"What Jesus Started": An Interview with Steve Addison

Please welcome Steve Addison back to the blog. Steve and his wife, Michelle, lead MOVE, a mission agency devoted to training and deploying workers who multiply communities of Jesus’ disciples everywhere. He’s also the author of a new book, What Jesus Started, for which I wrote the foreword. Steve is called to encourage church planting movements around the world and is therefore a student of the history of movements that spread the gospel.

In his first book, Movements that Change the World, Steve introduced us to the dynamics of movements that spread the gospel, make disciples and multiply churches. In his new book, What Jesus Started, he looks at Jesus as the founder of a worldwide movement – his ministry and his training of the disciples, and the early Christian movement in Acts – and builds a biblical and practical foundation for disciple-making movements today.

I recently asked Steve a few questions about the book:

What inspired you to write What Jesus Started?

Steve: That’s easy. The example of Jesus as the founder of a disciple-making movement and his continuing ministry as the Risen Lord who still leads the way.

Jesus began something completely new in human history — a global missionary movement. As the Risen Lord his is still present through the Holy Spirit as his dynamic Word spreads and multiplies. It is an unstoppable force despite the obstacles, and wherever the Word goes, communities of disciples spring up.

So what’s our part in the process, or is it all up to God?

Steve: Too much of our thinking on mission begins with ourselves. It’s not about us.

The initiative, the message, the power are all in God’s hands. What Jesus began will be brought to completion. What’s our role? Obedience. Before we consider reinventing our mission and our message we need learn from the example of Jesus. Forget about asking “What would Jesus do?” Instead ask, “What did Jesus do?” Learn from his example in his own ministry, in the training of the first disciples, and as the Risen Lord who continues to equip his people through the Word and the Spirit.

What impressed you about Jesus as a practitioner?

Steve: Jesus didn’t wait for people to come to him. He visited every town and village looking for people. He began every day with the expectation that God had prepared people for him to meet. He looked for faith, and he looked for obedience. Corrupt government officials, disgraced women, even a demoniac became the means by which the gospel spread to unreached communities. He trained and multiplied workers who became the nucleus for a disciple-making movement that has changed the world.

What about today? We hear a lot about movement in the global South – Africa, Asia, Latin America – but almost nothing in the Europe and North America.

Steve: That’s true. So what I do is learn whatever I can from movements in the developing world. There are some good case studies in the book. In the Western world there are exceptions. We need to learn from those exceptions. Again, there are some good case studies in the book.

What do you look for in a good case study?

Steve: Generational growth. Where do we see multiple generations of new disciples and new disciple-making communities. I’m not interested in how big your church is. I’m looking for second, third, and even fourth generation new disciples and new churches.

What authors, experiences, or ideas have influenced you?

Steve: Luke, the author of his Gospel and Acts. Roland Allen, an Anglican missionary who wrote on Paul’s missionary methods. Eckhard Schnabel, the best writer on New Testament mission that I’ve ever read. Finally, all the movement practitioners who I’ve studied or met personally. What they have taught me matches what I’ve learned from the New Testament.

I’ve been deeply influenced by my own ministry experience. Michelle and I have a local ministry to internationals. We’re seeing people come to faith and move into discipleship and church formation. We’re training others across Australia. We head up MOVE, a small mission agency that mobilizes workers in Australia and overseas.

Who is this book for?

Steve: Anyone who is passionate about disciple-making movements. That’s why I’ve included a 50 page Implementation Guide for groups. This is a book for people who want to learn from the example of Jesus, and want to obey him in making disciples and multiplying churches.

Previous articleDid Jesus Sing?
Next articleGo on a Ministry Diet
Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.