How Can We Become a Movement Again?

By Junius B. Dotson

Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, shares how we can recapture the spirit of "movement."

NOTE: If you are watching the recording, you may want to skip to the 8:40 mark, where Junius goes live.

LIVE: How Can We Become a Movement Again?

Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, shares how we can recapture the spirit of "movement."

NOTE: If you are watching the recording, you may want to skip to the 8:40 mark, where Junius goes live.

Posted by Discipleship Ministries on Thursday, September 8, 2016

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Becoming a Movement Again

Let’s reflect about what we are doing in the trenches to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and how we can do it more effectively.

I recently attended the World Methodist Conference in Houston, a gathering of Methodists from around the globe representing 80 million people in 80 member groups.

Being at that meeting taught me that the spirit of the Wesleyan Movement lives. Not only does it live, but as we think about the way forward and our future together as a denomination, I would suggest to you that it can thrive.

The conference of worldwide Methodists reinforced for me that we cannot, as a church, program our way back to vitality. There is no silver bullet. What we have to do is recapture the spirit of movement.

I pastored churches for 26 years, and my experience taught me some things about people who unite with our denomination.

Joining a family, not an organization

First, people join a family, not an organization. When people unite with a church they are looking for a group of people that they can journey with. They want a group of people who can help hold them accountable to growing spiritually and can open their eyes to new possibilities of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Joining a movement not an institution

I also learned that people joined a movement, not an institution. That is a very important thing for us to remember as we think about our task of making disciples, because it is a movement that stirs motivation in people.

When I would do altar calls, the invitation would be not to join the church, but to join the movement of Jesus Christ through this particular local congregation.

Looking for help and a sense of hope and home

I learned that people are really seeking help to understand the world around them. They are looking for a way to make sense of what is happening in our world today.

The world needs more hope, and people also are looking for a sense of hope for their immediate and distant future. They are looking for a sense of home, which gets us back to that sense of what it means to be a family.

In my churches, there was one question our ministry leaders would ask ourselves over and over, no matter what the event or activity. It was, “What are we doing – tending the castle or building the kingdom?”

In other words, are we trying to capture the kingdom for Jesus Christ? Now to be sure, we need institutions to sustain movements, but here is the paradox: We must be willing to risk the institution in order to advance the movement.

As we focus on kingdom-building instead of castle-tending, I want to tell you about something that for me perfectly captures the spirit of movement. Bishop Tudor Bismark, senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Harare, Zimbabwe, calls it the visionary circle.

The bishop described the visionary circle this way: Vision creates unity. Unity creates relationships. Relationships create communication. Communication creates commitment. Commitment produces creativity. Creativity produces excellence. Excellence produces influence. Influence produces dominion, and dominion produces vision.

What is the vision? It is making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

I want to suggest to you that as we keep that vision before our people, repeating it over and over in every activity and every church service, it will create a sense of unity around the task of making disciples. When there is unity with a clear vision, people develop relationships. They rally around the vision that has been lifted up.

The word declares that without a vision, the people perish. Some old preachers would say that without a vision, folk go to another parish. It is important for us to remember that vision creates unity, unity creates relationships, relationships create communication and then communication creates commitment.

What is that commitment to? Again the commitment is to producing world-changing disciples, and, at the same time, our commitment produces creativity. We want to unleash the kingdom gifts – the spiritual gifts – within us. We want to create opportunities for people to simply release their gifts in the service of building the kingdom of God.

Everything we do should honor God, and I believe we ought to give God our best. So creativity produces that type of excellence – not perfection, but excellence. Our goal is not to be perfect. We are not perfect until we die and go to heaven, but creativity produces excellence as we honor God in all that we do.

This persuasion of quality and excellence is how we are trying to influence the world for Jesus Christ. We want to influence our communities and influence people who do not know Jesus pardons their sins.

It is that type of influence that produces dominion – a word that simply means we want to win our cities and the world for Christ – and then, dominion produces vision.

So that is the visionary circle. My hope for the church and for you as a leader is that we will focus on making disciples and igniting our denomination in this task so we can indeed make life-changing differences in the lives of our people.