Sunday, October 22, 2023

A Prophetic Non-Statement on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Today marks day 15 in the current episode of this decades-long conflict, but this time it feels different. The last two weeks have been a never-ending doom-scroll of subtle racisms and misplaced nationalisms. Suddenly, it feels like everyone is an expert on Middle East history and politics. Even my most reserved friends have voiced passionately strong opinions on the conflict.

Maybe this heightened desire for certainty stems from the disorienting and chaotic nature of our current era in world history. This would explain why this present episode has been so globally divisive and also why people feel they need to conform to the ways of the world which demand arbitrary lines of morality be drawn in the sand.

It's particularly unsettling to observe this most prominently within Christian communities. Ignorance reinforces xenophobia. Social media algorithms add to the binary, one-sided thinking. It feels like a Rorschach test where the events reveal more about ourselves than we dare think.

A few people have asked me for guidance and encouraged me to speak up. Honestly, I'm weary and discouraged, finding myself meditating on Amos 5:13,

"‭‭Those who are smart keep their mouths shut, for it is an evil time."

In a world of disinformation and echo chambers, the prophet Amos offers much to ponder. This passage teaches that when there is so much propaganda hurled into the court of public opinion, it can be prudent to just remain silent.

Such is the evil in our time. Sometimes prayerful silence requires a level of prophetic restraint.

For me, at least, I am concentrating on lament, humility, and intercession. Women and children face unimaginable suffering at the hands of self-righteous men and their weapons. One day God will right all wrongs. Until then, only Christ-centered interventions can break the endless cycle of revenge in this intractable conflict. Against the power imbalance of sin and empire, our Lord went to the cross in non-violent, sacrificial love. We stand with him in the resurrected irony of victorious death: pro-peace, pro-justice, and especially pro-Jesus. Ultimately, he answers everything and everyone must answer to him.

Friday, September 8, 2023

The Blockchain Institution as a Metaphor for Movemental Ecclesiology

Previously we looked at the splintering end of “institutional” Evangelicalism and proposed that microchurch movements could be an avenue for refounding (à la Hirsch) the Church on the person of Jesus in its original movemental form which was a decentralized, multiplying community of disciples who existed within and beyond the gathered expression.

There is a lot of talk about the decline of “institutions” these days and the need for counter institutions. I don’t agree with everything here, but Aaron Renn has an interesting article on how a counter mainstream DNA is needed to renew institutions but without a “negative identity” (you are what you are against) that simply adopts the same institutional forces that led to decline in the first place.

Herein, the blockchain metaphor has some value. In other words, if prevailing model ecclesiology is like centralized banking, then movemental-microchurch ecclesiology is like blockchain currency.

Metaphors function on the level of hermeneutics. When we read “in the church at Antioch…” (Acts 13:1), Christendom ecclesiology (centralized “bank” metaphor) is often imported, eisegetically, into the text. Instead, the blockchain institution more closely resembles the nature of the Church in the NT context. The Bible serves as our source in demonstrating movement principles, but sometimes we need to first unlearn concepts/traditions in order to properly exegete the text, and metaphors can help.

In the context of movemental ecclesiology, where the emphasis is on decentralized and grassroots expressions of biblical faith and community, a blockchain institution could be compared to a network of interconnected microchurches. Here's how this metaphor might help us reimagine the nature of the Church (with the help of ChatGPT):

  1. Decentralization: Just as a blockchain is decentralized with no single central authority, a movemental ecclesiology encourages the decentralization of the Church. Instead of a hierarchical church structure, there are numerous microchurches with unique expressions.
  2. Nodes as Microchurches: In the blockchain, nodes are individual computers that participate in maintaining the ledger. In this metaphor, each microchurch could be seen as a node in the network. Each microchurch operates independently but is connected to the broader movement through shared principles, beliefs, and values.
  3. Transactions as Spiritual Connections: In the blockchain, transactions represent the transfer of value between participants. In the context of the Church, these "transactions" could be symbolic of the spiritual connections, relationships, and interactions that occur within and between house churches. These interactions may include sharing of resources, support, and collaboration on various aspects of faith and community life.
  4. Consensus as Shared Vision: Just as blockchains use consensus mechanisms to agree on the state of the ledger, microchurches within a movemental ecclesiology may use consensus-building processes to align around a shared vision or set of principles. This type of distributed leadership helps maintain the cohesion of the movement despite its decentralized nature.
  5. Immutable Faith and Values: Similar to how data on a blockchain is immutable, the orthodox beliefs of the Church remain unchanged and consistent across the system. These principles serve as the foundation upon which each microchurch builds its unique contextual expression of faith.
  6. Transparency and Accountability: Blockchains are known for their transparency, and in the metaphor, this could represent the transparency and accountability that microchurches have with one another and with their members. Open communication and shared values ensure that each microchurch remains aligned with the broader movement's goals.

The blockchain metaphor in this context highlights the decentralized, interconnected, and transparent nature of microchurches within a movemental ecclesiology. Each microchurch operates independently yet contributes to the strength and resilience of the motus Dei, much like nodes in a blockchain network maintain the integrity of the ledger.

This metaphor solves some of the problems inherent in institutional ecclesiology by decentralizing authority, promoting transparency, and enabling adaptability. In this network of interconnected microchurches, power is diffused, relationships are fostered, and the movement remains resilient, effectively addressing issues related to hierarchy, bureaucracy, and rigidity often associated with traditional institutional structures.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

At the Splintering End of Institutional Evangelicalism: Christian Nationalism and Theological Progressivism

This brief post contains a bit of my journey in the last year. I’m trying to give a voice to the "politically homeless" and also to those who want to learn what God is doing beyond institutional ecclesiology. The prevailing American Church model (i.e. Protestant micro-Christendom) is often just uncritically imported into other contexts in the Majority World.

At the Splintering End of Institutional Evangelicalism: Christian Nationalism and Theological Progressivism

Monday, August 28, 2023

Reimagining Mission: Honouring Data in Missions (Maynard)

The term “managerial missiology” has been employed much in the past two decades as a blanket term to critique anything “Western” that looks at the results or status of mission.

Of course, there are indeed cases when “management” is misused in mission, and thus the critique becomes valid and prophetic. When Samual Escobar first coined the term “managerial missiology,” the context of his critique was “church marketing” programs in the Church Growth Movement and the Spiritual Warfare Movement which provided “maps and statistics of demons in cities and regions” (2000. “Evangelical Missiology: Peering into the Future at the Turn of the Century.” In Global Missiology for the 21st Century: The Iguassu Dialogue, edited by William D. Taylor, pg. 111.). In these instances, I completely agree with Escobar.

