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