What a man does in life becomes history, but what he puts into motion becomes his legacy – Paul Cole
Here’s a question for you, “Are you creating history or making a movement?”
The word movement comes from the latin movere which means to move or set in motion. It speaks of something that is bigger and will probably take a few generations to see it’s fruition. Nevertheless, some leaders give themselves to such tasks with all their might. They care not who gets the credit, their only goal is to initiate it knowing that they may never see it to completion. They are moved by the prospect of changing the world for the better. The irony is that nobody creates a movement, they simply just lay the groundwork for one.
Here are some of the elements you will find in that groundwork that are vital in creating movements.
Movements are not about self-interest but are about what is right and wrong. Self-interest does not allow for long term thinking because it is only motivated by that which the leader can control or by what gives them credit. Some leaders are driven by small tasks they can complete in their life time in order to get the credit and accolades that short term achievements produce.
Movements always begin with the minorities. It is not the size of group that determines movements but it’s the commitment of the few involved. All you need is a committed and motivated minority in order to begin. When God wants to start a movement he always begins with a small minority or someone who has been discarded or rejected by society–someone that fits into the misfit category but possess the raw material of a nation’s future. The stone that the builders rejected becomes the cornerstone of a new world.
Movements requires action not discussions. It is not dialogue that creates movement, but actions that creates a new dialogue. That new dialogue is very distinct and carries within it the seeds of the new movement. Dialogue by itself tends to be circular in nature and carries no potency to break through the old thinking; the only way to break through from the old is to take a new action.
Movements are visionary.They offer society a desired future. People are attracted by the prospect of a sudden and spectacular change in their condition of life. Movement sees right through the present and imagines a new future. It is written that Jesus endured the cross and shame for the joy set before Him. His vision of the future was so magnificent that it helped him deal with the present sacrifice.
Movements are prophetic.They call people to higher standard of life. They call for justice and order and equality. They call us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. A prophetic vision believes despite of the evidence to the contrary. It does not succumb to the pabulum of emotional self pity or the arrogance of the self-made man. It calls us to higher standard, one that elevates us above the mundane and provokes us to live a transcendent life in the transient world.
In 2002 we started an organization called Glocal.net that focused on starting churches. It would change and morph to ultimately what we have become today – but it was a journey. We didn’t plan to start a network organization, we had just started a lot of churches and many of them wanted a way to gather and network. It quickly grew very large and far beyond my administrative ability and became several groups. I had no desire to start or run a “mini-denomination!” As a matter of fact, I did very little with GlocalNet for years. As a church, however, we kept on starting more churches and by default GlocalNet grew.I could see the value of all of us coming together – but our first response to the way we were relating was very western and industrial.We came together around three things we all did – and still do:(1) start churches, (2) work with the poor in our city, and (3) work in hard places in the world.This brought around all kinds of people from charismatic to reformed to Baptist and even a few Anglicans. We had so many stories. I knew God was doing something different, but I responded the only way I knew how — in an old western, task-driven, organizational wineskins.
As I began to travel the world I had the extraordinary opportunity to come to know and learn from many global pastors who lead significant movements. We would call their what they’re a part of “church planting movements” (cpms), but most of them would not be familiar with that kind of language. These leaders taught me a new way of coming together as family.
This doesn’t mean that principles are not real or do not matter. The difference is that in the global church, they don’t start with principles, they start with people.Thepeople are first.You can go to many conferences now and hear someone lecture or speak of how to start a movement and what it takes: a catalytic leader, a winsome message, a complimentary team, multiple evangelist to promote the movement – and on and on and on.Inevitably, people without movements begin to use the language of movements to get people to join a movement that doesn’t exist.We are missing something.
What we are missing is the Biblical Concept of Family. The global pastors I’ve met do not talk about movements or networks. Instead, when they talk about the church, they speak of their family and of their spiritual sons and daughters.In many of these places around the world it’s impossible to have big meetings and gather thousands of people to hear your message.You can only grow through relationships. Here, we often join movements through hearing preachers preach about their networks or movements.A family requires a lifetime of relationships and a lifetime of relational work, not simply a staff and an organizational chart. This is much more than a language shift.
