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This is part four of a five part book report series on Mike Breen and the 3DM team’s books on missional communities. The reports have been prepared by leaders who are on the journey of developing a discipleship ministry in their churches. Today, Sara Tysman from Grand Haven shares her report on Leading Kingdom Movements. Thanks Sara!

Leading Kingdom Movements:   The “Everyman” Notebook on How To Change the World, by Mike Breen and the 3DM Team

Report by: Sara Tysman

I am the Director of Discipleship at First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Michigan. I was hired 4 years ago as a lay person--without a seminary degree. My training has come from the work of the Holy Spirit, the guidance of our pastor and Discipleship Team, and from reading books about discipleship. This is the second book by Mike Breen that I have read, and I have found both books to be very helpful. Our church is currently engaged in strategic planning resulting in an increased focus on discipleship and spiritual formation. My role in that plan is significant, so I was excited to find a book like Leading Kingdom Movements with so many new ideas and principles that can assist our church as we look for the best way to help our members become disciples who make disciples. 

In this book Breen and the 3DM team lay out how to be part of a Kingdom Movement—a movement that can change the world. Breen says, “Jesus taught his disciples how to lead a movement that would change the world and it worked…I want to show how, when people take the teachings of Jesus to heart, they too can learn to be part of a Kingdom Movement.” He defines a Kingdom Movement as “A community of disciples who passionately seek the expansion of God’s reign here on earth through the reproduction of disciples seeking the transformation of the places they inhabit.”

He starts out by describing the markers of people who wanted to change the world and actually did it.  Then he gives some practical examples of the principles underlying the Kingdom Movement of 3DM.  After telling the story of what the 3DM team has done, he gives an outline for what Paul did in his ministry as a guide for how to be part of a Kingdom movement.   Finally, he provides the reader with the mechanics of the movement and a conclusion asking the reader to “be part of helping to change a world that is aching to be changed.” 

There are many new things I learned from reading this book. Here are a few of the highlights: 

Go where God is already working:

“Almost everything that I want to share with you is how to learn to let God do the work that he is already doing. He is already at work in your life. He is already at work in the life of your family, your community. He is already breaking in and breaking through…The more time I spent listening to God, and the more time I spent asking him to show me where he was already at work, the more spiritual breakthrough I saw in my life and in the life of our community. The closer I was to God, the more breakthrough I saw. It was absolutely amazing. By simply paying more attention to where God’s Kingdom was already breaking in, and by resting in him, I spent far less energy and produced far more fruit.”

Missional Communities are important:

Oikos is the Greek word for “household”, which refers to the 20-70 people, blood and non-blood, who made up the Greco-Roman household. Breen often refers to Oikos when describing Missional Communities which are “a group of 20-50 people on mission together with a clear mission and vision, that have rhythms of UP/IN/OUT, are lightweight and low maintenance and have an accountable leader.” 

We can learn a lot about how to “do church” from Paul:

Paul was a man with a mission--an outward expression of his inward vision. His message was organic and organized; he found a way of connecting the text to the content by finding the gap in the worldview. His method was the method of the early church: a devotion to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. He met with people in the temple and in their homes. Acts 20:20  says, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you, but have taught you publically and from house to house.” Breen says, “What we need to understand is the same thing Paul had to learn, the oikos in the social space. It’s the single most significant vehicle of mission that God has ever released on the world—EVER!”

Understanding our cultural lens:

“Our cultural lens launched a movement within the church based on a misunderstanding of another culture...But here is where our cultural lens colors our perspective: In China (and in Korea and Latin America as well), the role of the extended family remains central to Chinese cultural identity, even for their youth. Everything is built around and revolves around the extended family. So when the church in China grows that quickly in cells, it isn’t cells of six to 12 people (the nuclear family size) It is groups of 20-40 people meeting in homes (the extended family size). Similarly, the other two movements in “house church” in Korea (cell church) and South America (base communities) have been used and interpreted to inspire growth in the Western church. But again, extended household size groups were usually at the heart of these movements. But because a Western church sees “cell” or “house” in the title, they think nuclear family. And we end up with something quite different. The last 30 years of contemporary church life has been colored by this understanding of “cell." This led to the rise and slow decline of the small group movement. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for the “personal space” (six to 12 people). What I’m suggesting is that, sociologically speaking, in every culture on the face of the earth, that personal space group locates itself within a wider extended family. There is a place for smaller groups, but that place seems to be located best within something bigger in that social space realm (Missional Community).”

UP/IN/OUT—All three are essential:

Breen explains that church bodies and the Missional Communities within those bodies must have three elements to have disciples who make disciples. These three elements are Passionate Spirituality (UP), Radical Community (IN), and Missional Zeal (OUT). Generally churches are committed to two of the three.  He lists the problems that arise from missing one of these three elements. 

  • Commitment to passionate spirituality (UP) and radical community (IN) but not missional zeal (OUT) will result in “a community that becomes insular, that increasingly looks inward, that slowly becomes obsessed with self-preservation and legacy, and that over time will die out.”
  • Commitment to passionate spirituality (UP) and missional zeal (OUT) but not radical community (IN) will result in “a community of individualistic missional ninjas who better resemble an atomized, ill-formed monastic order.”
  • Commitment to radical community (IN) and missional zeal (OUT) but not passionate spirituality (IN) will result in a community who “lacks the invited presence and power of the Holy Spirit.”  

He then gives advice for how to grow in the area of the weakness of the church. I especially liked this quote “You must lead from your own brokenness so that as the Lord achieves breakthrough in your life and those you are close to he will use the overflow of that in the wider community.” 

Essential principals for leading a Kingdom Movement:

  • Focus on UP/IN/OUT—make sure you have all three
  • Build with relationships and resources that are capable of being spontaneous and structured
  • Establish an extended family on mission (Oikos or Missional Community)
  • Make disciples who make disciples by asking “what is God saying to you?” and “what are you going to do about it”

The idea that groups of 20-70 people can become part of a Kingdom Movement is radical to me and I’m eager to see where God is already working in our church to help us become empowered to make disciples who make disciples by becoming extended families on mission!

If you want to learn how to lead a Kingdom Movement—a movement that will change the world based on what Jesus taught, if you want to help your church become a center for making disciples who make disciples then read this book. I highly recommended it!

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