A Lot of Stuff Happened Around Capernaum!

The more I read the Gospels the more I realise a heck of a lot of Jesus’ ministry happened in and around the town of Capernaum (which means village of comfort). This was Jesus’ adopted hometown of about 1,500 people (Matthew 4:13, 9:1, Mark 2:1). His family had been regular visitors to the town (John 2:12), so it was familiar territory and a logical place to base himself after being rejected in his hometown (Luke 4).

Now imagine if you actually lived in Capernaum at the time. It would have been mind-blowing! Stories of miracles circulating daily around the market stalls and from house to house, locals like fishermen and tax collectors dropping their livelihoods to follow this new bloke. Local religious leaders caught up in the thrill as well. Children raised from the dead and local lepers suddenly back to normal. Sometimes seeing these things with your own eyes!

The list goes on and on. And that’s just what was recorded for posterity. The miracles were probably multiples of that again, most unrecorded. I grew up in a small town of 1,000 people in New South Wales, so I know that these people all knew each other. They knew all the sick people who got better. There was no faking it. The gossip mill would have been running hot every day if anything was sus.

To highlight the spiritual and social earthquake that came to town in the form of the creator of the universe in human form, Jesus, I have pulled together below a list some of the amazing things that happened in and around Capernaum. As you read just imagine you are one of the locals that lived there, and you kept hearing this snowball of history-changing news over several years. How could anyone in that village not become a follower of Jesus?

The first recorded miracle in Capernaum was a man healed from a demon in the local Synagogue (Luke 4:33-37). That didn’t happen every day. He was known to all in town. The news spread rapidly. It was just the beginning.

Jesus then went all over Galilee preaching and healing the sick (Matthew 4:23). This drew a massive crowd from as far away as Syria and the mostly non-Jewish villages on the east side of the huge lake. So, he sat them down and did some extensive teaching which is now called the Sermon on the Mount. Where did it take place? We don’t know for sure but straight after the Sermon scripture says Jesus entered Capernaum (Matthew 8:5). Capernaum was on the highway from Jerusalem to Damascus. So, a large crowd could easily have converged on the town for the lecture.

After the extended teaching Jesus came down from the hillside, and before he could even enter town, he healed a leper (Matthew 8:1-4)

He then entered Capernaum and was confronted by a high-ranking Roman soldier who begged Jesus to heal his son/servant, which he did from a great distance because of the soldier’s great faith (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10).

Jesus then went to Peter’s house in nearby Bethsaida and healed his mother-in-law before healing everyone in the village (Matthew 8:14-18). Bethsaida was about six kilometers from Capernaum at the northern tip of the lake. News of this astounding feat would have reached Capernaum in about 3 nanoseconds.

Back at Capernaum sometime later Jesus healed a paraplegic but sadly incurred the ire of local religious leaders for not obeying standard religious rituals and practice (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12). This was a sign of things to come.

He then challenged the most hated man in town, the local Capernaum tax collector, to dump his bullying, seedy lifestyle and theft to dedicate his life to the Messiah, which Matthew did (Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17). This alone would have got tongues wagging around town!

In contrast to the grumpy religious leaders, another Capernaum religious leader named Jairus approached Jesus sometime later and asked him to heal his daughter. Jairus may have lived in a nearby village because another miracle, the healing of the woman with the issue of blood occurred on the way to Jairus’ home. Jairus’ daughter died before Jesus got there but she was still raised from the dead. This in turn raised Jesus’ reputation to a whole new level (Matthew 9:18-26).

Finally, we see Jesus performing a few nature control miracles. He went for a stroll on water while the disciples travelled by back by boat to Capernaum (John 6:16-21), after which a flotilla of boats followed him to Capernaum when they noticed he had left the eastern shore of the lake where he was ministering. Earlier he also instantly calmed a storm while sailing the other way on that trip out from Bethsaida (Matthew 8: 23-27). Then there was the miracle of the massive take of fish, a fisherman’s dream catch, not far from Capernaum (Luke 5:1-11). These three events spoke of the divine nature of the man as much more than a prophet and healer, as creator and master of all creation.

And yet, after some time the locals grew used to the supernatural and the unexpected. They would eventually and shockingly turn their back on Jesus. The power of stubborn, threatened religious leaders and the deeply entrenched local religious mindset took over from the innocence of divine visitation (Luke 6:1-11). Jesus would eventually speak harshly about the lack of faith and repentance in both Capernaum and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:20-24). He knew what he was talking about when he said that a prophet is without honour in his hometown (John 4:43-44). How true.

Miracles alone cannot convince an unbeliever. It must be faith and repentance from a contrite heart. The episode of the ten lepers demonstrates this so well (Luke 10:13-15). How many locals from Capernaum and Bethsaida are in heaven now? One day I’ll find out.

Why Are Christians Quitting Their Jobs Because of Covid?

I heard yesterday that somewhere around 20 staff out of the 160 at my child’s Christian school are either quitting or will be working from home until the end of February before they have to quit too. Covid seems to be driving a wedge between Christians who are getting vaccinated and those who are ideologically opposed to vaccination. Why?

Some of those staff were ready to retire anyway so quit in quiet protest against the new government mandatory vaccination rules. Some noisily fought the school and then quit. Some are waiting for the novavax vaccine to come out as they don’t trust Pfizer after hearing about lots of disaster stories on social media. Everyone’s reasons are different and in their minds they are valid, but there are patterns and causes.

The drama at our school is a microcosm of what is happening in the wider evangelical Christian community in Australia. This ideological opposition to vaccines has been the ongoing topic of conversation in our very pro-vaccine family over the Christmas break. So I thought I’d don a sociologist’s hat from my uni days and jot down some of the causes I can see for this resentment toward a public health directive designed to keep the community safe from a deadly disease. Here, in no particular order, are nine:

