Thursday, October 08, 2009

Book Notes - Movements That Change The World

I've been reading Steve Addison's blog for years. So you might be able to imagine my excitement when I heard that he was writing a book. Movements That Change The World is the book and it's a compilation of Steve's lifetime of research in the areas of movements.

Detailing the five components that make up a movement, Steve expounds on clear examples of both modern and historical movements. He draws from a wide range of fantastic resources, including business [Built to Last], sociology [The Tipping Point], and spiritual leadership [The Shaping of Things to Come], all in the context of us both being a part of and creating new movements.

I appreciated two things from the book. First, anytime you talk about movements, you also talk about institutions and the battle between staying a movement or turning into an institution. Steve visits this topic in detail as he outlines historical movements and the lifespan of their vitality and effectiveness.

Secondly, I love the context in which Steve writes - he wants to enable movements of people to change the course of human history. As leaders, innovators and influencers, there are tons of actionable tips in this book.

PS - In addition to sending me a copy of the book, Steve was kind enough to write a guest post for a series on this blog a long time ago.

My notes are below with some commentary in [brackets].
The example of St. Patrick.

+ White-hot faith
Church history is not made by well-financed, well-resourced individuals and institutions. History is made by men and women of faith who have met with the living God.

In the next 150 years, 2158 Moravians volunteered to serve overseas. They went to the most remote, unfavorable, and neglected areas. This was something new in the expansion of Christianity: an entire Christian community - families as well as singles - devoted to world missions.

+ Commitment to a cause
Effective movements know who they are. They know their founding charism and safeguard it over time. Their methods may change, but the cause never does. A clear identity and agenda for change create a tension between the ideal promoted by a movement and current reality. Transformational change is the outcome of that tension. [If this reminds you of Built to Last, it should. Collins book is referenced quite a bit and that is a good thing.]

+ Contagious relationships
History has focused on the achievements of the leading figures of the early church. These apostles, prophets, teachers and evangelists played their part in knitting together a rapidly expanding movement, but they were the exception, not the rule. Overwhelmingly, early Christianity was not spread by "professionals" but by ordinary people whose names and deeds went unrecorded.

New religious movements fail when they become closed social networks. For continued exponential growth, a movement must maintain open relationships with outsiders, and it must also reach out into new, adjacent social networks.

Paganism is an inherently weaker faith because it accepts a variety of gods and beliefs. Only monotheism can generate the level of commitment to mobilize non-professionals in evangelism.

Judaism was also a monotheistic faith, but it never matched Christianity in reaching Gentiles. As a faith, it never fully escaped it's ethnic nature. [A concept about context and culture.]

Strength of weak ties
Growth can only continue if the movement remains a tight and open social network. [Must ask what the implications of this are to virtual social media.]

Neil (Cole) - person of peace, first domino principle. In the gospels the Samaritan woman at the well did not have a good reputation. Neither did the Garasene demoniac, but when their lives were turned around, they each became a witness to their community.

+ Rapid mobilization
Rolland Allen
- new converts immediately tell their story to those who know them
- from the beginning, evangelism is the work of those within the culture
- true doctrine results from true experience of the power of Christ rather than mere intellectual instruction. Heresies are not produced by ignorance but by the speculations of learned men.
- the church is self-supporting and provides for its own leaders and facilities

In the New Testament there is no distinction between 'clergy' and 'laity.' Every disciple of Christ is ordained for ministry.

+ Adaptive methods
Adaptive methods are just like soccer. They're simple, easy to learn, fun, contagious, adaptable, transferable and low cost.

Adaptive methods enable a movement to function in ways that suite its changing environment and its expansion into new fields. Movements that drift away from their core beliefs are always at risk, but so are movements that regard the way they currently function as sacred.

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