But most often, the “managerial” accusation is too broadly applied and straw men abound. Certain corners of mission today simply dismiss any attempt to be more “efficient” (i.e. fruitful) or to study the world quantitatively. This critique has been leveled at the broader CPM/DMM discourse as well.

The recent article by Chris Maynard is a helpful resource in this conversation: “Reimagining Mission: Honouring Data in Missions.” I’m very happy the WEA is addressing this issue. As the intro says:

“It is well beyond time to address the denigration of missions research, statistics, data and other information that has evolved in some missions circles.”

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Six Journal Reviews of Motus Dei

Below is a compilation of all the “official” reviews of Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations that I have come across to date. If you know of others, please let me know. I’m anticipating a negative review at some point ;-), but for now, we are grateful for how positively our communal effort has been received in diverse circles.

Please continue to share the book with your colleagues and consider leaving a review or a rating of Motus Dei on Amazon. (Remember, the digital version can be purchased here.)

Additionally, Ephesiology Master Classes has an online, affordable, and accredited MA in a Missiology of Movements. This includes a course called Foundations for a Missiology of Movements (can be taken as a stand-alone course as well) which uses Motus Dei as a core text along with a 15-minute video presentation of each chapter in the book – this really is a great resource. (There is a DMin and a PhD in movements as well!)

Here are some snippets of the reviews:

Jeyaraj, Dasan. 2022. “Book Review of Motus Dei.” Global Missiology 19 (4).

Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations is a great read. I find this book extremely useful both for my teaching and missional practices. It is an instructive tool for anyone interested in knowing the way God works, and it is a great tool and resource for churches, foundations, and missiologists who want to know about “Motus Dei.”

Kelley, Karry. 2023. “What Factors Contribute to DMMs? Review of Motus Dei.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 59 (2).

Motus Dei (movement of God in Latin) is a useful introduction to church planting movements (CPMs) and disciple-making movements (DMMs). Editor Warrick Farah and the other missiologists who contributed chapters aim to answer the question “What factors are contributing to the increase of discipleship movements in the world today?” (xv). The book explains the theological and theoretical underpinnings of CPMs, then goes on to describe their practical outworking. There also are abundant examples and recommended applications.

Miller, Dave. 2023. “Motus Dei (Book Review).” Seedbed 34 (1).

We are confronted with the reality of gospel movements happening around the world today. As missiologists, theologians, and practitioners study the Scriptures to learn the message, model, and character of gospel movements, Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations is a tremendous resource. It curates and distills years of practitioner wisdom passed down for generations. It outlines exciting insights into how God is transforming people from every, tribe, tongue and nation in miraculous ways through movements. Thank you to the contributors for sparking more conversation about the movement of God to disciple the nations.

Morton, Chris. 2022. “Book Review: Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations.” Transformation 39 (3): 216–17.

Reading Motus Dei feels like going on a year-long course in DMM missiology, and thus makes it ideal for the academic setting. But for mission agencies/leaders who are seeking to keep in step with the Spirit, it will provide a challenge and a guide to seeing DMMs in the context in which they operate. A well-rounded missiology of DMMs was needed, and Motus Dei has provided it in rich detail.

Seckler, Thomas W. 2022. “Review of Motus Dei.” Themelios 47 (2).

Although Motus Dei has weaknesses, it accomplishes its purpose of providing diverse research to further the global conversation on Christian movements. As such, Motus Dei is beneficial for those currently involved in movements as well as those desiring to understand more.

Campbell, David. 2022. “Book Review: Motus Dei.” Great Commission Research Journal 14 (2): 165–69.

Motus Dei is a remarkable achievement as a resource and scholarly work both in its breadth and depth for cutting-edge missiological research.

Congratulations and thank you to the 30 different contributors of Motus Dei for your excellent research and missiology. I am grateful to God to learn so much from you.

Friday, June 2, 2023

The Graying (and Browning) of Frontier Missiology

As I write this, I’m sitting on a plane, reflecting on a conference I just attended which was geared towards engaging unreached and unengaged Muslim people groups.

Not my first conference on this important topic. Twenty years ago, I was the youngest in the room.

But now – as a middle-aged, overweight man on Rogaine -- I’m still one of the youngest in the room.

My balding head even has some gray hair now. And my wonderful colleagues who are committed to reaching the unreached are all graying also. Let’s just say we do not appear to be using “Just for Men” hair dye. We might call this the graying of frontier missiology.

I believe I first heard this phrase from Brad Gill, editor of IJFM. But as I age, it becomes all the more apparent.

Even the Majority World unreached-peoples-advocates in the room are older, and grayer. It is indeed thrilling to see so many MBBs in these conversations as well: they will, one day, outnumber Westerners. The room is not just getting “grayer” it is also getting “browner” with less “white” people. So our understanding of the unreached peoples concept needs both intergenerational and intercultural analysis.

I am still filled with a passion to “reached the unreached.” The telos of the motus Dei extends to all peoples. The Great I AM is no mere tribal or national deity. The basis for our passion to see Jesus worshipped by ALL ethne is biblically clear and compelling. It should break our collective heart to see this truth minimized in some corners of mission.

But today, where are all the younger generations in the UPG rooms and conversations? Among western evangelicals, in another twenty years, will there even be any groups to embrace and champion the concept of unreached peoples?

I’m not going to identify all the reasons for the apparent lack of buy-in from younger generation Western Christians (theological drift is part of the reason – but that is for another post). And I will also try not to be reductionistic. But let me offer a couple thoughts.

In the West, Gen Z (including Millennials) are the most stressed out and anxious generation alive today. They have grown up in a fast-paced digital era characterized by constant connectivity and exposure to social media. This constant online presence can contribute to feelings of comparison, self-doubt, and FOMO. They have also lived through several significant global traumatic events at key periods in their lives. While Gen X and Boomers want to thrive, Gen Z just wants to survive.

In light of this, let’s look at some of the language employed in frontier missiology:

Finishing the Task | Reaching the Unreached | Changing the World | Fulfilling the Great Commission | Saving People from Hell |Mobilizing for the Frontlines | {Insert Other Military Metaphors Here}

These slogans appeal to some generations. They provide a sense of responsible, manageable urgency for Boomers and Gen Xers. But for Millennials and Gen Z, the same urgency might simply add to their stress and anxiety. For Gen Z to be told that they need to rescue a mission in decline or to imply that they are responsible for the status of world evangelization seems counterproductive.

Additionally, we might benefit from more holistic and self-critical perspectives on mission. We have scales for the progress of evangelization, but we might also include scales for the progress of transformation. For example, if we say that Arab Muslims are the least-reached and least-engaged people cluster in the world, then we might say that American evangelicals are the least-transformed people cluster in the world. Many younger American Christians and Majority World leaders are absolutely disillusioned by the moral and political compromise they see in the American church. To give our lives for the unreached while ignoring the problems “at home” looks like escapism and hypocrisy.

