I have recently read a book on evangelism entitled “Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime” by Mike Shipman. Shipman, a Church Planting Movement  Any 3 training specialist, shares how an “Any-3” approach to evangelism can prepare any Christian to be an effective witness of the Gospel of  Jesus Christ  to anyone – regardless of their religious background, anywhere we may encounter them, at any time.

The teaching on and insights into evangelism found in “Any-3” are drawn from Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. We read of this encounter in the New Testament book of John 4:7-38.

I have written two posts about the Any-3 approach to evangelism on another blog.

The first post is simply entitled, “Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.”  The post addresses Mike’s teaching on how Jesus guided His conversation with the woman and how it resulted in her accepting Christ as her Savior.

  • He “connected” with the woman – He “established commonality”
  • He transitioned to a “God conversation,” a discussion of spiritual matters
  • He led her to realize her lostness, that she was a sinner
  • He proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah
  • He invited her to receive the Message

The second post on Any-3 is entitledI-5 Evangelism.” In this post, I share Shipman’s teaching on five characteristics that define Jesus’ evangelistic method.

  • Jesus was Intentional in all that He did
  • He was Informal in his relationships
  • His evangelistic style was Interactive
  • Jesus took the Initiative with people
  • He always Introduced the Messiah

I found Any-3 – its teaching, and its insights into the evangelistic ministry of Jesus – to be very encouraging and of great benefit as I desire to be a  consistent, faithful, and effective witness for Christ.

I’ve not been writing much on taethnenetwork lately, but am still thinking about international student ministry, doing Bible studies with Chinese students at TAMU, and relating to a local Mandarin congregation.

We’re also talking with a missions organization in Dallas about the possibility of teaching English overseas. In fact, I’m in the process of completing an application form that I hope to have completed and submitted to the agency in a couple of weeks.

Please pray for us as we continue to minister to students, seek financial support to free us up to do more ministry locally, and work on the application. Please also pray that we might know the Lord’s perfect will regarding teaching overseas.

~ reach students … disciple the “nations” ~

Movements That Change The World is a great little book that I first learned about while perusing one of the church planting blogs that I visit frequently.

In the book, author Steve Addison writes about and discusses five core characteristics of missionary movements that he has discovered as he has studied Christian movements throughout the ages and around the world. These core characteristics are : 1) white-hot faith, 2) commitment to a cause, 3) contagious relationships, 4) rapid mobilization, and 5) adaptive methods.

Addison makes two statements in the Introduction of the book that established the tone of the book for me.

The first is his very succinct definition of a “movement”:

In general, movements are informal groupings of people and organizations pursuing a common cause. They are people with an agenda.”

The cause that we are concerned with here is the cause of Christ and the agenda is the expansion of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.

The second statement is:

In the renewal and expansion of the church, the breakthroughs always occur on the fringe of the ecclesiastical power – never at the center. In every generation, in some obscure place, God is beginning something new. That’s where we need to be.” (p.33)

And that is exactly where I want to be.

Below are a number of quotes from the book’s chapters as well as some of my own comments on each characteristic.

Chapter 1 – White-hot Faith

Church history is not made by well-financed, well -resourced individuals and institutions. History is made by men and women of faith who have met with the living God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (p.36)

You can run an institution with systems of command and control, but Jesus founded a movement…. A passionate faith is at the heart of every dynamic missionary movement. It is the greatest resource. Today, where Christianity is expanding quickly in the developing world, it is often the only resource.” (p.49)

Chapter 2 – Commitment to a Cause

Movements that change the world deal with the ultimate issues. They are causes that make demands on followers. Apathy changes nothing, and it is the surest sign that a movement, organization, or society is in decline. Change takes place because people care enough to act on their deeply held beliefs. They choose ‘to live divided no more’.” (p.56)

Addison points out at the end of the chapter that commitment does not necessarily guarantee the rightness of a cause. Any one of us can think of evil causes and movements that were and are characterized by the commitment of their adherents.

But we are talking about the cause of Christ, His glory, and His Kingdom.  So, the author reminds the Christ-follower that “Jesus expected the same unwavering commitment from His disciples …. to make the same sacrifices and demonstrate the same commitment that He did” to the will and purposes of God. (p.65)

As we make this commitment to Christ and His cause, we must remember that Christ said if we are going to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23), and that unless we place Him above all others and all affections, we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:26,27).

 Chapter 3 – Contagious Relationships

This chapter, and the next, were my favorite chapters in the book. In fact, it was as I was reading this chapter that I decided to read The Bridges of God by Donald McGavran (posted on below) because of the emphasis of both on “people movements,” organic connections, and the multiplication of churches.

Here are several of  Steve’s quotes from this chapter.

