Are The Tools We Are Using Going to Get Us to Multiplication Movements?

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I’ve spent the past 6-7 years travelling, training and meeting a variety of faith-based communities (simple churches, organic churches, house churches, missional communities, new forms of church and established churches transitioning into missional movements et al)

The first 3 years were spent primarily travelling across the 12 Regions of Britain and Ireland
The last 3 years, primarily travelling across the countries of mainland Europe

The main goal has been to catalyse and partner with others to pioneer and develop multiple movements of disciples and churches down to 4th generation and beyond across diverse people groups and places

The more one travels, the more one sees ‘paradigms‘ that whole groups of people operate within, that lead to ‘patterns‘ of operation on the ground…

Around 2010, prophetically, God began to speak to us about the Change of Paradigm needed in order to get to a Change of Pattern…
Will our current primary paradigms (ways of seeing and thinking/worldview) get us to movements?

Prophetically, Jesus led us to a passage in Joel (Joel 3:9-16– please note that in German versions this is Joel 4:9-16- short explanation later)

What we discerned prophetically from this (not literally- but, of course metaphorically) is that God was announcing a ‘Season Change

Say to the Nations far and wide: ‘Get Ready for War!”

In Britain, for example- we’ve experienced a literal ‘extended time of peace’. In peace time, the way you operate is very different to how one would operate in a time of war.

What might a change of mentality from peace to war mean for our current mindsets as christians (paradigm) or our expression of christianity (simple, organic, and even missional- patterns)

Are we fitted best for a seemingly ‘spiritual peacetime’ environment or are we ‘geared up’ to enter a time of ‘war’.

It’s not so much the forms (of church) alone, but more the ‘way we operate as people‘ and ‘what kind of people we are‘ and ‘what we do when we meet together‘ and ‘what we do when we scatter‘…in other words ‘do we have a war time mentality and associated practices‘ or a ‘peacetime mentality and associated practices’ and are we self-aware as ‘warriors’ or some other metaphor

Do we understand the time and season we are in and what we should do?
What Season are we in prophetically in Britain and in Europe?

Call out your best warriors […]. Train even your weaklings to be warriors’ (Joel 3:9-10)

What would it be like to ‘call out the best warriors’ in our midst (in our simple, organic, institutional and missional churches?)
What would it be like to train even our ‘weaklings’ to be warriors? If we have ‘weaklings’ in our midst- are we ‘training them’ and what are we training them in?

Now…this is where it touches on the ‘tools we use for training’
In the passage of scripture; a change of season, and an announcement of getting ready for war- requires a change of tools

Hammer your ploughshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears…train…’ (Joel 3:10)
The tools used for farming in peace time (ploughshares and pruning hooks) are to be changed dramatically (hammer) into weapons used for war

The tools we used last season won’t work in this new season. The tools need to be changed…and radically

What could that mean in practice?
The way we currently do things that works in ‘peacetime’ may need to change for ‘wartime’. This could involve a change in;

Our approach to leadership styles? (maybe we operated primarily in a ‘consensual leadership’ style in a ‘christian’ community – but to see new growth we need to shift to a ‘directive’ mode, or maybe we are not multiplying and need to shift to a ‘coaching’ or ‘delegative mod’)
Or maybe the group has operated primarily in a pastoral mode and needs to shift gear into an apostolic or evangelistic dynamic
What tools do we use in terms of leadership?

Our approach to group/church gathering styles and practices?
As a group of christians…things may be going really well. But can what you are doing as a group/community of already believers, be replicated by a 1 day old group of new believers in God (or even- by people who don’t yet believe in God)
What tools do we use to train people to gather as communities?
Do we unwittingly train people in patterns that only those who have been christians for a long period of time could emulate?

Our approach to worship styles and practices?
Our approach to training and discipling?
Our approach to prayer?
Our approach to evangelism/gospelling?

Why Has A Change of Season Been Announced?
Please bear in mind that this is a ‘prophetic word’…as opposed to a systematic and context-specific literal interpretation of the text (Joel)…and so, as such, needs to be ‘weighed’.

If you resonate with this post and sense that, ‘YES!‘, God is…calling for a ‘Change of Season’ from the church/christians in a ‘peacetime mentality’ to a ‘wartime mentality’ in the way in which we ‘see things’ (paradigm) and the way in which we ‘outwork things’ (process and pattern)

Then a question might be – WHY
Why the call for a change?
Why is a change even necessary?
Why not stick with the ‘farming tools’ or ‘peacetime tools’ we are already using?

