Movements are miracles and they are happening every day all over the world. But can they happen here in America? That is what this issue of MF is all about—the stories of people who believe that movements can happen here and are working tirelessly to make them a reality. In this issue, we talk to some of these people to see what they are doing and what we can learn from their experiences as they seek to foster movements in the United States—a context very different from the various peoples around the world where the majority of Kingdom Movements are currently taking place. See all the articles
Movements are miracles and they are happening every day all over the world. But can they happen in America? That is what this issue of MF is all about—the stories of people who believe that movements can happen here and are working tirelessly to make them a reality. In this issue, we talk to some of these people to see what they are doing and what we can learn from their experiences as they seek to foster movements in the United States—a context very different from the various peoples around the world where the majority of Kingdom Movements are currently taking place.
The End Goal Over the past few years, a not-so-quiet revolution has been sweeping across the world of frontier missions. That revolution involves movements—Kingdom Movements. They began popping up on our (David Garrison’s) radars in the 90s. We (David) defined movements as “rapidly multiplying indigenous churches planting churches that sweep across a people group or population segment.” For more on this, see my (David’s) book, Church Planting Movements, WIGTake Resources, 2004.
Churches of 30, 100, or 700 all share some of the same challenges, despite appearances. They can experience tremendous growth spurts, which can in turn, create stress for staff and facilities. In addition, they are often still led by entrepreneurs who wield a lot of influence with church leadership. This creates some unique opportunities in relation to implementing Kingdom Movement (CPM/DMM) strategies in a new context. In this article, we interview two CPM/DMM practitioners who have innovated, each in unique ways, in the context of small and medium-sized church congregations.
The megachurch movement has been one of the most exciting examples of church growth in the past few decades, impacting not only North America, but also the entire globe (note that to qualify as a megachurch, a community of faith would typically need to consist of 2000 or more people in weekend worship attendance). Perhaps the most well-known transition in the megachurch world is the one articulated by Chris Galanos, chronicled in his book, From Megachurch to Multiplication (ExperienceLifeNow.com, 2018) and featured in the Jan-Feb 2020 issue of Mission Frontiers.
It seems somehow telling that the message of Christmas came first to a group of humble shepherds out on a hillside, one night so long ago. Author Randy Alcorn wrote, “In Christ’s day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.” 1 In today’s parallel universe, many of the rich and famous celebrities that we see in movies and television often seem to make little room in their lives for Jesus and the Good News He brings to our planet. By contrast, for some unknown reason, those considered by some as social outcasts seem more likely to make space for messages of hope. One of those groups is the incarcerated. More than one CPM/DMM trainer has noticed a greater degree of traction among prisoners than among church members.
North Americans have a reputation for innovation as several churches and individuals are finding unique ways to implement Kingdom Movement (CPM/DMM) strategies in North America and not all of them are relying on existing local churches.
In the other articles featured in this edition of Mission Frontiers, most of the examples have come from efforts in partnership with existing local churches. These almost all involve people who still attend some expression of the local church in traditional North American church buildings. But there’s another way to utilize Kingdom Movement (CPM/DMM) strategies. One can conceivably start totally from scratch. In this type of approach, it then becomes optional as to whether or not participants are encouraged to participate in worship services in a traditional church building while they are also “doing church” in an expression of church that meets in small groups in homes. This case study is about an emerging “Disciple Making Movement” (DMM) in Northern Michigan, led by Nathan Venton and Nick Tumi. Here’s a timeline-summary of their efforts.
This edition of Mission Frontiers is highlighting the growing dynamic of churches in the West that are trying to apply movement dynamics to their own ministry contexts. Each edition of MF tracks movement progress...
In 1890 Korea was still an unreached peninsula, with only about 100 Christians. A small group of missionaries had heard about John Nevius’ radical ideas, and invited him to come and teach them about his untraditional church- planting and evangelism methods. The two-week trip changed history, and Nevius’ methods became the guiding principles for Korean missions for the next 50 years. In fact, many church historians believe Nevius’ two-week trip to Korea could have been the two most influential weeks in the history of modern missions.
The worldwide Body of Christ wants to know how God’s kingdom is advancing among the nations. Gospel workers in the field want other believers to be well-informed–for effectual prayer, for encouragement, and for finding partners. Sometimes these good goals can only be partially met, due to the very real risks of damaging ministries or bringing harm to local believers by sharing too many details. Information we share must be thoughtfully limited on a need to know basis, not to hoard secrets but to serve others wisely. Countless ministries among the unreached have been damaged by published accounts trumpeting great numbers of conversions in a less-reached area or people group. Others have been harmed by sharing specific names and details with a trusted partner, who then shared it with someone else, who then shared it in a forum accessed by enemies of the gospel. So we need to be wise as serpents in considering what information to share with whom.
We long for more than we see today. Though incredible things are happening and many new movements are being started across the globe, we hunger for more. We look at the world, or our current ministry, and feel a holy dissatisfaction with the status quo. This longing, even discontentment comes from the Father’s heart. It is there because God has more for us. Millions remain unreached and we are called to impact them in greater ways than we have yet seen.
Ah, dear brothers and sisters there is a blind spot in Christian missions today. The mere mentioning of the blind spot at this point could lose ninety-five percent of those of you reading this first sentence. That would be both unfortunate and unproductive to the purposes of God. Consider the many tools used for prayer and mobilization toward reaching unreached peoples. Most lists include statistics on religions, languages, populations and access to available Bible translations. No blind spot so far.
When they are small, movements tend to experience very rapid growth— they might double in size multiple times in a given year. Over time, as movements get larger, this growth tends to plateau. Why? Is it because, as time passes, evangelists get less enthusiastic? The case studies of movements I have collected don’t suggest this is the case. There’s a simpler and, I think, inevitable cause that actually hallmarks a success, not a failure.
A short while ago, after a months' long battle with cancer, good friend and fellow staff member, Lee Purgason left his earthly body. He joined the staff of the USCWM (now Frontier Ventures) in 1980. We recently honored him on his 40th anniversary.
Global Prayer Digest January-February 2021