Be Fruitful & Multiply – An Important Scripture from the Inception of the Brethren Movement

I’ve been doing some research over the last few weeks on groups of 5-12 in the history of the Grace Brethren. The clear beginning of our movement happened when 8 men and women gathered together to be baptized as adults demonstrating their personal belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

“This is [Alexander] Mack Jr.’s description of the baptism, based on papers of his father and others, and reports of eyewitnesses:

Brethren Initial Baptism

After they were thus prepared, the said eight went out to the water called the Eder in the solitude of the morning. The brother upon whom the lot had fallen first baptized that brother [Mack] who wished to be baptized by the church of Christ. When the latter was baptized, he baptized him who had first baptized, and the other three brethren and three sisters. Thus all eight were baptized in an early morning hour. After they had all emerged from the water, and had dressed themselves again, they were all immediately clothed inwardly with great joyfulness. This significant word was then impressed upon them through grace: “Be fruitful and multiply!’*

The joy of doing what God wanted coursed through their veins! And the Scripture the Holy Spirit blew into the hearts of these founders of the Grace Brethren Movement – Be Fruitful and Multiply!

May we continue “through grace” to keep up the significant work of “Be fruitful and multiply!”


*Brethren Beginnings: The Origin of the Church of the Brethren in Early Eighteenth-Century Europe by Donald F. Durnbaugh (Brethren Encyclopedia: 1992) pg. 23 {ISBN 0936693231}

In Memory of TRUE World Changers: Jim & Lyn Montgomery

Today I went to a Celebration of the Life of Lyn Montgomery…who entered eternity earlier this week to join her Lord and her love Jim. I have known Lyn only in these last 4 years, but I know I missed her most fun and fruitful days. The years wore on her beautiful body and soul, yet I long to know the woman that I heard the stories of today…at least to taste her carrot cake!

I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Montgomery’s son Len (who is an amazing man in his own right) and Len’s wife Mishal (amazing too!). My two boys are the same ages as their three boys (they have twin 6th graders). In fact, all those boys are right now at our house enjoying video games together!

I never had the privilege to know Jim either, as he passed in 2006. Never-the-less, I’ve been deeply impacted by his work, vision and writings.  He brought us in the church/missions world the idea, strategy and success of saturation church planting. On his shoulders, the ministry of DAWN (or Discipling A Whole Nation) was birthed. The most popular work of his, was DAWN 2000: 7 Million Churches to Go.   In modest numbers, the implication of Jim’s ideas have catalyzed more than 3 million churches around the world.  What a wake!

In a time of hype about movements and changing your world, Jim and Lyn are the true thing. I truly believe that even though less than 100 people gathered to celebrate the life of Lyn Montgomery in Anaheim today, there are thousands of saints in glory who welcome Lyn home because of her influence for Jesus around our globe. Certainly her Lord Jesus said, “Well done good and faithful servant!”


Links for you:

Jim Montgomery’s Writings – Free Downloads from DAWN

Jim’s Impact in starting DAWN Ministries (Discipling A Whole Nation)

From 2006 – Tall Skinny Kiwi: In Memory of Jim Montgomery.

Jim Montgomery telling the story of Campus Churches, Students of Peace and @JaesonMa

Neil Cole and CMA mentioned in Starfish & Spider


























The Starfish & The Spider


The Starfish & the Spider- The unstoppable power of leaderless organizations
by Rod Beckstrom & Ori Brafman

Epilogue to the Paperback Edition page 209


Watch author Ori Brafman do a Presentation on the concepts at our CMA Conference!


Foreigners and Aliens – quote from Roland Allen

Roland AllenThis year is exactly one century since an English missionary named Roland Allen wrote
a ground-breaking book, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?  In the book, Allen wrote truthfully and prophetically,

“Foreigners can never successfully direct the propagation of any faith throughout a whole country. If the faith does not become naturalised and expand among the people by its own vital power, it exercises an alarming and hateful influence, and men fear and shun it as something alien.”


Other Articles on Roland Allen:

The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part One-His Life
The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part Two-His Philosophy of Missions
The Influence of Roland Allen on 21st Century Church Planting
Audio Presentation on Roland Allen by Dr. J.D. Payne


Insightful Videos from Neil Cole



Our bro, Neil Cole was at the Newforms National Conference in April and they captured some video…these clips are short (3-5 minutes) and pithy!



