This is an article from the May-June 2011 issue: Jesus Movements

Church Planting Movements from One Indian Perspective

Church Planting Movements from One Indian Perspective

Why don’t most ministries produce the kind of fruit evident in the book of Acts?

How is it that “all of Asia” heard the word of the Lord in just two years (Acts 19:8–12)?

How can the house church movement in the West complement effective congregational models like that of Real Life Ministries (featured in the Jan-Feb 2011 issue of MF)?

A network of leaders in India offers fresh insight through their integration of knowledge and power.

As in the West, “post-harvest loss” is still a major issue, and some controversy surrounds these movements. But we can still learn a great deal from the fruit our Indian brothers and sisters are seeing as they seek to multiply NT churches with spiritual power, rescuing Christ’s Ekklesia1 from the barrenness and impotence common in today’s “church.”

While the Mar/Apr 2011 MF on Church Planting Movements (CPMs) was being finished, Gene Davis2 invited me to join him in meeting CPM leaders in India. Thus I was privileged to spend four weeks interviewing and learning directly from leaders of rapidly growing CPMs. These leaders, along with their expatriate colleagues, provided invaluable feedback throughout the development of this article.

One highlight of my trip was the Global Summit on Market/Workplace Ministries3 in Bangalore, where 160 leaders from 21 countries met to learn how to develop self-funding CPMs in their own lands.

Field Insights into Luke 10

(This analysis of this chapter isn’t uniquely Indian; Rick Warren recently offered similar observations on this passage.4)

Send with Power (v. 1, 19)

Empower all disciples to do all that we are to do: proclaim the Kingdom, perform miracles, baptize new believers, and serve the Lord’s table. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn 20:21).

Work with Others (v. 1)

George Patterson and Galen Currah list ten reasons to work in pairs.5 Here are three:

  • Traveling in groups is consistent NT practice.
  • There is more power when a group agrees in prayer.
  • Groups bring a wider variety of giftings.
Prepare by Prayerwalking6 (v. 1–2)

Summit testimonies particularly emphasized prayerwalking—claiming the land, listening together to God’s Spirit, and agreeing on-site with Jesus’ plans.

In one instance, prayer was focused on just one of two adjacent, identical apartment buildings. In subsequent outreach, 75% of the residents in this building welcomed visitors offering to tell them about Jesus, compared with only 25% in the other building.

Beg God to Thrust Out Workers (v. 2)

Jesus highlighted the vast need and commanded his disciples to beg for more workers. Then He sent them to look for “persons of peace” (v.5-6). As many have noted, “The resources [laborers] are in the harvest.”

Be Wise Amidst Opposition (v. 3)

Those going to new villages to preach and hand out tracts used to frequently be beaten up and rejected. Since learning to prayerwalk until the “person of peace” is revealed, they seldom have this experience.

Go Empty-Handed (v. 3–4)

The resources we bring may attract a crowd, but they can also inhibit local ownership and multiplication. God’s power is most evident when ours is absent. Our testimony is strengthened when God works ahead of us and provides through those who receive us.

Seek out the Person of Peace (v. 5–6)

The hospitable homeowner will generally be a person of local credibility, whose acceptance will encourage others to respond positively as well.

Establish Relationships (v. 7–8)

First enjoy fellowship with the person of peace, staying in one place and relaxing over food, eating and drinking “whatever is set before you.”

Show God’s Care and Power (v. 8)

My Indian friends have great insight into the essential components of effectual prayer for healing—holiness, faith, the Spirit’s leading, laying on hands, etc. (God began answering my own prayers for others’ healing in India in a way I had not previously experienced.)

Proclaim God’s Kingdom (v. 9)

Once the person of peace has experienced God’s Kingdom through relationship with someone who demonstrates God’s power, they will want to learn more and be trained to reproduce.

Continue Mentoring (v. 17–24)

When the 72 reported back, Jesus redirected their priorities. Church reproduction stalls without ongoing mentoring which generates plans, and teaching to support those plans.

Rapidly Multiplying Churches commonly...

  • cultivate scattering to family, friends and workplace (for multiplication), as well as gathering (for edification). Scattering maximizes the church’s local engagement.
  • equip reproductive disciplers rather than entertaining passive church audiences. This leads the church to rapid multiplication.
  • focus on the Great Commission, and not just local needs. This makes the church obedient.
  • emphasize both Word and power (instead of just right doctrine), so that disciples proclaim God’s Kingdom effectively. Power confirms the truth of God’s Word.
  • prioritize going where Christ is not yet named. This leads the church to disciple all peoples in every place.

Key Principles

Obedience Begins with Listening

Tarry daily with God as before the king of highest authority—until He releases you. Wait for guidance and power, then obey in faith. Resist the urge to rush into self-assigned activity, or to ask God to bless plans made solely on the basis of available resources.