From the rest of the Joel passage…

These words seem to stand out:

It’s about the Nations (vision/endvision)
It’s a time of Judgment (‘time for Europe’) (Joel 3:12)
It’s a time for harvest (Joel 3:13- therefore, a change of tools is needed to reap the harvest)
The ‘levels of wickedness‘ or ‘darkness covering the land‘ has reached epic proportions (Joel 3:13)
There are thousands waiting ‘in the valley of decision‘ (Joel 3:14)

Could it be that the level of darkness is already reaching breaking point in Europe? That God is a God of justice AND also God of mercy for all the thousands waiting in the valley of decision. And that he is looking for ‘warriors’ and even those who are not (‘weaklings’) to be trained in the tools of warriors to reap the harvest?

Maybe we are not yet ‘seeing this harvest’
Maybe we need a change of heart (paradigm)?
Maybe our tools need to change (process, practices and patterns)?

If so- maybe farming tools need to be turned (literally hammered) into army tools…?

Up until now, many of my readers will have perhaps been more familiar with the far more popular message of Isaiah 2:4
But that is why we need to discern and understand the ‘times and seasons’ and know what we should do in a particular situation and context…

Will our current tools get the job done that God is calling for in this ‘change of season’ in Europe?

[disclaimer: the visceral reaction of seeing the pictures of literal farming tools and literal army weapons will of course be off-putting to some. But I’ve chosen to include them as visual cues that could help to activate the level of disconcerting change potentially needed in our ‘imagination’ – our way of ‘seeing’ or ‘mentality’ when it comes to the ‘spiritual’ season we are in and the possible level of change required from peace-to-war]

[reason for this post: I had a dream last night whilst in Germany that I was going through this Joel passage of scripture with someone- and I was trying to find the passage in the Bible but couldn’t and the other person was also trying to find it on internet and couldn’t.

The very next day (in reality) me and a German friend were sitting in a cafe talking about paradigms in leadership when it came to ‘organic church’ and what may be needed to see ‘4th generation multiplication’

Anyway, as we were talking, I suddenly remembered the dream I had the previous night, and tried to find the passage in my Bible- but took a while to find it…in the meantime my friend was trying to find it on his phone.

Once I finally found the scripture reference Joel 3:9-16 – I told my friend- but he still couldn’t find it as in his German online bible, the same passage is actually Joel 4:9-16 in German, a chapter we don’t even have in my English Bible- When we both saw this ‘strange situation’ we realised that we were ‘living out’ the dream I’d had the previous night, and sensed that this ‘Change of Tools for A Change of Season‘ word, is an important prophetic message to continue to share to wider ‘the church’ in it’s broader sense in Britain and Europe at this time- what do you think?]

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Price March 1, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Hi Peter,

Agree that the nature of the season has changed and along with that change comes the need for different behaviours. In your article you are very careful in explaining and qualifying what you say.

My thought is that there is a challenge in the use of language and what people understand from the use of specific words. Two wikipedia definitions for Movement and War are given below – both words are loaded in their meaning but somewhat different. I guess a movement can adopt the practices employed in war.

Movements are a type of group action. They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist or undo a social change.

War is a public, organized and often a prolonged struggle for supremacy that includes the use or threat of lethal force.

Are some qualification needed along with the language of war? Who is the war against? (i.e. war against cancer, war against poverty, war against lost identity etc).

Jesus was on the receiving end of some extreme violence when he travelled into Jerusalem and was crucified. But he did not meet this violence with violence. The victory at the cross was won when evil was overcome with with good. The image of the cross then becomes more provocative and profound than the images of guns and other weapons. The challenge is how to share this truth again with a generation that has not yet heard but been exposed to so much violence. The victory is over sin, the devil and death.

How to hold balance and tension in the language??