Like a virus, the Gospel travels along the lines of preexisting relationships.” (p.72)

Christianity’s spread was fast and spontaneous; it happened without a centralized coordinating agency.” (p.73)

Christian conversions followed networks of relationships. Missionaries often led the way, but their ministry focused on making initial contacts with members of a social group. Once some insiders were converted, they became the key to the Gospel spreading throughout the rest of the social network, ….” (p.74)

New religious movements fail when they become closed social networks. For continued exponential growth, a movement must maintain open relationships with outsiders, and it must also reach out into new, adjacent social networks.” (p.75)

These quotes in the chapter are followed by two insightful sections on “principles of contagious relationships” and “Jesus and contagious relationships.” Addison notes that “Jesus recruited His band of disciples through relationship networks” and that He “…turned individual encounters into opportunities to touch whole social networks.” (p.81)

If this was Christ’s missionary-relationship strategy, how much more should it be ours as we seek to reach our world for Christ?

Chapter 4 – Rapid Multiplication

The rapid mobilization of leaders and new churches are the subjects of Chapter 4.

A few pages are devoted to the teaching of Roland Allen, the Anglican missionary, best know for his Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?  and The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church. From  Spontaneous Expansion, Addison lists Allen’s conditions that inhibit the spontaneous expansion of the church and those that enhance its expansion. Pretty interesting stuff.

The author then makes reference to Jesus and His ministry of mobilizing workers and leaders.

Jesus’ model of training assumed that the disciples did not know something until they had learned to obey it. Jesus’ teaching was obedience oriented.” (p.97)

This statement of Addison is characteristic of much of the material that I have been reading lately in which much is made of the need for obedience-based discipleship in our churches and church planting endeavors today. It is one thing to know about God and the Bible; it is a radically other thing to obey God and His Word.

I have read or heard the following question asked at least twice lately as I have been studying CPMs:

 “Why is the United States not experiencing church planting movements like those occurring around the world?”

The answer: Failure to “obey every command that I have taught you.” (Jesus)

Chapter 5, the last chapter of the book is entitled, Adaptive Methods

Addison declares that it is important for movements to be flexible in their use of methods because “adaptive methods enable a movement to function in ways that suit its changing environment and its expansion into new fields.” (p.106)

The thought is furthered when the author states that,

Movements that drift away from their core beliefs are always at risk, but so are movements that regard the way they currently function as sacred.” (p.110)

I believe that this thought can not only be applied to materials, methodologies, and strategies, it can be applied to church form as well (traditional program based-design, contemporary, seeker, etc.)

Ralph Neighbour, pastor and cell church authority, wrote about this matter of adaptation (at the church level) in his book, The Seven Last Words of a Dying Church – “We’ve Never Done It That Way Before.” In the book, Neighbour tells his story, and that of the church he pastored in Houston, Texas, West Memorial Baptist Church, as it adapted and transitioned from a traditional, program-based design church to a small group-based church, and then, to a cell-based church in an intentional effort to better reach and ministry to its surrounding community and regional area.

A couple of last quotes from this chapter come from Addison’s discussion of “Jesus and adaptive methods.”

Jesus trained His disciples in a way that was reproducible and transferable. He did not place unnecessary restrictions on who could be trained and entrusted with significant ministry. He expected faithfulness to the Gospel in word and deed, but there were no artificial  academic or institutional requirements for trainees.” (p.115)

Jesus did not come to found a religious organization. He came to found a missionary movement that would spread to the ends of the earth.” (p.115)

The Early Christians … wanted to win as many people as possible to faith in Jesus Christ and gather them into communities that became mission centers as they eagerly awaited His return.” (p.115)

Paul argued for cultural relevance, not cultural relativism (I Corinthians 9:19-23).” (p.116)

An important element in Paul’s strategy was the establishment of new churches. He did not just win converts, he gathered them into communities of faith.” (p.116)

This chapter includes a great chart in which Steve compares “Unsustainable Church Planting Strategies” with “Sustainable Church Planting Strategies.”

 Finally, in conclusion from the Conclusion:

What would it look like to align your life with Christ’s command and join a missionary movement that will one day reach every tribe, every language, every people, and every nation? … What needs to change in you (in me)? What do you need to do differently? (p.128)

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Hey, thanks for hanging in with me on this post, even if you had to come back and visit the blog two or three times in order to get it all read. It was pretty long.

But, I hope you have gotten something of a sense of what Steve Addison’s book is all about. If you’re interested in such things I would encourage you to pick up a copy and read it for yourself.

God bless you as you commit yourself to being swept up in God’s great movement to reach the nation’s for Himself.

In my recent post on The Bridges of God by Donald McGavran, I promised that I would share with you a number of quotes that caught my attention as I was reading through the book. As you read the quotes below, please remember that The Bridges of God was published in 1955.

