This is an article from the March-April 2014 issue: 4X4 Movements

From the Editor

Embrace the Brighter Future of 4X4 Movements

From the Editor

We live in remarkable times. Knowledge is growing at an exponential rate in every field of endeavor. One article I googled noted: 

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months.1 

If the total sum of human knowledge is now doubling almost once a year, then how are we doing in the world of missions? Is our understanding of how to disciple all nations increasing at the same rate as the rest of human knowledge or are we lagging behind?

At least in understanding how the Holy Spirit births multiplying movements of disciple makers, the base of understanding and practical application is increasing dramatically—and with remarkable results. For a few years now we have been reporting on growing movements to Christ that are taking place around the world including a growing number of breakthroughs in the Muslim world. (See the July-August 2013 issue of MF and the new book, A Wind in the House of Islam by David Garrison for more on this.) 

Field workers like Jeff Sundell and Curtis Sergeant, who have pioneered movements among unreached peoples around the world, are now applying their expertise in the U.S. in pursuit of similar movements among unreached peoples here. These leaders have coined the term “4x4 Movement Starts” to describe a minimum goal for movement starts where 4 lineages of disciple-makers are developing 4 or more generations of disciples. These 4x4 movements are now emerging in 27 areas across the U.S. As these grow, the number of trained and experienced leaders is also multiplying, and the movement starts are beginning to penetrate every segment of society—including unreached peoples. Some of those reached are already going back to their homeland to start movements in their people group. 

Jeff Sundell is inviting others to rally around the 50-5-50 Vision which you can read about on bottom of page 9. The vision is to raise up 50 trainers in 5 years (2013-2017) to start 4x4 movements in each of the 50 U.S. cities that will soon be majority-minority cities (the majority of the people in these cities will be from minority ethnic groups from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, etc.). This means the training of 2,500 movement catalysts to be deployed in 50 U.S. cities to reach the various minority groups and unreached peoples within each city. 

Missions to the unreached are no longer simply a geographical challenge, i.e. going outside the U.S. or our home country to somewhere else where the unreached are. The unreached peoples are increasingly from everywhere to everywhere. God is bringing the unreached to live in our midst so we can bring the gospel to them. Our opportunity is to cross cultural barriers to start disciple-making movements among them. This issue of MF is your resource for sharing inspiration and information to enlist others to work with the Holy Spirit in starting these 4x4 Movements to transform your communities. In this issue we present a number of case studies describing movements emerging here in the U.S. Our goal is to inspire you to “try this at home.” Learning to make disciples who make disciples should be the privilege of every believer. It is what Jesus commanded us to do. 

Refining the “Technology” of 4x4 Movements.

The missions effort has often been known for its pioneers such as William Carey, Hudson Taylor, etc. But like every other field of endeavor—from aircraft design to medicine—progress today is increasingly made through the sharing of fruitful practices among those most involved in trying to improve their craft. The development and refining of the “technology” of 4x4 movement starts is no different. Through vehicles like Communities of Practice and Iron on Iron, (see pages 7-9) the leaders of these movements are coming together to share case studies and models of ministry with each other. In the 18 months after one such meeting, the pace at which new movements emerged increased significantly.

“Business as Usual” Won’t Work

All the great inventions of history have also led to great “destruction.” The invention of the automobile destroyed the horse-drawn carriage business; the telephone destroyed the telegraph; the light bulb made gas lamps obsolete. Economists refer to this process as creative destruction. When I was a kid, all we had were rotary dial telephones. I haven’t seen one of those recently. 

If managed properly, this process of creative destruction can lead to a brighter future for all of us. But there are always those that want to hang on to the past because it is comfortable and familiar. Change is often difficult. But change is necessary for us to embrace a brighter future, especially if the status quo is keeping us from doing what God has called us to do. 

It will require a willingness to change the way we typically think about making disciples and doing church for this new technology of 4x4 movement starts to gain widespread acceptance and use.

Pastor Gary Stump of Fishers, IN has started an emerging 4x4 movement through his new church plant. In his article starting on page 15 he writes, 

I realized that in my 22 years as a pastor I had encouraged, challenged, rebuked, motivated, inspired and even scolded Christians toward disciple-making. But I had never taught them how to make a disciple. It had never occurred to me that my first responsibility as a pastor in “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:11-13) was to teach them how to make disciples who were able to make disciples (2 Tim 2:2). 

Many millions of  believers have never developed the confidence and the competence for making disciples because they have never been taught this essential skill. Listening to lectures on disciple-making is not enough. The reality of our human nature is that we learn by doing, not just listening or watching. Jesus understood this. 

Jesus trained his disciples by taking them along with him and then sending them out to practice. When they returned, they were debriefed and Jesus gave them correction before sending them out again. This was an apprenticeship type model of training in which the disciples learned by doing. Applying this “hands on” model of discipleship is the only way to effectively train disciple-makers. 4x4 Movement Starts are based on this reality. 

We can stick with the comfortable status quo, where most believers do not make disciples and churches do not plant new churches, but the price we are already paying for this passivity is high and will only increase with time. The Church is in decline in the West and there are still over 7,000 unreached peoples waiting to be reached. Let us instead embrace the brighter future of 4x4 Movement Starts where disciples make disciples and plant reproducing churches. 

