Church Planting Movements – Ten Common Elements

February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Worship in the heart language

Evangelism has communal implications

Rapid incorporation of new converts into the life and ministry of the church

Passion and fearlessness

A price to pay to become a Christian

Perceived leadership crisis or spiritual vacuum in society

On-the-job training for church leadership

Leadership authority is decentralized

Outsiders keep a low profile

Missionaries suffer


Church Planting Movements in Africa, Highlights

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Over the past century, the number of professing Christians in Africa grows from nine million to more than 360 million (85).

Each month an estimated 1,2000 new churches are started in Africa (85).

In eight months, 28 Ethiopian evangelists led 681 persons to Christ and started 83 new churches (85).

Today, after years of resistance to the gospel, some 90,000 of Kenya’s 600,000 Maasai are followers of Jesus Christ (85).

From the nomads of the Sahara to the pygmies of the rainforests and the Bantu warriors of the southern plains, Africa is a colorful mosaic (85).

The Yoruba of Nigeria had 7,000 Baptist churches, but what of the millions of Muslim Hausa, Fulani, and Bambara, among whom there was not a single church (86)?

Today, African Christianity is expressing its own patterns and independence from the West (87).

The Maasai of East Africa are legendary for their courage and independence (88).

Their ornate necklaces, carefully braided hair, and sinewy muscles reveal an inner wealth that many Westerners have lost (89).

Following Jesus’ pattern in Luke 10, they commissioned about 70 trained lay Maasai evangelists to go out two by two across the Maasai Plains (89).

Today, up to 15 percent of the 600,000 Maasai in Kenya will tell you they are followers of Jesus Christ. The majority of these can be traced back to those original Maasai lay evangelists (89).

Most Maasai churches gather under acacia trees, the traditional meeting places for Maasai councils (89).

Not satisfied to hear the stories told, the Maasai often convert these great teaching stories into their native songs, and sing them with great enthusiasm (91).

The Ife are one of the tribes divided between two nations as they straddle both sides of the Togo and Benin borders. Numbering about 10 million, the Ife are the largest unevangelized non-Muslim people group south of the Sahara (91).

During a three-week period 5,700 persons viewed the Jesus film at night – 446 persons made commitments to Christ. Among these converts were the chief and his subchiefs of an Ife village (92).

Over the next decade the Ife movement picked-up speed as 85 new churches were started among the Ife of Togo with more than 5,000 persons worshipping in them. Despite this progress in Togo, the missionaries were not allowed to extend their work across the border into the Ife tribes of Benin (92).

Ethiopia has a special place in the Christian history of sub-Saharan Africa. It is home to sub-Saharan Africa’s only indigenous Christian community with a history stretching back pre-Islamic times. If local traditions are true, Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church began with a eunuch who was baptized by Philip on the road to Gaza (93).

Over the course of centuries, religion has taken on an ethnic identity that, for many, supercedes any sense of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ (93).

“The enemy is lostness.” Our strategy is to work inside, outside, and alongside the church for purposes of sharing the gospel, planting churches, and seeing a Church Planting Movement (94).

Their worship centered on prayer, singing of indigenous praise songs to God, and the teaching of God’s word (95).

As evidenced by the many shipwrecked Church Planting Movements in its history, Africa faces a similar challenge. On the one bank are the shipwrecks that have occurred as missionaries have overly protected the African Church (96).

If paternalism is the Scylla, then Charybdis is the whirlpool of foreign dependency (97).

Between the Scylla of paternalism and the Charybdis of dependency are the deep waters of indigenous African Church Planting Movements (97).

Wherever African believers have found this deep channel, God has produced smooth sailing and a steady growth in reproducing churches (97).

Garrison, V. David. Church Planting Movements, how God is redeeming a lost world. Bangalore, India. WIGTake Resources

Church Planting Movements in Asia, Highlights

August 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

During the 90s, Church Planting Movements (CPM) in Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia produce more than 60,000 new believers (65).

A CPM transforms Cambodia’s killing fields into fields of new life with more than 60,000 new Christians and hundreds of new churches planted over the past ten years (65).

Despite government attempts to eliminate Christianity, a CPM in one Southeast Asian country adds more than 50,000 new believers in five years (65).