Goals Multiply Fruit

Prayerfully develop increasing annual goals for baptisms, disciples baptizing others, self-funding, giving, etc. Measurable goals fuel multiplication, and deliver us from “bump into” guidance.

Baptism Initiates Laborers

Emphasize obedience to all of Christ’s seven basic commands, starting with baptism as the first step toward teaching others to obey.

Swift Obedience Fuels Rapid Growth

Baptize new believers immediately (even if with just a bucket until immersion is practical), then urge immediate obedience in witnessing to and baptizing others.

Multiplication Involves Everyone

Teach everyone, including women and children, to reproduce, and give them the same authority to make disciples which Christ has given you—to go, to baptize, and to teach others to obey.

Ministry Should Happen Everywhere

Coach believers to start discipling others wherever they gather—in their own home and workplace, and in the homes of family, friends and co-workers.

Local Witness Deepens Consecration

Witness first to family and friends, even when it seems easier to witness to strangers who don’t know your faults. Witnessing to family and friends deepens God’s work in your own life. You are also usually the best person to win and disciple those closest to you.


No Buildings, Payrolls, or Labels

Gary Edmonds7 observes, “The naive manner in which US funds are deployed globally is not helping the global church. We have created an international welfare system that undermines the faith and interdependence of the people of God.” These bivocational leaders have broken this cycle by recognizing labels, buildings and salaries as an impediment to church multiplication. The financial assistance they accept is for travel, training and literature to accelerate the spread of CPMs throughout India, and to other lands.

Christ Only Has One Body

The NT refers only to one “church” in each locality (believers meeting in homes and more public venues), with traveling elders sharing responsibility for both the saved and the unsaved in their locality. God’s Kingdom suffers when “church” buildings come to represent divisions between believers. All who seek together to obey Jesus are His Church.

Buildings May Slow Multiplication

Jesus’ Church is found wherever a few believers gather in His name to obey all that the NT specifies (especially commands that cannot be fulfilled by a lone individual). Multiplication stalls when “church” comes to revolve around a building or a person, to which we go and bring others. Jesus didn’t tell us to build buildings, but He did command us to disciple all nations. When we focus on going and making obedient disciples (our job), Jesus builds His Ekklesia (His job).

These Movements Reduce Persecution

As God is bringing large numbers of Hindus and Muslims to Himself in these movements, obedience to all of Christ’s seven main commands is encouraged in ways that respect the birth communities of the new believers.8 This reduces the frequency with which “conversions to Christianity” trigger intense persecution which hinders others from responding.

Jesus’ Presence Accompanies Obedience

Reminiscent of William Carey’s Enquiry, one rapid movement among Muslims holds that Jesus’ promise to be with us depends on our obedience to Mt 28:19–20.

The Whole Church Must Be Engaged

The recognition and valuation of women—in anything and everything that is done by the men, from apostolic leadership to the baptism of new believers—is vital to the rapid spread of Jesus’ Kingdom in India and many other nations around the world.

Americans Often Aren’t Learners

Many Americans visiting India are so eager to teach that they miss the opportunity to learn from leaders who are seeing greater fruit than they are. These humble Indian leaders generally defer to the Americans’ agenda until invited to share what God has taught them.

Rapid Growth Generates Suspicion

The faster these movements grow, the more difficult they become to track—especially if they lack buildings and other obvious Christian trappings. And David Garrison tells me the leaders I met are leading “some of the biggest harvests in the world today.”9 Professional researchers I met in India are developing new methods of verifying and correcting the growth estimates. Yet any reporting of big numbers, especially from India, prompts some to simply dismiss these movements as wild exaggeration. Until research can verify the numbers involved, let us test and learn from these movements, and rejoice in growth that outpaces our ability to measure it!

Adoption is Better than Orphanages

These leaders are increasingly opening their homes to needy children, and their example could lead toward the placement of all needy children in families. David Platt’s church (see the Nov/Dec 2000 MF) has modeled a similar dynamic in providing homes for all the foster children in their county.10 May God do something new in our day for neglected children!

Pentecost Celebrations Fuel Growth

This network of CPMs has seen tremendous growth as individual leaders disciple throughout the year toward an annual goal of 3,000 or more immersions on or by Pentecost.11 This vision is now spreading into the 10/40 Window.

From Driven to Disciplemaker

The effective Indian leaders I met have abandoned the “driven-ness” common among Christian workers to become relaxed, relational disciplemakers. Instead of living to “prove” their worthiness and need for a building and a salary, these leaders are becoming bivocational and discipling just a few, who disciple others, in more generations than they can track. The result is a more effective testimony to the abundant life Christ offers now:

  • One man has a disciple in each of twelve districts of his state. Each month they all meet in a different district for five days of prayer and planning, learning from and supporting one another in their oversight of rapidly multiplying house churches. Together they estimate that 100,000 people have been baptized through this network, and they expect to see half of their state baptized over the next few years!
  • Another pastored seven small churches for 14 years, each day of the week spent serving a different church. A year ago he quit pastoring to focus on making reproducing disciplers through house churches. Now he estimates 40,000 baptisms in one year through the generations of disciplers within his network.
  • A third once worked 16-hour days overseeing a region for his denomination. After learning to multiply disciples through house churches, he encouraged 100 fellow pastors to start house churches; 619 were started in three months’ time! Now he estimates that more than 100,000 have been baptized through his generations of disciples, while he also enjoys fruitful work with his wife and children among their high-caste, land-owning Hindu neighbors.

