Latest version of Following and Fishing

 Following and Fishing cover

There’s a new version of the Following and Fishing: Getting Started. It incorporates the 3 Circles tool for sharing the gospel and the Oikos or People Mapping exercise.

I’ve made some changes to the list of stories in the Seven Stories of Hope. No update yet to the trainers’ outline. You’ll have to wing it.

Let me know if you find any errors or typos.

Email me if you have translated the Following and Fishing and want access to the originals.

Newbigin’s shift — from a traditional to a movements paradigm

Lesslie Newbigin

I was compelled to ask myself whether it is really true that the Church’s obedience to the Great Commission is intended to be contingent upon the accident of a budgetary surplus.

Lesslie Newbigin

Lesslie Newbigin was one of the great missionary statesmen of the 20th Century. He spent much of his life in India. He began with a tradition paradigm of ministry that relied on foreign workers, funding and supervision. He soon discovered its limitations.

I have lived and worked as a missionary within the structure typical of modern missions, responsible for the conduct of institutions, for the supervision of Indian workers, for the employment and control of teachers and others in charge of congregations. I have seen this system come to a practical standstill: funds were not available to increase the number of salaried workers. … Only if some fresh resources came from ‘home’ could the mission become a mission again. As it was, it was plain that any talk of ‘winning India for Christ’ was not serious. I was compelled to ask myself whether it is really true that the Church’s obedience to the Great Commission is intended to be contingent upon the accident of a budgetary surplus.

Rather than fix what was broken, Newbigin became a careful observer of what God was doing on the fringes.

The answer came through various experiences. Firstly, through seeing how ordinary lads from village congregations … could themselves become active witnesses and evangelists among their comrades. Secondly, through learning to call on the services of all kinds of lay men and women as volunteer pastors and evangelists for the village congregations left without the guidance of a full-time worker. And thirdly, most decisively, through the experience of a small group-movement in a very backward area where the Gospel had only recently been preached for the first time. …

Here’s what happened next…

the churches began to multiply themselves by a kind of spontaneous growth which was not dependent upon increasing outside resources. In an area almost entirely pagan, the number of Christian congregations rose from thirteen to fifty-five in twelve years. … In the midst of a movement of this kind, one could speak seriously about winning India for Christ.

Lesslie Newbigin
Trinitarian Doctrine for Today’s Mission (London: Paternoster Press, 1998), 74-77.

Europe’s immigration crisis — threat or opportunity?

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Pew Research reports on the migration crisis in Europe and the implications for future population trends.

The ongoing surge of refugees into Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-ravaged countries presents a striking demographic contrast: hundreds of thousands of predominantly young people trying to get into a region where the population is older than in almost any other place on earth.

Europe is a dying culture. It has lost its faith and the will to reproduce the next generation. The population is ageing and dying. 

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Those seeking asylum are most likely to be young adult males with a Muslim faith.

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Whether all this is a threat, or an opportunity, or both, depends on what we do.


JD Payne interviews Steve Addison on his new book — Pioneering Movements

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An interview I recorded with JD Payne on Pioneering Movements: Leadership that multiplies disciples and churches.

The book will be out in December 2015.

7 Ways to narrow the conversion-discipleship gap

Healing on the Streets

Recently we looked at the great job Healing on the Streets is doing of connecting with people and sharing the gospel. Thousands have come to faith in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Yet there’s a gap between conversions and people who are continuing as disciples. Once we start sharing the gospel, it’s a problem we face. A few thoughts about what to do. . .

1. Expect people to fall away

Jesus told the parable of the soils (Mark 4) because he knew through his own experience that many people encounter him, begin the journey and then turn back.

A dramatic healing will not guarantee that people will follow Jesus as disciples. Start reading one of the Gospels, you won’t be reading long before you find an example of a miracle followed by unbelief. Ten lepers healed on the street, only one returned to thank Jesus.

It’s not your fault.

2. Healing is not the endgame

Jesus healed because he had compassion on people. But healing doesn’t make a disciple. Only the gospel does that. The goal is disciples, not just healings.

3. Count baptisms not “conversions”

According to Jesus, you make disciples by baptising them and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded.

Today we’re not convinced that someone is a true follower of Jesus unless they have put their hand up or prayed a prayer. In the New Testament, they weren’t convinced until someone was baptised. Baptism always followed the decision to repent and believe.

4. Teach them to obey what Jesus has commanded

Stop trying to get someone to attend your church. Start teaching them to follow and obey what Jesus has commanded. Begin with a simple tool like the 7 Commands of Christ. Meet with them, preferably in their home with any friends and family they can muster.

Discipleship always leads to church. Attending church doesn’t always lead to discipleship.

5. Try healing in the home

Jesus always went looking for people of peace (Luke 10, 19) who welcomed he messenger and the message and linked them both to a relational community. Healing on the streets is a great way to get started. But if you’re not finding houses of peace, you may want to try offering to pray for people in their homes.

6. Tackle the problem with movement principles

We don’t start training by teaching principles. We start by teaching obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples. But once you’re out there doing just that, you will encounter obstacles. Sometimes more of the same won’t change things. You need to see the obstacle through movement eyes and apply principles under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

To deal with the obstacles in the context of the big picture learn from these two movement pioneers. I can also recommend What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World.