By 1997 reports were radiating out of the country (Mongolia).  “It’s like the first century,” one Christian worker said.  “All the miracles, explosive growth and doctrinal challenges you find in the Book of Acts are happening today in Mongolia (67).”

Key growth factors:

  1. The missionaries’ priority of loving the Mongolian people
  2. Strong missiological principles of training indigenous leaders
  3. Modeling the authority of the Bible for decision making
  4. Establishing the church as a cell church movement
  5. Encouraging Mongolian believers to write their own Christian songs (67)

In the summer of 2001, Chinese house church leaders reported baptizing 500,000 in the province of Inner Mongolia over a 12 month period (68).

By the 1980s, the fledgling evangelical population in Cambodia, which had never exceeded 5,000, was reduced to less than 600 (69).

“Since 1990 the Christian population in Cambodia has risen from 600 to more than 60,000 (69).”

By the year 2000, the Cambodia CPM had passed.  In the end it suffered, not from lack of missionary attention, but fromtoo many well-intentioned intrusions from the outside (70).

…taught personal evangelism, how to study the Bible, church planting, and church leadership (71).

In his account of why this CPM unfolded the missionary cited the importance of prayer … Prayers were aimed at protecting church planters and opening the hearts of lost Khmer people. God answered on both counts. Prayer was also integrated into the lives of the new believers in Cambodia.  Signs and wonders, exorcisms, healing, and other manifestations of God’s power were commonplace (71).

Since most of the church leaders were bivocational, the pastors could not afford to be away from their homes for more than two weeks for training (71).

…implemented a lifelong mentoring approach to leadership training. “I call it the 222 Principle,” he said.  “It’s based on 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul told Timothy: ‘…the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrusts to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (72).”

The missionary applied the 222 principle as a means of multiplying the personal mentoring approach to leadership development.  “Never do anything alone,” he told the church planters, evangelists, and church leaders (72).

Pol Pot’s Red Guard had murdered so many of the educated Khmer people that every village now needed someone to teach the survivors how to read and write.  These churches were literally rebuilding Cambodian society from the ground up (73).

In February 2000, a Strategy Coordinator working in one Communist country arranged a quiet meeting with the leader of a large home cell church network.  The network was one of seven in the country, each containing more than 150 house churches.  Together these networks were home to more than 180,000 believers (75).

A crisis seemed to be reached every time a church grew to more than 30 members (75).

“We learned about how to have small churches that multiply rather than growing large.  That way we  never attract too much attention.  Before this training, we still were thinking like in the old days when we worshiped in open places.  We were still trying to grow big.  Now, we grow large by adding more cell churches.  When we reach 15 or 20 members we start a new church (76).”

As recently as 1970, Singapore was only 1.86 percent Christian.  However, 14 years later, more than 12 percent of the country claimed allegiance to Jesus Christ.  Today, the number of evangelical and Charismatic Christians has risen to more than 400,000 (77).

If Singapore’s rapid evangelical growth is structured around home cell groups, it is fueled by evangelism (79).

…spend lots of time and energy training lay people to lead small groups; intentionally encourage the starting of new groups; share faith with a high number of members witnessing; empower cell leaders; cells are participative; emphasize the authority of the Bible…(80)

While mega-church pastors continue to look for cell church techniques to grow their own church larger, Church Planting Movement practitioners look to CPM principles to reach an entire people or city (80).

In Seoul, Korea, more than 20,000 home cell groups meet each week all over the city (81).

Three-self principle or Nevius method…”the church should be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating (82).”

Garrison, V. David. Church Planting Movements, how God is redeeming a lost world. Bangalore, India. WIGTake Resources

Further Resource:


Church Planting Movements in China, Highlights

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

In 1991, a veteran of missionary work in Taiwan took a new assignment to a city in northern China.  He began his work with three prayers: 1) that God would do something so supernatural that it could only be explained by the fact that God had done it; 2) that the work would last, and 3) that it would not be dependent upon him to keep it going.  God granted all three requests (54, 55).

Because of her singular allegiance to the Bible with no political slant or activity, they asked her to go to the villagers to “disciple them, so they will not become enemies of the State (56).”

Siu Lam…began a Discipleship Training Center (DTC) ministry (56).

