11003524867?profile=RESIZE_710xPhil Miglioratti Interviewed Lynn Cory, Author of "What Happened to the Grassroots Movement of Jesus?"



"This book is foundational to the other books I have written." 

PHIL >>> Lynn this is the latest book in your Neighborhood Initiative series...Why is the 5th book actually the one we should probably read first? 

LYNN >>> I need to give you a little background before I answer your question. I never intended to write a book. My first book, Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God, came about because the LAPD Chaplain at the time encouraged me to journal everything I was doing with the ministry of Neighborhood Initiative. The content of the book is derived from the journaling I was doing at the time. When the book was complete, I had no sense that I had written the book and found it even difficult to call it my book. Each of the books I have written came as a sense of calling from God. The fourth book I wrote, Jesus’ Secrets, I thought for sure was the last book I would write. My wife was quite happy that I was finished writing. I am smiling. However, Grassroots came as a complete surprise to me from an invitation to speak about the Christmas Story as seen through the book of Luke during the 2021 Advent season. My eyes were opened to things I had never seen before about Jesus’ grassroots movement and how His kingdom grew exponentially. Through research, I began to see what hindered this rapid growth.

Phil, you were instrumental in the writing of Grassroots. I had sent you a copy of my Advent message and you asked if I could send you the content of the teaching in written form. That request sparked something in me, and I began to realize the Lord had more to say through another book. That’s how the book took root. While writing the manuscript, I could see what the Lord had in mind with the book and why it was foundational to other books. Naturally, we would assume that I would write Grassroots first and my other books would follow, but the Lord chose this order. Only He could pull this off. Now that all five books are complete, Grassroots is the first book to read because it is foundational, and after that the other four books build on what Jesus initiated with His disciples nearly 2,000 years ago.



"A grassroots movement is self-organized and purposeful, usually mobilized for social or political change." (p. XI)

PHIL >>> Why did you choose this question for the book's title: "What happened to the grassroots movement of Jesus?" 

LYNN >>> The short answer, the question provokes thought and it sparks interest. The question came about because I believe it is an important question for us in the Church to ask. We often assume the way we do church is what Jesus had in mind for His Church. We are not inclined to ask this “why” question, because it is easier not to ask it because it might be upsetting to some or because we never realized there was a question that needed to be asked. However, when questions are asked we learn. One of my favorite professors in seminary would often answer a student’s question with a question, because it stimulated the one asking the question to think. My intention with the title is to encourage the reader to think and consider this question: Is the church in the West truly giving itself wholeheartly to what Jesus commanded in the Great Commission or are we just doing church?


"We might be surprised to find what the enemy used to steer the Church away from Jesus' original plan. He chose to work inside the Church to replace the kingdom values that Jesus had set in place." (p. XII)

PHIL >>> How have the enemy's deceptions-distractions infected-influenced-impacted the Church? 

LYNN >>> Satan from the beginning of the Church has mustered all his resources to stop the advance of God’s kingdom. Originally, he used persecution to impede Jesus’ grassroots movement through the Church, but he found that it only inspired greater growth and the advance of God’s kingdom. During the Roman Empire, in the early fourth century, our archenemy chose to work inside the Church to replace the kingdom values that Jesus had set in place with the those of the world. Humble-servant leadership gave way to hierarchal leadership. Before long, leaders in the Church looked and acted like the political elite, very much like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who continually stood in opposition to the advance of His kingdom. This was a slow process starting with the early church fathers, but the Church eventually became a full-fledged institution under the powerful hand of Constantine. The Church meeting intimately in homes was usurped by large gatherings in grand cathedrals. The enemy, through Constantine, anchored the Church to the building and the state, which gave way to more of an institutional and legalistic approach to church life. This and so much more killed any semblance of what Jesus set forth with his disciples. Today, our enemy is deceptively at work, as Dr. James Spencer puts forth, “Christians in the West are being controlled not so much by external forces—but being lulled into accepting ideas that are counter to God, not by conscious choice but by the slow reorientation of one’s beliefs.” Culture is subtly penetrating the church in the West with the world’s commission instead of the Lord’s…to make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey everything the Lord commanded. We have taken our eye off Jesus and have become entangled in the everyday affairs of this world, like politics, cultural trends, and so much more that serve to divide the Lord’s precious Church.



