Monday, March 12, 2012

Miraculous Movements: An Interview with Jerry Trousdale – Part 1

Jerry Trousdale is author of Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus and Director of International Ministries for CityTeam.  A website about the book can be found here:

I am grateful for Jerry’s responses to the questions I’ve asked him which might be of interest for readers of Circumpolar.  Either Jerry or one of his colleges will be able to interact with your questions or concerns about the book, so feel free to comment below.  I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow where I ask him about the role of expats and his take on C5.

1. Why did you write the book? Who is your audience? What is the main thing you want your readers to take away from the book?

Bad news overwhelms our lives. In one European country the broadcast news services are now mandated to end each newscast with at least 30 seconds of something cheery to balance the daily barrage of crime, economic doldrums, political conflict, global terrorism and drugs.

“Disciple Making Movements” does not sound much like something that could be a vehicle for creating really good news, and an extraordinary reminder that the 1st century biblical term “gospel” in the 21st century is meaning great news for hundreds of thousands of people who had never rejected Jesus, they had just never before had a “Jesus option” where they live.

For most people it is almost unbelievable to imagine that in multiple countries, and among scores of different Muslim people groups, Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) is being discovered, embraced and obediently followed by Muslim individuals, whole families, and entire communities. And this spiritual tidal wave is spreading from one Muslim community to the next with dramatic accounts of amazing transformations of whole communities and thousands of new Muslim background Christ Followers who are rising up to carry the disciple making initiatives into new regions.

So for Christians especially, today there is a flood of extraordinary disciple making movements and amazing stories coming from more than 6,000 of the most unexpected communities… inside the Muslim world. And this not just interesting and informative—it is inspirational and potentially transformational for all of us. Miraculous Movements was written to tell this story.

And there is a second story here about the totally counter-intuitive way in which this is happening. It is not being led by professional Christians, or by Western organizations on the ground. It is not dependent on large doses of outside funding. It is not about building church buildings and church programs. It is empowering both ordinary people and also drawing the unexpected help of hundreds of former imams, sheiks, and even people who have come out of Islamic terrorist cells. It is discipling people from the first day of encountering the Bible to obey everything that they personally discover about God will for their lives. It is a revival of an intentional focus on making disciples the way Jesus made disciples and churches follow as a natural byproduct.

And when Muslim communities are being transformed from what they were to places of much joy, peace, and celebration of God’s love then that is very, very good news. Good news for Muslim people groups, and good news for Christians who can find much to learn about spiritual renewal from the true stories of former Muslims who are now Followers of Christ.

This book was specifically written as a popular-treatment, mass-market book aimed at ordinary Christians.

Over the last ten years or so the global Christian missionary enterprise has become aware of movements called disciple making movements or church planting movements which have successfully penetrated and multiplied among people groups and regions where the Gospel had not previously been planted. In an easy-to-read format Miraculous Movements takes readers inside scores of these movements in Africa where they will discover the stories of real people in the movements—stories which illustrate and clarify the biblical values and practices that Jesus used in the first century and which are working again in the twenty-first century to engage lostness effectively and multiply disciples rapidly.

We are already seeing adoption of the biblical values and principles of disciple making movements in hundreds of ministries in the global Christian enterprise. But this book is for ordinary people who would like to learn how to engage lostness the same way Jesus modeled and taught his disciples. The principles can be applied anywhere, among all kinds of people. It just happens that the vehicle of this book is the story of how this is impacting Muslim populations.

2. What distinguishes your book from Garrison’s Church Planting Movements and the P.O.U.C.H methodology?

David Garrison’s 2002 book Church Planting Movements dramatically introduced Christians to the first signs that the Spirit of God was beginning to create some dramatic momentum of church planting in places that the Gospel had never gone before. It was a wonderful gift to the body of Christ! It articulated some key biblical principles that undergirded each movement and provided illustrative stories of people from inside several of those movements. POUCH churches are described in the book as focusing on five core principles focused on participative Bible study, resulting in obedience to God’s Word, led by unpaid workers in small cell churches, typically meeting in homes.

With the coaching of David Watson, whose work in India (along with his Indian colleague, Victor John) was among the case studies that Dr. Garrison wrote about, Cityteam International has focused major attention for the last eight years or so on catalyzing disciple making movements/church planting movements especially in Africa by deploying our own pioneer teams in unreached people groups, and also mobilizing, training coaching, and mentoring more than 350 different ministries that are successfully implementing the biblical paradigm shift. This has happened in more than 150 different people groups across more than 20 countries of West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and the Horn of Africa and includes more than 18,000 new churches and more than half a million new Christians.

That body of experience has harvested a great deal of additional understanding of the essential, biblical elements that are always necessary to see critical mass in movements. We have also come to understand that obedience-based discipleship growing out of discovery Bible studies is the single most important element that undergirds all quality replication and transformation. It is a non-replaceable core value in successful movement. And along the way we continue to get more clarity regarding how to create models of never-ending, on-the-job, non-extractive, and just–in-time leadership development.

These sorts of discoveries really needed to be shared with the larger body of Christ because we believe, as do many other colleagues in other ministries, that they will transform people and churches anywhere in the world.

3. Hiebert and others have emphasized that we have to go beyond simply changing beliefs and behavior; instead we should focus on transforming worldviews. If I’m reading you correctly, the disciple-making philosophy in your book has a heavy emphasis on behavior (obedience). How has the relationship of knowledge, obedience, and worldview transformation played out in the movements among Muslims in Africa?

Recently a senior missiologist told me that after visiting some Muslim background churches on the field he felt that the most critical message that Cityteam International had for the Church of Jesus Christ is simple: a highly intentionally focus on obedience-based discipleship--discovering and obeying God’s will in every passage of His Word. He felt that this is the key biblical value that is missing in knowledge-based discipleship. When this happens it creates movements.

Obedience-based discipleship is the only type of discipleship commanded in the Bible, very different from the knowledge-based model so common today. In John 14 and 15, Jesus articulated in fifteen different ways how loving and obeying God invites God’s transformation of the human personality. These are absolute biblical values and one of the unique themes developed throughout the pages of Miraculous Movements. And obedience-based discipleship not only is biblical, it dramatically changes individuals, families, and whole communities.

And this is not a theoretical model. It is Jesus’ promise of what happens when His people love and obey Him, and He fulfills his promises with dramatic exclamation points. And that transformation is attractive, winsome, and one of the most critical element of rapid multiplication—it is the absolute reality inside these movements. This is the reason that we have seen the impossible—Muslim towns asking for the “storytellers” that brought change to nearby communities—so attractive that dozens of imams themselves have asked for Chronological Bible storying to change their own communities.

Worldview issues are of course critical. The worldview perspective about Allah starts changing from the first time people see miracles of God, when they see transformation in a new Christ Follower, and when the “discover truth and obey it” processes starts in Genesis.

By the way, we don’t believe that you can start in Matthew and get an adequate worldview shift required about the nature of God. Worldview shapes the answers to critical questions like: Who am I? Where am I? What has gone wrong here? and What can be done about it?

And people get their worldview from stories, from narratives that shape how we see ourselves in the world. Change the guiding stories and a person’s worldview is changed. We believe that the ultimate answers to these questions are found in the process of discovering Creation to Christ stories of the Bible, internalizing them within a group, and together obeying whatever they learn about God’s will.

Part 2 tomorrow…

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