Dave Gibbons: Don't Think Movement, Think Holy Spirit Movement

From "megachurch" to "multi-site" and now to "movements," the nomenclature in the church world has shifted over the last 20 years, said a Southern California pastor.

And amid the shifts, Pastor Dave Gibbons wants fellow church leaders and planters to think Holy Spirit movement, not movement of the masses.

"Movement of the masses equates to diffused processes, strategies and it's a one-size-fits-all motto," he told pastors at the 2010 Exponential Conference in Orlando Wednesday.

"When you think 'big' you ... just start copycatting and kind of make something big when really, it's not about that; it's about what's God doing in your life, what's the Holy Spirit doing around you, and that's where you start."

Pastor of NewSong Church and author of The Monkey and the Fish, Gibbons said many church planters think "movement" and feel pressured to adopt certain strategies and grow something big.

Some end up executing business strategies from the secular world while adding spiritual principles to it. But by taking the world's idea of success, church planters ultimately become stressed out and burned out, Gibbons noted.

"We get stupid. We think 'movement' – okay I got to do this because it's going to reach all these people."

"Release your stress as a church planter," he said. "What needs to change is I don't have to make it happen. ... Capture where God's working right now and then flow there."

The job of the church planter isn't to initiate a movement. Rather, pastors are called to follow and respond and ask "Holy Spirit, where are you working?" he said.

Unfortunately, the seemingly passive action of following and responding "doesn't jive with American Western entrepreneurial processes," he pointed out.

The NewSong pastor challenged church planters to not start with the "big," but to first think "mustard seed."

"All you're doing is planting mustard seeds faithfully," he explained. "And then if God wants to cause a movement on the masses, that's really all up to the Holy Spirit."

"So think small," he encouraged. "Don't be captured by the language that's going on in the culture right now (i.e. "missional movement") which I think is a language of grandiosity and self-aggrandizement."

Such language only ends up paralyzing the church planter and making him or her feel inadequate, Gibbons noted.

Further cautioning the conference attendees from becoming engrossed by language, Gibbons lamented that "Americans are fascinated by the exegesis of the word."

"We got so fascinated with the word (not the Word of God, but the word itself) that that's become idolatrous," he warned. "It's like a musician [getting] lost in the art of playing music ... to the point where it becomes an idol.

"I think for us as Western Christians, we get so focused on a word," such as using the word "Gospel" in a sermon every time a pastor preaches in order to "feel okay" with the sermon.

He reminded pastors that a lot of preachers aren't eloquent. But God uses simple guys to impact millions of people. It's all up to Him, he stressed.

"At the end of the day, your eloquence is not the key deal. It's actually your life, your life energy with the Holy Spirit," he highlighted.

Gibbons was the featured speaker for a traveling conference called Idea Camp, which made its stop in Orlando for the four-day Exponential Conference. Idea Camp travels to different venues to help people move from ideas to implementation.

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