what does a movement look like?

After reading my “be part of a movement!” blog, a friend asked for more details.  He wanted to know more about what the movements looked like… I would love to share that with you.

We define a movement as “God working through a team of like-hearted people who are winning, building and sending.”

 

A movement will include four elements:

  • Connecting lost people to Jesus
  • Life-changing discipleship
  • Multiplying leaders
  • Generation of local resources (vision, people, ideas, funding, systems, etc.)

In both movements, it was clear God was at work.  Personal and group prayer was common – sometimes programmed, often spontaneous – due to a deep sense of dependence on God.  We studied His Word and took steps of faith.  We trusted the Holy Spirit to control us and guide us.  I don’t know that our actions “caused” the movement – that was simply God’s choice, but we were deliberate in opening our hearts so that He could work in us.

Team was another key factor.  One movement team included several full-time staff and student leaders; the other had only one staff woman and a core group of committed adult volunteers.  In each case the team was passionate about reaching their audience for Christ. The team members were also committed to each other – growing in character, communicating, sharing responsibilities, learning and training, enjoying the work and life together.  The teams were not perfect – sometimes there were personality conflicts; sometimes members didn’t do their part; sometimes volunteers decided to get involved in something else… but the team provided strength and encouragement for the task.

In both movements, we were committed to evangelism – connecting people to Jesus. In the campus movement, we intentionally and strategically shared with any student who had come twice to a meeting. We trained our staff and students how to do evangelism and went sharing together often.  The women’s movement was also committed to training and sharing Christ during their book study; they often had opportunities to share one-on-one after a small group meeting.  Both movements also organized numerous special evangelistic events. Basically, evangelism was a priority – in heart and practice.

Incredible transformation happened through life-changing discipleship. In both cases, we saw an increased desire to know God’s Word and apply it to their lives. We taught basic follow-up, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and other Bible studies. Students chose not to lie or bribe professors for better grades. Women chose to forgive their husbands and strengthen their marriages. Dating couples chose to break off relationships instead of continuing in immorality.  Moms chose to reconcile with their children. Students chose to serve God in ministry after graduation.

Leaders multiplied.  In the student movement, we recorded discipleship chains out to four generations. In the women’s movement, we lost track of the generations! It became “normal” for everyone to invite friends to events, or take a few friends through follow-up, or lead a small group, or host a mom’s book club. Students and volunteers led in reaching areas of campus or running parts of the ministry (prayer/socials/followup) or arranging details for an event. Everyone found a place to serve.

There was no lack of resources.  The students quickly offered to bring the snacks. They began to support each other and/or work together to send each other to conferences and mission trips.  There were very few outside subsidies. The women hosted the studies in their homes, shared food for meals, and donated items and money for the evangelistic events so that they were always self-financed and often profitable. Creative ideas surfaced continually. New materials were created. Partnerships were formed. More people were recruited.

God blessed.  It became impossible to measure the impact as creativity flourished and initiative grew. Years later, the student ministry still produces laborers.  Many graduates share Christ at their workplace and lead their marriages and children to follow the Lord. The women’s ministry continues to work on projects that will expand to other cities in all of Mexico.

Connecting lost people to Jesus. Life-changing discipleship. Multiplying leaders. Generating local resources. That is what a movement looks like.

Which element of a movement is most exciting to you?

Which element is most challenging for you?

be part of a movement!

My organization believes strongly in movements, but I rarely meet anyone who has ever actually seen one or been a part of one. I have had the privilege of being a part of two – one as a key player, in the other more of a mentor/coach. Those experiences were exciting, invigorating, fun, messy, fulfilling and a lot of hard work! They were dreams come true… and I’d love to help with many more. As I was doing reading for my MA, I read a chapter on movements in The Courage to Teach, by Parker J. Palmer.  It outlined four stages of movements that I recognized right away. I think understanding them might help us see many more movements in the years ahead.

Stage 1 – No more divided life

Movements start when someone decides, “I can’t take it anymore. I can’t live a life externally that is so different from my heart convictions.” In ministry that means I will follow God’s heart and do whatever,  go wherever, it takes to win ______ (fill in the blank: women, students, professionals, students, athletes…) to Christ… because that is what He has called me to do. However that might look in my circumstance and with my gifting, I won’t let discouragement, fear, busyness, small children, organizational disinterest or criticism by others get in my way. I will not blame anyone else nor the organization for my lack – I will be true to myself! We will never see God build more spiritual movements, if we don’t individually get to this place in our heart.

Stage 2 – Support in community

The next step is to take our mustard seed of faith and conviction and share it with someone else; admit to another that I want to be and do something new. It is too easy for our enthusiasm to die away without encouragement from others. Community could be our family, our team, a few friends – any other like-minded cohorts. Our community gives us mutual reassurance (“No, you’re not crazy.”), a common vocabulary for our vision, and often skills and training necessary to make the dream a reality. Working together in a healthy, dynamic team is one of the most synergistic parts of a movement.

Stage 3 – Go public

A true movement doesn’t hide behind closed doors and manipulate its people in secret. A true movement shares its vision and resources with others, seeking feedback for improvement and partnership for impact. Sometimes it seems it would be easier to stay small and private, but then we would miss the opportunity to challenge and influence others, and we would miss the blessing of working with and learning from others. Receiving  feedback from others helps us to avoid self-righteousness, self-centeredness, self-sufficiency… and helps us become more Kingdom focused.

Stage 4 – There is nothing better

Once we actually begin to experience the fruit of spiritual movement, there is nothing more inspiring! The out-of-control multiplication, the true life transformation in our disciples, the character growth in ourselves – all bring a sense of satisfaction that says, “It is so worth it! There is no price I paid that was too great, no prize you can offer that would be worth more.”  I don’t want to invest in anything less.

Have you been a part of a movement? Please tell me about it! I’d love to learn from you…