Movement Pioneers

Multiplying Movement Pioneers — Nathan Shank

Nathan Shank beams in from Nepal to answer questions at the One Mission Society (OMS) training for movement catalysts.

For background, watch (video) or listen to (podcast) Nathan's sessions on the 4Fields, and the 5Levels of Movement Leadership.

Pioneering Movements has two chapters on Nathan Shank and his 5Levels of Movement Leadership.

Movement Pioneers build teams and systems

This wisdom just came in from Mr Smith, my movements Yoda.


I practice and train in the insights I’ve gained from this book. Leaders who see movements create great systems and teams.

Here’s a summary, but the whole book is worth reading.


"Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration" (Warren Bennis, Patricia Ward Biederman)

Related: Movement Pioneers are Aggressive

Movement Pioneers are aggressive

I dedicated Pioneering Movements to a man we’ll call “Mr Smith”. He prefers to fly under the radar.

He has done more than most people I know to train, inspire, and mentor the people who multiply disciples and churches around the world.

I can feel him cringe as I say that!

Anyway Mr Smith has just sent through this email:

Hi Steve

One of the continuing conversations I am part of is, What kind of person gets to movements?

The article below goes into that file … The people who get to movements are aggressive.


Here’s the article he attached. It’s by James Emery White.

There are a lot of traits one might wish upon pastors and church leaders. Holiness, selflessness, humility… but I find that most of them embody such traits. They are good and Godly people.

So if there is one trait that I would wish upon pastors and church leaders around the world, it would be a trait that many do not already have or aspire to; a trait that I find strikingly absent.

I would wish them to become more aggressive.

If your mind instantly leaps to someone who starts fights or quarrels, that’s not where I’m going.

I mean aggressive in the best sense of the word. As Webster’s definition puts it, aggressive as in “ready or willing to take issue and engage in direct action; full of enterprise and initiative; bold and active; pushing.”

When I think of aggressive leaders, I think of,

…“make it happen” leaders,

…people who don’t immediately take “no” for “no,”

…catalysts for change,

…those who take charge in the heat of battle,

…upsetters of the status quo,


…rabid animals for growth,

…righteous anger,

…creators of action,


…someone who is “hungry,”

…top-of-the-line, competitive athletes for the Kingdom of God.

Speaking of athletes, it was said of Michael Jordan – arguably the greatest basketball player ever – that whenever he walked on the court, he was dangerous. There was an aggressive intensity to his game that was threatening to any opponent.

I have a framed, limited edition, signed print of Michael Jordan in my office. The picture of MJ is epic, and the signature is nice, but it has always been the words that have captured my attention:

“It is a rare person who comes along and raises the standards of excellence, who captures the hearts of many, and who inspires a group of individuals on to achieve the impossible.”

May that kind of aggression mark us all.

James Emery White

And yes, real men do play football without helmets and padding. It’s called Rugby and congratulations to the All Blacks, 2015 World Champions over Australia.

Movement Pioneers Go First

Next time they tell you it’s never been done before, remember someone has to go first. And that someone is not alone.

Centuries ago an unrecorded step was taken by some unknown "Follower of the Way” across the national boundaries of Israel into the vast Gentile world. No one recorded the step. No one knows what border was crossed. But there came a moment, a place in redemptive history in which God's universal covenant with mankind started its immeasurable march through the nations of the world.

An unknown disciple on a distant and remote frontier made a beginning by challenging a fellow man to join him as a member of the disciple fellowship of Christ.

Only God knows where this happened, by whom that step was taken, with what fruit the witness was crowned. Its full consequence will not be measured until the sovereignty of the world has passed to our Lord and his Christ, when men purchased for God of every tribe and language, people and nation are made a royal house, to serve our God as, priests and shall reign upon the earth, when the vast strong, which no one could count, from every nation, of all tribes, peoples, and languages will shout together, Victory to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! ... Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor, power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen! (Rev. 11:15; 5:10; 7:9-12).

That day will live in eternity as a day among countless others in which through the power of the blood of Christ a man was set free from his bondage to death and made a new creature in Christ. Who brought the message of liberation? Who was liberated? We do not know. We know only the Liberator.