As I have worked with pastors over the years, I’ve discovered they join groups for the purpose of identity or mission.You can tell the identity groups because they have robust statements of beliefs, certain teachings, and doctrine you must agree on.Teaching, for them, is huge because it’s critical to make sure everyone is on the same page.With mission groups, story is the critical factor.This is so and so and this is what happened . . . God opened this door, etc.All organizations and tribes have a certain measure of doctrine and story but each will lean stronger in one way or the other.This distinction is important to know and understand because it will give you the ethos and direction and values of a particular network, tribe or organization.
But here is what I’ve learned.Most young pastors join a group because they are really looking for family.They don’t want organizational ladders or organizational stats – they want family and they need Fathers.This is very hard for us as Americans. Our history as a nation, our culture, our rugged (if not sinful) individualism makes family hard – but make no mistake about it – we all long for and need family.
Here’s something else that’s important to consider as a leader in this shift, people want to touch people, not worship a new king.I’m always amazed by how these global movement leaders are soaccessible to the people.They are not like American mega-church pastors at all.They are humble, they are normal, you couldn’t pick them out of the crowd.Often their clothes don’t match and they’re missing teeth!
Finally, a family has a certain DNA – ours is Kingdom/Disciple/Society/Church.We all share that same DNA.It’s in our blood. We believe Jesus is leader of the Kingdom and his teachings are foundational on the Kingdom.We define disciple as hear and obey.We believe the grid we engage is our society through domains in the public square.We believe the church isn’t just a worship service but a small group, a congregation, and a global church.We build our everything around those four strands.
When you start operating as family everything changes.I’m having more fun in ministry today than ever before because pretty much everything I do, I do it with young people alongside of me. I’m trying to raise up a family.I love working with world leaders at this stage in my life, but I don’t do it alone any more.I often take a young pastor beside me, mentoring them in diplomacy, protocol, culture, or whatever is necessary at that moment. From the credibility we’ve earned over our lives we gain far more access than we had when we were young which leads to many more opportunities.As we get older it is critical that we share our access and opportunities as we mentor young sons and daughters so when we’re gone the family and the ministry continue.
If you want to know what our family is like, you’re welcome to join us at our Family Gathering.
Join us for an amazing time of worship, inspiration and learning at the 2017 GlocalNet Family Gathering. If you are a part of the family, a friend of the family or just curious about what our family is all about, you are invited to come be a part of this experience.
WHEN November 8-9, 2017
WHERE NorthWood Church — 1870 Rufe Snow Drive, Keller, Texas 76248
SCHEDULEBegins at 8:30 AM Wednesday the 8th & ends at 4:30 PM Thursday the 9th
WORSHIPWe will be led in worship by a Multi-ethnic, multi-church team.
** Special Hotel Pricing at Holiday Inn Express & Suites DFW West – Hurst, Texas 820 Thousand Oaks Dr, Hurst, TX 76054 (817) 427-1818
Most of my ministry I have lead by vision. We are headed somewhere. There is a future destination, a mission, a goal. It’s about accomplishing something great for God that we all do together. It’s hard, but it’s fun. Everybody gets excited about it.
We’re going to start a church. We’re going to engage a nation. We’re going to bless our city. We’re going to multiply churches. We’re going to reach out to a new people group. We’re going to make disciples. We start doing it, small successes turn into big successes. Everyone starts talking about it, everyone celebrates it, everyone wants to mimic it – you even wind up going to tell others how they can also “do it.”
This isn’t bad – it’s good. Without a sense of shared commitment and enthusiasm and excitement you aren’t going to start or accomplish anything. People have a shared sense of destiny programmed in them from God to make the world a better place. Innate within every follower of Jesus is a bent to glorify God and exalt him.
The biggest challenge to the leadership in this form of leadership is egotism, arrogance, and self-centeredness. You have to resist the temptation to believe your own press and what others say about you. Deep down we all know who we are, but in our desire to be more than we are – humanly speaking – we can succumb to glorifying ourselves.
The past six years, I’ve discovered another form of leadership – I call it leadership by obedience. It’s not something you seek or even want. It’s hard. It isn’t something new, it’s something as old as creation. It doesn’t start with a dream of what can be but is the gradual realization that something is wrong, we’ve somehow gotten off the path. Everything is going great, everyone is excited – and now, maybe after a long busy work, you slow down enough to think and reflect. Is this the way it’s supposed to be?
