Escaping the Man, Movement, Machine, Monument Cycle

Safety is the enemy of God, or you could say God is the enemy of any other safety. Recently God's been speaking a lot to me, inspiring me, giving me a burden and a deeper love for His church. This is going to be the first of several posts, detailing a few major thoughts which all speak into one growing conviction.

Recently God’s been speaking a lot to me, inspiring me, giving me a burden and a deeper love for His church. This is going to be the first of several posts, detailing a few major thoughts which all speak into one growing conviction.

Let’s begin.

God’s major word to our church at the moment is about our need to repent and receive the fire of the Holy Spirit’s life and power again which has been running dry in us over recent years. We need to get away from relying on ourselves and the way we’ve always done things and back to living from a vivacious love for Jesus.

You know the ‘man, movement, machine, monument’ cycle (first put forward by Dr Vance Havner) that describes the rise and fall of churches and movements of God throughout history? A couple of weeks ago I decided to add the steps in between each stage of that cycle to understand what takes us from one stage to another. This is what I came up with-

Man (or woman, of course)
Anointing then ministry
Movement
Organisation
Machine
Exodus/physical death
Monument

I reckon we’re on the machine side of organisation. That naturally leads to the conclusion that more organisation won’t get us back to the heart of Jesus, won’t add fuel to the movement of the Kingdom among us. It’s scary to write these words, but maybe some deliberate deconstruction of the scaffolding, of the organisation, may be where God is leading us. Our wheels are so well oiled it’s easy for us to keep rolling on empty without realising. Maybe we need to get out of the car and start running again.

40 years ago we followed God into the unknown. Initiated by a powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit many people heard God’s call to sell everything, jacking in jobs and dreams to live together, dream together and to love one another like the early church of the Acts of the apostles. Those pioneers took massive risks with great faith, bidding at auction for properties for which they only had enough for the deposit. Now we’re rich and our organised nature has grown and made risk (and therefore faith) not so necessary, nearly obsolete. I want to dream again. I want to take risks of faith and build God’s beautiful kingdom. But how?

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about what has been called ‘organic church’, ‘church multiplication’ or ‘missional communities’. I see this new movement as big as the charismatic movement of the late 20th century, though far more hidden in nature. It’s like Jesus is weaving a hidden, prophetic and very positive thread through His church. He’s planting mustard seeds and leaven, He’s scattering salt. I reckon the New Testament/ Kingdom of heaven/ Acts 2/ organic church multiplication/ whatever lifecycle looks something like this:

Man
Anointing, ministry
Movement
Anointing & releasing more men
Movements
Anointing & releasing more men
Movements
Anointing & releasing more men
Movements
Anointing & releasing more men
Movements
…etc

The key in this model is that from each movement men are released. The focus of this model is not adding people to the church but sending them out! I wonder how many more fruitful disciples we’d make if instead of having commitment-based targets for conversions we had targets for sending people out? That’s the difference between an ‘addition’ mentality and a ‘multiplication’ mentality.

The baton of the church can’t be handed on if the person handing it on doesn’t let go. Trust is the cost of empowerment. I’ll say it again, trust is the cost of empowerment. I read a while ago that New Frontiers are aiming for all their new church plants in coming years to be led by guys under the age of 25. Risky huh? Sounds like the new testament.

Reading Huw’s interview with Pete Greig recently (the 24-7 dude) this line of his stood out to me-

“We must carry on subverting our own systems without destroying what God has given to us – break rules to build relationships”

May our old men and women keep dreaming dreams. May those older ones trust our young men and women enough to allow them to see their visions fulfilled.

If you’ve got to the end of this article and you’re thinking “yes, but…” or “no, because…” write your “yes but” or “no because” in the comments below.

Tree climber, pancake eater, initiator. Trying to keep up with Jesus. Webmaster, writer, video maker & creative coordinator thingamibob for Jesus Army.