Surprised in Tulsa

MillenialAs soon as I drove into the parking lot, I knew that God was up to something.  To be honest, I did not really want to be there.  But God was about to catch me by surprise.  Over the years, I have been shown a handful of insights about the future.  They have always been right.  This article contains one of those glimpses into the next 20 years.

I have attended many churches in the USA.  I have to admit that the vast majority of them leave me cold.  I assure you that this is not an attempt to criticize or tear down.  I simply long to see the church become what she was meant to be.  Most churches that I have attended do not give me much hope for the future.  They are usually either stuck in the past or have become slaves to the popular culture.

That morning, I actually wanted to go and experience this particular church.  But I was also exhausted. 

What is a movement?

movOver the years, I have been involved in many lively debates attempting to define movements of the gospel. It begins with the name. Several years ago, we changed the term “Church planting movements” to “Disciple making movements.” Others have used more branded names to define what they do (e.g. T4T). Then there is the confusion created when people do something completely different to this and also use the word “movement.” An example would be the “gospel movements” emerging from groups such as The Gospel Coalition. Each one of these groups is doing an amazing work that should be celebrated. However, we are still stuck with trying to define what we mean by a “movement.”

Movements are not a technique

TanzanAbout 20 years ago, I became involved in the cell church movement. Churches around the world were discovering that Sunday services were not great for making disciples. Initially, there was massive resistance to the idea of creating "cells" for members of the church. Pastors were fearful that the idea would split their churches, create break-away groups and even that new cults would form. Proponents of the idea pointed out the potential for making solid disciples and the tremendous church growth being experienced by a number of cell churches worldwide.

A theology of us

We desperately need a fresh theology of us. Movements are about us.

The church is plagued by a theology of me. The individual has become the great end of God’s plan for mankind. We are told, “If you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have died for you,” and “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” This may be true, but it misses the grand plan. In fact, it misses the entire gospel. God’s plan was never for an individual – it was for a redeemed people. The entire story of scripture is about the relationship between God and his people – not one person.

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