Denny Spitters, Pioneers VP of Church Partnerships
God is doing some incredible work in the nations of the world that are “unreached”! For example, in many Muslim contexts He is preparing the way with nation-state changes like the “Arab Spring” and using other internet, satellite, and media tools to draw them to Himself. Something significant is happening at this point of history.
What are CPM’s and why are they important? What does it take to see these movements happen among unreached people groups?
CPM’s are catalytic movements of churches planting churches that are initiated by the work of the Holy Spirit. As faithful messengers of the Gospel, they obey the core of the Great Commission. That core in Matt 28:18-20 is “making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”. Simply put we could call this “obedience based” discipleship.
They are important because the result of disciple making is healthy church planting, or “church initiation”. Healthy church initiation allows for the DNA of multiplication and replication to thrive, and with God’s blessing – to possibly become a rapidly reproducing movement of church planting.
To a North American church planter going to an unreached people group sounds simple, easy, even incredible. But the majority of the time it’s not. It’s hard work. Making disciples and growing leaders is a slow process that lays a healthy foundation for a rapidly developing CPM to become a possibility. It’s neither a perfect model nor a method with formulaic guarantees.
Recommended books like Church Planting Movements by Ott & Wilson and Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale have helped codify and also document some of these movements. Ott & Wilson do an excellent job of bringing definition and explore the works of David Garrison and David Watson et al. Trousdale suggests a paradigm shift of discipleship that emphasizes Jesus’ process of obedience based discipleship that leads to conversion – rather than making converts who become disciples afterwards. He even proposes that we should expect the hardest places to yield the greatest results.
The kinds of churches that are planted in these hard and resistant places are usually “simple” or “house” churches that can more easily reproduce under harsh environments (think the Chinese “house church” movement). They are highly relational, family oriented, and community focused. That makes the concept of church planting for the cross-cultural North American missionary who has only known event driven and developmental church planting a significant challenge.
This has pushed church planting agencies like Pioneers to emphasize, prepare, and train new workers for a very different paradigm of church planting. Using strategies like, prayer saturation, Discovery Bible Studies, and the “person of peace” principles Jesus gave in Matthew 10 and Luke 10, we have seen a reenergized passion for making disciples and church planting within our own movement.
Surrounding these strategies are many questions such as “How is church planting different in cross- cultural contexts where there is no church and no access to the gospel? What principles did Jesus give the first disciples to guide the process of making disciples and planting churches? What is the role of the NA field worker? What is the accountability and oversight for these kinds of churches? Who leads and how do you train leaders? Aren’t these movements subject to a high degree of heresy?”
These questions and others you may have will be considered in our July 24th webinar. Ted Esler Executive VP of Pioneers USA, and Denny Spitters VP of Church Partnerships are our featured presenters. They will help us process some of the key concepts and engage your questions.