“Jesus lives on in an apostolic mission that advances by church multiplication.” – Wolfgang Simson
If you’re familiar with the New Testament, you know Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke as a historical account of Jesus before, during, and immediately after the cross. What some don’t realize is the book of Acts is Luke’s historical account of the resurrected Jesus’ activity as He leads and guides the church into the very activities that characterized His ministry on Earth (cf. John 14:12-14, Acts 1:1-3). The heart of the matter is this: Jesus’ post resurrection ministry was lived out through the church in the book of Acts in the form of a multiplying church movement.
Let’s look at some quick facts. The Church Jesus left was insubstantial compared to the crowds who had followed Him before His death. Paul speaks of Christ appearing to 500 people after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Since this is the highest number of post-resurrection numbers spoken of and Paul refers to these men as brothers, my assumption is they were the lump some of Jesus’ followers. Yet, by the early third century, this relatively obscure band of five hundred had become somewhere between 5 and 10% of the Roman Empire and up to 30% of some major cities.
The book of Acts records the harvest in language that should both stun us and move us to action. When Peter preaches at Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2, a massive harvest of 3,000 new believers come to the Lord. Luke describes it this way: and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41). This continued on for a season in the life of the early church (Acts 2:47, 5:14) and the results were significant growth that all of us would love to have.
However, eventually the church began to feel the burden of it’s growth. The result was a decision to multiply leadership beyond the apostles to the men we refer to as deacons in Acts 6. When this multiplication of ministry happened, a small but significant shift occurs in Luke’s story. Instead of the church having new members added to them, the church begins to multiply (Acts 6:7). The church didn’t just multiply one time. It multiplied several times (Acts 9:31, 12:24)
This is more than just semantics. The shift in language represents the fact that instead of just a few people doing much of the work, many people were embracing the mission of God. See, addition works like this: 2+2+2+2+2+2=12. Multiplication works like this: 2x2x2x2x2x2=64. The more multiplication you have happening the bigger the results. This is why Paul would tell Timothy to take what he had taught him and teach it to faithful men who would teach it to other faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2). It was a God-sized idea to expand the Kingdom.
And you couldn’t stop this multiplying church. Its multiplication made it hard to know where it started or ended. Before you knew it, this little group of Jesus followers became a multitude that had no visible leader. You could kill one of the leaders, but another would rise in its place. It’s why human’s hate viruses: they multiply out of control. This is what allowed the first century church to reach an unprecedented amount of people in such a short period of time.
Beloved we find ourselves in a season of history where we must recapture the spirit of evangelism and multiplication that gripped the early church. This isn’t a call to return to only first century practices, but to capture those elements that made them vital and caused the Gospel to spread like a virus throughout earth. Jesus is worthy of His name going forth and redeeming many in this hour. May we, like them, be consumed for His name’s sake and see the church multiply in the Earth.
Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny. These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site. Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.
I’m super excited for this week’s Food For Thought. I found a blog by Kevin Matthews who we’ve featured here before that I feel captures the essence of what we’re working towards here at Pursuing Glory. I don’t know that I’ve seen a prophecy like this anywhere before and its accuracy is amazing. You can read more about the man gave the prophecy here. The spirit of the prophecy, I believe, is the aim of all the posts featured here and what we contend for here at Pursuing Glory.
A New Move of the Spirit Kevin and Lorna’s Daily Devotional features a prophecy by Smith Wigglesworth about a move of the Spirit after the charismatic movement and the church planting movements. It describes exactly what we’re believing for.
Tim Keller on Movements Steve Addison @ Movements That Change The World does a nice job of condensing a post by Tim Keller on the nature of movements. Any serious movement should wrestle with his thoughts.
Thursday is for Thinkers: Rice Brooks on the Evangelist and the Missional Church Missional guy and evangelism guru Ed Stetzer hosts a guest post on his blog by Rice Brooks about the necessity of evangelists to the missional church. Much needed wisdom at Ed Stetzer’s blog.
Why Simple Churches Don’t Work #7 Ross spends a post looking at how lack of apostolic ministry hinders house churches. This issue needs addressing. You can see this and other hindrances at thejesusvirus.
Why compliments help in planting a simple/organic/house church Felicity Dale looks at the Luke 10 principle of pronouncing peace on houses you enter. This is an often missed part evangelism in the West. More at SimplyChurch.
Welcome to post number 199 here on Pursuing Glory. You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged here recently, mostly because I’ve been wanting to do something significant for the 200th post. Normally, I’m not a big numbers guy, so I wouldn’t make a big deal over the 200th post, but for whatever reason, reaching that post number has got me thinking about the direction of the blog, who comes and reads what’s here, and what God intends to do through this blog. All of this is motivated me to take a look at my top posts and ask this question: Why do people come and read this blog.
Looking at the stats is a little telling. The number one post here on the blog is "A Summary of the Lakeland Revival." Undoubtedly, this blog post came out during the final months of the Lakeland Revival when controversy was beginning to swirl and so many came looking for information about what had happened. But I also think it speaks of the desire in the body of Christ to truly experience the power of Christ not only in our own lives but in the lives of the lost and dying. This post is significant because you come here believing God desires to pour out his Spirit in a dramatic way that awakens the nations.
