GOD IS USING MOVEMENTS
TO REACH THE UNREACHED
God is Using Movements to Reach the Unreached
by Dr. David Garrison
Just over 20 years ago the term Church-Planting Movements first entered our missionary vocabulary. At the time, we were marveling at the anomalous emergence of churches reproducing churches at a rate we had only read about in the New Testament book of Acts. Hoping to learn from these extraordinary works of God, I tapped out a 57-page descriptive booklet in 1999, called "Church Planting Movements."
That little booklet circulated around the world with indigenous translations in more than 40 languages (see bit.ly/cpmbooklet). As it turns out, the four movements we initially profiled were just the beginning of a Kingdom wave that would usher in millions of new believers in the years that followed.
Today the Body of Christ continues to learn new ways to apply the dynamic principles of CPM. God is using faithful servants to catalyze new movements in Hindu, Muslim, secular, urban, rural, Western, and non-Western settings all over the world.
Following are five brief glimpses of how God is using CPM principles to yield a harvest in Africa, Asia, Haiti and Florida.
Movements of God Among the Unreached in East Africa
By Aila Tasse
Aila Tasse is the founder and director of Lifeway Mission, and is part of the East Africa CPM Network.
Through Church-Planting Movements (Disciple-Making Movements) amazing things have occurred among unreached people groups in East Africa. Since 2005, we have seen 5,500 to 6,000 new churches planted, with an average church size of 20 to 35 people. Multiple streams have started, multiplying into additional CPMs. In Rwanda, the movement is at 11 generations of new churches. Kenya’s at nine generations. God is impacting 11 countries including Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, and even Sudan despite the war.
I grew up in Northern Kenya on the edge of the desert. One day as I was praying, God gave me a vision. He showed me 14 of the 22 unreached people groups in Kenya, every one of them living in that desert.
I felt God was calling me but I didn't want to accept the call. I had gone through so much persecution from my family and community that I wanted to leave the area. At that time there were no Christians among the indigenous people. The churches there all consisted of people working for the government or NGOs.
In 1998, I began fulfilling God’s vision and over the next few years I started implementing CPM principles. I became serious about applying a simpler pattern of church which was much more reproducible. Two other key factors that helped me multiply churches were the ideas of helping people discover truth (instead of someone telling it to them) and obedience as a normal pattern of discipleship. The strategy of DMM focuses on Discovery Bible Studies (DBS), where lost people are introduced to the Scriptures and discover the truth for themselves and obey whatever God is speaking to them. This strategy doesn’t force them to convert but rather focuses on the Scriptures and what the Holy Spirit speaks to the person through them. The DBS leader helps them hear from God, who moves in powerful ways in them.
At this point we have engaged all of the 14 UPGs in the desert and gone beyond that. Now we’re talking about 300 unreached people groups per Joshua Project (joshuaproject.net). We’re working at it country by country in East Africa, praying and focusing on the least reached, the least engaged.
Jesus commanded us to make disciples (not converts) as we go, until no space remains untouched by a worldwide explosion of disciples. This won’t happen by planting and growing churches one at a time. It won’t happen by trying to build megachurches or by paying a few people to try to do it. We believe the only way for the Church to fulfill the Great Commission is through making disciples who make more disciples.
We see God using many people and groups, and we praise God for the network and collaboration of 24:14. We need to work together as the Body of Christ. We need to learn from others, as well as to share what we are learning.
God is Sweeping through South Asia
The Walkers and Phoebe
The “Walker” family began cross-cultural work in 2001. In 2006, they joined Beyond (http://www.beyond.org) and in 2011 started applying CPM principles. They were joined by “Phoebe” in 2013. Phoebe and the Walkers moved to different countries in 2016, and have been supporting the movements from a distance.
Before the Church Planting Movement (CPM) began in our area, our two national partners were full-time Christian workers in the nation's heartland. Both had a heart for God’s kingdom, but CPM was far outside their paradigm.
After attending a two-week CPM training, we became intentional in taking the next steps toward catalyzing a CPM, eliminating all non-essential ministry efforts. Our new approach included:
- personal obedience (a shema witness for Christ and searching for people who would open their households to the gospel)
- increased prayer
- casting vision to existing believers to partner in this endeavor
- training interested Christians
- receiving coaching from those ahead of us.
In July 2012, one of our partners gathered 15 men from various districts. We began meeting for 1.5 to 2 day trainings, roughly once per month. Most were Christian-background believers, while a few were Hindu background believers. As many began applying CPM principles, they quickly saw fruit. Our national partner was the head coach and cheerleader for this group.
- By December 2012, there were 55 outreach Discovery Bible Groups, all consisting of lost people.
