What Can We Learn from Jesus’ Movement?

Jesus movement

This week I’m privileged to introduce you to a fellow trainer and coach. In this short video, he addresses the question of how DMMs grow, strictly from a New Testament perspective. In Disciple Making Movements, everything we do and train others to do needs to be built on the foundation of what we see in the life of Jesus.

Jesus’ Movements

I hope you will watch this video and gain insights into what we can learn about movements from Jesus himself. He writes further about it in the text that follows.

It was 2011. Having done church planting work since 1997, and planted one church in an unreached area, I received training about a new approach. It was called Church Planting Movements, or Disciple Making Movements (DMM).

After a difficult transition, our team started to see significant fruit. It was far beyond what we had imagined!

This experience challenged my idea of what the church is and how to do church planting. I started my personal quest to find out for myself what Jesus modeled and what His Apostles continued.

Why was it was so different from what I had been doing at the beginning? My ongoing study has moulded my practices and beliefs. They help me understand what I am supposed to multiply.

I hope this article will motivate your own study of the New Testament and inspire changes that lead to greater fruit among the lost.

No Simple Formulas or Definitions

It doesn’t take long to see that there is no simple one-sentence definition of a movement from the lips of Jesus or His Apostles. Movement is a modern term that describes large numbers of people catching on to an idea or activity. We can certainly see that movements were happening though!

How do we describe this in New Testament terms?

I propose that we start by looking at the characteristics of the Jesus Movement. What did Jesus’ Movement of disciples look like?

7 Characteristics of Jesus’ Movement

Let’s look at seven characteristics that had a direct impact on the fruit we see. I’m sure you can think of other characteristics.

1. When the Kingdom of God was announced, wonders and signs followed.

The gospels are full of wonders and signs.

Feeding of the five thousand from five loaves and two fish (Luke 9:10-17; Mark 6:31-44) is an example. Healings, casting out evil spirits, and miracles didn’t guarantee followers but they were confirmation signs that God approved the message.

Are you operating with full power to launch a movement??

To operate without wonders and signs because of our background theology or lack of faith, is like trying to use a car without petrol.

2. Growth of disciples

a. Jesus made disciples, not Christians.

In the gospels, we never see Jesus’ followers referred to as Christians. Instead, they were called disciples. Jesus made disciples. The core goal of these disciples was to become like their teacher (Matt 10:25; Luke 6:40).

Discipleship started with repentance and water baptism (Mark 1:14; John 3:22-26, 4:2).

It’s hard to find an example where Jesus used the “sinner’s prayer”.

b. The number of disciples grew quickly.

During the Galilee ministry, we see a crowd and great numbers following Him (Luke 6:17). The largest recorded number being 5,000 men, not including women and children (Luke 9:14). To feed the large crowd, Jesus had the multitude sit in groups of hundreds and fifties and the disciples distributed the food (Luke 9:15; Mark 6:39-40).

It wasn’t always rapid growth, however, there were also times when many followers left Him (John 6:60-66).

c. Generational growth took place.

This is when one person bringing another person who brings another to Jesus. The growth is not dependant on the work of one person.

Andrew brought Simon his brother, Philip from the same town as Andrew and Peter brought Nathanael (John 1:35-51). It would be hard to get a Movement without generational growth.

d. People of Peace were found.

Jesus had numerous People of Peace (POP) who played an important role in bringing many to Him. Some were “ordinary” people, not necessarily official leaders in their communities. For example, the Samaritan town came to Jesus because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony (John 4:39-42).

3. The Movement spread widely

The crowds that came to Jesus were from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, beyond the Jordan, and Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:7-8). This covered Biblical Israel. The movement was not just a neighborhood or city, it was about regions and even countries.

4. Focus on raising/multiplying leaders

As the movement grew, the number of leaders at different levels also grew. Leadership development was important if the movement was to keep growing.

The number of apostles grew from zero to twelve to seventy (Luke 6:13, 10:1). These leaders were trained more closely. Jesus divided the work just like Moses (Num 11:16). These were sent in twos to new geographical areas.

The number of those who served also grew. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome, and others, followed and served Jesus and the Movement (Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:3). Judas was the “money keeper”, a distinct role (John 13:29).

5. Persecution didn’t stop the Movement

Persecution at different levels marked the Jesus Movement, from bad words spoken, all the way to martyrdom (Mark 3:1-6, 3:21-30; John 10:31-33; Luke 23:33 ). The Movement kept going. If it happened to Jesus then His disciples can expect similar things.

6. Jesus told everyone to make disciples

Jesus’ parting words to his disciples was to make disciples everywhere by: going, baptising, and teaching them to obey everything He had commanded. This included the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). They were to do this in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

The core activity was, and is, disciple making in groups.

7. Jesus taught in public places and in homes

Jesus never owned a place of worship, He wasn’t restricted or distracted by four walls of a building. Instead, He ministered anywhere, not just in synagogues or the Temple.

Even in the Temple, most of the time He was in the public area where Gentiles were allowed. (Matt 5:1, 13:1-2, 14:15; Mark 9:33-35; Luke 4:20-21; John 8:2).

In a future article, we will look to see how the characteristics of the movement the Apostles continued compared to that of Jesus’ movement.

How many of these characteristics do you see in the movement you lead?  Which do you need to ask God to help you work on? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below or on the Dmms Frontier Missions Facebook Group.


  1. Tamirat Zigale

    I am Zigale Tamirat from East Africa Ethiopia (Gambella ) region the follower of Jesus Christ how can contact with your team to build the house of Jesus Christ

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