Part 2: What is a Church Planting Movement?
by Stan Parks
In modern Church Planting Movements we see dynamics similar to what God did in the early church:
- The Holy Spirit empowering and sending. Ordinary people filled with the Spirit of an extraordinary God are being used to share the gospel, cast out demons, heal the sick, multiply disciples and churches, and bring the gospel to new places.
- Believers pray constantly and show great faith. CPMs are marked by prayer. CPMs are an act of God, not a human work. Praying is one of Jesus’ basic commands, and every disciple realizes the need to multiply prayer for themself and for the movement.
- Powerful witnessing through disciples’ treatment of others. Obeying Scripture leads disciples to love their neighbor. They feed the hungry, care for widows and orphans, and fight injustice. God wants lives and societies holistically transformed by the good news.
- Numbers of disciples increase rapidly. This speed is the result of a powerful move of the Spirit as biblical principles are followed. In CPMs, every disciple learns that one of their main functions is to bear fruit. They do this as soon and as often as possible.
- Disciples becoming obedient to God. Disciples take Scripture very seriously. All have the freedom to ask: “Where do you see that in the text?” Believers hear or read the Word, both privately and in groups. God is the foremost Teacher, through His Word, and they know they are accountable for obeying the Word.
- Households being saved. Just like in Acts where households, multiple households and even sometimes communities turned to the Lord, movements are seeing the same thing. Most movements are happening among unreached people groups, most of which are very communal. In these cultures, decisions are usually made by families and/or clans.
- Enduring opposition and persecution. CPMs often happen in the hardest places, resulting in significant persecution. Sometimes traditional church leaders report movements to avoid negative impacts for themselves. Persecution often comes from religious and/or government forces. But disciples overcome it by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
- Disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit and joy. Despite opposition, believers have tremendous joy. Having come from darkness into the light, they are motivated to share the good news. Often those persecuted rejoice that God has counted them worthy to suffer for his Name.
- The Word spreading through the whole region. Acts 19 reports that the gospel spread throughout the Roman province of Asia in just two years. Movements have the same incredible dynamic! Millions from different regions are hearing the gospel for the first time in a few short years because of the tremendous multiplication of disciples.
- The gospel spreading to new languages and nations. Unless a movement fits its context, it will fail. Beginning with first contact, the outsider looks for a person of peace who can become the church planter. Outsiders often introduce foreign patterns of faith. But outsiders can help insiders focus on the biblical truth to plant churches with less foreign influence. Fruit is born in ways natural to that culture yet rooted in Scripture. Thus the gospel can spread more rapidly.A CPM has certain characteristics.
- Awareness that only God can start a movement. At the same time, disciples follow biblical principles that can lead to a “book of Acts” type movement.
- Every disciple is encouraged to be a reproducing disciple, not merely a convert.
- Frequent and regular accountability for obeying the Lord’s instruction to each person and for lovingly passing on God’s truth to others. Accountability happens through active involvement in a small group.
- Each disciple is equipped for spiritual maturity including interpreting and applying Scripture, having a well-rounded prayer life, living as a part of the larger Body of Christ, and responding well to persecution/suffering. Equipping enables believers to function as active agents of Kingdom advance.
- Each disciple is given a vision for reaching their relational network and extending God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Believers learn to minister with others in every context.
- Reproducing churches form as part of the process of multiplying disciples. A CPM aims for 1) disciples, 2) churches, 3) leaders and 4) movements to multiply endlessly by the power of the Spirit.
- CPMs focus on starting movements of multiplying generations of churches. (The first churches are generation one churches, which start generation two churches, and so on.)
- Leaders evaluate and make radical changes as needed to grow. They make sure that each element is 1) biblical and 2) can be followed by generations of disciples. This requires keeping things very simple.We are now seeing the gospel spread in many places as it did in the book of Acts. We long to see this happen in every people and place in our generation!