Letting ‘Movement’ Happen

Letting ‘Movement’ Happen Isn’t Always Easy

The idea of a local church fomenting a movement is unthinkable to some people.

To certain denominational stalwarts it smacks of rebellion. To some pastors, even launching another church appears a loss. Yet from the first, the gospel gave us a movement of church planting movements.

Our prejudices, notwithstanding but most Catholics love Jesus as much as most Protestants. But the ancient Nestorian and Orthodox traditions still exist after a couple of millennia. Some of the theology in the celebrated underground church in China might curl your hair. So, why not allow a little diversity to emerge at home?

Your church could become a movement by planting churches that plant others. You could even birth a movement if you let a few of those churches do a new thing.

I am of the opinion that most (not all but most) movements are good for a generation which spans about 60 years of adulthood for its members. After that things fall into visible decline. The need is for new generations to spawn new movements long before that begins. This is where thoughtful people transfer their influence and wealth to the next generation to occupy territory in this world which is not their home.

Disunity As A Blessing

One way to tell if your wineskin is getting brittle is if people are struggling against you instead of alongside of you.

What we see as disunity can be a blessing if we give it a little positive boost. Several times we’ve faced congregation leaders whose theology or leadership began to separate them from the rest of us. What fellow staffers saw as a threat we quickly turned into an opportunity to aid in the Great Commission. We simply offered the “evermore distant” leader the use of our funds, our name and anyone who would go with them to plant a new church. The irony of this is that once they got out the door they often decided that we weren’t so crazy and remained in closer friendship than when they were ‘members’ of our church.

Distance As A Driver

We’ll work with a church planter whom we barely know if we can coach them into successful ministry. This is far less costly in the day of wireless media than it was when we were communicating by fax and landline telephones.

A few thousand dollars in airfare along with some personal time can set the right person soaring as a church planter and multiplier. Somehow investing multiplication DNA into a raw recruit is easier over long distances. Perhaps it is a sense of loneliness that helps spur someone into a vision for a bunch of churches like theirs. Whatever the cause, it has always been fairly easy to spark movements overseas.

Free Choice Is A Powerful Tool

I can remember the time a very successful Hope Chapel pastor came to me, crying tears and asking permission to change the name of his church.

He wanted to plant churches in Hawaii alongside those we had already planted, but he wanted to give them a new identity. This is a great idea as we basically had three church planting movements in the state, each had a church in pretty much every neighborhood. We had saturated our potential to a large degree. This man’s style is different enough that he saw an opportunity to add a fourth movement to the mix, appealing to people who might not easily fit the other three.

The sad thing was that he was in fear that I would oppose the move. He even told me that if I asked him to scrap his plans, he would. Why is that sad? Because the primary indicator of maturity is the ability to reproduce. If we could reproduce churches and reproduce movements overseas, why wouldn’t it be right to reproduce movements at home? I gave him the blessing he asked for and since then another of our leading churches has taken the same step. I applaud them both.

Let ‘Em Go…

So, here’s the deal… When someone wants to do things a little differently from you, lighten up. Your name isn’t Jesus and you’re not responsible for the whole show, He is. Give permission easily, especially when it comes to multiplication. Look at apparent disunity as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Remember, “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” That liberty includes freedom of movement and can only be threatened by people like you and me. Learn to stick on liberty like leather on a baseball!

Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts? Mine are that every pastor or church leader ought to be hungry to multiply churches…





3 thoughts on “Letting ‘Movement’ Happen”

  1. Thanks for sharing these valuable insights, Ralph. I appreciate your application of these principles and hope to duplicate them.

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