  1. I think it has something to do with evangelical Christians innate suspicion toward government. For decades now the primary view of the future (eschatology) taught in Western evangelical churches is one where a spooky one-world-government takes over and persecutes Christians. This comes from a futuristic understanding of the book of Revelation. They see the actions of compulsory health mandates, lockdowns and “forced” vaccinations as feeding into this well-established belief system. There are other perspectives on the book of Revelation but they are rarely heard in Western churches.
  1. I think it’s also got something to do with a skepticism toward science born out of a rejection of the theory of evolution. I also reject the myth of evolution and have extensively written on the topic. However, I can see why the two here are being confused after the massively politicised approach to the pandemic in the USA last year which destroyed faith in public health initiatives which then spread doubt around the world.
  1. Then there is the dumbing down and atomizing of “news” flow into the modern household. Social media is now the main source of information about the outside world and has created an environment of positive feedback loops. Biases are reinforced not challenged. Prejudices are fanned by algorithms which keep feeding you information similar to what you are viewing so you stay on their site. It’s all about advertising. They also want you to be enraged as emotion keeps you on the site. Facebook is a master at these strategies. Sadly, most Western Christians read facebook much more than the Bible!
  1. Entitlement plays a part. The Gen X and millennials of the West have never had it tough. Many have grown up as materially and socially spoilt snowflakes. Us boomers can still remember our parents talking about the pandemics of old that they grew up terrified of: Polio, malaria, tuberculosis, venereal disease, the Spanish flu etc. Our children don’t know anything of that world thanks to modern medicine. They’ve got it so good but they still manage to couch the privilege of being able to reject a life-saving vaccine (vaccines which they were pumped full of as a baby) in the language of oppression, even after at least 115,000 health workers globally have died fighting this disease! They use words like apartheid and segregation. That’s abuse of those words! My daughter works on the frontline of Covid prevention and quarantine. She has had to deal with multiple clients who had Covid and then died. She has zero tolerance for idiot Christians who post challenges on facebook for their friends to find a genuine case of Covid as they believe it’s all a conspiracy. Here’s one: My brother couldn’t get out of bed for six months after getting Covid. There’s not a lot of time for entitlement attitudes in our family!
  1. Lack of education plays a part too. It is no accident that all over Australia where education levels are low, we also find vaccination rates are low. It’s the same in every developed country. Meanwhile people in poor countries are desperately pleading for the rich to share their vaccines. The majority of staff at the school mentioned above who resigned were admin staff, not teachers. The same loose divide permeates most churches.
  1. The rise and rise of the individual over the group in Western society plays a part. In every decade since I was a child, I have seen individual rights progress up the value chain to the point where they are now hegemonic over community needs. You can’t question a person’s right to whatever weird and whacko behaviour they want to exhibit to the world. I’m a women trapped in a mans body. No problem. I want to destroy my life and you have to pay the medical costs. No problem. I want have sex with whoever I please and the taxpayer funds the abortions. No problem. Our culture has privatized reckless behaviour and socialised the cost to taxpayers. The “You can’t tell me what to do” mindset now comes back to bite us in the pandemic. I head just yesterday that 95% of those Covid patients in hospital in the state of Victoria, Australia, are either unvaccinated or have only had one jab. They appear to be demanding a high degree of autonomy and freedom unhindered by the consequences for the community. Christians are not immune to these trends. It’s the cultural water we swim in.
  1. Genuine fear of something going wrong is there too. Yes, there are real horror stories. Pfizer’s vaccine can cause heart problems, especially in young men. It’s called myocarditis. Freedom of information requests showed there were over a thousand myocarditis deaths from the Pfizer vaccine up until February 2021 in the USA alone, with many more since. I hear anecdotal stories from people I know and trust of others suffering heart problems (says he who had his first Pfizer jab just yesterday as his third booster shot!). It’s a real issue and I respect anyone who refuses the vaccine if one of their personal friends is suffering badly because of it. The problem here is that many viruses and bacteria can cause myocarditis and if you got it from the vaccine, you would be in the hot seat to get it much worse from the disease itself. That’s the bit we are not told. Public health is always about weighing the individual cost against the greater good. There have been almost a million deaths from Covid in the USA so far. How many more would there have been with no vaccine, two million, five million? Get the drift?
  1. The spirit of fear is palpable when I talk to friends who are against vaccinations. They are petrified of something going wrong. What started as doubt then became their public position, then gradually hardened and is now entrenched. They’ve dug themselves into a hole. Many will change their story when novavax comes on stream as that will give them a dignified escape route, but the damage has been done. Fear is their paradigm. This seems odd from a Biblical and Christian perspective considering we walk with Christ. He has not given us a spirit of fear, and we are guided by the Holy Spirit. Fear comes from Satan, and it paralyses us. The much more important task of the Kingdom of God is abandoned. If anti-vac Christians put as much emotional effort into proclaiming the Gospel as they do into fighting against vaccinations it would be commendable. If you want to know what righteous fear is then join the thousands of Iranian followers of Jesus being tortured inside their criminal justice system.
  1. Most Western Christians are auditory learners (simply because 70% of all people are auditory learners) and have been conditioned all their lives to getting their Christian “truth” from sermons rather than scripture. The more entertaining the speaker the better. This feeds into an interest in podcasts over scientific literature. This has resulted in an army of emotional anti-vaccination ranters getting full-spectrum exposure inside the Christian community. I was actually sent a podcast in 2020 by a Christian which claimed the 5G rollout was causing Covid. He believed it. Insane!

Everyone has to make their own decision. But every decision has consequences in this era when everyone is going to get this new variant. Seek  the wisdom of the Holy Spirit before listening to the views of men.

 

 

Saudi Arabia and China: Spiritual Twins?

I’ve been reading a lot lately on geopolitics: China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, The Arab states, Iran, India, the USA etc. All the gang that will be influential in the world by the end of the century. It’s endlessly fascinating! What struck me while reading were the sub-surface similarities between Saudi Arabia and China. On the surface they are culturally worlds apart, but spiritually they are twins.

But first let’s lay some groundwork for that left-field statement.

The geographical and biological world is a physical expression of Gods infinite mind, spirit and gracious heart. Likewise, the cultural and political world is usually an expression of humanity’s inner spiritual darkened heart. Just like a person’s home is an outward expression of their mind and heart, so too this holds on the national level. The spiritual realm is the foundation to everything in the physical realm.

This is why it was no accident that Jesus was confronted with the offer of earthly political power by a spiritual being named Satan in the three great temptations in Matthew 4:1-11. Satan had great control over the affairs of men and empires. Jesus also knew the power behind the Pharisee’s manic desire for cultural power over his fellow countrymen was spiritual in nature and came from Satan’s lust for power (John 8:42-59). He taught his followers that Satan’s aim with all cultures is to steal, kill and destroy the redemptive work of God (John 10:10). The world is far more spiritual than us thickheaded materialistic Westerners realise. This is why the lust for unrestrained power runs so deep in most of the world’s governments.

