“You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
What and Why
The previous lesson on spiritual movements gave us a movement definition and emphasized Win, Build and Send as a movement’s primary activities. That lesson focused on what a movement is and what it does. We now turn our attention to “how” the movement fulfills its purpose.
In 1 Samuel 13:8-15 we find the story of a king who, on a very busy day, attempted to fulfill his task. In this passage, king Saul takes several clear steps that he hoped would lead his people to success:
- ♦ He prepares his people for battle.
- ♦ He develops a plan and timetable for military conflict.
- ♦ He seeks God before the battle.
- ♦ He offers a sacrifice to the Lord.
All of these activities could appear to be responsible actions for a king leading his people in a time of great turmoil. But there was a fundamental problem. The way Saul pursued his task was deeply flawed.
When the prophet Samuel appears in this story, he is very disturbed by Saul’s actions. (v. 11 & 13) Saul took matters into his own hands and failed to wait on the Lord. He made a sacrifice that was not his to make. He rushed ahead of the Lord. He failed to depend on God. He assumed responsibilities that were not given to him. The consequences were grave.
As a result, God informed Saul that his house would not have an extended reign in Israel. God would select someone else to lead the nation. 1 Samuel 13:13-14 promises that the next leader would be “a man after God’s heart.”
In 1 Samuel 13 we have an example of a man who was prepared to do many of the right things, but he did not do them as God desired. This illustrates for us that, WHAT we do is always joined to HOW we do it. God values both.
As a movement we are to be involved in winning (Connecting the Lost to Jesus), building (Life-changing Discipleship) and sending (Multiplying Leaders). How we pursue these goals is important. We must do it in a manner worthy of the Lord. It must be a result of following God’s leading, not our efforts.
Thus we come to the primary question of this study: How can we pursue our movement objectives as leaders “after God’s own heart?” To this subject we now turn.
Learning from the Word
God works through his people to grow his movement.
As we prepare to read our primary text for this lesson it will be helpful to recall what happened immediately before the events recorded in Acts 4.
God performed a miracle through Peter and John. A man who had been lame for 40 years was healed! After this miracle, Peter and John preached the gospel in the temple. Many people responded, trusting in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Read Acts chapter 4
Click for the text
Referring especially to verses 1-7, how severe was this situation for Peter and John? In what sense did they face uncertainty and discomfort?
Take a moment and put yourself in their place. If your university leaders or city leaders treated you like this and commanded you to no longer share your faith what would you do?
Focusing on verses 8-20, look at what Peter and John did and how they did it. Describe “how” they conducted themselves.
What was Peter and John’s response to the religious leaders? (v. 19-20)
In verse 23 we see how these events affected the movement in Jerusalem. Use the table below to help you focus on both the “what” and the “how” of the movement’s actions. Focus on verses 23-31.
Connecting to the Truth
As we study God’s Word we discover several key concepts that describe the atmosphere of a growing movement. These concepts are not limited to specific activities. They describe the culture or environment of a healthy spiritual movement.
Only God can build a spiritual movement. It is his work. We merely join him as servants and co-laborers. We are dependent on God for all things. Consider our dependence on the Lord in the primary movement elements:
Connecting lost people to Jesus (WIN):
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” Man’s connection to God has always been God’s task. It is all up to him. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.” (John 6:44) If it were not for God’s goodness, no one could come to God. From start to finish, every aspect of lost people coming to Christ is dependent on the grace of God.
Life-Changing Discipleship (BUILD):
Paul said it well. He and Apollos had their role in the process – planting and watering. But only God caused the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6) Life change is always the work of God. It exceeds our capacity as disciple makers. In the discipleship process, we are wholly dependent on the Lord.
Multiplying Leaders (SEND):
Leadership development is built on the back of solid discipleship. We just noted that discipleship is God’s work. Throughout the Bible we also see that God appoints leaders. He gives them their skills. God enables them to fulfill their tasks. God multiplies leaders, and we are privileged to assist in the process as his servants.
How does a healthy movement express dependence on God?
We want all that we do to come from hearts that are fully dependent on the Lord. Movements that trust in the Lord for all things tend to practice the following:
♦ The movement prays continually. We always go to the Lord. We confess that we are unable to achieve his goals. We ask God to work.
♦ Those who are part of a movement fix their eyes on heaven and look to the Lord from whom their help comes.
♦ Dependent movements follow the example of king David who prayed:
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:7)
Movements require an atmosphere of dependence in order to grow.
Dependence, Trust and Faith form a family of terms that lie at the heart of Christianity. Each has its own nuance.
Faith can be described as belief that leads to action and change. In faith Abraham left his home in Mesopotamia to pursue God’s calling. In faith Rahab hid the spies who entered Jericho. (Hebrews 11) These examples highlight belief that results in action.
