Nearly All Disciple Making Movements Start Like This

A year ago I read through a stack of books about great movements of God to prepare for a teaching series. In every book I noticed a pattern. In fact, nearly every significant disciple making movement had two things in common.



These two things kept popping up over and over again…

1. Movements of God almost always start with desperate prayer.

These are the kinds of stories I kept reading…

When a guy named Ludwig Von Zinzendorf was 19, he committed himself to ministry. He started a 24 hour prayer vigil that lasted for 100 years…100 years! His mission group, the Moravians, sent numerous missionaries as a result of the prayer vigil.

William Carey, known as “The Father of the Modern Missionary Movement,” made shoes. As a young adult he started praying over a world map. He became a missionary to India and wrote a book on missions that touched thousands.

The first six mission agencies in North America came out of a prayer group with 5 students at Williams College in 1806.

I have to think there’s a connection between humility and the blessing of God. After all, “God opposes the proud but shows grace to the humble” (James 4:6). It takes incredible humility to seek God in desperate prayer.

I love what Jim Cymbala said in his inspiring book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

“God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for his power.”

2. Movements of God almost always start with young people.

These are a few examples I came across…

In the 1880’s a group of college students in England started one of the most effective missions movements in Christian history called the Student Volunteer Movement. Later, John Mott (one of the founders) won the Nobel Peace Prize!

In 1886 about 250 college students gathered in Massachusetts to hear D.L. Moody teach. One hundred of those students committed their lives to missions. They recruited 100,000 student missionaries over the next forty years.

In recent history, there was the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ was a big influence in this movement. From 1971-75 there were over 400,000 baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention every year! 

I could go on and on. The evidence is so great that Steve Shadrach has gone as far as to say…

“The last 250-plus years of Protestant missions from the West have been spearheaded and sustained primarily by college students.”

As a campus minister, I can’t help but dream about experiencing something similar today. And, why couldn’t we? It’s happened before. It could happen again. 

Today’s university campuses are some of the most receptive mission fields in the worldHistory points to the college campus as the most likely place to ignite a movement.

What have I missed…anything? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Chime in by leaving a comment below.

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  1 comment for “Nearly All Disciple Making Movements Start Like This

  1. Shaun Bailey
    May 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

    This topic came up in our family life class yesterday. The point made was that the two times in life we most commonly hear of people being receptive toward the Gospel are when they are elderly and facing mortality or young and open and unencumbered by attachment to material possessions, positions, past achievements, etc.
    The only thing I would point out is that this potential is not limited to college students, but college-age young adults. I have personally been impacted by such a movement, be it on a more local scale than the examples mentioned above. Young adults, both college students and their non-enrolled contemporaries came to Christ by the dozens. Several are ministers today. Others are reaching people in the market place. Now, I will give the disclaimer that this occurred in a college town, which is probably more likely, given the fluidity of the population.

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