Church Planting

Steve Addison: Why Movements Rise & Fall (Part 1)

Why do movements rise and fall?

Author and speaker Steve Addison answered this question recently when he visited the Center for Great Commission Studies here at Southeastern. Based on his recent book, “The Rise and Fall of Movements: A Roadmap for Leaders,” Addison led multiple sessions and conversations surrounding the topic of “movements,” leading us back to a biblical understanding of God’s mission.

In Part 1 of his lecture, Addison begins by discussing the foundational aspects of God’s movement, primarily seen in the identity of Jesus and the mission of God carried out in his life, death, and resurrection.

To learn more, watch the full video above or continue to see key quotes and ideas.

the Foundation of God’s Movement

Key Scripture References: Luke 3:21-22 and Luke 4:1-14 - Jesus’ Baptism & Testing in the Wilderness

“What is the Father writing on the heart of the Son at the launch of this incredible move of God? What is of absolute, central, foundational importance?... We don’t surpass [Jesus]. So everything that is in Jesus’ heart in preparation for this great movement needs to be in our hearts.”

Three Key aspects oF Jesus’ Identity


Jesus is the obedient, surrendered, loving Son of the Father and he will obey the Father’s Word. He places himself under the authority of God’s Word, and he fulfills God’s Word.

“The whole biblical narrative is about God speaking and seeking a response from us.”

Movements rise or fall to the degree which they surrender to the Word of God.

“The reasons why movements rise and fall is because the Word does the work.”

“Wherever the Word of God goes, the fruit of that is multiplying disciples and churches for the glory of God.”

“Movements rise or fall to the degree which they surrender to the Word of God.”


Jesus is perfectly dependent on the Spirit, even at his conception. The Spirit is the one guiding the mission. The Spirit is the one who comes in power to bear witness to Jesus.

“When the Spirit comes in power, the Word goes out bearing witness to the Lord Jesus and the fruit is reproducing disciples and churches to the glory of God... This is the true work of the Holy Spirit.”

“Be amazed at how weak God’s people are but somehow — through the Word and the Holy Spirit and their trust and dependence, through shipwrecks, through church splits through persecution — this work of God continues to move forward.”


The core missionary task is not bread, it’s not signs and wonders, it’s not political and cultural power. It’s the multiplication of disciples and churches to the glory of God throughout the world.

“There is only one core missionary task, and everything is the fruit and the byproduct of that.” 

“[The kingdom] will come, at the end of the age, but there is not a promise of a golden age before. Jesus promised us trouble and persecution.”


“Jesus’ identity is what grounds his mission. He cannot be anything but going out to incorporate us into the community and the love of the trinity. This is not just because of the fall. This is in eternity past. This is what God is like. And it’s what he wants to build into our hearts over the whole course of our lives, and it’s what fuels the rise of movements and the fall of movements.”

Fall Break in Portland: Learning about the Long Haul

It’s a typical October in Portland, Oregon. The air is crisp like the burnt orange and red leaves that lie scattered across the sidewalks. As I recently walked the streets of northeast and southeast Portland during Southeastern’s fall break mission trip, I quickly understood why people like it there. The city has coffee shops on practically every corner and an abundance of food carts that serve up flavorful combinations such as sushi roll burritos (yes, you read that right). This place is filled with artistic design—colorful murals speak to the city’s values of independence of choice and the building up a holistic community. These values seem to be intricately woven into the fabric of society—like the way houses have their own unique flair, big businesses are practically non-existent, and composting is picked up twice as much as trash.


Portland draws people in from all over the country with its hipster, locally sourced, independent, authentic vibe. People here crave a countercultural way of doing life. People here crave authenticity. It’s here that the church seems most fitting, right? In many ways, we thrive off of the countercultural reality of the gospel. But as I walked with church planters Matt Boyd of Sojourn Church and Kevin Lott of East Bridge Church, I learned just how significant the challenges are in the Pacific Northwest.

Why did I go to Portland in the first place?

I didn’t just go for the coffee, I promise. Or the class credit, although that was a nice bonus. In recent years, the Lord has placed a burden in my heart for areas of my continent with very little knowledge of the gospel. So, learning that the Center for Great Commission Studies was going to spend a week in an area of the country I already had been wanting to learn about? Count me in! 

