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Message... Movement... Monument

The man who had a profound influence on my life as a young follower of Jesus introduced me to the Five M's. I share them here with the hope it will challenge you as it has me for the past 40 years. It goes like this:


  • When God has something He wants done, he starts by choosing a Man (person): man, woman, or even child. How He goes about His choosing is not always clear, but everything starts with a person.


  • Next, God gives that Man a Message: there's something important He wants communicated to the world He loves.


  • The Man then chooses a Method to get out the Message.  It frequently corresponds to gifting, location, and time in history.


  • As others begin to see the Method's effectiveness, they think, "This works well; we ought to do the same." So, a Movement is born to replicate the Man's Message and Method.


  • But then something dreadful happens: the Movement becomes a Monument. The Method is kept, but the Message is lost; the practices continue, but the power is gone. The Movement stops moving.


  • So, God starts over: Man, Message, Method, Movement…and when it again becomes a Monument, He repeats the cycle.


The Old and New Testaments of the Bible are the unfolding story of God's restarts after divine Messages, Methods, and Movements end in Monuments. It happened with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the prophets, Peter, and the churches of Acts.


Years later, men like Luther, Calvin, and John Wesley had Messages from God that created powerful Movements in their day. But over time, a kind of organized rigidity crept in and, while their names and ideas survived, much of the power and passion that drove the Movements was lost. Monument.


One of the more recent Methods of our time was launched by people of passion who had a vision for creating a Sunday Morning "experience" to draw people to Jesus. It was done with a level of creativity, excellence, and professionalism seldom seen in church

programming. And it worked. Many came to faith in Christ and it grew into a Movement. But while the drive for creativity and excellence still continues to this day, for many churches it's become an end in itself and the passion that once drove it—the gospel—is absent. Monument.


But before throwing too many stones, we need to take a hard look at ourselves. It's easy to talk about the "good old days" of experiencing the power of God as we sing one more chorus of Great Are You, Lord. Our testimonies are filled with inspiring God stories of yesteryear yet lack the freshness of the movement of God in real-time. The form continues, but the reality of the gospel's transforming power has grown cold, leaving us with little to say. Monument.


God has never changed. His Message is still the same: redemption and restoration through the death and resurrection of Jesus. His Method is still the same: every follower of Jesus commissioned as a carrier and communicator of His life-giving message. His Movement is still the same: the church—His body—encouraging and equipping followers of Jesus to live as His official representatives in every neighborhood, school, and office in every city, state, and country of the world.   


God reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation… God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and He has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us.      2 Corinthians 5:18-20


No outside force can ever stop the Movement of God: never. But the inside force—you and me as His followers—can slow it down by choosing to hang up our ambassador badges, sit in the bleachers, and build Monuments to the past. But that's not what we were made for—and we know it. We long for more.   


Man, Message, Method, Movement, Monument. I pray each of us will fight like junkyard dogs to keep our relationship with God so fresh and growing that we never let the victories of the past eclipse what He's doing today. Each of us have been:

  • chosen by God

  • given a divine Message and a Jesus-inspired Method

  • invited into the greatest Movement the world has ever seen


Monuments may come later, but not today…not on our watch. This is our day.

Thank you, God, for including us in Your amazing story. Amen.


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