When conditions are right, a fire can sweep through an area. Ross believes that conditions are coming together for a viral move of God in this generation. Global challenges, the economic crisis, cultural moral decline, technology – are bringing us to the point where the flames of God can spread with the Spirit's force.
Ross attempts to both develop and document how the church in the West can set the stage for a viral movement. He gives as an example the early church where the gospel spread like wildfire. “If we are ever to see a viral movement of the Spirit in the West, we need to recapture the spirituality and mind-set of our first-century brethren.” (xxvi)
He reviews the elements of viral Jesus movements, including the issues of stability and control.
He has a good review of how the early church functioned and ministered before it came under human organization. He shows how church buildings, hierarchy of leadership, etc., brought the church to the point of no longer practicing apostolic ministry.
He covers the various revival movements and why they did not go viral. He also describes the sustained viral movement in China. “What we are seeing in China is the most rapid and robust movement of the gospel in the history of Christianity.” (113) He notes the characteristics of the Chinese church: no buildings, no trained workers, no wealthy, evidence of supernaturalism and suffering.
He discusses the practical aspects of a viral Jesus movement, such as discipleship, church planting, and viral evangelism.
He writes, “In the biblical worldview, Jesus has to be the Lord of the way we gather as a church and the way we do ministry. He has to be Lord of every single thing we do, even the way we think. It is not merely a correct doctrine. It is a way of life. Only then, when we get the Greek philosophy out of our worldview and practice and start actually following Jesus as Lord, will we see a sustained viral Jesus movement once again in the West.” (56)
Ross and his friends long to see the gospel sweep through the West. However, he writes, “We will not experience a viral movement of the gospel in the West until every Christian is equipped and willing to participate in the Great Commission as missionaries.” (184) If every Christian must be equipped and willing to participate, then I think we won't see it anytime soon. If Ross had said fifty percent of Christians must be equipped and willing, I would have more hope.
In general, I agree with Ross, longing to see the gospel spread like wildfire. I do disagree with him in one area, however. I agree that we must have Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered sharing of the faith. (187) I disagree with his guarantee that such Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered sharing of faith will “be 100 percent effective in evangelism 100 percent of the time.” (184 and 191) In studying the life of Jesus (who was completely Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered), I see where even He was not 100 percent effective 100 percent of the time. Many turned away from Him or left Him. We must be realistic in our evangelism work. If Jesus did not win every one over, neither will we.
Ross Rohde is a house church planter and house church planting coach in the San Francisco Bay area. A missionary for nearly twenty years, he has worked as a consultant and speaker on the effects of postmodernism on the European church. He and his wife are parents to three daughters and grandparents to four grandchildren. You can follow Ross on Facebook.
Passio (Charisma House Book Group), 217 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.