The campaign for world-wide proclamation of liberation was commanded by the Liberator, who himself is and remains the great missionary.

Richard De Ridder

Discipling the Nations

And he gave apostles...

My next book is on movement leadership. Pioneering Movements is due out in December. Here’s a source I wish I’d read before I finished the book. Just a good Biblical basis for the continuing ministry of apostles as movement pioneers. In his commentary on Ephesians 4 Clinton Arnold begins by saying that the Risen Lord continues to give this leadership gift (along with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) to equip God’s people for the growth and maturity of the church.

Paul has already noted that “apostles” served a foundational function in the early church (Ephesians 2:20).

This passage is different than 2:20, however, in that Paul is not reflecting back on the beginnings of the church but is speaking about its present and ongoing structure. Christ is continuing to give these leaders to the church for the equipping of the individual members and facilitating their growth to maturity (see also 1 Cor 12:28, where Paul uses the aorist [“appoint”] for the same purpose). Markus Barth rightly notes, “Ephesians distinctly presupposes that living apostles and prophets are essential to the church’s life.”

There were Apostles and Christ continues to give apostles today.

The “apostles” Paul mentions here likely extend beyond the Twelve and Paul to include others whom the Lord Jesus has called to go, establish churches, and ground these new believers in the common faith. Their authority would be differentiated from the Twelve and Paul, who had “seen the Lord” (1 Cor 9:1; Acts 1:21–22). Nevertheless, they are authorized by the risen Lord Jesus himself, who has called them to this role, and by the authoritative message of the gospel itself, which they impart. Their function is closely tied up with their name, “one who is sent.” The background to this expression is in the OT and Jewish understanding of a messenger authorized by God, which is represented by the verbs “to send” (shaliah).

Apostolic ministry doesn’t begin with the Twelve and Paul, but with Jesus, the movement pioneer.

Jesus understood his own mission in terms of being sovereignly commissioned and sent by God, as seen in his important exclamation (citing Isa 61:1): “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted …” (see also Isa 48:16; 66:19 for similar uses of the Hebrew verb). Jesus commissioned the Twelve to carry on this mission and, thus, called them “apostles,” which reflected their function as his authorized delegates (Matt 10:2; Luke 6:13; see also John 20:21).

The Twelve and Paul were not the only apostles in NT times.

The church continues the mission of Jesus and the Twelve when the sovereign Lord commissions and empowers individuals to go and proclaim the good news, establish churches, and teach them to observe all that the Lord commands (Matt 28:19–20). Some of those who fall into this more extended category of apostles include Barnabas (Acts 14:4; 1 Cor 9:6), Andronicus, and Junia(s) (Rom 16:7). There were likely many others. We can only speculate what this may have looked like in Asia Minor at the time that Paul wrote this letter. Paul himself was the founding apostle of the church(es) in Ephesus and, as such, maintained a deep concern about their well-being.

Wherever you find multiplying movements of disciples and churches you’ll find ordinary people with the gift of apostle.

During Paul’s ministry in the city [of Ephesus], Luke tells us that “all … who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

It is certainly possible that the Lord Jesus raised up many apostles during this period who took the word of the Lord, which they heard from Paul, to many other cities and villages throughout the Roman province of Asia. This certainly helps explain Peter’s reference to “your apostles” when he speaks of how the inhabitants of Asia and northern Anatolia received the word of the Lord (see 2 Pet 3:2).

If you know someone who is faithfully sharing the gospel, making disciples and multiplying (not just adding) churches you may have an apostle in your midst. Their job is to equip the whole of the body of Christ to multiply disciples and churches.

Hudson and Maria

Hudson Maria Taylor

I’ve been captivated by the story of Hudson and Maria Taylor.

It’s a love story and an adventure story intertwined with one of the most significant breakthroughs in the spread of the gospel beyond the boarders of Western Christendom.

It’s the stuff great movies are made of. Yes I cried and yes I was inspired.

Lessons if you’re single and trusting God for a partner who shares your vision for multiplication movements.

Lessons if you’re married with a family. The joys and the cost.

Lessons for aspiring movement pioneers.

"Hudson Taylor And Maria: A Match Made in Heaven (History Maker)" (John Pollock)