What Would You Say…?

I know that a lot of you out there are brilliant, and have learned a ton about making disciples to produce movements in the past few years. So, I thought I’d get some input from you…I’m in Austin, Tx. right now, and will be chatting with a group of college students tomorrow who are “movement minded”. They get the theory, and many of them have already begun pursuing starting “simple churches” in the area. What are 3 things you’d say to a group of young people who are sold out, and passionate for seeing a CPM in the states? (Practical Steps, how to avoid potential roadblocks, etc.)

1, 2, 3….come on, don’t be shy.

Next week I’ll be heading out to Orlando with my close friend, and mentor, Lance Ford. Lance has partnered with Alan Hirsch over the past few years to start www.shapevine.com

In Orlando we’ll be putting on the “missional track” at the annual “Exponential Conference”. This will be the second year in a row that shapevine heads up the “missional track”. During that track I will be participating on a “panel discussion” with several other guys. We will be discussing many issues, mostly revovling around CPM’s, and making disciples. There is room for 500 in the missional track, and it’s close to being sold out. This makes a 24 year old guy a bit nervous. If you could share 3 things with a room full of pastors about ANYTHING what would they be? (Let’s get creative here please…)

15 thoughts on “What Would You Say…?

  1. My comments?

    Well, for one thing any man-made movement is doomed from the start, IMHO.

    Most of the time, whenever you hear someone say, “I want to start a movement” you can bet on one thing: They will not start a movement.

    They might start a business, or a trend, or a temporary ripple within a small segment or subculture, but the rest of the world will hardly notice.

    When Luther nailed his treatise to the door, he was not attempting to start a movement. He was hoping to change the way people practiced their faith.

    When Jackson Pollock dribbled paint on the canvas and created art without a brush, he was not attempting to start a movement. He was trying to end years of frustration with his own artistic expression and scratch an itch that existing methods of art couldn’t touch.

    When Jesus walked to the cross, he was not attempting to start a movement. He was attempting to please the Father and to demonstrate to his disciples what love really was.

    Did these men inspire movements? Yes. Did they start out with the plan to create a movement? No. Their focus was simply to do what they were born to do. The movement was a byproduct of their obedience to their own inner desire to create, to educate, and to demonstrate the beauty and the truth that only they could see at the moment.

    So, if you’re planning to start a movement, here’s my advice: Don’t.

    Instead, just be who God made you to be and pursue that calling with everything inside of you.

    Your destiny is to run the race that has been laid out before you. Don’t miss your chance to be yourself.


    I wrote a bit about this subject here:

    • I LOVE IT Keith! This is so good, and what has been on my heart lately. If a few of us are trying to start movements we’re not doing what we’re supposed to, and also keeping others from doing what they’re supposed to as well! It’s gonna take ALL of us doing the simplest/smallest (in man’s eyes) things. thanks for the input!

  2. As for your students…

    Keith is dead on–if you want to start a movement, you won’t.

    Two things I would add to that:

    1. There is only one indispensable person, and you’re not that person (Jesus is).

    2. Don’t ask God to bless your plans. Instead, chase after His (regardless if the church or churches that sprout look like what you think they should).

    As for the church planters at Exponential… the same things.

  3. Wow – I am greatly encouraged by what Keith said. It spoke volumes into my life.

    I would say not to try too hard that you lose the focus of your purpose.

    Do it for God, and not yourself – in other words, build these “simple churches” on the foundation of God, not to become well known or for self gratification.

    Don’t give so much of youself that you forget to get a “spiritual refill.” Minister to others, but at the same time, allow God to use yourself or others to minister to you.

  4. For the students I would emphasize:
    1. The Gospel Word–seeing and savoring Jesus on every page of Scripture and how the Bible needs to be interpreted with a Jesus hermeneutic (Luke 24)
    2. The Gospel Community–you can’t do it alone. The importance of the community always being the context for the gospel content. The believing community should be the most powerful apologetic for the gospel.
    3. The Gospel Mission–the gospel isn’t just theological concepts, but theology in practice. We must take the gospel and proclaim it–in word, in service to others, and dealing with injustice in our world.

