In the second part of Steve Addison’s “The Rise and Fall of Movements” Symposium, he discusses the lifecycle of movements. Addison recounts historical figures such as John Wesley, Francis Asbury, Martin Luther, and the apostle Paul, teaching us how they reflected the life and ministry of Jesus. He walks through the birth, growth, maturity, decline, and decay of movements, while also pointing us to the sufficiency of God’s Word and the hope of renewal.
You can watch the full video above or read some key quotes and ideas below.
“It’s always true that you need to raise up pioneering leaders to go to the ends of the earth. It’s always true that your methods need to be flexible, adaptable, and sustainable. Actual methods vary over time and place and change with context.”
“[Birth or rebirth] begins with a wrestle with God, often deep change in the life of the founder or founding group, and then out of that wilderness and struggle the byproduct is the innovative insight— the new thing that God is doing with this drift to the cities and the decline and corruption of his church. We’re going to bring renewal, the proclamation of the gospel, and the call of discipleship.”
“If you camp on critique, you’re gonna end up cynical. You’ve got to turn the critique and the discontentment into a vision of what God is doing, and it often comes from that wrestle with God.”
“A movement is born when someone commits to action. A vision from God without action and commitment is a fantasy, and a lot of movements never get born.”
“Movements lower the bar on who can be a leader and raise the bar on who is a disciple. We do the opposite.”
“The difference between a ministry and movement – In a ministry, you clutch and hold that thing to the end. In a movement, you make sure people have the heart and they know what to do on Monday morning but you release authority and responsibility.”
“Once you require higher education before someone can go plant a church or preach the gospel, you’re already finished or in need of serious renewal.”
“[In maturity], the rate of progress is beginning to decline even though you don’t know it yet— because we have a place in society, we have institutions that we’ve built, we have a name to protect, our leaders are professionals, and [in the birth phase] we risked everything to see this happen. But [in maturity], we have to protect what we’ve gained… Pioneering new churches starts to seem too risky.”
“Does this simple gospel tool, does it set people free to minister the gospel and free the captives? You’re looking for that. You keep returning to the Word, the Spirit, the core missionary task. But it’s not disembodied. It’s not like if we get just get identity right, then everything else will flow… Jesus instructed his disciples on how to enter a new town. How do you stop those instructions from becoming just a dead letter? Well, Jesus himself hardly ever obeyed his own instructions, but he did keep to the spirit and patent of them.”
“It’s a work of God. We don’t fix ourselves. If you want to know what God’s people look like without His Word and the Spirit, go to Ezekiel 38—dry bones. The people are dead. Until the Word of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, brings life. [Renewal] doesn’t begin with a great leader, it begins with a great intervention.”