The Principle of Movement – Part II (Re-posting)

Project Galveston04The Principle of Movement – Part II

As I wrote in the most recent post below, in our journey here, we have for the most part stopped counting things.  Our denomination still sends us a report form that asks the incredibly irrelevant questions of numbers in worship, Sunday School, and dollars given to the denomination for them to waste on asking questions like these.  But we have mostly stopped counting things.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t notice things and it doesn’t mean that numbers are completely irrelevant.

And as I wrote in the post below, the overarching project of discipleship for us to make disciples who makes disciples, and to have as many of those disciples as possible be sent out to initiate Kingdom activity in the tribes and nations that they came out of.  We have come to understand that are certain changes – “movements” – that happen in people enough times that we have become very interested in making sure that we are intentional in inspiring, nurturing, and facilitating those missions and activities where these movements regularly take place.  We DO NOT force these to happen.  We simply look for them and encourage them, and celebrate them when they occur. We mark them. We have come to understand that even though these movements will appear linear when we try to describe them, they really are more quantum than they are linear.  Folks jump around in them like wells in the desert.  We call that jumping around, “Simple Missional Church” (SMC).

There are five movements that we look for and celebrate:

  • Subject and Object of Mission
  • Mission to Friendship
  • Friendship to Discipleship
  • Discipleship to Leadership
  • Leadership to Apostleship

In the previous post, we talked about the first two of these movements.  In this post I will try to explain the Movement from Friendship to Discipleship.  Over the next several blog posts we look at the last two movements.

Remember, we do not count things for the sake of numbers.  We look for these movements because they are indicative of spiritual growth.  Remember also that we call this Simple Mission Church, so we keep things simple.  Very simple.  Complex things don’t multiply easily.  Simple things do.

The Movement from Friendship to Discipleship: Many of the people who become involved in the mission will begin to re-orient the priorities of their lives to those of the mission.  The mission will become of central importance, not just something they do sometimes.  They will come to understand both its gravity and its urgency.  And they will make friends with others who participate with them and share those priorities.  Those friendships will be lived out in mission together.  And many of those people will have their eyes opened to the fact that what they are participating in is something transcendent…something more than simply philanthropy.  They will get it.  And they will look to go deeper.  Some of their behaviors will changes to include behaviors that will draw them into closer and closer relationship with Jesus.  They will begin to pattern their lives after Jesus’ life even though some of them will not be very articulate about exactly what it is that is changing in them.

We look for six movements in behavior…six shifts or patterns.  And when we see them, we are very intentional about nurturing them.  We don’t sit people down in a classroom with little desks and dry erase boards, and teach them three hours worth of denominational history and the meaning of the sacraments.  We come along side them and participate in these behaviors with them.  These six are not exhaustive marks of being a disciple.  But they are behaviors that bear tremendous spiritual fruit or growth in people.  If people do these things, it will change them.  They are:

  1. Get in the Word alone AND in a group.
  2. Pray with all your heart
  3. Confess to one another
  4. Forgive others and yourself
  5. Form accountable friendships – hedges of protection
  6. Have an inlet AND an outlet for growth (be mentored and mentor, take in love and give it out, etc)

Our experience in the mission is that we can’t force these things to happen or teach them in classroom and have them come as a result in any meaningful way.  These behaviors emerge almost out of ethno-methodology or a culture of praxis that exists among the other disciples of Christ that they participate in mission with.  In other words, we do them in the midst of people who do not yet do them.  People see the results. We look for the movement.  We nurture the changes when we see them.

At some point, some those who engage in these practices will want to be nurtured and held accountable in a deeper, more public way.  They are serious about the change.  They don’t want to go back to old ways and they know that they are susceptible to going back just like everyone else is.  They see that others who are serious about staying on the course have gone through the ordinance of public baptism among their accountability circle – those with whom they do mission and with whom they live and love and worship.  Something changes when you tell people what you believe and how you want to live.  And something huge changes when you tell a community that you want them to hold you accountable to the life you say you want to go deeper into.  For us, these behaviors indicate that a person has entered into a pattern of life whose aim is to know Jesus more deeply and to more deeply pattern our values, priorities and actions on those of Jesus.  This is the criteria for baptism – you have claimed Christ and you know he is alive, and you have re-oriented your life to grow into deeper relationship and obedience.  But most importantly, you are ready to be held accountable by the community.  To us, that is discipleship.  So we look for it.  And we nurture it when we see it emerging.

Do we count baptisms? Yes. We don’t count them so we can write them on those insidious denominational forms and say, “Hey! Look how cool we are! Look how faithful we are!”  We count them because they indicate that something that is happening on the front end of movement is creating an opportunity for people to seek and find the Kingdom of God.  If we aren’t producing disciples who make disciples, then we are doing something wrong. Do we celebrate baptisms? Oh heck yes!! For us, THAT is what all of this is all about. Does it end there? No.  More later.

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