A few thoughts on mission movements and disciple making movements

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A few thoughts on movements and mission taken from some recent email correspondence with a student writing a dissertation on mission movements…

Student: The question: what is a missions movement and what kind of missions movement is it? I noticed your disciple making movement—I too feel the same way, but I seek our disciples to action/engage with humanity in a form of service (cleaning, construction, medicine, food etc).

Steve: Yes and in a disciple making movement you achieve that by teaching them to obey what Jesus commanded (Mt 28) one step at a time. i.e. love, pray, give, serve. It’s not a movement unless new disciples are learning to love God and others one step at a time. We focus on the theologically and politically correct causes. Sometimes the best thing to bring mercy and justice to a family is for a the husband to stop drinking, gambling, running around and begin engaging with his family.

Check out this post on the Reformation of Machismo in Columbia.

Let the Word and the Spirit do their work in the context of mutually accountable and supportive relationships.

Keep asking What did Jesus Do? What did his disciple making movement look like? How did he train disciples to obey has commands? What did the risen Lord continue to do in Acts and the Epistles. What you end up with is the spread of the gospel resulting in multiplying communities (NT churches) of disciples learning to follow and obey Jesus.

Student: Along with verbally proclaiming Jesus, I want to serve a meal or help them physically as an expression of Jesus’ love. — How do you define a disciple making movement?

Steve: Yes, that’s what we do and it’s what we teach disciples to do in obedience to Jesus. But doing those acts of love is not a movement unless new disciple are learning to love and teaching others to follow Jesus. 

Re defining disciple making movements: I follow Schnabel who is our greatest writer on the mission of Jesus, the Twelve, the early church and Paul. It’s worth reading this summary of Schnabel’s definition of mission then reading his books on a history of NT mission and on the book of Acts.

Student: What would you define as a missions movement?

Steve: A missions movement is the same thing as a disciple making movement. How can their be a disciple making movement that is not about mission? How can their be a missions movement that does not have at it’s heart gospel, disciples who are learning to obey what Jesus taught and the multiplication of communities that are “church” in the NT understanding?

This article on defining mission by Ferdinand is helpful.

Even better is Jesus’ promise: If you’ll follow me, I’ll teach you to fish for people. Until we’re obeying Jesus command we’ll never understand the true nature of mission.


NT Wright on redefining “marriage” and the gospel

One way to change culture is to redefine the meaning of important words and symbols. NT Wright explains how attempts to redefine “marriage” undermine the truth of the gospel.

Mapping London. Reaching the world.

01 Ethnicity map 101 Ethnicity table

A map of London according to ethnicity. London, like so many cities around the world has been transformed by immigration. We’re not reaching cities any more, we’re reaching tribes and tribes within tribes.

The old rules don’t apply. You’ve got find insiders (persons of peace – Lk 10) and through them whole relational worlds (the oikos or household).

It has to be viral, reproducible, simple and flexible. A Bangladeshi Muslim from east London has local friends and family. He has friends and family in Bangladesh who are just a Facebook post, a phone call, or flight away.

The gospel can jump from London England to Sylhet Bangladesh in an afternoon. Now you’ve got a church plant happening in a country you’ve never visited.

How big is your vision? How profoundly simple are your methods?

“London: the Information Capital: 100 Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You View the City” (James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti)

Top OT and NT commentaries $4.99 on Kindle

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A bad mix. Michelle is out and I just discovered that the NIV Application Commentaries for OT and NT on Kindle have dropped to $4.99 each.

Now I’ve just got to read them and hide my impulse buy from you know who.

Make disciples like the apostles did! George Patterson

Following the podcast interview with George Patterson, here’s a 15 minute clip of him in full flight via the Verge network.

Catch the fire in this man.

Following and Fishing in Manchester

Following Fishing Manchester slide

Michelle and I will be training in Manchester, UK on November 28-29.

A conversation with George Patterson

George Patterson

George Patterson

I had the honour of interviewing George Patterson. He served for over twenty years in Central America. The simple methods and practices he developed have since spread around the world as best practice for church planting movements.


Movements that Change the World: Kindle price drops to $2.99

I’m not sure how long it will last, but the kindle version of Movements that Change the World just dropped to $2.99.

“Movements That Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel” (Steve Addison)

UPDATE: It’s back to $9.

Is This the End for Mideast Christianity?


 Philip Jenkins reports that for Christians in the Middle East, 2014 has been a catastrophe.

The most wrenching stories have come from Iraq, where the nascent Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL in news reports) has savagely persecuted ancient Christian communities, including Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syrian Orthodox. Iraqi Christians have declined rapidly in number since the first Gulf War in 1991, but survivors long believed they could maintain a foothold around Mosul.

This past summer, that hope collapsed. In a ghastly reminder of Nazi savagery against Jews, Christian homes were marked with the Arabic letter for Nazarenes—Christ followers.*

Could this get worse?

All local Christians know the answer. They look back at the experience of Jews, who flourished across the region just a century ago but have now vanished from virtually every Mideast nation outside Israel. Since 1950, Egypt’s Jewish population has shrunk from 100,000 to perhaps 50; Iraq’s, from 90,000 to a mere handful. Christian Aleppo or Damascus could easily go the way of Jewish Baghdad. 

Jenkins identifies a lesson from history:

However often we talk of churches dying, they rarely do so without extraordinary external intervention. Churches don’t die because their congregations age, their pastors behave scandalously, the range of programs they offer wears thin, or their theology becomes muddled. Churches vanish when they are deliberately and efficiently killed by a determined foe.

He also identifies signs of hope:

Over the past decade, we have heard amazing claims about new Christian evangelization in Muslim countries, usually accompanied by incredible conversion statistics.

Having said that, some specific accounts are much more believable. David Garrison’s recent book, A Wind in the House of Islam, describes the Christian appeal in diverse Muslim societies. Remarkably, Syria offers some of the most convincing examples of this trend. Garrison is a responsible and critical reporter. The problem, though, is that all such activity is clandestine, for fear of arousing persecution.

Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity, is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University. 

 * (The 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet and the equivalent to the Roman letter N pronounced “noon”. See the image above.)


A move of God among the Roma of Europe


The breakthroughs in movements always begin on the fringe. Newsweek reports on a move of God among the Roma (Gypsies) of Europe.

God has not finished with Europe.

Background story: Gypsy faith