City Movements

Lately I’ve been thinking about what a gospel movement in my city would look like.  My imagination has been running wild.  I see endless possibilities for the transformational power of the gospel to make it’s ways through the very veins of our city bringing new life every where it goes.  I believe this kind of gospel movement is possible and we can be part of it.  I can experience it in my city and you can experience it in your city.  Here’s how!

Recognize the gospel is enough.  It really is.  I believe the gospel is all we need.  Matter of fact, I think some of the things we rely on really get in the way and are harmful to a gospel movement.  Jesus taught us that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, that though it is the smallest of all seeds it grows to become a large tree.  He also said that the faith of a mustard seed has the capacity for moving a mountain, or in this case redeeming, renewing, and restoring a city.  The gospel like that mustard seed when planted grows, grows, and grows.  Along with that growth it multiplies, multiplies, and multiplies.

Now when I say the gospel is enough, I’m not talking about the gospel we use like a tag in our moralistic therapeutic teachings, but a robust hardy Bible-centered gospel.  A gospel that spells out God’s incredible meta-narrative in the context of creation, rebellion, redemption, renewal, and restoration.  It’s the story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelations.  It’s the story of God’s unconditional redeeming love, his ongoing renewal of his people, and his ultimate restoration of his creation.  God wants to redeem, renew, and restore our city.  This is the essence of a gospel movement in our city.  The gospel is all we need.  Dependency on anything else is idolatry and will ultimately hinder.

Recognize we can best do this together.  The gospel is enough, but the gospel always brings us together.  I am encouraged at how we have a way of finding each other.  Over the past couple of years I have notice when I focus on being the church, opposed to doing church, church is always breaking out or perhaps breaking in.  The very essence of the gospel draws us together.  Unfortunately, our churches often operate as separate business in competition with one another.  We are all guilty.  I know I am.  I believe Satan knows something incredible happens when God’s people come together for a common purpose.  If I was the enemy I can’t think of a better strategy then to keep us apart.

Years ago I heard Leonard Sweet suggest that the movement of God is like a tornado oppose to a hurricane.  A hurricane moves inland with its mighty power devastating everything in its path, while a tornado’s power is much more random touching down here and over there.  He went on to suggest we see God touching down here and there, in random patterns.  He offered this conclusion, that if we ever learned how to connect the dots we would see the power of God in incredible ways.  For some reason this really hit me.  Perhaps it is why I do what I do today.  I remember praying, “Father, I want to spend the rest of my life connecting dots.”  There’s an incredible advantage and power when we come together.  I would even go as far as to say it is sin when we don’t.

You are a part of the solution, not the total solution.  God always brings together a people to do his work.  Israel was made up of twelve tribes.  Jesus chose twelve men to be his apostles.   John wrote letters to the seven churches in Asia. These seven churches were a collection of movements in their city, join together by the gospel.  Paul never acted along, but was sent out by the church at Antioch, with Barnabas.  Not only do Christians find each other, they need each other.  We are the body of Christ.  As the body of Christ we are complete when we are join together.  As the body of Christ we need each other to demonstrate Christ love to the world.

Recognize the gospel is already growing in your city Look around you.  What do you see?  If we look beyond the natural eye, we see the gospel and it’s growing.  There’s a gospel movement in your neighborhood.  It may be small, but it’s growing in humility and impact.  It may not look like a movement, but it is.  This gospel movement may be found in a new upstart church or an old traditional one that’s been around for many years.  This gospel movement may be found within a small group who find themselves bringing renewal to the lives of kids that need a foster parent for whatever the reason.  This gospel movement may be found in a widow, who even though she has very little shares it with everyone along her street ensuring that they all have a good meal and a warm place to lay their head.  This gospel movement may be found in the heart of a businessman while experiencing incredible success, gives generously to other gospel causes.

God is at work and he invites us to join him.  When we recognize the gospel is growing in our city that is our invitation to join him and join them.

Recognize that the gospel must begin with me.  I was in a meeting with two pastors from the Midwest.  They had experience amazing growth and impact.  They told me their story.  It was a story of God’s power and presence at every point.  It became obvious that the gospel was at work within and through them.  When they finished I longed for what they had.  I told them our story.  I talked about how hard we had worked and the sacrifices we had made.  When I finished they affirmed me and us for our faithfulness.  I reply, “You don’t understand, I want what you have.  I want a gospel movement in my city.”

To experience a gospel movement we must begin with the gospel in our own hearts.  No more cheap substitutes.  I’ve come to understand when the gospel is sown in good soil, in your heart; it produces a good harvest of 30, 60, and 100 fold.  At least that’s what Jesus said.  I often ask, “When will the gospel be enough?”  Jesus paints a picture in Revelations 3:20.  He is standing outside a door knocking seeking to enter.  This provocative image forces us to ask the question, “Where is Jesus in this picture? Is he outside our hearts?  Is he outside our churches?  Could it be both?”

God helps us to open our hearts to the gospel on a moment by moment base where we can begin to experience a gospel movement in our own hearts that would grow like leaven in the flour.