An old friend of mine, Jay Lorenzen, from my Campus Crusade days in Colorado has a website dedicated to thinking about movements (www.onmovements.com) The word “movement” is defined simply as a group of people that move together in a particular direction toward a common goal. Of course there have been popular social movements, some we have seen even recently – the political upheaval in the Middle East and Occupy Wallstreet.
One of the critical marks of a movement is a clear, compelling vision for the future that serves as a rallying point for people. It must be clear so that people can not only understand it and share in it but also articulate it. It must also be compelling. It has to engage the mind, stimulate the imagination, and stir the heart.
Another critical mark is that it is “grassroots” led. In other words, if the leader is doing all work then there is no movement. There must be what Tim Keller calls “spontaneous generatively”, meaning that it is the group that provides the spark, not the professionals. While the leader lays out the compelling vision, it is bought by the group and the group then “incarnates” the vision – they live it out among themselves and among others.
A final criteria would be that there is one central issue that drives the bus. All other issues “fold” into the one big thing that grips people together. I remember hearing D.A. Carson once lament that it is easy for people to speak about urgent issues from the margins. At some point we all experience, how many keys can there be to the Christian life? How much can I care about? How much is “essential”? Therefore, vision speaks from the center and doesn’t spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out other issues from the periphery (as good as they are) otherwise, people get sidetracked.
Eric Swanson, my old boss with Crusade, once said, “My observation is that movements cannot be built based on a concept that promotes shrinkage rather than growth. What could we do to invert the pyramid so that each group of students, because of the excitement and life-change they were experiencing, would be inviting their friends to be part of a movement so that each succeeding class was larger than the class before…inverting the pyramid. How could this happen?”
I have been thinking much about this the past few days, thinking about the application here at our church across the age spectrum, but in particular, college students and young adults. How could this happen? How is that people can actually come together trusting God, learning together, and living out together something greater than just is contained in our individual OC lives?