Part 2: What is a Church Planting Movement?

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!

MISSED PART ONE? READ IT HERE

Part 1: What is a Church Planting Movement?

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

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.  Order the book, Movement Catalysts by Emanuel Prinz

 

Lessons from a Movement Leader from South Asia

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

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.