Jesus did not start a religion; He started a movement of spiritually transformed people on mission with Him. To better understand this movement from a historical perspective as well as its expression in the twenty-first century, Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways is a must read. Drawing on his own experiences in Australia, and both the first century movement in the early Church and the twentieth century movement in China, Hirsch unpacks the basic components of spiritual movements. He details the “quintessential elements that combine to create Apostolic Genius.” which are present in every believer: (1)
1) Christocentric Monotheism: “Jesus is Lord”
3) Missional-Incarnational Impulse
4) Apostolic Environment
5) Organic Systems
6) Communitas, not Community.
Each of these chapters builds a deeper understanding of the foundational building blocks of movements. He also provides a valuable understanding of a missional church (82) and the dangers of consumerism (109). Every missional leader should read this book to fully comprehend the process of multiplying disciples; “it is the essential task of discipleship to embody the mission of Jesus.” (2)
Personally, I am grateful this book was released before I finished writing my doctoral dissertation and I highly recommend it. (Note: go to Alan’s blog Organic Church by Neil Cole does an incredible job of painting a picture of a missional movement here in America. Cole’s experience of helping to start over seven hundred churches in thirty-two states and twenty-three nations in six years has given him a wealth of experience which he unloads in the pages of this book. He pictures the Church in America as sick, seeming “to have lost her sense of identity.”) (3)
Yet, he helps the reader to see the Church as a living (organic) and thriving movement—“the presence of Jesus among His people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.” (4)
Anyone who wants to be involved in missional movements needs to read this book. In it, Cole points out the dangers of viewing the Church as a building and demonstrates how the Church can truly expand and multiply all over the place without buildings, professional clergy, and big budgets. To fuel missional movements that will transform America, Cole urges Christians to focus on Jesus and on making disciples. The principles in the book are working now, and will work in the lives of any believers who seek to embody the mission of Jesus. Make sure to catch his description of missional DNA (Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships, and Apostolic Mission), which is the smallest component of a missional movement. Also, his encouragements on how to spread an epidemic in chapter twelve are very helpful. (Note: also check out Church Multiplication Associates)
Certainly these books by Hirsch and Cole are invaluable for understanding multiplication and movements. Yet David Garrison’s Church Planting Movements further expands on key principles of movements from around the world. The Ten Universal Elements in every church planting movement (which he describes in chapter eleven) provide an incredible understanding of what God has been doing worldwide to multiply disciples and churches. Illustrated with multiple examples from around the world, after reading this book the reader will have an amazing picture of movements. Missional activity is truly missionary activity; Garrison gives great tools for every believer in America to be used as a missionary here. His list of eight key priorities to arm missionaries to stay in the race should be adopted by every Christian (236–237). This book is not theory, it is truly practical. Appendix Three: Qur’anic Bridge is a practical tool for sharing the gospel from the Qur’an. (Note: go to churchplantingmovements.com)
Understanding movements would not be complete with Robert Logan’s
Be Fruitful and Multiply. In my opinion, this book is an instant classic. Logan’s over thirty years invested in the development of church planting systems is gathered in this powerful little book (only 180 pages). Logan gives examples of multiplication movements, but more than that, he describes the essential components of systems that will fuel movements. There are ten chapters that detail strategies for building successful church multiplication movements. Yet before jumping into the strategies, the reader has to ponder part one of this book which outlines the biblical roots and foundations of movements, and helps to envision the possibility of movements here in America. I appreciated Logan’s emphasis that “the call of God on every Christian’s life is to be part of a church multiplication movement.” (5)
In chapter five, he shows how every believer can play an integral role in church multiplication. Having personally benefited from Logan’s training and coaching for the past nearly eighteen years, it is wonderful to possess such a wealth of ideas, strategies, systems and checklists in one resource. (Note: for more resources, see CoachNet)
Missional movements are vital to the mission of Jesus and disciplemaking in America. Hirsch’s book lays out a solid biblical and practical foundation for movements. Cole’s book will help the reader to practically envision movements happening in America. Garrison’s book gives a global perspective which adds hope to a disheartening awareness that movements are not yet happening in the United States. Finally, Logan sets the framework for fueling movements by explaining the key systems and strategies to support what God is doing.
- Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 24.
- Ibid., 102.
- Cole, Organic Church, 32.
- Ibid., 53.
- Logan, Be Fruitful and Multiply, 14.
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