Satan offers power, Jesus offers love. They are the two greatest forces in the world. This is why prayer matters.

Looking past the surface of the cultures and politics I’d been reading about, I could see many similarities in the spiritual brokenness, lust for unbridled power, demonic power bases and unseen control centers behind the politics and culture in many of the above countries. This does not mean the Western countries are free of demonic influence. Demonic influence is gaining ground in the West by the day and sexual politics is the pointy end of Satan’s spear! But that’s another topic for another day.

Now, back to the topic.

In my reading there were two countries that stood out as very spiritually similar: Saudi Arabia and China. If Satan’s methodology is to steal, kill and destroy the work of God then please take note of the following blunt indicators of his influence:

  1. Both countries are totalitarian states
  2. Both are run by ruthless entrenched power elites
  3. Both have power elites are deeply insecure about their privileged positions
  4. Both were born out of violence early in the 20th Century
  5. Both are ideologically driven to take over the world
  6. Both are run by violent narcissistic psychopaths entrenched for life
  7. Both use jack-booted thought-police to control their people’s access to ideas and the truth
  8. Both use violence to wipe out minorities they don’t like
  9. Both are using or threatening violence on neighbouring countries
  10. Both are actively exporting deeply repulsive, violent and intolerant ideologies
  11. Both believe that their particular ideology is pre-ordained to rule the world
  12. Both are rapidly growing their military strength
  13. Both constantly threaten weaker states around them
  14. Both detest true Christianity and violently persecute Christians

These political parallels point to powerful spiritual demonic strongholds in both countries that have kept their people from the truth and grace of God for centuries. The Western secular media doesn’t see this deeper level of motivation and activity. They just call it human nature. It’s more. It’s spiritual evil on a grand scale, inspired by Satan and designed to steal, kill and destroy the work of God’s grace on earth.

But there is good news here. The Gospel is now exploding globally and that includes inside Saudi Arabia and China in a way not seen since the fifth Century. Underground church networks are popping up everywhere in Saudi Arabia as I write. Over in China some 7% of that massive country are now born-again believers and the church grows by 3% annually against stagnant population growth.

The ancient spiritual strongholds of Satan are now crumbling, and it is because of faithful intercession by millions of “powerless” followers of Jesus that have cracked the castle walls of Satan’s fortresses in both countries. The rest of this century will see exciting mass people movements flooding into the Kingdom of God in both Saudi Arabia and China. His kingdom WILL come and his every goal for the earth WILL be fulfilled, just as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10, 28:18-20)

The spiritual realm is much more powerful and important than the physical, cultural, and political.

So, keep praying for the nations.

Not a single prayer is lost or wasted!!!!

I Met A Dead Man Once. That’s What Christmas Is About

Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because it’s the pivot point when the world changed direction. When Satan lost control. When Heaven began its slow but steady invasion of earth. When souls began to populate Heaven. When God’s original plan of relationship with humanity was brought back into play. When the empires, kingdoms and narcissists of the worlds political systems lost control of the planets destiny. When God became Emmanuel, God with us. When Satan lost.

Or is it just a bunch of outdated theology, a quaint piece of cultural driftwood in the ocean of modern tech and woke Western values?

No. It’s the first one; and let me tell you a story to remind you of the power of Christmas.

It was 1993 and I was in the remote Denewa Valley in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. There I met an old man called Willy. No surname. Willy and the other locals told me the story that changed their valley forever. Denewa had been a cargo-cult valley and very resistant to the message of liberation in Christ. Only a handful of the 3,000 locals were interested. Sexual license was rife. Then, while working up the hill in his garden, Willy took very sick and died suddenly.

Now when I say dead, I mean DEAD. These people see death all the time. They know what it feels, smells, and looks like. It happens in their homes. Their kids die. Its familiar.

Immediately the word went out that Willy had died and about three hundred people rushed up the hill to his garden hut to begin the afternoons wailing and screaming before he was to be buried that evening. This is the tropics, you’ve only got four hours. The screaming was deafening. I know because I watched the same scene unfold on the Trobiand Islands the next year after visiting Denewa. It’s like listening to a jet screaming at full throttle. The older women are the professionals! It’s very physical and scary for a westerner to watch.

But among the crowd were two men I would later meet, Robin and David. David had met Jesus in Port Moresby and was the first to bring the Gospel back to the valley. Robin was my student in my small bark hut Bible college about five years later. Both were very spiritual men. They pushed their way to the body and began to pray. David saw a vision of Willy coming back down a set of stairs to earth and told Robin. They both prayed and prayed for him to come back.

About three hours after Willy died, he suddenly sad bolt upright and asked for water. Three hundred people froze on the spot. This was not in the script. Robin saw to Willy’s needs while David immediately began to explain what had happened and why. Three hundred people became followers of Jesus on the spot and the church was born. Years later when I visited the valley the church was going well and the leaders, Robin, Paulus and David were shepherding the people as best they could. My job was to encourage what God had started.

Willy told me he thought he had been dreaming when he woke up. He “dreamt” that he was in the middle of a field and two armies were careening toward him, after him. Then he woke up and asked for water.

This is why Jesus came to us. This is why we celebrate Christmas.

Afghanistan: The Untold Story of Spiritual Breakthrough

1. History

People came to Afghanistan very soon after the Tower of Babel. Empires then came and went in succession over several millennia as this mountainous land was a major migration and trade corridor from the Middle East to Asia. The Persians then came to dominate the region and with them came the religion of Zoroastrianism. Most Afghans can trace their demographic roots to the Persians and this is reflected in the main language, Pashtun. In between the two Persian empires, the religions and cultures of South Asian Hinduism and Buddhism gained influence. Then came the brief Greek occupation and Greek settlement under Alexander around 330BC. I was surprised to see some Greek archaeological remains recently in the New Delhi museum. During this entire era Afghanistan played a central role in the booming Silk Road trade between Europe and China. Because of the 70 year enslavement of the Jews in Babylon it was also common to see Jewish traders active on the Silk Road in Afghanistan in the millennia before Christ.

In the Christian era there came mass destruction at the hands of the Mongols, followed by the Muslim conquest. In 1282AD Ahmed Teduker assumed the Afghan throne and began the country’s switch to Islam, a situation that prevails to this day. From the late Middle Ages, Afghanistan came under the rule of the mighty Moghul emperors based in Delhi, India, but who originated in Afghanistan a few generations earlier. With the break-up of that empire, and the unsuccessful multiple attempts by the British to conquer Afghanistan, it was then ruled by a king until the 1970’s and was a reasonably stable and prosperous nation. Then it went through a bloodless coup. In 1978 the Russian Communists took advantage of this instability and invaded and the country has been unstable and suffering ever since.

