Updated June 2020
Eclipsed by the global turmoil that holds much of the world’s attention, God is quietly reaping the greatest spiritual harvest in history—and preparing an even greater harvest.
At the center of the current great global outpouring of God’s Spirit is an ever-increasing number of individuals and households listening to and following Jesus (John 10:27). As He calls us by name and leads us out of the sheep pen, we become fruitful disciples—fishers of mankind multiplying where laborers where previously lacking.
Listening to and following Jesus—in multiplying others who do the same—is the root of this global phenomenon of exponentially multiplying Jesus movements. Individually these movements parallel the book of Acts, empowered by the same Holy Spirit, in leading disciples and small churches to reproduce rapidly (rather than just seeking an ever-larger audience to receive ministry). Collectively we are reaping a vastly greater harvest than any previous era or generation.
Researchers now count more than 1,300 movements, in multiplying gatherings of Jesus-followers total roughly 1% of world population.
Following are some of the significant developments contributing to this global revolution, with links to related resources. (Suggestions for improving or expanding this list are welcome in the comments below.)
- Focused prayer: In May of 2017, global prayer network leaders met with mission leaders to focus prayer on gospel/Jesus movements among the remaining unreached peoples (watch the inspiring 9-minute video at vimeo.com/244739881). This accelerated a global focus on prayer for movements to complete the Great Commission. [For 2020 the national day of Prayer for the Unreached—held annually on Pentecost Sunday—was expanded into a month of prayer(May), combined with a month of focused global outreach. And the Year of the Frontier united daily global prayer for 1.7 billion people in the 425 largest Frontier People Groups (FPGs)—where less than one in 1,000 identify openly with Jesus.
- Closure focus: Shortly after this 2017 prayer initiative, the 24:14 Coalition formed—dedicated to pursuing kingdom/Jesus movements of rapidly multiplying small churches and disciples in every remaining unreached people and place by 2025 (5-min video). Several years earlier Steve Smith wrote the No Place Left saga about movements emerging among every people by 2025. The 24:14 Coalition is turning this fiction into reality.
Request your FREE review copy of Hastening at npl2025.org/review-copy
- New awareness: The circle of trust created by the 24:14 Coalition gave many movement leaders a community in which to share what God was doing through their movement. This quickly revised the earlier April 2017 estimate (162 kingdom movements with 20 million new disciples) with a 2017 year-end confidence of nearly 650 movements, with 50 million new disciples. As of mid-2020, researchers confidently report more than 1,300 movements—an estimated 77 million disciples (nearly 1% of world population) in rapidly multiplying groups of Jesus-followers. (See MultMove.net/pub/Astonishing-Progress.pdf)
- Rediscovery of Jesus’ Movement Strategy: The July/August 2018 Mission Frontiers exposes the pivotal relevance to movement practitioners of “The Parable of the Sower”—the title Jesus Himself gives this parable in Mt. 13:18. This parable is often applied merely to ask “What kind of soil or seed are we?” However the parable reveals the strategy Jesus modeled—as a sower starting a gospel movement. This fits well with the movement manual Stubborn Perseverance, which uses the discovery method to teach the discovery method—a story through which movement principles are discovered with the aid of discussion questions.
Request your FREE review copy of Stubborn Perseverance at StubbornPerseverance.org/review-copy
- Immigration, Refugee and disaster dynamics: God is using immigration, the global refugee crisis and other disasters to bring blessing to peoples that were previously isolated from the gospel: MultMove.net/pub/The-Refugee-Crisis.pdf.
- Household blessing: Gospel/Jesus movements—the Word of God blessing and spreading through households and relational networks—are an essential corrective to the tendency of many evangelism and church planting efforts to draw individuals away from their household or other relationships. Two books on this topic were excerpted in the Mar/Apr 2016 Mission Frontiers: Steve Smith addressed the importance of believing households further in The Oikos Hammer in the Sep/Oct 2018 Mission Frontiers. This was further developed in the Nov/Dec 2018 Mission Frontiers article The Family: God’s Blessing to All Peoples—including a sidebar addressing the most common misuses of Scripture in this regard.
- Fear exposed: Satan’s hold over many Frontier Peoples is partly through their fear that Christianity will tear apart their households and communities. Evangelism of individuals away from their households compounds this fear. Jesus movements correct this by drawing households together in discussion of and obedience to God’s Word—leading to allegiance and obedience to the Lordship of Jesus under the authority of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Indigenous Movements: How Peoples are Reached developed this in the Mar/Apr 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers as an adaptation of Dr. McGavran’s classic A Church in Every People explained this dynamic. A later refinement of the Indigenous Movements article: MultMove.net/pub/Movements-How-peoples-are-reached.pdf
- Disparity recognized: India has long received prayer and laborers proportionate to its classification as a country. However India has a larger population and more complexity than most continents. India is home to more than half the population of all Frontier People Groups (FPGs), with more complexity than all of Africa (MultMove.net/pub/2017-Ineq-in-Miss-Dist.pdf). While most countries receive an average of one missionary for every 1,000 people in their unreached people groups, India receives only one missionary per 46,000. Awareness of this disparity of needs and resources is stimulating increased prayer and efforts toward starting movements on the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).