So the UPG discourse needs to re-theologize some of our posturing: not the concept, but the language/framework we use to discuss it. This may help not only with mobilization but even with clarifying the UPG concept itself. Newbigin was prescient in this regard:

“I find it strange that conferences about mission and evangelism are often pervaded… by a kind of anxiety and guilt – as though it were a program that we have a responsibility to carry out and about which we’ve not been very successful. Isn’t it remarkable that according to the New Testament the whole thing begins with an enormous explosion of joy? The disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple praising God! It seems to me, the resurrection of Jesus was a kind of nuclear explosion which sent out a radioactive cloud, not lethal, but life-giving, and the mission of the church is simply the continuing communication of that joy – joy in the Lord” (Signs Amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History, 121).

Instead of an urgency of responsibility perhaps we need an urgency of joy and love. Or instead of urgency we can speak of an apostolic calmness or a non-anxious resolve.

The Bible Project’s visual commentary on Genesis 1 points out that in contrast to the Babylonian and Egyptian creation myths, we have an all-powerful Royal Artist creating the cosmos -- not from violence -- but in order and peace and harmony. This kind of language matches the narrative aspirations of both Gen Z and the cultural values of much of Asia and Africa.

And through faith in Christ, the “new creation” is breaking into the present, including the “glory and honor of the nations” (Rev 21:26). Through our love and unity, the world will know (Jn. 13:35). Jesus says, “I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). He is “healing the nations” (Rev 22:2).

Let’s start a conversation to rethink our framework for mission to peoples who have precious few believers and local churches. By using biblical concepts that focus on hospitality, joy, healing, life, justice, and empowerment, it might be possible to appeal to the aspirations and values of Millennials, Gen Z, and Majority World MBBs while providing a positive and less stressful framework for the motus Dei which is to redeem the nations back to himself. One third of the world has yet to hear.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Introducing Metanoia: How God Radically Transforms People, Churches, and Organizations from the Inside Out (Hirsch and Kelly 2023)

Morpheus, Gandalf, Yoda, Professor X, Alan Hirsch. Iconic mentor figures who provide guidance, wisdom, and mystical aid to the protagonists in their respective stories. Acting as a compass and a source of inspiration, they help the characters (us!) overcome obstacles and achieve their goals…

My endorsement for Alan’s new book, Metanoia: How God Radically Transforms People, Churches, and Organizations from the Inside Out:

Decades of the “missional” conversation have not led to church-as-movement. Why? Perhaps because we cannot go from unlearning our inherited paradigm to learning anew without wholeheartedly embracing Jesus’ call to metanoia. This book describes that indispensable, painful, and beautiful process of biblical transformation so that we can see and be the church Jesus promised to build: multiplying networks of disciples in communal relationships who exist in and beyond the gathered expression. Take the red pill, and brace yourself for a paradigm-shifting journey.

See more here:

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Pray4Movement and BibleProject

Ramadan begins March 22 and ends with Eid al-Fitr on April 21. You can sign up to pray for a Muslim city, country, or people group here:

PrayerCast also has excellent resources:

Finally, if you haven’t heard of the BibleProject, you are definitely missing out. Much of the world operates from a “digitoral” (digital + oral) learning preference now (after the Gutenberg Parenthesis), and the resources they are creating capture this phenomenon in theologically robust and faithful ways. The Tree of Life (4:51) and the Visual Commentary on Genesis 1 (7:42) are two of my favorite videos.

I also like their videos on the book of Acts. How many times can you hear them say “movement” in the video on Acts 8-12 (6:00)? :-)

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A Scout Mindset versus a Soldier Mindset

I recently read a helpful, brief article that explains why it is so difficult for people to agree on just about anything these days. Using a bit of philosophy and sociology, we can examine how tribalism and cognitive bias impact polarization, divisions, and outrage in society.

For example, the article lists a couple theories explaining how people develop different beliefs from the same information:

The first is called “identity-protective cognition.” This describes how individuals are motivated to adopt the empirical beliefs of groups they identify with in order to signal that they belong.

The second is “cultural cognition”: people tend to say that a behavior has a greater risk of harm if they disapprove of the behavior for other reasons.

Against the background of the conversation on church planting movements, it is not too hard to apply this analysis to missiology in general or to the Motus Dei Network in particular. Who should I trust? How do I make sense of complex and competing data? Why do missiologists with the same Bible have different views?

Unfortunately, people with higher intelligence seem to have an enhanced capacity to construe the existing evidence in support of their desired conclusions: smart people can actually be a liability towards faithful dialogue.

As the article concludes, one ray of hope for our dilemma is adopting the perspective of a “scout” instead of a “soldier.” This is explained in the book, “The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t” (Galef 2021).

The analogy is that of a battlefield, comprising two distinct categories of people - soldiers and scouts.

Soldiers” firmly believe in their own perception of the world and are prepared to oppose anything or anyone who contradicts their beliefs. Ultimately, soldiers have a reductionistic view of the terrain because their goal is to win. Successful soldiers are often celebrated by their constituencies but loathed by the other side.

In mission circles, soldiers can weaponize theology as an instrument of division and anger by exaggerating theological differences to produce an “us versus them” dichotomy. This is tragically ironic because a being grounded in Scripture should produce love and humility, not works of the flesh.

In contrast, “scouts” do not harbor these types of competitive tendencies; instead, their task is to examine the terrain, construct an accurate map of the battlefield, and uncover the truth, regardless of whether it aligns with or contradicts their beliefs.

A scout will welcome “theological hospitality” while dealing with diversity. Theological hospitality is not the same as theological neutrality. For sure, error is real and potentially dangerous. But scouts have a posture of humility that, despite strong convictions, they know they haven’t figured everything out and are willing to extend grace to those with different beliefs. And even more to the point, God can use the “other” to expose our blind spots and transform us into Christ-like people.

In light of our fallen, sinful nature, the harsh reality is that each one of us possesses both soldier-like and scout-like traits, except with a varying degree of emphasis on either of them. (We also need to guard against simply being proud scouts!)

As a research network, Motus Dei endeavors to be filled with scouts. Scouts are not afraid of complexity and nuance and diversity. And actually, being wrong at times is an important step to constructing a better map of reality.

Awareness of biases, admitting where we need to grow, and comfort with ambiguity are some of the first steps towards robust missiological inquiry. For the reasons mentioned above, it is essential for scouts to be networked relationally with each other. This builds on the concept of “communal intelligence” to learn from and with each other.

