Multiplying Movements – Initiation and Cross Pollination, Part 1
– By Benny –
I would like to share how one movement multiplied itself within an unreached people group, and how that movement, led by local believers, multiplied into several other unreached peoples. About nine years ago, I traveled to do research and prayer walking among an unreached people group. When I first visited this group, they had no believers and no workers serving among them. Three years later, I returned. At that time, I met a middle-aged fisherman in a restaurant. One topic he brought up was the use of evil spirit powers and black magic by a local shaman. This left many people terrified after several unusual deaths occurred. I listened carefully to his story, then I said to him: “We all need a protector nearby, who can help us feel safe and able to live in peace.
He answered, “Oh yes! I sure agree with that statement!”
I then asked him: “If you think this is an important subject, would you mind if we continue our discussion later in your home? Do you have other friends interested in this topic, who might want to talk about it together when I come visit?
He replied, “Sure! Please come to my house.”
So we set an appointment to meet at his house on another day. I stayed at his house for two days, and he had four other people come to his house for the discussion. They were from several ethnic groups who live in that area. We continued the discussion we had began, with the theme of God as a strong protector. We studied from the Psalms, using seven questions to guide the discussion. Their conclusion from the first meeting was that God is able to overcome every attack by evil spirits and black magic. And God is able to protect and give a sense of security to anyone.
The next day, in our second meeting, we studied the theme: “God is the source of the ultimate blessing.” We examined the story of this blessing that was given to the prophet. They concluded that God wants all people to receive the ultimate blessing: salvation for this life and in the final judgment. When I had to return home from that city, I made a commitment to continue our discussion long-distance. I continued to share material with them using social media.
The topic I raised was “God loves sinners.” They responded to this discussion by agreeing together that God has provided salvation by grace, and true forgiveness for everyone through the work of Jesus the Messiah. After they finished their discussion, they immediately shared what they had learned: with their family, their friends, and their neighbors. They also began to form more and more small formal discovery groups using the seven questions.
Long story short: two years later, they sent me word that they had already reached five generations of groups. They had also reached two other unreached people groups, with discovery groups multiplying to the third and fourth generation.
Three Stages Supporting Multiplication
How do we encourage cycles of multiplication in a movement? In my experience, three stages support cycles of multiplication. The first is to reach out to the unreached. The second is group discovery that encourages the multiplication of movements. The third is empowerment that maximizes leadership in multiple teams of leaders.
Stage 1: Reach the Unreached
The first key to reaching the unreached is survey trips. I am addicted to opening up new fields. As I mentioned in my story earlier, I visited an unreached people, completely unknown to me. They speak a different language, follow different traditions, and eat different foods. A few practices have proven fruitful in this kind of outreach. First is to pray for and visit the unreached peoples. We need personal prayer as well as a prayer team for this. I plan for a short-term team to do a research project. On the short-term survey trip, I also take the opportunity to find the first fruit in the area. The movement grows as we find apostolic agents locally who repeat this same process: short-term trips for prayer, research, and finding first fruit.
The second key to reaching the unreached is transformation dialogue. This is like passing the ball back and forth in a soccer game. It’s an interactive process of moving the ball downfield from a general discussion toward the goal of a spiritual discussion. We can then add other people to the discovery group and introduce them to Jesus the Messiah. We begin with a topic that is discussed by a lot of local people. Learning about the thought patterns of local people will help us understand how to meet their needs and change their paradigm through the light of God’s word.
The third key to reaching the unreached is to focus on groups rather than individuals. Reaching groups is much more effective than reaching individuals. When we focus on an individual, we only impact one person. This will wear us out and be very inefficient. Focusing on groups has many benefits. Every individual needs a community of believers in order to grow. Small groups accelerate the growth in an unreached people group. Groups give birth to other groups. And groups will not run out of resources: human resources, financial resources, or skills and ideas.
Stage 2: Facilitate Group Discovery
The second stage of the movement multiplication cycle is group discovery that encourages multiplication of movements. What model can facilitate a small group becoming like a greenhouse that creates spiritual growth and improves health? And help it expand to new regions, including unreached peoples? I use the Seven Questions discovery Bible discussion model as this greenhouse. This is a very simple method that can be applied to anyone. It makes clear to everyone learning it that the process has seven parts. So the leaders in earlier generations can easily transfer the process to later generations.
The seven questions are:
- What are you thankful for?
- What challenges are you facing?
These two questions help the members of the group deepen their relational bonds.
Read a passage together.
- What do you learn about God from this passage?
- What do you learn about Jesus (Isa) from this passage?
- What do you learn about people from this passage?
These three questions help everyone in the group recognize that the word of God is at the center of their spiritual growth; not a teacher or a group leader. They study the Scriptures together as a group using the inductive method. Then everyone has an opportunity to share what they’re discovering in the Scripture.
- What will you do this week from what you learned from this passage? What can our group do together to apply what we learned together this week from the passage?
This question helps everyone in the group understand that they are to be doers of the Word. They also learn to live as a part of a community of believers.
- With whom will you share this week what you learned from this passage?
This question will help them make disciples of others. They immediately begin sharing what they’ve learned and will naturally begin to form new groups in several areas.
Stage 3: Empower Teams of Leaders
The third stage of the cycle of multiplication in a movement is empowerment that maximizes multiple teams of leaders.
I often use slogans to transfer vision and to train field mentors. In my ministry, I have many leaders, coaches, and believers who are not from a high status background; many don’t have a good education. Simple slogans help them quickly understand and apply what they have seen and heard. We use slogans to develop a plurality of leaders in teams.
We learn from the Lord Jesus that he chose a small group of leaders. He then selected a core team of three from among them. As we work among unreached peoples, we try to model what was modeled by our great Teacher, in the way he selected and raised up leaders. We watch to make sure the plurality of leaders provides healthy leadership within the movement. Plurality of leadership makes it possible to do problem solving together with several leaders. Leaders’ groups give us time to do strategic planning together with them. Plurality of leadership also helps us prepare for the loss of a leader if someone dies or moves or moves because of persecution. That way, the movement is not crippled by the loss of a single leader.
Finally, we do multi-level leader empowerment. We need to be aware that leaders at different levels will face different kinds of challenges. Leaders in earlier generations carry a much heavier load than leaders in generations after them. How do we provide empowerment and training to leaders at each level, so they can serve at maximum capacity? How can we help them manage the movement and manage their responsibilities well, whether they lead 50 people, 100, 500, or 1000? Each of these levels of leadership brings unique complications and challenges they must face and come up with fitting solutions. This underlines the importance of multi-level empowerment, so the leaders at each level reach maximum effectiveness as they work together in the movement.
These are a few of the stages and keys the Lord has used to encourage cycles of multiplication in our movements. I hope you will find them helpful in the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you. In part two, I will share three factors supporting movement multiplication.
Questions for discussion with others in your ministry
- Who in your ministry team(s) has God used to open new fields?
- How are you finding local apostolic agents?
- How are you doing transformation dialogue?
- How are you reaching groups rather than individuals?
- Have you used the Seven Questions to guide discovery Bible discussion? What is going well? What is challenging?
- Are teams of leaders forming?