The First DTC Curriculum Included:

  1. Genesis 1-10 Who is God? – the creation and God’s relationship with man
  2. The Life of Christ – a study through the Gospels and the whole redemption story
  3. The Book of Romans – a study to teach the sinfulness of man and the provisions of God through Christ
  4. The Book of Jonah – a study of God’s redemptive purposes for all mankind and the believer’s role in that plan
  5. The Book of Ephesians – a study of the nature of the church
  6. How to Study the Bible
  7. How to Teach the Bible
  8. Personal Evangelism Training

Results of the Movement in Northern China (59)

After three months there were

  • More than 1300 professions of faith
  • More than 1200 baptisms
  • 3 new church starts

After seven months there were

  • 15 new church starts

After nine months there were

  • 25 new church starts

After twenty-seven months there were

  • 57 new church starts

After three years there have been

  • over 450 church starts scattered throughout three provinces that have roots in the DTC training
  • over 18,000 professions of faith
  • more than 500 house church leaders trained
  • more than 1,000 other believers trained

In pioneer areas, church planters would sometimes use the Jesus Film or a wide evangelistic campaign to identify inquirers who might then be followed up with further teaching (61).

The church planters then identified those who were suitable for leadership and immediately turned over the leadership of the public meetings to them (61).

At the core of the movement was a house church model that combined multiple lay leadership development, mutual accountability, biblical authority and rapid reproducibility (61).

POUCH Churches (62)

  • Participative Bible Study and Worship
  • Obedience to God’s word as the mark of success for every believer and church
  • Unpaid and multiple church leaders
  • Cell groups of believers meeting in
  • Homes or storefronts

When a house church divided, some leaders went with the new congregation and quickly named a local apprentice to begin training for the time when growth would demand a new division and fresh church start (62).

After these trainers taught a group of church leaders, the leaders would then cascade the training out through a network of meetings across the province (63).

Each month the believers conducted regular monthly meetings on the county level and two weeks later on the provincial level for a day or prayer, fasting and training (63).

In this system, new potential leaders were encouraged to periodically attend house churches other than their own in order to learn other styles of worship, training, and leadership (63).

…a dozen important lessons (63, 64)

  1. prayer was not only vital for unreached people, but also among the new believers
  2. model as well as teach
  3. …emphasize application rather than knowledge, … found that the knowledge was always followed
  4. …include feedback loops…to ensure follow up with new believers
  5. make sure everything in the areas of evangelism, church planting, and training can be reproduced by the indigenous people
  6. encourage locally produced hymns and praise songs to spread the faith
  7. found expectations of the new converts were usually met, so set the mark high for growth and new fruit
  8. quickly assimilate new believers into the life and work of the new churches
  9. multiple leadership and unpaid leadership kept the movement growing while eliminating the gap between clergy and laity
  10. build accountability for both leaders and church members into the way they do church
  11. meeting in homes rather than dedicated buildings allowed the movement to stay below the radar of the government and spread rapidly
  12. new believers must take responsibility for fulfilling the Great Commission

Garrison, V. David. Church Planting Movements, how God is redeeming a lost world. Bangalore, India. WIGTake Resources

Church Planting Movements in India, Highlights

July 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Where China converges around a shared Han Chinese civilization, India is a prism of hundreds of diverse peoples and languages (35).

Dr. Victor Choudrie, then a prominent cancer surgeon in India, surrendered to the Lord’s calling to evangelize and plant churches among the peoples of Madhya Pradesh (36).

Choudrie has shaped the Madhya Pradesh movement with a potent combination of biblical teaching, lay leadership and house church accomodations steering clear of energy-sapping dependency on foreign finances (37).

“…house churches follow the 222 formula (2 Timothy 2:2).  They equip disciples to plant multiplying churches by multiplying leadership (38).”

… John Langston’s agricultural work earned him the favor of the government because it addressed their hunger needs, but John’s love for the Kui extended beyond their physical needs (40).

…missionaries opted for a non-institutional approach, offering short segments of training ranging from a few weeks to a few months at a time.  Training often coupled agricultural and rural health education with biblical messages of evangelism and church planting (40).

Traveling agricultural evangelists would spend a few days in a village teaching agricultural best practices during the day, but in the evening, they offered a deeper truth (42).

…Watson instead chose to adopt the approach Jesus had used when he sent out the 72 disciples two-by-two.  The strategy is described in Luke chapter 10: “When you enter a house, first say ‘Peace to this house, If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.  Stay in that house…  Do not move around from house to house (44).”

