People Movements Transforming Communities with the Gospel
A People Movement occurs when the Gospel is embraced and rapidly spreads in a particular people or segment of the population. Different methodologies have emerged as missiologists study these phenomena, namely Church Planting Movements (CPM) or Disciple-Making Movements (DMM).
Starting People Movements has become an integral strategy for WOI in reaching least-reached people (LRP) groups. At the core of these movements is the rapid multiplying of churches and disciples: two becoming four, and four becoming eight, etc. Each person is actively sharing the message of Jesus with those around them including their family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues, leading to new disciples and new churches being formed.
These movements try to closely emulate what is observed in the Book of Acts, the rapid expansion of the Gospel in the region. Each person owns the concept that they are a “royal priest” and an “ambassador” of the Gospel (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:17-20). Believers are immediately trained to share their faith, study the Scriptures, pray, fellowship with one another, participate in the Lord’s supper, give, and worship God as we see demonstrated in Acts 2.
Some of the factors that make movements successful are:
Obedience-based – Maturity is not limited to biblical knowledge but is focused on application of Scripture;
Culturally Adaptable – The Gospel message remains the same but the method of delivery is contextualised to the people group, e.g. traditions, customs, work schedules;
Reproducible – The focus is on using resources in the people group for the expansion of the Gospel;
More Harvesters – It is not dependent on professional ministers but the expectation is that everyone will obey Jesus’ command to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20).
In 2016, one ministry in India baptised more than 5000 believers and one team in Africa more than 700. We are awestruck by the large numbers, but at the core of these movements are lives being transformed by the Gospel, as demonstrated in the following testimonies:
- A former mosque president is now leading Bible-storying groups;
- Mr. SK is experiencing the joy of salvation, a restored relationship with his father (who has been set free from alcoholism), and extended family who have found salvation in Jesus;
- A separated couple’s marriage has been restored along with their relationship with their adult children;
- A woman’s daughter has been healed and subsequently left folk Islam to follow Jesus.
- The power of the Gospel is evident in these movements as believers endeavour to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples in every people group.