I was asked this question last week by one of the district leaders I am coaching:
“What are the 3-5 essential things that are absolutely necessary for starting a missional movement in our region or district?”
I love this question! The vision of a fresh, Holy Spirit empowered, movement of disciple making that sweeps spiritual explorers into the family of God and equips Christians to obey the command of Christ to make disciples (who obey the things he taught) has captivated the imagination of so many leaders I serve. And, while we rejoice to see this happening in China and Africa, our hearts long to experience it right here, in the United States.
Here was my response – thought it would be worth passing along.
1. A disciple-making engine
No matter what missional vehicle you choose, and there have been many of them used by God over the years, it is only as good as the engine that propels it. (See Mike Breen’s blog post.)
A consistent method of apprenticing believers in the words, works, and ways of Jesus who actually pay it forward is the only way mission becomes both Christ-centered and sustainable.
2. Leaders who go first
“Do as I say but not as I do” has never worked well for anybody. A missional movement that saturates an entire group of churches must be sparked by leaders who both SHOW and TELL what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus. Remove imitation from the process and you end up with just another program – no matter how good the teaching. (See my earlier post on this.)
3. Small beginnings in lots of places
The top down-we are going to plant 2,020 new churches by 2020-approach just doesn’t move most of us beyond initial excitement. To hear our denominational leaders (like me) talk about our grand visions from the stage (that your churches are going to fund, by the way…) becomes exhausting as the goal posts are moved from year to year and from administration to administration. However, pastors talking with their peers about how God is at work among their people multiplying disciples (even just a few at first) and forming redemptive relationships with spiritual explorers which lead to faith in Christ? Now you have my attention.
4. A good rehab program
The reality is that most of us as leaders, along with our churches, are addicted to a version of success that is measured in “buildings, budgets, and butts”. We count what we value, and most of us count square footage, money, and attendance. And, until we change what we care about, nothing much will really change.
My father (who passed away last year) was addicted to alcohol most of his adult life. And, over time, our addictions have a way of defining and shaping us. But, the day came when the doctor told him, “Marvin, you have two choices: quit drinking and live, or continue to drink and die.” And on that day 11 years ago my father chose life. The power of addiction was overcome by the promise of life and the fear of death. (I am incredibly proud of my dad for making this difficult choice and remaining sober from that day forward. When I think of him now I don’t think of him as an alcoholic. Instead, I remember him for who he was – a man who had the courage and tenacity to face his demons and chose love over fear, life over death. A man my kids only remember as the Grandpa who loved them.)
A recognition and ownership of our misplaced affections…a true spirit of brokenness and repentance…the sense of urgency we feel when staring death in the face…the courage and tenacity to choose love over fear when it gets hard…the hope for spiritual grandchildren who begin families of their own. This is the journey.
5. The guidance, energy, empowerment, and conviction of the Holy Spirit
Christ said in John 15 that apart from him, we can DO NOTHING. Only as the Spirit moves in, among, and through his people will transformation come. Only as we repent and believe the good news (over and over again) will God meet us in our brokenness and pour out his grace. Only as we burn the idols of “success” in all their forms will we experience God’s kingdom come, and his will done on earth as it is in heaven.
These were the first five things that popped into my head when asked that question last week. I would love to hear what you think. Please take a moment to comment on this post and add your own perspective.