Missional Multiplication Movements: Not in America

There are not any missional movements in the United States. At least not yet.

There are movements in many parts of the world, just not here in America. Missional movements represent the rapid expansion or multiplication of disciples and churches. This is not happening in America.

Over the last thirty years in America there have been an increasing number of churches planted, but nothing that truly reflects a movement. In the past decade, there has been an increase of missionary activity in the Western world, yet it has not approached the level of a movement.

As I worked on my doctoral dissertation last year, I asked this question many times: “Why aren’t there any multiplication movements in America?”

Here are some of the answers that I received Jeff Getz, missionary to New York City, suggests that there is no answer to “Why not here?” He believes that missional movements can happen in the United States, “or else we’ve discounted the power of the Holy Spirit.” He sees pride as the root reason why movements are not happening yet, telling me that Christians “would rather do something for God than be part of what God is doing.” To fuel movements, resources must be channeled away from events and buildings and huge staffs and “cushy packages” toward missional leaders and communities Acts 29 Director, Scott Thomas, also perceives that “American Pride” is a huge barrier. “A movement takes not just one group of people. It takes us saying, ‘Let’s dissolve our organizations if that’s what it takes so that God is exalted.’” Movements are all about what God is initiating, not what people are creating. Scott recognizes, “Man creates networks, God creates movements.” All the plans for planting churches and reaching people and transforming America that a person can imagine need to be surrendered to the moving of God to accomplish His mission. It is too easy to forget thatDr. Steve Ogne, my good friend, and a national coach and ministry architect with Church Resource Ministries, is committed to fueling movements of fresh authentic churches worldwide. He identifies three reasons that movements are absent in America:

  1. Neglect of Spiritual Dynamics: By ignoring God, many churches and church planters are attempting to start new churches on their own. They have not devoted themselves to praying for the harvest.
  2. Ministry Credentials: The credentialing process of many denominations discourages many new leaders. The cost of seminary is often prohibitive for emerging leaders. Clergy dominance and theological elitism hinders the development of new leaders.
  3. Building/Facility-based models: Energy is often wasted on doctrinal debate instead of focusing on missional engagement.

Dr. Bob Logan, executive director of CoachNet, has worked to develop strategies to cultivate healthy, reproducing church movements worldwide. He sees the problem in America is threefold: 1) A lack of focus, 2) A lack of passion, and 3) Laziness!

Bob says, “We act as if we have A.D.D. Christians are not willing to commit for the long haul. They do not stay with it.”

Here’s the reality: sustaining movements require a deep commitment to endurance in spite of the obstacles.

Missional multiplication movements are not yet happening in North America. According to Ed Stetzer, they have not happened since an explosion of church planting on the western front of the United States.

In America in the twenty-first century, churches often start new churches as a way to do evangelism, instead of starting churches because evangelism and disciplemaking is already happening. I’ve heard Peter Wagner’s now famous quote over and over again that “the best method of evangelism under heaven is church planting,” (Church Planting for a Greater Harvest, p 11).

I don’t agree. I believe: “The best method of church planting is evangelism and disciplemaking.

Until Christians embody the mission and message of Jesus, there will not be any movements. A big part of the problem is that too many Christians neglect the mission and do not care that people around them are going to hell. Erwin McManus states, “Movement will not happen if people do not move together in common mission.

It is time for a missional movement! We cannot let these contributing factors stand in the way of the mission

  • Lack of concern for the kingdom of God
  • Failure to understand the gospel
  • Pride
  • Misappropriation of resources
  • Man-centered plans
  • Neglect of spiritual dynamics
  • Ministry credentials
  • Building/Facility-based models
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of passion
  • Laziness
  • Dysfunctional churches
  • Prosperity
  • Neglect of Jesus’ mission
  • Evangelistic apathy

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matt 9:37–38).

Why do you think there aren’t multiplication movements in America?

What’s it going to take to see the rapid multiplication of disciples and churches in the West?

Note: You might also read –
1. Neil Cole – The Absence of Movements in America
2. “Why Aren’t There Church Multiplication Movements in the United States?”
3. Multiplication Movements in Southern India
4. The Absence of Missional Leaders

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
1 reply
  1. Durand
    Durand says:

    Some great things here to keep in mind. Part of the reason GEM is providing opportunities for discipleship multiplication training in North America (http://gemission.org/dmt) is because we want to see discipleship multiplication locally and globally.

    Steve Smith, one of the authors of T4T: A Discipleship Re-revolution reminds us that there were many who came after David that had the courage to slay giants because they had a precedent. David didn't have a precedent, but he had a promise that nothing would stand in the way of God giving Israel the land.

    Why do I think there aren;t multiplication movements in America or Europe? Most likely because we're not fully convinced God wants these people for his own.

    I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.

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