  1. Sabatoging Movements
  2. What is Church Planting “Movementum”?
  3. The Power of a Movement
  4. Building a Movement
  5. Believe in the Seed

“I Mean Something Which We Cannot Control” by Roland Allen

Roland AllenIf we are willing to relinquish control and allow for spontaneous multiplication in our churches, we will see the gospel go further than we ever dreamed possible. In the classic book written ahead of its time, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It, Roland Allen describes the advantage of losing control in a release of spontaneous multiplication.

By spontaneous expansion I mean something which we cannot control. And if we cannot control it, we ought… to rejoice that we cannot control it. For if we cannot control it, it is because it is too great, not because it is too small for us. The great things of God are beyond our control. Therein lies a vast hope. Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ: our control cannot reach as far as that. We constantly bewail our limitations: open doors unentered; doors closed to us as foreign missionaries; fields white to the harvest which we cannot reap. Spontaneous expansion could enter open doors, force closed ones, and reap those white fields. Our control cannot: it can only appeal pitifully for more men to maintain control.

Other Articles on Roland Allen:

The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part One-His Life
The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part Two-His Philosophy of Missions
The Influence of Roland Allen on 21st Century Church Planting
Audio Presentation on Roland Allen by Dr. J.D. Payne

A movement that empowers the common Christian…

The Forgotten WaysNeil Cole says of the early period of Church Multiplication Associates, “‘We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple.‘  Their rationale was that if the experience of church was simple enough that just about anyone can do it, and is made up of people who have taken up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be  to do the uncommon works of God.  ‘Churches will become healthy, fertile and reproductive.’  If this is right, then many of our current practices seem to be the wrong way around…we seem to make church complex and discipleship too easy.”

(p. 104 of The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch)



Keith Giles’ Book Review of Letters to the House Church Movement by Rad Zdero

I am drowning in books. Literally, I have over 25 books stacked next to my bed. Three new books came in the mail this week. I am overwhelmed with books. Which is why when Rad Zdero’s book, “Letters to the House Church Movement” first dropped into my mailbox I wasn’t eager to crack it open on the spot and devour it in one sitting. You see, I’m drowning in books.However, once I did start reading Rad’s book I quickly placed all those other books into stand-by mode. Why? Because this book is so practical, and so fascinating, that I had to keep reading to learn more about what God is doing through house churches in his neck of the woods, which incidentally is Toronto, Canada.The format of the book, as you might have guessed from the title, is a series of letters (always from Zdero’s side of the conversation) to different people and addressing different situations in various house churches within Zdero’s circle of influence. Much like the epistles of Paul or John or Peter in the New Testament, we get to hear how Zdero responds to conflict in the house church, how he deals with church discipline, what he believes about women in the house church, and much, much more.

Zdero has been involved in the house church movement since 1985. That is roughly when I officially entered the ministry and was licensed and ordained as a Southern Baptist minister of the Gospel. But I’ve only been involved in the house church movement for about five years now. So, Zdero’s level of experience is much broader than mine, and so I can understand why some of the ways he deals with things is different from the way I might deal with the same issue. Plus, he’s Canadian. We can’t forget that.

But on a more serious note, one of the things I have always loved about the house church movement from the very beginning was the level of freedom and the variety of expression exhibited across the board. I remember reading Robert and Julia Banks’ “The Church Comes Home” and marveling at how no two house church groups seemed to approach anything the same way. Whether it was communion or baptism or bible teaching or children’s involvement, or whatever, the variety was overwhelming and refreshing to me. And this is what I try to keep in mind as I read Zdero’s book. In some chapters, as when he comments about women in the church for example, I find that I agree with him exactly. When he encourages one couple to break off fellowship with another couple because they disagree on doctrine, I find myself disagreeing sincerely. When he writes to house church members and draws the line in the sand and asks them to commit to certain things or disband their church, I find myself unsure of how I feel about that. But, in all of these things, I have grace and respect for Zdero. One, because he’s my brother in Christ, and two, because as I’ve said many times before, we should not base our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ on an agreement of doctrine as much as we base it on our common love for Christ and our commitment to love and serve Him.

Frankly, I found myself inserting my own style of leadership into Zdero’s letters at every turn. I found that I could hardly focus on what he was saying to his audience without pausing to ask myself what I might say in the same situation, or how I might respond differently if I were writing a letter to these same people.