Major Influences

Dr. Victor Choudhrie, a Senior Fellow of both the American and British College of Surgeons, resigned in 1992 as Director of Christian Medical College to take up full-time training of house church leaders.

Choudhrie’s parents were baptized by Dr. Donald McGavran, who later founded the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary.

However where the growth McGavran promoted became inaccurately associated with increasing the size and number of churches dependent on buildings and salaried pastors (and producing mostly “spectator” Christians), Choudhrie pursued multiplication of more reproducible churches, with bivocational pastors and in which everyone is equipped and expected to engage in ministry.

Gene Davis, the American with whom I traveled in India, has assisted Indian leaders for decades in applying George Patterson’s principles of Obedience Oriented Discipleship. (This is central to Perspectives lesson 13—Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.12)

Neil Gamble13 is another American who spent more than half his time over nine years training house church leaders in India, and has worked closely with Choudhrie.

Choudhrie’s Starfish Alliance14 parallels the Starfish Vision and Starfish Manifesto15 of Wolfgang Simson, who had previously worked with Jim Montgomery in DAWN Ministries.16 In isolation from one another, God led Choudhrie and Simson simultaneously and independently to very similar conclusions and appreciation for the prophetic biology of the starfish.

Next Steps

In light of unfolding world events, Dr. Choudhrie has scheduled another Summit this October specifically for those working among Muslims. Practitioners from any country are welcome, but help is needed to underwrite travel costs for those coming from Asia and the Middle East. One Campus Crusade worker in Kazakhstan, who brought a Kazakh leader to the Summit in Bangalore, wants to bring to this next training friends and mission workers from “Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and maybe Turkmenistan too.”

Interested in attending, praying or assisting? Contact me through my “author” link at the MF website.

Digging Deeper

Throughout this article I have footnoted links for further study and exploration.

George Patterson and Galen Currah’s materials are helpful for learning to multiply.17 To address concerns, study Currah’s Five Fears of Pastors.18 To learn spiritual power, work alongside those who demonstrate it. Here is one suggestion from the field:

  • Help each believer plan and make five “gospel contacts” with each family member, even at the risk of persecution. Pray and practice with them their message, first approach, and appeal for faith.
  • Expect God to work as you lay on hands and pray together in Jesus’ name for healing and other needs of those with whom you share.
  • Aggressively promote “persons of peace” to become disciplers, baptizers and equippers.

Regarding the model of Acts 19:8–12, through which “the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20), Choudhrie adds this insight:

Paul was in Ephesus for three years, of which he spent a fruitless three months in the synagogue; one year and nine months in the Hall. The NT does not report what he did in the third year, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that he visited and strengthened his disciples all over Asia. No wonder he had little post-harvest loss.

The hall of Tyrannus was situated in the middle of the fish market. (My wife recently visited the site.) Paul made tents inside the hall, as he taught to an audience who were his clients—itinerant people who needed the tents, such as the shepherds, the fishermen and petty business people who itinerated.

This captive audience not only heard teaching with their ears but also saw mighty miracles with their own eyes. This mix triggered the CPM, simply because his disciples would go and share the radical teachings as well as describe and perform signs wherever they went. (Talk to any one of our grassroots workers and he or she will tell you the latest miracle that has happened to accelerate growth.)

There are more dynamics for the success of this model: In the synagogue Paul was dealing with Jews only, once a week on the Sabbath. In the marketplace, he interacted with both Jews and Gentiles, and on a daily basis.

It does not matter how well crafted your discipleship materials are, the essential ingredients are:

  • supernatural acts that catalyze CPMs, and
  • continuous mentoring and monitoring of disciples to minimize post-harvest loss.

Without both components in place, any model will falter.

In addition to the 8.5x11, four-page format of this article, available through the PDF links above and below, this article has also been attractively formatted for printing as a 5.5x8.5, eight-page booklet:

  1. See God’s Government and the Church in the Modern West at

  2. Gene Davis is a former board member of the U.S. Center for World Mission who has worked tirelessly to build a movement to reach the Banjara (gypsies) of India. He has spent decades serving Indian leaders in developing CPMs.

  3. The title reflects the self-supporting nature of this work, and the recognition of the marketplace as an important place of ministry.