Bhojpuri Church Planting Movement…The study revealed that most of the churches were led by a local lay pastor and a co-leader recruited and mentored by the pastor.  The average church size was nearly 85 members (47).

Bhojpuri Christians listen to cassette tapes of the Scripture and are taught to govern their life decisions with the question: “How can I obey Christ in this situation (47)?”

“These people come to know Jesus as healer first and then stay to know him as Savior (47).”

Garrison, V. David. Church Planting Movements, how God is redeeming a lost world. Bangalore, India. WIGTake Resources

More about India:

Mission Frontiers – Church Planting Movements from One Indian Perspective

Independent churches mushroom across India attracting foreign funds

Political Pluralism, Public Policies, and Organizational Choices: Banking Branch Expansion in India, 1948–2003

What are Church Planting Movements?

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

A Church Planting Movement is a rapid multiplcation of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment (21).

Church Planting Movements (CPMs) reproduce rapidly (21).  “Faster than you think possible.”

CPMs do not simply add new churches, instead, they multiply (22).

CPMs are indigenous, generated from within, as opposed to started by outsiders.  The movement looks, acts and feels homegrown (22).

Churches planting churches, even though church planters may start the first churches, at some point the churches themselves get into the act (22).

A tipping point occurs when new church starts reach a critical mass and, like falling dominoes, cascade into an out of control movement flowing from church to church to church (22).

When the momentum of reproducing churches outstrips the ability of the planters to control it, a movement is underway (23).

CPMs occur within people groups or interrelated population segments (23).

CPMs are not just a revival or spiritual awakening (23).  CPMs are centered within unreached people groups or concentrations of lostness.

CPMs are not just people movements, because people movements do not always lead to multiplying churches (24).

CPMs adhere to the principle that smaller is better (25).

God has chosen to launch most CPMs among the least likely candidates – unreached people groups (25).

In CPMs the role of the missionary or outsider is heaviest at the beginning, but once the people group begins responding, it is vitally important for outsiders to become less dominant, while the new believers themselves become the primary harvesters and leaders of the movement (25).

CPMs are simply a way that God is drawing massive numbers of lost persons into saving community with himself.  That saving relationship – rather than any movement or method – is what touches the end vision, the glory of God, that we so desire (27).

If we want to be on mission with God we simply must pause long enough to understand how God is on mission (28).

Garrison, V. David. Church Planting Movements, how God is redeeming a lost world. Bangalore, India. WIGTake Resources

Definitions of “Insider Movements”

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Most definitions of “insider movement” start with an “insider identity” where the believers are not identified primarily as “Christians”, retaining identity as members of their socio-religious community (Richard 26:4,176; Lewis 26:1, 16). “Insider movements are movements of obedient faith in Christ that remain integrated with or inside their natural community (Lewis 26:1, 16).” The Gospel takes root within the pre-existing families, and social groupings develop into fellowship of believers as they become followers of Christ; so the pre-existing community becomes the church, rather than a new social group being created or “planted” as a church. The believing families in insider movements retain their given birth identity while living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible (Lewis 24:1). “Insider movements” do not attempt to form neo-communities of “believers-only” that compete with the family network; instead, “insider movements” consist of believers remaining in and transforming their own social structures, minimally disrupting their families and communities (Lewis 24:1).

In Tamil Nadu, Hoefer made the discovery that up to half of the Tamil Christians there had never been in a church and had no intention of associating themselves with a church. It was an insider movement that was an autonomous, independent, somewhat atomized movement of millions of individuals who pledged exclusive faith in Jesus Christ without any formal denominational association (Garrison 21:4). Most Tamilian “churchless” Christians are not polytheistic, but exclusive devotees of Jesus Christ that have come to this allegiance outside the church and feel little attraction for churches around them (Garrison 21:4). Garrison (21:4) defines insider movement as a growing number of families, individuals, clans, and/or friendship-webs becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including their religious culture. This faithful discipleship will express itself in culturally appropriate communities of believers who will also continue to live within as much of their culture, including the religious life of the culture, as is biblically faithful. The Holy Spirit, through the Word and through His people will also begin to transform His people and their culture, religious life, and worldview.

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