What is an Acts 19 movement? In my quarterly "Coach's Corner" I suggested this definition.
An Acts 19 movement
is a place where the gospel penetrates deeply and broadly so that lives are transformed and disciples, leaders and churches are multiplied.
One of our staff responded and I found the dialogue that ensued helpful. E. is beginning work among unreached people in a difficult context, yet his vision is BIG. I tried to answer his question but am not satisfied with my answer. If you have something to add, please post it below or email me and I will pass it on.
I am wondering if you have put together, or know of someone/some organization that has put together objective criteria for seeking out an Acts 19 Center?.. I have put it in my 2011 KRAs to travel to at least 3 urban centers… to explore if we could establish a center in the city. It seems though we have to go beyond a gut level feeling and look with objective criteria. For example, I wonder if when the Apostle Paul was in Ephesus he saw the spiritual dynamic and hunger of Christians, the tremendous potential for developing strong Christian leaders, the many cities in Asia Minor that were still without the gospel, and perhaps the evolution of his own ministry as an equipper of others that perhaps caused him to set his roots there for a time and create Ephesus as an Acts 19 Center. In other words, I think there needs to be some objective criteria that can be used as we explore for potential Acts 19 Center locations.
I do believe you are onto something. The selection of an urban center is an important factor… I wouldn't want to establish a set of factors for Acts 19 places. Most occur in urban centers but not all. I think it best to think of it as a process – If you are considering several urban centers ask God "what is the particular Ministry Focus people you have prepared for us?"… Below are some determining factors. It think two key things to look at a people group where God is working in a special way (Iranians for example at this juncture) and the presence of a movement leader (cultural insider) who has a passion to reach his/her them.
The Need Factor - Spiritual Need (Rom 15:20; 10:13–15)
Communities, people groups, lasses without an indigenous, evangelizing church
Small percentage of evangelicals
The Responsiveness Factor – Receptiveness (Matt.10:11–15; Rom. 16:9; Acts 14:27)
Opinion leaders, high credibility persons
Social groups or subcultures that influence others
People groups with extended family or relationships through the region
People groups that are industrious or entrepreneurial.
The Geography Factor – Significant Location (The cities of the Pauline mission)
Commercial, educational, political, or transportation centers
Locations of population growth, movement.
Possibility of launching a regional movement from the location
The Diaspora Factor – Pre-existing core group (Acts 8:1–4; 11:19–21)
A number of Christians living among the focus people build the core of the church plant.
The Open Door Factor – Exceptional Opportunity
Exceptional opportunities to preach the gospel and/or exceptional responsiveness to the gospel.
Ephesus - 1 Cor. 16:9; Macedonia - 2 Cor. 2:12; Prayer for open door - Col 4:3
The Supernatural Guidance Factor – Exceptional Leading of the Spirit
Acts 16: the Macedonian call; Direct guidance may at time override very well reasoned plans.
I agree with you in that the process is dynamic. I do believe strongly we need to develop the ability to hear more clearly the voice of the Holy Spirit for certainly Paul did. And, as you point out, the process is exactly that, a process. It usually takes time to see God build upon the work we have begun. It's unfortunately we live in a day of instant successes and gratification for that isn't the Biblical model. It seems to me a person could find great satisfaction in knowing that what they labored for over many years, even a decade or two could result in a gospel movement among a people group.
So, a few things mentioned that stick out to me:
- Which people do we sense God is working or moving among? Here the stories from others. There remains though 1,200 people groups that are 'unengaged' so there may be a need for a seed planting ministry via salt & light missionaries.
- Does He providentially lead us to an indigenous movement leader? Joseph N. was such a person.
- Is there a perceived hunger for God, truth, the Bible, or spiritual things among the population? We see this in the Islamic world but still hard to engage them face to face.
- Among 'unbelievers' or those of a different faith, does God lead you to a 'person of peace'? Our church from Virginia going into Cyprus found this.
- Does the urban center allow for different ideas through its openness or is it closed & rigid. I think here that urban centers with universities tend to be more open.
- Is there a body of believers to work with in creating a movement? A good sign but needs much communication in how to partner.
- What other mission personnel are working in the urban center? What are they doing to reach the unreached? I think of two things here: first, they often use ineffective methodology; second, they often don't verbalize the gospel for fear they will be kicked out.