The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities

The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities

The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities

The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities


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IVP Readers' Choice Award
Missio Alliance Essential Reading List

Public gatherings are vital for movement, but too often in our approach to planting churches, we haven't paid enough attention to the difficult grassroots work of movement: discipleship, community formation, and mission. This book will help you start missional-incarnational communities in a way that reflects the viral movement of the early New Testament church.

JR Woodward (author of Creating a Missional Culture) and Dan White Jr. (author of Subterranean) have trained church planters all over North America to create movemental churches that are rooted in the neighborhood, based on eight necessary competencies:

  • Movement Intelligence
  • Polycentric Leadership
  • Being Disciples
  • Making Disciples
  • Missional Theology
  • Ecclesial Architecture
  • Community Formation
  • Incarnational Practices

The book features an interactive format with tools, exercises, and reflection questions and activities. It's ideal for church planting teams or discipleship groups to use together.

It's not enough to understand why the church needs more missional and incarnational congregations.The Church as Movement will also show you how to make disciples that make disciples. This is the engine that drives the church as movement, so that everyday Christians can be present in the world to join God's mission in the way of Jesus.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830841332
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 07/14/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

JR Woodward is a church planter, activist, consultant, missiologist, speaker and writer. He cofounded Kairos Los Angeles and the Ecclesia Network, a relational network of missional churches. He is the director of the Solis Foundation, which partners with churches in Kenya to equip and resource people living in extreme poverty to create sustainable businesses. He blogs at

Dan White Jr. coleads Axiom Church in Syracuse, New York, and is the author of Subterranean: Why the Future of the Church Is Rootedness.

Alan Hirsch is the founding Director of Forge Mission Training Network. He is the co-founder of, an international forum for engaging with world transforming ideas. He leads Future Travelers, a learning journey applying missional-incarnational approaches to established churches and is an active participant in The Tribe of LA, a Jesus community among artists and creatives in Los Angeles. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Hirsch is a teacher and key mission strategist for churches across the western world. His popular book The Shaping of Things to Come (with Michael Frost) is widely considered to be a seminal text on mission. Alan's recent book The Forgotten Ways, has quickly become a key reference for missional thinking, particularly as it relates to movements. His book ReJesus is a radical restatement about the role that Jesus plays in defining missional movements. Untamed, his latest book (with his wife Debra) is about missional discipleship for a missional church. His experience in leadership includes leading a local church movement among the marginalized as well as heading up the Mission and Revitalization work of his denomination. Hirsch is an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary and lectures frequently throughout Australia, Europe, and the U.S.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Foreword by Alan Hirsch

Part I: Distributing
1. Movement Intelligence
2. Polycentric Leadership

Part II: Discipling
3. Being Disciples
4. Making Disciples

Part III: Designing
5. Missional Theology
6. Ecclesial Architecture

Part IV: Doing
7. Community Formation
8. Incarnational Practice

Epilogue: Living in Light of God's Future
Recommended Reading
About the Authors

What People are Saying About This

Noel Castellanos

"In The Church as Movement, JR and Dan provide leaders who are concerned about being faithful to the values of the kingdom with a compelling examination of the kind of leadership required to touch the deepest yearnings of our generation. Instead of offering trendy relevance, the church imagined in this new book offers hope by calling us to sacrificially love our neighbors and our neighborhoods as brothers and sisters committed to live as followers of Jesus the Christ."

Linda Bergquist

"Theologically and theoretically complex and robust, yet practically so transferable in its attentiveness to movement dynamics and awareness of place-based disciple-making. This is a book that will surprise and challenge trained practitioners while offering tools that are adaptable enough for real movement. I believe even the title is a phrase that will become integral to the new vocabulary of church multiplication. I honestly wish I had written it myself!"

Mark Scandrette

"The Church as Movement is a book I wish I'd been able to get my hands on twenty years ago. I got into church planting because I wanted to be a disciple and make disciples of Jesus. Instead, I encountered a system that largely measured success in terms of attendance, budgets, and buildings. Woodward and White not only offer an alternate transformational vision, they have created an immensely practical resource. I've seen their work firsthand and am deeply encouraged by their ability to come alongside leaders and equip them to embody the way of Jesus in their local communities."