In Motus Dei, we are attempting to weave together biblical theology, sociological realities, and apostolic activities into a map that describes the movement of God to disciple all the nations. I am honored to be a scout with you on this journey.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

How God is Moving in Movements | Curtis Sergeant

Motus Dei was recently added as a partner in the Global Alliance for Church Multiplication (a network you should know about!):

GACX has a lot of great resources, including an insightful evaluation of the movements discourse by Curtis Sergeant, “How God is Moving in Movements.” From the video description:

During the 2022 GACX Forum, movement catalyst and mobilizer Curtis Sergeant shares some of the global trends he is seeing in disciple-making and church-planting movements around the world. He begins by looking at some of the quantitative data about global population and church growth, then moves into some qualitative observations about what movement practitioners are doing well -- and where we still need to grow.

Watch the 38 min video here:

Friday, January 20, 2023

Missiology with ChatGPT

By now you have heard of generative AI and its ability to explain complex concepts and answer questions in remarkably clear prose. Based on its ability for research, AI is the first real threat to Google’s dominance in the search business.

Theologian Michael Bird demonstrated AI’s ability to discuss theology and even write a poem about the Johannine Prologue. Students are using it to plagiarize essays. My 17-year-old High School senior recently told me about his friend who bragged about turning in an assignment using ChatGPT without getting caught. While there are major ramifications for the future of education and scholarship, some experts predict that 90% of online content will be AI-generated by 2026.

So, how good is it on the topic of missiology? I thought I would mess around and find out. ChatGPT remembers your history and regenerates responses to questions if you don’t like the original response based on the feedback you provide it. (There are many generative AI sites out there, but ChatGPT seems to be one of the leaders.)

I have been honestly blown away by its capabilities. I’m actually starting to wonder now if rule-of-the-machines in The Matrix Trilogy was actually predictive fact and not sci-fi fiction. See for yourself…

Explain the gospel in the language of honor and shame.

The concept of honor and shame is often used to understand the cultural context of the Bible, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean world. In societies where honor and shame are strong values, people's sense of identity is closely tied to their reputation and the way they are perceived by others.

In this cultural context, the gospel can be understood as the message of how God restores honor to those who are shamed and outcasts. According to the Bible, all people are sinful and fall short of God's standard of perfection. As a result, we are all shamed and separated from God. However, God offers us a way to be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus himself is the perfect example of how God restores honor. He lived a sinless life and willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. By rising from the dead, Jesus defeated death and reconciled us to God. Through faith in Jesus, we can have our sins forgiven and receive the honor of being children of God.

Additionally, the Gospel is also a message of shame transfer. Jesus, being fully God and fully human, was shamed, humiliated, and crucified. He took on the shame of humanity so that we could be reconciled to God. The Honor of God is imputed to us, not because we deserve it, but because Jesus took the shame on himself.

In this way, the gospel is not just a message of personal salvation, but also of God restoring honor to those who have been shamed. Christians are called to live out this message by showing honor and respect to all people, regardless of their social status or reputation.

What is the difference between planting a church and starting disciple making movements?

Planting a church generally refers to the process of starting a new Christian church in a specific location, often from scratch. This can involve identifying a need for a church in the community, finding a location, gathering a group of people to attend, and establishing the structure and leadership of the church.

On the other hand, starting a disciple making movement (DMM) refers to a specific approach to evangelism and church planting that focuses on rapidly multiplying disciples and new churches. The goal of a DMM is to create a self-sustaining, exponential process of making disciples who make more disciples, rather than simply planting a single church. This often involves training and equipping people to be leaders and multipliers, and using a variety of strategies to reach and disciple people in a particular region or context.

In missiology, what does the phrase "Motus Dei" refer to?

In missiology, the phrase "Motus Dei" refers to the idea that the spread of Christianity, and specifically the growth and expansion of the Church, is driven by the power and movement of God. This concept emphasizes the role of God's sovereignty and grace in the spread of the faith, rather than human efforts alone. It is often used to describe the idea that God is actively working in the world to bring people to himself, and that the growth of the church is a result of God's work rather than human initiatives.

What has been Warrick Farah's influence on the field of missiology?

I'm sorry, but I don't have any information on Warrick Farah or his influence on missiology.

So, there you have it. It’s not perfect, but pretty remarkable. I also asked it for seminal book suggestions in various fields, to create a syllabus for a master’s level course on church planting movements, and to predict future trends in different countries.

At this point it seems the best way to think of generative AI is like a nearly omniscient, eager-to-please intern who sometimes lies to you. (HT: NK)

Remember, this technology is only in it’s infancy. As it matures it is going to revolutionize many industries and fields of learning. It will play a role in shaping post-literate cultures, who in turn create products and influence rural and pre-digital societies.

Missiologically, generative AI has the potential to write and send personal evangelistic messages to specific people (in an automated process!) and even analyze trends in various cultures which impact how people create meaning in their lives. AI can write sermons, devotionals, and worship songs. It could also fabricate online environments for violent wars but then be used in peace-building and poverty alleviation as well.

We are already behind the curve in how we need to think about AI’s impact on ministry, both biblically and ethically. It seems simultaneously invaluable and dehumanizing.

To return to our Matrix analogy, maybe it’s time to take the red pill. We have already begun our descent down the rabbit hole.

Monday, January 9, 2023

The Maverick Podcast Season 2

I have been listening to Season 2 of the Maverick Podcast and I have to say, it is truly well done. The series delves into movements within Muslim contexts (in different regions of the world) and the challenges they face. Each episode presents a nuanced and balanced portrayal of the individuals and groups involved. I recommend this podcast to anyone looking for an introduction to church planting movements in the Muslim world.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

In-Person Event in Chicagoland 9/13: A Conversation with David Garrison

In partnership with the Church Multiplication Institute, the Ephesus Catalytic Partnership Chicago, and Global Gates, the Motus Dei Network invites you to an in-person event at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College on Tuesday September 13th from 10am to 1pm:

Shaping the American Church of Tomorrow by Learning from the Global Church of Today w/ David Garrison

Join this important conversation with David Garrison live and in-person at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. Dr. Garrison introduced the term “Church Planting Movement” (CPM) to North America through his study of the church from around the world. In our gathering, he will share the current status of genuine church planting movements from around the world and how their growth directly impacts the future church in North America. You’ll also hear from a panel of missiologists and practitioners that are helping to move church multiplication and innovation forward here in the Chicagoland area and in the U.S.

The tentative panel of respondents will include:

This is an open event and lunch is provided for those who register here:

The event will not be recorded. Feel free to share this invite with others.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Responding to Popular Critiques of Movements

Earlier this year, No Shortcut to Success: A Manifesto for Modern Missions (9Marks, Matt Rhodes) was published. The book aims to promote missionary professionalism by critiquing what is likened to “shortcuts” and “miracle cures for covid” among Western missionaries. Notably, CPM/DMM “movements methodologies” are the author’s primary concern and what he views as deeply problematic. No Shortcut is highly reviewed on Amazon, although you can also note a few critical reviews as well.

