If I asked you, “Should every person on earth have the opportunity to understand the gospel and follow Jesus regardless of his language, culture and location?” You would likely say “Of course, but...Read The Full Article
Church Planting Movements
In order to provide every person with access to the gospel, we would need to have enough churches within every people group so that each person would have access to a fellowship of Jesus followers. Is it possible to see the kind of rapid multiplication of communities of faith within every people that would make it possible for every person to have access to the gospel? There is growing evidence that it is.
This Month's Articles
IYKDWYBDYKGWYBG – If You Keep Doing What You’ve Been Doing, You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Been Getting. These are the words on a poster that greets many missionaries as they commence Church Planting Movements training. It has become something of a mantra that renowned CPM trainers, Bill Smith and Neill Mims, have used to jolt frustrated missionaries out of their fruitless patterns and into new ways of looking at their community and ministry.
A definition for Church Planting Movements (CPMs) that has held sway for more than a decade is: “a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.”1 No one recalls who first coined the term “Church Planting Movements,” though it appears to be a modification of Donald McGavran’s landmark “People Movements” adapted to emphasize the distinctive of generating multiplying indigenous churches.
Today, “Church Planting Movements” (“CPMs”) continue to be a hot topic among church planting practitioners and missiologists. Numerous articles and books have debated CPMs and pondered...Read The Full Article
While waiting on a car repair one day, I had an interesting discussion with a man sitting next to me. As we talked, we discovered that we had a couple of things in common. First, both of us were believers and involved in Christian ministry. Second, both of us lived a number of years in Africa. My new friend’s name was John, and John came to a point in our discussion that he remarked: "You know, Jim, if it were not for the churches in Africa, our denomination would be exhausted and spent. In Europe and increasingly in America, it seems many churches are burnt out, but in Africa, things are 'buzzing.'"
There are indeed places where we have no CPMs – yet. The number and diversity of places for which we DO have CPMs increases each year. Just a few years ago, I could count 10-15 CPMs. This past year I felt pretty confident about 30-35. But interactions with other CPM trainers and mission leaders indicate that the number is much, much higher. What we know of is just a fraction of what God is doing.
A survey in India of the 15 most widely spoken languages revealed that six out of 10 Hindus would like a Christian to tell them more about Jesus. When Hindus hear the story of Jesus and are confronted with the gospel they often understand and respond. There is openness to the gospel among Hindus, though challenges remain intense. With nearly a billion Hindus speaking more than 300 languages among myriad castes and people groups, it is imperative that we sow the gospel among Hindus abundantly, knowing that whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Some historians have described the spread of the gospel as if it were a divinely driven wind that has swept through history. They contend that what began in Jerusalem blew westward across Europe until it reached the Atlantic and then continued to the Americas. In the 18th and 19th centuries the gospel wind crossed the Pacific, and last century swirled through the cities and provinces of China. China’s recent “Back to Jerusalem” (B2J) house-church movement anticipated the next direction the gospel wind would blow as they followed it into the Muslim world. Today, a growing number of Christians are riding this wind across the Muslim world.
Among the movements we have witnessed around the world in the latter half of the twentieth-century, none is more dynamic than the one that nearly escaped our attention in our own American backyard. For 20 years Protestant churches in Communist Cuba have been multiplying at an unprecedented pace. The movement or movements bear significance, in part, because they break many precedents.
After several years as a CPM trainer in South Asia, I found myself back in the buckle of the Bible Belt near Shelby, North Carolina where people also needed the gospel. As I sought to implement CPM Training for Trainers (T4T) principles that had been so effective in South Asia, I found it necessary to make some adjustments.
Anyone who has been involved in church-planting movements knows these two truths: Church-planting movements are messy, and they can be easily misunderstood and thereby missed altogether. The first of these truths the church planter can do very little to prevent, but can take comfort in when his or her ministry proves to be a messy one. Proverbs 14:4 makes it clear that, "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox” (NASB). When training church planting partners (kingdom oxen) to produce exponentially reproducing healthy churches (kingdom revenue), you can count on a messy manger.
I have given my entire adult life to trying to discover the secret to starting spontaneous church multiplication movements. It has been an obsessive curiosity that has become a life calling....Read The Full Article
A glance at the religious demographics of Africa attests to scores of untold church-planting movements. In 1900, the African continent’s Christian population stood at only 9 million adherents. By...Read The Full Article