InterVarsity Press

Weekend Reads: The movement of the gospel


What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

By Steve Addison

Can the church conquer the world? Absolutely, says Steve Addison. Many believe that the church preaches the gospel, and that produces disciples. But Addison, an Australian church planter and evangelist, rearranges that paradigm. Ordinary Christians share the gospel, and that produces disciples, who in turn gather into churches. Rather than one church making two or three converts ever year, Addison shares stories of evangelists who go out and make disciples who make disciples. The method is this: Two believers prayer-walk through a new neighborhood, asking the Lord to lead them to a well-known “person of peace.” They evangelize that person, who evangelizes among his friends and neighbors, who start the process all over again. That’s how Jesus did it, Addison argues, in His mission to visit all the villages of Galilee. That’s how the apostles did it in the book of Acts. Paul would come into town, plant a church, and leave two weeks later. Addison believes modern Christians ought to use the same methods; rather than adding, the church ought to be multiplying, doubling with each generation. The vision is so compelling because if it can be sustained, one convert can result in 8 billion converts, not over lifetimes but over just a few years.

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What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World (InterVarsity Press, 2012) will certainly change your view of what evangelism can actually do. Addison argues for the kind of loose ecclesiastical structure that would make a movement like this possible. Any Christian can administer baptism, he says, neglecting the reality that baptism is the rite of admission to the church and that it must be the church that decides who should baptize and be baptized. But overall, the work is thoroughly biblical. More than that, it is inspiring: The gospel can conquer the world. It’s doing so right now. 

Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus

By Jerry Trousdale

Whole mosques full of Muslims are coming to Christ as the gospel goes forth with power in the global south. So says Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus (Thomas Nelson, 2012). How is this happening? Through ordinary Christian believers, who hear the message, believe it, and pass it on. The process is simple: Find a person of peace and some his friends; with them, start a “Discovery Bible Study,” a simple three-column procedure. In the first column, you each write the text, copying it down word for word from the Bible. In the second column, you write what it means—a paraphrase in your own words. Then, in the third column, you write how you will obey the teaching of the passage in a concrete, specific way. Teach the group to focus, almost obsessively, on what the passage says and on obedience to its teaching. This will promote self-correction, keeping the fledgling study from both heresy and moral failure. Within a few weeks, most of the people in the group will be requesting baptism and be ready to form a new church. These churches are distinguished by their love of prayer; individuals pray one to three hours per day, and the churches hold all-night prayer meetings two to four times per month. No wonder God is working.

Miraculous Movements credits a single author, Jerry Trousdale, but is written throughout in the first-person plural to reflect the massive amount of research, particularly interviews with Christian converts from Islam, conducted by Trousdale and church-planting agency CityTeam International. The book records many dreams that led to conversion, and even recounts a resurrection from the dead. I believe it, simply because the work breathes such a spirit of genuine godliness and fervent prayer. God can convert Muslims; He’s doing it every day. 

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson

Caleb is the pastor of Harvest Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Gillette, Wyoming.


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