PHIL >>> We typically teach that "disciple" means "learner" but you use the term "world-changers" ... why?

LYNN >>> “I’m using the name world-changers because if I say disciples, right away we have a preconceived notion of what disciple might mean to us. Yes, it means “learner” or “apprentice,” but if we take into account Jesus’ Great Commission to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded, we understand that Jesus’ intent was for His disciples to be world-changers. They would be influencing people in the most profound way—through transforming hearts and shaping lives into Christ’s likeness by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God!” I like the word disciple, but world-changers takes on a broader meaning for us today. Making disciples not only brings about personal transformation in the life of individuals, but it changes the trajectory of people’s lives, as it did with Mary and Joseph, and it also has the protentional to change culture and cities as it did in the Roman Empire. As Gerald L. Sittser points out in his book Resilient Faith, “Christianity infiltrated cities, one relationship at a time, one apartment building at a time, one marketplace at a time, as if releasing white blood cells into the bloodstream of the Roman Empire. It was slow, laborious work. But over time it began to challenge and purge the cancer and corruption of Rome.” This is what can happen on a grand scale when the Church is collectively committed to making disciples of all nations. This is what world-changers do one disciple at a time and it multiplies like a virus and totally transforms people’s lives, cities, and the world.


"It is good for us to remember that some of the poorest churches in history have been spiritual rich and some of the wealthiest churches in history have been spiritual poor." (p. 17)

PHIL >>> Why is this significant?

LYNN >>> This quote about poor and rich churches comes from a blog by Rick Renner. He was addressing the condition of the church in Laodicea. Though they said of themselves that they were rich, they were in fact spiritually poor. Renner uses the following story to introduce the above quote:

When the renowned theologian St. Thomas Aquinas visited the Vatican in the Thirteenth Century AD, Pope Innocent IV invited him to view the breathtaking treasures that had been amassed by the Church. With great pride, the pope told him, “No longer can the Church say, ‘Silver and gold have we none’!” To this, St. Thomas Aquinas answered, “Holy Father, that is very true indeed. But neither can we say to the poor and afflicted, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk!’”

Those in corporate institutions, like the one mentioned above, tend to organize into hierarchies and accumulate material wealth, which often distracts from the simplicity of Jesus’ mission. Disbanding the physical manifestations of the organization (the building, the material assets, the busy schedules) increases the likelihood of the demonstration of God’s kingdom power, because it requires complete dependence on God. This was quite clear when Jesus sent out His disciples. They were instructed to take nothing with them so they would have to completely trust the Father for their provision and so what was accomplished was by His power. The power of the Holy Spirit is what is needed in the Church today if we want to see God move powerfully in the lives of those who desperately need the Lord who loves them. This comes about by believers who have great faith and courage to live the kind of life Jesus did in the world.



"Investing in Jesus' person-to-person movement is central to His grassroots movement."(p. 22)

PHIL >>> How would this change the way we design disciple-making programs?

LYNN >>> Dallas Willard stated the following: “Discipleship is not for the church. Actually, the church is for discipleship. Discipleship is for the world, the world that God so loved, that he has great hopes for and that he is going to bring great things out of. That’s where discipleship belongs.” We in the church, myself included, have wanted to make it a program in the church, but as you take a closer look at the life of Jesus in the Gospels and the book of Acts you find that it is an activity for believers who are making disciples of those out in the world. It is a work that is organic and not a program. It involves authentic relationships with people in geographic or relational proximity to us or with people we have things in common with us out in the world. Sadly, many in the church hardly have any friendships with those outside of the church who have yet to come to faith in a God who loves them. He wants His kids back. So, He sent His Son on a rescue mission (John 3:16) and His Son in turn commissioned His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) as well as His disciples today to be a part of His great rescue plan. The gateway into beginning this authentic work of making disciples is by loving our Father and our neighbors as ourselves. All five of the NI books are designed to help those in the Church to participate in our Father’s rescue plan.


"Christianity infiltrated cities, one relationship at a time, one apartment building at a time, one marketplace at a time." (p. 27)

PHIL >>> How does person-to-person discipleship result in the Church impacting families, communities, affinities...?