Debra Hirsch

"What I love about JR and Dan is that they don't just write about the stuff of missional discipleship, they live it! The Church as Movement is a real gift to the church. It is not only crammed full of practical wisdom, but is written in a way that is accessible to everybody."

Mark Labberton

"This is a book of wisdom by thoughtful practitioners, experienced and mature in their own leadership. It provides valuable help in an integrated approach that many will find inspiring and, most of all, truly helpful."

Tim Soerens

"If you want to see the church through a radically different lens and recover the vision of how ordinary Christians working together in the neighborhood can become the greatest hope for change in these fractured and fragmented times, then this book is your guide."

Michael Frost

"JR and Dan have produced a simple, intensely practical guide for those of us who want to shift from merely sustaining the 'religious industrial complex' to unleashing a dynamic missional church planting movement. The Church as Movement is full of ideas on missional discipleship, rhythms of life, cultural exegesis, fivefold leadership models and more, all anchored in a beautiful biblical vision of the sent-and-sending God."

Daniel Im

"Practitioner led, biblically based, and theologically sound. In this book, JR and Dan have been able to navigate the line between missiology and strategy by presenting a team guide for discipleship and church planting. So buy this book, gather your friends together, and learn how to start a movement that will change your city!"

Mandy Smith

"Much recent writing about how to do church has dealt with tasks and ideas. But if the church is God's expression of himself on the earth, then isn't it important for the church to also grow from our own engagement with God? If the church is to be authentic, it will require us as leaders to submit to God's ongoing work of personal transformation. This is hard work, so we need guides that invite whole-person engagement, trusting that as we experience the mission of God in our own lives, we know more deeply how to live it out in our communities. The Church as Movement is that kind of guide."

Ed Stetzer

"JR and Dan use their wisdom and experience to help churches plant churches that better reflect the effectiveness of the early church, emphasizing the importance of community and discipleship."

David Fitch

"In The Church as Movement White and Woodward rewrite what it means to cultivate and grow churches in the mission fields of post-Christendom. Accomplishing the impossible, they provide an exhaustive preparation for those who dare to navigate this terrain. It's a learning experience enormous in its aspirations yet so necessary for the task that lies ahead for the church in mission."

Howard A. Snyder

"The early church was a spiritual-social movement and The Church as Movement insightfully shows what that means today. Woodward and White insist the church is not church if it is not a genuine community of disciples following Jesus. They are right when they say, 'We need to water the small, over and over, and allow God's Spirit to blow on the embers.' This is the powerful essence of The Church as Movement."

Alan Hirsch

"One of the strengths of the book derives from the fact that JR and Dan are reflective practitioners: both have planted churches, are leading a wonderful new movement called V3 and have been training planters all across North America. . . . Furthermore, their understanding of movement is wonderfully minimalist without being reductionist. The result is that it can be practiced by ordinary, everyday Christians. Here they activate the essence of movement—where everyone, regardless of race, gender and class, is an active agent in the game. Jesus movement is people movement!"

Alan Roxburgh

"This is a book on Christian movement and church planting that I enjoyed reading and want to commend to many others seeking to discern innovative ways of being God's people in a time of massive change. JR and Dan have written with wisdom. They distill their on-the-ground experience into a book that is practical, instructive, and informed with theological imagination. They offer the reader a direction for this journey toward a movement of God's people in our day. Like any book, one isn't going to agree with everything, but this is one of a few books in this field I want to recommend."

Kevin and Christine Sweeney

"JR Woodward and Dan White Jr.'s words have helped us incarnate in our neighborhood in Honolulu the very Word that desires to made flesh in all neighborhoods. While holding together the critical tension between imagination and implementation, they provide us with a missional map, a creative compass, technical tools, and a renewed sense of hope for the journey. A truly innovative offering."

Efrem Smith

"A church building or sign is no indicator that the community of God is truly present as a transforming force in any particular place. This book pushes us to see the church as it was meant to be biblically and as it needs to be today in order to advance the kingdom of God. Missional, incarnational movement and discipleship cannot be optional ideas for the church but must be core essentials so that the justice and truth of God is experienced in a broken world."

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