FROM A NETWORK TO A MOVEMENT.
On my recent trip to Seattle, I found a chat that Mark Driscoll gave us ‘internationals’ very helpful. He was talking about the evolution of organizations. He said that networks are characterized by being driven by “one leader, one place, one way”. But, movements are characterized by “many leaders, many places, many ways”. Now we may debate which way around the definitions best fit, which is a network and which is a movement, but what matters is that many apo households are facing the crucial set of questions that relate to their evolution – “what does the next chapter look like?”. In many ways this was a very helpful observation that adds a crucial piece of the puzzle in our “maturing apostolic journey”.
Lets step back for a moment. What is the matrix around our conversation? May I argue that four essentials ingredients need to be in place, lenses to see a new uncertain future…
- Theology – what does the scripture teach us?
- History – what did the pioneering fathers have in their hearts, as well as the great body of historical journeys,
- Prophecy – gather with due respect and process the key prophecies given to networks,
- Philosophy – what are the DNA convictions that must not be lost?
This paper is not to explore the nature or the form of the ‘network’ [by Driscoll’s definition]. This has already happened and many of us have lived under the sheer privilege of “those days”. However the huge question remains; “how do we intentionally shift to becoming a movement”? Now because these are unchartered waters, and so few households have transitioned well from one generation to the next, it places great weight on us to administrate this sacred moment with intentionality and Spirit sensitivity. Lets go to the scriptures firstly…
Based on the Law of First Mention, Genesis 1 introduces us to the apostolic heart of the Father. “So God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful, and increase in number; fill the earth…’” I love this. The Father sets a pattern for ‘filling the earth’ by family multiplication – sons who become fathers who have sons…. This in a perfect world was the Father’s Kodak moment to take his glory to the uttermost. Not systems or organizations, just families multiplied.
Our narrative journeys us to the great father of our faith, Abraham. Not only was the gospel announced to him in advance, but the apostolic heart of the Father is revealed in his mandate to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” Genesis 12:1. Here we see the wonder filled humility of a pioneering father’s obedience, but also we see how the Father keeps passing on the same mandate to the fourth generation. [13:14 – 17, 17:3 – 8, 26:2 – 6, 35:9 – 14, 48:3 – 4.] Here the continuity of father to son gives way ultimately to a nation. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to the boys. Filling the earth by family multiplication.
Our story takes us to the grand Exodus. The pioneering father, Moses remained on the banks before the land of promise. Joshua had to lead the nation into the width of the Promised Land. The first 12 chapters deal with Joshua as the focused leader. The next chapters from 13 to 24 revolve around the different tribes being given the space to go and find their land, their inheritance, and their sphere. [PJ Smythe from NFI does a wonderful job in exploring this book as a model of apostolic transition] Again the obvious glares at us - the land was possessed by each family, taking their God appointed inheritance.
Enter Jesus – the apostle and high priest, Heb 3:1 No words can truly account for the genius of his apostleship. His incarnation and missional lifestyle dumfounded the leaders of the day. His death was to end another fad, a fleeting pietistic move and frivolous political agenda. However the lasting legacy and multiplied continuity of his apostolic work was now seemingly wavering. The apostles appeared greatly perturbed by his imminent going. [John 13 – 16,] What would he do? The vulnerability of his imminent departure was only appeased by his assurance that the Holy Spirit was on his way. What must those early apostles have thought? “Cool for you to say, but we need flesh and blood? We need to be loved and led by some skin!” The upper room must have been awash with anticipation. “Surely the big J was now going to appoint the big dog”. But the Holy Spirit came with power, but with no single bigger flame, no sticks with growths or commission papers. That just did not happen. The glory brought his presence… just like Joshua asked for but this time, there was no person appointed as ‘the’ leader. Now I have to speculate a little. Did they reflect back on his last words? Did they reflect back on Jesus giving all of them all the authority, together? [I do not believe in egalitarianism but on God anointed and appointed leadership where the grace gifting is clear and evident] “ All authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matt 28:16 – 20.