What we were able to do, in my estimation, was much more realistic to what ministry looks like in this part of the country—steady over the long haul and a support to those doing long-term ministry there.

You could say this mission trip was a vision trip of sorts—not just for me, but for all of us in one way or another. A mission trip in Portland wasn’t going to consist of going door-to-door inviting people to church or putting on a VBS in the park. What we were able to do, in my estimation, was much more realistic to what ministry looks like in this part of the country—steady over the long haul and a support to those doing long-term ministry there. We walked no less than 20 miles across the city and drove plenty of miles simply observing the area and listening to the church planters describe their areas of the city. As we walked, observed and talked with these planters over many meals and cups of coffee, I came away with two primary lessons from this trip.

Faithfulness over the long-haul

What does it mean to plant a church in a place like Portland? It means investing in individuals and the community. For Matt and Kevin, this means they spend a lot of time forming partnerships to serve the community well and establish favor with the people in the city. They’ve made significant inroads through simply caring for the people well. They are being the hands and feet of Jesus with the hope that in the future these community friends might become part of their faith family.

Sojourn Church members are active in volunteering their time with an organization called Embrace, which partners with the Department of Human Services to aid over 400 children and their families as they enter into the foster care system. Likewise, East Bridge Church is active in their community through their partnership with the Moreland Farmers Market. If you walk by SE 14th and Bybee on a Wednesday afternoon, you’ll find the Moreland Farmers Market bustling with customers. You’ll also find East Bridge Church members actively engaging the families that come through. This is something we were able to participate in the week of our trip. East Bridge hosts a “Power of Produce” tent each week and once a month, they host a larger event for kids behind the farmers market. The theme this month was Fall Fun, where kids could get their faces painted, play pumpkin tic-tac-toe, soccer and much more. It’s through avenues such as these that Sojourn and East Bridge are building bridges to engage and participate in their own respective communities.

If there’s anything I learned from going to Portland for a week, it’s that the Great Commission can’t happen overnight. It’s a command that requires faithful pursuit of Christ and his kingdom over the long haul.

Church planting moved from theory to reality for me during my short time in Portland. We walked with these church planters through their neighborhoods. We shared meals with them and their families. We spent time in their homes. We played with their kids. We prayed over them. We learned about the amazing work they’re doing in their city.

If there’s anything I learned from going to Portland for a week, it’s that the Great Commission can’t happen overnight. It’s a command that requires faithful pursuit of Christ and his kingdom over the long haul. In so doing, we can establish a rapport and earn a place to speak the truth of the gospel.

holding the rope

What I saw in Portland wasn’t just the reality of church planting in a challenging city; it was also the reality that those of us who go back home ought to be holding the rope for our brothers and sisters who are laboring to make the gospel known in difficult areas in our own country and around the world.

Being on the ground in Portland did not give me eyes to see the reality of church planting in this city for my sake alone. Going to Portland gave me specific ways to pray through observing and listening. Spiritually, the city is a mixed bag of those who identify as atheist or a form of American Buddhism. It’s a culture where it’s alright to believe what you believe as long as it doesn’t encroach on anyone else. As one planter put it, people are willing to go a mile wide and an inch deep in conversations.

The city itself has over two million people. Of that number, there is only one SBC church for every 27,582 people. There is only one evangelical church per 12,000 people in Portland. Indeed, Portland is a beautiful and intriguing city. It’s filled with fascinating places and people—people for whom Jesus died and people who, apart from Christ, are blindly walking through life as if this is the only one that exists.

With a need so great, it begs us to ask the question: Is there a compelling reason that we are staying where we are? Consider ways you might spend your life poured out for the gospel. Maybe it starts with a short-term trip with the CGCS. Or maybe it means considering more long-term options such as domestic or international church planting. Don’t sideline yourself during seminary. Get in the game and go to the lost. Our God commands us, and our gospel compels us.


To view other short-term trips being offered through the CGCS, click here.

Learn more about East Bridge Church by visiting Learn more about Sojourn Church by visiting

You can view photos from the Portland mission trip here.

