How To Begin A Movement

When I was 24 years old, I bought a 1989 Jeep Wrangler. I don’t know what it was about Jeeps that attracted me. Was it because they seemed like a fun vehicle? Was it the sense of adventure that they portrayed? Mine had a hard top, so I had a soft top kit installed so I could enjoy the top down, doors off freedom in the summer. My Jeep had four wheel drive and a tow package, so I felt like I was ready to rescue, whatever the terrain. It wasn’t long before I discovered the Jeep fraternity. Other Jeep drivers would drive past me and give a knowing wave. When one after another after another did this, I learned that it was a actually a thing. The Jeep wave. So I began to initiate the wave to other  Jeep drivers. It was a sad day when I had to sell the Jeep to buy a “family car” after we had our second child. My Jeep days were done. But I’ve considered myself a Jeep guy ever since. So imagine my surprise and delight when my wife recently asked me if I had noticed the Jeep-Duck phenomenon. I hadn’t. So she said, “Next time you see a Jeep, look on the dashboard. It’ll probably have rubber ducks along the dashboard.” Sure enough, I began to see “ducked up” Jeeps everywhere. So I had to find out, “Where did this all begin?”

Jeep ducking began in 2020 early on in the Covid pandemic. Allison Parliament, a Canadian living in Alabama, decided to return home to be near family. She had heard that there was suspicion and fear in Canada about Americans coming across the border and bringing Covid with them, but she thought nothing of it.  Then, she pulled into a gas station and was accosted by a man yelling at her, telling her to get out of Canada, and actually pushing her back in her Jeep. Her Alabama tags had put a target on her back.

Allison’s friend Peter, a fellow Jeep driver up for any adventure, had encouraged her not to live in fear and get out there and drive her Jeep. Thankful for his encouragement, she bought a bag of Rubber Ducks that she intended to secretly stash throughout his house to put a smile on his face. When she walked out of the store though, she saw a beautiful Jeep Wrangler in the parking lot, pulled a sharpie out of her pocket, and wrote “Nice Jeep” on the Rubber Duck before placing it on the driver’s side of the windshield. She thought it would be a fun little surprise, but Allison was actually caught in the act. When the Jeep owner found out what she had done, he LOVED it! It made his day. After Allison left, he actually went back into the store and bought the other bag of rubber ducks the store had so he could put a smile on other Jeep driver’s faces. And Allison and her friends had so much fun putting a smile on his face in the midst of the craziness of Covid, they decided they would start to “duck” other Jeeps. Soon Allison and her friends had created a social media page for Jeep ducking. The hashtag #duckduckJeep was born. And so was the Jeep ducking phenomenon. Allison and her friends thought it would be short-lived. They had no idea that #duckduckJeep would still be going strong three years later, with Jeeps being ducked across Canada, in all fifty States, and other parts of the globe. There are multiple #duckduckJeep facebook groups, one with 98,000 members, another with 115,000 members, others for specific states or provinces. People post pictures and stories of ducking other Jeeps or being ducked themselves.

I’m fascinated by the #duckduckJeep phenomenon. How did it spread so far so fast? It’s truly a movement. Jesus started a movement almost two thousand years ago. He told His initial followers they would receive power from the Holy Spirit and they would be His witnesses spreading the Good News throughout Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Within a few years, they were accused of filling all of Jerusalem with their teaching. Within thirty years, Paul wrote this to the believers in Colossae, Asia Minor.

“In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”

Colossians 1:6b

I’ve been to several places that feel like “the ends of the earth,” and the gospel is there. Jesus started a movement two thousand years ago, and He invites us to continue advancing it. Yes, Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many, but He also came to launch a movement of disciples who would make disciples, advancing the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Because Jesus started a movement that I’ve committed my life to, I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of other movements. Who started them? How did they start? Why did they start? Why are they still going strong?

So what can we learn from the movement of Jeep Ducking? A few thoughts.

