by Stan Parks
In some movements, the obedience question is “Since this Bible passage is true, how will you apply this in your life this week?” As you have read about movements starting movements, you might ask, “In light of this, what shall I do now?” An even better question is not, “What can I do?” but “What must be done?”
We don’t expect these movements to reach the world by themselves. God invites his global body to be part of finishing the Great Commission. We each have a part to play.
A seminary professor was urging prospective American church leaders to redistribute God’s resources to the rest of the world instead of lavishing it on ourselves. He said, “I say it respectfully, but I say it forcefully. God is not that stupid a general.” The disciples in movements are our most effective and strategic frontline Gospel messengers. We need to realign our Great Commission efforts to fully support them.
They are not asking or waiting for logistical and financial support to reach other people groups. They are already reaching out because they are empowered by the Holy Spirit and driven by their love for the lost and their desire to glorify God. But they recognize help from outside can enable them to reach more groups more quickly.
We need to avoid a misplaced nationalism that says, “Citizens of each nation must reach all their unreached peoples and places with no outside help, lest we promote dependency.” The movements are not asking for help for their internal costs (to develop and sustain their movements). They fund those things locally. Yet as they plan and work to reach groups outside themselves, we can come alongside them and help with reaching each and every unreached group.
Six principles for helping movements should inform us all, regardless of our role.
- Prayer is first. The importance of prayer cannot be overstated. Informed, strategic prayer must be the foundation of every effort to reach the unreached. We are in a spiritual battle for the eternal souls of men, women, and children. We can’t afford to fight with earthly weapons. Every disciple of Jesus can play an important part in this, no matter their location or situation.
- Aim for holistic Church Planting Movements (CPM), not for various ministries as an end in themselves. CPMs are not one type of ministry alongside other types of ministries. Community development, medical work, arts, media, and Bible translation — all can both help begin CPMs and blossom as fruit of CPMs. As Jesus establishes his church, all the various types of transformative ministries will arise from within the church in that culture and community.
- The entire body of Christ is needed. 1 Corinthians 12 shows the need for honoring and collaborating with the whole body of Christ.
- True partnership among local disciples and outsiders. National and international outsiders need to defer to the necessary leadership of local disciples. At the same time, local leaders need to humbly encourage true partnerships.
- Funding should empower. All too often money is given in a disempowering and dishonoring manner. Funding should be based on outcomes rather than activities, particularly when these movements have a long record of fruitfulness. One exciting model is foundations prioritizing assistance for movements and setting up task forces of movement catalysts and leaders to help evaluate the proposals.
- Cooperation not control. Many movements have arisen from cooperation among national and international denominations, churches, seminaries, and agencies. This requires honoring one another despite different approaches, while honestly evaluating the impact of various efforts.
As you consider ways to help movements cascade, keep these things in mind.
1) Movements are not waiting for you to volunteer. You will need to patiently and graciously offer your help without demanding anything from movement leaders. You can imagine the load they carry, with movements doubling every 3.5 years, while trying to reach out to new peoples and places. And most live and serve in the midst of brutal governmental and religious opposition and persecution.
2) You may not be able to connect directly with movement leaders, due to security, their lack of time, or other considerations. But there are other ways to serve.
3) Movement leaders are looking for people to first and foremost be their brothers and sisters. As relationships and trust are built, possibilities for you to help may emerge.
4) You need to do all you can to learn about movements and become a movement practitioner right where you are. Your potential for being helpful is greater if you yourself are living a disciple-making lifestyle.
You may be called to be a Movement Servant. (See “Movement Servants Needed!” in MF May-June 2021, 37-41 and “Movement Servants — Helping Movements Multiply” in MF Nov-Dec 2022 for some specific ways you might help.) This involves patiently preparing yourself, and at the right times doing your best to do anything and everything asked of you by the movement(s) you serve.
However, you do not have to be a full-time movement servant to help. You could help in a wide variety of ways, including prayer, research, crisis response, medicine, community development, business for access to new areas, media 4 movements, funding, technology, Bible and media distribution, administrative help, supervising interns, etc. ‘For up-to-date information about these items and other possibilities, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals, teams, churches, organizations, and agencies — what could you do to involve (or better involve) your entire group in these efforts? What could you give up? What could you change? Are you willing to make radical changes?
We thank God for what he is doing through movements in our day. Especially for the spontaneous multiplication of movements planting other movements among the unreached. Are you willing to lay aside whatever you need to, in order to be a part of doing whatever it takes to see movements in every unreached people and place in this generation?
About the Author: Stan is a Church Planting Movements trainer and a coach for leaders of Church Planting Movements around the world. He has been serving Unreached People Groups since 1994 while based in Indonesia, Singapore and Dubai. He is Co-Facilitator of the 24:14 Coalition which is focused on Kingdom Movement engagements in every Unreached People and place by 2025.
This article was first published in Mission Frontiers: Cascading Gospel: Movements Starting Movements, Jan/Feb 2023, pages 38-39. It was used here with permission.