In April, Global Missiology published two contrasting reviews of No Shortcut, one positive by Jackson Wu and another critical review by Dave Coles. Subsequently, the editor Nelson Jennings asked myself and No Shortcut’s author Matt Rhodes to write articles in dialogue with one another about improving today’s missiological discourse on movements. I was pleased that Pam Arlund graciously agreed to coauthor the article with me as I respect her wisdom and experience in these matters.

This process of writing in dialogue took several months and is covered nicely in the editorial written by Nelson: “Missiological Iron Sharpening.” Matt Rhodes’ article, which is a response to Dave Coles’ critical review and to Motus Dei, is here: Advancing Conversations about Proclamational and Movements Methodologies. The abstract:

Movements methodologies have spread throughout much of today’s missions world. The prevalence of these methods necessitates conversation about their validity. This article provides constructive critique of movements methodologies, addresses responses to previous critique, and suggests paths for conversation going forward.

In dialogue with Matt, Pam and myself wrote a response to No Shortcut and attempted to “zoom out” and respond to popular critiques of movements: Discussing and Catalyzing Movements: An Invitation to Research, Sacrifice, and Commitment. The abstract:

As a global discussion and a significantly large phenomenon in the world today, church planting movements (CPM) or disciple making movements (DMM) have attracted much attention and enthusiasm in the missions community. They are widely accepted, and many different agencies have adopted movemental approaches to ministry in the past two decades. However, there is also a minority view of detractors who disagree with the voluminous case studies and published literature on movements. This article responds to some of those critics—represented here by the recently published No Shortcut to Success—by engaging that book’s important critiques but also what this article’s authors believe to be misinformation and ambiguous logic inherent in the book’s arguments. The authors hope that this approach will foster a helpful, constructive, and ongoing dialogue on movements missiology for the missions community.

I encourage you to read the reviews by Wu and Coles before reading the two articles, assuming you have read No Shortcut already. I want to thank everyone in the Motus Dei Network who reviewed earlier drafts of our article and also Pam, Nelson, and Matt for their friendship and cooperation throughout this process.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

The Genesis and Evolution of Church Planting Movements Missiology

I have recently written a contemporary history of the CPM/DMM phenomenon: The Genesis and Evolution of Church-Planting Movements Missiology. Originally, the article was 8,500 words but I had to trim it down to 5,000 words for publication. I will include more details at a later time but what you can read right now is a concise explanation of how CPM/DMM – a specific type of missiological movement in history – originated and continues to develop.

Here is the abstract:

While the dramatic growth of church-planting movements (CPMs) in non-Christian contexts around the world provides ample opportunity to explain their emergence and significance, a missiology of these movements is struggling to keep pace. This article argues that CPM is a unique feature in the field of mission studies that emerged in the later 20th century. Although it shares some of the same characteristics as the early Church Growth Movement discourse, CPMs today are a specific type of movement occurring mostly in least-reached Muslim and Hindu contexts. CPM missiology contains a number of features and unknowns which demonstrate that the discourse is both evolving and invaluable for how the global church understands mission.

Here is the outline:

  • Introduction
  • Missiological Antecedents of CPM
  • IMB’s Cooperative Services International as the Innovation of CPM
  • David Garrison’s Research and the Formalizing of CPM
  • Flexible and Diverse CPM Strategies
  • The Challenge of Defining CPM in a “Community of Practice”
  • Missiological Discourses Parallel to CPM
  • Conclusion

You can read it here: The Genesis and Evolution of Church-Planting Movements Missiology


Farah, Warrick. 2022. “The Genesis and Evolution of Church Planting Movements Missiology.” Missiology: An International Review, Online First: 1–13. (DOI)

Feedback welcome.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A Movemental Turn in Missions: Thoughts on New Eras and New Wineskins

See the latest post at the ABTS blog: A Movemental Turn in Missions: Thoughts on New Eras and New Wineskins.

We are in a new era of missions and we cannot expect to deal with 21st century complexities using 19th century exemplars. The four most prominent shifts in this new era include:

  1. From Western to Indigenous
  2. From Linear Management to Holistic Complexity
  3. From Pastor-Centric Leadership to Mutual Polycentric Leadership
  4. From Institutions to Movements

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

A Theology of Multiplying Disciples: Addressing the Seedless Grape Phenomenon

*First published at the ABTS blog.

While we might prefer eating seedless grapes to normal grapes (unless for some reason you like crunchy fruit), it’s important to know that seedless grapes are artificially manufactured. Scientists have learned how to genetically alter grape DNA to produce seedlessness.

This seedless grape metaphor can be used to discuss ecclesiology and disciple making, because, unfortunately, our churches are often filled with disciples of Jesus who never reproduce. And like the seedless grape, followers of Christ who do not multiply are an anomaly.

In the Kingdom of God, it is abnormal, a spiritual irregularity, not to multiply. As we shall see, it is a far cry from the life and teachings of Jesus who showed that in one normal grape we can see a multitude of ever-growing vineyards.

Before discussing multiplication, however, perhaps a word of caution is appropriate. The focus of our ministry should be the exaltation of Jesus Christ and never a pathetic obsession with numbers or statistics. Furthermore, I do not intend to imply that the primary lens of discipleship is multiplication: the formation of Christlikeness is central.

However, this brief theological piece is specifically about multiplication. Ultimately, to choose between growing in holiness and growing in abundance of fruit is a false dilemma. In the parable of the grain of wheat (“a seed that dies produces many seeds”), Jesus tied self-sacrifice to multiplying (Jn. 12:24). Becoming like Christ should lead to witness that multiplies. For the goal of God-glorifying community transformation, we must think both/and not either/or.

There are three main theological points that address the seedless grape phenomenon in our churches. So, let’s explore this issue by asking the question, “What is the biblical teaching of those who reproduce their faith in Christ in other people?”

1. Multiplication in the Grand Narrative of Scripture: Transcendent Theology, not Self Theology

First of all, it is important to place an understanding of multiplication in the context of the whole Bible. Looking at the very first page of the Bible, we read the commands, “be fruitful and multiply” and “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:22; 28). God’s purpose in Genesis 1 is to share his creation with his images so they can rule it with him in harmony forever.

But of course, after the fall, they filled the earth with violence and corruption. But God aims to remedy this through his promise to Abraham and his numerous offspring, that his blessing will come to all nations (Gen. 12:3).

In the New Testament, the exact words for “fruitful and multiply” that the Septuagint used in Genesis are used repeatedly by Luke to describe how the church grew and multiplied.