The next most popular blog (which is really shocking to me) is called "Mark Driscoll Kicks Terry Virgo’s Butt." This blog recaps Mark Driscoll’s visit to New Frontiers and points you to the blog posts of both Mark and Terry. I’ve been totally shocked by how many times this page has been viewed. What is even more shocking to me is the fact that about half the traffic comes looking for information on Driscoll and half comes looking for information on Virgo. What’s driving those hits, I believe, is a sincere desire to experience and understand true apostolic leadership. Both of these men represent significant movements of believers around the world struggling for the truth of the Gospel to be presented to a lost and dying world. I believe some of you come because you’re hungry for the kind of Christianity where apostolic leadership is welcomed and encouraged.
"While We Slept" and "Wolfgang Opens A Webshop" are two other high ranking posts that feature Mercy and Wolfgang Simson. The content of these posts announce Mercy and Wolf each opening up a presence on the internet. I believe that these posts are visited frequently for the same reason that "Mark Driscoll Kicks Terry Virgo’s Butt" gets traffic. However, Mercy and Wolf represent something different as well. Mercy definitely has a prophetic anointing resting on her life. Wolfgang is definitely an apostolic leader in the body of Christ. But both of them also represent the growing house church movement that is developing all over the world. I’ve never discussed the house church movement in a very structured way but this blog definitely has become a place to discuss the shift going on in many peoples’ hearts to a more relational form of Christianity that meets in homes. I believe some of you come here to catch a glimpse of this transition that is taking place across the world.
Another post that gets some pretty significant attention on this blog always seems to be "Red Moon Rising Quote #2." This blog is a quote that came straight from the book "Red Moon Rising," which chronicles the birth of a prayer movement in Europe that challenges young adults to live lives of extravagant devotion to Jesus in the context of prayer and service. I know people come to this post because of the quote, but I believe that throughout the body of Christ there is a hunger to live lives of deep prayer and consecration to Jesus. I believe you come to the blog because you know that the move of God that is coming will be supported by a revolution in prayer, both individually and corporately.
Finally, Stuff I’m Reading has always been a significant page on this blog. This blog is significant in a way that is different from all the other posts. This page is all about me and what material God is using to grow and mature me. And in a way, I think this page is popular for the same reason that posts like "I Win (And Proof That I’m Not A Bad Sport)" and "Because She’s My Valentine" remain popular on the blog. If I can say this without being self-centered, I think a lot of you come here to stay caught up with me. This to a large degree was and is still the purpose of the blog. As I’ve slowly moved over to Facebook and Twitter, a lot of that personal "what are you doing" sort of content has slipped out of the posts here. However, in my attempt to focus in more on the blog again, look to see more of this as we go on. I’ll explain that later.
So this blog has a lot of people showing up for different reasons. But I believe that God is going to raise up a move of the Holy Spirit marked by radical signs and wonders, lead by seasoned apostolic men, who are extending the Kingdom through prayer, evangelism, and house church planting. I call it “this thing,” and if you’re interested in seeing where it goes, stick around. We’re in for a fun ride.
I stumbled onto the Batterson Blog a few months ago thanks to the recommendation of Randy Bohlender of Stuff I Think fame. As I’ve read the posts I’ve come to enjoy Mark Batterson’s unique perspective on life and ministry which is both transparent and biblical all at the same time. In true Web 2.0 form I became aware of Mark’s new book through his blog and I was intrigued because the theme of Mark’s book, restoring the lost soul of Christianity, and signed up to join the blog tour.
Mark’s book reads like an extended version of his blog, which in my opinion is a compliment. It’s personal, a good mix of experience and biblical thought, and well-written. Mark contends that we must return to what made Christianity great in the first few centuries and in order to do that, we must return to what made our Christianity great in the first days after we came to know Christ. This is the primal place, the place, according to Mark, “where loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all that matters…[where] the place for the lost soul of Christianity begins…”
I have to stop here and say that while I believe that loving God with all of our being is essential to restoring the lost soul of Christianity, I do not believe that you can just start there. I believe that loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is the result of a revelation of Jesus to the human heart, both initially and continually over the life of a believer.
The way forward in each of these areas (heart, soul, mind, and strength) seems somewhat like a maintenance prescription for a car that neglects filling the tank with gasoline. And while I’m sure that Mark believes in the necessity of encountering Jesus regularly, the book seems to convey the idea that simply attempting to grow in love in these four areas will cause Christianity to be revitalized. So, yes, these are essential, but they have to flow out of a revelation of God to the human heart. And when they do, we will see the recovery Mark is talking about.
That said, if you are encountering Jesus in a continual and regular basis and are looking to be pushed in some practical ways, this a good book and will be helpful for you. Mark splits it up into four sections focusing in on how we can grow in our heart, soul, mind, and spirit. I’ve never seen someone take quite the same amount of time on each of these sections individually. Each one would be great to focus on devotionally for a season of time and I think the book can be read that way. For the purpose of brevity, lets look at each of these sections and sum up Mark’s take on them.