  6. See Prayerwalking by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick (Creation House, 2003).

  7. Gary Edmonds is former Secretary-General of the World Evangelical Alliance, and now President of Breakthrough Partners.

  8. cf the addendum to Kevin Higgin’s article in the Jan/Feb MF

  9. David Garrison is the author of Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World, Wigtake Resources (January 2003), and guest editor of the Mar/Apr 2011 MF on Church Planting Movements.


  11. Pentecost as a Global Day to Harvest Souls






  17. See also Patrick O’Connor’s Reproducible Pastoral Training: Church Planting Guidelines from the Teachings of George Patterson (William Carey Library, 2006).



I have read and reread the article and have recognized the disparity between what I say I really want, and what I do to support my declared interest in the expansion of the kingdom of God. I have given intellectual assent to Scripture, but when it comes to applying the Luke 10 principles outlined here, I have to acknowledge the difference between my life and the lives of those described in the article. Can I really wonder then at the different outcomes? In response to the provocation of the article I have begun to prayerfully alter my behavior, and expect many more changes to follow.

I have shared the article with a gentleman with whom I am working with a group of young adult men (most of whom are former gang members) in a house church setting on California’s central coast. He and I have talked about the strategic issues related to multiplying disciples (and see churches planted) in our particular context, and we recognize the need to apply these principles right where we are.

You mention the need to underwrite the cost of travel for some people to the October conference tentatively planned. I look forward to hearing more about how we can participate.



Thank you for your note. May God lead you and many others in applying these principles in our own land and throughout the world.

Dr. Choudhrie and his international network have just prepared a brief for those interested in helping fund the attendance of Muslim-background practitioners at the October training. Contact me through the author form on this site to request a copy.

What you have described is a biblical model that MF readers can implement in their work. The task remains huge and time is getting away from us (so to speak). Let us take every opportunity to make others successful in ways they can quickly implement with others, in turn. If gospel workers had only the material on this page, they could cover the earth with the knowledge of the LORD.

The most usual pattern of church reproduction that we have seen in several countries remains that of a central church and “uncle pastor” who starts new “branch” churches with an “assistant” in charge of each branch. The uncle pastor retains an exclusive right to baptize all new believers and he alone serves communion. Either Uncle visits the branches to perform his rightful duties, or he requires everyone to come to the central church where he resides. A big problem with this practice is that churches cannot grow or reproduce beyond Uncle’s time and energy to excise his exclusive rights. When he dies, a crisis ensues.

It seems to me that the single biggest hindrance to church multiplication remains “clerical privilege”. Wherever clergy retain an exclusive right to obey Jesus in teaching, in baptising and in celebrating communion, their churches stagnate and prove sterile.

  You are doing us in the U.S. a great service by bringing to our attention what is happening in another part of the world - India in this case.  It remains for us to adapt it to our local settings.  One obstacle is taking the time to do it right instead of seeking a quick fix.

Thanks Robby, another big hinderance that Robby and Dr. Choudhrie point out is a reluctance of Americans and traditional seminary trained missionaries to learn from where the Lord is moving in Church Planting Movements.  Their reluctance to believe that God could actually be moving outside of the traditional box of church is amazing. I constantly hear comments like, “Those churches can’t be real, they must have heresy.” or “None of the church leaders that I have asked know anything about a CPM in that area.”  CPMs are happening or have happened (and many have been shipwrecked) in nearly every country in Asia. If you want to know what God is doing then humbly ask the person who reported a move of God to tell you what the Lord is doing.  Do not merely write off a move of God because you are suspicious.  We should all be suspicious to a point, but listen for how Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus are turning to Christ.  If it is a move of God then you will likely hear a lot about changed lives.  90% of mission workers are oblivious to thousands of new churches and baptism happening just outside the door of the Church.

I attended the Dr. Choudhrie’s Summit as a field practitioner in a “closed” southeast asian country and one of only half a dozen from the U.S.  I would strongly encourage travel support for Muslim-background workers to come to Dr. Victor Choudhrie’s next training in October.


How exciting to hear what God is doing in India, and how I’d like to see that in the United States!

I’m impressed with the idea - not a new one, but one that we need to be reminded of - that all Christians need to be involved in outreach, not just leaders.

But that has always been hard for me as I consider myself something of an introvert, but I’ve found that just BEING somewhere as a believer in Christ, and being there REPEATEDLY and for a long time, opens doors. My simple, years-long habit of reading my Bible with a cup of coffee in the morning at Starbucks has led - without any effort of my own - to meeting many morning-coffee people, praying for lots of requests, hearing people’s stories and concerns and occasionally giving me the opportunity to share about Jesus.

My husband and I had been serving in North Africa and we are now moving to South Asia.  Your article on “church planting movements from one Indian perspective” is very encouraging and helpful.  We definitely will need to go in with a spirit of humility and follow the Luke 10 model, along with listening to and serving beside the national Christians.  Thanks for the great article.  I love reading MF!