The quotes pertain to church planting and church multiplication.  I share them because I have been involved in the start of traditional, program-based design churches but am now increasingly interested in and convinced about the importance of starting rapidly multiplying churches that result in Church Planting Movements.

My prayer is that the reading of my earlier post on The Bridges of God, along with this post, will whet your appetite to learn more about what the Lord is doing around the world through CPMs, and what He might desire to do in and through you in the ministry of church planting.

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If there are ways to make disciples of panta ta ethne – all nations – without People Movements, it would be interesting to hear about them.” (p.99)

The missionary enterprise is using a strategy of an era now closing. It should switch to the strategy of the era now beginning. It has depended heavily on the mission work. It should depend heavily on multiplying congregations in new peoples.” (p.106)

Rapid discipling of entire tribes should be accompanied by an even more rapid production of an indigenous, self-supporting ministry.” (p.113)

Nothing could be better for missions than a bold strategy of actively supporting reproductive churches.” (p.135)

Missions would function with new life if their aims were radically pruned and they rededicated themselves to the business of planting self-propagating churches.” (p.135)

Evangelization which takes no account of this complex social structure and simply invites all ‘Americans’ to become Christians in existing congregations and denominations is chained to slow growth. Only an evangelization which sees the mosaic and encourages the myriad individuals who make it up to become followers of Christ in their normal social relationship has any chance of liberating multitudes.” (p.159)

And, in conclusion,

 … the essential task of Christian Missions (is) the discipling of ethnos after ethnos till the Great Commission has been carried out.” (p.171)

Several weeks ago I pulled a little book off of the shelf that has been holding it’s place for years but had never been read. I decided that it was time to read the book because, after all, it is a classic in the field of missions and church planting.

The book is The Bridges of God. It was written by Donald McGavran and published in 1955.

I believe that the book was such a break-through in missiological thinking and practice because of the crucial question that it asks: “How do Peoples, not just individuals, but clans, tribes, and castes, become Christian?”

This is still a very relevant question being asked today, 54 years after the book’s publication, as we seek to reach thousand’s of Unreached People Groups in the world for Christ.

McGavran’s answer to the question is simple: People Movements. Today we might think in terms of Church Planting Movements.

It is emphasized in the book that People Movements do not occur when we are content to simply extract individuals out of their family and social networks and “Christianize” them.

In leading peoples to become Christian, the Church must aim to win individuals in their corporate life. The steady goal must be the Christianization of the entire fabric which is the people, or large enough parts of it that the social life of the individual is not destroyed.” (p. 16)

When McGavran wrote about not “snatching” individuals out of their people groups when they become Christians, I thought about an article entitled Extraction Groups vs. Community Groups written by David Watson, former IMB missionary to India. That article can be read here.

The emphasis in both McGavran and Watson is that if we are going to truly penetrate and saturate people groups and communities with the Gospel, we must follow the relational connections of the new believer back into their “world” – family (both immediate and extended), community, employment, yes, and even “religous” – if we are going to see a movement toward Christ.

McGavran devotes three chapters of The Bridges of God to telling the story of the spread of the Gospel through people movements in the New Testament world on down through the centuries.

I especially enjoyed the chapter entitled “Peoples And The New Tesatment Church”. In this chapter McGavran writes about the Christian movement within Judaism, the Greek movement in Antioch, how Paul “chose new centres for People Movements,” and responsive groups as bridges for the speading of the Gospel.

What was very interesting to me in this chapter is that McGavran uses a word several times that I find in much of today’s writing on church planting movements, house churches, and house church networking. It is the word “organic” or a form of the word.

When writing about the people movement in Antioch, McGavran states that

 … the coming to Christ of Greeks at Antioch was unplanned and depended on the burning faith of some unknown Christians who were organically linked with both Jews and Greeks, thus forming a bridges between the two peoples…. This bond of relationship was the bridge over which the faith passed.” (p.24)

There has been much discussion about how Paul chose the fields in which he would labor. Roland Allen’s little book, Missionary Methods: Paul’s or Ours? is perhaps the classic on this subject.

McGavran expresses his belief on this subject when he writes,

To be accurate we must say that he (Paul) did not choose fields. He followed up groups of people who had living relations in the People Movement to Christ.” (p.31)

He then writes on page 33,

 … lack of conversions is exactly what happens all over the world as the Christian faith is proclaimed to non-Christians not in organic connection with believers.”

When writing about the Christian movement within the Greek world, the author speaks of relationships being “small bridges” over which the Gospel moves.