We might be sometimes shy of talking about numerical growth, but Luke does not hesitate to use the words “grow” and “multiply” and “increase” to describe the spread of the gospel (Acts 6:1, 7; 9:31; 12:24; 13:49; 16:5; 19:20). He also uses modifiers such as “greatly” (6:7), “daily” (16:5), and “mightily” (19:20) to describe the multiplying nature of the Jesus movement.

This theme of disciple multiplication movements in the grand narrative of Scripture is clearest in Isaiah 61:11 and reflected in our grapevine metaphor:

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”

The biblical vision for transformation is the multiplication of disciples and churches who saturate regions and peoples with the life-giving praise of God.

We might ask, what might be the seedless aspects of our ecclesiology? Well, the opposite of the God-glorifying grand narrative of Scripture is placing individual Christians at the center of the story. This happens when we teach that the church exists simply to cater to its members – that God exists primarily for their benefit and comfort.

This all-too-common irreverence misses the beautiful transcendence of being part of something that is bigger than ourselves, bigger than our churches, even bigger than our cities or countries. We must call people to join in God’s cosmic and eschatological vision to fill the whole earth with his glory, to be fruitful and to multiply. And we remember, it is only God who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:7).

This brings us to our next theological point that addresses the seedlessness in today’s disciples.

2. Multiplication in the Core Identity of Jesus-followers: Active Production, not Religious Consumerism

When Jesus called his disciples, he said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:18). This is so obvious that it is easy to miss: following Jesus means, in part, multiplying. Multiplication is tied to our call to follow-Christ. You cannot follow Jesus and not reproduce your faith.

Paul also integrates this multiplication identity in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” Here we see four generations of disciples continuing to pass down their faith. 1) Paul, 2) Timothy, 3) reliable people, and 4) others.

Paul certainly expected disciples to bring forth new disciples and churches to bring forth new churches (2 Thess. 3:1). It is natural for faith to flow because it is tied to our identity. We are called to be active producers of faith, not consumers. The difference is crucial.

What is religious consumerism? This happens when church functions like it has a religious product to market. The church service, led by paid professionals, curates a type of commodity in the form of sermons, media, curriculum, and music. The most professional and attractive churches become the most popular and successful. In this framework, evangelism devolves into a marketing strategy which increases more church members who pay tithes and offerings for the religious product.

When we think of church through the worldview of consumerism, then Jesus becomes not Lord, but a label in the religious marketplace. When Jesus is no longer Lord, then we lose the impulse to multiply from our identity, which originates from how Jesus himself multiplied into his followers.

To recap, we’ve seen multiplication in the grand narrative of the Bible and in the core identity of Jesus-followers. The final theological point that addresses seedless grapes is where it all began…

3. Multiplication in the Practice of Jesus: Concurrent Activities, Not Sequentialism

When Jesus called his disciples, he had them serving almost immediately. There was on the job leadership training. It involved learning by doing. He didn’t only teach doctrine, he also emphasized obedience. He taught ethics and compassion. His kingdom was tangible. His disciples observed and imitated his activities. Jesus dealt with the head, the heart, and the hands, and all at the same time.

This contrasts with what we might call “sequentialism” in our churches today. A traditional program of discipleship often follows a linear process of prayer, then pre-evangelism, then evangelism, then conversion, then discipleship, then theological training, then leadership development, then ministry. When you operate in this sequential fashion, you delay important ministry activity, sometimes even for years.

I once had a conversation with an Arab church leader of several small groups of Syrian refugees in Beirut. He told me he would never let another Syrian lead a Bible study until they had finished reading the entire Bible first. I was not surprised that he was not developing any leaders.

It is counter-intuitive to our linear thinking to do things the way Jesus did them. It’s not that Jesus cared about speed or rapidity, but that the multi-faceted dimensions of spiritual formation occurred simultaneously in his practices. They were happening concurrently, not sequentially or linearly.

The genius of Jesus’ approach to disciple making was early and consistent activity, what we might call obedient-faith discipleship, that creates mature disciples who naturally replicate their faith into others.

So What? Uncultivated Soil in the Middle Eastern and North African Region

As a matter of fact, there are less disciples of Jesus and churches per capita in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) than in any other region of the world. Entire groups of people have no indigenous church and little access to the gospel.

For many reasons both contextual and historical, it might be true that one could be a faithful Christ-follower and never pass their faith onto another. However, given the life of Christ and the teaching of the New Testament, including the testimony of Church history, such exceptions seem to prove the rule.

As the saying goes, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” As the body of Christ in the MENA, we have to take a step back and seriously reexamine if self-theology, religious consumerism, and sequentialism have resulted in disciples and churches that reproduce only with great difficulty, and sometimes never at all.

Instead, we need a dynamic understanding of church that embodies the transcendent glory of God filling the whole earth, joyfully obedient disciples who actively reproduce their faith, and concurrent practices of disciple making modeled on the ministry of our unpredictable Messiah.

God is a fruit lover. He loves all grapes, with or without seeds. And yet, to see disciples of Jesus multiplying disciples of Jesus in the MENA region and beyond, let us abide in him. Apart from Jesus, the true vine (Jn. 15:1), we can do nothing.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Good Ecclesiology Continues Jesus’ Life and Teachings: A Response to ‘The Potential Dark Side of Movements’ | Guest Post by David Garrison

Last week I posted The Potential Dark Side of Movements: Lessons from the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill which was my reflection on American Evangelicalism and movements.

David Garrison, executive director of Global Gates and author of Church Planting Movements and A Wind in the House of Islam, responds with an ecclesiological comparison between Mars Hill and Church Planting Movements (CPM).

Let me toss my two cents into this conversation. Every CPM is different with varying strengths and weaknesses. If, and I doubt it is so, the Mars Hill model is a CPM at all, it would fit on the extreme end of the spectrum as a sort of frankensteinian American mega-church planting movement. In so many ways, it fails to meet any of the descriptive elements found in the CPM phenomena that we’ve been describing around the world for the past 25 years.

In South Asia, as we sought to sharpen our CPM ecclesiology, we looked at the variety of movements around the world and adopted an eclectic approach to incorporating the best elements of ecclesiology that we were seeing. We sought to strike a balance between reproducibility and integrity to the ideal of continuing to reproduce all that Jesus taught and did in his life on earth.

The resulting ecclesiology, we called “A Handy Guide to Healthy Church,” so named because we used the “hand” as a mnemonic devise for teaching and reproducing key elements of the ecclesiology. Essential to this ecclesiology were what we called “antibodies” that fought off the twin maladies of immorality and heresy. The antibodies were woven into the structure of the ecclesiology and included:

  1. Small size of meeting groups that prevented the sort of megalomania that afflicted Driscoll and threatens so many mega-churches today.
  2. Intimate meetings in homes that ensure that discipleship exposes and penetrates every aspect of family life.
  3. Participative Bible study built on 2 Tim. 3:16-17, asking one another the Pauline questions: 1) what is God teaching, 2) what is God rebuking, 3) what is God correcting in my life, and 4) what will I apply to my life this week? This is radically different from the “knower/teacher to passive recipient” model abused by Driscoll.
  4. Shared leadership responsibilities with male and female deacons stewarding the five purposes of: 1) worship, 2) fellowship, 3) ministry, 4) discipleship, 5) evangelism/missions.
  5. Dedicating all tithes and offerings exclusively to one of these five purposes, with none available for salaries, buildings, or property.

