In Church Planting Movements, David Garrison reports on his study of CPMs that are occuring around the world. As he studied CPMs, he identified ten universal elements that are found in every CPM.
Prayer, the first element, permeates Church Planting Movements. Whether the prayer is for an unreached people group, for new believers, or for more laborers, prayer is critical for this ministry because the burden and vision for the reaching of people through a CPM “exceeds our abilities”.
The second essential CPM element is Abundant Evangelism, or the “principle of over-sowing.” We need to share the Good News with as many people each day as we possibly can.
For the Word to be effectively communicated, it must be contextualized – presented in the “worldview and cultural forms of the people being reached”. This end is achieved through indigenization– “the transferring of responsibility for Gosepl communication to those who naturally present it through their own worldview perspective”.
The Intentional Planting of Reproducing Churches is the third element of CPMs. When a church is planted it must be done with a vision for and commitment to the reproduction and multiplication of churches.
A fourth, and extremely critical, element of CPMs is The Authority of God’s Word. In every church planting movement there was found to be the “solid framework of God’s authoritative Word and the lordship of Jesus Christ.” Two questions constantly asked in CPMs are: “What does the Bible say about this?” and “How can I/we best glorify Christ in this situation?”
Local Leadership is the fifth CPM element. That is, for a CPM to develop and spread, leadership must be indigenous, from the harvest, to the people being reached. Garrison makes the point that the pattern of external dependency and the sense of paternalism that characterized missions in the past never has, and never will, produce a church planting movement.
The sixth element that is common to all CPMs is Lay Leadership. It is noted that “unpaid, non-professional common men and women” are on the cutting edge of leading the churches. Garrison mentions several reasons why lay leadership in CPMs are important. Several that stood out to me are: 1) when there is the rapid multiplication of churches, it is of practical necessity to “release” the “laity”, 2) theologically, it is grounded in the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer (I Peter 2:5), 3) in terms of relevance, it makes sense that leadership be from within the group being reached, as opposed to from without, and 4) for economic reasons, when using lay leadership and churches meet in homes, financial resources can be directed toward missions and ministry, rather than salaries and facility and land payments.
House Churches are the seventh CPM element discovered by Garrison. A number of benefits of house churches are listed by Garrison and include: leadership responsibilities remain small, accountability is amplified, member care is more personal, simple church structure makes reproduction easier, meeting in homes positions the church closer to the lost, and home-based churches keep the church’s focus on daily life issues.
The eighth CPM element is related to Number 3 above. It is that Churches Plant Churches. Under this point, the author makes reference to the M.A.W.L. approach to church planting. It is that missionaries and church planters Model evangelism, discipleship, and church planting; Assist new believers and church planters in their ministries; Watch, or observe their disciples conduct their ministries, and then Leave the disciples and new churches to reproduce the pattern for the start of new churches.
Rapid Reproduction is the ninth CPM element. Garrison simply says that “because new churches radiate out from each church rather than from the missionary church planter, the reproduction multiplies exponentially”. This kind of multiplication, along with discipleship, leadership development, and theological controls are, and must be, built into the DNA of each new church that is planted. We must have a vision for church multiplication, rather than addition, because the “fields are ripe unto harvest” and the laborers and churches are few (Luke 10:2).
The tenth and final element that Garrison discovered in CPMs that taking place around the world is Healthy Churches. Healthy churches exhibit and practice the ministries of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and missions, and worship.
It is exciting to read and learn about what the LORD is doing around the world in and through Church Planting Movements. The elements that David Garrison discovered in his study of CPMs, and that he has shared with us in his book, have a thrilling appeal to them.
I believe that if you and I, as Christ-followers would take and begin to implement even two or three of the ten CPM elements in our lives and ministries, we would see a tremendous difference in the way we live and minister. I believe that we would see more of God’s glory, more people coming to faith in Christ and the building of stronger disciples. And who knows, we might even discover that we are a part of a church planting movement of God ourselves.