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Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

Charisma and Its Companions

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Church movements need magnetic leaders. But the best leaders need more than charm.

Emad is an exception in many says. He grew up in a massive slum but rose to be the branch manager of a bank in a capital city. Most people in his area are Muslim and animist, but Emad’s devout Christian mother instilled in him a passion to reach the lost for Christ. This was at odds with the local church he pastored, where he found the believers to be uninterested in evangelism.

After a few years of pastoral “failure,” Emad (a pseudonym) found himself dejectedly prayer-walking a dusty side street. There, he felt the Holy Spirit direct him to a shaman. This sorcerer had recently dreamed of a man coming to tell him about the “living God.” He excitedly introduced Emad to his social network, and soon people started coming to Christ.

In the ten years since, close to 7,000 churches have emerged that can be traced to the encounter between Emad and the sorcerer. The movement has spread among five different people groups in three countries.

As researchers of church planting, we wanted to understand people who, like Emad, have multiplied disciples of Jesus in places where there were few if any known Christians. These people are what we call “pioneer leaders.” We also wanted to understand an exceptional group that included Emad—about 1,500 pioneer leaders in the world whose disciples have made disciples who then have made disciples, resulting in at least 100 new churches. These are what we call “movement catalysts.”

Emad and the others in our study agreed to participate only if their responses were anonymous and their full names weren’t published, a standard practice in research. In addition, many of these pioneer leaders work in regions that are unsafe for evangelists.

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