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.

Three Builders

There were once three builders. They had very different approaches to building. Each builder thought that his approach was the best.

Builder one had many great ideas. He would dream about the places he was going to build. Everyone loved his ideas. They spoke about him and told others what a great builder he was. But builder one never built a single building. He was too busy telling others about his ideas. He died in poverty.

Builder two was passionate about building. His motto in life was to “Just do it!” Every morning, he woke up and went out to collect bricks. He had little money, so he would collect bricks anywhere he could find them. He would then drive them to his building site where he would dump them in a heap. This was hard work and he never really had time to build. But he was a man of great faith. He believed that if he faithfully collected the bricks and did his part with passion, the building would eventually be built. Builder two, however, died without having built a single building. After his death, a thief collected his bricks and put them to another use.

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