The Rise of Indigenous Jesus Movements | Joel News

The Rise of Indigenous Jesus Movements from Joel News
Posted on August 21st, 2011

It’s a growing global phenomenon: the rise of indigenous ‘Jesus movements’ in the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist parts of the world, and among Jewish communities and tribal cultures. Many people come to faith in Jesus and start following Him, but choose to remain within the cultural contexts of their birth. They don’t convert to (western) Christianity and churches, but form small groups that often multiply and develop into a movement.

An inspiring example are the Jesus followers within Judaism. “Increasing numbers of Jews are learning to follow Jesus faithfully and form small groups for fellowship, but stay within their traditional synagogue communities,” says Gavriel Gefen (photo), who is part of this grassroots movement in Israel. He recently also visited a movement initiated by a Muslim follower of Jesus who is a tribal chief. “This movement has since spread throughout his country and beyond. During my visit, I met a number of Muslim religious leaders who are fervently devoted to Jesus. I also witnessed some of them teaching publicly about the forgiveness of Jesus to large groups. It was very powerful.”

“Thousands of Muslim men were taught on the forgiveness of Jesus.”

“One Muslim training center I visited had thousands of men. One of the senior teachers there follows Jesus and teaches openly about Him every day. He is so traditional that it is understood he is not seeking to convert anyone to Christianity. He is challenging them to reclaim Jesus as the Word of God, the renewer of their faith, and the one without whom their people have no hope. The vast majority of Muslims in that training center do not follow Jesus; yet, a good number of them do and also serve in village mosques throughout the region. During my visit, a number of men returning from their service in different villages shared reports with each other. They had been teaching about the forgiveness of Jesus. In some of these villages, those who have accepted Jesus now meet together in small groups.”

“It was clear that these men know Jesus in all his fullness,” reports Gefen. “The testimony of their lives is not one of compromise. It is not their objective to avoid persecution. The way they live out their faith is not an easier, less authentic way, as some people might accuse. Rather, their path of following Jesus is a harder one and a higher one. By remaining within Islam, they are not seeking acceptance for themselves. They seek to express to their people that Jesus accepts them right where they are, and that they can faithfully follow him within their community and their family of birth.”

“The Kingdom of God grows like yeast from within and confronts the culture with the message of Jesus.”

“When a Jesus movement like this is born within another culture, the believers there will go through their own process of confronting their culture with the message of Jesus,” explains Gefen. “There will be some cultural expressions and traditions in which they can rightly continue only by redirecting the focus and giving them new meaning. In this process of renewing their culture, they may discover that there are some cultural expressions in which they can no longer engage as followers of Jesus. I believe that the message of Jesus was never intended to be spread by means of cultural conquest. I am convinced that Jesus’ message will increasingly spread among peoples of other faith traditions only as God’s kingdom grows like yeast from within.”

John Ridgway, an international consultant to pioneer missions organizations, explains that this is a basic missionary principle: “Our tendency has often been to draw individuals out of their family and community and ask them to join another community that professes Christianity, rather than to disciple them in their own context where they can reach their own family members, relatives, friends and work colleagues.” Jesus and Paul modelled this kind of indigenous mission and ministered to people right where they were. “If the Samaritan woman had been extracted out of her own community, it is doubtful that such an impact (many Samaritans started following Jesus) would have occurred.”

“Outside control of indigenous Jesus movements leads to disaster.”

“If these people remain faithful to Jesus, the potential for impacting the major blocks of unreached peoples in the world is enormous,” says Rick Wood, editor of Mission Frontiers, who dedicated a special edition of his magazine to these movements. He also issues a warning to the western church: “These indigenous Jesus movements need to be left to flourish on their own without the kind of outside influence or control that could rob them of their indigenous character, multiplication potential, and even endanger lives.”

Historian and missionary Rebecca Lewis agrees. “Attempts to judge and control Jesus movements by Christian leaders residing in other cultures have almost without exception had disastrous consequences.” She draws more lessions from history by pointing out potential pitfalls of Jesus movements. Lack of access to Scripture in their own language for example can lead to syncretism, so it’s crucial to provide this.

“Jesus movements are characterized by reproductive discipleship.”

