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.
  1. 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.
  2. Every disciple is encouraged to be a reproducing disciple, not merely a convert.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.)
  8. 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!


Part 1: What is a Church Planting Movement?

by Stan Parks

A Church Planting Movement (CPM) can be defined as the multiplication of disciples making disciples and leaders developing leaders. This results in indigenous churches planting churches. These churches spread quickly through a people group or population segment. Communities are transformed as new disciples and churches live out Kingdom values. 

When churches reproduce consistently to four generations in multiple streams, the process becomes a sustained movement. It may take years to begin. But once the first churches start, we usually see a movement reach four generations within three to five years. In addition, the movements themselves often reproduce new movements within other people groups and population segments.

God’s Spirit is launching CPMs around the world using a variety of models or strategies. Terms used to describe these models include Training for Trainers (T4T), Discovery, Discovery Bible Study (DBS), Disciple Making Movements (DMM), Four Fields, Rapidly Advancing Discipleship (RAD), Zume, etc. Many movements are hybrids of these various approaches, and many have developed indigenously outside of these training models.

Church planting movements resemble what we see in the New Testament.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them…. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ (Acts 2:4,7-11)

But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9:31)

But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. (Acts 12:24)

The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:49-52)

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)

And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women…. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as 
men . . .(Acts 17:4, 12)

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ . . . (Acts 18:8-11)

This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:10)

In these modern movements we see similar dynamics to what God did in the early church. 

(Part two describes the dynamics and characteristics of a CPM.) Read PART TWO

The Person, Not the Method

by Emanuel Prinz with Dave Coles

Over a period of three years, I conducted empirical research among effective movement catalysts to discover the traits and competencies possessed by pioneers effective in catalyzing a movement among a Muslim people group and which traits they considered to have contributed to their catalyzing of a movement. This resulted in a profile of an effective movement catalyst, including eleven traits and competencies self-reported as exhibited by all participating effective catalysts.

The data of my research suggest that the effective catalyzing of movements is not tied to any particular methodology, though all employed reproductive movement approaches. Different effective catalysts employ different ministry approaches, both in terms of their movement methodology and in their approach to contextualization. A quarter of the catalysts participating in this study skipped the question about their ministry approach, which points to likely hesitation on their side to put their approach “into a box.” In addition, more than half of those who answered the question used the “Other” option to describe their ministry approach in their own words. Often the description given was a hybrid of two or more of the other approaches. This means that the approach of most effective catalysts in this study is a hybrid of more than one ministry approach, which they have adapted to the uniqueness of their context. The research does not support any claims that one specific ministry approach must be followed precisely to lead to a movement.

With the exception of the approach of adding Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) to existing Christian Background Believer (CBB) churches, it appears that particularity of methodology does not correlate to success in catalyzing a movement. By definition, the traditional approach (planting a single church) is not conducive to catalyzing a movement. This could explain why the pattern of adding MBBs to existing CBB churches is not utilized by any effective catalysts. At the same time, 13% of the catalysts employed the approach of planting a new church comprised of MBBs which then reproduced itself and grew into a movement. The difference in these approaches is not methodological, but primarily sociocultural. The adding of MBBs to CBB churches involves the bridging of divides, whether sociological, cultural, ethnic, or linguistic. These barriers explain why adding MBBs to existing CBB churches is not an effective approach for catalyzing a CPM, whereas planting a new MBB church may be. Still, only 13% of all movements examined have been catalyzed with such an approach. 

The overwhelming majority of movements were catalyzed with one of the various movement approaches (those of D. Garrison, Watsons/Trousdale, S. Smith). These approaches have certain principles in common, including cultural contextualization, obedience-oriented discipleship, house churches, reproduction, training of multipliers, and reproducible resources. The overall emphasis in pioneer and apostolic leadership and movement literature has been on right methodology, with some attention to leader traits and competencies of the pioneer leader or leaders, particularly traits of a spiritual nature. However, the findings of this research go beyond the commonly established insights of Christian pioneer leadership. The data clearly suggest that a particular methodology is far less significant in catalyzing movements than may have been assumed or publicized. The data of this study clearly establish that certain pioneer leader traits and competencies are strongly associated with effective catalyzing of CPMs. This perspective has been voiced by only a few, most notably Neill Mims and Bill Smith, who formulated what are considered to be among the most significant insights of almost 20 years of research into CPMs: “At the end of the day, it is the man or woman of God and not the method that God blesses.”

