Thursday, September 22, 2005

9. Movements. Numerology does not dominate my thinking, but is a very interesting topic in the scriptures. The number 9 has to do with fruitfulness. There are nine fruits of the spirit, there are 9 months for the fruit of the womb. Nine is also a number of judgment. This is an interesting combination of associations with the number nine.

Movements are born out of a deep dissatisfaction with the status qou. Christian Smith, author of The Emergence of Liberation Theology: Radical Religion and Social Movement Theory, labels this deep dissatisfaction as "insurgent consciousness." It is a mentality that results from a redefinition of reality, resulting in frustration from things not being the way they can and should be.

We are often confronted with the way things are, and something deep with in us says, "This is not how it is supposed to be." How we respond to our assessment of things is what separates us from others. Some people resign themselves to the status qou and give up on any hope of things changing. Others bravely attempt to bring about change through the system. They think to themselves, "if we could only change a few rules, tweak a few positions, or start a new program, this will solve our problems." This would be the managing option. Staying within the confines of the system, manipulating and rearranging the current situation, slavishly preserving the original design and structure, hoping to achieve better results. They "manage" the current configuration and somehow try to squeeze a little bit more productivity or effectiveness out of an existing situation.

A visionary leader, on the other hand, takes a radical approach. A visionary leader questions the very foundations of the organization. They critique the structure, values and very existence of the
company. A visionary leader, fueled by their vision of what can and should be, resists the temptation to just make minor adjustments to the present system. They will not stand for anything less than a new birth. This means starting over with new values, new goals, new paradigms. The very nature of the present situation requires it. To attempt anything short of this, would be to short change the future and cave in to mediocrity.

Movements are born when a visionary leader, compelled by their vision of a new reality, are forced to lay siege on the future, and, through intentional planning and resourcefulness, partner with God in making their vision a reality. In their mind, this new reality must come to full expression.

Working or living with a visionary leader is most often annoying and pestering. They are never satisfied with how things are. They are always questioning, critiquing, forcing the issue. They always want to try something new. They are skeptical of tradition. They abhor phrases like "Thats just the way things are," or "that's how we've always done it," or "You can't change the world." Words like"Never," "Can't," "Impossible," and "Safe," cause them to break out with allergic reactions. They refuse to believe that the way things are is they way they have to stay.

Every movement is birthed through a visionary leader. Someone who refused to accept their circumstances. Someone who had an insurgent consciousness. Someone who was willing to move on their impulse and believe God for the impossible.

Now back to the number thing. It is interesting to me that fruitfulness and judgment are interrelated in scripture. This is just a thought. When God brings judgment, it is an indictment on the current situation. God is basically saying, "This is not how it is supposed to be." Until judgment comes, we are not moved to change. Judgment is actually a catalyst to fruitfulness. When God turns on the light and shows us how far removed our current experience is from what it should be, we can answer God's call to enter the process of birthing a movement. Judgment Births Movements. This may take the form of God moving within the framework of a current structure or system, bringing about renewal or revival. Or, it may take the form of birthing an entirely new structure or system for God to move in. We avoid judgment like the plague because it is painful and it has a way of questioning our prior efforts and successes. But the judgment of God is multidimensional. It does not just expose, it empowers.

I personally believe God is calling me to birth a new movement for him to move in. Will this movement be faultless and exempt from the judgment of God? No. Will it be immuned to some of the same temptations other movements fell into? Certainly not. But, it will be a fresh, new movement. A church planting movement.

Oh God, move among us. Help us to burn with dissatisfaction of our current situation. Ignite in us a movement of your Spirit to holiness and obedience. Move in us and through us.

Are you satisfied?

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