Steve Addison Interview

Steve Addison is a lifelong student of movements that renew and expand the Christian faith. He serves as Australian director of Church Resource Ministries. Steve’s calling is to spark church planting movements- everywhere. In today’s interview, Steve explains many of the concepts from his latest book, “Movements that Change the World.” Readers can visit Steve’s website for a free study guide, other resources and his blog.

Palau: What inspired you to write “Movements that Change the World”?

Addison: As a church planter I remember hearing Peter Wagner say, “Starting new churches is the most effective form of evangelism under the sun.” I thought if that’s true, then starting church planting movements could be even more effective.

I dived in to some church history and discovered that God was continually raising up movements for the renewal and expansion of the Christian faith. I learned that those movements are always on the fringes.

I began looking at Jesus as the founder of a missionary movement that now spans the globe. I read Acts and Paul that way, and the lights came on.

Where do Christians go wrong in trying to start movements? What ends movements or keeps them from continued growth over the long haul?

We go wrong when we start with ourselves and not God. You don’t find dynamic movements in the west where we feel we’re in control and we can engineer the advance of the gospel. You find church planting movements where resources and know-how are scarce. Mostly in the developing world – Asia, Africa and Latin America. What they do have is a confidence in the Gospel and a belief that God is at work in the world.

Every movement eventually runs out of steam. There are many reasons why they stumble and decline. It may take generations or just a few years. Movements are about a commitment to a cause, when that commitment is no longer primary, the movement begins to decline.

Over the long haul every movement must keep returning to its core convictions and reinvent itself for a new era.

What is the importance/significance of movements in Christian history?

Christian history is the history of movements. Jesus founded a missionary movement. Acts tells the story of what he continued to do through his disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Throughout church history movements are the key to the renewal and expansion of the Christian faith.

Why is “white hot faith” essential in catalyzing major movements of God?

Apart from Jesus, the apostle Paul is the greatest missionary our faith has ever seen. Let’s look at Paul’s call to mission. Where do we find him? He’s on his back in lying in the dust of the Damascus road. His world has been shattered by an encounter with the risen Lord. It’s Jesus who does this. It’s Jesus who now calls and commands. It’s Jesus who promises to protect and empower Paul for his mission.

Over the last 100 years the centre of world Christianity has shifted from the developed nations of Europe and North America to the developing nations of the “global south.” What is the one characteristic that distinguishes these believers? They take the Bible seriously. They believe the God of the Bible is at work in their lives today.

Touch on the importance of “commitment to a cause” in cultivating a movement as well as ways of cultivating commitment.

A movement is a group of people committed to a common cause. When that commitment is gone, the movement ceases to exist.

Church planting movements cultivate commitment by applying a very simple principle: obedience oriented learning. Right from the beginning everyone is in a face to face group where they are learning from the scriptures and holding each other accountable for obedience to what they have learned.

We study the Bible to learn more information, thinking that information alone changes hearts. It doesn’t. Jesus didn’t tell us to teach new disciples, he commanded us to teach them to obey.

That’s a key to church planting movements all around the world.

To be continued…

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About Kevin Palau

Kevin Palau is president of the Luis Palau Association, based in Portland, OR.