Steve Addison on His New Book ‘The Rise and Fall of Movements: A Roadmap for Leaders’

Ed Stetzer: Today I’m glad to welcome Steve Addison to The Exchange. We are talking about his new book Rise and Fall of Movements. Steve is a catalyst for movements that multiply disciple and churches, everywhere. He is an author, speaker, podcaster, and mentor to movement pioneers.


Ed: What’s the story behind The Rise and Fall of Movements?

Steve: I’ve been studying movements for over 30 years. I soon noticed that dynamic movements have certain characteristics. I also noticed that movements don’t stand still. Movements rise and they fall and they can be turned around.

I wanted to write a book that explains the characteristics of movements that multiply and how they change over the course of the typical lifecycle. An understanding of the characteristics and the lifecycle provides a framework for action.

There are many studies of organizations and social movements that identify a typical lifecycle. They prompted me to search the Scriptures and church history to see if I could find the same patterns. I did.

The real challenge was to discover how God was at work at each stage of development and how we contribute to both the rise and fall of movements.

Ed: What is the movement lifecycle, and why is it important?

Steve: The lifecycle starts with Birth. The key task is for a founder to dream and commit to the cause. Then comes Growth in which the dream is turned into action that gets the right results. In Birth, the founder embodies the mission. In Growth, the movement must embody the cause.

The shift from Growth to Maturity takes place when a successful movement chooses to protect its achievements. If this continues, a movement becomes an institution drifts and into Decline. Good people exit or are forced out. Safety matters more than the mission.

Finally, an institution enters Decay and survives on artificial life-support. Rebirth is possible in Maturity and Decline. Rebirth begins with a return to the Identity that was so important during Birth and Growth—the Word, the Spirit, and the Mission.

We’re all at some point in the movement lifecycle. We must discern God’s will and steward the responsibility he’s given us.

Too many church leaders have a ministry mindset rather than a movement mindset. A ministry mindset focuses on what we’re doing (our worship services, our youth ministry, our online presence, our community ministry), whereas a movement mindset is all about releasing authority and responsibility to the newest disciples who make disciples.

A church with a ministry mindset finds it hard to see beyond its own achievements; a church with a movement mindset is not impressed with the numbers in the auditorium, but with generations of new disciples, new workers, new churches.

In 1995 researchers identified movements globally that had at least four generations of new disciples and churches. They found fifteen. They checked again in 2018 and found 654 movements. This is unprecedented.

God is doing something amazing in our lifetime. We must steward this opportunity. We need godly and effective leaders at every level who understand movements and can lead through the lifecycle.

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Source: Christianity Today