A movement is a group of people who intentionally, at their own risk, join together to make a change in the status quo.
That is how Gil Rendle defines a movement in his book Back to Zero: The Search to Rediscover the Methodist Movement. My deep question as the Director of Ministries is how do we move from a declining denomination…losing members, confidence, influence and impact…to a thriving, missional church that is making a significant difference in all corners of our state. What Gil Rendle powerfully reminds me in his book that becoming a movement is an intentional choice. I am not part of a movement because I am ordained into it, baptized into it, make an occasional financial contribution to it or live in the shadow/neighborhood of it. So if we believe that the status quo needs to be changed, then we need join together to make the change. And he suggests that it will require risk…putting aside our self interest for the sake of the common purpose.
What was powerful about the early Methodist movement in the United States is that there was clarity about purpose: spread scriptural holiness across the land, reform the nation, beginning with the church. There was shared risk by those circuit riders who put their lives on the line to travel by horseback to preach the word, to form class meetings, and start churches in order to raise up leaders who were transforming the world. They believed this mattered so much…people lives and the world would be a better place with the life changing message of Jesus offered through the Methodist movement, that they were willing to sacrifice many things…the comforts of wealth, home and security, and a willingness to go where sent.
So what I am wondering is do we have a clear, shared purpose that matters so much to us that we are willing to band together to do something about it…and what are we willing to risk, let go, sacrifice for the sake of this shared purpose? From what I observed at General Conference and in my own life, if I am honest with myself, it is easy to talk about movement, but when push comes to shove, I don’t want to have to give up anything to make it happen. Then I really haven’t chosen to be part of the movement have I?