With the expulsion of the Russians, Afghanistan came under the rule of radical Islamists called the Taliban. It is impossible to understand their hold on the country and the violence that has engulfed the nation since the 1970’s unless you appreciate the deep, violent and austere tribal nature of primitive Pashtun social structures. This is the largest medieval tribal nation on earth which makes it very fertile ground for radical Islam!

2. Today

With 37 million people, Afghanistan is now a desperately poor and suffering country with an average income of 1% of the USA. Almost 60% of people are under 20 years of age and life expectancy is a tragic 44 years. However, a new generation has now grown up without the repression of the Taliban and they long for freedom and opportunity. Over 4 million refugees have now returned to their homeland. With the re-conquest of the country by the Taliban we are going to see an interesting clash between this new generation and the Islamic hardliners. Only 15% of Afghanistan is connected to the internet, but 50% have mobile phones. The young are now connected to the outside world and long for freedoms undreamed of by their parents.

The form of Islam practiced here by the new Islamist government is severe and repressive, especially for women. Stiff punishments apply for anyone leaving Islam and this begins with total rejection from family. However God is moving in an unprecedented way as you will see from the list below. This is because wherever Islam has become violent and repressive in recent years there seems to be a sudden growth in those coming to Christ.

3. True Christianity

Some Silk Road Jews from what is now far western Afghanistan were probably present at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). They came from the Parthian Empire, so the Gospel could have arrived in Afghanistan a few months after that momentous day. Church tradition says that both Bartholomew and Thomas went to Afghanistan to share the Good News. The historian Bardaison, writing in 196AD, speaks of Christians throughout Parthia. By 250AD there were nine city-based bishops in modern-day Afghanistan. However, with the arrival of Islam the church went into a slow decline until it was completely wiped out some centuries later by the viciousness of the Mongol warlord Timur when some 7 million Central Asian Christians were slaughtered in just two decades.

Today however there is a new dawn. The church in Afghanistan is exploding. Decades of suffering and the prayers of the saints are combining to destroy the Satanic strongholds that have chained these peoples for millennia. Satan’s iron grip on Afghanistan is slipping! Here are some of the amazing stories coming out of the country at the moment:

  1. The government now warns that “Christianity has obtained a special place not only among youth, but also among various layers in society”.
  2. A Farsi news service reported recently that high ranking members of society are now becoming Christians
  3. House churches that know how get inside the culture are multiplying.
  4. Thousands of Afghans who fled to Iran and Europe (start reading half way down this link to see what amazing things are happening in Germany) have become Christians. The Iranian church embraced the Afghans while Iranians as a whole hated their presence.
  5. Last, and perhaps most importantly, Isik Abla Ministries report that they had 182,000 thousand active Facebook followers in Kabul alone at the end of 2017. That’s nearly 4% of all internet users in the country actively absorbing Christian teaching.

Something BIG is happening and there is nothing the new Taliban government can do about it. Lets join our prayers to those of thousands of others to see the harvest multiply as millions of Afghans reject the stupidity of Islamic fundamentalism for the Love and freedom of Christ.

The Origin of Language

Number of living human languages: 6912

Number of those languages that are nearly extinct: 516

Language with the greatest number of native speakers: Mandarin Chinese

Language spoken by the greatest number of non-native speakers: English

Papua New Guinea has 820 living languages!!!

First language ever written: Sumerian or Egyptian (about 3200 BC)

Oldest written language still in existence: Chinese or Greek (about 1500 BC)

Language with the most words: English, with approximately 250,000 distinct words.

English is also fast becoming the world’s universal language.

The number of different ‘language families’ vary and are difficult. But they are generally in the vicinity of some 8 to 20 (commonly 12 or 13)

All major languages are running downhill in terms of their syntax (structure). Ancient languages were much more complex in structure and pure in form than modern languages. This is the opposite of evolutionary theory.

Most languages are going uphill in terms of vocabulary, due to recent human input and increased technology

All languages have remained roughly equal in terms of their semantics (meaning) throughout out their history. All cultures have produced roughly equally complex languages

Which means any human can learn another’s language!

Many languages change rapidly in a few hundred years, then remained static for hundreds of years. English from 1600 is very readable today, but English from 1300 is incomprehensible.

English spelling was only standardised in the 1800’s with the wide-spread use of dictionaries

Each of the 12-13 language families is completely distinct from all others. The do not have a common ancestry

All of the facts above, especially those highlighted in italics, fit perfectly with the Biblical origin of language.

 

What is a Worldview?

Each of us interprets the events of our lives and our external reality through the lens of a worldview. A worldview is a philosophy of life that runs very deep into our soul. A worldview operates at the level of our subconscious thought and it teaches us early to make major assumptions about life. It is how we are taught to think as toddlers by the actions of significant people around us. Our worldview is largely locked in by the age of seven. Asking a person to describe their worldview is like asking a fish for a definition of water Its hard because its all they’ve ever known. Fish are not taught about water, they can feel it from the moment they are born. Water is the only medium through which they can sense and interpret reality. That’s how it is with your worldview. Every person carries in his or her head this subjective mental worldview framework of how external reality works. Worldviews are so well absorbed early in life that it takes a huge amount of effort, often a crisis, to change from one worldview to another when older.

A viable worldview must answer the six great questions of life. These are:

  1. What or who is the ultimate first cause of everything?
  2. What is the origin and nature of the universe?
  3. Where did humans come from and what is our nature?
  4. What is knowledge and truth, and how do we find it?
  5. What is right and wrong?
  6. What is the purpose of history and what is our destiny?

All the great religions, both supernatural (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam), and atheistic (Communism, Humanism and Post Modernism) are worldviews. The difference between these two camps is simply the answer they give to the first question. All subsequent answers flow from a worldview’s answer to that first crucial question.

It is a difficult task for any aspiring worldview to answer these questions in a watertight fashion. Hence, the development of a new worldview is rare. Once a worldview takes root in a culture it lasts for centuries and it requires an enormous amount of intellectual and social effort for the next worldview to dislodge it. Islam is attempting just such a shift in the Western world at present. It will be an interesting fight for a long time to come. Atheism has now decisively dislodged the Judeo-Christian worldview from centre stage in the Western world and is currently developing its moral code through the lense of sexual politics and offense.

