Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shifting from Drawing in Converts to Catalyzing Movements

In the beginning of his seminal work, The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch asks a profound question:, “How many Christians were on the planet in 100 A.D.?” He then asks, "How many were on the planet just before the reign of Constantine in 310 A.D.?" The answer is a lesson for us all.

In 100 A.D. there were as low as twenty-five thousand Christians.
In 310 A.D. there were twenty-million followers of Christ.[1]

The Gospel of Jesus Christ went from 0 to 10 percent of the world’s population in just a little over two hundred years. Then he asks the question that the rest of the book addresses, “How did they do that?”

A movement such as this is not about making converts; it is about transforming people into active followers of Christ and messengers of the Gospel. For too long we have had a different view of how to expand Christianity. Whether we take people to church services or crusades in a stadium, we have been trying to convert people from unbelief to belief. In the past we have been more concerned with getting people saved, but I am not content with that mission alone. I also want to have them sent. I believe that simply getting people to convert is a short-sighted goal unworthy of the Gospel. 

We simply must put more stock in the Gospel and understand that it carries enough power within to change someone from the inside out, forever. That change is in itself potent. Instead of trying to get people out of the world and into the church, we need to get people out of the church and into the world. As long as they are Jesus people, they will be fine in the world. Even Jesus did not try to take people out of the world (John 17:15), and Paul saw such an endeavor as foolish (1 Cor. 5:9-11). Evangelism is not enough; we need to release movements. The word evangelism derives from two words: good news and messenger. It is not just about converts, it is about igniting new messengers of the good news. 

For the next few blog posts I will be addressing the shift we need to make from making converts to releasing movements. The content will be drawn from my book Church 3.0.

[1] Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, p. 18


Joe M. said...

Thanks Neil. Just yesterday I was meeting with a new disciple after we read Matthew, and he was pointing out the high cost of discipleship that I was hesitant to bring up. It's amazing to see the Holy Spirit at work in a new disciple, and invigorating to my own faith as well!

Chris Jefferies said...

Thanks for this Neil. I've just finished 'Journeys to significance' and loved it. I have not so far read 'Church 3.0' but I plan to.

Releasing a movement is like releasing a virus. Once it gets into the uninfected population there is no stopping it.

That is a pretty exciting thought!

Anonymous said...

Una canasta de semillas... :)

Bill said...

Thanks Neil, Many have spent so much time in the 'Church'that they do not know how to get into others lives to the place were they can share the gospel. We must show them how to look for needs that Christ's love can meet through his people.

Jerry Maxwell said...

"A movement such as this is not about making converts; it is about transforming people into active followers of Christ and messengers of the Gospel." That's what the church need to be about. Eliminate the me that exirs in church and make it you!

Jerry M