Leadership by vision is very nuanced and “time sensitive” execution – which doesn’t always allow you to stop and look beyond what you can see with your physical eyes or immediate context.
Last month for two and a half weeks, I was alone in an ancient room in Bethlehem, Palestine. No air conditioning, no TV, just a fan, my Bible and journal – and prayer. It’s been a busy life. Though I start every day in God’s Word, prayer, and personal worship as soon as I’m finished I pick up where I left off the previous day.
Leadership by vision comes by a dream. Leadership by obedience comes from a divine nudge that calls you challenge something that’s wrong. It’s the prophetic role of leadership we don’t really practice that much in American Christianity or understand – me included.
I first experienced it when God convicted me years ago of my fear, disdain, and dislike of Muslims. I had to be reminded from God’s Word that they too were created in the image of God and were sacred as all human beings are. I had to be reminded from the Holy Spirit that God is love and I am to love and he wants me to love them. It required some necessary heart work inside of me personally. I pastor a few thousand people – they have those same negative feelings that I’ve had – how do I bring them over? Not to say I agree with everything Muslims say and do but neither for us to be driven by fear and hate, and thereby not fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. It was a very hard thing to do. So, I eased into the water. There is no map for this. Whereas leadership by vision is very focused and clear leadership by obedience is always in ambiguity. You can only follow the truth of God’s word and the direction of the Holy Spirt.
This isn’t like changing your worship style, leadership structure, or ministries – this is changing culture. Changing culture demands the highest level of leadership because you have to hear God moment by moment and you are going somewhere that you can’t raise money for or fire people up over. “Hey everybody today is going to be awesome – I want you to think of the person you are most fearful of or that you dislike the most and we are going to bless them!” I wasn’t ready for all the attacks I received both from within our church and outside of it.
I experienced it again when God began to speak to me about how me and our church works all over the world, but for the most part our church was anglo. There are over 50,000 non-Anglo’s that live in my area of nearly 500,000 people – do they matter? It’s just 10%, they can come to our church if they want! It took more than that – we began to intentionally and ethnically diversify our church. It was also a very hard thing to do, but the right thing to do. It would have been easy to just let happen what happens, but this was something that would never change on it’s own, it demanded intentionality. Nobody is going to encourage you to address things like this – if anything they’re going to tell you to be careful, change is slow and long, and in time it will change. Don’t believe that lie – change doesn’t happen without intentionality. Neither believe that change doesn’t come without a price. You can have all the action steps and change theory you want in place but know this, change always has a price, especially when you are dealing with cultural change. Sacrificing money is easy compared to what you will have to sacrifice with leadership by obedience.
The biggest challenge of leadership by obedience? It isn’t self-centeredness or glorifying yourself. It’s disillusionment with what you know the truth to be but bald-faced rejection of the people who say they love God giving reasons why we don’t have to love or reach out to others. It’s discouragement – when we speak prophetically we can expect people to get angry and leave us. If you’ve built your entire ministry around God’s blessing is equal to a growing crowd – you’re really going to struggle in this season – I have. It’s hard to see people leave because your expanding the gospel beyond your own “culture” or “tribe” to all people. It’s despair – wanting to give up and quit – it’s just too hard and no one really cares.
But, I’ve also hung in there long enough to see the fruit from “doing the right thing.” I am connected to the world and minorities in ways that I never would have dreamed. It has opened doors that I never would have imagined or knew were even an option. Here’s something else, leadership by obedience is incredibly critical because it sees a future harvest. If things are not put right, there is no future for a loveless discriminating church. Even now, millennials are so turned off by church in America because of the hypocrisy and that will not change anytime soon. No amount of lights, smoke, and celebrity leaders will lead us out of this desert. Things were going so good in Isaiah chapter one, big attendance, fasting, great offerings – but God wasn’t pleased. The corporate nature of sin even in the church eventually catches up with us.
