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 them by name and leads them out of the sheep pen, they 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 they are reaping a vastly greater harvest than any previous era or generation.
Researchers now count more than 1,000 such movements, with multiplying gatherings of Jesus-followers totaling nearly 1% of the global 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 movements (aka Jesus movements) among the remaining unreached peoples (watch the inspiring 9-minute video at vimeo.com/244739881). This has accelerated a growing global focus on prayer for movements to complete the Great Commission. [Since the original article, the national day of Prayer for the Unreached held annually on Pentecost Sunday has expanded into a month (May) of prayer in 2020 combined with a month of focused global outreach. And the Year of the Frontier has united daily global prayer for the nearly two billion people in the 400 largest people groups where less than one in 1,000 identify with Jesus at all.
- Closure focus: Shortly after this prayer initiative, the 24:14 Coalition formed—dedicated to pursuing kingdom movements (aka Jesus movements) of rapidly multiplying small churches and disciples in every remaining unreached people and place by 2025 (read about the Coalition at 2414Now.net or see their five minute video at vimeo.com/314054717). 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 (2414Now.net) led many movement leaders to share for the first time what God was doing through their movement. This replaced 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 late 2019 more than 1,000 movements have been confirmed, with an estimated 73 million disciples (nearly 1% of world population) now 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” (This is the title Jesus Himself gives the parable in Mt. 13:18). We Evangelicals have often misunderstood and misapplied this parable to ask “What kind of soil or seed are we?” The parable actually reveals the strategy Jesus modeled, as a sower starting a gospel movement. A couple years earlier I helped publish Stubborn Perseverance, a manual using the discovery method to teach the discovery method—presented as a story with 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 (observations from my family’s 2017 participation in refugee ministry in Europe).
- Household blessing: Gospel 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. I excerpted two books on this topic for the Mar/Apr 2016 Mission Frontiers: Steve Smith addressed this further in The Oikos Hammer in the Sep/Oct 2018 Mission Frontiers. Chuck White and I carried this further 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 the Lordship of Jesus under the authority of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I presented an adaptation of McGavran’s article explaining this dynamic at the September 2017 meeting of the International Society of Frontier Missiology. This was then printed in the Mar/Apr 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers. A further refinement is available at 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. In fact India has a larger population and more complexity than most continents. India is home to nearly half the population of all Unreached People Groups, with more complexity than all of Africa (MultMove.net/pub/2017-Ineq-in-Miss-Dist.pdf). And 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: In early 2018 the concept of Frontier People Groups (less than one person per 1,000 that identifies with Jesus in any way and no sustained Jesus movement). This brought fresh clarity to the remaining task (JoshuaProject.net/frontier/3). Joshua Project has posted a short article explaining Frontier People Groups (JoshuaProject.net/assets/media/articles/frontier-peoples-introduction.pdf).
- Distinction between Pioneer and Partnership Mission work. A long-standing concern of Ralph Winter’s 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 work 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 way Unreached People Groups have been measured has blurred rather than illuminated this distinction between pioneer and partnership work. As a result, most missionaries to unreached peoples are involved in partnership work (in peoples where up to 1 in 50 are Evangelicals or 1 in 20 are a Christian adherent). The new category of Frontier Unreached People Groups addresses this confusion.
- Prayer focus continued: God continues stirring global prayer for movements among the largest remaining Frontier Unreached People Groups. A small network of global prayer and mission leaders pulled together a 31-day prayer guide for the largest Frontier People Groups (Go31.org).
- The Holy Spirit’s Empowering: Steve Smith’s Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People reintroduces the ancient fruitfulness of following the Holy Spirit’s leading in the pursuit of movements.
- Listening to and Following Jesus (John 10:27): In researching explosive “super-movements”—that flow spontaneously past traditional people group “boundaries”—I have observed three common factor amidst very different patterns of evangelism, ministry and multiplication:
• Identifying and abandoning unfruitful and harmful ministry models and traditions.
• Learning from other movements and applying biblical principles of multiplication.
• Turning to Jesus for clear and specific guidance for my specific ministry context.
I personally found and listed a variety of resources helpful in learning to listen to Jesus personally (Robby-Butler.MultMove.net/my-journey).
- 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 more disciples to start movements among peoples that most need them.
- Super-Movements (spreading spontaneously past assumed people group boundaries): experience over the past decade reveals that some movements carry over into neighboring Frontier People Groups. This reinforces the strategic value of focusing on the 400 largest and most influential Frontier People Groups, which contain 90% of the global population needing pioneer work.
- Prayer focus continued: January 2020 started with 40 days of prayer and fasting for movements among the largest remaining Frontier Unreached People Groups. 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 45 million, turning this number into disciples with experience in rapidly reproducing churches (see again MultMove.net/pub/Astonishing-Progress.pdf).
- Crumbling of Unbiblical Worldviews in Academia: In response to my original post, Jason Wilson of Biola commented: 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.
- Growth of believers outpacing non-believers: For 2,000 years, believers have been increasing as a percentage of world population, but their smaller numbers meant more non-believers were added to the world than believers each year. However since the late 1990s the multiplication of Acts-like Jesus movements has been doubling the number of movements—and of new disciples in rapidly reproducing churches—much more rapidly. If this continues, we may be very near the point in history where, for the first time ever, 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. (See MultMove.net/believers-outpacing-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 400 strategically large, neglected Frontier People Groups.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. — Rev 22:20.