Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Well-Researched 3DM Warning

About a year and a half ago, I published a book review on Mike Breen's book, Building a Discipling Culture. This was in response to my own experience in a church that was adopting the 3DM discipleship strategy, and the flaws I saw in the exegesis and methodology I found in the book.

The book review lay dormant and, as I thought, forgotten for five months, when I began getting comments that turned out to be related to the struggles of North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Comments began to pour in, and at the present time, there are 400 comments on that post, far more than on any other post on this blog--despite the fact that Blogger has problems dealing with more than 200 comments (go down to the bottom and click on where it says "Loading..." to access the more recent comments). In order to foster discussion, I've attempted to play the part of more-or-less impartial moderator (although I clearly have my own opinion). People on both sides have gotten angry at me, so I guess I've done my job reasonably well. :-)

It should be clear at this point that I have chosen not to capitalize on the success of that post by making this an "anti-3DM" blog. I have different interests, and my hope is that some people who find this blog by searching for things related to 3DM will be interested in some of the other things I am interested in.

But I have to break my silence. Bob Highlands from Sonrise Church has done extensive research into 3DM and has an excellent series of posts on his website documenting aspects 3DM. The series of three posts can be accessed from this page. In my opinion, the best of the three posts is the second one, in which Bob breaks down the main exegetical and doctrinal issues besetting 3DM. Bob writes from the doctrinal position of the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana, but most of his arguments can be appreciated from any evangelical position. Incidentally, Bob quotes me at one point, and I fully support and agree with his use of that quote.

Check out Bob's well-researched piece, and thanks to all the commenters who played a part in aiding Bob in that research.

Note (January 7, 2018): I've posted a link to an excellent in-depth commentary on Building a Discipling Culture at I also invite any discussion of 3DM to migrate over to the comments section of that post.


  1. Since my first post I have hoped and prayed for an increase in online dissent and warning regarding TOM/3dm. Thank you Keith for the important role you have played toward that end. May the Lord use all these postings, and those that undoubtedly will be written in the future, to influence more churches away from their own destruction.

    1. Hi Diane, what has been your experience of Tom and 3DM, they have re-branded themselves now and seem to be focusing on the USA, Australia and Europe. Some of the leaders that were running Kings Center Sheffield part of Network Church Sheffield where it all started have now left and are moving to the USA no doubt to work in a 3DM capacity.

  2. Thank you, too, from the UK, where just in our provincial town we have seen 1 - in local Church terms - large and successful congregation split and another where good, often elderly Christians, who have given their lives to serve Christ and His Church, have left dismayed by the exclusion 3dm brings. The "Shepherding" movement wreaked so much damage. This latest has all the hallmarks ~ a distinct and imposed language, forms, structures, and etc ~ that control rather than liberate; it is very much the same. That 3dm is novel, so faced with no meaningful alternative many have signed up and joined in.
    Among many puzzles for us, is the silence in 3dm material about the "Gospel with Power."
    Can anyone point us to references to "Signs Following"? There is nothing we can see that acknowledges Jesus' revelation of the Good News, or (eg) the dynamic breaking out of Holy Spirit revival throughout Church history.
    Wesley instituted local groups and a "method", to support the 00's and 000's who needed ongoing teaching and discipleship. The model followed the revival; it didn't create it!
    The 3dm "gospel" isn't Good News at all; it owes its allegiance to management speak and man-made methods, devoid of Holy Spirit anointing and power.
    Like so many man-made programmes over the years, it will reach its zenith, then fade away.
    The tragedy is that 3dm proponents don't/won't listen.
    They have swallowed the system hook, line and sinker ......... and left so many GOOD faithful people in their wake.
    Lord have mercy!

    1. These are all very good points, and I appreciate you bringing them up. I do believe that 3DM is really Shepherding 2.0 (one among many contemporary forms of it). Your comment that "3dm is novel, so faced with no meaningful alternative many have signed up and joined in" is spot on. The general response I get to any objection regarding any particular program is "Well, we have to do something!" And there is the actual problem in a nutshell--the insistence that we have to do something. It's focused on us and our efforts.

      Yes, we have to do something. We have to stay true to the gospel, to the wonderful message that Jesus came and did what we could not do, that we have been given what we could not have earned, that growing in Christ means becoming more and more deeply dependent upon him, and more and more grateful for his work in our lives.

      But the New Testament tells us that obstacles such as false teaching have been around since the beginning, and God has gotten his work done. Yes, people are hurt, and that is tragic, but we must trust that God's work will endure while all human programs crumble into dust.

  3. Can you provide any web references to substantiare the damage 3DM can cause in a UK or Ireland context. Our new Rector has started his first Huddle group which I am apart of but concerned. K

    1. Check out the other mike breen schooley files blog and there is plenty of evidence