What a Church Movement looks like

Posted on March 9, 2012


Last week I was in the South Pacific Islands. Busy days and nights of meetings with our (Pacific Partners) radio and discipleship leaders, but oh so rewarding!

One night I had the joy and privilege of teaching young people from various churches who meet weekly at the home of one of our local leaders. They are well educated and have jobs in town (one young man was head boy of his college) and very serious about following Jesus. We had a wonderful time of fellowship as we shared a meal together. Then I talked to them about living in the reality of Christ, while many of the people around us are living in the shadow of that reality (from Colossians 2:17 & Hebrews 10:1).

The discussion led to prayer which led to worship. It was very late before I saw my bed that night!

Here’s the thing about this group . . . 
they are the 4th generation of believers who are following Christ through our ministry.

Disciples making disciples, making more disciples, etc (see 2 Timothy 2:2). Part of a ‘properly made’ disciple is his/her motivation and ability to share their faith in ways that influence the people around them (thus leading to the next generation of disciples).

This generational multiplication
is what I have always understood to be a church movement!

So I was intrigued this morning to read IT’S TIME TO MOVE FROM MINUTIA TO MOVEMENT from Mark Driscoll. Here is some of what he says . . .

Many people in the United States and around the world have a general feeling that something is happening. There’s an excitement in the air worldwide. The hearts of church leaders from around the globe are pounding from an increased sense of urgency for evangelism, discipleship, and church planting . . .

What Is a Movement?

A movement is an unusual work of God, sometimes called a revival or renewal. During a movement, things happen in larger numbers. I’m not speaking of programs, potluck dinners, or camp meetings, but rather conversions, discipleship, and church planting.

Through my travels and conversations with Christian leaders around the world, I have seen and heard about great numbers of people committing their lives to Jesus Christ. This is the hallmark of a new movement. Charles Hodge described revivals as “those seasons in which zeal of Christians is manifestly increased and in which large numbers of persons are converted to God.”

What’s interesting about movements is that their work spills over traditional boundaries that have historically separated people. In other words, movements aren’t confined by one denomination, one church, one region, or one nation. A movement is like a number of tributaries coming together to form a river. And like a river, a movement cannot be controlled, but merely influenced.

Influencing Movements

Over the years, it has been important for me to get outside of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network to meet with Christian leaders from around the world. I’ve gained tremendous insight by simply observing God’s work in these places and learning from these leaders and their experiences. Though I differ at times with these various leaders and tribes, my goal is to work relationally with them. This is the way I believe that movements can best be influenced.

Unlike institutions where control is maintained from a distance, influence within movements happens through relationships. Unlike institutions where relationships are closed to those you agree with, movements are open relationally. During movements, we will at times be placed in contact with those outside of our comfort zone, or those with whom we would normally not associate with. This is a good thing. 

This is exactly what we are seeing in the South Pacific Islands. The influence of the crusty old ‘top-down’ church institutions, that have dominated people’s lives for 250 years since the first missionaries, is breaking down. Thanks to the radio’s pervasive influence, local people (especially young people) are coming to understand God’s Word and losing their fear of breaking the man-made traditions that have long kept them in biblical darkness.

What a great opportunity for the Gospel!
Yes, we are seeing many people come to Christ.

In Tonga particularly (where Pacific Partners has its main ministry base) we are discovering more and more small house meetings where people gather each week to follow our local language, radio Bible teacher. He presents a short teaching, suggest applications and asks questions for the group to discussion after the program. As we discover these groups (usually a member will contact the radio station) we train the house meeting host to facilitate application, prayer and personal ministry.

These village home gatherings become church to the people in them.
Their changed lives begin to bring renewal to the traditional church
institutions that so dominate village life in these Polynesian Islands.

Read more about radio and house churches in the South Pacific Islands: Can radio really help change a nation? Yes, but only if . . . 

If we do our part and make disciples (Matt 28:18-20)
then the Lord will do His part and build His church (Matt 16:18)!

Do you feel the same excitement Mark Driscoll describes?
Are you part of a vibrant and multiplying church movement? House church, mega-church . . . ?
I’d love to get your feedback and comments.