    For those in the “missional track” I think it’s important to come back to using “missional” in more ways than a buzz term and to give “BE” answers to their “DO” questions.

    Hope that helps. I’m no expert.

  5. I’d of course agree w/Keith as we’ve had this conversation several times w/him and Keith has been a mentor of ours, but even further I’d add that God’s spirit is the only movement that I’d watch for, the only movement that is valid or real in the hearts of those that know their Shepherd’s voice.
    So to answer you question:
    “If you could share 3 things with a room full of pastors about ANYTHING what would they be?”
    # 1 – I would share who I was before I encountered God, or rather while I was dead in my sins.
    # 2 – I would then share how He changed me, my heart, my mind and breathed life into me. I think this is lacking w/many pastors and conferences, the focus of course is on Jesus, and making disciples, but what lacks is a demonstration of that power, faith not only in who He says He is, but that He does what He says He can, w/out a doubt, I know this because it was done in me I am a living proof of His promises.

    Making disciples means FIRST they must encounter the person of JESUS, and enter into a relationship with HIM. We can’t just ‘train’ people to be disciples without there being first a supernatural transformation from the inside out. We must be born again.

    # 3 – I’d want to share that making a disciple is more than learning what the scriptures say, but although that’s extremely important (it is not necessary…as I did not know one verse of scripture when I became a believer in America) but that like Paul you share right along side the TRUTH, what God has done in you, that you are proof of that miracle.

    I’ve been a believer for a little over 10 years now, and I can’t tell you have sadening it is to see so many who are educated in the knowledge of the truth, but lack the understanding of His love, especially when we’re discussing that fact that He washes our sin away (Sin becomes relative). Remeber the woman with the abalastar jar, Jesus said, “he who has been forgiven much, loves much”.

    We can spend so much time, intending to do good, and all the while missing what is really good. To allow Him to wash you, so that you can bend down and wash others…

    Aaron, you said get creative. This isn’t really creative, but if I was in your situatoin, this is probably a rough draft of what I’d share. In hopes that even 1 person saw Him through me, not how intelligent I am, or well educated, but that I’m a fool for Him because I know HIM.

    Making disciples to me, means that you allow people to know & see you walking w/God as you allow Him to lead. That’s how I became a disciple of Christ, that journey started w/Him and me and has spread outward at His leading. We desire to make true disciples of Christ, not just people who can regurgitate scripture, but those who lay down their life just as He layed down His life for us.


    “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:17-25

    • Thanks Heather. That’s so good, and a wonderful reminder. I was actually very humbled this morning by the Lord as He, so gently, reminded me that He doesn’t need me to do His work. We’re in Austin, and I went in to “share/discuss” making disciples/planting new communities of faith with some passionate young people. It only took about 5 minutes for me to realize that they didn’t need me there, and I had nothing profound to share with them that they didn’t already know. They already knew all the “theory” for Church Planting Movements, and had already begun going into lost communities to make disciples. I probably learned more from them this morning than they did from me. I have a love/hate relationship with those types of moments…=) So painfully humbling, but absolutely necessary for spiritual growth/sanctification.

  6. Practical advice:

    1. Make yourself approachable- “An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living.” Often religious people separate themselves from the rest of humanity, and while can make sense for the purposes of fellowship and/or worship, we fail God if we won’t mix with our surroundings. Jesus commanded us to “go to” the ends of the Earth, not run from them. “Salt is of no use in the box; it must be rubbed into the meat; and our personal influence must penetrate and season society…Our Master went to a wedding, and ate bread with publicans and sinners, and yet was far more pure than those sanctimonious Pharisees, whose glory was that they were separate from their fellowmen.”

    2. Be honest in your communication- “Be earnest, and you will seem to be earnest. A burning heart will soon find for itself a flaming tongue. To sham earnestness is one of the most contemptible of dodges for courting popularity; let us abhor the very thought. Go and be listless in the pulpit if you are so in your heart. Be slow in speech, drawling in tone, and monotonous in voice, if so you can best express your soul; even that would be infinitely better than to make your ministry a masquerade and yourself an actor.”

