I attended a 3DM Taster event this spring. It is the second time I've gone to an event by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram. The more I read about and study their work, the more I become convinced that they have the best-developed operating system of discipleship I have encountered. The Taster is a two-day immersion into their approach. I highly recommend this experience. I found it compelling.
Here is an video introducing 3DM's work.
I captured a few images that convey key concepts of their teaching and will attempt to give you a sense of the ideas here. The foundation of their approach seems to be an understanding that through the whole arc of the Bible from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, you find two predominant elements, Covenant and Kingdom. Mike Breen's new book introducing thsi teaching, "Covenant and Kingdom - The DNA of the Bible" is available at www.weare3dm.com.
The Covenant begins with the Father and the promises he made to Abraham, and the New Covenant that came with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His only son. The father extends His grace to us, giving His son to die for us on a cross. In so doing, He makes us heirs to the Kingdom of God, sons and daughters of Abraham, living under the promises of the Covenant. God trades all our junk for the treasures of the Kingdom.
We get our identity when we live into the realization that we are true heirs to the Kingdom. Through God's grace, we come to understand we are beloved children of the mighty God, that we could never possibly win God's favor with our attempts at good works.
The next stage in this triangle is the call into submission and surrender to God's will. God calls to us and asks that we obediently follow. Obedience flows from our surrender. I don't know about you, but for over two decades I slammed together the words, "Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord." In the last decade, as I've tried to understand how to become a disciple, I realized that I claimed Jesus as Savior for at least 20 years before I began to live into a posture of Jesus as Lord over my life. Obedience does not come easily. It only comes when we really begin to trust God for our future.
Out of our obedience, we begin to root out the sin in our lives, and to live by the Spirit. By the Spirit's strength, we can turn from our selfish desires and seek to love and serve others. In so doing, we unleash God's peace in our lives and the grace begins to flow through us to touch others with God's love. In a healthy relationship with God, any response to God's grace flows out of our gratitude for what God has first given us, not from some mistaken attempt to prove ourselves to God. So, response flows from gratitude, not obligation. And that motivation means everything.
Please note the direction of the arrows going around this triangle. This process only works one way. Too often we attempt to reverse the flow, and to live out the Law in our lives. This attempt is doomed to failure, because at its heart it is works righteousness, proving ourselves to be good through our works. The Reveal Spiritual Life Survey proves the fallacy of this approach. Their research has shown that you cannot begin to grow to spiritual maturity until you first believe in salvation by grace through faith.
Next, we begin to look at the other half of the equation: Kingdom. As sons and daughters of God, heirs to the Kingdom, we come under God's authority, but we also look to Him for our Provision. Any authority we have flows from God and his Covenant promises. All that we have in our life flows out of God's provision for us as children and heirs.
We are then called to be God's representatives in a broken and fallen world. So, God delegates spiritual authority to us as his heirs and empowers us to reach into the world with his healing love, touching and changing lives.
With God's authority comes the power of the Spirit in our lives. But there's a catch. We must prove ourselves trustworthy as his servants over time. As we respond in gratitude to God's love, our growing surrender proves us trustworthy in the small things. As we earn this trust, God will allow more and more of His power to flow through us, touching others. As we live out this process, we give God credit for the good works in our lives, honoring the Father and closing the loop.
They went on to say that most issues Christians have flow out of a misunderstanding about identity or out of an unwillingness to move to obedience through surrender and submission.
Now, we connect these two triangles together in the image below. What you see here is that our authority flows out of our identity as a child of God and heir to His Kingdom. Power, on the other hand, flows out of our obedience. When I heard this explanation, something clicked for me. My obedience is the key to unlocking God's power in my life. That is something I have some control over.
The Taster is an experiential learning event. After each teaching module, they put us into small groups to experience what it is like to belong to a "huddle," the key accountability and growth tool for leaders. Moving towards discipleship community with 3DM's process begins with the senior pastor picking up to a dozen "persons of peace" and inviting them into a regular huddle. Persons of peace are people whose hearts have been prepared by the Spirit to hear the invitation and challenge to deeper personal discipleship.
Their discipleship model looks like the image below. You begin by giving Information, sharing the Gospel with people. Then you invite them into apprenticeship through joining a huddle. As Steve Cockram said, "Imitate those parts of me where you see Christ. The rest of the stuff, don't imitate." So, imitation is the next step. Through the huddle process, people are formed into disciples.
The final step is innovation. As people, through prayer and meditation, become fluent in the ways in which God has gifted them, they can discern a calling of God in their lives. This calling will take them on a path unlike anyone else's. That unique path will take us through the stage of innovation, as we figure out and live out our unique calling. For more about Gifts and Calling, look here.
Then, we can start the process over again, by sharing the Gospel with another, and inviting him/her into a huddle. There, imitation will once again lead to innovation, and the cycle repeats over and over again.
With the final two images, I am going to show how God's power flows through our lives. The image below shows the definition of Power in electrical circuits. Power is voltage divided by resistance.
So, here is how this equation works in God's Kingdom. In this equation, the Holy Spirit is the voltage. Jesus Christ's resistance to the Father's will was 0. Any mathematician knows that if you divide anything by zero, the answer is infinity. So, God's unlimited power flowed through His son, whose surrender and submission was complete.
One of the things Mike Breen and Steve Cockram say in this experience is that the Gospel was not written for sophisticated people. It was meant to be "simple but hard." With all of our theological hair-splitting, we have managed to make the Gospel complicated but easy. Evidence of that is how many pew sitters are satisfied with the idea of spirituality of place and are not interested in a spiritual journey. For more on Spirituality of Jourey vs. Place, look here.
In addition to the fundamental Gospel understanding of Covenant and Kingdom, and the experience of the huddle, the Taster goes into detail on the third aspect of their approach, the missional community. I don't want to give away all the fun of the Taster event, so I will end my review of this incredible experience here. If you would like to drill deeper, see a new post on 3DM: Discipleship and Mission here.
Here is a great blog post by Mike Breen showing how missional communities, Body of Christ as extended family, were the major force in spreading Christianity so that it overtook the Roman Empire in 300 years. You can read the Wikipedia entry about Missional Communities here. Before I go, let me share a couple of video clips about missional communities. This first one is from Mike Breen.
The main way to enter into this path is to join a 3DM Learning Community. Here is a 3DM piece on How Learning Communities Work. Here is a 3DM website dedicated to Learning Communities work. Here is a new Learning Community Micro-site.
This last piece is from well-known author, speaker and missiologist Alan Hirsch, endorsing the 3DM approach.
If you feel the Spirit stirring your soul as you look at these ideas, you might be a person of peace whose heart the Spirit is calling into a deeper discipleship journey. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.
Follow @Mike_Breen and @stevecockram on Twitter. Look at another post exploring their Biblical principle of the Person of Peace here. I've posted a piece called Missional Communities as Fractals that explores another facet of this operating system.
See these other posts on 3DM: