Movements Can Happen Here Too, If We Are Willing to Work for Them
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.
Many believe that the spiritual soil of America is too hard, rocky and resistant to the gospel for any movement to take place here. See the March-April 2019 issue of MF featuring the question, “Why are there so few movements in the West?” As that issue of MF reveals, it is true that, in general, the spiritual soil of America is not as receptive to the gospel as it is in other places around the world. It seems that the prosperity that many enjoy in this country has hardened hearts and made it more difficult for movements to take place, but not impossible.
Progress is being made in those segments of society that are more open. Justin Long of Beyond has counted 31 movements taking place in North America. It is happening here through the faithful diligence of many of God’s people who have caught the vision for movements in America. But we need to face the reality that starting a movement anywhere, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, is very hard work and failure is more common than success. The question for the rest of us is “Are we willing to put in the hard work necessary for us to see more of these movements take place in the U.S.?”
We Have No Choice But to Pursue Movements
The fact is that we really do not have a choice whether we pursue movements in the U.S. or not. It does not matter whether the spiritual soil of America is bad or not. This is where most of us live and we are called by Jesus to make disciples where we live.
The model of ministry pursued by most churches in the U.S. where we go to a big building once a week, sing a few songs, listen to a sermon, go home, forget what was said in the sermon and then repeat this process week after week, is killing the Church in America and everywhere else it is exported. At best the Bible-believing Church in America is barely holding its own and is likely in a slow decline with an increasing number of people moving into the “no faith” category. We are losing the culture to increased secularism, biblical illiteracy and moral decline. We are also often losing our own kids to unbelief. The status quo is unacceptable.
The doing-church-as-usual crowd may be comfortable with a Christian faith that requires little of them and provides the worship experience they are looking for, but this model of doing church is leaving the great majority of lost souls untouched and the surrounding culture unchanged.
Employing an attractional approach to ministry in the hope that the unsaved will come in the door of your church, hear the gospel and be saved is at best a passive approach to ministry that leaves most of the unchurched, untouched. According to Barna research, two-thirds of the unchurched have been to church and do not wish to return. Creating all sorts of new programs in the hope of attracting them will not work. We need a new strategy.
Instead of asking the unchurched to come, why not equip your church members to go and make disciples of their friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances? People who will not darken the door of your church will very likely respond positively to an invitation to dinner at a friend’s home where the gospel may be sensitively shared. They may even respond well to an invitation to see what the Bible says about God.
As you read through this issue of MF, learn from what these movement practitioners are doing and think about applying these movement methods in your own local context.
Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Movement Catalyst?
Whether a movement happens through any of us is really dependent upon us. In the article starting on page 37, C. Anderson points us to those spiritual qualities that are characteristic of, or even required for a movement catalyst to be successful at fostering a Kingdom Movement. All of us are at various stages of our spiritual maturity and all of us need to be circumspect enough to recognize where we fall short in our relationship to God and others.
I encourage you to take a look at this first part in a series on the spiritual qualities of those that are successful in starting movements. Then ask God to help you to grow in those areas where you fall short. Each of us should want to strive to be the kind of disciple worth reproducing and capable of making disciples.
Support the Work of Mission Frontiers
As is the case with most publications, Mission Frontiers cannot cover its costs from subscriptions alone. We need additional funds from those who believe in this ministry and are willing to sacrifice to help us move forward in casting vision for Kingdom Movements in all peoples. Like most of the people who work for Frontier Ventures my salary is supplied by the donations of churches and friends who believe in what I am doing. And also like many staff members at Frontier Ventures, there are many months when not enough comes in to fully cover our allotted salary. To donate to my ministry with MF go to http://www.frontierventures.org and click on the Donate button. Put MA 323 in the dialog box. If you would like to help MF cover its general expenses and expand its influence, go to the same web address, given above, click on the Donate button and put MA 030 in the dialog box. We greatly appreciate whatever you can do to help Mission Frontiers and Frontier Ventures continue its work to see Kingdom Movements emerge in all peoples.