Leading Movements: a book review

Being a movement catalyst takes particular leadership gifts and skills. Steve Addison should know. He is the leader of MOVE, an organization that multiplies disciples and churches in India and Australia. He is also  a researcher who has delved into the nature of Christian movements that spread the gospel. This is his third book on movements. The first, Movements that Change the World (IVP, 2011) examined five characteristics of dynamic movements. His second book, What Jesus Started(IVP, 2012) explored the disciple making ministry of Jesus. His current book, Pioneering Movementshones in on the type of leadership required to produce a dynamic movement.

9780830844418This book has ten chapters and three brief ‘Pioneer Profiles’ that examine historic figures who ignited movements. Chapter one begins with Addison’s own story. Having written the definitive book on movements (Movements that Change the World),  Addison was challenged by God (and his wife) to do something.  He knew conceptually what it took to build a movement but leaders who pioneer movements are those that do things. Addison observed, “I knew all the movement principles, but I didn’t really know them. I was the expert, but I wasn’t living them out. God was rattling my cage.  Knowing something is not enough; he wanted me to do something” (23).  So he prayerfully began to step out in evangelism in a immigrant community in Melbourne. He saw how stepping out was important for poneering leaders and trained others to do the same.

Chapter two looks at Jesus’ sentness and the apostolic ministry he calls leaders to–sent and sending. Like Jesus and the movement he started Addison challenges movement pioneers to:

  1. See the end they are aiming at (Transformed lives and the coming Kingdom of God)
  2. Connect with People
  3. Share the gospel
  4. Train Disciples
  5. Gather Communities
  6. Multiply Workers (44-45)

Chapter three profiles Peter as ‘first among the Apostles’–one sent in the name of Jesus who learned from Jesus to live the gospel,  to embody the vision and stay on task to spread the Good news and lead God’s people to do the same.

Chapter four describes the leadership structure of movements and the creative tension between church’s and ‘apostolic bands.’ Chapter five provides a case-study of Nathan Shank and the multiplying, indigienous church movement he helped ignite in South Asia. Chapter six  describes the levels of movement leaders from: (1) Seed Sower to (2) Church Planter, (3) Church Muliplier to (4) Multiplaction Trainer, and finally (5) Movement Catalyst. The Next three chapters explore pioneering movements in America, Africa and the Muslim world. Addison’s final chapter challenges pioneering leaders press through suffering and obstacles to ministry and mission.

I think my favorite part about the book are the stories of missional leaders who are planting churches and working to bring in a harvest. It is always interesting to hear stories from the world Christianity and exciting movements that are impacting culture for Christ.

When I read books like this I feel somewhat overawed and my first response is to see this book as addressed to a type of leader I’m not–a high level, entrepreneurial leader who inspires revival through multiplying churches and ministry.  But I appreciated Addison’s initial challenge to step out where you are and press in to where God is calling. A theme in my reading as of late has been this: Don’t just think, act, and when you do keep it simple and don’t over-complicate things.  I appreciate that movements grow when leaders step up and do something that others can replicate. The readers who will benifit from this book most are practitioners who want to ‘take it to the next level.’ I give this book four stars.

Note: I received this book from InterVarsity Press in exchange for my honest review.


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