After attending our church’s Men’s Retreat this past November, a group of men and I stayed to play paintball. This happened to be the first time I had ever played paintball. I thought that paintball would be similar to going outside with nerf guns. But, oh boy was I wrong. Nerf bullets don’t hurt; paintballs coming your way at over 150mph—HURT.
As I experienced my first-ever paintball match, I have to admit I didn’t move much. I didn’t want to get hit, and thus out. I wanted to stay clean (devoid of any paint of my clothes) and in the game. The problem with such a strategy, it’s hard to advance something when you’re not moving forward. In paintball, it seemed like the team that had a system and a strategy to move forward, to gain ground, to cut off the opposing team, went on to win.
In both my pastoral experience and my research, it seems that many churches today take the posture I did in my first-ever paintball match—they sit in one place. In other words, they play-it-safe and thereby experience very little movement. The only problem with such a posture is that Jesus didn’t call the church to a play-it-safe kind of posture. Quite the opposite. The missional call of Jesus positions the church in advance mode towards the gates of Hell as they aim to make disciples of all nations. Such a posture is what I, as well as others (like Ed Stetzer and Alan Hirsch), call Movemental Christianity.
There are many characteristics to Movemental Christianity, but in this short post, I want to share with you three.
- Movemental Christianity BEGINS with PRAYER. Through the New Testament, we know that such a missional call—to make disciples of all nations—involves the church praying for at least three things. First, it involves the church praying for the power. Thus, believers and churches should have part of their prayers directed towards asking the Spirit of God to fill them—empowering them for kingdom living and kingdom advancement. Second, it involves praying for laborers. As Jesus taught the disciples, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” Third, it involves praying for those far from God. Paul encourages Timothy to prayer for everyone—even those in authority—for God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1–4).
- Movemental Christianity POSTURES itself TO and FOR the WORLD. Those believers and churches that do not posture themselves TO and FOR the world, not only fail to become a movement, they end up becoming monuments. Monuments are erected to commemorate the past and what was, not advance anything in the future. The mission Jesus gave the church wasn’t to erect another religious institutional system (monument), but proclaim a relational transformational Savior (movement) who was on mission to create a people for Himself—where He would be their God/King and they would be His people. Such a posture will leave us feeling like Frodo (and Samwise Gamgee) on their way to Mordor to destroy the ring. It will be terrifying, risky, and adventurous.
- Movemental Christianity STRUCTURES itself with MULTIPLICATION in MIND. Many churches make decisions that help them manage and maintain what they have. Jesus wants the church to make decisions that gives them the ability to scale and multiple what they have. If Jesus called the church to make disciples, then we have to shift from a mindset of creating structures that maintain to creating ones that multiply. Therefore, churches have to think about how they are going to multiply the following: disciples, volunteers (aka at SCC as Towel-Holders), leaders, small groups (in every ministry area), campuses, and even churches. Such thinking and planning allows churches to create structures with multiplication in mind.
Movemental Christianity is meant to remind believers and churches of their God-given direction. Jesus has called the Church forward, not backward; to advancement, not retreat; to movement, not maintenance; to the future, not the past. For I truly believe, Jesus planted believers and local churches not to play-it-safe (as I did in paintball) but to risk it all for the sake of His glory and the world’s good.