Monday, March 26, 2012

Third Post on Catalysts from Church 3.0: What is a Catalyst of Movements?

When I was a teenager we used to reshape and repair our own surfboards. We would apply the resin to the fiberglass and add a catalyst, which caused the resin to harden in minutes. You had to be real careful that you were ready to add this ingredient because once you did it would be too late to correct anything—it worked too fast. The truth is, the resin would harden anyway, but the catalyst accelerated the process. What a catalyst does is it maintains its own integrity as it interacts with the other properties increasing their rate of effectiveness without losing its own potency. In other words a catalyst accelerates a natural occurrence, without being consumed by that process. 

The art of designing catalytic ideas and methods is basically my role in our movement. I am an architect of ideas with catalytic elements to fuel the acceleration of Jesus movements everywhere.

I have found through years of trial and error that there are six characteristics of catalysts that spark movements. By catalyst, I mean an idea, a product, or a practice that catches on and spreads in a viral manner so that it suddenly blossoms into a movement, which is when that something is spreading from one person to another. 

This spontaneity is why the apostle him/herself cannot be the actual catalyst as much as the engineer of it. Internet marketing expert Seth Godin remarks his book Tribes, “There’s a difference between telling people what to do and inciting a movement. The movement happens when people talk to one another, when ideas spread within the community, and most of all, when peer support leads people to do what they always knew was the right thing.” He goes on to say, “Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them.”[p.23] The tools, methods or strategies that enable people to connect together and pass on memorable ideas are the catalysts I am talking about.

With Church 2.0, we evaluated a church’s success by how many people attended and how much money they left there. Because Church 3.0 is a movement, success is not measured by how many people come but by how many go! We want to measure the church’s sending capacity more than its seating capacity. We ask: Is the message, the method and the mission spreading from one person to the next and then on to the one after that? For such a release to happen apostolic genius must be involved, engineering good catalysts that can ignite a movement.

The reason I call these ideas and tools “catalysts” is that the method may not actually be the cause of the spread, only the thing that accelerates it. I firmly believe that it is only the Spirit and Word of God that carries any true spiritual movement. Because we all have these potent catalytic properties, the potential of a movement is within each of us. Jesus understood this concept and even spoke of it when he used the analogy of leaven. Leaven is a catalyst when added to dough that causes it to rise (Luke 13:20-21). Only a small amount of the catalyst is needed because it maintains its own property and multiplies its influence without losing its own integrity.

A Life Transformation Group (LTG) is a great example of what I am describing here. It is 2-3 people that meet once a week and hold each other accountable to Scripture reading throughout the week, confession of sin and prayer for lost friends and family. The LTG doesn't change a life it only accelerates the things that do: divine truth (seed) in good soil (confession of sin) with a look toward other's transformation (apostolic mission). The system is designed so that it doesn't require oversight, or policing in any way. It maintains its own integrity as it reproduces to multiple generations. That is a catalyst for movement, and LTGs are found all over the world in multitudes of languages. Simple, reproducible and profound in what it brings together. You can find out more about LTGs in Search & Rescue (also titled Ordinary Hero).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Cole.

I will chew on this. The catalyst to which I have given my writing of a second book has more to do with a progression backward (and inward) before we look at the progression outward.

I contend that before we can increase the progression outward, we need to understand the value of I Peter 4:16-19. We need to understand the season in which God has placed us to understand which catalyst is needed. I dare say there are some catalytic actions which need to come before others, and I fear for the Christian nation across America that we will continue to move forward when we need to move back for just a C.S. Lewis stated in 'Mere Christianity': There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded. To go back, some of the time, is to actually move forward. I think repentance is a mighty good catalyst. And yet, my husband and I have witnessed too many Christians, denominations, and non-denominations walking off of reconciliation. It is sad indeed, and I do not think this will lead to a moving out and reaching grassroots people like we all want to see happen.

Thanks for a thought provoking article. I will pray the wisdom for you and other leaders to understand these things deeply. ~Cara