I am thrilled to see your vision for sustainable church multiplication! Gene is also a dear friend and respected elder who has offered me a great deal of wisdom in regard to the ministry work.

Right now God is doing an awesome thing in the unreached Gangetic Plain region. In 2008 the Lord led our native apostles to launch the 2020 Network - a united initiative of many leaders and organizations to see the Gangetic Plain state of Uttar Pradesh grow from 1% to 20% following Christ by the year 2020.

This massive vision would mean 35 million new believers in the next 10 years. We identified native leaders in all 821 Blocks of the state. Many had only a small indigenous agency or no registered identity at all, but were planting and leading one or more house-based churches. We have begun providing them training and ministry tools.

In the past two years this rag-tag group of raw Hindu-background leaders has baptized 17,917 new believers (with thousands more yet to be baptized) and started house-based churches in over 4,000 villages. We are very excited about the potential of seeing a movement in this difficult but strategic part of India.

Check out videos of the Network here:

We are always looking for the Lord to provide new people to join hands with us to assist these native leaders in the Gangetic Plain. Please do visit us if the Lord leads you to North India at any time in the near future. Our ministry bases in Uttar Pradesh are in Lucknow and Varanasi, both accessible by flight.

This is an excellent article with really good insights gleaned from the leaders. It is a very challenging affront to the American way of doing church, but needed, if we are going to be the church of Jesus Christ and disciple the nations. Thanks for letting the Indian leaders speak to us through you!

Excuse me for chiming in again so soon.
It may be helpful to note the variety of ways in which “church growth” occurs, including the kind of small gatherings that are multiplying in India:

(a) Growth by attraction: A superb pastor or staff draws many to themselves and to the Lord through their ministry. However, when, he dies, this growth may stop and the church may decline. This was largely true of classical, missionary-planted churches.

(b) Growth by duplication: A pastor or staff determines to plant a new church through evangelism or attraction, and empowers a new pastor or staff in a new congregation. If they do this several times, then we can call it growth by addition - see (d) below.

(c) Growth by division: A portion of the members of a congregation leave together to become another congregation. If this is done by design, then both the mother church and its daughter will likely grow again by attraction. If by default, then we call it a church split, and bitterness may hinder either from further growth for a time.

(d) Growth by addition: An energetic pastor, over time, plants several ‘branch’ churches, and sets up an ‘assistant’ in each branch. The pastor retrains an exclusive right to baptize new believers and to serve the Lord’s Supper to all believers. Addition growth stops when the pastor has no more time or energy to plant new branches. (This mode of growth in common in India and is often called multiplication.)

(e) Growth by multiplication: A pastor or staff empowers faithful men and women to plant new churches, mentoring them as long as needed, as these do the same with others, in turn. This can rapidly lead to several generations of new churches and new shepherds. (This resembles biological more than mathematical multiplication.)

All these modes of church growth remain subject to some of the same weaknesses that characterize big, stagnant, pulpit-centered churches: doctrinal deviance, internal dissent, financial mischief, syncretistic practices, seditious reporting to hostile civic and religious authorities, and defection.

Note that some Indian ministries are torn between the expectations of Western donors and their growing understanding of effective dynamics. Some feature big Western-style conferences and rallies, even while carrying on serious, grass-roots evangelism and church planting. The latter, I believe, deserves more prayer, encouragement and guidance.

It is so good to hear all these positive comments about the NT model (sans buildings, pastors, Sunday service and even tithing), which was not the case just a few years back.

The fundamental difference is that the NT model is all about being “fishers of men” while the traditional model is either being a fish in the aquarium or an aquarium keeper. All those beautiful multicolored fish, dressed in red, green and white in the pews, have to be fed and oxygenated at least every Sunday,but fail to reproduce. While fishing out there in ponds, rivers and the ocean is risky, time consuming and the fish are dirty and smelly and need to be cleaned. 

Yeshua said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” All those Christians sitting in the pews are sincere followers of Yeshua but never became fishers of men. Unless we allow Yeshua to make us fishers of men, we remain incomplete, non-productive Christians. The Indian movement is all about rapid empowerment of the every new believer, literate or illiterate, men or women to become a fisher of men.

Are there problems with this model? Of course there are problems galore but even so it is the most productive and effective model.

A great article in my opinion, and it points me in a direction I want to go.  It is indeed time for the Church to be a Living Church with God’s Life made manifest through the working of His Word, guidance and manifestation of the operation of His Holy Spirit, rather than religious institutions with pew warming! I found this article very encouraging and am tempted to begin doing some of it here - soon! Pray for me to step out in faith. Thanks! In Him who is Head of the Church & more willing to manifest Himself than we have been willing to step out.

I hope to better implement the principle: “Tarry daily with God as before the king of highest authority—until He releases you. Wait for guidance and power, then obey in faith. Resist the urge to rush into self-assigned activity, or to ask God to bless plans made solely on the basis of available resources.”

