The transcript of an interview I did for David Garrison on my next book.
DAVID: Why did you write, What Jesus Started?
STEVE: About two years ago I looked back on the impact of my first book, Movements that Change the World and saw that it had done a good job of changing the way people see the world, but there was still a gap between changed thinking and changed behavior.
At the same time I was reading the Gospel of Luke and Acts and asking, “What did Jesus do (Luke) and what did he continue to do as the Risen Lord (Acts). As I studied disciple-making, church planting movements around the world I realized casting vision for movements was not enough. To help people get started we need to join the dots. People need to know what to do on Monday morning. We need to get practical.
What better place to start than by asking, “What did Jesus do?” “What did he train his disciples to do?” As the Risen Lord, “What did he empower the early church and Paul to do?” Then we can ask, “What does that look like today?” “What do we need to do?”
DAVID: You’ve identified the key elements of Jesus ministry in the Gospels and his continuing ministry through his followers in Acts. What were they?
STEVE: First, Jesus saw the end. He was moved with compassion. He looked out over Israel and saw sheep, lost without a shepherd. He wept over Jerusalem’s rejection of God’s messengers. He prepared his disciples to take the gospel to the whole world.
Next, Jesus connected with people. Jesus crossed whatever boundaries stood in the way and connected with people. No group was beyond his care. Jesus spent a lot of his time ministering to people, looking for the “sick” not the “healthy,” “sinners” not the “righteous”. He sought out people who knew they needed God’s mercy.
Jesus shared the gospel. Jesus proclaimed the good news of salvation in words and deeds. In him, God’s rule had become a present reality. He preached, he taught, he rebuked, and he invited everyone he met to repent and believe. He gave his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus trained disciples. Jesus led people to put their trust in him and to learn to obey his commands. He modeled and taught them a new way of life.
Jesus gathered communities. Jesus formed his disciples into communities characterized by faith in him, love for one another, and witness in word and deed.
Lastly, Jesus multiplied workers. Jesus equipped his followers to make disciples of all nations. He sent the Holy Spirit upon them so that they would continue his ministry in his power.
DAVID: Where do you see these elements playing out today?
STEVE: Let me tell you about the journey Michelle and I have been on. Just after I’d written Movements that Change the World, my wife Michelle challenged me, as only a wife can. She said, “Steve it’s a great book. But when are you going to do something?”
So we set aside time on Sunday afternoons to walk and pray looking for people God had prepared. The first time we went out God led us to a young woman in a Chinese bookstore. She was what Jesus called a “person of peace” (Luke 10).
Out of that one encounter grew a ministry to migrants in our area. We connect through an English conversation club. We do discover Bible study and share the gospel. People regularly come to know Christ. Discovery Bible study is our method of discipleship. Early on we teach new believers to share with the people in their world and make disciples. We also help form simple churches wherever we can find a group of disciples.
We’re training people all over Australia and in other parts of the world to begin doing the same things. We’re helping them get started by joining the dots. And we’re training them to train others.
We are not yet seeing multiplication movements in Australia, but we are seeing people come to faith in Christ, learn how to follow and obey him and how to spread the gospel and make disciples.
DAVID: People will ask, Does this approach work in any context?
STEVE: It depends on what they mean by “work.” Does it work to see the end from God’s point of view? Does it work to Connect with people and Share the gospel? Does it work to Train disciples to obey what Jesus has commanded. Does it work to Gather them into communities. Does it work to multiply workers at every stage?
This is what faithfulness to the Great Commission looks like in any setting.
DAVID: Who did you write this book for?
STEVE: I’m writing for anyone who passionate about to making disciples and teaching them to obey what he has commanded.
What do you hope the book will achieve?
My hope is that we would rediscover the ministry of Jesus through a fresh reading of the Gospels and Acts and then base our ministries on that foundation.