Lauren is the News and Information Specialist at Southeastern Seminary, where she's pursuing a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies. She enjoys storytelling as a way to both encourage and equip followers of Christ.

5 Lessons I've Learned in 5 Years of Church Planting

This month, the church I planted in New York City will turn five years old. We’ll have a party, reflect on what God has done, and dream of what he wants to do in the future. As I prepared for this special service, I reflected on what God has taught me in five years of church planting here.

I’m learning that success is about bearing faithful witness to the lordship of Christ (Acts 1:8).
— Stephen Stallard

1. Embrace the Team

When my wife and I, along with our 9-month-old daughter, moved to Brooklyn, we did not have a church, a team, or hardly any friends in our neighborhood. It was easy to feel alone. In fact, loneliness has been one of the ever-present struggles for our family while on mission. One of the best things that happened to us was when God put together a team—one that was made up of New Yorkers, as well as people who moved from other parts of the country. They’ve come from the Midwest and Malaysia, from Trinidad and Thailand. Over the years our team has fluctuated as people have moved in and out of the city. We’ve developed leaders and sent out some of the finest to lead churches elsewhere. But through it all, our team has been a source of encouragement and support. Church planting is lonely, and we could not do this without a team. They are our family.

2. Cultivate Spirituality

It’s easy to think you can plant a church using a cultivated skillset. You learn how to preach, host evangelistic events, advertise on social media, and you think you’ll have an instant church. However, many planters in NYC get burned out by the difficult grind of city life and ministry. I’ve learned that there is no substitute for my own personal walk with the Lord. Church planting is hard. Spiritual warfare should be expected. If I don’t practice spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading and sabbath, then I won’t survive the journey of church planting. If I’m not spiritually healthy, the church plant won’t be healthy.

3. Redefine Success

In ministry, we tend to define success in relation to our Sunday church attendance or the amount of money we collect in the offering. I am certainly guilty of falling into that trap. In fact, I arrived in Brooklyn with big dreams and big expectations, and I expected to succeed according to those standards. However, when reality smacks you in the face, you have to adjust and you have to adapt. I’ve learned to manage my expectations, recognize that we are not going to reach everyone, and realize that our church might never become the hottest “success story” that makes the headlines at a conference. And that’s okay—I’m learning that success is about bearing faithful witness to the lordship of Christ (Acts 1:8). When we are faithful to this calling, God is pleased. That is success.

4. Be Yourself

Let me explain what I mean… When I first started out in church planting, I tried to be someone else. I saw the planters that were viewed as “successful” on the blogs, in the conference circuits, and in the books that were all the rage. So, I tried to be them. The problem was, I wasn’t them. I never would be. But it was liberating to discover that I didn’t need to be. God called me and my wife to plant a church, but he didn’t call us to plant a church by becoming someone else. He made us unique, and the church plant is at its best when we are true to who God has made us to be.

5. Put Down Roots

We love New York City, especially our Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. God may call us on to another ministry one day, but for now, we are focused on the place and the people right in front of us. We’ve learned to fall in love with our home, to care about our neighbors and to invest in our community. We’ve planted trees on the sidewalk and flowers in the park. We’ve joined the boards of local non-profits and sought to work with our neighbors so that our community might flourish. In a week, we’ll take another step along that path, as our daughter begins attending the public school only two blocks from our house. My wife is joining the PTA, and we’ve already developed important relationships with the school administrators. When we care about our neighbors, they are not projects; they are just our neighbors—fellow sinners in need of Jesus. When we care about this place, it’s not a project—it’s our home. Like Jeremiah, we are learning to seek the peace of our city (Jeremiah 29:4-7). When church planters put down roots, they signal that they are here for the long run.

These are five of the lessons I’ve learned in five years of church planting in New York. I’m sure God will use the next five years to teach me at least five more lessons, because mission is not just about what God does through us, but what he does in us. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn.

Stephen Stallard is the lead pastor at Mosaic Baptist Church in Brooklyn. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Sonya, the woman of his dreams. They have a daughter, Malia, and two sons: Xavier and Darius. Stephen loves New York City, especially its rich diversity of cultures, and he is a hot sauce connoisseur.