Mindshifts in Movements – Part 2
– By Elizabeth Lawrence and Stan Parks –
In part 1, we shared some ways the Lord’s great work in CPMs calls us to adjust our thinking. Here are some additional ways we see CPMs calling us to adjust our thinking.
From: We are looking for partners in our ministry.
To: We are looking for brothers and sisters to serve God together.
Sometimes missionaries are taught to look for “national partners.” Without questioning anyone’s motives, some local believers find this phrasing doubtful. Some of the wrong (often subconscious) meanings could include:
- “Partnership” with an outsider means doing what they want done.
- In a partnership the person(s) with the most money controls the partnership.
- This is a “work” type transaction rather than a genuine personal relationship.
- The use of “national” may feel condescending (as a more polite word for “native” – why are Americans not also called “nationals”?).
In the dangerous and difficult work of starting movements among the lost, inside catalysts are looking for a deep family bond of mutual love. They don’t want work partners but rather movement family who will bear each other’s burdens and sacrifice in any way possible for their brothers and sisters.
From: Focusing on winning individuals.
To: Focusing on groups — to bring the gospel into existing families, groups and communities.
90% of salvations described in the book of Acts describe either large or small groups. Only 10% are individuals who experience salvation by themselves. We also see Jesus focusing on sending out his disciples to look for households, and we see Jesus often reaching households. Note examples such as Zacchaeus and his entire household experiencing salvation (Luke 19:9-10), and the Samaritan woman coming to faith along with a great many from her entire town (John 4:39-42).
Reaching groups has many advantages over reaching and gathering individuals. For example:
- Instead of transferring “Christian culture” to a single new believer, local culture begins to be redeemed by the group.
- Persecution isn’t isolated and focused on the individual but is normalized across the group. They can support each other in persecution.
- Joy is shared as a family or community discovers Christ together.
- Unbelievers have a visible example of “here’s what it looks like for a group of people like me to follow Christ.”
From: Transferring my church or group’s doctrine, traditional practices, or culture.
To: Helping believers within a culture discover for themselves what the Bible says about vital issues; letting them hear God’s Spirit guide them in how to apply biblical truths in their cultural context.
We can too easily confuse our own preferences and traditions with scriptural mandates. In a cross-cultural situation we especially need to avoid giving our cultural baggage to the new believers. Instead, we trust that since Jesus said: “They will all be taught by God” (John 6:45, NIV), and the Holy Spirit will guide the believers “into all truth” (John 16:13), we can trust the process to God. This does not mean we don’t guide and coach new believers. It means that we help them see Scripture as their authority rather than us.
From: Starbucks discipleship: “Let’s meet once each week.”
To: Lifestyle discipleship: My life is intertwined with these people.
One movement catalyst said that his movement trainer-coach offered to talk to him whenever he needed…so he ended up calling him in a different city three or four times every day. We need this type of commitment to help those who are passionate and desperate to reach the lost.
From: Lecture – to transfer knowledge.
To: Discipleship – to follow Jesus and obey his Word.
Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commands” (John 15:14, NCV) and “If you obey me you will remain in my love” (John 15:10, author’s translation). Often our churches emphasize knowledge over obedience. The people with the most knowledge are considered the most qualified leaders.
Church planting movements emphasize teaching people to obey all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:20). Knowledge is important but the primary foundation must be first loving and obeying God.
From: Sacred/secular divide; evangelism vs. social action.
To: Word and deed together. Meeting needs as a door-opener and an expression and fruit of the gospel.
The sacred/secular divide is not part of a biblical worldview. Those in CPMs don’t debate whether to meet physical needs or share the gospel. Because we love Jesus, of course we meet people’s needs (as he did) and as we do that we also share his truth verbally (as he did). In these movements we see the natural expression of meeting needs leading people to be open to the words or to ask questions that lead to the truth.
From: Special buildings for spiritual activities.
To: Small gatherings of believers in all kinds of places.
Church buildings and paid church leaders hinder the growth of a movement. Rapid spread of the gospel happens through the efforts of nonprofessionals. Even reaching the number of lost people in the USA becomes prohibitively expensive if we attempt to reach them only through church buildings and paid staff. How much more so in other parts of the world that have fewer financial resources and higher percentages of unreached people!
From: Don’t evangelize until you’ve been trained.To: Share what you’ve experienced or know. It’s normal and natural to share about Jesus.
How often are new believers asked to sit and listen for the first several years after they come to faith? It often takes many years before they are considered qualified to lead in any way. We have observed that the best people to lead a family or community to saving faith are insiders in that community. And the best time for them to do that is when they have newly come to faith, before they’ve created separation between themselves and that community.
Multiplication involves everyone and ministry happens everywhere. A new/inexperienced insider is more effective than a highly trained mature outsider.
From: Win as many as possible.
To: Focus on the few (or one) to win many.
In Luke 10 Jesus said to find a household that will receive you. If a person of peace is there they will receive you. At that point, do not move around from household to household. We often see this pattern being applied in the New Testament. Whether it’s Cornelius, Zacchaeus, Lydia or the Philippian jailer, this one person then becomes the key catalyst for their family and broader community. One large family of movements in harsh environments actually focuses on the tribal leader or the network leader rather than individual household leaders.
To make disciples of all nations, we don’t just need more good ideas. We don’t just need additional fruitful practices. We need a paradigm shift. The mindshifts presented here reflect various facets of that shift. To the extent we wrestle with and apply any one of them we will likely become more fruitful. But only as we buy the whole package – trade in traditional church DNA for CPM DNA – can we hope to be used by God in catalyzing rapidly reproducing generational movements that far exceed our own resources.
Elizabeth Lawrence has over 25 years of cross-cultural ministry experience. This includes training, sending, and coaching CPM teams to unreached peoples, living among refugees from a UPG, and leading a BAM endeavor in a Muslim context. She is passionate about multiplying disciples.
Adapted from an article in the May-June 2019 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, and published on pages 55-64 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.