Worldview shifts are therefore always times of great physical conflict, political change, legal flux and social anxiety. To understand the current global wave of historical and spiritual events you must fully understand this concept of competing worldviews. A worldview teaches the culture who is in charge, it is all about power and authority.

The Western world has been slowly expelling the Christian worldview from its traditional position of authority for over the last 100 years. This only happened because Christianity became weak, not because Atheism was strong. Christianity was and still is stuck in an outdated institutional structure that lost touch with the surrounding culture. It confused mission with ritual.

This is now changing. The non-Western church is booming inside hostile cultures. Hundreds of millions are pouring into God’s Kingdom. It is conquering other worldviews, be they Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim. The mission hasn’t changed, this is because the methods they use are far closer to the methods Jesus taught his followers to use in their mission. These methods are non-institutional and have ditched ritual. They are now slowly seeping into the Western church too, with the same results. Outwardly the future for the church in the West looks grim, but spiritually, it is bright as we learn from our brothers and sisters who are doing what Jesus asked, making disciples of their nations, one person at a time.

This link will take you to a research article demonstrating how effectively the non-Western church is doing the Great Commission.

For Fun: Ask your friends the six big worldview questions above and you will have a very long and deep conversation!!!

Ten Tips For Finding a Marriage Partner (From Research)

The research backs up tried and true Biblical wisdom!

1. Marrying as a teenager is the highest known risk factor for divorce.

People who marry in their teens are two to three times more likely to divorce than people who marry in their twenties or older.

2. The most likely way to find a future marriage partner is through an introduction by family, friends, or acquaintances.

Despite the romantic notion that people meet and fall in love through chance or fate, the evidence suggests that social networks are important in bringing together individuals of similar interests and backgrounds, especially when it comes to selecting a marriage partner. According to a large-scale national survey of sexuality, almost sixty percent of married people were introduced by family, friends, co-workers or other acquaintances.

3. The more similar people are in their values, backgrounds and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage.

Opposites may attract but they may not live together harmoniously as married couples. People who share common backgrounds and similar social networks are better suited as marriage partners than people who are very different in their backgrounds and networks.

4. Women have a significantly better chance of marrying if they do not become single parents before marrying.

Having a child out of wedlock reduces the chances of ever marrying. Despite the growing numbers of potential marriage partners with children, one study noted, “having children is still one of the least desirable characteristics a potential marriage partner can possess.” The only partner characteristic men and women rank as even less desirable than having children is the inability to hold a steady job.

5. Both women and men who are college educated are more likely to marry, and less likely to divorce, than people with lower levels of education.

Despite occasional news stories predicting lifelong single-hood for college-educated women, these predictions have proven false. Though the first generation of college educated women (those who earned baccalaureate degrees in the 1920s) married less frequently than their less well-educated peers, the reverse is true today. College educated women’s chances of marrying are better than less well-educated women. However, the growing gender gap in college education may make it more difficult for college women to find similarly well-educated men in the future. This is already a problem for African-American female college graduates, who greatly outnumber African-American male college graduates.

6. Living together before marriage has not proved useful as a “trial marriage.”

People who have multiple cohabiting relationships before marriage are more likely to experience marital conflict, marital unhappiness and eventual divorce than people who do not cohabit before marriage. Researchers attribute some but not all of these differences to the differing characteristics of people who cohabit, the so-called “selection effect,” rather than to the experience of cohabiting itself. It has been hypothesized that the negative effects of cohabitation on future marital success may diminish as living together becomes a common experience among today’s young adults. However, according to one recent study of couples who were married between 1981 and 1997, the negative effects persist among younger cohorts, supporting the view that the cohabitation experience itself contributes to problems in marriage.

7. Marriage helps people to generate income and wealth.

Compared to those who merely live together, people who marry become economically better off. Men become more productive after marriage; they earn between ten and forty percent more than do single men with similar education and job histories. Marital social norms that encourage healthy, productive behavior and wealth accumulation play a role. Some of the greater wealth of married couples results from their more efficient specialization and pooling of resources, and because they save more. Married people also receive more money from family members than the unmarried (including cohabiting couples), probably because families consider marriage more permanent and more binding than a living-together union.

8. People who are married are more likely to have emotionally and physically satisfying sex lives than single people or those who just live together.

Contrary to the popular belief that married sex is boring and infrequent, married people report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than both sexually active singles and cohabiting couples, according to the most comprehensive and recent survey of sexuality. Forty-two percent of wives said that they found sex extremely emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to just 31 percent of single women who had a sex partner. And 48 percent of husbands said sex was extremely satisfying emotionally, compared to just 37 percent of cohabiting men. The higher level of commitment in marriage is probably the reason for the high level of reported sexual satisfaction; marital commitment contributes to a greater sense of trust and security, less drug and alcohol-infused sex, and more mutual communication between the couple.

9. People who grow up in a family broken by divorce are slightly less likely to marry, and much more likely to divorce when they do marry.

According to one study the divorce risk nearly triples if one marries someone who also comes from a broken home. The increased risk is much lower, however, if the marital partner is someone who grew up in a happy, intact family.

10. For large segments of the population, the risk of divorce is far below fifty percent.

Although the overall divorce rate in America remains close to fifty percent of all marriages, it has been dropping gradually over the past two decades. Also, the risk of divorce is far below fifty percent for educated people going into their first marriage, and lower still for people who wait to marry at least until their mid-twenties, haven’t lived with many different partners prior to marriage, or are strongly religious and marry someone of the same faith.

 

Matthew: The “Vladimir Putin” of Capernaum

Below is my best guess at what led up to the “instant” decision by Matthew to leave his sordid old life behind and follow Rabbi Jesus, as recorded by himself in Matthew 9:9. The scripture records only one sentence, but there has to be a back story to that decision.

The closest thing Jesus had to a home was his adopted hometown of Capernaum, a fishing village near the top of Lake Galilee (Matthew 9:1). He didn’t have a house of his own (Matthew 8:20), so when resting in Capernaum he was billeted out between five of the disciples who also lived in Capernaum: Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew. It looks like he spent a lot of time at Peter’s house (Matthew 8:14).

Matthew was not initially a follower of Jesus. His decision came well after those of the fishermen and his story is interesting. He was a tax collector, and we need to drill down into what that really meant.