These internal checks and balances within our house church network (that produced 106 churches in two years), served as antibodies within the body of Christ to fight off the sort of immorality and heresy that infected Brother Driscoll’s network.

Good ecclesiology that is both faithful to the Christ ideal and nimble enough to keep up with rapidly multiplying new conversions/disciples is a moving target. Our challenge must always be to measure our churches and ourselves by the ideal of: “Is this continuing what Jesus began?” Aiming for anything less, whether it is rapid or slow, Reformed or Charismatic, is missing the mark of fidelity to the One who claimed the Church as His Body.

David Garrison | Executive Director, Global Gates

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Potential Dark Side of Movements: Lessons from the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

For me, listening to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast has been cathartic.

I was a seminary student in the early 2000s during Mark Driscoll’s meteoric rise. Like most seminarians, it was a time of implicitly searching for my own theological identity (for better or worse) in the vast sea of Evangelicalism.

I was drawn to Mars Hill and Driscoll for their focus on contextualization, perceived commitment to “the gospel,” slick internet media, and the hilarious hyperbole in Driscoll’s preaching. I eagerly consumed several of his writings and sermons (I somehow missed his most controversial comments).

At the end of the day though, Mars Hill wasn’t international enough for me and so I never fully opted-in. One of my church partners was affiliated with Acts 29 but cut ties with Driscoll early on, circa 2009, because of his authoritarian leadership style. I was never given details, but it was not an amicable parting.

After a comment I made in 2008 to a Christian leader about my admiration of Mars Hill in the post-everything American scene, I was gently warned by this leader that Driscoll had a history of spiritual abuse. So when word came out in 2014 about the demise of Mars Hill, I wasn’t surprised, and I eagerly wanted for years to hear the whole juicy yet tragic story. This podcast has not disappointed.

However, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is not so much about Driscoll as it is about the evangelical subculture that created the environment for his flourishing. Despite the obvious entertainment value of the podcast, I have lamented my own part in contributing to Driscoll’s noxious celebrity.

Writer and producer Mike Cosper has done an admirable job of highlighting the consumeristic nature of popular Evangelicalism and pointing the listener to repentance and Jesus. At the conclusion of more than one episode, I had some soul-searching prayer times with God. My personal leadership take-a-ways revolve around the concepts of accountability, character, gentleness, and integrity.

But that is not my focus here. I believe the wider lesson pertains to the potential dark side of movements.

Beware the Celebrity Patronage and Sociocultural Ideology

Just because there is a “church planting movement” (as Mars Hill was called) or a Christian movement of some kind, in any context, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Kingdom is spreading. You can multiply healthy disciples, but you can also multiply a harmful ideology covered in a “Christian” veneer. And sometimes it is nearly impossible for insiders to tell the difference between the two.

As the podcast has made clear, both the fall and rise of Mars Hill was closely tied to an ideology created in the image of Driscoll and reflected in certain aspects of American culture. Yes, God still works in broken places where the Bible is preached and the gospel proclaimed. But Driscoll’s framework of chauvinism, combativeness, and autocratic hierarchy bears all the marks of a cult-like leader. As the series finale made clear, Driscoll’s overall message was not the gospel but instead a triumphalistic brand wedded to disproportionate media influence: “Be a winner, like me.”

Why does this also implicate us? The point of the podcast is that this ties in closely with American Evangelicalism. The past several years, and 2020 in particular, has been a time that exposed many of the ideologies inherent in our movement. A number of hard-hitting books and videos have nailed this point home.

To name only a couple, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation exposed the toxic masculinity and Christian Nationalism in the movement. Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump traced the religious right’s co-option of Evangelicalism into conservative politics. Phil Vischer explained how fundamentalists snuck into the big tent of Evangelicalism. And The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism uncovered the deep rootedness of white supremacy in American Christianity. We could also mention an anti-science ideological bias among white evangelicals. And the tendency to embrace baseless conspiracy theories. The list goes on and on.

To simply dismiss these as hit-pieces intended to persecute “true believers” would only reinforce the charge of ideologies in American Evangelicalism. You don’t need to agree with everything to recognize that something has to change.

Some have chosen to abandon Evangelicalism altogether. I think that might be too easy, and also a bit presumptuous. Evangelicalism is a global movement which American Evangelicals do well to realize that they are no longer the leading partner.

The proper response to recognizing ideology in our midst is to repent, lament, and recalibrate Church around the person of Jesus. In the final episode, Paul Tripp shared some sobering and helpful words related to the constant necessity for recalibration/deconstruction (37:15):

We should all be deconstructing our faith. We better do it, because our faith becomes a culture, a culture so webbed into the purity of truth, it’s hard to separate the two. And we better do some deconstructing, or we’re going to find ourselves again and again in these sad places… You know I celebrate the church of Jesus Christ…. I love the gospel, I have no other wisdom than that, but I’m sad for the Church… There is a devastating humility that comes when you are willing to deconstruct something you have given your life to.

Also in the final episode, former pastor and worship leader at Mars Hill, Joe Day, explains how he has disentangled ideology from his faith (35:42):

I was coming to see that I was involved in a very toxic culture for a very long period of time… the theology, the methods, and even the whole outlook on mission and church was all tangled up within that, and it was really hard to know what was what… I think there is so much bullsh*t in Evangelicalism. I think that we’re getting so many things backwards… But for me, I bring it back to Christ… Everything else might be rot, but the person of Christ is still extremely compelling to me.

As the Motus Dei Network studies movements, particularly in the Global South, our contextual analysis of these movements needs to take these lessons to heart. There are sophisticated reporting and verification procedures of these movements already in place to the extent that we know these are healthy movements centered on Christ.

But as the rise of the Mars Hill movement displayed so clearly, we do well to constantly exegete the context and continue to pay attention to potential issues of celebrity patronage and sociocultural ideology. Movements should be christological in nature. The pile of bodies behind the Mars Hill bus paints a vivid picture: any foundation and focus other than Jesus inevitably leads to pain and trauma.

Beware the Anti-Movement Bias

However, in the reaction to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, we may be tempted to an anti-movement bias. Like a pendulum that swings too far in the other direction, it would seem that smaller is better or that the ministry of presence is the only safe way to grow.