I would also say that leadership by obedience demands a stronger walk with God, a focus more on his Kingdom and the eternal. I’ve learned that the world is reached not because of a pure church but in spite of a flawed church – read Acts & Corinthians. These things are not new. Acts is the story of the church growing, coming up against various prejudices, dealing with them and growing more. In American Christianity we’ve settled for crowds without realizing who isn’t present – as long as someone is present. The result is the church is very tribal, partisan, vs being an entity that embraces and makes space for all wanting to follow Jesus.
This is more about who we “are to be” for God than it is what are “going to do” for God.
We are off to a strong start for 2017! We are speaking, training and convening from Washington, D.C., to Hanoi, Vietnam, and even Lahore, Pakistan! We will be all over the U.S. and the world this year. We are training government leaders, imams, pastors, mentoring emerging pastors and connecting with religious leaders of other faiths to build bridges. We are working with governments and government leaders globally defining what it looks like to engage in the public square in a new era. We are deeply involved in religious freedom issues and religious persecution in some of the harder places of the world. We are working on racial reconciliation in some very new ways that we’ll be writing about later.
Last year Bob Roberts spoke at many events from church planting conferences, to being invite to being a part of the Marrakesh Declaration with Shaykh Bin Bayyah that protects the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority nations. He spoke at churches, mosques, government gatherings, the Newseum and even to 20,000 Muslim young people in Toronto, Canada. Articles about our work were written in many national newspapers, here in the U.S., the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, Christianity Today, In-Touch Magazine, Christian Post, Huffington Post, and many others.
Glocalnet’s passion is summed up in it’s vision statement. “We relentlessly pursue peace and reconciliation among all peoples in all places for all things.”
Here is a brief summary of 2016:
Glocalnet Family of Churches
Glocalnet consist of a family of churches that carry the same DNA and vision to be a light in this world and to engage our cities and the world to be peacemakers and reconcilers. We have 7 churches that gather yearly for community, sharing and learning from each other. We also support each other in living out our three most cherished values which are engaging our local communities, especially among the poor and marginalized, engage hard parts of the world together and help each others establish communities of faith that make a difference both locally and globally. Our goal is to keep increasing the family by developing leaders who buy into Glocalnet’s vision and are committed to living out our three main values.
Church Planting & Church Planting Centers
Glocalnet church multiplication is core to our DNA and moves us forward in accomplishing the above vision. It’s going to take a different kind of church to engage the city and world in this 21st century that goes far beyond what the music and worship service is. We train and equip our churches to multiply communities of faith with the same vision and values. We established 2 church planting centers in local churches in 2016. Our Glocalnet family trained over 40 church planters to go and establish communities of faith that bring about peace and reconciliation both locally and globally. The key to creating and sustaining this movement is multiplication, therefore we are intentional about placing the expectation and the training in every leader of Glocalnet.
We have designed a retreat that brings together evangelical pastors and muslim Imams together for three days. These retreats are designed to break down walls of fear and suspicions and get to know each other as humans. The essence of these gatherings is to have transparent and honest conversation with each other about difficult issues. However it does not stop there, these leaders make a commitment to build ongoing relationships with each other and their constituencies and to work together in their cities for the common good and to protect each other from religious persecution. Glocalnet gathered for two such retreats in 2016. We did one in Phoenix with 12 pastors and 12 imams and one in Washington DC hosted by the Turkish government. These two groups continue to meet quarterly. We see walls of suspicions come down and new relationships formed after these retreats. Our goal is to build upon these relationships and create a network of religious leaders across cities and the nation who will be there to respond in emergency situations.
Global Collaboration Communities (GCC)
Glocalnet brings together apostolic leaders globally every year to build relationships and to learn from the global church. In 2016 we met in India hosted by an exceptional leader who has a movement in that country. 20 global leaders came together to build relationship and to learn from each other, share best practices in area of engaging the public square, pluralism and church planting. The takeaways were incredible as we leveraged relationships, knowledge and learning from each other. There were visit to sikh temples, meetings with religious and government leaders to learn about religious freedom issues and how the church can play a role in creating better citizens that help build great nations.
Nation & City Engagement
The way churches engage the world is changing radically. It’s a new world, the whole world is connected. In the past global and city engagement was about doing religious stuff in a geographical context. Today, the church must be presently bringing value to a city and nation beyond just a worship service on Sunday. How we make disciples and engage the domains of society are critical. That leads to natural conversations about faith and life. We continue to help churches and people engage through the natural infrastructure of society in places that would be considered difficult for most.