7. Get back to basics

When all else fails, why not read through the gospels and Acts multiple times as a team, while you’re praying and fasting for a breakthrough. Meet and share what you are learning from what Jesus did and what the risen Lord continued to do in Acts.


Healing on the streets – Alan Scott reports in

Alan Scott

Healing on the Streets was birthed and pioneered by the Causeway Coast Vineyard on the streets of Coleraine in Northern Ireland in Easter of 2005. Adopted by many churches the Healing on the Streets model has spread around the world. It’s a gentle, non-confrontational way of connecting with people on the streets of our cities and introducing them to Jesus.

Causeway Vineyard website

Alan Scott reports that over the last 20 months almost 4,500 people have come to faith in their Northern Ireland community. That’s an average of around seven people a day.

Alan has some reflections on what is happening:

Our greatest impact is among those people – and in those areas – that historically have been difficult for churches to reach: the urban poor are most responsive. There seems to be particular favour among those who have never encountered faith, those struggling with addiction, single mothers, long term unemployed, those living on council estates and those wrestling with systems of poverty.

Unfortunately conversions on street don’t necessarily result in discipleship.

Disappointing levels of church connection: the miracle question has not led to massive connection. Whilst almost 4500 people have come to faith, we estimate that just under one seventh of those have connected in local churches.

Read the full report.

Let’s celebrate what God is doing through Healing on the Streets, not just in Coleraine, but in all the other churches they have inspired and trained.

I’m impressed that Alan is tracking the impact of the ministry in conversions and disciples. He’s also reporting the drop-off between the two and wondering how the gap can be closed.

Let’s just soak this in for a minute, a local church goes out into its community and offers to pray for people and share Jesus. Consistently, every week for 20 months people are coming to Christ.

Now here’s what we all need to do, before you start theorising about the gap between conversions and disciples, go and do likewise. Follow their example, follow Jesus’ example, and find people far from God. Offer to pray for them. Ask them if they would like to know more about Jesus.

Then we’ll talk about narrowing the gap between professions of faith and discipleship.

100-Jeff Sundell casts vision for no place left


This is the 100th episode of the Movements Podcast. To mark this milestone we listen in as Jeff Sundell casts vision to a group of city leaders for NoPlaceLeft.

If you’re enjoying the Movements Podcast why not tell a friend in person, via email or Facebook and Twitter. You can even leave a review.

Subscribe to the Movements Podcast.


John Pollock’s The Apostle Paul for free

John Pollock

John Pollock (above) is my favourite Christian biographer.

You can pick up his biography of the Apostle Paul for free (US/UK Amazon Kindle). Wilberforce is just $1.99 or £0.99.


“The Apostle: A Life of Paul” (John Pollock)


“Wilberforce” (John Pollock)

UPDATE: While you’re there the New American Commentaries are still 90% off. For those who don’t own a Kindle device, you can still load the Kindle app onto your Mac/PC/iPad/device.

Never buy a book at full price (unless it’s mine).

via CrossPoints

How many church plants survive?

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I often get asked, “How many church plants survive?

It’s the wrong question.

I remember being a first-time church planter. I understand the angst. You hope for more, but you fear failure. It’s only natural. So sooner or later God has to go to work on our mixed motivations. Painful, but better than living with a desperate need to succeed.

In our second church plant, I learned that God has other agendas than just the survival of one church plant. After two years, we closed it down to the glory of God.

Later I became a coach of church planters. I soon learned that when it comes to success or failure in planting congregational churches, selecting the right planters was everything. Get the selection right and the rate of survival improves dramatically.

Still the wrong question.

Here are the questions you could be asking:

  • How many people, who are far from God will hear the gospel today?
  • How many believers can you train to connect, share, and disciple others?
  • How many new disciples can you form into groups that become churches?
  • How many new churches can you equip to reproduce disciples and churches?
  • How many disciples have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the faith?

Answer these questions correctly and you can stop worrying about the survival of one church plant, and focus on the growth of a movement.


The Great Commission or the Great Suggestion?

 Daniel Wallace DTS

Yes, a little bit of Greek is a dangerous thing. But here’s a lesson in the meaning of the Great Commission from someone who has a lot of Greek. 

Daniel Wallace (above) makes it clear that the Great Commission is not, “as you are going,” but “Go!” 

Here are some other examples in Matthew that parallel the grammar in Matt 28:19:

  • Matt 2.8: “Go and look carefully for the child.”
  • Matt 9.13: “Go and learn what this means.”
  • Matt 11.4: “Go and tell John what you hear and see.”
  • Matt 17.27: “Go to the lake and throw out a hook”
  • Matt 28.7: “Go quickly and tell his disciples”
  • Matt 28.19: “Go and make disciples”

Wallace points out that,

Peter could not throw a hook in the lake until he went to the lake (Matt 17.27); the women could not tell Jesus’ disciples that he had been raised from the dead until they went (Matt 28.7).

We can’t make disciples without going.

via reader Brian