Another of the few voices who have expressed this perspective is movement thinker Dave Ferguson, who concluded: “the greater the missional impact, the more obvious the pioneering apostolic leadership becomes.” The person of the pioneer leader(s), not the method he or she employs, plays the greatest role in determining whether or not a movement will result. Bill Smith is again among the few who formulated this accurate conclusion: “If someone says to me, give me the method or give me the curriculum, I know that they have not understood that this [the catalyzing of a movement] is accomplished through persons rather than methods.”

The right leader(s) will employ the right methodology. A pioneer leader with traits such as radical learning, intelligence, complex thinking, innovation, and initiative, who then possesses the necessary socio-influential and transformational competencies, has the best potential to identify and implement the most effective methodology for the context in which he or she is operating. However, a person who receives a methodology, but lacks the traits and competencies identified in this study, will be unable to effectively apply the methodology. This stands in stark contrast to the conclusions of many publications on movements that center around methods and principles rather than on the person of the catalyst. I hope the clear data of this research will jolt a paradigm shift in the field of catalyzing movements.

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers and was edited with permission. Pre-order the book, Movement Catalysts by Emanuel Prinz

Lessons from a Movement Leader from South Asia

by Andy Walker

Sam* is the national leader of a large six-year-old Church Planting Movement in South Asia. He shared a summary of lessons they have learned and applied in their ministry. Here are highlights of this movement’s leadership principles.

