12) The BackPage: Nehemiah’s “People Movement”

Remember McGavran’s term — a “People Movement?” Dr. Donald McGavran always talked about a “multi-individual, mutually-interdependent decision.” It was “Multi-individual” in that many unique souls were considering a decision (most often, for Christ) simultaneously. In other words, this is not “mob rules.” However, it was mutually-interdependent because, in spite of the fact that they were, in fact, operating unilaterally… in that each person was deciding on his or her own. But note that McGavran didn’t say “mutually independent.” In other words, there was just a slight sense of “group-think” in their autonomous decision. Making the decision corporately caused them to feel a bit “safer” about turning to Christ.

You can watch a video about this concept at the “TED” site. See it at…

Best I can tell, that’s kind of what Nehemiah did in chapter 3 of his book. Family by family, person by person, he raised up a movement. Just check out the layers of society that stepped up to the plate to repair the wall: priests (v 1), goldsmiths (v 8), perfume-makers (v 8), Shallum’s daughters (v. 12), rulers (v. 14), temple servants (v. 26), merchants (v. 32). Now granted… many worked on their own houses, as was their custom. Just see, for example, Meshullam, son of Berekiah who, in vs. 30 “made repairs opposite his living quarters.” But interestingly, that wasn’t the only place he had to worry about. In Neh. 3:6, the same Meshuallam (son of Berekiah) was also reconstructing a section of wall near the Fish Gate. I get a feeling Nehemiah must have said, “OK, let’s take it one house, one wall section at a time.” Yes it was ridiculous.” :-) But they were “on a roll!” For these and many other reasons, I find Nehemiah not only compassionate, but also effective. He was not only focused on “group-think” but also on *personal* evangelism.

What about you? Have you seen the influence of “group-think” in regular decisionmaking circles in your midst? Or, alternatively, were you a part of a people movement that formed up regardless of personal accountability… but rather, because it was a good thing to do?” If so, perhaps you were a part of a people movement.

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