What Does a Real Movement Look Like?

Actual movements are tricky things, but the word has never been more popular.

People keep referring to themselves as “a movement for global change” or “a church planting movement.” If we’re honest, however, that’s usually not the case.

You shouldn’t even be the one declaring yourself a movement. That’s like saying you’re smart or good-looking. As the Bible explains, “Let another praise you and not your own mouth – a stranger, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).

So, why do so many people classify themselves as a movement? People want to be a part of one. I recognize that desire because I share it. I am a seeker of movements. I want one. We need one.

Yet, only God can create a movement – it takes His divine and sovereign work. But, based on my observations in history and around the world today, there do seem to be some patterns related to such movements.

In Viral Churches, we talk a lot about “Church Multiplication Movements,” and some of this is reflected there, but today I’d like to talk about movements in general.

The obvious question is, “What will it take for one to start now?” Here are three things that I believe we need to spark a movement.

1. We need unreasonable men and women.

The comfortable do not create movements. Instead, they originate with those who are desperate, demanding something different. Movements come from those who become more committed than they are now.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist and socialist, once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” He’s right—in a way.

I’d say that when women and men allow their faith to be tamed by the world, they end up with a “nice religion” uninterested in the big issues like global evangelization, world poverty, and injustice. That’s why I love passionate people. We need more, not less of them.

Christianity needs unreasonable people who are uncomfortable with the status quo and unwilling to be content with the current mode of life and church. We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction.

2. We need churches that are willing to sacrifice.

Seeing the Kingdom as more important than an individual church will take sacrifice, but that’s what a movement is about. For so many churches that are simply trying to get by, however, that is an odd thing. Instead of a vision for the Kingdom, they have a vision for survival.

A movement takes churches that so believe in their mission and cause that they are willing to sacrifice for it – financially, congregationally and corporately. They are willing to give and go. Movement churches will sacrifice people to send out missionaries around the world and church planters across the nation.

Everyone wants to be a part of a movement, as long as someone else is paying the price.

Everyone loves a movement, as long as it looks great, but costs them little. A true movement will have a steep price, but those who are a part of it will recognize the immeasurable value.

3. We need multiplying disciples.

That’s so basic it is easy to miss, but it cannot be more essential. The fact is, no disciples are willing to be unreasonable and no churches are willing to sacrifice unless deeply committed disciples are involved.

Discipleship is the DNA of “movemental Christianity.” It is the basic building block of anything Jesus calls us to do, which is why it is central to the mission of God.

Disciples are unreasonable because they want the world to know of Jesus and to live as those who are changed by the gospel’s power. Disciples demand their churches sacrifice for greater gospel good.

When we studied discipleship for our Transformational Discipleship initiative, we were struck by the fact that so many pastors assumed they were making progress in their discipleship without evaluating it. Despite the fact that we have so few driven disciples and sacrificing churches, the vast majority felt good about their disciple-making progress. Something is wrong with that picture.

No Christian movement can be birthed without discipleship. It is impossible.

Conclusion

So, what needs to happen and what needs to change? Well, there are many things, but let me suggest one big idea for now.

Get dissatisfied.

Start with an unreasonable and sacrificial passion for discipleship that leads people to “no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

That’s the spark of a movement everyone will talk about.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

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