Building Spiritual Movements: Five Phases

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1 Building Spiritual Movements: Five Phases WHAT IS A MOVEMENT? A group of multiplying disciples who embrace a common purpose, principles and procedures for maximum local and worldwide impact. An explosion of changed lives. The collective activity of committed, multiplying disciples as they band together and trust God for an impact greater than their own individual ministries. A general definition from People, Power, Change: Movements of Social Transformation, by Gerlach and Hine, is A group of people who are organized for, ideologically motivated by, and committed to a purpose which implements some form of personal or social change; who are actively engaged in the recruitment of others; and whose influence is spreading in opposition to the established order within which it is originated. A spiritual movement is a committed group of disciples, empowered by the Spirit of God, embracing a common purpose and philosophy and actively involved in helping to fulfill the Great Commission. They are bound together by common devotion to Christ and His cause. Such a movement is characterized by dependence on the Holy Spirit and the Word, mutual love and fellowship, bold sharing of the gospel, changed lives, fervent prayer, the development of Christ-like leadership, spiritual multiplication, opposition from the established order and a sense of awe at the mighty power of God at work in their midst. COMMON PURPOSE The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) instructs us to make disciples in all the nations, and to preach the gospel to every creature. In other words, give every man, woman and child the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, and to disciple those who respond. 2-13

2 According to the Great Commission, what is the common purpose to which a movement is committed? What additions or questions would you have as you look at these descriptions of movement? A non-movement ministry is the result of one person s spiritual impact in isolation from the spiritual impact of others. Movement requires a team, not just an individual. What differentiates a movement from an organization? Read Acts 4:1-37. With your group or leader, brainstorm the essential elements of a spiritual movement. Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8. Identify an additional elements found in spiritual movement. PHASES OF MOVEMENT 2-14 Movement is something God does. God builds movement. But, there are some things we can do to prepare the soil for God s work. And there seem to be some patterns and building blocks to building spiritual movements. We will look at those patterns, or phases. We will address five phases of Spiritual Movement. While these are phases, they tend to also be building blocks, that is, one builds on another but you never quit doing the activities of the previous phase.

3 The Five Phases are: 1. Preparation The Preparation Phase could best be described as laying a solid groundwork to begin a movement of reaching and discipling students. This involves several emphases: Contacting Informing Building initial relationships Soliciting prayer, financial backing, field worker manpower, and service team or Community Resource Team Communication is key. You are a leaner in this phase. You are learning the community, seeing what other workers are laboring in that field, discerning our role in that community, and laying the foundation for future effectiveness. You are meeting both students and adults in this phase. Typically, this phase would last 3 to 6 months. However, you will always need to keep doing the activities you do in the preparation phase. Laying a foundation of prayer is particularly important during this phase. 2. Gathering The Gathering Phase can best be defined as involving key Christian students, and leading as many new students to Christ as possible. You will want to gather: Students who have a desire to know and follow Christ Look for faithful, available and teachable students. Students who have influence with other students. Christian students who have a desire, faithfulness and the ability to reach others on campus. The key is exposing and the claims of Christ to as many students as possible, then following up and discipling those who respond. This is typically done through broad sowing; one on one evangelism, team meetings, classroom speaking, evangelistic Bible studies, and creative outreaches (Classics). Of course, this also involves your field team attending as many school events as possible, 2-15

4 as you target the various natural groups on campus. The gathering phase should be emphasized for at least 6 to 10 months, giving you time to gather and begin solid discipleship of future leadership students. It is also important to build relationships with gate keepers (people who will open avenues of influence and ministry for you). Building credibility in your community is important throughout the process of building spiritual movement. The activities you began in the Preparation Phase continue during the Gathering Phase. 3. Visibility The Visibility Phase can best be described as that point in your work where there is a strong emphasis on public identity for the movement. You will need to do two things as you move into the visibility phase: Involve more people, so plan for an emerging leadership core of volunteers, Community Resource Team and students. Train these people and ten delegate responsibilities to them. Your ministry will be as strong as your commitment to delegation. Other earmarks of this phase include: 2-16 Regular outreach meetings have begun. A core of Action Team students have been trained to communicate Christ among their peers, exercise spiritual influence, and lead activities. There are changed lives of individual students who have become influential and who demonstrate a positive reputation on campus. Your ministry calendar includes timely classics or high visibility events, usually once a semester, to give visibility to the ministry and, as a result, continually gather new students. Conferences including Getaways, FastBreaks and Something s Happening USA are well attended by a majority of your disciples. These conferences are key to building and maintaining a visible movement.

5 4. Leadership In the Leadership Phase, significant numbers of students and adults are seeking training, and are making themselves available for leadership. These students and adults are regularly leading in various aspects of your ministry. This is happening as a result of several things: You have been faithful and thorough in the preceding three phases of ministry. Your discipleship of key students has been consistent and you have continually focused on discipling underclassmen - avoiding heavy graduation losses in momentum. You are balancing your ministry with timely visibility events that God is using to uncover spiritual interest and draw new students to Christ. You can easily become unbalanced in student ministry. You need to maintain perspective. For example, you can have a great discipleship plan, be highly motivated, but have low numbers of students to disciple, because your ministry lacks the key visibility activities to attract new students. On the other hand, you can gather tremendous numbers of students with visibility, but soon lose them, because you have not developed a core of students to help lead the newcomers. Balance, balance, balance are three key ingredients to a spiritual movement. Let s look at some specific earmarks of the leadership phase: Students play major roles in all aspects of the movement, including Meetings, Action Team, recruiting for conferences, outreaches, and discipleship. A minimum of students are leading small discipleship groups. Students are having a big influence for Christ among their peers. 2-17

6 5. Expansion The Expansion Phase is really the result of substantial movements of God's Spirit, at a single campus or in a particular city, multiplying to neighboring campuses or cities. Expansion could be best defined as that point in our movement when leaders (students and adults) at a particular campus are able to do one of the two following things, or both: They are able to maintain a growing movement at their campus, freeing staff and volunteers to spend more time opening new schools or areas. They are able to help lay the groundwork at others schools, so that a similar movement can be reproduced. KEEPING PERSPECTIVE 2-18 You may be set back to prior phases because of heavy graduation losses of leadership students. The solution: Always keep focused on a group of underclassmen as you gather and disciple students. Reload every year. You may move rapidly to the visibility phase, because of a solid core of able Christian students who are at the campus prior to your arrival. Your first job may be to mobilize, impart vision and train. A movement built on a solid core of Christian students, which does not add new believers will easily become a clique or have a youth group feel. Focus strongly on evangelism and outreach. You may have trouble moving into a visibility phase, or even gathering your initial students, because you have not targeted students who have influence with other students. Or, you may be gathering, but not discipling (thus building little depth into your students). You may not have cultivated the prayer support you need in the community. That is a common problem. There are also times when you may be working a very hard soil community which requires greater sowing of the gospel and prayer for a longer period of time before things begin to break.

7 Your movement at one school may be instrumental in spawning a movement at another school before you even enter the expansion phase. Often this is the case. The challenge you face, however, is raising up the leadership necessary for directing additional schools. APPLICATION Discuss these questions with your leader. 1. In what phase is the movement at your campus? 2. What are the key next steps for you in your school s current phase? For further clarification, see the Appendix for Five Phases of a Movement Chart. 2-19

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