A Decade’s Progress—In Just One Year!
Behind the global turmoil that preoccupies so much of the world’s attention, God is quietly reaping the greatest spiritual harvest in history, while preparing an even greater harvest.
And at the center of this global outpouring is prayer, along with the intentional pursuit of movements, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to motivate and equip disciples and small churches to reproduce rapidly (rather than just gathering believers to receive ministry).
Following are the significant developments I have seen over the past year in this global revolution, with links to related resources. (Suggestions for improving or expanding this list are welcome at Robby-Butler.MultMove.net/encouraging-developments)
- Focused prayer: In May of 2017, global prayer network leaders met with mission leaders to focus prayer on gospel movements among the remaining unreached peoples (watch the inspiring 9-minute video at vimeo.com/244739881). This has accelerated a growing global focus on prayer for movements to complete the Great Commission.
- Closure focus: Shortly after this prayer initiative, the 24:14 Coalition formed—dedicated to pursuing movements of rapidly multiplying small churches and disciples in every remaining unreached people and place by 2025 (read about the Coalition at 2414Now.net or see their five minute video at vimeo.com/272854525). Several years earlier Steve Smith wrote the No Place Left saga about movements emerging among every people by 2025. The 24:14 Coalition is turning this fiction into reality. Request your FREE review copy of Hastening at npl2025.org/ review-copy.
- New awareness: The circle of trust created by the24 :14 Coalition (2414Now.net) led many movement leaders to share for the first time what God was doing through their movement. This replaced the earlier April 2017 estimate (162 movements with 20 million new disciples) with a 2017 year-end confidence of nearly 650 movements, with 50 million new disciples. (See MultMove.net/pub/Astonishing-Progress.pdf)
- Rediscovery of Jesus’ Movement Strategy: The July/ August 2018 Mission Frontiers exposes the pivotal relevance to movement practitioners of “The Parable of the Sower” (This is the title Jesus Himself gives the parable in Matt. 13:18). We Evangelicals have often misunderstood and misapplied this parable to identify what what kind of soil or seed we ourselves are, when the parable actually reveals the strategy Jesus modeled, as a sower starting a gospel movement. A couple years earlier I helped publish Stubborn Perseverance, the story of how to start a gospel movement. Request your FREE review copy of Stubborn Perseverance at StubbornPerseverance.org/review-copy.
- Refugee and disaster dynamics: God is using the global refugee crisis and other disasters to bring blessing to peoples that were previously isolated from the gospel: MultMove.net/pub/The-Refugee-Crisis. pdf (observations from my family’s 2017 participation in refugee ministry in Europe).
- Household blessing: Gospel movements—the Word of God blessing and spreading through households and other relational networks—are an important corrective to the tendency of many evangelism and church planting efforts to focus on individuals without regard for their household relationships. I excerpted two books on this for the Mar/ Apr 2016 Mission Frontiers: Steve Smith addressed this further in The Oikos Hammer in the Sep/Oct 2018 MF. In this current MF, Chuck White and I carry this further on p. 28, including a sidebar addressing the most common misuses of Scripture in this regard.
- Fear exposed: Satan’s hold over many Frontier Peoples is partly through their fear that Christianity will tear apart their households and communities. Evangelism of individuals away from their households compounds this fear. Movements correct this by drawing households together in discussion of and obedience to God’s Word. An adaptation of McGavran’s article explaining this dynamic was presented at the September 2017 meeting of the International Society of Frontier Missiology, then ran in the Mar/Apr 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers. A further refinement is available at MultMove.net/pub/ Movements-How-peoples-are-reached.pdf.
- Disparity recognized: India has long received only the prayer and laborers proportionate to its classification as a country, when in fact India has a larger population and more complexity than most continents. India is home to nearly half the population of all Unreached People Groups, with more complexity than all of Africa (MultMove.net/pub/2017-Ineq- in-Miss-Dist.pdf). And while most countries receive an average of one missionary for every 1,000 people in their unreached people groups, India receives only one missionary per 46,000. Awareness of this disparity of needs and resources is stimulating increased prayer and efforts toward starting movements on the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).
Frontier People Groups: In early 2018 the concept of Frontier People Groups (less than one Christian adherent per 1,000 in population) brought fresh clarity to the remaining task (JoshuaProject.net/frontier/3). Joshua Project has posted a short article explaining Frontier People Groups (JoshuaProject.net/assets/media/articles/frontier-peoples-introduction.pdf).
- Distinction between Pioneer and Partnership Mission work (p. 12 again): A long-standing concern of Ralph Winter’s was to clarify the core difference between:
- pioneer work (in peoples with a generational identity they consider incompatible with Christianity), and
- partnership work (where outsiders can serve alongside indigenous believing households).
Pioneer work involves different skill sets and must precede partnership work, just as a midwife’s skills differ from and must precede a teacher’s. Pioneer work brings people groups their first introduction to God’s desire to bless their households and communities. Partnership work builds on that introduction to extend God’s blessing from family to family throughout the people group. Partnership work will continue until Jesus returns, but the remaining pioneer work to be done may be completed very soon!
Unfortunately, the way Unreached People Groups have been measured has blurred rather than illuminating this distinction between pioneer and partnership work. Thus most missionaries to unreached peoples are involved in partnership work (in peoples where up to 1 in 50 are Evangelicals or 1 in 20 are a Christian adherent).
The new category of Frontier People Groups addresses this confusion.
- Prayer focus continued: God continues stirring global prayer for movements among the largest remaining Frontier People Groups. In recent months, a small network of global prayer and mission leaders has pulled together a 31-day prayer guide for the largest Frontier People Groups (Go31.org).
- Reliance on the Holy Spirit: Steve Smith’s Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People (amzn.to/2yEzVBg) reintroduces the ancient fruitfulness of following the Holy Spirit’s leading in the pursuit of movements (p. 44 in this issue).
- Movement Training Hubs: This issue of MF reports on the rapid and significant development of intentional movement training hubs to accelerate the equipping of more disciples to start movements among peoples that most need them (p. 36).
- Cascading Movements: Movement experience over the past decade reveals that movements among larger groups can also carry over into neighboring Frontier People Groups. This reinforces the value of a strategic focus on the 400 largest and most influential Frontier People Groups, which contain 90% of the global population needing pioneer work (p. 30 sidebar).
- Breakthroughs Among Unreached Peoples: The population of unreached people groups has roughly doubled since the concept was introduced in the late 1970s, but this is changing rapidly. Movements have recently cut the lost population of unreached people groups by an estimated 45 million, turning this number into disciples with experience in rapidly reproducing churches (see again MultMove.net/pub/ Astonishing-Progress.pdf).
Never in history has the Holy Spirit prompted such global collaboration in focused prayer and labor toward biblical, multiplying discipleship among the peoples and places still waiting in darkness.
Visit MultMove.net/join-gcc to become part of a team to bless just one of the 400 strategically large, neglected Frontier People Groups.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. — Rev 22:20.