David Broodryk’s Story of Identity

Stories of Transformation

David Broodryk planted a church in South Africa in 2004. Over the next seven years, the church grew to about 100 members, but David realized that the church he planted wasn’t advancing the kingdom the way that he thought it should. He began to transition away from traditional ministry to a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) model. He tried to take his church along with him through a one-year transition. He lost 60 percent of his members.

David reflects, “I went to the whole church, and I said to them, ‘I want to change our contract.’ They said, ‘What do you mean—we don’t have a contract.’ And I said, ‘Yes, we do. The contract is, I serve you and you pay my salary. I want to change that contract. I want to write a new contract:  I serve others— not just you, but others too—and you still pay my salary. Are you prepared to do it?’ So, I had to make that very clear, moving from traditional ministry to where we were going was a significant shift. That I was asking them to finance something that they would not see a return on.”

Fortunately, enough members agreed to support him so that he could begin a major transition in his ministry. Without any clear models, he came to believe that his job needed to change. If movements were going to start, they could not depend just on him, since he was only one person who could only be in one place at one time. Instead, he needed to think of himself more as a catalyst than as a pastor and teacher. This was difficult for him on a variety of levels. His friends in seminary thought he was crazy and rejected him. His ministry reputation was shot. And then there was the even more personal stress that the change caused.

Identity in Christ

He notes, “I would say that the biggest issue for us was identity. I’ll never forget the lesson that the Lord taught us on identity through that journey. We took a year to close that church. After we closed it, my wife went into a deep depression, and I completely lost my way. I would sit and stare at my computer for hours looking for a solution—actually, we were both very depressed for nine months. I lost all energy, all zeal. I started complaining, I said, ‘God, we are doing what you told us to, and it is worse than it ever was!’ It was a very dark, dark, time—dark night of the soul, I suppose you can call it.

“I will never forget, nine months after we did that, Michelle and I were sitting on the veranda having tea, and we started talking about this, kind of complaining, ‘Things are worse than they ever have been. We don’t have money and we don’t have the people’—and it was like something happened in our conversation, both of us came to the instant realization that our whole identity had been ripped out from under us—and, more significantly, we suddenly recognized that our identity was falsely placed. Our identity had been that we were a pastor and his wife, and it wasn’t just what we did—it was who we were. And we had literally given that up, God had ripped it out from under us.

“It was very remarkable, because within five minutes of realizing this, the Lord shifted us and we realized that our identity needed to be in Him, not in the work we do, not in the ministry. It was an instant lifting of Michelle’s depression. I woke up the next morning and started booking airline tickets to go and plant new churches where for nine months I hadn’t been able to.”

A Catalyst for Movements

Since then, David has been a catalyst for movements in Africa, Russia, Europe, and North and South America, influencing more than 100,000 people and over 200 organizations. He has been responsible for developing Disciple Making Movement (DMM) strategies and training material for urban areas and has been a DMM trainer and mentor around the world.

David commented on his journey:
“I really do think that entry into DMM is a death experience: unless the seed falls to the ground and dies, it can bear no fruit. It’s a death experience, a complete shift to change to the DMM approach. But the problem is, you can’t risk failure without that; risking failure in itself is a sort of death experience. If who you are is dependent on whether this thing works or fails, then you will never take a risk, you’ll never do it. But if your identity is in Christ, then you say, ‘I’m going to try this; if it works, great, He gets the glory; and if it doesn’t work—well, it didn’t work, but I am still secure in who I am in Him.’ Most leaders haven’t done that. They are not secure in who they are in Him. Their security is based on the success or failure of what they do. And then that thinking makes them unwilling to take any risks. They also become afraid to give everything away without expecting anything in return. They are trapped in protecting their reputation—but DMM demands all those things.

“After you surrender, you are no longer building your reputation, you’re not building your income, your business, you aren’t building fame, not any of those things. You might plant 100,000 churches, but still, nobody knows your name. This is not going to work, it’s not going to fly if your identity is in the ministry if your identity is not firmly rooted in Christ. But when you root your identity in Him, then you can plant a million churches, and no one knows your name and no one cares—and it’s not a problem. This is an extremely core issue. It is very significant for us.

From “The Kingdom Unleashed”

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