  1. Be very clear about money matters. Be honest and transparent with leadership. It’s important.
  2. All leaders must love one another, no matter how much or little fruit they are seeing. Don’t compare results. Celebrate everyone’s successes, primarily led and modeled by top leadership.
  3. When leadership meets, ask about challenges. If a leader is not sharing their troubles, they are confused about what success is. Sharing both successes and challenges shows trustworthiness.
  4. When the ministry grows, distribute responsibility. Not distributing responsibility is a hindrance to multiplication. It shows too high a view of oneself and too low a view of others.
  5. We have learned to do three-to-five-hour trainings in smaller groups. People go home the same day. Small groups that don’t stay overnight receive much less attention. This helps with security concerns and allows connection to the deeper generational leaders.
  6. When we start something new, we think about the end vision. It keeps us on track. As Paul wrote, “Run in such a way as to get the prize…. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly.” (See 1 Cor. 9:24-26)
  7. Changes will be needed; flexibility is required. We don’t change movement principles, but we adjust applications along the way. We must listen to what the Father is saying and follow it as Jesus did. (John 5:19; 17:4; 20:21) The Lord will guide us through needed changes.
  8. We don’t always need to find good people. Sometimes we need to connect with bad people too. Each leader will be different from me. It’s my responsibility to help them mature as a disciple-maker. It’s not essential that every believer be a good leader.If we spend time with them, they can become good people in the Lord. As Paul wrote, “Even though I was once a blasphemer . . . the grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly.” (See 1 Tim. 1:13-16)
  9. A mentor should believe in his disciple. Trust them. We see this in the ministries of Jesus (Luke 10:1; John 4:2; Luke 22:31-32), Barnabas (Acts 9:2628), and Paul (1 Tim. 1:18, 2 Tim. 2:2, 1 Cor. 4:17). This is part of leading lovingly: to always protect, trust, hope, and persevere. (1 Cor. 13:7)
  10. If I have a bad experience with someone, I need to get out of the situation and let it go. Leave that place and say to that person, “I am trusting you to Jesus.” Pray for them, but know when it’s time to move on. Both Jesus (Matt.10:14) and Paul (Titus 3:10-11) warn us not to get stuck in unfruitful relationships.
  11. I can’t let my disciple lean on me too much; instead, I help him lean on Jesus. Jesus has the answers and is the only rock on which we build. I must build only God’s kingdom. This is not about me. I aim to make disciples of Jesus (Matt 28:19), not disciples of myself.
  12. Every mentor should teach the Bible, not personal ideas about the Bible (as the Pharisees did—Matt. 15:1-9). Scripture is the tool God uses. (Heb. 4:12) It is useful to thoroughly equip God’s servants for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Paul modeled this in 1 Tim. 4: 1-16.
  13. God chose us for this work, so we must hear from Him about doing this work. (Eph. 2:10) I must listen to Him and obey Him. I must apply before I share with others. (James 1:22-25)
  14. Don’t try to be part of a crowd. The crowd is not important. Never try to win a crowd; try to win one family or one house church. They will become a crowd one day by reaching other families. In Genesis, God established the pattern of reaching many through one family. (Gen. 12:1-3, 28:14) Jesus modeled knowing when to prioritize a small group over a crowd. (Mark 7:16-18)
  15. Time is important; invest it wisely. The psalmist calls us to “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) Jesus says we must work while there is daylight. (John 9:4) And Paul commands, “Be very careful, then, how you live— not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)
  16. A movement must touch every group. If we are not reaching a people group in our sphere of influence, we must ask what God wants us to do. He will give a way to reach them. He cares for all peoples, for example in Ps. 22:27; 47:1; 72:11; Matt. 24:14; 28:19; 1 Cor. 9:19-23; 1 Tim. 2:1-6 and Rev. 15:4.
  17. God’s strategy cannot be stopped. Use the wisdom He gives and follow His commands. (Josh. 1:7-9; Ps. 37:4-6; Prov. 3:5-6; 14:12, John 5:19-20; James 1:5)
  18. Sometimes we get proud. Pride is dangerous. Leaders must remain humble and teachable. (Prov. 13:10; John 15:5; 13:3-17; 1 Cor. 3:5-8; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil 2:3-11; James 4:6-16)
  19. Respect yourself, your family, and others. When leaders only focus on ministry but not their family, they will get stopped along the way and will not be healthy. Personal and family health are very important for succeeding in ministry. (See Deut. 6:4-7; 1 Tim. 5:8; Titus 1:6-7; 1 Tim. 3:4-5).

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers and was edited with permission.

Urbanization and Measuring the Remaining Task

by Justin Long

For a very long time, now, many missiologists have tended to measure ‘progress in the Great Commission’ (however that was defined) to some extent in the context of people groups, and how they are reached, evangelized, and/or Christianized.

‘Reaching the unreached peoples’ in particular tended to replace the idea of ‘a church in every country’ as the operative definition of closure or fulfillment of the Great Commission. Unreached people groups better fit the scriptural concepts of ‘every tribe, language, nation, tongue before the Throne’ (Revelation 7:9).

Behind the development of the unreached peoples concept was the idea of ‘gaps’–that there were languages and ethnic groups which had ‘no access’ (defined as the lack of reasonable access of individuals in the group to the gospel within their lifetime). This was due principally to barriers of language (they couldn’t understand the language of what was being shared) or ethnicity (they couldn’t accept what was being shared by outsiders).

However, as we have refined our strategies for closure into ‘reach the unreached’ strategies, two additional issues have emerged which we are struggling to address.

The first, which I have touched on elsewhere and will touch on only lightly here, is the danger of under engagement. The principle is simple: we love lists, we want to check items off, and so we do what is immediately required to put in a ‘good faith effort’ to remove a people group from the list. We adopt a people group, mobilize a team, and send them off to the group, and so remove them from the ‘unreached’ list.

This is exactly what would have to happen with a ‘sufficient’ engagement–but it’s also what can happen with an ‘insufficient’ engagement, and we don’t always take the time to ask whether an engagement is sufficient or not. 

