By Steve & Beth Gibbs
How great is the love of Jesus! Out of great love for a world lost in sin, Jesus went to the cross, suffered, and died there to save humanity. Rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, Christ with the Father sent the Spirit to empower those who believe in him. That movement of Christ from heaven to earth and back again initiated a Spirit-led movement of God’s Kingdom on earth that continues today. God wants to bring the Good News of his salvation to every nation, tribe, people, and language!
In the Fall of 2020, a study group largely composed of LMC bishops and leaders from EMM joined a Multiplication Cohort facilitated by Exponential, a church planting and resourcing network. Participating as a pastor in LMC, along with my wife Beth, an EMM Strategic Coach, we were greatly encouraged, inspired, and challenged. It was amazing to see what we were learning in a cohort that dovetailed perfectly with LMC’s new Mission Statement. The mission declares LMC to be a Spirit-led movement of making disciples, mobilizing every member as a missionary, and multiplying faith communities locally and beyond. Multiplication as “disciples making disciples who make more disciples” has been a larger-than-life idea for me. For years as a missionary and a pastor, we have been involved in making disciples. The Exponential cohort has inspired us to become involved in making disciple makers.
Extraordinary PrayerA key learning from the Exponential cohort is that a key characteristic of Kingdom Movements is extraordinary prayer. Extraordinary means more than ordinary. In other words, how might prayer be beyond what we are currently doing? In response to these kinds of questions, the study cohort formed a Prayer Committee Team of four LMC and EMM staff who initiated a Friday noon Zoom prayer meeting. Additionally, on a Friday evening in May 2021, we gathered at Hub450 for a special LMC/EMM evening of prayer. During the first week of this year, January 4-7, 2022, we participated in a time of Prayer and Fasting where participants gathered at 7 am for an hour of prayer at Hub450 and met again at noon for a Zoom prayer meeting. On January 7 at noon, the group celebrated the conclusion of the week with communion and lunch together.
The week of prayer and fasting was a faith stretching exercise. It had been many years since I had prayed and fasted like that. We learned afresh what Jesus meant when he said that we “shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). As challenging as this time was, the satisfaction of completing the week combined with the support, fellowship, and affirmation that I felt from my brothers and sisters, made it all worthwhile. Who knows what the fruit of this time of “extraordinary prayer” will be?
The Power of PrayerWe must never undervalue the importance of our prayers. About eight years ago the leaders of the church small group that Beth and I are in had subdivided their property and were trying to construct a new home on a piece of that land. There had been numerous problems with the township permissions, and the land had to be tested for nitrates for the well so they could finally obtain the building permit. Some neighbors on nearby properties had failed their well-water inspections. What was going to happen?
The night prior to the well-water inspection we came together as a small group to pray over the land. As we gathered in a circle around the well and held hands and began to pray, we cried out to the Lord for his mercy and grace. We asked for nitrate-free water to pass the inspection.
And he did! Now, whenever we meet in the basement of the house that was subsequently built, we remember how the Lord heard our prayer that night and gave us the answer we needed. The power of that answered prayer encourages us to keep asking, seeking, and knocking in prayer.
Unfortunately, the world knows too little of what prayer can do. Last spring the LMC/EMM Exponential cohort traveled to Kansas City, Missouri for a two-day training event. Traveling on the Interstate en route to the airport after the conclusion of the event, we were in a mini-van taxi with some other group members. Twenty miles from the airport our car started to slow down and was obviously having problems. If we broke down, we would miss our flight. Our driver indicated that he didn’t know what was wrong with the car. Knowing that we were all praying under our breath, I, Steve, asked him, “Have you ever seen God answer prayer?” He said, “No, is that a program on TV?” No, I told him as I went on to share a little more about God answering prayers. The three bishops in the back seat kept praying. We continued to limp along and managed to safely make it to the airport. As we exited the taxi at the airport, the driver allowed me to say a short prayer for him.
Unlocking ‘Movement DNASeveral months ago, LMC/EMM formed a study cohort, working through Movement Accelerator, a course designed around new ways of doing church. The group of leaders is learning what is needed to propel us (LMC and EMM) towards becoming an organic, “apostolic Gospel-planting transformational” movement that will bear much fruit in the Kingdom of God.
Our first sessions have been on Metanoia which is the Greek word for repentance. This type of repentance refers to a wholehearted change of heart and mind to see and align ourselves with what God is doing. In simpler words, Metanoia boils down to the fact that if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always experience the same results. For movement to occur, change is needed. Where are we stuck? What are the things that we as the church must unlearn? How can we more closely align ourselves as individuals, as congregations, and as a network with the movement of God? These are some of the questions that the study cohort has been grappling with. The most reassuring learning we have had is this–all that is necessary for the movement to occur is already present within each Christ-follower and congregation! Our challenge is to with the help of God’s Spirit, unlock the mDNA (movement DNA) that is in each of us.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”2 Corinthians 5:14
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”
This Compelling Love of Jesus shouts Movement. The love of Jesus grabs a hold of us and pushes us forward, propelling us into action. The lost will be saved through the propulsion of a Jesus Movement, even in our time and in our society. Not too long ago, God spoke to me and said, “I am on the move. Are you moving with me?” May our answer to that question always be, “Yes, Lord, yes!”