Ed Stetzer on Two Things Leaders Can Do to Keep Jesus the Center of a Missional Movement

In the years leading up to prohibition in America, opinions on alcohol changed dramatically.

Within years, people went from enjoying alcohol to arguing that it should be completely banned. Small, anti-alcohol groups grew in popularity and shared their ideas with others.

As anti-alcohol groups reached more people, opinions changed among the people, and prohibition was eventually passed by the government.

American change their mind slowly at first— and then it accelerates quickly. Take a look at this article (and the chart) “This is How Fast America Changes Its Mind.” Really— take a look. I’ll wait.

This is what happens with cultural movements: It starts with something small and ends with a tipping point that leads to change. As this change starts to occur, smaller groups of people begin to attract others, and more people respond to the movement.

Gospel Ministry

In some ways, this can be true of gospel ministry.

We often see people choose to follow Jesus the more they are surrounded by Christians who impact them in new ways. But there is one huge difference between cultural movements and gospel movements: Gospel movements are not about the leader. They are about Jesus.

Think about it. In Scripture, there is an emphasis on the failures of Jesus’ disciples and church leaders. It is not a coincidence that we learn so much about Peter’s stupidity and David’s foolishness. In fact, our exposure to the mistakes of leaders emphasizes the fact that Jesus is truly at the center of the gospel movement.

So, if leaders are not at the center of these movements, what is our role in a gospel movement? I think two things are key— reproducible disciples and de-emphasized clergy.

First, our words and behaviors must be replicable. We must reproduce reproducible disciples.

We need to follow Jesus in a way that encourages others to follow Jesus in their own way. There needs to be a de-emphasis on ourselves as heroic leaders and a new emphasis on creating a system that can be replicated as people engage in a gospel movement.

That’s why one of my favorite videos is the “Shirtless Dancing Guy.” I explaining the connection to church movements when I talk about my friend Neil Cole. See “Leadership Lessons from the Shirtless Dancing Guy” to understand why.

But, churches and denominations are striving to get this more. A few years ago, I spoke at the national Wesleyan gathering. When they asked me what I wanted to speak on, I told them that I wanted to talk about multiplication. Specifically, how churches can multiply.

Instead, they asked if I could go broader and talk about everything multiplying. At the gathering, I talked about how we need to multiply disciples, groups, ministries, and churches so that we can, in turn, grow the church. Because, if you think about it, every movement is driven by people who eagerly multiply small groups into larger ones.

When our words and actions are replicable, the opportunities for multiplication become more frequent.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today