Grace & Peace

Richard

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admin April 8, 2015 at 2:32 am

Hi Richard,
I knew when I wrote the article that there would be a challenge and tension in the use of language thats why I was careful to explain and to qualify without watering it down to such an extent that it would lose any impact whatsoever…I also hoped it would stimulate conversation through it’s abrupt use of language…and that it might, where need be cause a disruption to the status quo and initiate paradigm shifts. To that end…it has and the issues you raise are important to grapple with…

Although I have used the word ‘Movement’ and ‘Movements’ in almost every training and public speech in the past 5-10 years (or more)…I have used the language of War less often…

In different ages some values are upheld more than others. In ‘christian circles’ in the past 40-50 years (at least in the UK)…a language has emerged shaped by the values of a particular generation. We value some styles and word associations…whilst fleeing from and even disdaining others…

When we approach the Bible…we can often read it through the ‘lenses’ shaped by our value system…

Hence…reading scripture whilst airbrushing out any connotations to war…spiritual or natural

For example…when was the last time we heard that

‘The Lord is a Mighty Man of War’ (that’s part of His nature?)
or that he will ‘Return with Mighty Angels to Execute Judgment’
or about us ‘Wearing the Armour of God’ (including sword of the spirit)
or about us ‘Fighting the Good Fight of Faith’

In other words…where has all the fighting talk gone?

‘Out of the heart the mouth speaks…’- so if in ‘Christian Circles’…fighting talk is ‘airbrushed out’ at the risk of being misconstrued or even at the risk of sounding uncouth (uncivilised)…or avoided…or even…not on our lips in the first place…

Or if we never hear it or even think it, could it be because there is ‘no fight left’ in our collective hearts, subconscious, spirit?

Could it be because we don’t see or have forgotten that there is anything to actually fight for?

William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army were full of ‘fighting talk’…and they reached people…that many ‘christians’ today ‘want to reach’ but fall short…

Whenever there has been a grassroots movement among the ‘lower’ classes…it seems the ‘fighting talk returns’ (to the chagrin of respectable christianity)

Even now…fighting talk is used in the lyrics of ‘christian rappers’ in New York…whilst respectable white middle class christianity of Britain (and maybe Europe) would frown on such ‘talk’

Language goes hand in hand with culture and people groups…

And whilst on the one hand I personally speak the language of the middle class (‘organic’)
On the other hand I also speak the language of force (Ever since the days of John the Baptist…the Kingdom has been forcefully advancing and violent people take hold of it)
Becoming ‘All Things to All Men in Order to Reach Some’

On occasions God might also initiate a change in language for prophetic reasons…(like for example when John the Baptist and then Jesus turned up shouting ‘Change…The Kingdom of Heaven has arrived’…what was essentially a military announcement that one kingdom was about to be destroyed and replaced by another…hence demons shouting out…’have you come to destroy us?’)

The language of ‘force’ can also be a ‘prophetic’ use of words…there are specific times in history that God chooses to use prophets to utter them…

Joel spoke of the last days when the ‘Spirit would be poured out on all people…young and old, men and women…’ and that all would prophesy

He also spoke of ‘training weaklings to be warriors’ and ‘turning ploughshares into swords’

We often quote the former as being accomplished Spiritually from Pentecost onwards…but don’t see any spiritual relevance to become warriors in a Spiritual War…

Jesus told us that unless you ‘Bind the Strong Man’ you cannot ‘Rob him of His Spoils’
Can you imagine people around him telling him…

‘Jesus…your language could be misconstrued as violent…a struggle for supremacy that includes the use or threat of lethal force…’

Jesus was on the receiving end of violence…and the cross is a symbol of violence that was done against Jesus…instead of used by Jesus against others…and in the process…He made a ‘public spectacle’ of the ‘principalities and powers and rulers of this dark age’ and remains at the right hand side of power until His enemies become His footstool

All scripture is God-breathed…and we take the rough with the smooth, right?

How to hold balance and tension in the language?

When ‘christians’ are so familiar with scriptures and values that match and coincide with their own cultural values that they unconsciously see the two as the same…because the balance has been tipped towards- our ‘values are scriptural values’…

Sometimes the balance has to be tipped the other way (albeit temporarily) in order to get to a new place of equilibrium

New Generations need as much as older ones to ‘fight the battles’ pertinent to their generation. There is an odd passage in the Old Testament that says…the reason God left some people groups in The Promise Land after the conquest of Joshua’s Generation…was so that emerging generations would learn to fight…

Apparently…God sees the need for each generation to learn the language and art of war and warfare…

Not sure why…could it be to avoid ease, comfort and complacency and a tepid ‘christianity’ that has no real power or bite, authority or audacity?

When Jesus, Paul or the apostles entered new towns or cities the alarm would ring out ‘These Men who have caused riots and turned cities upside down have arrived’

It was the same refrain echoing through villages, towns and cities when a St Patrick, a John Knox, a George Fox, a John Wesley, or a William Booth entered town…

Not heard anything like that in a while…have you?

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