In his book, Revolution, which focuses on the life of the American church, researcher and cultural analyst George Barna uses the term “mini-movements” to describe a number of forces that are shaping the landscape of modern Christendom. According to Barna, research is showing that the most dramatic life-changing catalysts at work among believers today are mini-movements that are not connected with any particular national denomination or specific local church effort.
What are some of these movements that are challenging people to become more serious in their faith and to embrace a comprehensive lifestyle of following Jesus in every area of their lives? The following are some of the movements that I think are the most significant in our day and age. They are not given in any particular order of chronology nor importance. They each have their place and are likely indispensable in the overall big-picture of God’s plan for our day and age.
I have to start with this one because it is the one to which I’m most intimately connected. The modern Christian homeschooling movement has been nothing short of a move of God on our land. It reflects the heart of Malachi 4:6, where God promises to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and children to their fathers. Christian parents must take responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their own children if they want to see Christianity survive the forces of postmodernism and Islamo-fascism rampant in our world today.
Beginning in the 1960s with John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, the return to a Biblical view of origins and the emergence of a new breed of Bible-believing scientists, has revolutionized the Christian world. I believe that the Creationist movement in many ways helped to inspire a new interest in Christian education, encouraging the expansion of Christian schools and later homeschooling in America. This was in many ways a movement of reformation, calling Christians back to believing in the inspiration and authority of the holy Scriptures.
Christian Financial Management
When the late Larry Burkett first emerged on the scene in the late 1970s, talking about financial stewardship, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Today, there are hundreds of Christian financial coaches, and a number of national ministries dedicated to helping believers to become good stewards and managers of God’s resources. There is much work yet ahead, but the groundwork has been amply laid for this important movement to stir hundreds of thousands of Christians to channel their resources in Kingdom activities, rather than worldly pursuits and pleasures.
While all outreaches to the family are important, none is more vital than ministries that reach out to men and encourage them to take spiritual leadership of their homes. Most Christian men have not had the right kind of role models, and therefore feel inadequate to lead their wives and children according to the Scriptures. Groups like Promise Keepers broke ground in this effort of challenging men, and hundreds of ministries (some of them much more effective) have continued this endeavor.
Family-Integrated Church / House Church
In a world where the family is too often split apart by secular forces, many parents have been concerned that the common church practice of age-segregated learning/worship is further exacerbating the problem of disunity in the home. Tens of thousands of families have opted for a method of corporate teaching and worship that are not traditional, but are more Biblical in practice than the typical local church. Absent are “junior church,” age-segregated Sunday school classes, VBS and youth group activities. These family-integrated fellowships usually encourage fathers to lead family worship at home, and the church leaders often strive to avoid going around parents to teach their children.
The Worship Revolution
Among young people in America (and around the world), there is a renewed desire for authentic worship. All over the country there are massive gatherings of people who have come to cry out to God to move in our day. Sometimes these events are reminiscent of revivals of days gone by, and other times they are little more than Christian rock concerts, but increasingly there are select leaders within this movement who are promoting a God-centered (rather than man-centered, self-therapeutic) approach to worship. This movement began mainly in the UK and has found its way to American shores. There is also a renewed emphasis on songs that are theologically sound and vertically oriented (focusing on God, His work and His attributes), rather than a rehash of endless “God is my girlfriend” type songs that are presented as “worship.”
Independent Christian Film-making
This may seem like an odd thing to include in the list, but we live in a visual culture, and no force has shaped modern American society more than television and the movies. Because of the blatantly objectionable content of films from the beginning of the “Silver Screen,” Christians abandoned film-making as an evil endeavor and left it to the dominance of unGodly people. As a result, billions of people receive their worldview through a media channel that is corrupt in it’s content and methods. That is changing as solid Christian believers are creating excellent films to the glory of God. All of the Arts need to be reformed, not just film, but this is perhaps the most unexpected and encouraging development I’ve seen in the past decade.
Biblical Worldview / Apologetics
When I was a child, Christian worldview training and the teaching of apologetics were largely related to seminarians. Today there are numerous websites, including my own www.ChristianWorldview.net site, conferences, online courses, books, videos and many other resources for learning to understand and defend the Christian faith as it relates to all areas of life. This is one of the most important movements of our day.
I have seen a renewed emphasis on “deeper life” teachings in recent years, and a renewed desire to know Christ more. Thousands of people are reading books and articles on the revivals of days past, and desiring to see holiness restored to the Church. I have been able to participate in several conferences with a focus on repentance, forgiveness, forsaking sin and surrender to the Spirit of God. The old thing is the new thing. What a joy to see the “old” message returning in a new and fresh way. Our magazine, Brush Arbor Quarterly, reflects this emphasis.
Get on the Move
People who believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the totality of human existence, tend to be involved in many, if not all, of these movements. If you are unfamiliar with any of these movements, I would encourage you to check them out, and see if the Lord would have you join Him in what He is doing.
There is also the missional community movement. Groups like Acts 29 and Soma Communities are leading the way on that. At times these can look just like regular churches, but others look quite different.