The second issue, however, is the one to focus on here: urbanization. At the turn of the 20th century, the world was just 14.4% urban. The majority of these urbanites (69%) were Christians, because most cities were in Christianized countries. Just 5 megacities (population over 1 million) were majority non-Christian.

The situation has vastly changed. Shortly past 2000, the world became majority urban. Today, about 56% of the global population lives in a city–4.4 billion out of 7.8 billion. 

Further, as far back as the 60s and 70s, there was a shift in the religious composition of urbanites: there were more non-Christian city-dwellers than Christians as cities developed in the non-Christian world. Today, just one-third of the world’s city dwellers are Christians. This doesn’t mean cities make people into non-Christians; it just means that non-Christians urbanized into their own cities. There are over 593 majority non-Christian megacities now.

Cities present a specific challenge to the idea of ‘reaching unreached people groups’: they are huge mixing grounds. Some cities are more ‘rural’ in character–various languages are segmented into mini-villages. Some cities are more ‘urban’ in character–with lots of different people all mixed together, using broadly spoken trade languages to communicate on the job and in the markets. Whichever is the case, focusing on a city carries different strategic issues than focusing on a single people group largely located in one province or set of provinces. It brings the cross-cultural and cross-language part of the task to bear in multiple ways earlier on in the local evangelistic task.

This means that including ‘cities’ as segments to be listed, focused on, described, researched, documented, tracked, measured, and strategically engaged is probably just as important as ‘unreached people groups.’

We don’t want to lose our ‘unreached peoples’ focus. But we must remember: people passionately advocated for the unreached out of concern for gaps–collections of individuals who did not have access. An exclusive focus on unreached people groups could in fact lead us to focus on, for example, Kazakhs, to the exclusion of very small groups (e.g. the thousand or so Avar in Kazakhstan), or diaspora groups in the same cities (e.g. Buryats).

Not every gap can be tracked at the global level. But global lists could continue to identify where gaps are potentially located. Different kinds of gaps can be found in cities than amongst unreached groups, and that means we need to give cities a similar kind of mental effort.

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers and was edited with permission.

Empowering Local Partners

by Kay Parks

“Among the 150+ CPMs we are aware of worldwide, only a very small minority have been catalyzed directly by an outsider. The majority develop when the outside CPM catalyzer(s) vision-casts and trains the near / same culture local partner/believer(s), and together they vision-cast, train, and live out these biblical truths.” -CPM Trainer Stan Parks

One joy of overseas ministry is the local partners with whom we get to work. It’s not only wonderful to walk and work beside them but absolutely critical!

One of my local partners was Flora. She and her husband are local church planters. Flora and I made it a habit together to find people to talk to (i.e. searching for Persons of Peace). We would pray before going out and along the way. Whenever possible, we would visit women we already knew and share with them. We also went into the community to meet new women, looking for those wanting to engage in spiritual conversations.

If I found someone interested in the gospel while on my own, I would invite Flora the next time I met that person. I never wanted anyone in my adopted country to confuse following Jesus with American Christianity. Flora was a lifeline in my ministry. (Not to mention that she was so much fun to know and work with!)

The Good, the Bad and the Messy

We didn’t always feel successful. While many women would engage in spiritual conversations, we almost never found those who wanted to meet with their family and friends. 

Due to our perceived lack of success, we both felt discouraged at times! In fact, if we defined success only as finding a Person of Peace and starting a Discovery Group, we weren’t successful at all! But I’d like to expand the definition of success: In training, we learned that when we work with our local partners (and they work with others), we are to MEWL–Model, Equip, Watch and Letter (keeping in touch after leaving). By this measure of success, I feel better about my efforts.

When Flora and I met together, I modeled ways to share (as she did with me). At times I had to push her to do the talking, so I could “watch” and encourage her in the process. This also lent itself to “equipping”—giving helpful thoughts, praying for her as she shared, and talking about what we were learning. When I consider success in these terms, I feel more encouraged about our work.