Robby Butler, who served at the US Center for World Mission, studied Jesus movements and points out some common characteristics. “They cultivate scattering to family, friends and workplace (for multiplication), which maximizes the church’s local engagement. They equip reproductive disciplers rather than entertaining passive church audiences, and focus on obediently going where Christ is not yet named.” He also observes that these movements generally don’t start orphanages, but prefer adoption. “The leaders are increasingly opening their homes to needy children, and their example could lead toward the placement of all needy children in families.”

“The effective Indian leaders I met have abandoned the ‘driven-ness’ common among Christian workers to become relaxed, relational disciplemakers. Instead of living to ‘prove’ their worthiness and need for a building and a salary, these leaders are becoming bivocational and discipling just a few, who disciple others, in more generations than they can track. The result is a more effective testimony to the abundant life Christ offers now.”

Butler gives a few examples: “One man has a disciple in each of twelve districts of his state. Each month they all meet in a different district for five days of prayer and planning, learning from and supporting one another in their oversight of rapidly multiplying house churches. Together they estimate that 100,000 people have been baptized through this network. Another man once worked 16-hour days overseeing a region for his denomination. After learning to multiply disciples through house churches, he encouraged 100 fellow pastors to start house churches; 619 were started in three months’ time.”

Source: Gavriel Gefen, John Ridgway, Rick Wood, Rebecca Lewis and Robby Butler, quoted in Mission Frontiers, May-June 2011


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Unleashing the Gospel through Story Telling | Mission Frontiers Nov Dec 2013


The current issue is titled “Unleashing the Gospel through Story Telling“.

Why story telling? In addition to the fact that two-thirds of the Scripture is set in some form of narrative or “story” and that many throughout the world do not read, there is also this reason:

Academicians are now labeling the period from the fifteenth to the twentieth century the Gutenberg Parenthesis: a period where the left side of the brain took over and gave birth to sciences, inventions, and philosophies, but in so doing relieved the right-side brain of its active engagement in creativity. Today, more than a decade into the twenty-first century, captured images, reality entertainment, social media, and online video gaming actually closely resembles the pre-Gutenberg era, when the right side of the brain was much more in unison with the left side.


Why Are The Unreached Still Unreached? Nik Ripken

Somalia-Mission-Planning (Photo credit: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection)

Excerpts from Nik Ripken‘s article: “Why are the Unreached Unreached?”


80% of the unreached do not read or write a word. A Somali nomad explained, “Show me how to put your church on my camel before you talk to me about your Jesus.” Many of the unreached dwell in enemy held territory where there are few, if any, churches, pastors, Bible Studies, etc. Remove church buildings, corporate worship, pews and hymn books from believers’ environments and where does one meet God? Sharing the “Good News” is intrinsic to “being in Christ.”  What effect does the absence of Bibles studies, corporate worship, baptisms and the Lord’s Supper have on those called to minister?


As we began our ministry four years ago in the Horn of Africa a colleague/mentor pointedly told my wife and I,
“If you are ‘successful’ in sharing Christ with your target people so that they come to faith, you will get someone killed.” I shrugged this admonition off as being the framework for a good deputation story.
Until three of the first believers I ever discipled were murdered for their faith.

“If you do not believe that Jesus is who He claims to be; the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the very Son of God and the only way to Heaven; then please keep your mouth shut. Don’t get someone killed for something you are not sure about.”


Christianity, many unreached believe as represented by the West, is a faith of abortion, high crime rate and drug abuse. Therefore, a true follower of Christ does not often begin on level ground among the unreached. We start at minus three or four.

“Comfort Zone”:

A friend of mine mapped Africa by climate/temperature.  Over that, he mapped the location and number of
missionaries. As the temperature climbed, the number of missionaries went down. Over that, he mapped
unreached peoples, especially adherents of Islam. As the temperature grew, so did the percentage of those
unreached by the Gospel.

Nik Ripken is the author of the book “The Insanity of God”…

Deaf Friendly Bible Story Telling – DOOR International

Image Courtesy DOOR International

Though Chronological Bible Story Telling as an outreach and church planting tool is well known in “oral” cultures, DOOR International applies the methodology to Deaf culture…

DOOR uses these concepts to develop specific Bible-based training for Deaf leaders communicated and modeled by Deaf trainers/mentors.

