Jay: You tend to value the study of historical movements, maybe you can just talk about why you value that and then reflect on some of those historical movements that are particularly instructive. If our audience was going to choose one or two to begin to wrestle with where might they begin?
Steve: The reason I like history is cause it gives you long time frames and you can see the impact of decisions that movements have made in one era. You can see it has played itself out either for good or bad.
One example would be in the early church. Constantine came to faith in the early fourth century. The church must have been delighted. The Emperor is now a believer and he’s helping to fund the thing, he’s giving church leaders tax relief and people are flooding into the church.
No doubt there was good that came from Constantine’s favour, but it also had pretty bad ramifications for the mingling of the state and the church and the decline of Christianity as a dynamic missionary movement.
Now we could only work that out by sitting back looking at centuries of time and then to see what was happening, what was God doing in response to that. Then we see the emergence of the monastic movement and other renewal movements and we learn, the church, even the early church, went into decline and God raised up fresh expressions of the church.
Stepping back and looking at the long timeframe really brings instruction. Because we may head down tracks that others have headed down centuries ago and we want to know what are the likely consequences. So I love to see how movements are born, how they grow, how they plateau, how they decline and die, how are they revitalized.
Steve: Some helpful case studies? I think there’s a lot of information about Methodism. Wesley loved to keep records. So if you want information the Methodist movement is a good one to start.
I would also say that it depends what your ministry context is. If we take Campus Crusade, as an example, there’s a couple of great case studies. One would be Student Christian Movement, which was really the first evangelical movement amongst students and the Student Volunteer Movement, that saw thousands of university students come to faith and go into world missions.
As this student movement grew, it plateaued, it declined, and is now at death’s door because it moved away from its evangelical heritage.
The other thing I would do is study your own history of Crusade. What’s the founding charism, what’s the redemptive gift that God has given you? How can we be true to it, and how can we make an innovative return to your tradition?
Jay: Steve if you could say one last thing to our staff regarding movement building, what would it be?
Steve: Understand your heritage and thank God for it. What redemptive gift to the whole body of Christ, and to the advance of the kingdom, has God given Campus Crusade? What must never change about Crusade?
Understand what that is but then you need to realize you are in a fresh context, and in different contexts. Take those five principles, and they’re not rocket science, and wrestle with them. Ask yourself, how do we give expression to these principles in our context? They are more of a compass than a map.
In the gospels and in the book of Acts we see revealed how Jesus started the world Christian movement and how it was continued on in the early church. It’s not a map it’s a compass. So in our context how do we take those unchanging principles and apply them where we are now?
Its going to be messy. The five principles look really neat and tidy, but real life is very messy. A thing to remember, I like to remind people, is that, history is made by people who don’t know any better. History is made by people who don’t know it can’t be done. So you’ve got the scriptures, you’ve got the Spirit, you’ve got that founding gift, that founding charism that God has given Crusade as a movement. Go and make a mess. God is faithful, he’ll show up.