Our Top 5 Posts of February
Sat Mar 08, 2014
Resurgence Roundup, 3/7/14
Fri Mar 07, 2014
How to Replant a Church, Part 5: Rally Your Troops
Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Bubba Jennings
The 4 Pillars of Pastoral Work
Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Dave Bruskas
10 Ideas For Keeping Lent
Wed Mar 05, 2014
by Winfield Bevins
Be a Movement
Organizations? Not Interested...
A few months ago this AP story was posted on Atlanta's 11Alive news site:
Civil rights icon Andrew Young says he has little use for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization he once worked in alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Young says that then, the SCLC was a movement and Dr. King resisted the idea of selling memberships. Infighting and allegations of mismanagement are threatening to undermine the social justice group co-founded by King in 1957.
The group is headed to court on Wednesday. Young says the fight is over an organization—not a movement—and that he is not interested in organizations but would be glad to support a movement.
“If anybody is doing anything that is a movement, or the possibility of a movement, I would be glad to support it,” said Andrew Young, in another article. “But I’m not interested in organizations.”
Neither am I.
Movements Are a Different Story
In fact, most people are not interested in organizations—but movements are a different story. When Dr. King founded the SCLC in 1957, it was a movement, a band of brothers and sisters fighting against a common enemy, injustice, and standing for a common cause: the rights of justice and equality of all men and women, as promised in our constitution.
But what happened? How did this great movement deteriorate into an organization better known for scandals involving infighting and mishandling money?
It is so easy to lose sight and become an organization instead of a movement, even within Christianity!
This happens when the vision of the visionary dies with him or her, or begins to be altered so severely that it can no longer be distinguished from the rhetoric that replaces it. Soon the vision that catalyzed the movement is relegated to writing on walls, in pamphlets, or on websites, while the trajectory of the movement changes, momentum slows, and an organization’s disintegration then becomes imminent.
Be a Movement
I am desperate for our churches to be a movement in our cities, one catalyzed by a clear, common vision, and carried by committed brothers and sisters. It is so easy to lose sight and become an organization instead of a movement, even within Christianity! Though most Christian churches are now, at least by most accounts, considered organizations, it did not begin that way.
Christianity started as a movement of men and women who were so compelled by the words of Jesus that his words overtook their lives. They dwelled on, lived, spoke, and directed every nuance of their existence by those words.
And do you know what happened? Inside of the first century after Jesus’ resurrection, Christianity grew from 12, to 120, to 3,000, to millions throughout the Roman Empire. In fact, historians like Wayne Meeks say that by AD 300 nearly half of the people living in major Roman cities were followers of Jesus.
The Vision Hasn't Left
How does this happen? Did it happen because they had incredible programs, beautiful facilities, or incredibly talented staff teams? Did it happen because they had full funding, dynamic music, and creative environments?
No, it happened because they believed so strongly in who Jesus was and his command to make disciples of all people that it permeated every facet of their lives. When the "visionary" left, his vision—a world reconciled to the God that created it—did not. That's a movement!
The question I'm left asking myself as I lead my church is this: What would it look like to catalyze a movement rather than maintain an organization? What’s your response?