Review of Movements that Change the World

A review of Steve Addision, Movements that Change the World, InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

Guest reviewer: Jeff Lothamer, a church planter with The Crowded House in Bicester and part of Reign Ministries.

If you want to be a disciple of Jesus and if you want to make disciples, this book is for you. What would it look like to align your life with Christ’s command and to join a missionary movement that will one day reach every tribe, every language, every people, and every nation? To be involved in seeing countless millions make Jesus Christ Lord of their lives? This is the question that Steve Addison poses to his readers.

I was thoroughly inspired by this book. It expanded my awareness of the global nature and diversity of the church and it increased my passion to want to be a part of this gospel movement that is changing our world. Addison reminds us that as a follower of Jesus, we don’t have to start a missionary movement, we’re already in one. His purpose in writing is to help us to understand what this means and how to participate in what God is already doing.

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book is because of the countless stories that were told of Christian missionary movements over the past few centuries – the Celts, the Moravians, the Methodist revolution – and some contemporary stories – the Sydney Anglicans, Hope Chapel, and movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I believe history is itself a teacher. It tells stories and from these stories we learn principles to avoid and others to embrace. These stories help us assess whether our stories are congruent with the kind of movements that change the world. Unlike other books on church and ministry, this book is not a manual on how to start a movement because you only perceive something to be a movement by looking back. Story after story is told of great men and women who surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and the cause of the gospel. None of them set to begin a movement, and many never recognised the extent of the movement they began, nor its impact. They simply obeyed the gospel call on their life.

Steve Addison retells these missionary movement stories and extrapolates from them five characteristics that we can apply to our gospel work today, trusting God to give the growth. All these movements had the following characteristics in common:

1.    White-hot faith

2.    Commitment to a cause

3.    Contagious relationships

4.    Rapid mobilisation

5.    Adaptive methods

While we can’t guarantee a movement, we can reorient our lives around basic principles common in movement of the past and, in so doing, be prepared to see God move in extraordinary ways. Addison calls each reader to ask, “What needs to change in you? What do you need to do differently? Who will you go on the journey with? … What part will you play?”

Next week: Some key quotes from Movements that Change the World

Movements that Change the World is available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

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