Throughout history when a foreign power occupied a region and needed locals to help with its dirty work of control and suppression, there was usually only one group who put their hand up for the job: The criminal class. When you take a region by force you need locals who are familiar with violence and extortion to back you up. This is how empires work. It will never change. Its human nature.

Why do criminals volunteer to help occupying forces? It’s because these people are already ruthless and outsiders. They lack a moral compass. They are considered lowlife so have nothing to lose. They have scores to settle with existing authority. They are brutal when they need to be. They are greedy and ready to sell their soul for a shot at tainted wealth and power. Matthew was one such man. He was a very nasty dude.

His job description was to confiscate a designated quota of money from his fellow Galilean fishermen, through traffic, local businesses and farmers. He would over charge, pocket a percentage and deliver the required quota to the Romans. Mockingly, this paid for the very army that violently suppressed Matthew’s fellow Jewish citizens.

Matthew would have overcharged as much as his poor countrymen could tolerate. Why not, the incentive was there without consequence. This guy deliberately impoverished his own village and his own people! He was the very one ripping off fishing profits from John, Andrew, James and Peter for himself and the Romans. Imagine the heated exchanges Matthew and Peter had engaged in over the years when tax had to be paid. Expletive’s all round!

The result was that Matthew was bitterly hated by all in Capernaum. He was a rich social outcaste (Matthew 9:13). He would probably have had to pay some local thugs for physical security. He walked around town with minders. All Matthew’s “friends” were also lowlife (Matthew 9:11). These would have been those thugs just mentioned, dodgy servants he employed in various tasks around his substantial home, fellow petty criminals, other tax collectors, corrupt businessmen sucking up in the hope of getting a discount on their taxes, corrupt extended family, local loose women, and the like. Imagine a mafia headquarters scene from a Hollywood movie and you get the picture.

These “friends” were the sort that only love you while there is something in it for them. They were the broken prodigals of Capernaum. The Roman tax system was rife for corruption and the Capernaum social underbelly all curried Matthew’s favour. He was the local alpha male, the Putin of Capernaum. He cared little for the Jewish religion, it was too late for him. Money was his god.

Then, out of the blue, another alpha male came down the hill to the village from Nazareth and stayed. Over the months this rabbi came and went, but he always came back. The two knew of each other for possibly six months or more, Capernaum wasn’t a big place. They crossed paths whenever the Rabbi came and left the village because Matthew’s tax booth was just out of town (Matthew 9:9) on the main road that everyone had to use to go north or south. This was the busy main road from Jerusalem to Damascus (yes, this was Paul’s “road to Damascus!”). The perfect place to collect tax.

Matthew had heard the rumours about this Rabbi. He’d met people who told him bizarre stories of miracles. He was very uncomfortable but intrigued. Was this new guy going to stir up trouble for him and his cosy business? Was he going to call him out for criminal activity? Could he read his thoughts? Would he “zap” him like he had recently done to the two crazy men and the pigs on the other side of the lake (Matthew 8:28-34)? Was the Rabbi actually…a prophet!

We don’t know the questions inside Matthew’s head. But what we do know is that Matthew’s conscience was working overtime. He was full of shame and guilt over what he had done to his local brethren. He was sick of being hated and rejected. Somewhere in his past there was a different Matthew, and the Rabbi was reminding him of that past.

He began thinking of quitting the tax business but didn’t know how to extricate himself. Did he share his thoughts with his wife? Was his wife feeding her thoughts about the Rabbi to him? We don’t know. But something was on the boil for probably a month or two. We know this because as soon as Jesus came by the tax station one day, he saw something in Matthew’s eyes. A silent but visible pleading for help. Something was different.

So, when the Rabbi challenged Matthew with the simple dare to follow him (Matthew 9:9), something suddenly leapt inside Matthew’s heart. In an instant he knew that this was his one and only opportunity to redeem himself, to do away with his disgrace and guilt, to make things right with his neighbours, to cleanse his conscience and to make a brand-new start in life. He was ecstatic.

Behind Jesus the Reaction was different. Peter, John, Andrew and James were in shock! As a chorus they shouted, What, him!

After an hour or so of adrenaline-fueled introductions, Matthew announced he would throw a big party to celebrate his new direction. He charged home and proceeded to shock his entire household and entourage with the decision he had made. He then spared no expense on a gala dinner and invited all the people he knew would come, that is, his sleazy mates. They would be his witnesses to his monumental decision, and also meet the Rabbi that he would now be submitting to wholeheartedly.

They all came, and some interesting extras were there as well.

Halfway through the dinner there was a commotion from some of the guests. Capernaum’s religious leaders were present at this dinner. and were pestering Jesus’ disciples with the statement why would your master dine with lowlifes? (Matthew 9:11). This begs the question: What were they doing there???!!! Were they in Matthew’s dirty pocket as well? Was he currying favour with them? Were they currying favour with him? Either way this side note doesn’t look good for the state of religion in Capernaum at the time.

In response the Rabbi said that he was there specifically to invite the outcastes and sinners, not those who think they are on the right path (Matthew 9:13). This olive branch of grace would have led to quite a few more decisions to follow the Rabbi that night. Capernaum would never be the same again.

This is how I imagine Matthew’s personal journey to becoming a dedicated follower of the greatest man who ever lived, Immanuel. His place in history is secure. Little did he know that day that he would become world famous for all the right reasons. Jesus saw something in his heart everyone else missed.

When I get to meet Matthew one day, I will be asking him many questions about that what really happened in those six months.

 

 

THE GREATEST DECADE IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY HAS ARRIVED!

NTRODUCTION

Out of roughly 200 decades since Jesus launched the Christian faith, the decade from 2020-2030 is going to see by far the largest harvest of all. The following essay unpacks this reality with a snapshot of what is happening inside a new and fast growing branch of Christianity. Global Christianity is about to change forever, and the coming decade will be seen one day by historians as the tipping point when this change took centre stage.

After a three century burst of early church growth, for the next millennium Western Christianity was largely associated with the Catholic and Orthodox faiths. Then came the Reformation which brought us back to a Biblical theology. We are now at the beginning of the second Reformation that is bringing the global Church back to its original Biblical structure.

