How does one start a movement?
In the past, I always assumed it just happened. It happened because there was a great product, or because of silly coincidences, or because of the power of the Spirit. Regardless of the circumstances, things just happened. They came into existence for reasons far beyond my understanding.
Christianity is about movement. It’s about inciting a change in the world through the power of the Divine. But without knowing how to start a movement, we can do very little but wait.
I think this is true for most believers. This is why many churches wander aimlessly waiting for God to do something significant through our random acts of kindness. And some times God does. Other times God doesn’t. Either way, we wait for it to just happen.
“I want something big to happen, but I do not know how to get it started.” This is one of the greatest barriers for Christian ministry. We want to change the world; we don’t know where to begin.
The problem with random acts of Christian living is that movements don’t just happen.
I tend to fall back on the theology of providence in areas I fail to understand. I walk around attempting to live out my faith in the everyday life, trusting that God willorchestrate miracles. I talk to as many people as I can, I live into as many opportunities as I can, and I try to do as much as I can. This is chaos Christianity.
Can God orchestrate order out of chaos? Are we sometimes at the mercy of the unknown? Yes and yes. But just because God can, doesn’t mean God considers it the ideal arrangement.
I became aware of this in reading a book on social media. I ran across a phrase in passing. It wasn’t the premise of the book, or even the premise of the chapter, but it stood out significantly to me. It said this: “Remember that we’re in the age of the niche.”1
There is a simple rule in social media. If you want to connect with as many people as possible, you can’t start by trying to connect with as many people as possible. Instead, you focus on a niche where you connect with as many people as you can around a given topic or idea. First, you develop a product (book, experience, platform, blog, or otherwise) that brings something new and refreshing to a group of people already interested. If you have a quality product, eventually this will spread beyond your niche.
There is a valuable lesson for life in this. If you want to start a movement, don’t try to start a movement. If you want to influence the world, don’t try to influence the world. Instead, try to influence those within your sphere of influence. Then, over time, your influence will spread beyond your niche. This is how movements start.
Random acts of Christian living is an easy way to stay busy without accomplishing anything.
When I was younger I found it easy to get out of work. Whenever there was a large group of people working on something, like on a mission trip or church workday, I would bounce around from one group to another. I’d stay long enough at the cement mixing station to look busy, but short enough to get out of any real work. Then I’d move over to the painters, before working my way over to the kitchen. Moving from one interest to another made it look like I was working without getting any substantial work done. It was those who gave themselves to a particular niche that showed real progress.
Real work happens when we focus more of our attention on less things. Great connections happen when we give more of our time to less of our interests.
It’s not about doing less. I think it’s good to be busy trying to make a difference. But it’s also not about doing more. It’s horribly unhealthy to try and do everything. It’s about doing more and doing less. It’s about giving yourself entirely, but to less things.
St. Paul said it like this “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”2 In other words, the church is supposed to be a collection of strategic, hyper-intentional niches.
God has a unique purpose for you. There is a unique group of people that you have the potential to influence. There is a unique purpose that you have the potential to fill. This is your niche. Instead of trying to change the world, why not try investing in your niche? If you do this well, you’re likely to start a movement.
1Clifford, Paul (2012-04-05). Tweeting Church: Good News in only 140 characters (Kindle Location 148). Kindle Edition.
21 Corinthians 12:12