    3. Study to show yourself approved- While alot of criticism has been thrown toward Christian academia lately, there is still a biblical mandate on those who would follow Christ to have studied his word(2 Tim 2:15; Jn 5:39; Rom 10:2)

    -For starters, teachers (or church planters) are going to be judged more harshly (James 3:1), so they should take less liberty with their interpretations of scriptures and their own pet theories. Just because something sounds good, doesn’t mean it is good, or biblical.
    -Also, be willing to learn the interpretations of greater minds than yours. Read the Church Fathers, learn some Christian History, see how theology as you may know it has come to be.
    -Finally, be a steward of truth, not of bland bumper-sticker slogans or pop-theology. “Let us abhor all one-sidedness, all exaggeration of one truth and disparagement of another, and let us endeavor to paint the portrait of truth with balanced features and blended colors, lest we dishonor her by presenting distortion instead of symmetry, and a caricature for faithful copy.”

  7. I loved Wednesday morning. It was great meeting you guys and being encouraged by your stories and failures. Thinking hard about what keeps us from pouring into a few is big time and was really thought provoking and soul searching for me. Obedience is beautiful when prompted by the Spirit. In fact our conversation inspired a lot of thought (especially talking about gifts towards the end) that i tried capturing a bit in my blog. Check it out, I’d love to continue the dialogue : )


    • Thanks Aaron! It was great to meet you man! I’m glad that you were blessed on Wed morning; I know we were. I pray that it continues to challenge all of us to pursue the kingdom more deeply as we think about these things. Feel free to email or call me anytime man!

  8. Jimi – Studying God’s word, and being capable of rightly handling it, does not equate to passing through some form of Christian academia…

    Perhaps the reason for at least some of the criticism you’ve heard stems the fact that allowing a “Christian academia” to form at all creates the illusion that the only way to capably know the bible, is to attend some form of Christian higher learning. As it is not realistic for every Christian to do that, this helps to create a dichotomy within the Body, and so it is that the existence of seminaries and bible colleges, actually contribute to the clergy/laity myth. The bible calls ALL believers to study the Word, and to be able to wield the sword of truth, not just an elite few…

    (sorry Aaron, I know I’m not really answering your question, guess I’m feeling more like myself today…)

  9. @ Dan
    Sorry if what I wrote seemed like a vote for academics, thats now how I meant it. I agree with you that seminary or institutes are entirely unnecessary.
    What I meant by my opening in #3 was that I have seen alot of people shake a stick at christian study, as if the Holy Spirit has promised to simply beam truth into our brains without us seeking it. Its one thing to feel (as you and I both do) that all Christians are called to study the word, its another to feel that the discipline of study is a needless pursuit.

    I was trying to make the point that while our faith should be childlike, our understanding of the word should be mature and well tended. Not merely reading the word, but going to secondary sources and learning ancient interpretations of the word.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  10. Actually… Although we do agree that all Christians are called to study the Word, we’d have to say that the Holy Spirit’s involvement in that is crucial. It is the Spirit who teaches us all things, and He does not even need scripture to do so (although He will never contradict scripture, since He wrote it!)

    Secondary (i.e. human) sources and ancient interpretations are no replacement for the indwelling Spirit of God. I don’t know about you, but if God promises to communicate with us directly, why would we prefer to turn our nose up at that, and instead study more stuff written by mere men?

  11. @Dan/Heather
    Good thoughts guys. Not sure I would agree that we dismiss God by studying the ancient thoughts of his martyred followers, but I think I see what your trying to say.
    The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, but this does not happen in a vacuum. The Spirit illuminates life situations, words in books, conversations, anything to teach us more about God and ourselves.
    There can be no doubt that a principal from scripture is to study, and have a discipline of seeking truth. This does mean that we rely on the spirit for guidance, but it also means that we leave our couches and dig deep into both the word of God and our own family history (Christian History).

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