This “new” branch of Christianity often goes under the names of Disciple Making Movements or Church Planting Movements (DMM or CPM). These commonly used terms reflect the missional heart of this new Reformation. Most Western Christians will not have heard very much about DMM/CPM movements as they are largely outside the Western world, outside Western denomination systems, outside traditional theological training colleges, outside visible religious buildings and they lack high profile leaders. This is in part because most DMM/CPM movements have to deliberately keep a low profile. They are often found inside hostile host cultures.

DMM/CPM’s are not an entirely new phenomenon. In fact the very first DMM/CPM was initiated by Jesus himself and was copied by the early church in the Book of Acts. Sadly, Jesus’ model of kingdom growth through rapid multiplication of strong and obedient disciples and simple churches fell out of favour when Christianity settled down as another religion several hundred years after Christ’s resurrection.

If you carefully read chapter’s 3-10 of the book of Luke you can see Jesus’ own DMM/CPM being birthed, growing and then exploding over three years in the fertile hills of Galilee. Jesus first launched his ministry, evangelised and gathered followers (Luke 4). Then he called out from among those followers a small group of 12 men for intense leadership training (Luke 6). They watched and learned. Then Jesus sent them out to obediently duplicate what he had done (Luke 9). Later, they in turn trained another 70 or so others in the same skills. These second tier leaders were then asked to find even more disciples and potential leaders (persons of peace) in every village in Galilee, and to train them in the way they themselves had been trained (Luke 10). Thus a sizable movement was birthed with several hundred leaders trained up who would lay the foundation of the coming spiritual harvest after Jesus rose from the dead and gave them the Great Commission.

Only an understanding of this very first DMM/CPM explains why tens of thousands flocked to hear Jesus teach, and why there were 120 in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Jesus had saturated Galilee with the Gospel and had trained enough leaders for the future harvest! These leaders knew exactly what the Great Commission meant, and what to do after the day the Holy Spirit was poured out. The book of Acts records DMM/CPM’s beginning to multiply around the Roman world, with Acts 13-14 being a good example of the birth of one of them. Outside the book of Acts, history also records many other DMM/CPM’s springing up all over the known world through the work of these very first church leaders.

Modern DMM/CPM’s are simply a return to the New Testament way of obeying the commands and the Great Commission of Jesus. They therefore work in any and every cultural setting. Over the last thirty years a rapidly increasing number of Christian leaders around the world have discovered Jesus’s original model in the scriptures and have begun to implement these practical methods of discipleship.

These DMM/CPM’s are not theological academic programs. They are a spiritual and social revolution based on real world obedience. The timing of the rise of this DMM/CPM revolution coincides with a radical shift in evangelical Christianity away from the Western world to the global south where we now find 4/5ths of all the world’s 600 million evangelical believers. Over the next decade the exponential increase in new and energetic DMM/CPM movements will begin to change the course of entire nations, which was the original intent of Matthew 28:19.

HOW MOVEMENTS ARE MEASURED

The International Missions Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention in the United States has taken on the responsibility for closely monitoring the growth of all existing and emerging DMM/CPM movements. Justin Long, who previously worked on the World Christian Encyclopaedia, is in charge of this task. In fact, the inspiration for this essay came from a recent IMB Missions Frontiers Magazine article titled 1% of the World: A Macro-analysis of 1,369 Movements to Christ that was written by Justin himself. The IMB coordinates with 1,600 Western and non-Western mission organisations to compile its statistics. This collaboration has spawned two training global networks called 24:14 Multiplying Movements Together and Finishing the Task or GAP4FTT. The latter is currently chaired by American mega-church leader Rick Warren.

All field data and the various reports coming into the IMB database are vetted and double checked. The data is then deliberately kept vague so it does not identify individual movements within a specific country as many governments are openly hostile to what is happening in their jurisdictions. The IMB therefore presents data regionally instead of nationally. For more detail on how DMM/CPM movements are measured please click here.

All DMM/CPM Movements are tracked according to a seven level scale. Level one represents an individual or small group just starting out on the DMM journey with one generation of new disciples or simple churches. Level two has daughter churches of the original church. At level three there shouldn’t be just a single line of three generations of daughter churches but multiple streams of third generation daughter churches. None of these first three levels are yet classified as a fully-fledged DMM/CPM movement.

Only level four is classified as a fully-fledged DMM/CPM movement as that is the point at which the movement is basically unstoppable. Think of level four as started by a fictitious church planter who trains 6 disciples who each then train 6 more disciples, who each then train 6 more disciples, who then each train 6 more disciples (6 x 6 x 6 x 6). At this point there would be four generations, roughly 1,300 disciples of Christ and approximately 100 simple churches or relational networks of disciples. Level four may take years to get to, but is often the ignition point for future rapid growth. Going deep into obedience before going wide in numbers was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry and is also the heart of all successful DMM/CPM’s.

Movements at levels five, six and seven represent DMM/CPM’s that are having regional and national influence. An example of a movement at level seven would be the Bhojpuri movement in North India, now numbering 15 million disciples, hundreds of thousands of simple churches and fostering new movements across India and other countries. Despite its enormous size, the Bhojpuri movement is still growing rapidly because all DMM/CPM movements are like trees; they grow from the tips of the branches, not the trunk. If a movement faithfully copies the methods Jesus taught us, then the spiritual DNA will be strong and there is theoretically no limit to growth.

THE DATA AS AT SEPTEMBER 2020

Data Point Numbers
Total disciples in all movements 76,900,000
% of the world now in all movements              1%
Global proto-movements levels 1-3          4,589
Global mature movements levels 4-7          1,369
Known movements that have shut down               18
Average people per movement        56,000
Number of simple churches   4,800,000
Average believers per simple church               16
Languages engaged          2,188
Countries without active movements               74
   
Asian Movements (52m people)  
Central Asia               45
East Asia               51
South Asia             208
Southeast Asia             154
West Asia             224
   
African Movements (11m people)  
East Africa             155
Middle Africa               71
North Africa             111
Southern Africa               14
West Africa             140
   
Europe (2.6m people)  
Eastern Europe               42
Northern Europe               16
Southern Europe               33
Western Europe               27
   
North America (0.5 million people)               31
   
South America (1 million people)  
Caribbean                 5
Central America                 4
South America                 6
   
Oceania (0.07 million people)                 6
   
Disciples From Religious Backgrounds  
Cultural Christians   1,800,000
Ethno-religious   1,700,000
Islam 29,600,000
Hinduism 30,500,000
Non-religious   1,700,700
Judaism    <100,000
Buddhism   2,400,000
   