  1. Ordinary People are used to start movements. Allison Parliament was not a social media influencer who decided to launch the Jeep ducking craze. She’s just an ordinary person who decided to do something fun and nice for a fellow Jeep driver. The disciples of Jesus were called “ordinary, unschooled men.” God can and will use anyone in this movement. He uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary for His glory.
  2. Identity certainly played a role in the #duckduckJeep movement. There’s a clear sense of identity that goes along with being a Jeep driver. There’s the Jeep wave. There are Jeep clubs. There’s Jeep stickers, Jeep tire covers, Jeep paraphernalia. Jeep drivers feel connected to one another. Tying into this “tribe effect,” the Jeep community was primed for something like #duckduckJeep to spread. The Jesus Movement of the 1970’s highlighted in the movie Jesus Revolution was largely spread through the hippie movement in Southern California among youth who were disillusioned with the way the world was going. What are the “tribes” of tight knit communities that would be primed for the spread of the gospel in various parts of the world today?
  3. Multiplication is key! Allison ducked a random Jeep owner, and then what happened? He went back into the same store, bought a bag of rubber ducks, and began ducking other random Jeep drivers. If it didn’t extend beyond Allison, if she bought bag after bag of ducks to bless other Jeep drivers as her own personal mission, it would not be a movement. But what happened? This other Jeep driver joined in on the fun. Then other Jeep drivers who had been ducked wanted to join in on the fun. Then word began to spread on social media, and it became a part of the Jeep identity that Jeep drivers duck one another. This is the difference between evangelism and disciple-making. Allison ducking the random Jeep driver was evangelism. Allison buying a bag of ducks to keep ducking random Jeep drivers was evangelism. Allison inspiring the other Jeep driver to begin ducking himself was disciple-making. Allison gathering her other Jeep driving friends to begin ducking other Jeep drivers and to spread the word on social media was disciple-making. Allison might not have initially intended to, but it soon became her mission to make more Jeep-duckers.
  4. Community added fuel to the movement. Allison had other friends who joined in with her in Jeep ducking. They shared stories. They created a Facebook group. They got creative. They were spurring one another on to keep spreading the Jeep love. When disciple-makers are surrounded by other passionate disciple-makers, they provide encouragement and inspiration to keep the movement going. They share struggles and stories. They celebrate with one another. They help one another. They work together to accomplish the mission.
  5. Good News is powerful. Allison wanted to attach a simple note of encouragement to her duck to put a smile on someone’s face and brighten their day. It worked. The yellow rubber duck, or whatever color people might use as they get creative with the phenomenon, is a simple gesture of kindness. In the midst of the darkness and constant bad news of Covid, the good news of the duck was welcome and much needed. We live in a bad news world. And we have the best news ever! The original Good News!!! The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. The gospel is the powerful story of “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” The gospel changes lives.
  6. Simple is spreadable. Think about what Allison did. Anyone can do it. Everyone can find a rubber duck. Everyone can afford a rubber duck. Everyone can give a rubber duck. It’s simple. Buy a bag of rubber ducks. Keep them stashed in your Jeep. When you see other Jeeps at a gas station, store, or parked on the street, duck them. One of the things I love about Dare 2 Share’s GOSPEL presentation is how simple and memorable it is. Here’s the key. If it’s simple, it’s memorable. If it’s memorable, it’s transferable. If it’s transferable, it’s portable. If it’s portable, it’s usable. If it’s usable, it’s multipliable. Simple is spreadable. So let’s not overcomplicate the gospel!

For my Jesus loving, Jeep driving disciple-making friends, have you gotten in on the Jeep-ducking phenomenon? I’m guessing you have 🙂 Here’s a thought. On the next Jeep you duck, share some really Good News. It’s the movement that Jesus started two thousand years before Allison started #duckduckJeep.

For the rest of us, let’s not miss out on the fun. We don’t need to go out and buy a bag of rubber ducks (but feel free to), but we are called to spread the Good News. What can we learn from the #duckduckJeep phenomenon to keep advancing the movement that Jesus started, from our own Jerusalem to the ends of the earth? Let’s keep the movement moving!