This summer I have been reading NT Wright’s biography Paul. It is a remarkable book with all of the exceptional theological and intellectual rigor that Wright is known for globally. I have been reading the book through the lens of Paul as a Movement Maker.
The story of Paul in the book of Acts is a breathtaking journal of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem as the religious capital of the world to the Rome as the political capital of the world. Paul planted the gospel in major cities of his day – Rome, Athens, Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus and throughout the Middle East. Paul planted the first church in Europe.
In reading Wright’s biography on Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 he describes an explosion of truth that went off in Paul’s heart and mind. With the vision on the Damascus road, Paul was able to synthesize all of the themes together in the person of Jesus regarding Abraham, Moses, David, exile, and the hope of the Messiah. It was that explosion of truth that changed Paul forever.
As I’ve traveled the world these past four years to 33 cities, visiting many several times, I’ve seen a pattern in Movement Makers from very diverse backgrounds. I define a Movement Maker as anyone who multiplies their impact with the gospel into an alliance or agency to scale their impact.
Movement Makers are known for their Passion
One of my favorite people in the world is John Maisel from Dallas, Texas. John is a Vietnam War veteran with a purple heart, he played quarterback at Oklahoma State University, and he founded East West ministries, a global church planting movement that has shared the gospel with millions of people over 25 years.
When anyone is with John, he is so defined by his passion for Jesus, that he shares the gospel at every opportunity. He takes each opportunity with waiters, on the streets, in office buildings, and in challenging contexts like Havana, Cuba. One of his friends told me that John went to a Texas – Oklahoma football game and spent his time concentrating on how to share the gospel with people sitting next to them.
John’s passion is rooted in his love for his Savior. His passion is contagious. It is always good to gauge the temperature of our passion for Jesus and the gospel.
Movement Makers are known for their vision
For the past 50 years up until his death, I viewed Rev. Bob Johansson as the spiritual father of New York City. He was an extraordinary entrepreneur building a large church facility in Long Island City, creating the largest Christian school in New York City, and planting the New York School of Urban Ministry.
Despite all of his projects, Bob always made time to meet with leaders to grow the unity of the church in the city. He was an important part of the first Concert of Prayer gathering in 1988. He participated every year until his death in 2016. Bob would always say, “if you can do something in your own strength, your vision isn’t big enough. You can always negotiate God’s timing, but you never negotiate the vision.”
Paul had a vision to see the gospel grow in the major cities of Asia and Europe. He had a date with Rome to take the gospel into the fiercest opposition of the gospel under Caesar’s reign.
When someone talks with you, do they know what your vision is?
As we renamed our organization as Movement.org in April, our updated vision statement is to see every city in the world flourish spiritually and socially. We are refining our vision to impact 500 cities and 500 languages over the next decade. Does your vision compel people to act, to sacrifice, to invest?
Movement Makers are known for their character
In reading NT Wright’s analysis of Paul he discusses the centrality of suffering in Paul’s message. The gospel is about a crucified savior. I’ve read recently a quote from Os Guinness who poses the idea that spiritual conversion in America is possible but discipleship is almost impossible given our relative affluence. Words to ponder.
One of my friends and heroes is Claude Alexander, who is Bishop over Park Church in Charlotte, NC. He was president of the Hampton Ministers Conference, the largest clergy body in the world. The conference is predominantly African American clergy who gather. Bishop Alexander is both brilliant and highly relational. As an African American he has disciplined himself to be an extraordinarily important voice on the topics of race, reconciliation, and justice. He is the kind of leader that I would walk through a fire to follow. He has gone the extra mile to make sure that leaders are connecting across race and socioeconomic lines. As we approach the 400th anniversary of the introduction of slavery into the United States in 1619, this is an important conversation.
How To Become A Movement Maker
The one recommendation I would make is to apprentice yourself to someone who you think is a Movement Maker. It will be important to persist until that mentor gets to know you well enough to make time for you. It will be well worth the investment of time. To begin this journey, visit the Movement.org website and app to see what movement makers are doing around the globe.
By: Dr. Mac Pier, CEO & Founder of The New York City Leadership Center