Many of the principles that make 4x4 Movement Starts possible are illustrated in this wonderful video from the mission agency ActBeyond. Let me know what you think.


For the first time in 24 years of ministry with the U.S. Center for World Mission, my wife and I will be taking a short, six-month sabbatical from my work with Mission Frontiers. I have arranged to have three great people stand in for me as guest editors during this hiatus. You will have the opportunity to meet each of them on these editorial pages over the next six months. Unless the Lord intervenes, I will be returning to these pages for the Nov-Dec 2014 issue. I will be spending these months reading, resting, researching new models of ministry, traveling and working to raise my full financial support from churches and friends who believe in this ministry. (Donations to MF do not cover my salary. I must raise that separately.) 

I would appreciate your prayers for this sabbatical to be a great time of renewal and reflection as I move into the next season of ministry on behalf of our Lord Jesus. I also want to give a special shout out of thanks to Robby Butler for his help with this latest issue. 

See you next in the Fall.   

  1. Schilling, David Russel. April 19, 2013 “Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours” Industry Tap, Info News.[etc]


Yesterday one of the other authors for this issue wrote me:

The below article by Gary North appeared on the hard-core libertarian website:

I forward it both for its content, but also as testimony that our quiet, vastly under-reported Disciplemaking Revolution is going more mainstream.

Obviously, Gary doesn’t know the whole story of what God is doing, but what he know he captures well. And he does a nice job of setting the movement in its wider historical context — something we can all learn from and should never forget.

Let’s rejoice, be on the alert, and get ready!

Here’s a better link, to Gary North’s original article, dated 2/19:

Bless you!  And Thank you, MF, for this perfect reminder to go and make disciples.,  who make disciples.  What you also said r/ your sabbaatical csught my eye as I said the same to my wife 3 days ago!

4X4 movement does not even pretend to imitate the personally revealed knowledge of Jesus Christ, as specified in Commencement Address, summarized by Jesus to the first graduating class of disciples.

Thank you Ephrem for your comment.  Discipleship is a life-changing experience that disciples invite others into.  You cannot make a disciple unless you are a disciple.  Discipleship requires:  obedience, memorization to tell others, knowledge of all the scriptures, imitation, and making other disciples. - According to Dr. Ed Gross - 

But the exciting thing is that we are awakening to the possibility of doing something different, something that more closely resembles what Jesus told us to do.

Mission Frontiers is doing an excellent job of raising our awareness.  Thank you Rick for all of your work and creative energy in provoking us monthly with thought provoking articles.  Enjoy your sabbatical.  May it be a time of refreshment and renewal for you!

Thank you Jim for the response. I have only ONE FEAR. 

We are deviating further and further away from focusing on “the means of the death of Jesus”, as the exclusive basis for revealed knowledge of his divine identity and absolute authority over death and life, without whom there is absolutely nothing: no baptism with the Holy Spirit, no teaching of new disciples, etc.


Thank you for your well wishes regarding my sabbatical. I greatly appreciate it. We seem to be getting a great response to this issue which is very encouraging. The empowerment of the people of God to do the work of God in making disciples is absolutely essential for us to reach the unreached and provide access to the gospel to every person. Please pass on the information in MF to everyone you know. It is through this kind of networking that we can reach far more people than who are on the MF mailing list. Also keep posting your thoughts on this latest issue of MF.

Rick Wood

It has been very exciting to follow Mission Frontier’s emphasis on cutting-edge discipling since early 2011. Jesus commands us to be fruitful, and you are sharing the practices of the most fruitful. IF ONLY WE CAN FIND WAYS TO TELL ALL AMERICAN CHRISTIANS ABOUT THIS! You are providing an excellent service to Christ’s church.

Thanks Robby. Really good report by Gary North…


Thank you for your encouraging words.  Yes, let us all SHOUT it from the housetops. “JESUS FOLLOWERS ARE TO BE DISCIPLE MAKERS.”  All of us will need to do our part in spreading the word. We need to have a holy dissatisfaction with the status quo of passive, passionless Christianity where we do our Christian thing on Sunday while the rest of the world is perishing. We have become dependent upon professional pastors and missionaries to do the work of ministry for us when disciple making has been our job all along. We need to start demanding that pastors begin to train believers in disciple making. Sermons can provide great inspiration but they are inadequate to train people to be disciple makers. You need one on one apprenticeship to develop those kinds of skills. Jesus provided the perfect model for training disciples, lets follow his example.

The unacknowledged PROBLEM is the general illiteracy of and opposition by Christians to the comparative advantages of the first trained disciples.

The disciples were characterized by their hard-won cause of perpetual VISIONS of Jesus Christ’s divinity/absolute authority over the following three areas:

1. Death and life,
2. Baptism with the Holy Spirit and
3. Teaching of new disciples. 

The Christian church has absolutely nothing in common with the cause of Christ.

Good article! Has the “Favorites” feature been disabled on the site? I would like to save this one. You mentioned Jeff Sundell. I first became familiar with him through reading the July-Aug 2012 MF issue and eventually purchased T4T. I emailed Mr Sundell back on Jan 26th of this year as I live in North Carolina also, but I never received a reply. I praise God for MF and the USCWM for being a clearinghouse as it were for all things world missions. I am an afro american Christian desiring to mobilize predominantly AA churches for world missions. My family and I were missionaries in the Philippines from 1994 to 1998.

Leave A Comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.