry from a 3DM standpoint.
That is why I adopted this phrase, the 3DM way of life and ministry. I want to teach others from the start that this is not some burnout ministry method to which I want them to sell out. This is principally a way of living with Christ and each other that leads to ministry and missional fruitfulness. We aren’t part of this movement because we do ministry the 3DM way. We are a real part of this movement if we do life in a biblical way so that ministry and mission are the results. Sounds a lot like, Jesus, doesn’t it? From my point of view it is the heart of 3DM. Is it a way of life as well as a way of ministry for you? That is a great question for us all.