Hosted Mosaic Conference
Glocalnet in partnership with Northwood Church hosted Mosaic’s multi-ethnic conference. About 1200 multi-ethnic leaders from across the nation came to celebrate and champion this vision, and challenge the American Church to get beyond systemic segregation to advance a credible gospel witness in an increasingly diverse and cynical society. To bring peace and reconciliation among the races in our country.
So as you can see these are just small glances at the work Glocalnet did in 2016. We are committed to being relentless peacemakers and work tirelessly to move humanity beyond tolerance to reconciliation and celebration of each other.
Knowledge is doubling faster than ever. I can remember 30 years ago Tom Wolfe telling a group of us that knowledge doubles every 6 years, and it was projected it would do so every four, and the latest number is that it’s now doubling every 18 months. In the past you could read where the changes were coming and plot your coarse somewhat. Now, you have to think on the run, in the moment, realizing there are variables at work driving sub-categories of culture and knowledge that impact everything the church does.
The world is changing like never before. Migration – a context for God’s greatest moves throughout history – is happening on a scale like never before because communications, the internet, and travel. All things, all people, all religions are all places, no longer held within specific national borders and tribes. Do you know how to plant a church beyond your tribe? Tribes aren’t so good at welcoming strangers. Calling it a success because we grow a big church but basically our same tribe just makes us more of a shrinking sub-culture than a transcultural movement. The early church and growing church knew how to relate to other cultures and religions – we can’t keep eating our own body and expect growth. Read more
Genesis 11: 6” …. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them…”
One of the most important statements made by God as it relates to human potential is find in Genesis 11 at the city of Babel. The people came together to build a name for themselves. They decided to build a city that would speak of man’s greatness as little gods and would keep them together. Then God came visiting and saw the tower and the city. He decided to intervene and stop them and the reason He stopped them reveals the potentiality of man. God said He would stop them because He had created man in His likeness and image and whatever they purposed or imagine they can accomplish. In other words, nothing will be impossible to them. Those are powerful words spoken by God himself. There were however two ingredients God points out that made this possible. Read more
I have been amazed at how similar and at the same time different the conversations are between global pastors and U.S. pastors. These “little” differences I’ve come to believe, make all the difference in the world. I’ll be writing about some of them later but for now, here’s some of the shifts in they talk is what I’ve observed. We long for many of the same things, but our mindset or structures prevent us.
First, we talk a lot about church planting and church planting movements. They talk obsessively about the Kingdom of God and nations a lot. They are like Dallas Willard on steroids but not in a primarily theological sense but a practical sense. Their kingdom view and passion to see their nation and surrounding nations reached, drives all other activities as in church planting, disciple making, leadership development etc.
God has truly blessed my life in so many ways – but one of the greatest is allowing me to get to know global pastors that are movement makers. Eddy Leo, Oscar Muiri, Joseph Maisha, Joshua Vivyakumar, Sean Bau, Jossy Chacko, Terry Virgo, Dion Rober, Robert Lay, and so so many others.
These men are different from most pastors I know here in the U.S., myself included. They embody not just growth in terms of tens and hundreds of thousands if not millions – but they do it not by PR, marketing, business management – but real moves of God. They are not full of themselves, they are humble men. They are not the loud people at a pastors gathering if you didn’t know who they were you might think it’s a lucky global pastor who someone paid their way to come to an event – but you’d be very mistaken. Yet, they struggle – but not like us. Family issues, financial issues, societal issues, war, persecution, hardships that we can’t imagine. Even last week as I was hearing from leaders in Pakistan they were sad but still victorious looking for how God would use the tragedy they were all affected by. I remember one pastor once saying “You guys have great insurance and medical care” we have to learn to “call on the Lord – he’s all we’ve got”.
Here are a few lessons I learned about leadership culture and movements while reflecting on my six years in United States Marine Corp (USMC). They are an incredible leader-producing organization. If we are going to have church planting movements, the preparation and multiplication of leaders is the main task at hand. If we fail at this we fail at the whole. Church planting movements are carried on the shoulders of Spirit-led leadership, men and women that are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Here are a few lessons I learned from the USMC that applies to church planting and movements. Read more