The first section of the book is about loving with our heart and Mark does a good job of showing us how we’ve stopped living (and loving) from our hearts. He then points to the fact that much of our Christianity is detached from feeling what God feels and he calls the reader back to the place of feeling the things that God feels very deeply.
Mark’s description of what happens when we touch God’s heart focuses primarily on how it affects our pocket book. People who feel what God feels are compelled to lives of extravagant giving and generosity toward the lost and the poor. I whole-heartedly agree. My only complaint is we don’t see much on how loving with our whole heart affects other areas of our lives, such as prayer, how we spend our time, or live out our testimony before unbelievers.
The next section focuses on loving God with our soul. This was probably the section that challenged me the most. Mark links the growth of our soul in love to our ability to wonder at things around us. God, he says, wondered at His creation and we stunt our spiritual growth into His image if we loose our capacity to wonder at the things around us. I know for me, it’s easy to get caught in routine and lose a wonder for God and the things He has created.
The primary place of wonder Mark spends time calling us to rediscover is our wonder over the record of God found in the Bible. I found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with him about our tendency to expect to be fed by a local church leader and not feeding ourselves on the truth in the Bible. Mark shines in this section as both a teacher and a confronter.
After looking at our ability to love God with our soul, Mark spends time exploring what it means to love God with our mind. One thing I’ve learned by reading Mark’s blog and the book is that Mark has never been fond of boundaries and it shines through in this chapter. Because of that, Mark believes that there are new, God-inspired thoughts that can change the world and change lives, and it’s the believer’s duty to tap into them.
The challenge then is to receive these thoughts and act on them. The only way to put these thoughts into action is to change our approach to risk and failure, because a fear of failure will cause us only to replicate already existing patterns. Again this was solid food for thought and prayer and I would recommend it to those who haven’t thought about what it means to love God with their mind.
I have to be honest, I haven’t read this section yet, which saddens me. But the blog tour must take place and I can’t leave a book unfinished, so at some point stop back and I’ll give you my thoughts. I do have to say, however, that I think this is shaping up to be the strongest part of the book. Just by way of looking at the chapter titles, this is the part of the book I was most excited about and I believe most tangibly relates to movements. I’ll be interested also to see how Mark ties all four sections together into the “Primal Movement” he’s been describing since the beginning of the book.
In summary, Mark offers us a good book on returning to an all-encompassing relationship with Jesus. Because (at least in my estimation) Mark seems to be a boundary pusher, anyone who needs a jolt in their walk with Jesus or just a different perspective on loving God would benefit from the book. Again, I believe it would have been helpful to explore more of the vertical aspects of this love that Mark calls us to pursue. Things like encountering Jesus in prayer, fasting, and meditation might have been helpful. But to the person who is, this book will definitely push your boundaries in each of these four areas and bring us closer to the primal movement we all long to see.
*In the interest of full disclosure, Multinomah offered a free copy of this book in exchange for a review posted here as well as on a merchant site.
It is the nature of movements to have leaders that inspire those around them to fulfill a cause. It is also the nature of movements to be made up of people who, once inspired by the leader, give that leader the assurance that fulfilling the cause is possible after all.
Today, while I was at work I plugged in my MP3 player to a set of computer speakers that I brought in from home. While I do this most days, I’m usually listening to worship music of some kind. But within the last couple of days I loaded way more preaching onto my Walkman than should be allowed in any country, and so instead of listening to music at work, I listened to preaching. The great thing about it was that I found myself wanting to get back to my desk and work so that I could hear more of the sermon that was paused while I was away. It was good motivation to stay at my desk and to continue working.
The featured speaker of the day was Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Mark has a movement of young men desiring to plant churches all over the place and has done (from what I understand) an amazing job of bringing the true Gospel to tons of non-believers. This sermon was given to a group of potential church planters that were thinking of joining Mark’s Acts 29 church planting network. It had a lot of funny moments, some stuff I liked, and some stuff I disagreed with.
But what the sermon did, it did well…and that’s this…Mark described very well the nature and pitfalls of movements. He described movements as a river made up of various tributaries, always focusing on young adults, always harnessing new technology, and always bringing reformation to those outside of the movement’s reach. One of the things I greatly appreciated about Mark’s message was the single-minded focus he had about keeping Acts 29 focused on bringing the gospel to lost souls and planting churches where lost people are saved. Mark has taken great pains to make sure that nothing else eclipses that goal.
And in the process it reminded me that all true, Jesus-centered movements are on the same mission that Jesus was on–to seek and save the lost. There are no new movements (in the Kingdom, at least) where people are not being converted. We (as a house-church and as part of the larger house church movement) need to make sure we don’t loose this as a cardinal value. When we loose this, we become just another plateauing church that is part of the reason lost people are going to hell every day. But if we embrace not just Jesus, but the mission He is on as well, we reconnect ourselves with the very cause the Church on earth exits and we become a little more like the phenomenal Jesus-movements of history.
I’ll talk more about movements sometime. For now…are you part of the movement of Jesus to reclaim humanity under the reign of God?