We are living in a time of incredible disruption.
Recently, I wrote about some principles for leadership in the pandemic. However, the overall disruption I’m referring to here is not merely due to the the pandemic, but also the economic impact of the pandemic and other associated factors such as isolation, grief, and rising social anxiety and depression.
The past few months in the U.S. have also been a time of racial tension, ignited by the brutal killings of Black men, brought to national attention through the graphic videos of these murders.
With so much unresolved tension, uncertainty about the near term future, and hardship — and the probability of a tense presidential election coming up this November! — it’s unlikely that things will become more peaceful in our society anytime soon.
Of course, I wish this was not the case, but the facts seem to indicate otherwise.
The Mission Isn’t Cancelled
And yet, as Paul Worcester has said, the mission isn’t cancelled!
We are still called to bring the hope of the Gospel message to those around us. We are still called to honor God, reach the lost, and make disciples. In fact, the urgency and is arguable greater than ever.
For believers, there is a sense that the Lord is doing something in this uniquely stressful time and that Jesus is present with us in the midst of the storm. As God has promised, he will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
Perhaps this current calamity is the greatest opportunity for us to step in, step up, and serve within our generation.
We should remember that the New Testament church and the Christian movement of the first two centuries experienced great hardship. And yet, it was within this same timeframe that there was an incredible spread of the Gospel!
If we life faithfully and wisely before the Lord in this time, we could see an extraordinary impact in our generation.
This time of great disruption can become a time of great discipleship.
In his book, Movements that Change the World, Steve Addison identified five common factors among high-impact Gospel movements. I really enjoyed this book — it was as encouraging as it was informative!
These five common factors would be good considerations as our ministries and methods adapt to current realities.
Along with the list of the five keys identified by Addison (each one has its own dedicated chapter in the book), I’ve also included a key quote from the book summarizing each one.
1. White Hot Faith
“White-hot faith is the fuel that missionary movements run on. Nothing happens without a deep dependence on God. Nothing leads us into a healthy dependence on the power of God more than to come face to face with our desperate need of him. Jesus is the apostle and pioneer of our faith. He led the way for us in surrender to the will of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
White hot faith is an important factor whenever we se great advances in the spread of the Christian faith.”
2. Commitment to a Cause
“Commitment does not guarantee the rightness of a cause, but it does determine the likelihood of any cause making a difference. Committed people make history by living in alignment with their deeply held beliefs. Missionary movements build environments that sustain and reinforce commitment to the cause.”
3. Contagious Relationships
“There is no faster or more cost effective way for an idea, a fashion or a rumor to spread than from person to person and group to group. Technology can never replace the power of face-to-face recruitment by committed participants. Jesus understood the importance of relationships, and so did his followers.
It does not take vast amounts of money to fill a nation with the knowledge of the gospel. What it takes is ordinary people, on fire with the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who are willing to tell their families, friends and casual acquaintances what God has done for them.”
4. Rapid Mobilization
“…great leaders grow leaders. They reject the arrogant notion that their ministry is primary. Like Jesus, great leaders create opportunities that equip and mobilize others. They focus on the whole person: hands, head and heart. And they don’t just grow leaders, they multiply them. They know the harvest is plentiful and workers are few. They have learned that if the eternal Son of God spent the bulk of his precious time growing leaders, they should do the same.”
5. Adaptive Methods
“To fulfill their mission, the most effective movements are prepared to change everything about themselves except their basic beliefs. … Movements embody their vision and values in systems that are effective, flexible and reproducible, outlasting and even surpassing the influence of the first generation of leaders.”
Change isn’t easy, but change is inevitable. What will we do in the midst of this time of great change? How will we respond?
While we ought not to put pressure on ourselves, we are right to see this moment in history as a time to live, love, and lead well.
Like many of you reading this, I feel the weight of this moment, but my hope is in the Lord. I believe he will help us.
Times great disruption can become times of great discipleship.