Movements move. One of the great movements in American history was the 1960s Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (among others). It made major advances in equal rights for all races. Fifty years later, that movement in many ways has finished. It’s served its purpose, and it’s now a monument. A monument on the Washington Mall, to be precise. On October 13, 2011, President Barack Obama dedicated the MLK memorial with these words, “The movement of which he was a part depended on an entire generation of leaders. Many are here today, and for their service and their sacrifice, we owe them our everlasting gratitude. This is a monument to your collective achievement” (emphasis added).
So, how does a movement keep from becoming a monument? Are American churches still a movement, or have we become monuments? The answer depends on which church you go to. Some churches still have life in them; they still take ground for the Kingdom and see lives changed. Other churches gave that up a long time ago. They’re lifeless. They accurately preserve American culture as it existed decades ago, but nothing more. How can you be sure your church is still a movement and not a monument?
In Joshua 1, the Israelites were at a crossroads. Their leader Moses had died, and the leadership was split. Some wanted to stop where they were, call it quits, and build a monument. With Moses dead, many thought the movement had died as well. And yet God had different plans for them. He commanded Joshua, “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites” Joshua 1:2.
The command God gave the Israelites was simple: keep moving. That’s perhaps the simplest way to determine whether your church is a movement or a monument: movements move. Here are 5 questions you can ask to determine whether your church is a movement or a monument:
- Is your church genuinely reaching lost people in the community? Transfer growth from other churches doesn’t count.
- Is your church effectively reaching the next generation? If young people and young adults are staying away from your church, that’s a dangerous sign of a monument.
- How many adults have been baptized in the last few years? Child baptisms are valid, but many times reflect only biological church growth.
- Does your church accurately reflect the ethnic mix of your surrounding community? Christ called us to reach all peoples, not just those that look like us.
- Are you hearing stories of recent life-change? The greatest sign of a movement is forward spiritual progress in the lives of people. Stories of recent life-change are a great indicator of this.
A great amount of churches are movements, but too many have become monuments. God has not called you to be a caretaker of a monument, but to be a part of His movement. Movements move . . . so get moving.
QUESTION: What are other signs that churches may either be a movement or a monument?