Recently my husband and I returned for a visit. Imagine my great joy at finding that Flora and her husband continued sharing with others. They pray, demonstrate Christ’s love, and have seen some Discovery Groups started. Another local worker and Flora now go out to share. Flora is MEWLing (so to speak) and passing on what she has learned.

We both learned to keep doing what we were trained to do. We kept looking for Persons of Peace. We continued to pray. We continued to meet with other women to train and encourage them. Did we feel successful? Not really. But did we give up? Never. Not an option.

Truth be told, I often felt like a CPM failure and was thankful others were modeling, equipping, watching, and lettering Flora as well. But as I look back at my time with Flora I am very thankful. I can see how powerful it was to work with local partners, encourage them, and model persistence. To see Flora continue on and to know other local workers are being raised up encourages my heart in ways I cannot express.

A Reproducing Disciple-Maker Left Behind?

My husband has often said, “It’s not what you can do to start a movement, but what needs to be done.” I believe that praying for and empowering local leaders is the greatest thing any of us can do as we serve to see movements started. So, wherever I am, I will do my best to model, equip, watch, and letter with other workers. Paul’s words ring true when I think about Flora and my other local partners: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:3-6) Amen and Amen!

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers, it was edited with permission.

What is the Place of Women in World Missions?

by R. Nyman

“What is the place of women in world missions? Jesus said, ‘You [and the word means all of you, male and female] are my witnesses. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.’ And there have been countless thousands who, without reference to where they came from or what they knew or who they were, have believed that Jesus meant exactly what he said and have set themselves to follow. —Elisabeth Elliot

One joy of my life is coaching and mentoring women for effective engagement in launching movements to Christ. Yet often, I discover missed opportunities surrounding the role of women.

Sometimes I hear: “I felt called to the field. I came with a passion to labor alongside my husband. I don’t want to take over. I just want to be involved! Yet my organization only makes CPM training and coaching available to men. Now that we have children, I get the subtle message that my only job is supporting my husband and caring for our kids.”

Single women have shared: Men leave us out of strategy discussions. We don’t have a lot in common with women on the team who have husbands and children, and when we talk about ministry, some moms seem jealous that we have “time” for ministry.

I see this repeatedly: Husbands and wives come to the field to make an impact, yet when the wife doesn’t feel she is contributing, this may become a reason the couple goes home.

And the problem goes deeper. A local colleague told me, “Please tell Western women not to come if they aren’t going to make reproducing disciples. When they don’t, they model disobedience to the Great Commission!”

In many cultures, men can’t interact with women. Often, especially among Muslim UPGs, women are gatekeepers for their households. Who, if not women, will seek out Women of Peace to open their oikos to the gospel? And as new movements emerge, who will equip first-generation women leaders?

Regarding equipping missionary women, I sometimes hear mission leaders say, “We don’t want to burden women or make them feel guilty.” Is the best solution to not equip them for multiplication? Isn’t it better to help women follow Jesus in ministry appropriate to their season of life and prepare them to help launch a [movement]?

Will the global mission community make stewardship of missionary women a priority? Will we equip missionary women with competence and confidence to be and do all He calls us to be, especially as catalysts in launching CPMs?

How can the Body of Christ best steward missionary women? How can we support, inspire and equip them to thrive and bear multiplying fruit in all stages of life?

Why Focus on CPM?
Kent Parks, President of Act Beyond, notes that today there are twice as many people with no access to the gospel as there were in 1980. In 1980 there were “only” one billion unevangelized. Today that figure has risen to 2.1 billion!

This unjust trend requires that we do something differently.

And we can! Since the days of Jesus and Paul, the Church has repeatedly grown faster than population growth through movements – with women playing a key role. The 1900s offer extraordinary instances of movements in China and Korea fueled by women missionaries. 

Women as DMM Practitioners
All of us (men and women) are to delight in and declare God’s glory, developing intimacy with God. Out of the overflow of this intimacy, we are to “be” and “do” in Christ and seek to reproduce Jesus in others. For all who follow Jesus, reproducing disciples is a privilege as well as a command.