- Frontier People Groups: Understanding of pioneer mission fields increased in 2018 with the concept of FPGs—no sustained Jesus movement and less than one person per 1,000 who identifies openly with Jesus. Fresh clarity on the remaining task is now available through the Nov/Dec issue of Mission Frontiers and Joshua Project.
- Distinction between Pioneer and Partnership Mission work. One of Ralph Winter’s long-standing concerns was to clarify the core difference between:
• pioneer work (in peoples with a generational identity they consider incompatible with Christianity), and
• partnership work (where outsiders can serve alongside indigenous believing households).
Pioneer work involves different skill sets and must precede partnership work, just as a midwife’s skills differ from and must precede a teacher’s. Pioneer work brings people groups their first introduction to God’s desire to bless their households and communities.
Partnership builds on pioneer work to extend God’s blessing from family to family throughout the people group. Partnership work will continue until Jesus returns, but the remaining pioneer work to be done may be completed very soon!
Unfortunately the distinction between pioneer and partnership work has been blurred by the very definition of Unreached People Groups (UPGs)—which creates one category for both pioneer and partnership fields. As a result, most missionaries to UPGs are involved in partnership work (in people groups where up to 1 in 50 are Evangelicals or 1 in 20 are Christian adherents). The new category of FPGs addresses this confusion.
- Prayer focus continued: God continues stirring global prayer for movements among the largest remaining FPGs. A small network of global prayer and mission leaders developed a 31-day prayer guide for the largest FPGs (Go31.org).
- The Holy Spirit’s Empowering: Steve Smith’s Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People (2018) is one resource underscoring the centrality of following the Holy Spirit’s leading in pursuing movements.
- Meta-Movements spread spontaneously past perceived people group boundaries. Some movements carry over easily into neighboring FPGs. This reinforces the strategic value of praying for and pursuing movements among the 425 largest and most influential FPGs—which contain 90% of the global population needing pioneer work.
- Listening to and Following Jesus (John 10:27): Amidst very different patterns of evangelism, ministry and multiplication, three common factors are present in meta-movements:
• Identifying and abandoning unfruitful and harmful ministry models and traditions.
• Learning and applying multiplication principles from the Bible and other movements.
• Listening to Jesus for clear and specific guidance for each specific ministry context.
Robby-Butler.MultMove.net/my-journey reviews one person’s experience with a variety of resources for learning to listen to Jesus.
- Movement Training Hubs: The Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers reports on the rapid and significant development of intentional movement training hubs to accelerate the equipping of disciples to start movements among peoples that need them most.
- Prayer focus continued: January 2020 started with 40 days of prayer and fasting for movements among the largest remaining FPGs. Connect with others in prayer at 2414Now.net/pray
- Breakthroughs Among Unreached Peoples: Despite widespread prayer and effort to reach unreached people groups, the global population living among unreached people groups has roughly doubled since the concept was introduced in the late 1970s. But this is changing rapidly. Movements have recently cut the lost population of unreached people groups by an estimated 70 million, turning this number into disciples within UPGs with first-hand experience in rapidly reproducing churches (see again MultMove.net/pub/Astonishing-Progress.pdf).
- Crumbling of Unbiblical Worldviews in Academia:
In the last 30 years the foundations of materialistic and atheistic worldviews have been severely undermined. A popular expression of this is the Discovery Institute’s Science Uprising series of videos. In February 2019 the list of scientists dissenting with Darwin topped 1,000. Examples of this are the high profile conversions of philosopher Anthony Flew (atheist to theist) and paleontologist Gunter Bechley (atheist to theist to Christian). A similar revolution is unfolding in the academic discipline of philosophy. —Dr. Jason Wilson of Biola
- Growth of believers outpacing non-believers: For 2,000 years, believers have been increasing faster than world population as a percentage. (Imagine the different acceleration rates of a police car leaving a speed trap and the speeder the police car is after). Through these millenia, the relatively smaller number of believers has meant more non-believers than believers were still being added to world population each year (like the initial head start between our imagined speeder and the police car). Even without movements, continuation of the historically higher growth rate of believers than non-believers could within the next 30 years lead to the tipping point where more believers than non-believers are added to global population each year.
Furthermore, the multiplication of Acts-like Jesus movements since the late 1990s means this tipping point could come much more quickly, through the continued frequent doubling of movements—and of new disciples in rapidly reproducing churches. If this continues:
We may be very near the point in history where, for the first time in history:
– the annual global increase of believers
(listening to Jesus, with a commitment to follow Him, and a contagious faith),
– will surpass the annual global increase of non-believers.
Never in history has the Holy Spirit prompted such global collaboration in focused prayer and labor toward biblical, multiplying discipleship among the peoples and places still waiting in darkness.
Visit MultMove.net/join-gcc to become part of a team to bless just one of the 425 strategically large, neglected FPGs.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. — Rev 22:20.