- By December 2013 there were 250 groups (churches and Discovery groups).
- By December 2014 there were 700 churches, and an estimated 2,500 baptized.
- By December 2015 there were 2,000 churches, and an estimated 9,000 baptized.
- By December 2016 there were 6,500 churches, and an estimated 25,000 baptized.
Through this process, here are a few of the many lessons we learned:
- Matthew 10, Luke 9 and 10 offer an effective strategy for connecting to lost people.
- Miracles (healing and/or demonic deliverance) were a consistent component of people coming into the Kingdom.
- We simplified the Discovery Study process multiple times. We also transitioned our training style to using just the Word, rather than others’ tools and methods.
- We emphasized loving obedience to Jesus and everyone passing on the training. We found it better to go deep in empowering those who were applying CPM principles, than to focus on doing more trainings.
- As outsiders, our role was to point out when the work was following tradition rather than the Word. This could only be done with cultural sensitivity and growing trust, not as an attack.
- Focus on reaching households, not individuals.
- Use Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) for both pre-churches and churches.
- Rechargeable inexpensive speakers with story sets on memory cards were extremely helpful, empowering illiterate and semi-literate people to plant churches through listening to scripture. Roughly half of the churches have been planted through the use of these speakers.
- Leadership circles provided sustainable and reproducible mutual mentoring for leaders.
- Intercessory prayer was a critical part of the strategy, but so was listening (listening prayer) for God’s direction on strategy decisions.
The movement has consistently reached 4th generation in many places. In a few locations, it has reached the 18th generation. This is not just one movement, but multiple movements, in four+ geographical regions, multiple languages and multiple religious backgrounds.
Kingdom Movements among Muslims in Southeast Asia
Yehezkiel serves as Mission Director for a Baptist Church in SE Asia. ([email protected])
Our ministry network focuses on starting movements in the Muslim heartlands of Southeast Asia. The essential cornerstone of our network’s church planting is the gospel itself. The gospel functions as our first filter when we interact with people. The first time we meet anyone we share the gospel at the beginning of our conversation: any place, any time, and anyone. Through presenting of the gospel, we begin the process of planting a congregation through this new local believer.
We consider the outside church planter (even if a national) to be generation 0. The local person (generation 1 or G1) who hears the gospel and responds by believing is baptized, discipled and immediately trained to reach his/her family, friends and acquaintances. When the G1 believer shares the gospel with his/her contacts and they believe, new believers are immediately baptized, discipled and trained by the local believer. This group becomes a G1 house church with the local believer as its leader.
The believers gather routinely each week in the G1 house church to worship Jesus, celebrate the Lord’s Supper and study God’s Word together using a guide that we provide. Very quickly they take up responsibility for reaching their network of relationships. The G1 believers are discipled and trained to disciple and train others and establish house fellowships with the new people they reach.
The house church functions as a sending hub in which all participants are equipped to become church planters. Every week after the worship service each member of the fellowship goes out to reach, disciple and train others. Those who come to faith are immediately baptized, discipled and trained to reach their network of contacts and gather them into a house church.
This process continues with oversight, evaluation and constant training. In this way, we have been able to establish thousands of house fellowships. In the last several years, tens of thousands have come to faith and been baptized, up to 20 generations. Our ministry network has also reached out to other areas to assist workers in other islands and ethnic groups in Southeast Asia.
This process of multiplication is what we mean by a Church-Planting Movement. This approach requires long-term commitment, with ongoing evaluation and monitoring that do not endanger the church planting process itself.
The autonomy of the house churches is a high priority. Leaders are quickly equipped so they can take ownership of the ministry. We as Gen 0 leaders quickly give local leaders authority to perform all the functions of a church. They baptize, receive people into the fellowship, teach the Word of God, celebrate the Lord’s Supper and so on. We call this equipping process “Model, Assist, Watch and Empower.” This process begins as soon as people come to faith. Autonomy is planned for and applied from the beginning.
The believers in this movement not only understand the end goal but also effectively live out the lifestyle that accomplishes that goal. Our job is to ensure that this understanding and practice continues to be transferred to each new believer and house church, generation after generation.
Moving Toward No Place Left in Haiti
By Jephte Marcelin
Jephte Marcelin is a native of Haiti, laboring to see no place left where the gospel has not yet been made known. At age 22, Jephte turned down a bright future as a medical doctor to pursue God’s plan for his life as a movement catalyst. He can be reached at [email protected].
I am one of the servants in No Place Left Haiti. Our vision is to faithfully obey Jesus by making disciples who make disciples, planting churches that plant churches, and mobilizing missionaries to the nations until there’s no place left. We do this by entering empty fields, sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen, discipling those who respond, forming them into new churches, and raising up leaders from within them to repeat the process. This is happening in many different locations in Haiti. As these churches gather in homes, under trees, and everywhere, we are seeing new leaders and teams being raised up from the harvest.
