A movement is a group of people working together to passionately advance their shared commitments. What do gospel movements look like? Here are a few everyday-life images that demonstrate this powerful dynamic.
Ripples occur when water is disturbed at a single point. The ripples expand outward, covering more and more distance. The drop of water that starts a ripple may not even be noticeable, but the effects are obvious. In the same way, a movement may start small, with just a a few people, but as it expands, ring by ring, group by group, its impact is disproportionately greater than its beginnings.
Jesus used the analogy of planting seeds to demonstrate the effect of the good news. Seeds planted in good soil would spring up and produce a harvest 100x greater than themselves (Matthew 13:1-23). This kind of rapid multiplication and fruitfulness is one of the marks of a gospel movement.
Wind is an invisible force. You can't see it, but you can see its effects on the visible world, in the movement of leaves, clouds, wind turbines, and kites. You can see its power displayed in hurricanes and tornados. Similarly, gospel movements occur through the working of God's Spirit, invisible, yet powerful. During movements you can see the great effects of God's Spirit spreading from person to person, with transformational results that no human could have caused on their own.
Movements work a bit like dominos—the kind of dominos set-up that starts with one falling domino, that knocks over two dominos, which each knock over three, and so on, forming an amazing multi-directional chain reaction that none of us would probably have the patience or skill to set up! In a gospel movement, one person who is drawn to Jesus brings in people in their network, who in turn share Jesus with their family groups or networks, and on and on.
5. Freeway Traffic
Why do we drive on the freeway? Most likely because it's the fastest way to get where we want to go. In a gospel movement, it's as if evangelism and discipleship were put on the fast track. Suddenly, lots of people are headed in the same direction at a surprising speed—headed to Jesus.
In an orchestra, musicians come together to create music that they couldn't make on their own. The "big" vision of the orchestral piece requires each instrumentalist to perform their unique part and follow the conductor's lead. In the same way, gospel movements can happen when people work together toward the same vision and contribute their unique part to make that vision a reality. Just like an orchestra with its many instruments, not everyone will have the same role in a gospel movement, but the different pieces fit together perfectly under the leading of God's Spirit.
Hopefully you've never experienced one of these in real life. An avalanche can be triggered unexpectedly, and once it starts, it can't be stopped. The snow moves at incredible speed and strength, and if it comes across your path you will be swept up in the direction that it's going. Gospel movements also have power to sweep us up and carry us along in a new direction. Because they originate with God and are propelled by the Spirit, they are a force to be reckoned with—stronger than any human power or government. The spiritual power present in gospel movements is able to transform entire communities and nations.
So what do we see when we look at gospel movements? We see exactly what this passage from Ephesians talks about:
"...The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." (Ephesians 1:19-21)
When we participate in gospel movements, working in partnership with God's Spirit, we come to know the power and goodness of God in an incredible way. We witness the power and authority of Jesus on earth, right before our eyes.
Want to learn more about the history of gospel movements? Download the Movements of God ebook.