To be sure, Christian growth centered around a celebrity, coupled with an ideology, and flavored through the vapor of social media is an immediate red flag. As we discussed, the Mars Hill church planting movement certainly supports the suspicion that quick growth is inherently unhealthy, like cancer. But this would be a fallacy of a selective use of the evidence.

The story of the world is the story of movements, both for ill and shalom, with a lot of variation in between. Biblical faith, by its nature, is a movement of God (in Latin, motus Dei). Every people significantly impacted by Christ had a discipling movement at one point occur in its midst. A theology of multiplication ties movements to the grand narrative of Scripture. Jesus started a Kingdom movement that continues to this day. We are invited to be participants in his movement to redeem all nations back to himself. If anything, we should be biased towards those traditions and theologies that support a stagnant view of the Church and consumeristic Christianity that impede healthy Kingdom movements.

Movements as Biblical Yeast

To summarize, we need to discern the idolatry of charismatic celebrity and fanatical ideology that creates a lot of energy but ultimately burns people out. Jesus and the early disciples displayed what we might call a paradoxical “apostolic calmness” or a “patient urgency” in ministry. There was definitely a passion and realization that God uses people to accomplish his purposes, but also at the same time a trust that ultimately the movement is God’s, not ours. We can rest as grateful participants in movements of his Kingdom instead of building our own.

This focus recognizes the strategic nature of movements as zúme (yeast) in relation to the Kingdom. In the biblical narrative, zúme is used both positively (the parable of the yeast in the flour – Mt. 13:33) and negatively (the leaven of the Pharisees – Mt. 16:6). In the same way, movements start out small and insignificant but eventually have a huge impact, be that good or bad.

Mars Hill was a warning about the potential dark side of movements. Following Jesus, let us aim for Christ-centered Kingdom movements, especially considering the movemental nature of our faith. One third of the world still has yet to hear.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Motus Dei Book Launch Event Oct 20

The first research output from our Motus Dei Network is available now for pre-order, Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations. It releases on October 19.

You’re invited to the Virtual Book Launch on October 20, 9:00-9:45am Central Time US. Register here and attend for a chance to win a free hard copy and a discount code for purchases. Here is the event schedule:

  • Endorsement by JD Payne, professor of Christian Ministry, Samford University
  • Endorsement by Harry Brown, president of New Generations
  • Book Preview
  • Breakout Sessions with Contributors
  • Chance to win a free book and a discount code for attendees

Feel free to share this with your networks.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Motus Dei book releasing October 19

As you may know, I have been working on a book project for the last four years. I’m excited to announce that it will be releasing October 19th at William Carey Publishing. As an edited compendium, it has over 20 original chapters of research on church planting movements. I’m going through the copy edits now. It is by design a thick volume, and one we hope advances the missiological discourse on movements.

Get your first look here, Motus Dei: The Movement of God to Disciple the Nations

Here is the book description:

Your Place in the Movement of God

An incredible breakthrough in missions history is taking place as disciples of Jesus make more disciples of Jesus around the globe, particularly among the least-reached. But what exactly are these church planting or disciple making movements? Where are they occurring and what are their unifying features? How are they manifesting in diverse populations? And can you or your organization be instrumental in catalyzing more movements? Motus Dei, Latin for “movement of God,” seeks to answer these questions and more.

Warrick Farah has expertly synthesized an extensive conversation between mission practitioners, scholars, and seasoned movement leaders from around the world. The resulting in-depth analysis of movements provides a multi-disciplinary academic investigation of an emerging “movements missiology,” highlighting the importance of theology, social sciences, ethnology and anthropology, communications theory, leadership theory, and statistical analysis. Motus Dei locates the current Church Planting Movement (CPM) phenomenon within modern history, while tracing its roots back to the first century, and articulates a missiological description of the dynamics of Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) in Asia, Africa, and diaspora contexts in the Global North.

Offering over thirty first-hand accounts of indigenous churches planting churches among the nations, Motus Dei provides a seedbed for growing movements in diverse contexts. There are lessons to be learned here by anyone seeking to participate in the movement of God.

A couple endorsements:

I have been writing and teaching on the subject of movements since 2001. People have often asked for more information about such works of the Spirit. Though I have been able to refer to a few sources here and there, I never found a satisfying comprehensive volume. Motus Dei is the compendium of contemporary research and wisdom for which we have been waiting! This groundbreaking book provides a breath of fresh air, answers many questions, and greatly advances the conversation regarding this flourishing field of study.

J. D. Payne, PhD

professor of Christian Ministry, Samford University; author of Apostolic Church Planting: Birthing New Churches from New Believers

God is moving in unprecedented ways! Kingdom movements have happened throughout history, but in the last thirty years God has started more than 1,400 movements with more than eighty million disciples in many unreached peoples and places. Motus Dei is an invaluable effort to evaluate and learn what God is doing in movements for the benefit of both the broader Christian world and movement leaders. “See, I am doing a new thing! … do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

Stan Parks, PhD

cofacilitator of the 24:14 Global Coalition; VP of Global Strategies, Beyond; coeditor of 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples: Kingdom Movements Around the World

As one who has spent decades in the worlds of both higher education and church planting, I highly recommend Motus Dei. It is well-researched, very informative, and extremely practical. Motus Dei would serve well as either a classroom text or a field handbook—a one-stop-shop resource on church planting movements.

Bill Jones, DMin

cofounder, Crossover Global; chancellor, Columbia International University


Friday, July 23, 2021

Changed Email Subscription Service

Hi Friends, thank you for following my blog, live since 2008!

Google canceled their Feedburner email subscription service so I have migrated all the new information over to

You don’t need to take any action but I thought I would let you know.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Misc Links: Palestine and Power, ‘Isa and Jesus, Mosque Planting and America

A quick post to share three brief articles worth reading.

First, Caleb Hutcherson shares a moving piece on the relationship between power, oppression, and Zionism. Missiological responses to the subject/conflict due well to consider this perspective: Palestine, Evangelicalism, and the Problem of Power

Second, ministry to Muslims in Arab contexts involves the inevitable issue of the translation for “Jesus.” Should it be ‘Isa (the Qur’anic term) or Yesua’ as Christians typically say? In my experience, Arab MBBs get used to using both names without much difficulty- ‘Isa in Muslim contexts and Yesua’ in Christian contexts. There are some compelling and commonsensical reasons for using ‘Isa in Arabic translations of the Bible for a Muslim audience. See Martin Accad, What’s in a Name?: A Case for Using ‘Isa in Arabic Translations of the Bible.

Finally, Jayson Casper has a very interesting article in Christianity Today on American Muslim patterns of “mosque planting” and “unmosqued youth” that resemble Christian semantics on similar issues, especially related to secularism: The American Mosque: More Suburban, Less Conversion.