I closed the last article in this series with a lot of questions. How do we do what they did and fulfill the Great Commission that Christ gave us? The gospel is spreading in many areas of our world and thousands upon thousands are coming to Christ. There is growth despite persecution in Asia, Africa, and South America. In fact, 70 percent of the world’s Bible-believing Christians now live in these areas.
Growth in these areas of our world is the result of movements. Movements grow like wildfire on a grassing plain. They are like a small snowball that rolls and gains size and momentum as was it rolls. I believe that movements are God’s way of reaching entire people groups. But the church in the US is not structured to become a movement. My friend Matt Dabbs recently addressed this issue in the following article.
A Few Reasons We Don’t See Movements in the United States
by Matt Dabbs
It seems God is moving all over the world through massively expanding organic networks of everyday people making disciples who make disciples who plant churches.
Why aren’t we seeing this as much in the U.S.?
First, we don’t see them because we aren’t looking for them. We aren’t turning over the stones with our ears to the ground looking for them. They are happening and are probably near where you live – you would just never know it. There are house churches all over the country but how would you know they exist since they don’t have a sign or building?
Second, God moves fastest among the humble and we have a pride problem in the United States. Experts in disciple making movements say the people who are hardest to train and most resistant are people who have been in ministry the longest. There are too many habits that have to be broken and paradigms that have to be shifted and most can’t do it. Movements are taking place among people who are desperate for God. We aren’t there yet.
Third, we haven’t given over control of our churches and our lives to God 100%. We like to maintain and exert control and this runs counter to the movement of God. It is only when we give it all over to God and plead with him for him to run the show and we follow his lead that movements can happen. We aren’t there yet.
Fourth, the movement of God runs counter to how we set up church. By church I mean institutional, established church as we see in the United States.
Church was set up to be stable and predictable…movements are not.
Church was set up to be top-down leadership. Movements are bottom up.
Church was set up to be run by professionals. Movements are energized and driven by lay people.
Church was set up to not upset the insiders. Movements mobilize the insiders for mission.
Church was set up to keep leadership in the hands of the few and keep them local. Movements multiply leaders and give them away readily.
Church values slow. Movements value fast.
Church is expensive. Movements are cheap.
Church is programmatic. Movements are mission focused.
The way we set up church creates inherent barriers to movement that were completely foreign to church in the New Testament. And so much of the drama revolves around the brick and mortar. If we can divest ourselves of our investment in the buildings and refocus on people, we would be more apt to be movements rather than feeling so stuck.
God is willing and ready to move. I am not so sure we are.”
I am challenged, how about you? When Constantine lifted the persecution and made Christianity popular, the simple Ecclesia or assembly, became Church a building. A hierarchy of leadership establishes a formal structure, and the message went from being simply about a resurrected savior to keeping all the rules established by the leadership’s interpretation of scripture. That first movement did not have scripture. All they had was the wonderful story of a resurrected Savior that had died for the whole world, and He said go tell it to every human being you meet.
Oversimplification? Probably, but I think you get the message. It will take a total paradigm shift. If a movement develops in the US, I don’t think it will come from the existing church model, but outside of it. I would not be so arrogant as to say I have the solution, but I do have some suggestions. We will do that next time.