This is an excellent article of what a true CPM looks like as it is played out in the harvest fields.  It seems the Lord has pulled back the curtain for us to witness fruitful practices that bring glory to Jesus.  Missions is not about activity but fruit.  CPMs may not be the ‘magic bullet’ but they do produce the results we want to see.  What farmer would not put into practice the things that yield a greater harvest and better quality product? 

What I love is the simplicity of what is presented in a CPM: prayer paves the way; work in teams even if small; disciple to evangelize; find the person of peace and disciple his/her household; allow the Holy Spirit and the Word do what only they can do - be a facilitator; establish obedient-based learning, not knowledge-based learning; and empower rapid multiplication of churches. 

I feel strongly about using good CPM methodology among unreached peoples.  To refuse to adapt to fruitful methodology is like telling the Lord “I can do it better my way.”  None of us would ever suggest such a thing so it is best to adapt our methods now for the glory of God and the salvation of the unreached peoples.

Along with those characteristics of American missiologists/missionaries mentioned in the article goes the pronounced tendency to propose know-all, end-all strategies that will produce assured results and soon.  Come to think of it, this attitude is not really limited to Americans and American culture.  It seems to be something of a human trait, and therefore more general.

Thank you, Robby, for your willingness to learn from Dr. Victor Choudrie and, in times past, from the baptizer of his parents, Dr. Donald McGavran to whom he and we owe so much.  Thank you also for your willingness to learn from other writers and leaders mentioned in your article.  And thank you for your willingness to pass on to others of us what you have learned.  We are in your debt.

In the final analysis, other than compatibility with the Word of God, there is no one principle and no one way to extend the bounderies of evangelization and grow the church of Christ.  There are multiple principles and multiple ways to extend those boundaries and multiply churches.

You wrote: “My Indian friends have great insight into the essential components of effectual prayer for healing-holiness, faith, the Spirit’s leading, laying on hands, etc.”

What insight? Can you go into more detail? I’m intrigued to know more.

You also spoke of the “gathered church” as the place for edification, and the “scattered church” as the place of multiplication.

This is the exact opposite of the model of many churches I am acquainted with. Multiplication was supposed to take place in the “gathered church” by people responding to the weekly gospel sermon
and invitation. Edification, if you got any, took place in the “scattered church” as people studied in their own homes for their personal spiritual enrichment. How did we get this so backwards?

Thanks so much for an insightful article.  The thing that I find most refreshing is the emphasis on discipleship.  My experience among church planters in India has been that many of them are so focused on rapid multiplication that they lose sight of the role of equipping the saints/making disciples.  I know church planters that now moan that the church in their area is a mile wide and an inch deep.  Yes, we need to release people to do ministry, yes we need to empower them and release the shackles that come from trying to force a western model complete with church buildings, elaborate sound systems, and paid staff. However, we also need to take time to make disciples.  I like Victor Choudrie’s observations about Paul in the marketplace and your observations about pastors who “have abandoned the “driven-ness” common among Christian workers to become relaxed, relational disciplemakers.”  If more of us will do this, then we’ll truly see multiplication without the post-harvest loss you mention.


Dear friends,

Thank you all for your affirmation of the significance and power of what God is doing through Church Planting Movements in India and elsewhere. May we continue to gain insight from one another.

Rebekah quoted me: “My Indian friends have great insight into the essential components of effectual prayer for healing-holiness, faith, the Spirit’s leading, laying on hands, etc.”

She then asked: “What insight? Can you go into more detail? I’m intrigued to know more.”

Perhaps others with more experience can chime in. Here is what I gathered:

I stayed several days in the home of a powerful Indian evangelist named Glen. My American traveling companion told me Glen was twice healed miraculously from terminal conditions, and is now serving in signs and wonders in mass crusades.

When I asked Glen to help me understand what I might be missing, he took me to Luke 4 (starting at the end of chapter 3), and introduced me to the difference between being Filled with the Spirit (Lk 4:1) (as Jesus was at his baptism) and being led by the Spirit (Lk 4:1 again) (into the desert now where Jesus was tempted by the devil) to then move in the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:14). Glen taught me that “the Spirit of God only knows one lifestyle”—the one Jesus demonstrated, of selflessness, sacrifice and service.

Other Indians I met emphasized:
- laying on hands physically (Mk 6:5, Lk 4:40, He 6:2),
- praying in tongues to edify the spirit as well as the mind (1 Cor 14:14-15).
- agreeing together in prayer, especially on site where we expect to see God working (the essence of prayerwalking).
- spending more time listening for what God wants to do than telling Him what we want Him to do (praying only as He leads, not according to our desires).