A great example of this is Joshua Jorge, one of our team leaders. He is laboring for no place left in Ganthier, an area located in Southeast Haiti. Recently, he sent out two of his “Timothys,” Wiskensley and Renaldo, to an area called Anse-à-Pitres. Following the example of Luke 10, they went with no extra provisions and searched for a house of peace. They arrived and immediately began sharing the gospel house-to-house, asking the Lord to lead them to God-prepared people. After a few hours, they met a man in the street named Calixte. As they shared with him about the hope found only in Jesus, he received the gospel and gave his life to Jesus.
Wiskensley and Renaldo asked Calixte where he lived and he led them to his home. They entered the house, shared Jesus with his entire family and they all chose to follow Jesus that day. These two ambassadors spent the next four days with this family, training them and taking them out into the harvest to share with their neighbors. During those four days, 73 people turned and believed in Jesus, 50 of them were baptized, and they formed a new church in Calixte’s home. Wiskensley and Renaldo continued to return to train a few emerging leaders in simple, biblical, reproducible tools. Within just a few weeks, this new church had already multiplied into two other churches! Praise Jesus!
My people have been physically and spiritually oppressed for generations. Haitians tell people, “You cannot follow Jesus until your life is clean.” They say, “Do not read the Bible because you will not understand it.” Jesus says, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Now we are listening to Jesus. Haitians are finding freedom in the Gospel of Grace. As we follow Jesus’ kingdom strategy given to us in the Gospels and in the book of Acts, being faithful to obey all of His commands, the Lord of the harvest is doing a great work. We are truly experiencing a movement of the Spirit of God. Thousands of Haitians are accepting their identity as ambassadors for Christ and thousands of new Jesus gatherings are being formed. We are not seeking to build our own kingdom, but giving away God’s kingdom. And He is multiplying it!
We began implementing movement principles in February 2016. We are now tracking seven streams of 4th generation churches (and more) representing more than 3,000 new churches and 20,000 baptisms.
Simple Things Grow and Simple Things Multiply
By Lee Wood
Lee Wood, a former orphan, an abused, addicted young man received Jesus at 23, and his life was totally transformed. His outrageous energy is contagious to all those around him. His heart’s passion is discipling others for Christ until the whole world knows.
In March 2013 I attended a Metacamp discipleship training facilitated by Curtis Sergeant. The focus was on obedience and training others how to make disciples who make disciples, leading to multiplication of simple house churches. I came to the training with a passion for discipleship and a healthy dissatisfaction with my status quo. I understood why we are called to make disciples – that the world might know – but was confused as to how. At the training, we learned the how and the importance of disciple-making as an expression of our love for God and others.
I left eager to apply the principles: tell your story, tell God's story, form groups and train them to do the same. Hitting the ground running, we started 63 groups in the first year and trained others to do the same. Some groups multiplied to the fourth generation. Hundreds of groups formed in the first two years, but with weak follow up, they were not sustaining or multiplying the way they should. We were so busy forming groups we failed to follow all the principles we had learned.
Thankfully Curtis didn't give up on us. He continued to coach us, emphasizing critically important principles:
- Take care of the depth of your ministry. God will take care of the breadth.
- Pour deeply into the few who are obeying.
- Keep doing what you are doing and you will get better at it.
- Simple things grow. Simple things multiply.
- Obey and train others.
We went back to salvage what we could. We poured into those who were clearly obeying the call (not doing this was our most significant failure in our earlier efforts). We began to prayer walk intentionally in some of the worst places in Tampa, to find persons of peace – people prepared to receive Christ and pass on the good news to their relationships – among the least, the lost and the last. As we learned more, we began to train others locally and eventually globally. Healthy groups began multiplying. The movement expanded to other Florida cities and four other states. With the help of some of our earliest disciples it expanded to ten other countries. We began to send out missionaries to unreached, unengaged people groups within two years, from a completely organic decentralized movement.
In partnership with another network, we have sent trainers to over 70 countries where self-multiplying movements of people reaching their own for Christ are beginning or are well under way. Additionally others began coming to our city for immersion training in an emerging urban church model, engaging in CPM that transforms communities.
All of this comes from sharing our personal stories of how Jesus has changed our lives, telling Jesus’ story (the gospel) and following a few simple principles: pouring deeply into the few, keeping it simple, learning by doing, and trusting God for the outcome.
How? Love God, love others and make disciples that make disciples. Simple things grow and simple things multiply.