"Nothing Is Ever Straightforward": The Work of Building Gospel Movements


Our work focuses on making disciples who make disciples who plant churches… everywhere.*

We do this through forming teams of Christians who actively pursue forming Discovery Bible Studies among people far from God, helping those groups multiply into social networks, and beginning to help those groups form new churches. It’s pretty straightforward, as you can see in the diagram.


Nothing is ever straightforward though. People are complex.

Cities are even more complex.

Then factor in the reality that over 90% of our city rejects Christianity, and you have yourself a perfect storm for really hard work.

Our friend Barb (not her real name) has a son, Trey (not his real name). We met Barb and Trey when our kids were all still in the same public school. My son Ezra and Trey became very good friends, and the by-product of this is that we became friends with Trey’s parents. We could tell early on that Barb was spiritually curious. She has been very inquisitive of who we are, what we do, and why we have chosen to remain in the Church and follow Jesus.

Barb grew up in the Catholic Church in New England, and if you remember the sex scandals, you would understand her hesitation and fears surrounding anything that resembles her earlier experiences. God has clearly been stirring in her heart as she continues to ask us a series of complicated questions about life and faith. Our conversations are never dull.

But Barb will not join us in a Discovery Bible Study. She will not come with us to church on a Sunday. She will come to the barbecues we host with other Christians; she will even engage with them in theological conversations. Barb is essentially “sniffing around the edges” of Jesus. This “sniffing” has taken her around multiple other religious expressions in search of answers.

I share this story because it reminds me that the pace of our work is always at the pace of relationship. It is always at the pace of a person’s response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit (see John 16:13). In our microwave culture, we want immediate results. But in the economy of God, he is after the full heart of people.

Transformation like that can take a long time.

But not everything is moving slowly. While we stay the course with our non-Christian friends, we are actively recruiting Christians to join the ranks of those pursuing their social networks with the gospel. Business leaders, teachers, nurses, and even a handful of young people (age 8-16) are beginning to engage their relationships intentionally to make disciples.

The results across the board are incredibly exciting. Many people have come to Christ and been baptized this year. More teams of believers committed to making disciples are emerging across North America. Our work is becoming increasingly complex as we give leadership to all of this.

While this work is expanding rapidly, we have many friends like Barb who are taking significantly longer, requiring extra attention and prayer. There will always be this tension of balancing the fast with the slow, the rapid growth and the relationships that take longer to develop. As we seek to push the momentum of disciple making movements forward across North America, we will continue to hold space for both.

*I’m borrowing this phrase from a distant mentor, Steve Addison, who is leading CRM’s Australia entity.

Reaching others with the good news of Jesus is complex. That's why CRM provides mentors to help people launch gospel movements in their own cities. Connect with a movement mentor to learn more about gospel movements around the world and how you could participate. Contact us to be put in touch with someone.


Joe Reed and his wife, Natalie, live with their three kids in Boston, MA. They are passionate to see real Disciple Making Movements emerge throughout New England and the world.