Perhaps the greatest activity of God on the Earth today can be found in what are called Church Planting Movements. A Church Planting Movement, or CPM, is simply defined as
“a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.” (Church Planting Movements, p. 7)
Through CPMs that are happening around the world, millions are entering the Kingdom of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am very excited about and intrigued with CPMs. Therefore, I do a lot of reading and praying about these movements of God and dream about the Lord initiating and reaching people for Himself in the West and in my community through the rapid start and multiplication of new churches.
The Lord has used one book and two training manuals to inform and encourage me regarding church planting movements. I am praying that the Lord will use these materials to motivate and move me to be more evangelistic and intentional about the multiplication of disciples and the start of simple churches that will penetrate and saturate Texas A&M University (TAMU) and our communities for Christ.
Perhaps the first book or material that I ever read about CPMs was the Church Planting Movements booklet by David Garrison. (I would note that Charles Brock’s Indigenous Church Planting was required reading in my missions classes in seminary). Garrison, a Southern Baptist strategy coordinator, researched CPMs that were/are taking place in the world and reported on them in this booklet.
In Church Planting Movements, Garrison:
- defines Church Planting Movements
- identifies their universal characteristics
- examines common obstacles to Church Planting Movements
- analyzes a wide range of actual case studies
- provides some practical handles for beginning and nurturing Church Planting Movements
- addresses some frequently asked questions about Church Planting Movements.
David has expanded the CPM booklet into a book by the same name that addresses church planting movements in greater detail.
A CPM training manual that I have recently become aware of and am currently going through is The Four Fields of Church Planting – Reproducing Churches Using Simple Tools by Nathan and Kari Shank. The Shanks have written this manual based on their experiences as veteran church planters in India and out of a committment to sharing Christ in areas where He has not been known.
In The Four Fields, Nathan and Kari use Jesus’ Parable of the Seed in Mark 4:26-29 to help us to understand “big picture” issues pertaining to church planting and church planting movements.
The Skank’s teaching is built around the picture of four fields into which the Gospel Seed is to be sown. The “fields” are:
- Field #1 is Reproducible Entry Strategy
- Field #2 is Reproducible Gospel Presentation
- Field #3 is Reproducible Discipleship
- Field #4 is Reproducible Church Formation
Other subjects dealt with in The Four Fields include “Leadership Multiplication,” “Barriers to Overcome,” and “Church Planting Motives.”
I am enjoying this manual as I am going through it and am gleaning much that I pray that I will be able to implement as we seek to reach international students at TAMU for Christ.
The third piece, and second manual that I would share with you, is T4T – Build a Trainer. This material is sometimes called “Training for Trainers.”
I first became aware of T4T when I attended an International Mission Board (SBC) East Asia Summit in Shreveport, Louisiana in November 2009. In a break-out group on Unengaged Cities, the facilitator mentioned a material written by an Asian-American missionary serving in East Asia that the Lord has been using in powerful ways to initiate and propagate CPMs.
The missionary developed and began using T4T in 2000. By 2008, the initial small band of disciples he worked with multiplied into a movement of more than 80,000 new churches with more than 2 million baptisms.
The Bible study material that is used to disciple new believers is actually very basic. In fact, it is very similar to new believer material you may have gone through in your traditional American church when you became a Christian. But, it differs from the standard discipleship programs in that it seeks to instill a vision for evangelism and church planting in the heart of the disciple.
T4T begins with an introduction that addresses “The Fast Pace of Spreading the Gospel” and “Devotional Ideas for Use in the First Four Sessions.”
The material that trainees are taken through consists of seven sessions, the first of which is a training session for the trainer. The titles for the six studies that disciples are mentored through are:
- Assurance of Salvation
- Understanding Prayer
- Daily Devotions
- The Church
- God Is The Heavenly Father
- Spreading The Gospel
Following the sessions material, there is an addendum that includes readings on:
- CPM coaching
- Helpful Scriptures
- Common questions and answers regarding CPMs
- Characteristics of a CPM church
The final section of the T4T manual is a training schedule that can be used when training trainers.
I have gone into greater detail in sharing the T4T material because I am very excited about it. Several reasons that I am excited about T4T are:
- T4T is very simple in its content and structure.
- T4T is a material that can not only be used by the most mature believer, but by the newest follower of Christ as well.
- The purpose of T4T is not only to ground new believers in the basics of the faith and discipleship, it is intended to produce trainers who will train others (see II Timothy 2:2).
- T4T builds the DNA of evangelism and the start of reproducing churches into the lives of those being trained.
I have studied and gone through this material on my own and prayerfully intend to use it next semester with two different groups. One is my own family. We will use the material as a part of our weekly family worship and devotion time. The second group will consist of several international students who have been participating in our mid-week Bible study small groups the past two semesters.
It is thrilling to read and learn about what the Lord is doing in the world today to “redeem a lost world to Himself” through the multiplication of disciples, leadership, and churches, or what is called, Church Planting Movements. And, it is exciting and motivating to have such excellent, God blessed material in our hands to use as we seek to be involved in the fulfillment of The Great Commission.
But, we must remember that the materials are simply tools that the Lord has given us through man. The Lord is looking for and uses Spirit-filled, motivated, obedient people who are committed to His glory and purposes to accomplish His work on this earth.
I pray that as you have the opportunity to look at, and possibly go through, the materials shared in this post that the Lord will reveal to you how He might use you in reaching a lost world for Himself through Church Planting Movements.
Please visit Monergism Books and WTS Books for conservative and Reformed reading material.