A Vital Movement

As we reflect on The Navigators Vision Statement, let’s consider what “a vital movement of the gospel” means.
The word vital has two meanings. It can mean something that is absolutely essential, critical, key, or indispensable. Synonyms for vital in this case would be crucial, imperative, urgent, burning, high priority, or compelling. The second meaning of the word vital is “full of life.” Synonyms include lively, energetic, active, exuberant, and vigorous.
While I’m not sure which definition the Lord had in mind when He gave this vision to The Navigators, I believe both apply. Our broken world has reached a state of utter hopelessness apart from a gospel movement. Only the Good News embodied in Jesus can bring the healing, hope, and reconciliation that our world so desperately needs. The gospel has the power to change individuals, families, communities, and even large systems so that they are harmonious with the values of Christ.
The gospel is powerful. Paul says that the gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16). He reminds the believers in Thessalonica that the gospel came to them not merely with words, but with power as well because they had seen it worked out in his life (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The gospel is a gospel of a living Christ, who is made known in the living and powerful Word of God: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV). Now that’s vital—no matter which definition you apply!
Yet we see not only a vital gospel, but a vital movement of the gospel. Steve Addison has studied gospel movements around the world. In his book Movements that Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel, he lists the following characteristics of a gospel movement:

  • White-hot faith
  • Commitment to the cause
  • Contagious relationships
  • Rapid mobilization
  • Adaptive methods
While I’m convinced that we cannot make a gospel movement happen, I’m equally convinced that we can hinder one from developing. We need to lead in a way that welcomes and creates space for the elements of a gospel movement to happen. We have to be people who believe God for great things and find common cause with others of a similar faith. We need to stay focused on our goal of raising up spiritual generations of laborers in God’s harvest field. We need to allow space and room for relationships to develop. The gospel flows through relationships, not programs. We need to respond to works of the Holy Spirit when we see them. We respond by fanning them into flame, not fearing them. Finally, we need to be people that are adaptive in our methods.
In Nav Neighbors, God may be calling us to change some of our traditional ministry approaches so that we can enter, like salt and light, into the brokenness of our neighborhoods. We have to learn to see and respond to what the Spirit is doing around us. When these elements of a gospel movement break out, we need to respond with courage and adaptability.
I sense that we are on the verge of such a movement. God is raising up people who are loving their neighbors in tangible, radical, sacrificial, and transformative ways. We sometimes feel that Nav Neighbors is catching an initial wave of the Spirit calling out to His people to live Kingdom lives in the midst of their communities. It feels vital:  crucial, compelling, and full of life.
For your consideration:
  •  How have you seen the power of the gospel at work in your life? In the lives of people you know?
  • What are two ways a leader can “welcome and make space for the elements of a gospel movement to happen”?
  • As you take a look at the methods you rely on as you do ministry, which needs to be refreshed, revised, or possibly even replaced?
Al Engler is the director of Nav Neighbors. This is the second in his series reflecting on how The Navigators Vision Statement can be carried out in daily ministry. To contact him or learn more about his ministry, click here.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction and continues with "Prayer Powered."