It’s my belief that we’re living in a new movement, with the potential to see revival in our generation.
Many people in the United States and around the world have a general feeling that something is happening. There’s an excitement in the air worldwide. The hearts of church leaders from around the globe are pounding from an increased sense of urgency for evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. This increased heart rate was felt by the thumb of Collin Hansen back in 2006 when he penned the article Young, Restless, Reformed. Just a few years later in 2009, this new movement was considered by Time magazine as one of the top ten ideas changing the world.
What Is a Movement?
A movement is an unusual work of God, sometimes called a revival or renewal. During a movement, things happen in larger numbers. I’m not speaking of programs, potluck dinners, or camp meetings, but rather conversions, discipleship, and church planting.
Through my travels and conversations with Christian leaders around the world, I have seen and heard about great numbers of people committing their lives to Jesus Christ. This is the hallmark of a new movement. Charles Hodge described revivals as “those seasons in which zeal of Christians is manifestly increased and in which large numbers of persons are converted to God.”
What’s interesting about movements is that their work spills over traditional boundaries that have historically separated people. In other words, movements aren’t confined by one denomination, one church, one region, or one nation. A movement is like a number of tributaries coming together to form a river. And like a river, a movement cannot be controlled, but merely influenced.
Over the years, it has been important for me to get outside of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network to meet with Christian leaders from around the world. I’ve gained tremendous insight by simply observing God’s work in these places and learning from these leaders and their experiences. Though I differ at times with these various leaders and tribes, my goal is to work relationally with them. This is the way I believe that movements can best be influenced.
Unlike institutions where control is maintained from a distance, influence within movements happens through relationships. Unlike institutions where relationships are closed to those you agree with, movements are open relationally. During movements, we will at times be placed in contact with those outside of our comfort zone, or those with whom we would normally not associate with. This is a good thing.
My desire is to relate publicly and to confront privately.
I’m fortunate to have close friendships with Christian leaders from around the world and across the theological spectrum. We share a love for Jesus and a love for each other. Some consider me their theology buddy whom they can call on issues. I deeply enjoy these friendships and want to serve them in any way I can.
The way I do things within the movement are more fluid than the way I handle things within Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. I think this is an important distinction to be made.
My desire is to build relationships with various people and tribes outside of my normal range as a way of influencing the movement relationally. Though differences will arise and friction created, my desire is to relate publicly and to confront privately as others have done for me).
That is not to say there isn’t a place to speak out publicly. For instance, when someone crosses a line into unrepentant sin or heresy and is a publicly known leader, there is a place for warning others about them. But this should be a last resort for extreme circumstances and should grieve us all if and when it’s necessary.
Make a Difference, Not a Point
I believe we’re sitting at the edge of a precipice. God is moving in ways I believe history will look back on as the beginnings of a new movement in the church. The flows of this movement have and will continue to run over the banks of our current relational boundaries and influence all of the church around the world, not just our own local gathering.
As our personal tributary is lead into the river of this movement by the Holy Spirit, we must learn to swim with others relationally to influence the movement and make a difference. I learned a valuable principle from Andy Stanley: we have to decide if we want to make a difference or a make a point.
Making a point is easy. Making a difference is hard.
If we want to make a point, we don’t need to pursue, know, or love someone. We can simply sit back, create a caricature of them, and shoot them. If we want to make a difference, we have to pursue them, get to know them, understand them, love them, and serve them.
Making a point is easy. Making a point will get you a rabid online fan base that loves it when there’s someone else’s blood in the water.
Making a difference is hard. Making a difference will get you attacked by that rabid online fan base that loves it when your blood is in the water.
But in the end, it’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. And I’d rather make a difference for Jesus than make a point about him. How about you?