The Butterfly Effect
By Ron Hunter Jr.
I heard about the butterfly effect for years, but it took time to wrap my mind around it. We all scratched our heads the first time we heard how a butterfly could flap its wings in Brazil and cause a hurricane in Texas. The concept illustrates how small things cause an unpredictable snowball with positive or negative outcomes.
Ben Franklin shared the following poem illustrating the butterfly effect:
For want of a nail, the [horse]shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost,
For want of a horse, the rider was lost,
For want of a rider, the battle was lost,
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Obviously, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings is metaphorical. Still, history confirms the idea that one tiny act can trigger unpredictable results. Examples include the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, which plunged the nations into World War I. A German art college rejected a young man’s student application resulting in would-be artist Adolf Hitler orchestrating the Holocaust.
While often overlooked, not all tiny acts produce dire consequences. One such act: a mother asked her teenage son George Washington to accompany his brother to Barbados, where they contracted smallpox. Later, General Washington lost thousands of troops to the contagious disease. Because of Washington’s natural immunity, he avoided the disease, went on to win the Revolutionary War, and became America’s first president. Similarly, in 1924, a fire ravaged a Danish carpentry shop that built wooden block toys. The flap of that fiery butterfly’s wings sent ripples that allowed the owner, Ole Kirk, to rebuild his shop, using plastic to create what we know today as Legos.
What others view as tiny acts made a big difference in my own life. Elderly Mr. Kennedy, the gum man, sat on the front pew of our church, passing out Juicy Fruit to all the boys and girls coming out of Sunday School. Robert and Brenda Nicholson, who taught my junior-age Sunday School class, made the Bible come to life. As a Sunday School teen, I sat under Lauren Owen, who offered small rewards for memorizing Scripture—passages I still recall. Would I be here without those little acts? Or without my pastor, who nurtured my call to preach? Think of all the tiny acts, good and bad, which shaped your life.
Randall House & D6 Family Ministry often hear about tiny moments with far-reaching effects. From a take-home paper sparking a conversation in the car to watching kids spend ten minutes in their devotional magazines and learn to deal better with peer pressure. We love hearing the stories from the classroom to the dining room, where tiny moments flapped their wings to reveal God at work. Pastors who preach D6 Curriculum themes and emphasize at-home connections see families enjoying talks about lessons or sermons away from church.
As COVID-19 flapped its wings, the resulting storm pushed our pastors to adapt and advance in technological areas faster than we would have without the pandemic. Not gathering at church for months revealed families’ spiritual strengths or weaknesses. We see a renewed effort in Sunday School, small groups, and most of all, equipping parents with tools for generational discipleship at home.
The past 33 months inform us as we prepare for the next big release of the D6 Curriculum in fall 2023. We formed a Discipleship Task Force in 2021 from across our denomination. The members function as a large focus group and will also provide trainers, writers, and examples for other churches. Without a doubt, the results of their contributions will be determined a generation or two from now. We challenge you to set up a discipleship task force in your church, a group of people who send tools home to help authentic heart conversations occur. Your task force could emphasize a family-aligned set of studies, family-aligned devotionals, and activities focused on all generations and build a biblical worldview.
We love seeing the flap of wings in church on Sunday impact the home on Thursday—or any other day—by empowering parents from the same themed lesson everyone shared. However, the flap in Brazil creating Texas hurricane moments seems more believable lately for Randall House & D6 Family Ministry. Eighteen years ago, the first D6-style curriculum landed in Free Will Baptist churches and homes around the United States. That event triggered multiple outcomes, including more conversations before heading off to school, on car rides, around the dinner table, and just before bed. In addition to D6 moments in the home, the flutter across the ocean occurred as D6 discipleship reached numerous Asian countries.
Our role is not to send missionaries but to provide global discipleship support to missionaries, pastors, and families. From that first age-aligned fall curriculum quarter in 2004, we now reach many nations with the message of D6. A generation grew up using D6 and now uses the devotional magazines with their own kids. We went from a North American-centric ministry to global growth.
In June, I visited churches in South Korea using D6 Curriculum and doing it right, both at church and at home. I sat down with 15 pastors who shared how kids are finding excitement in being at church and doing their daily Bible reading at home. These pastors in Asia understand authentic generational discipleship creates daily disciples. The power of the gospel at church should affect the home.
The Randall House book division posted its best year in 2021. We saw the most Randall House & D6 imprinted books sold than in any previous year. This trend continued as the first quarter of 2022 proved to be the best ever. At writing, Randall House has licensed more books for translation in the last seven years than our entire history. We licensed 32 of our titles to be translated into 18 languages, which resulted in 68 translations. Visionary Marriage, Visionary Parenting, and The DNA of D6 comprise the three most translated titles, most into Asian languages.
How did Free Will Baptist discipleship influence Korea, Singapore, and 16 other Asian cultures? The butterfly effect! What you may perceive to be a small order of curriculum or a modest donation, we see God using and transforming to ripple across the oceans as countries translate our resources into languages that transform generations around the world.
Little is much when God is in it. The boy with the loaves and fish had no idea how Jesus would multiply his small gift for the masses. We say thank you for flapping your wings in support. Every flutter joins with thousands of others, making quite an effect. The generational changes taking place within Free Will Baptists are creating a storm to drown out Satan.
About the Author: Ron Hunter Jr., Ph.D., has been executive director & CEO of Randall House & D6 Family Ministry since 2002. Learn more: RandallHouse.com. To be part of the butterfly effect and give, visit D6Hero.com.