Blog Series on Insider Movements

On Between the Times, the faculty blog for Southeastern Seminary, a new series is being posted on a missiological strategy called “Insider Movements.” This series is being written by Dr. Doug Coleman,* a missionary to Muslims for over a decade, and a scholar who wrote his dissertation, hence published, on this very topic. I know Doug, we had the same PhD mentor and took some seminars together. He is very sharp and has a great heart.

For those of you unfamiliar with an insider movement, this will be an important series of posts. In a comment on another post, Doug gives a working definition of an insider movement:

 Its fundamental claim is that one can come to faith in the biblical Jesus and yet remain vitally connected to his pre-conversion *religious* community. According to this claim, a Muslim can therefore possess salvific faith while at the same time potentially participating in “Muslim” rituals with other Muslims who have not believed on the biblical Jesus, i.e. continuing to go to mosque worship and prayers, and possibly even going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Advocates state these rituals would need various degrees of reinterpretation, but they are not necessarily fundamentally incompatible with biblical faith. This claim rests on a number of sociological, biblical, and theological propositions. My dissertation is a critique of the most significant biblical and theological arguments offered by IMP advocates.

As can be seen, this is not a minor issue.

In the introduction to the newest series on BtT, Coleman makes it clear that dealing with, and critiquing, the principles involved in Insiders Movements  is as equally important for missionaries serving in primarily Muslim contexts as it is for churches in North America. Islam is the other missionary world religion, and it is spreading across the globe due in much part to the forces behind globalization. Thus, Muslims are moving to the West with great speed. With this, as Coleman adeptly identifies, missiological proponents of insider movements are advocating their methodology for outreach to Muslims in the US, and not just in foreign lands. Personally, I know someone well who has attempted this in the US. I think that churches in the West and the majority world would do well to listen to Dr. Coleman has to say.

Take the time to keep up with Coleman’s series of posts on Between the Times and consider purchasing his dissertation. In time (perhaps in a few months or s0), I will post some of my thoughts as well as it pertains to outreach to Muslim peoples living in the US.



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  1. From all I have read on this subject by proponents/observers, insider movements are not a missionary methodology. Rather insider movements are a social phenomenon that take place when people of other religious traditions come in contact with the gospel and decide on their own to remain within their own religious tradition while following Jesus as Savior and Lord. While their may be missionaries masquerading as Muslims, and their may be missionaries encouraging MBBs to remain Muslims, such activity is not an insider movement, by definition. See the Wikipedia article on insider movements for a good overview of what I am talking about: Blessings friend!

    • David,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I’m not certain insider movements are as free from outside involvement as you claim (I also see that you have been an editor of the wikipedia article).

  2. David, I agree with WLH. There are no case studies of IM that do not in some way come from outside. The Wikipedia entry is heavily censored.

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