Defining Spiritual Movements: An Illustration

Do you understand the difference between ministry and a spiritual movement?

Anyone can count the seeds in one apple. But if every seed is a possible tree, who can count the apples in each seed?

What does Cru mean by spiritual movements? A familiar illustration uses an apple falling to the ground.

Inside that apple are many seeds. As that apple breaks open, those seeds receive nutrients and water, and they begin to grow and sprout into another tree, producing more apples.

Anyone can count the seeds in one apple, but no one can count how many apples there are yet to grow from one apple seed. That is a picture of a movement taking place organically.

Think of that apple as a believer willing to go wherever God leads.

He bursts forth with seeds of the gospel message.

For an individual who receives that message and chooses to follow Christ, the seed takes root. So we pour out our lives into others and God provides the nourishment  for them to grow in faith. He brings along the grace and the truth to produce change in them.

Just as the end result is another apple tree that produces more apples, the young Christian learns how to reach others, and the number of new believers grows from there.

Movements Different Than Ministry?

Sometimes the best way to think about a movement is to picture how it contrasts to just having a ministry.

Ministry involves connecting the lost to Jesus and engaging them in life-changing discipleship.

If we stop there, we are content to just count the seeds in the apple. However we want to focus farther down the road - seeing apple trees within each seed, and trusting God to use us as He completes that future.

We want to think beyond ourselves.

Ministry becomes a movement when people begin to multiply their lives into others. The people involved come up with the new ideas, the new strategies, the new resources to help be even more effective.


Editor's Note: Steve's illustration and definition of a movement is part 2 of a 4-part series on spiritual leadership. Part 3 will address common obstacles to building spiritual movements.