In addition to the above, I was told that one person who sees a lot of answers for prayer follows this pattern:
- pray for those who request it,
- explain first what God will do as we pray (build up the others’ faith),
- urge them to deal with sin with words such as these:
“Before asking God to heal we must deal with any sin He is speaking to us about. You don’t have to confess out loud to me, just to God. We will now take a few moments of silence for you to confess your sin to God. You then tell me when you are ready to pray.”
- then pray in faith and watch God work.

Since returning home I have memorized Acts 1, and am thinking about the often overlooked centrality of Jesus’ command in Lk 24:49 and Acts 1:4 to wait for power, and the potential for and danger of neglecting this empowering (Acts 19:2).

Toward ensuring that I receive all the power God wants to give me, I am aiming to
- continue applying what I listed above,
- expand my daily time listening to God, and
- seek out someone to apply these things with.

I welcome the input of others with more experience in this area.

What a great opportunity to go and learn. I long for us to figure this all out here in the US.  It’s going to take a committed effort to rethink everything we’ve inherited (in the US) in order to see a greater harvest; even to the point of questioning salaries and maybe Sunday gatherings.  This threatens the majority of us pastors, but my prayer is that there are a few who are willing to do anything to see a true CPM movement happen here in North America.

Re: resources… I was struck by how in 1989 the Russian Baptist Church did and funded all ministry initiatives indigenously; everything was paid for by Russians; by the close of the 20th century 80% of all ministry was funded by the west.  How does that help our brothers, and is it no wonder we don’t see a church planting movement taking place there?

Hello there brethren.  I am reposting this from another post.  I am from the Philippines and has been an avid reader of mission frontiers since 1998.  I am an M.Div. Graduate of Asian Theological Seminary in Manila and majored in Cross-cultural studies and missiology. For the past years i have been following CPMs and even Insider movements across the globe.  I am indeed praising God for such breakthroughs and advancements of the gospel most specially amongst muslims, budhist, and hindus.  Here in the Philippines i have lots of friends who works amongst muslims and delighted to hear their progress.  For the past 10 years i have tried to experiment in the urban setting some of the principles of CPMs and even IMs. The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic with only an estimated 10 to 15% evangelical/born again christians and 10% (or lesser) Muslims.  In the urban setting amongst the younger generation there is now a growing negative attitude over organized religion.  What i have been trying to experiment with in the past 10 years are the more “organic” forms of being church. We are trying to re-imagine church as we know it.  I was glad that i have resonated with some of the writings of Frank Viola, Neil Cole, Wolfgang Simson and many more advocates of simplier forms of being church and recovering a lot of New Testament patterns of church (e.g. Open Participatory Meetings, focus on being a community rather than programmatic activities, recovering the love feast - communion as a full meal, etc.).  It was a very difficult transition since a lot of us came from traditional churches. Most of us struggle in detoxing from the “old wineskin.”  Anyway, we are seeing now the fruits of this transition and church is picking up momentum in terms of making disciples and mulitplying our churches.  However, we are now encountering some problems and our church being threatened to be divided.  Our senior pastor would want to impose the G-12 model of Cesar Castillanos of Bogota Columbia to all our simple church networks.  I do not subscribe to the said model since i feel that it is so rigid and seems to impose on all of us some kind of new testament “law”.  Unlike in CPMs that it only provides a framework and leaves room for creative engagement of culture and society.  In the G-12 model you have to copy it right to the dot the way Castillanos did it.  this obviously does not take into account context.  the model assumes that it is universal.  It is designed to grow your church (members) instead of multiplying church.  Can you help us shed light on what this G-12 movement is and what may be the general consensus of world mission practioners regarding this movement.  The movement is claiming that it is God’s given answer to disciple the nations and that it is growing rapidly.  Not so sure if they have heard of Ying Kai’s church multiplication movement. If there be any research on this group it would truly help us to make wise decisions if we are going to fully adapt this model.  I am torn as a leader since I am trying to cast T4T and CPM principles which obviously has significant difference with G-12 principles. This is where our tension in the church resides. My group is being threatend to leave the church if we refuse to submit to what the senior pastor would lead us to which is G-12.  Thank you for taking time to read my comments.

My reading of Mission Frontiers is mostly for personal benefit.  I am not a pastor nor a missions leader, nor have my ideas been widely accepted among church leadership.  I do not go on missions trips very often.  I am not the one who easily leads others to Christ through my speech.  But I do love God.  Malachi 1:11, “From the rising of the sun, even to its going down, …my name shall be great among the nations,”  touches me to think that God has hopes, too.  And I love programs, ideas, connecting, and thinking about missions. 

From this personal perspective, The January-February Mission Frontiers drew my attention differently from any other issue.  Using the Real Life Ministry grid (page 8) to measure my progress as a disciple maker was motivating.  The simple T4T process listed on Page 13 seemed do-able.  The article on Page 14, “Joining the Revolution,” was encouraging.  It reminded me to “take care of basic responsibilities,” and to consistently make adequate time for God’s word and presence.  It also provided a model for proceeding in discipleship. 

