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

Introducing… “4X4 Movement Starts”

Movements are Distinguished from Ministry by Training Members to Multiply Rapidly

Introducing… “4X4 Movement Starts”


Ministries aim to grow wide (a regular audience of many members), but not deep (many generations).

Ministries urge: “come to our meeting,” “listen to our message,” “read our materials,” or “visit our site.”

Ministries ask members to invite others rather than training them to reproduce.

Ministries tend to overextend leaders while leaving disciples dependent and underdeveloped.

From Ministry to Movements

Movements equip members to obey and teach what they receive, often with little interaction two or more generations away.

Nik Ripken observes: 

[In China those who have been baptized, attend church regularly, and give faithfully are called “members.”] But we do not consider them “followers of Jesus” until they have led others to Christ and helped plant a house fellowship which has planted other house fellowships.1

Gary Stump describes his shift as a minister “from gathering a crowd to making disciples.” 2

And Navigator Jim McKnight observes that laborers tend to bring their new births to the ministry that trained them, so movement leaders must teach their disciples to train their own “children.” 3

Jesus Launched a Movement

Jesus welcomed crowds but didn’t seek to retain them. Instead He prayerfully selected and trained several whom He:

authorized to do what He did,

  • pointed to the harvest,
  • sent out to practice then debriefed,
  • assigned to reproduce, and
  • left to the Holy Spirit.

He then empowered His disciples to call others to

  • receive the same Holy Spirit,
  • learn together to obey Him, and
  • continuing reproducing.

Proliferating Movements

In recent decades, significant interrelated trends have reinforced each other for the rapid proliferation of discipling and church-planting movements among previously unreached and unengaged peoples:

  1. Movement leaders are interacting intentionally to study, learn from and speak into each others efforts. This helps “stuck” movements get quickly “unstuck” to become even more fruitful.
  2. Leaders developed within movements—who have first-hand experience in movement dynamics—are accepting invitations to start movements among other unreached groups.
  3. These movements are now spilling over to the U.S. and other “Christian” lands, renewing the Church and mobilizing laborers for movements among local communities of the unreached.
  4. Published case studies, such as those in this MF, are mobilizing many more to seek God’s help to launch movements.

4x4 Movement Starts

Movements can start with skills any believer can develop:

  • learning to frequently share their own testimony (incorporating the Gospel),
  • listening to the Holy Spirit in seeking out Persons of Peace, and
  • training those who receive Christ to do the same.

Movement leaders have identified four or more “lineages” of disciples, of four or more generations, as an important foundation for maturing movements. For discussion, practitioners have proposed this definition:

4x4 Movement Starts grow as the Holy Spirit leads disciple-makers in birthing four or more unrelated lineages of four or more generations of reproducing disciples, each training new disciples within days or weeks in loving obedience to Jesus. This training includes gathering new disciples to form churches which multiply through the disciples’ fruitful witness to their families and friends who are “far from God,” and to new “persons of peace.” Such “Movement Starts” can lead to full Church Planting Movements.

This definition seeks to guard against common temptations in ministry:

  • delayed obedience in witnessing and discipling
  • witnessing only to family and friends
  • neglecting to witness to family and friends
  • rearranging Christians without engaging the lost
  • going wide (disciples) but not deep (generations)
  • going deep (generations) but not wide (disciples)

Measuring 4x4 Movement Starts

(Proposed for discussion) 4x4 Movement Starts can be described as:

L1—(or “aspiring”) when...

a. I affirm a sense of God’s leading to seek to cultivate a 4x4 movement start.

b. I am training a person of peace (PoP) outside my own family and friends to start a new church, and

c. I am receiving coaching from others with more experience.

L2—when my lineages contain 2 L1 4x4 starts unrelated to each other.

L3—when my lineages contain 3 unrelated L2 4x4 starts.

L4—(or “emerging”) when my lineages contain 4 unrelated L3 4x4 starts, etc.

This scale of measurement maintains a balanced emphasis on growing both wider and deeper.

To join the discussion of how best to define and measure 4x4 Movement Starts, comment on the on-line version of this article, or email [email protected].

4x4 Essentials

Only the Holy Spirit can birth a movement. We can “put up the sails” but only God provides the wind.

Each disciple-maker must train their disciples to pray for and map their generations with as much interest as they would their own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This leads to rejoicing in fruitfulness and timely attention to trouble spots.

For personal interaction and a “getting started” guide, email [email protected] .

  1. Insanity of Obedience. B&H Publishing Group, 2014

  2. Interview with Steve Addison.

  3. 2013 case study on moving from “Ministry-centric” to “Generations-centric.”

  4. “Setting Your Ministry Sales to Catch the Wind of the Spirit”


A good and clear explanation. My colleagues and I have often felt alone on these ‘simple but biblical’  themes. Thank you,  Robby.  I have been renewed this morning in God’s design to continue to mobilize others to mobilize others.  It came be so ‘up hill’.  Thank you for the timely reminder,  Robby.

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