132: The Rise and Fall of Movements (with Steve Addison)

Steve Addison is a Christian leader who has studied multiplying movements. In this episode of the podcast we talk to Steve about the ideas in his newest book - The Rise and Fall of Movements


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Can You Give Us Some Headlines About the Characteristics of a Multiplying Movement and the Life of a Movement?

  • It began with Jesus' baptism and wilderness temptation - this was the launch of the Christian movement.
  • What is the essence of this thing? What does it mean for us today?
  • Jesus is the loving son of the Father who is obedient to his living word, he is a man utterly dependant on the Spirit and committed to the core ministry focus of making disciples all over the world.
  • The greater the degree that we share this focus, movements will rise. As we move away from it over time, movements decline and fall. 

Explain Why You Define 'Identity' Tightly With Regards to Word, Spirit and Mission. 

  • The strategic stuff is patterns from the life of Jesus.
  • But anybody can do these things - so in itself it doesn't have the life of the Word, the Spirit and the mission that God has given us.
  • It starts with identity but then quite quickly we look at what Jesus did and do likewise. 
  • It is this identity that marks out the Jesus movement and gives it life. 

Why Do You Say That Conflict Is Important In a Movement?

  • There are different ways that conflict comes up.
  • In the shaping of the founder(s). God is not just training the head and the hands of the leader, he is shaping their identity.
  • An example of this is God wrestling with Jacob and shaping him.
  • If you are pioneering a movement, you should expect a spiritual battle.
  • In the birth of movements there is a lot of heat - there is passion and this can lead to conflict about how to get the job done since people are so invested.
  • In declining movements, everybody usually gets on.

How Was This Modelled In Francis of Assisi?

  • Francis was one of the greatest movement starters in church history.
  • He was a great visionary but a poor organiser.
  • There were lots of passionate people ready to lay down their lives for the cause and yet no clarity on how to proceed.
  • This led to lots of conflict amongst the Franciscans.
  • Another example was John Wesley - he embodied the vision and values, but he was also a very careful builder. 

Do We Underplay the Importance of the Leader?

  • One of the keys in the development of newfrontiers is God developing and shaping Terry Virgo.
  • But if everyone was only following Terry now, newfrontiers would not be a dynamic movement.
  • A good founder embodies and shapes the movement, but then infects others with it and pours it into methodologies and approaches that reflect that heart.
  • The movement is born out of the founder. The founder becomes like a father, then a grandfather, then a great-grandfather.
  • There will be people in the movement that don't know the founder.
  • We are looking to see movements start that are no longer dependent on their founder. 

Is This How It Happens Most of the Time?

  • Sometimes founders grasp the movement too much.
  • But eventually they die - there is a built in obsoleteness in all of us. 
  • One error is the founder letting go too early when the heart is not embodied and it fragments/dissipates. 
  • The opposite error is the founder who wants to control things to their dying day.
  • The key is both extremes. In the early days the founder needs to be very involved, but over time hand it on and enjoy your 'grandchildren'.

Can There Be Conflict Around Transition

  • The founders trap (yo-yo syndrome) is when the founder releases but then grabs it back.
  • It is like preparing children for adulthood. At the right time we don't want to be standing over the shoulders, but every once in a while you need to check in with 'grandpa' when you don't know how to handle a situation.
  • In Acts 20, Paul is very releasing to the Ephesian elders - he can do it because they have grasped his key values.
  • You have got to release authority and responsibility in a movement.
  • It is way beyond 'nominating a successor' - it is a movement if there are multiple sources of energy popping up. It can be a network that may not be able to be controlled centrally.
  • Organisations serve causes, but the movement is the cause!
  • When the organisation lets go of the cause and is now serving itself, its leaders and its members it is no longer a movement, it is an institution.
  • When it grows beyond what you can manage or count, you know you have a movement on your hand!

How Do You Look After Your Heart In a Declining Movement and How Do You Work For Rebirth? 

  • Don't shift responsibility to your organisation or institution.
  • Renewal comes when we return to God and our core identity - Word, Spirit and the core missionary task.
  • You can do this as a struggling church pastor/planter.
  • A great example of this is Charles Simeon. 
  • Don't blame the institution - just go an do something tomorrow!
  • The decline starts when you are at the peak and your rate of progress is declining. Movements think their past successes will be repeated into the future and lose their identity. This is the failure of success.
  • With the identity in place, then take the strategy pieces, but you can't do strategy without identity.
  • Too many churches just hire consultants in but are going nowhere.

What Do You Mean By 'Non-Anxious Presence?'

  • Jesus knew exactly who he was an what he was about, but he also seemed very relaxed about things. 
  • Jesus was both connected and distinct from what others were doing at the time.
  • You can do this as a struggling church pastor/planter.
  • A great example of this is Charles Simeon. 
  • Don't blame the institution - just go an do something tomorrow!
  • The decline starts when you are at the peak and your rate of progress is declining. Movements think their past successes will be repeated into the future and lose their identity. This is the failure of success.
  • With the identity in place, then take the strategy pieces, but you can't do strategy without identity.
  • Too many churches just hire consultants in but are going nowhere.