We believe in a great God who does great things. This God has revealed his intentions to us, and involved us in his work. Thus, we take action to do what he says. Consider the following example:
Radu, Petra and Iulian love the Lord and asked him to begin a movement at their university. As Easter approached they wanted to do something special that would honor the Lord. Knowing that all of their friends would be gone on Easter weekend, they planned an outing the previous Saturday. Each committed themselves to bringing three friends. For Radu, that meant he had to invite seven people. For Petra, it required nine invitations.
The group took a day trip to the mountains where Iulian had prepared a mini-quest game. The group spent the day hiking to specific landmarks where they took “selfies.” The day ended at a cabin where they not only cooked dinner, but Radu, Petra and Iulian shared their testimonies. The entire adventure was a step of faith. These students got creative, asked the Lord to work, and shared the gospel. After the event Radu noticed that everyone in the group added pictures from the day to their facebook pages.
How did the actions of these three students demonstrate faith?
What connection do you see between the actions of these three students and Acts 4: 8 & 13?
Movements are built by faith. It is the oxygen the movement breathes.
Our generation is affected by an illness. Faith has become so personal that the fiber of community that once ran through its heart has been diminished to a mere shadow A few individualistic actions (like saying a prayer, crossing yourself, keeping a fast during a holiday season) became the measure of one’s spiritual life. Yet Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.”
Movements are not expressions of individualism. Movements bring God’s children together to build a community that serves the Lord and fulfills the Great Commission. As movement builders, we commit ourselves to love each other, to learn from each other and to serve each other as we serve the Lord.
This community adopts a God-given purpose and we sharpen each other (as iron sharpens iron Prov. 27:17) in order to fulfill that purpose and bring honor to the Lord.
A movement thrives as the community grows.
Our great God has already given each believer many things. They have new hearts, spiritual gifts, and the riches of Christ. They have the Spirit of God and the voice of the Good Shepherd. They are God’s workmanship, created for good deeds. (Ephesians 2:10) He has entrusted them with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5: 18) We are GREATLY BLESSED.
Because God has given us these things and a profound mission, those involved in a spiritual movement have the confidence to take action. Our movement atmosphere encourages all to grow by doing, not simply by studying or preparing to do something.
Paul told Timothy that he was to “entrust” what God had given him to faithful people. He was to act as God’s servant, knowing that God would work through him. Spiritual movements embrace this belief. This conviction propels us into service. We are a movement because God is moving in us, leading us and fulfilling his will through us. We do not wait for others to empower us with what Christ has already given to us.
Because Christ has given all of this to us, each person owns the mission and invests in their movement.
Multiple activities comprise the heart of movement building. It matters how these are pursued. In an atmosphere of dependence, faith, togetherness and entrusted workers the movement pleases its Master.
Watch the following video. Listen to both their words and HOW they communicate the message. See what you can learn about the “HOW” of movement building just by watching these students.
In faith, movement builders press ahead and learn from both their accomplishments and mistakes. God will grow the movement through you and your team. Stay dependent on him, step out in faith and develop a community.
Prioritize your focus:
We discussed the key elements in the atmosphere of a movement:
♦ Spiritual Dependence ♦ Faith
♦ Togetherness ♦ Entrusted workers
Go to the Lord and ask him which of these themes needs your attention now.
I choose to work on:
Evaluate how your movement is experiencing and applying Spiritual Dependence, Faith, Togetherness and Entrusted workers.
Our Strengths are:
Our Weaknesses are:
Hearing from God:
Ask the Lord to lead you. Ask him to reveal to you what you should do so that you are contributing to the environment of a healthy movement.
Write your ideas and suggestions here:
What will be your first step?
The following elements are important parts of a healthy Spiritual movement
- We pray continually.
- We fix our eyes on the Lord.
- We wait on God's direction.
- We trust in him at all times.
Key verse to consider:
Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6
Faith is belief that leads to action and change.
- In faith Abraham left his home in Mesopotamia to pursue God’s calling.
- In faith we will work together.
- In faith we will invite others to join us.
- In faith we will invite others to believe.
- In faith we follow the Lord who does immeasurably more than what we ask or imagine
“They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” John 13:35
- While faith is personal, it is not designed to be individualistic.
- We need each other.
- We grow best together.
- God loves to hear us join in praise.
- We love to gather together for prayer.
We are a community. One Body. We are united in Christ
- God has given us all we need to serve him.
- God is using students to reach students.
- God is directing you and your colleagues, filling you with vision and empowering you with his Spirit.
- Pursue God and pursue his vision.
- Own the mission. Launch movements both where you are and beyond.
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