In this article, I will discuss church leaders and believers gathering together to start a Grace Movement in a particular region. I want to build on my previous article “Reproducing Grace: A Church Plant Movement” where I unpacked the first century church planting movement as seen in the book of Acts. We saw that reproducing grace by planting churches in a particular region can be done with little or no money. Now that we have that overview, I would like to look at how to begin, plan, and launch a Grace Movement in a region.
It All Starts With One
That’s where it starts. With one person. God plants a burden on the person to take the free grace message to his entire region. It seems overwhelming for one person to take this on by himself. And it is. But it starts with one. Maybe that’s you. How will one person impact the region with grace? It only takes one person to step out to gather other church leaders, pastors and believers to pray, to discuss, to plan and to launch a free grace movement, starting with one grace group. When you gather others together to pray and plan, it is not so daunting after all.
Think of the Thessalonian church. They were what would appear to be from scripture a normal, regular, everyday church. Paul calls the Berean Church noble-minded (Acts 17:11) and he calls the Corinthian church carnal (1st Corinthians 3:4.) But it seems from scripture that the Thessalonian church is somewhere in the middle, not noble or carnal, but average. Look at what this average church did. It’s amazing!
What an Average Church Can Accomplish
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace [a]from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. ” 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10.
This average church was able to reach and impact the entire region of Macedonia and Achaia. First, Paul and Silas went to that region and shared grace with them (Acts 17 1-10). Paul and Silas then gathered those who believed into a grace group and taught them. As the group grew, Paul coached them while he was there and then continued to coach them as he traveled to Berea.
Look at what Paul says this average everyday Church did:
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. 1 Thessalonians 1:8a
The grace message went out to the greater region of Greece. The region of Macedonia and Achaia is about 42,000 square miles. (Just for comparison, the state of Pennsylvania is about 44,000 square miles.)
One person, Paul, gathered his friend, Silas, and God led them to Thessalonica. In that region they shared grace. Those who believed in the grace message they gathered into a grace group and then they equipped, trained and sent that group out. That grace group impacted the entire region of Greece. One average church, one grace group impacted the whole region.
If you gather one other believer in your region to pray, plan, and launch a grace group that starts other grace groups, you begin to see how one person can be moved by the Holy Spirit and impact the entire region. Not just believers alone, but churches as well can start a movement of grace.
Gathering Pastors and Church Leaders
Pastor, you can call a regional meeting of other free grace pastors and church leaders in your region to begin discussing starting grace groups. Talk and pray together. Ask questions that might facilitate the conversation of working together to spread the message of grace.
Prayer, Vision and Unity
Think of what God can do, not just through a few believers in a region, but through a few churches in that region! How many more grace groups could two or three churches start in a particular region? Most likely more than just a few believers trying to start them on their own.
Don’t get me wrong! I believe God could do great things through a few believers who gather in the Name of Jesus. That just may be exactly how God will start in your region. But if you are a free grace pastor, and you are reading this, would you at least pray about gathering other free grace pastors and leaders together for a regional fellowship to start a conversation and pray about starting grace groups?
The next thing would be to continue to meet maybe once a month or bi-weekly to plan and come up with a vision for what that will look like for your region.
Something to consider would be: Are there people in your church who would host and facilitate a grace group in their home or in a public location that is free or low-cost? Make a list of the people in your church that come to mind and commit them to prayer. Mark these people, and those from other churches you have gathered. on a map of your region and pray for God to fill in the spaces between the fellowship of the churches.
Unity among the pastors and leaders of different free grace churches is crucial to the success of a Grace Movement in a region. Free grace churches can gather across denominational lines to spread the message of grace if they are unified in the movement. If we get caught up with whose church these new people will attend, this can cause disunity. If the churches work together, all of the churches could grow or even new churches could be formed! But the most important thing in this movement is that grace is reproduced.
Some Pitfalls to Watch Out For
A pitfall to the Grace Movement is institutionalization. In most cases, when a movement is institutionalized, it loses its natural growth momentum.
Another pitfall may be if you’re the only free grace pastor in your region. Don’t let this seem overwhelming. The Thessalonian church was the only church in its region and it impacted all of Greece! First I would suggest you verify that you’re the only free grace pastor in the region — you may be the only one, but you may not be. You won’t know until you do some research. There are conferences and regional meetings of free grace societies, alliances, and networks, most of which are represented by the authors of this blog site. You can attend their events to network or contact them directly. They may be able to introduce you to other free grace pastors and believers in your area.
If you are the only free grace pastor in your region, do you have one person or family in your church that could help you start a grace group? This person or family could then gather friends and family to do a book study of a free grace book. That’s a start. Pray for that. Pray that God grows that group into other groups. Pray that you’re able to train up other people in that group to start other groups in your region. Pray for other free grace pastors to move into your region.
Making Free Grace Connections
These free grace connections are very important. Even if you have to drive two hours once or twice a month to meet with one or two other free grace pastors or believers in your region, it would be so beneficial for the growth of free grace. I’m sure some of you free grace pastors are already doing this. I encourage you to start the conversation of how can we saturate the region in and around our churches with the free grace message. Maybe starting grace groups is the answer to that question.