What I Learned Reading "Starfish Movement"

We were talking recently in a staff meeting about making disciples. As we shared stories that were happening around us our church planting guy, Dale Spaulding, mentioned a book called, “Starfish Movement: Unleashing the Unstoppable Movement of Jesus” by Dan Grider. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock along with some of my starfish brethren, but I hadn’t heard of it.

A few weeks later I was in a conversation with another gentleman. He was sharing some of what God was doing in his life and the things he was learning about making disciples. He pulled a book out of his backpack and began sharing some of his learnings. The book? “Starfish Movement.” That was it for me. I needed the book. I opened my Amazon app and ordered it from my phone right there in that Starbucks and I opened the pages 2 days later after it arrived on my front step.

As I began to read the introduction, I was immediately drawn in. It wasn’t a secret, I knew where Dan was going with the book. Yet, that didn’t slow me down or take away the power that was in the book.

If you could see my copy you would notice green highlights on nearly every page. I devoured the book about as quickly as any book I have ever read. I’m not some bibliophile who devours books religiously. Reading isn’t necessarily my favorite pastime nor something I do for enjoyment to be honest. I read to learn, grasp concepts, ideas or principles and then to put them into action. I’m not reading novels out on the beach while sipping a mimosa. Not really my thing.

But I devoured “Starfish Movement.” I got through it so quickly I think I should ask for my money back. It was over too quickly. The markings are all that’s left of the quick work I made of this particular book. Multiple times I highlighted a sentence or paragraph that was identical in wording to something I have said over the course of my last fifteen years in ministry. One afternoon while I was reading I started yelling to my wife.

“Misty, you won’t believe this. Look at this sentence. I’ve said that exact thing.”

Dan Grider has been in my head like something straight out of “Inception,” but was able to take the chaos of my mind and put order to it and create a book. And what follows are quotes and snippets from the book that jumped up and slapped me in the face, went back into the book, then came back up and slapped me in the face again. Truthfully, I’m grateful for what I read because it helped me to be reminded I’m not alone in some of my thinking.

*Now before we go any further, here’s who should and shouldn’t read this book:

  1. Read it: if you eat, sleep and breathe rapidly reproducing and multiplying disciples into every nook and cranny of society.

  2. Don’t read it: if you are happy with status quo and don’t want to be awaken to the radical, unstoppable movement of Jesus into every nook and cranny of society.


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“Starfish Movement” Snippets and Quotes

  • Jesus intended that this movement would rapidly expand to the ‘ends of the earth.’ [Acts 1:8]

  • The New Testament church was simple and reproducible. This movement experienced explosive growth until Constantine, the Roman emperor, institutionalized all things church.

  • Simply knowing biblical information does not create a disciple-making starfish movement.

  • I didn’t realize that I was becoming a professional Christian.

  • Jesus taught His followers how to have conversations that included a thought-provoking question and a story of how their life had been radically changed.

  • The goal of the spiritual conversation is to identify individuals who are discipleable.

  • Tension was the key ingredient that Jesus used to make disciples.

  • Often they began as energized new followers of Jesus. They were hoping we would help them find a new life purpose. In many cases we led them to pray and pray, we baptized them and simply signed them up to be volunteers and join a small group.

  • It takes an amazing amount of effort to pull off a Sunday-morning even in most of our churches.

  • The goal is not to lead a church that is becoming a better American-styled version of the church.

  • The virus also makes us associate Bible study and discipleship as being in the same category. This confusion makes us theologically informed, but we lack a real understanding of the commission of Jesus. It is possible to replace the Jesus of the Scriptures with theology. [How to stop reading the Bible like a self-help book]


“It is possible to replace the Jesus of the Scriptures with theology.”

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  • We must remember decontaminating a person’s behavior will almost always produce legalism and will almost certainly crush the work of making disciples.

  • Evangelism must be an early stage of discipleship. When these two are separated the end product from the factory will be converts, not disciples.

  • The efforts of reading the Bible are completely wasted if there is no intention to act on it.

  • Church-planting public-launch services almost always draw disenfranchised church people who are searching for a new church home.

  • An isolated briquette will never become a hot coal, even if you pour several doses of charcoal fluid on it and immediately burn off the fluid.

  • The goal of spiritual conversations with this method [Xcellerate] is not designed to persuade a stranger to pray a pryer or make a spiritual commitment. Spiritual conversations are only designed to identify discipleable people.

  • Jesus never did any of His discipleship strategy with a one-on-one format. He always lead groups of two or more. He spent the majority of His time in groups of six to twelve.

  • It is not enough to fill our churches; we must transform our world. Society and culture should change if the church is effective. Filling seats one day a week is not what Jesus came for, or what the Kingdom is all about.

  • I suggest that you consume the person of Jesus if you want to make disciples and use your life to make an impact.

  • It is discouraging how few are motivated to learn the truth of God from the Scriptures. Think about what it would be like if the majority of the people attending church had a passionate hunger for the Scriptures.


“Think about what it would be like if the majority of the people attending church had a passionate hunger for the Scriptures.”

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  • A positional leader is someone who holds place in leadership, but hasn't produced any spiritual fruit, or reproduce disciples. Today have positional pastor and elders who hold a position that is predicated on learning the right information, passing tests, and satisfying ordination councils.

  • We tell people they are to rejoice that their names are written in heaven sooner than Jesus did. Jesus let His disciples know that the assurance of Kingdom life comes when they decide to live in a Kingdom fashion. The measure of this assurance would be disciples who reproduced disciples.

  • Jesus didn’t leave heaven to start gatherings designed to isolate His followers from the world around them, where they would discuss Christian philosophy in cloistered huddles one day a week. He came to start a starfish movement that would break through the “gates of hell.”

  • He [Jesus] created life tension that helped His disciples build a Kingdom of God biblical worldview. Jesus knew that life tension is what motivates us to find answers.

  • When churches lose their focus, they create personal conflict. Keep your culture focused on the mission and aware of the enemy, and you will not have unnecessary conflict in your church.

  • Most of us who engage in the disciple-making process have not effectively quit enough other peripheral activities to be able to succeed at making disciples.

This is a sampling of highlights from the book. My heart beats for discipleship and this book was like adding rocket fuel to a bonfire for me. If you have a heart and passion for making disciples or are trying to discover next steps in beginning the journey, I can’t recommend this book enough.