  1. Bible Study: D.O.O.R. International Deaf staff has developed a 5-step inductive Bible study within the context of Deaf culture and language. This method of studying the Bible is utilized in the following series of Bible studies:
    • Evangelism – 32 chronological Bible stories
    • Discipleship – 77 chronological Bible stories
    • Believers’ Fellowship – 35 chronological Bible stories
  2. Evangelism: D.O.O.R. International Deaf staff and graduates of DOOR’s program have developed specific training in:
    • Sharing personal testimony.
    • Presenting a specific “short evangelism story” that can be taught to Deaf evangelists.
    • Asking inductive questions about the “evangelism story” that lead to understanding of God’s plan of salvation.
    • Teaching chronological Bible studies of 32 foundational Bible stories that will help a Deaf person understand God, creation, man & woman, Satan, sin, separation from God, the need for a Savior, Jesus, salvation, the Holy Spirit, and believers’ fellowship. These stories will be taught individually and in small groups to all Deaf wanting to learn.
  3. Discipleship: D.O.O.R. International has developed a second Chronological Bible Storying series consisting of 77 Bible stories that will help Deaf people to learn how to be obedient worshippers of God and followers of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  4. D.O.O.R. International staff and graduates will teach Deaf people who accept Christ how to form local Deaf Believers’ Fellowships focused on the key elements of “church” found in the Book of Acts (e.g. God’s Word,  prayer, worship, fellowship, caring and sharing, the Lord’s Supper, and baptism).
  5. Using biblical guidelines found in Timothy and Titus, D.O.O.R. International staff and graduates will train and equip local Deaf leaders who can oversee the growth and reproduction of Deaf Believers’ Fellowships.
  6. D.O.O.R. International staff will provide training and tools to Christian and secular Deaf leaders in areas of community empowerment and development. This will include specific training in areas such as vision, planning, budgeting, establishing goals, problem solving, team building, developing advocates, and community activism for Deaf people’s rights to interpreters, as well as education, jobs, medical services, health services, and other social services.

Read more about: Deaf Friendly Bible Story Telling – DOOR International 

The Primitive Christian Catechism (Graphic)


This chart is from Philip Carrington’s “The Primitive Christian Catechism”* Many will be able to secure a copy for review through interlibrary loan.

Carrington demonstrates that the Apostles shared a similar outline when “catechizing” new converts into the Christian life. This chart shows the major categories: New Birth/Creation,Putting off/Putting on,Submission,Spiritual Watchfulness, and Spiritual Resistance.

In the modern adaptation in Thom Wolf’s “Universal Disciple Pattern” that author posits that this common pattern  – which subsequent disciples were told to pass on and protect – (e.g. “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim 1:13 NIV) allowed the rapid multiplication of the church while the message remained constant.

If so, to what degree should this pattern inform modern disciples making movements?

For those committed to the “Discovery Bible Study” format of the book “Miraculous Movements“, how can the material be conveyed in a “discovery” format after a sequence of “Creation to Christ” studies?


*Available editions on

Image courtesy



Married America…

Rita and John's Marriage Certificate
Rita and John’s Marriage Certificate (Photo credit: mary hodder)

Married Americans spend more than their unmarried counterparts, suggesting that if the marriage rate increases, overall spending in the U.S. might also increase, benefiting the U.S. economy.

Those are the findings of a Gallup Daily tracking survey conducted Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2013 among 135,537 adults contacted randomly by telephone in all fifty states and the District of Columbia….

The survey found that married Americans report a daily spending average of $102, followed by $98 among those who are living in domestic partnerships, $74 by divorced Americans, $67 by those who are single and never married, and $62 by those who are widowed. Across all age groups, those who were married spend more than those of other marital statuses. –

Gallup: Higher Marriage Rate Could Boost the Economy | CNS News

How One Church Fed An Entire Town



Scott and Karen waded around the corner toward St. Paul’s, where they have served for 11 years. “As we walked up the steps, I was prepared for the worst,” Bostwick says, “but as we got to the door, you could see the high water mark was actually…underneath the door. We were literally the only dry spot in down.” It was a miracle.

They turned to social media to let people know the church was dry. At first the response was slow—after all, no one in the town had power. Then someone a 45-minute drive south noticed and offered to donate a generator. Another person further south offered to drive it up. “Next thing you know,” Bostwick says, “we were the only spot that had lights and hot coffee and cell phone charging.” They posted the news on Facebook and put a poster board sign out in front of the church: “Hot coffee, water, charging station. All welcome.”

Read more

Photo Courtesy St Paul UMC