I think, on a basic level, Zdero and I are two different kinds of leaders. Whereas he might be more of an Apostolic leader whose calling is to plant many churches and to (as he says in his book), “help spawn the house church movement”, I am more like a guy who heard God call him to plant a specific church where 100 percent of the offering could go to help the poor in our community. There’s nothing wrong with either calling, of course. But understanding our different roles in the Church is helpful (at least to me) in understanding why Zdero and I are different leaders.

Before you get the idea that I disagree with Zdero on some critical level, let me affirm that most of what he counsels people to do in this book is agreeable to me. I do think that it’s important for Churches to develop real community, to be involved in mission outside the four walls, and to practice loving church discipline whenever necessary. We might disagree on “how” to do those things, but we do agree on doing them as best as we can.

Again, Zdero and I agree on many, many more things than we disagree on. I want to make that abundantly clear. This book would make a wonderful contribution to anyone who was curious about how to handle difficulty in a house church setting, how to respond to critics of the house church, and even how to lovingly correct people who are overzealous for all things “house church”.

To be fair, I am probably the most permissive and passive leader I have ever met. Almost no one I know takes such a hands-off approach to leadership as I do. And I don’t say that to brag. Maybe I’m too footloose when it comes to these issues? I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out. But, if you read Zdero’s book you should know that not everything he does is typical of all house church practitioners. The reality is more on the side of variety, as I mentioned earlier.

Much like, “The Church Comes Home” by Robert and Julia Banks, Zdero’s book does provide a nice snapshot of house church life and addresses many typical challenges faced by those who are involved in this movement. What might be missing from Zdero’s book is that variety of experience or perspective found in their book. Due, of course, to the fact that Zdero’s book is from his viewpoint only (but then again, my books and articles reflect my bias as well). So, there’s not much you can do about this fact except to listen to what he has to say and weigh it against your own understanding of the Scriptures and decide for yourself what you think.

Either way, Zdero’s book is an enlightening and challenging collection of thoughts from someone who has invested a large portion of his life to the nurturing of others as they follow Christ into deeper community. I highly recommend this book.



© 2012 Keith Giles

Posted with permission
Originally posted on his blog HERE

He tweets @KeithGiles

subversive1 blog Check out Keith’s insightful blog:

Books by Keith Giles:

This Is My Body Subversive Interviews The Gospel: For Here or To Go?
This Is My
Body by
Keith Giles
by Keith Giles
The Gospel:
For Here or
To Go by
Keith Giles








Dumb Mistakes I’ve Made Growing Movements by Erik Fish

For those of us in the Christian world, we often reflect in awe at movements of the gospel in history. Most Jesus followers want to be part of a movement. Many people call themselves one. Few people, I think, understand what they are. Before I tell some of my dumbest mistakes trying to grow a movement, here’s my attempt at a definition for what one actually is for Jesus followers:

MOVEMENT: “The rapidly multiplying, expanding influence of the gospel among a given population, with ensuing transformation in all spheres of life.”

After four years growing a movement on college campuses (or at least trying to), I thought it would be a good time to sit down and evaluate my mistakes. For some bizarre sociological reason, people respond better when I tell them the stupid things I’ve done, rather than just the sweet stories.*

Go figure.

Maybe being honest about our quirks and missteps helps pave the way for others. Before I tell some of my own painful blunders from the last few years, I’ll give myself some anaesthetic by relating a quick story of one failed expedition that led to others’ success.

About 450 years ago, a group of devoted, prayerful Jesuits set out to expand the gospel where it had never been planted before. The Jesuits were founded by ten friends, among them a quirky, often criticized guy named Ignatius of Loyola who once pilgrimaged barefoot all the way to Jerusalem (only to be promptly kicked out of the city and sent home). God often uses strange people to start movements. Ignatiius

The Jesuits were the most prolific force for expanding the gospel in unknown regions prior to (and in many cases, after) the era of modern Protestant missions. Along the way, several of them looked for a faster land route to get from India to China. One of them, Benedetto de Goes, traveled for four years by foot through icy, snow-packed mountains and murderously treacherous deserts searching for a new way to China before finally dying, a thousand miles short of his destination.  Before he died, he left some notes with a traveling merchant that (miraculously) made it back to his Jesuit friends in Europe. The contents of his note basically said:

“Don’t come this way.”

Sometimes our mistakes can help others get where they need to go. (Not to mention, ourselves.)

So, with a shout out to Benedetto, here’s a note from me about a few of my dumb mistakes in growing movements: “Don’t come this way!”

1. Build a Network and Call it a Movement…

… read the rest of Dumb Mistakes I’ve Made Growing Movements  by Erik Fish

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