Essential CPM elements include: extraordinary prayer, searching out persons of peace, discipling groups of new believers, and equipping leaders. We need missionary women as well as men for these tasks.

Being a wife and mother is one of my greatest joys and privileges. In highlighting points of engagement for women in CPMs, I don’t at all mean to suggest that women short-change their God-given roles as wives and mothers. For me, life is integrated: more like a woven tapestry than distinct compartments.

Regardless of their stage of life, the vast majority of female missionaries with whom I have interacted passionately want to have eternal impact. May this article [first published in Mission ] help them do so.

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers, it was edited with permission.

God at Work During the Pandemic

by Jon Ralls

Amid a pandemic and uncertainty, God is still at work. His Spirit is moving all around the world.

As people have been home, at times alone and with questions, many are seeking answers to the challenges and emotions they are facing. One place they are turning to is the internet. The number of people online – searching Google, watching YouTube videos, commenting on Facebook, and more – continues to rise. The increase in social media users increases opportunities for social media ministry and discipleship.

God is truly opening doors.

From One Comes Many
Azzibidiin answered an evangelistic ad he saw on social media. He was connected with a local disciple-maker named Bishara who enthusiastically shares the gospel with anyone who will listen. Through Bishara, 300-400 people have come to faith. Though persecuted, he keeps his hand to the plow and is currently discipling and equipping Azzibidiin for ministry.

You Are Not Alone
For college students in one Asian region, God opened a door to the gospel through video clips from the Jesus Film used in a social media ad campaign. One student said, “I thought I was the only person feeling so lonely during the pandemic, yet I hear of you Christians and your love for us.” This student was not alone in hearing the love of Christ. At least three people have accepted Christ after responding to these ads.

One ad campaign asked, “What kind of prayer would you ask God to answer?” Hundreds of students replied: “God, please forgive me.” “God, please help me with things that make me afraid.” “God, please bring me someone who understands and loves me.” “God, please show me what choices to make.”

The Unreached Reaching Out
Social media is allowing many in unreached areas to connect with those who can share the Good News. For example, a Facebook ministry page gained more than 1,800 followers from an unreached group in Southeast Asia. Local Christians have been connecting with those interested in the gospel, and at least one person has already been baptized.

 Not A Coincidence
Through targeted ads and organic (non-paid) content, people are hearing about Jesus. In a country that is 99.9% Muslim, a team received this message: “Everywhere on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube I always came across things about Jesus . . . I don’t think this could be a coincidence. I wonder if … I can believe in Jesus. I wonder if I can see a miracle.”

 Extraordinary Times and Tools
Since the beginning of the Church, people have been sharing the Good News. Today, we have the tools to reach distant locations 24 hours a day.

Digital outreach does not replace living a missional life, but it allows for a radically different ministry paradigm. Seekers are reaching out to Christian workers who can converse with them (both online and offline), which can ultimately lead to a disciple who makes disciples.

Not A Magic Bullet
Digital outreach is not a magic bullet. We cannot just run a paid ad and expect thousands to be saved. Much strategy, training, and thought are needed to best leverage digital opportunities. But with those in place, this powerful tool can be used for God’s glory and the advance of his Kingdom.

Several ministries offer coaching and provide resources for Christian workers using social media. 

A few are: Media to MovementsThis team equips disciple-makers in media strategies to identify and engage seekers who accelerate movements of reproducing disciples. They provide coaching and mentorship from the first steps through ongoing outreach. 

Kingdom TrainingThis group has been doing digital outreach for years and has several excellent courses to help people get started. 

Mission Media UMMU is a mentored, online training platform designed to help Christ-followers be more effective in making disciples and establishing churches by using media, story, and innovative technology. 

Kavanah MediaHelps mission teams and churches find seekers in their context. Specializing in training, media creation, management of campaigns, and coaching, they work with ministries to make the most of their advertising budget. They have a weekly podcast: “Christian Media Marketing.” 

