‘God’s message was preached in ever-widening circles. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted too.’ -Acts 6:7
I love that phrase! ‘Ever-Widening Circles’
This article explores how we work with the Holy Spirit to see the gospel spread and disciples multiplying through ever-widening circles until it gains movement momentum…
Neil Cole writes;
‘One size doesn’t fit all. What we need is to find the right size group for the God-given needs of the people so that they naturally want to remain in such a group. Expecting one size to meet all needs is not only unrealistic but disappointing to all involved…’Neil Cole, Organic Church Movement
The Genesis of Movements
In the Beginning, ‘God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and govern it…”‘ -Genesis 1:28
This is the foundational command of God. In this, we see the unfolding of His Work. Notice the progression:
- Govern (or ‘have Kingdom’)
We see this five-fold unfolding of God’s blessing throughout scripture. For example, God blessed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob said to God, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.’ Jacob then went on to bless his 12 sons. One of his sons Joseph became fruitful; the common refrain was; ‘The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered/succeeded in everything he did…’
During the Israel’s time in Egypt, ‘The Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them’ -Exodus 1:7, ‘The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread…’ -Exodus 1:12
Notice that the multiplication occurred under hardship against a backdrop of persecution. This reminds me of Acts 8:1-4; ‘A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria […] But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went’
We have a saying in our movement; ‘We Die to Multiply’ (see John 12:24)
Through the 12 Tribes, the Israelites filled The Promise Land, each tribe allotted a specific region. Then through the Kingdom of David and his son Solomon, they governed and had dominion.
According to the Book of Exodus, 600,000 fighting men left Egypt during the biblical Exodus. If we include priests, wives, children and the elderly, there must have been at least 2.5 million people in mass migration
There were too many people for Moses to lead by himself. So Moses selected from all the people ‘capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes.’ and appointed them as ‘leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace’
Moses chose ‘capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten’ (See Exodus 18:13-27)
Notice the Leadership Structure:
- Leaders of 1000
- Leaders of 100
- Leaders of 50
- Leaders of 10
This Leadership Structure is known as ‘Jethro’s Wise Advice’ – it’s interesting that Jethro’s name means ‘overflow’
How are you identifying, equipping and deploying leaders of 10, leaders of 50, leaders of 100, leaders of 1000?
How God Makes Disciples of Nations
There is an intriguing scripture in the Book of Joshua that gives us a glimpse into how God structures a nation. ‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the LORD chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the LORD chooses shall come forward man by man’ -Joshua 7:14
Notice the formation, like a Russian Stacking Doll:
The Disciple-Making Strategy of Jesus
Jesus made disciples and trained leaders according to their ability and capacity. He invested more in The Three than he did in The Twelve, and more in The Twelve than he did in The Seventy-Two and so on. We can see the outworking of Jesus’ disciple multiplication work in the following strategy:
- The 3
- The 12
- The 72
- The 120
- The 500+
Have you ever looked at how Jesus discipled The 3 (Peter, James and John) and how he discipled The 12?
Have you pondered how Jesus trained and sent the 72?
When the Movements Engine is applied in an unreached region it will lead to what we call the Movements Landscape – five different sizes of gathering taking different forms depending on the number of people and their cultural make-up.
As these people are discipled in these gatherings and communities the five-fold gifts will emerge amongst the new people of God. In turn some of these people will form new Movement Engines; spreading the movement to new people and places.
- Pilgrims: 2-3 People (Pilgrims help each other grow as disciples of Jesus in daily life)
- Communities: 5-15 People (A community is a spiritual family that does life together on mission)
- Bases: 25-70 People (Bases are where teams meet to work on projects, be trained, become trainers and be sent out)
- Tribes: 120+ People (A tribe is a network of people with a common identity or interest)
- Gatherings: 300+ People (Gatherings bring together many diverse tribes in a cultural mash up event)
A Map for Movements
Do you have A Map for identifying leaders of varying capacities who can form churches of all shapes and sizes?
What’s your next steps on the Road to Movements?