Through prayer and review of the material, God showed me specific personal missions callings:  to pray for kings and authorities (I Timothy 2:1-4), to minister to people from other countries locally, and to support international missions work in prayer and financially.

The May-June issue’s “Church Planting Movements from One Indian Perspective” continues this theme of becoming a disciple with fruit.  It describes the process of integrating knowledge and power in Christ as developed through the stories of those attending a conference in Bangalore regarding successful, self-funding church planting ministries.  The insights are written for church and missions leaders, disciplers.  For the individual, the ideas from the article are just as applicable.  A simplified list would include: 1) tarry until God releases with guidance and power, and then obey in faith , 2) continue to focus on one’s family as an initial point of evangelization – practice with others, study new methods, and pray 3) make measureable goals, 4) work with others and expect that other believers will enjoy the journey with you, 5) look for the people of peace who would share these ideas and hopes, 6) pray and expect miracles, 7) look at what God is doing, 8) don’t be afraid to do the things in the Bible (my first step was serving communion at home). 

This is what I can live for—to be genuine in Christ where He placed me;  to watch for opportunities to serve, but to not fret if I am not doing what everyone else is doing; to enjoy my family and those around me and watch as they draw near to Christ through my love and prayers, and to teach them as God leads, and to watch God working in their lives; and to participate in the larger world of international missions through prayer and service as God calls.  I am encouraged, as it says in II Corinthians 4:1 to “…not lose heart.”

I appreciate the update from the conference you attended in India.  I benefited from the insights you brought. Some of your observations especially in your Surprising Discoveries section deserve further comment, excellent! I believe what we are seeing is a resurgence of a biblical missiology.  This understanding of mission and our participation with Christ in mission in the earth is once again being informed by scripture as we are being led by the ever present Holy Spirit.  My prayer is that western missionaries are not too “smart” or too “proud” to see this.  Ot is for that reason i believe your comments about American leaders not being willing to learn need to be in large bold letters.  Thank you for your timely reporting and your wise and thought-provoking observations.

Robby, this is a great article and your additional comments on spiritual power are much appreciated. Honestly, just a couple months ago I would have misunderstood and doubted what you said about spiritual power. It sounds very foreign to my weak, complacent, American Christianity that I am so used to. Last month, however, I met Brother Yun (The Heavenly Man) from China and he was someone that I would describe as having spiritual power. It’s not something that I can easily describe, but when he preached people were touched by God. When he prayed for people, he would lay his hands on them and he prayed with power. I think his spiritual power comes from the fact that he really, truely believes in the God he preaches about and prays to. And he really knows God. Thank you for your viewpoint on this topic, It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot since meeting Brother Yun. Blessings to you!

Robby, most of what you have written is in line with what I have experienced in India. I have been working with an Indian partner now for about 7 years among a tribal group. We have seen somewhere between 250,000 to 300,000 people baptized with close to 10,000 house churches started in this period.

We have brought in some outside financial help each year, mostly to “speed” things up by sending out some paid workers. We avoided the dependency issue by limiting the support to one year per person. In other words, we pass it around. An interesting thing we learned is that roughly 75% of those we have given support to continue to do itinerant work even after their support was stopped. They weren’t able to do it full time, but, they keep going out because they love it. We lost both control and count a long time ago and aren’t really worried about it. Oh, another cool thing is that we have now mobilized and sent about 10 folks from this tribal group to an unreached group of village Hindus in a neighboring state. That was back in October. Already we have 11 new believers, in only 5 months and it is very hard ground.

The adoption item was intriguing to me. I haven’t seen that.

Robby, on p. 27 (bottom of first column) of the Mission Frontiers issue for May-June 2011 you refer to Christ’s seven basic commands. I don’t see those commands listed in the article. For Luke 10 I see ten, and for Matthew 28:19-20 I count four.

Are you talking about a different passage of Scripture?

Marvin Dyck


Dear Marvin,

Thanks for your excellent question.

Many Church Planting Movements have been influenced by George Patterson’s emphasis on “Obedience Oriented Discipleship.” George’s emphasis of course comes directly from Jesus command in Mt. 28:20 to teach the nations to obey everything He commanded.

George and his colleagues have found that all of Jesus’ commands can be summarized under 5-8 general categories (with items combined or separated to match the number best suited to the culture, such as five for Islam).

A Google search for “Seven Commands of Christ” will thus turn up various treatments of this, including this excellent summary.


P.S. Anyone looking for coaching in applying the principles in this article would benefit from the free services offered at Mentor and Multiply.

i see very few Indians responding to the article, i still believe, there is an urgent need
for all indian christians churches to live out the gospel, which is the key… rest will follow,
good read your comments
God bless india

Very Interesting article

I have personally witnessed this type of church planting in India, and long to see this type of movement here in the US.
You can watch a television series that I produced regarding this here:

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