LYNN >>>The church today has missed the significance of making a single disciple. Jesus’ teaching in the parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast (Matthew 13:31-33) is about multiplication, not addition. Think about the influence of the woman at the well and her impact on the city of Sychar or Cornelius and the number that came to faith because of him. We talk about how many people can we get to fill a room. No, the idea is how many people can we get the kingdom of God into so they, in turn, will “infect” more and more people. It’s like a virus. Look at the COVID virus. It started as a small, insignificant virus, and now it has literally influenced the whole world! Think about the kindof impact that could have happened if, instead of people being hit by COVID, we had people touched by the living God! The goal isn’t just gathering a bunch of people together, but allowing the precious mustard seed (the kingdom) we carry to permeate the life of one person before us, who then won’t be able to help doing the same for another! That’s how the move of Christianity, which we call the Church, grew so fast in its first three hundred years. Luke recorded this rapid growth throughout the book Acts. 

Rodney Stark concluded his writing of The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries with its wealth of research with these words:

Christianity did not grow because of miracles working in the marketplaces (although there may have been much of that going on), or because Constantine said it should, or even because the martyrs gave it such credibility. It grew because Christians constituted an intense community . . . And the primary means of its growth was through the united and motivated efforts of the growing numbers of Christian believers, who invited their friends, relatives of Christian believers, who invited their friends, relatives, and neighbors to share the “good news.”

This is precisely what Jesus taught in His Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast and how it played out in the book of Acts. This is the exponential growth of His kingdom and what we see and hear breaking out in the neighboring and discipleship movements of our day.


"Jesus is on a mission; a rescue mission..." (p.87)

PHIL >>> How do we begin the journey of reformatting our ministries from an organizational structure to a movemental system?

LYNN >>> I want to preface my response to your question with the following: Movements of God have always started with prayer and humbling oneself. It is coming before the Lord and seeking His will for the work He wants to do in our cities and neighborhoods and asking Him for harvesters to carry out His work. If we want to see the Holy Spirit move in our cities, we need not only to spend time alone in prayer, but we also need to come together with other believers and pray like those early believers did. This can start with just a few believers or even a larger group. It requires faithfulness and persistence. It involves being in the easy yoke with Jesus. It takes praying, waiting, and watching, and then when the Father invites us into what He is doing, we join Him.

1) Churches need to break free of their buildings, and many programs and events. The busyness of today’s church life drains those in the church of energy and any time to spend with those outside the church, especially family members. Sadly, all of these activities can even negatively impact families who are a part of churches. Churches need to provide margin for their people to spend time with extended family, neighbors, and co-workers. The home needs to become the center for the work of God in the community, not a building. We have made too much of the building. We see in the early church that the home was the launch pad for touching communities.

2) Those in the Lord’s Church need to begin to love those in their home, their extended family, those in the immediate neighborhoods where they live, where they work, go to school, play, and spend their day.

3) We need to invite neighbors into our homes and have meals with them, so they begin to experience the family of God and His love. We had one lovely neighbor come to our home for our neighborhood Bible study and she said to my wife something like this, “I have been in a lot of homes, but there is something about this home that I have never experienced in another home.” You see, she was experiencing the presence of God. There is so much more to be said, but this is laid out in the NI books.


"Lord, move powerfully through your Church once again..." (p. 86)

PHIL >>> Lynn,  give us a prayer that helps us take the first/next step in reassessing/rethinking... 

Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to respond to these questions that are central to Your heart and the grassroots movement you established with your disciples so many years ago. I pray that you will once again work powerfully through your Church by Your Spirit to bring about a great revival and awakening. May we see in our day Your kingdom burst into every family, every neighborhood, every workplace, and every campus, so that Your presence is undeniable to the watching world. Lord, please open the eyes of your Church to Your grassroots movement so that those in Your Church will not desire to go back to our old ways, but we will be filled with Your Spirit, will be courageous and bold to share your message of the Kingdom with those You give us opportunity to speak with. May we be like you, Jesus, only doing what the Father is doing. In Your name I pray that you may be glorified in the Church.



You need to be a member of The Reimagine Network to add comments!

Join The Reimagine Network

SCROLL for Related Content + Commentary & Resources + Replies

  • Fantastic interview - important messages that I pray make their way into the hearts of many Christians and sanctuaries of many churches.

This reply was deleted.