This article was shortened and used with permission from the author, it was first published on

Women and Vision Casting

by Erika Parks

If you really wanted to do something better, and could study under the world’s leading expert, would you?

In the past few years, workers tired of seeing few results in hard places desperately went back to learn from Jesus. Through His Bible and His Spirit, they learned biblical “secrets” for how He cast vision and gave strategies for not just making a few disciples, but for launching Disciple-Making Movements in order to make disciples of all nations (ethné ). Are you desperate enough to see all peoples reached that you would change major parts of what you do, in order to reach that goal? If so, consider how Jesus cast vision.

First, Jesus modeled how to be a disciple that the Father could use. Some examples: He modeled prayer. He broke “religious” people’s expectations for the sake of reaching people. He modeled going to households rather than inviting people to synagogues. He modeled how to live the “love and obey” (shema) lifestyle[1] of Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Laura traveled over 10,000 miles to prayer walk among her focus unreached people group (UPG). Susi was a new believer from that UPG. Laura invited Susi to join her. Susi learned about prayer walking and spiritual warfare. Amazed, Susi said, “I have never walked and prayed for my people. But I will from now on!” Since then, Susi has launched many reproducing disciples and an amazing prayer movement. Laura modeled, and Susi learned and passed it on.

Second, Jesus showed how to completely follow the Father’s heart and end-vision for all ethné  He equipped his ordinary disciples to focus on His strategy. His process produced obedient disciples who immediately became the harvest force. As He left, He told them to follow His model among all nations by teaching people “to obey everything I’ve taught you.”

Grace, an Asian artist from a UPG, became a true believer in Jesus. She soon met Lynn, recently trained in Jesus’ discipling plan. The Spirit led Grace and Lynn to hold an art exhibit designed to foster spiritual discussions. They cast vision—and believers shared invitations to the exhibit and chatted and/or prayed with attendees. The spiritually interested were visited and invited to study about God with their family or friends. Today, people in this UPG are studying His word in new Discovery Groups. Vision casting multiplied the number of workers who seek People of Peace.

Third, Jesus modeled being an outside catalyzer (spark) who starts disciple-reproducing fires through simple ways that do not depend on the outsider. These new disciple-makers depend solely on the Spirit and His Word.

Donna was invited for further training after learning these discipling paradigm shifts. She knew it was more important that her three local partners catch this vision. Donna prayed, and God provided the funding for them to be trained together. These four made needed ministry changes to follow these biblical strategies. Donna didn’t know that God had plans for her and her new husband in other places. But the DNA for reproducing disciples continues in that local team and the reproducing disciples they are training, thanks to Donna and her vision for them.

Do we women see ourselves as disciple trainers or vision casters? Busyness and the challenge of living among the unreached might make us think we can only reach and disciple a few women. But that’s not what He asked of us.

Trainings are often primarily for men. Recently, a trainer working in a culture where women are not highly valued invited women to join the training. The next day, many came. At the end, the trainers emphasized “Now, you women must go and make disciples, too! Go and obey what you have been taught! Pass it to others!” And they did! They rejoiced that women are highly valued in God’s plan. They have discipled multiple households into becoming reproducing disciples.

Women can pass on this Great Commission DNA. We can teach those we disciple to be obedient, loving, and reproducing disciples. God wants spiritual generations from these disciples, in the same way that He wants that from us.

Thus, we joyfully invite them to raise their own spiritual children and grandchildren into generations. God has called women to be Spirit-powered disciplers, harvesters and vision casters. He is an end-vision Father; Jesus is the vision-casting Savior, and the Holy Spirit enables workers to complete His vision. Faithful is the One who called us — both male and female — and He will do it! (1 Thess. 5:24)

[1] Shema Lifestyle—Intentional statements and actions that give a glimpse of the reality of who God is and how He desires to draw us to Him. Around the world, the top way DMMers find those interested in God is by serving them (with healing prayer, kind deeds and community service) while consistently pointing to God in culturally appropriate ways.

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers, it was edited with permission.