By means of the ‘Gentile on the bridge’ there came to be in town after town within a comparatively short time a considerable number of Gentile converts who remained in close organic connection with large numbers of unconverted relatives.” (p.34)

McGavran concludes this particular chapter by stating that the intentional missionary labors of Paul were in large measure devoted

 … to following responsive peoples and to expanding exisitng impulses to Christ in the hearts of peoples.” (p.36)

McGavran’s insight into and teaching on the subject and importance of organic networking for the sake of the spreading of the Gospel is a much needed word of reminder from the past. His emphasis is simply on the fact that the great avenue, or “bridge”, for the spreading of the Gospel that is already in place for us all is that of relationships.

This may be one of those statements that elicits a “Duh!” or “I already know that” response, but the question that I ask myself is, “Am I intentionally thinking through and sharing Christ with those with whom I am organically connected?” Family members, peers at work, neighbors on my block, my mechanic. If I’m not, then I should be.

About the time that I was finishing The Bridges of God and starting to write this post, early last week, I started reading a paper about the “T4T – Training for Trainers” approach to church planting and church multiplication. In it I read that there are two reasons that believers don’t share their faith more. One reason is that we don’t know how. The second is that we don’t know who we should share our faith with.

The T4T paper makes a great suggestion for knowing who to share the Gospel with. Make a list of 100 people, or as many as you can, that you know do not have a personal relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. Group those 100 people into groups of five, preferably people who know or have connections with one another, and then share the Gospel with them that first week. Share the Gospel with the second group the second week, the third group the third week, and so on until you have shared with as many of the 100 as possible.

People will accept Christ. As they do, begin discipling them with the T4T material, train them to share their faith with their “100”, and start organic, simple churches.

As we obey the Great Commission and share Christ, beginning with those we are organically connected to, perhaps we’ll be blessed by the LORD to find ourselves in the midst of a People Movement toward Christ.

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In my next post, I plan to share several quotes from The Bridges of God that caught my attention as I read through the book.

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention will be East Asiaconducting the East Asia Summit, November 4-6, in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The purpose of the Summit is to increase our awareness of the ministry needs and opportunities for the sharing of the Gospel with East Asian peoples.

I will have the opportunity to attend this meeting. There are three reasons that I will be going:

  1. I love East Asia and have a desire to learn and know more about what the Lord is doing there to reach people for Himself.
  2. I believe that what I learn at the Summit will help me to better minister to East Asian students that I know and minister with and to at Texas A&M University.
  3. I am praying that the Lord will allow me to connect with a church or ministry that is doing work in East Asia that we can somehow become involved with, either by spending time with them in ministry there or by serving them in a support role here.

Let me encourage you to prayerfully consider attending the East Asia Summit. I believe that we will all be blessed.

You can visit the Summit’s website here.

If you are interested in Unreached People Groups (UPG), you will probably be interested in visiting the Joshua Project website if you don’t already know about them.

Joshua Project is a research initiative that studies and brings attention to the least evangelized and churched ethn0-linguistic people groups of the world. Joshua Project believes that “accurate, regularly updated ethnic people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission.”

As we seek to fulfill the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lifetime, Joshua Project helps us to answer many of the questions that are associated with the command to “make disciples of all the ‘nations’.” Three of those questions are:

  • Who are the ethnic people groups of the world?
  • Which people groups still need an initial church-planting movement in their midst?
  • What ministry resources are available to help outreach among the least-reached?

On the JP website you will find a wealth of information, for your head and heart, about the tremendous number of people groups and people who have yet to hear the saving news of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua Project also provides us with definitions of many of the terms that are used, and that you will hear or read, when discussing the reaching of the “nations.” An understanding of these terms helps bring clarity and intentionality to our thinking and praying as we strategize how best to reach the “nations” for Christ.

One such term is “people groups.”

For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.”

Another term is “unreached”.

An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.

The original Joshua Project editorial committee selected the criteria less than 2% Evangelical Christian and less than 5% Christian Adherents. While these percentage figures are somewhat arbitrary, there are some that suggest that the percentage of a population needed to be influenced to impact the whole group is 2%.”

So, the question is now begged: “Just how many unreached people groups are there in the world today?”

Joshua Project reports that there are 16,344 People Groups in the world. Of those, 6,639, or 40.6% of the world’s People Groups, are unreached.

Joshua Project also reports that of the world’s 6.7 billion people, 2.74 billion are members of Unreached People Groups. That means that 40.9% of the today’s world population has not been reached with the message of God’s love and salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ.

What then will be our response to the Lord’s command to “Go  therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe (obey) all that I commanded you” ?

Let us pray that the Lord will send out laborers into His harvest fields, the harvest fields of souls that are ripe unto harvest. (Luke 10:2) May we be prepared to be the Lord’s answer to our own prayer!

Let us pray that the unreached billions will be reached and that myriads upon myriads will come to know Christ as personal Savior.

Let us pray for those who are even now serving as laborers in the Lord’s harvest fields of the world.

Jesus said:

 … this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”  Matthew 24:14

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Visit Joshua Project here.