Kingdom movements (four or more generations of churches planting churches, in multiple streams) are happening outside the direct personal experience of most of us. We didn’t come to faith in a movement and we’ve not catalyzed a movement. We know missionaries who have labored faithfully for many years and not seen a movement result. Some of us (myself included) are, or have been, workers who saw some fruit among the unreached, but nothing resembling a movement. As a result, the whole idea of catalyzing a movement can have an aura of mystery about it. In this issue, we’re blessed to be able to offer you a few security-sensitive glimpses into some ways God is accomplishing this multiplication through his servants. See all the articles
I often tell people, “My job is to hear about the incredible works of God and proclaim the incredible works of God. That’s a pretty unbeatable job.” Sometimes when speaking to a group, I tell them, “I’m going to give you some good news: the kind of news you almost never find on the internet or on TV. Most of what’s out there is bad news. Scary news. Irritating news. I’ve got news that is thrilling!”
God is on the move! He is starting Church Planting Movements (CPMs), the only ministry approach in which kingdom growth exceeds population growth, while also transforming societies from within—in holistic and financially sustainable ways. In CPMs, disciples multiply disciples, churches multiply churches, and leaders multiply leaders. We are also learning that movements multiply movements!
We first started catalyzing a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) in 2011 in Bujumbura (Burundi) where I live. When we had 189 groups in seven generations, we did a baptism of around 800 people. One day in 2013, we were praying for various provinces we wanted to impact with the Gospel. One of our leaders, Oliver, said, “I feel I want to go to the province of Makamba, especially the community of Nyanza-Lac” (over 130 km away).
Five years ago, you could count believers among the Tuaregs in Niger on your fingers. Now there are hundreds. God’s face is turning toward the Sahel. Although this tribe has been overlooked for a long time, the Gospel is now spreading rapidly among them, already at two generations of churches. The second generation are even more active than the first in reaching out beyond natural or normal places.
When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, many followers of Jesus fled—some as far as Antioch. The Hellenized Jews among them (particularly those from Cyprus and Cyrene) shared the Gospel with Hellenized Syrians (Acts 11:19–21). Those two distinct peoples within existing networks received the kingdom message. Thus, the Gospel moved two cultural steps beyond the Palestinian Jewish base.
Every year Lifeway Mission International hosts a Global Disciple Making Movement Catalyst Camp at its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The gathering provides training and allows Disciple Making Movement (DMM) practitioners to share best practices and network with other movement leaders from around the world.
In 1995 I started sharing the Gospel among unreached people and planting churches. My goal was to plant 100 churches by 2020. By 2007 I had planted 11 churches. Some people would consider that success, but I was devastated because I realized that at that rate, there was no way I would reach 100 churches by 2020. For two months I cried out to the Lord: “Show me the way to plant 100 churches!” Then in mid-2007 I got invited to a training in “4 Fields Zero Budget Church Planting.” I was only able to attend for one session, but that hour changed my life and ministry. I saw that Jesus equipped his disciples to multiply in a way that required zero outside funding.
I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to rekindle what I treasured as a young boy and unlearning what I was taught in school. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the “school of life,” my Ivy League education, or even growing in mind, body, soul, and spirit at a biblically grounded university. Each of these experiences taught me to explore possibilities, to think thoroughly, and to plan carefully. My privileged American education also brought with it the implication that if I pursued purpose with great diligence and effort, even being careful to glean from the best practices of others, I would eventually succeed.
It appears that perhaps 85% of new Church Planting Movements have been started by an existing movement. In our Asian context, our first six or seven movements started in four related ethnic groups and have grown to 90 strong movements in 35 ethnic groups, plus growing movement engagements in 34 other ethnic groups. Some of these new movements were started through gifted apostolic catalysts, others through a training and sending process, but most of the new movements were started through ordinary organic growth that jumped over cultural boundaries into new ethnic groups. This article will describe four patterns of organic growth leading to new movement starts, and four empowerment strategies that allow ordinary lay members of movements to more frequently launch new movements among unreached people groups.
In some movements, their obedience question is “Since this Bible passage is true, how will you apply this in your life this week?” As you have read these articles about movements starting movements, you might ask, “In light of this, what shall I do now?” An even better question is not, “What can I do?” but “What must be done?”
Movements is the most frequently referenced topic in Mission Frontiers. In this edition of Mission Frontiers we take up the reality that in more and more contexts, new movements to Jesus are birthed by other movements, not always by new teams from further afield being sent to start from scratch.
What comes to mind when you think of a mission mobilizer? This role is generally understood through a one-dimensional lens (primarily an organizational recruiter), instead of a multifaceted role in God’s global purposes. It is common to understand being a mobilizer for a short season of ministry, while rare to find mobilizers remaining faithful decade after decade. A major reason is the lack of comprehensive understanding of a mobilizer. Calling the global Church to grow in her core identity as a multiplying, reproducing, missionary community requires multitudes of mobilizers being identified, trained, and empowered.
We opened our email and read the notice. The American Consulate in India was advising all American citizens to leave the country. Threat levels were high, as the conflict between India and Pakistan escalated. In 1998, these two nations had both become nuclear powers. In 2017 and 2018, threats and border skirmishes increased between the two nations. The email came. American citizens were being advised to leave the nation. Our government could no longer be responsible for our safety.
Since you are reading this column, you are likely passionate about the cutting edge of the Gospel among the unreached. I wonder if you—like me— sometimes come to the Scriptures to find passages to “use” to justify our missions service and motivate others. It makes us feel better about what we are doing! But one of the biggest problems with that approach is that we miss other significant truths within the biblical story, because we are blinded by trying to justify ourselves.
Click on the .pdf icon within this article to read the Unreached of the Day.