Justin Long points out that all the figures in the table above are deliberately conservative so as to avoid exaggeration. Below are some interesting points that elaborate on the raw data above:

  1. Praise point: One percent of the world’s population is now involved in a rapidly growing DMM/CPM movement!
  2. Prayer point: Out of 229 countries, 113 still have no level four movements and 74 don’t even have anyone known to be trying to start a movement. There is still a long way to go.
  3. The large number of movements in Asia and Africa is a product of time. This is where the first movements started and have therefore multiplied the most. What has happened there is coming to all other regions of the world given enough time!
  4. The total number of simple churches in DMM/CPM movements now exceeds the number of traditional church congregations in all other global Christian traditions.
  5. These new simple churches are growing exponentially, roughly tripling every decade.
  6. Most DMM movements are currently in the size range of 1,000 to 10,000 people. The very large movements in India pull the average up to the number 56,000 you saw in the table above.
  7. Only a handful of movements are larger than one million. However, that will change this decade as others grow through level four toward level seven.
  8. Most movements outside the Middle East are in rural areas. More and more of these rural movements are now intentionally engaging people in cities and seeing fruit.
  9. Most movements in the Middle Eastern Islamic countries are in the cities.
  10. Some movements are now starting to deliberately plant new movements in unreached regions and unreached people groups, and this is expected to lead to even more growth.
  11. Most fast-growing movements are in countries where there are very few Christians and therefore no Western cultural baggage.
  12. The future of Christianity inside the Hindu world is very exciting.
  13. Likewise for Islam. Almost 500 of the 1,369 movements are inside the Muslim world or on the borderlands of the Muslim world.

REGIONAL SNAPSHOT

Asia: DMM/CPM movements are at their most advanced in India, where the oldest and largest movements are concentrated. We are beginning to witness a watershed movement of Hindus into Christianity. Respected Indian DMM/CPM leaders have been very busy training new movement leaders all over the world and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. A single movement in Bangladesh stopped counting Muslim Background Believer baptisms after 1,000,000. However Pakistan still needs to see a breakthrough. Indonesia is another hotspot for growth. There are also a surprisingly large number of movements (224) inside Muslim West Asia. And then there is China, where evangelical Christianity has grown from 2.7 million in 1975 to over 100 million in 2020, with an unknown number in DMM/CPM movements.

Africa: The Muslim strongholds of North and West Africa are now a hotbed of new DMM/CPM movements with at least 250 being active. The far south of Africa, where traditional Christianity is strong, is yet to embrace the new paradigm to any significant degree. The Sahel borderlands between the Muslim north and the Christian south are where we are seeing many new movements being birthed. East Africa is another interface between Christianity and Islam so it is encouraging to see at least 155 movements active in this area with many more starting out.

Europe: Given its history of fossilised Christian tradition, the DMM/CPM numbers for Europe are very encouraging. However, most of Europe’s movements are among the newer immigrant people groups and the Roma peoples. Very few of these movements are large; most are a few thousand disciples. All operate very much under the radar. They total about 1/3 of one percent of Europe’s population of 742 million.

The America’s

Most of the North American movements are also very small groups among diaspora peoples. However, there are growing movements among Anglo-Saxon Americans with one mega-church in Lubbock, Texas, already having disbanded so it can focus on DMM/CPM. As a consequence, the DMM/CPM vision is now catching on with traditional church leaders. There are only six known movements in Central and South America as most of the exciting growth on that continent is currently inside established Pentecostal church structures. The Communist country of Cuba is the exception, as it has seen strong growth in both types of church structures.

LOOKING TOWARD 2030

So what can we expect to see in the next ten years? Using current trends as a guide this is what will probably happen:

1. According to Operation World, approximately 8% of the world’s people are now born again evangelical Christian believers, with 1/8 of that figure inside rapidly growing DMM/CPM movements. In the decade ahead expect to see over 10-12% of the world inside the Kingdom of God by 2030 with the bulk of that growth coming from that the DMM/CPM movements. Thus a ratio of 1/8 will shrink to at least 1/3. This growth will represent somewhere between 200-300 million new disciples.

2. We currently see churches multiplying, but whole movements are not yet multiplying. We will see the first signs of exponential growth of whole movements in the next five years as more and more existing and experienced movements start new movements in unreached areas, and many of the emerging proto-movements reach level four.

3. South Asia has 52 million people in a myriad of DMM/CPM’s. This number could easily grow to 100-150 million by 2030. Most will be in India, which should be 10-15% Christian by 2030. This would represent the largest spiritual harvest in the history of Christianity and a monumental shift in the religious landscape of this rising 21st Century superpower.

4. The number of movements inside or on the edge of Islam is a phenomenal 500 or so. This number should be 1,000-1,500 by 2030. This would represent another 50-100 million new MBB disciples of Christ and the replanting of our faith to its original heartland. The great harvest inside Islam has begun after 1,400 years of waiting.

5. Currently there is little visible activity in the Western world; the Americas, Europe and Oceania. These regions are 1-2 decades behind the rest of the world in DMM/CPM growth. The next decade should see the adoption of DMM/CPM as a viable and valuable tool in the re-evangelism of these post-Christian and now spiritually hostile regions. There is a growing hunger for change within the Western church. Those that have bravely started movements are seeing some success, however, it is still early days and there is much cultural baggage to overcome.

6. Until the turn of the century North and West Africa were seen as a graveyard for traditional missions. However, this is a deeply spiritual region where Islam sits on top of a myriad of occult practices. DMM/CPM is the perfect vehicle for penetrating this darkness and this explains the surprisingly large number of new movements popping up across the region. Expect to hear great things in the decade ahead from this region with tens of millions more coming to Christ.

7. There are some 3,200 proto-movements in the process of getting started. None of the believers in these movements are included in the numbers above! Most will progress to fully-fledged level four movements this decade and perhaps 10,000 more proto-movements will take their place in the formation stage by the end of the decade. This is the power of exponential growth.

CONCLUSION

Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 that his gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Again he said in Matthew 28:19 that we were to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He expects us to get the job done. Only by using the blueprint he gave us can this task have any chance of being fulfilled in a world of nearly 8 billion people that grows by just over 80 million each year.

What we have seen so far in the growth of global DMM/CPM movements is just the beginning of the fulfilment of our master’s command. The last two decades have been stunning. The next decade will be breath-taking. We can only imagine what could happen in the six decades beyond that to the end of the century!

Lord, your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea