Darrow Miller and Friends

Take a Ride in the DNA Elevator

“Please explain in one or two sentences what the DNA does.”

I was recently asked that excellent question. It reminded me of the notion of an “elevator speech,” a statement that communicates what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top to the bottom of a building.

So, for anyone who’s wondering the same thing, here’s the Disciple Nations Alliance elevator speech.

  • The DNA is a small Great Commission organization (7 staff), as well as a movement of individuals and affiliated organizations, with networks in 50 countries of theDNA ministry map world.
  • The DNA promotes discipleship, i.e. the whole-life development of individuals, communities and nations, per Matt. 28:19-20. It does that by: 1) offering training events to equip local church leaders to live and serve with a biblical worldview, and 2) publishing materials (both paper and digital) for the same purpose.
  • The DNA vision statements says, “We exist to serve the Church, helping her rise to her full potential as God’s principal agent in restoring, healing, and blessing broken nations.”

The DNA is predicated on the conviction that just as the gospel has the power to save from eternal death, it also has the power to change daily life.

And if you still have a moment after the elevator reaches your floor …

The DNA doesn’t readily fit into the normal categories of Great Commission organizations. It’s not a sending agency as is New Tribes. Doesn’t do Bible translation per Wycliffe, or Bible distribution as does Bibles for the World, or campus outreach like InterVarsity. The DNA doesn’t plant churches, doesn’t offer medical or aviation services.

The niche that the DNA fills is training church leaders around the world to serve “from a biblical worldview to bring the truth of God’s word to bear in all areas of public life.”

This “all of life” aspect (sometimes it’s called “wholism”) was one of the hallmarks of the Protestant Reformation (see our posts on John Calvin and Martin Luther for two examples). Later Christian leaders who exemplified such a view include the “father of the modern missionary movement,” William Carey, and the “prince of preachers,” Charles Spurgeon. A modern-day example of this wholism is the Oikonomia Network, 20 Bible schools and seminaries (including BIOLA, DTS, Gordon-Conwell, Moody Bible Institute, TEDS, et al) that train their faculties much like the DNA is training church leaders.

Finally, a story that illustrates the DNA school of thought …

About 20 years ago, evangelical missionaries moved into the unreached agricultural communities of the poorest province of Guatemala. They journeyed there to evangelize and plant churches. The tribe they were working with, the Pokomchi, were the poorest people in the poorest province of one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Many people came to Christ. Churches were planted. By mission standards, the task was done. The missionaries moved on to other communities. But, in one sense, little had changed. The Pokomchi were living in as much poverty after the missionaries left as when they arrived. What was different? Now, the people were waiting to die! They had hope for heaven. For that, praise God! Nothing is to be compared with the assurance of eternal salvation and a home forever with God. But they had no hope for today! Is this a picture of success? Does this capture the fullness of the Great Commission?

The DNA answer is no, this does not represent what Jesus meant by “making disciples … teaching them to obey all that I commanded you.” A discipled community is characterized by growth in every area of life. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.” And so do his disciples.

  • Gary Brumbelow

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Gary is the Disciple Nations Alliance editorial manager. He manages Darrow Miller and Friends and serves as editor and co-writer on various book projects. For eight years Gary served as a cross-cultural church planting missionary among First Nations people of Canada. His career also includes 14 years as executive director of InterAct Ministries, an Oregon-based church-planting organization in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary is a graduate of Grace University, earned an MA from Wheaton College and a Graduate Studies Diploma from Western Seminary. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, Valerie. They have two married sons and twelve grandchildren. In addition to his work with the DNA, Gary serves as the pastor of Troutdale Community Church.