A Church Planting Movement is a Leadership Movement – Part 2
– By Stan Parks –
In part 1 of this post, we looked at four ministry patterns that set the stage for ongoing leadership development in movements. This post presents seven additional patterns.
Obedience: Obedience-based, not Knowledge-based (John 14:15)
The biblical training in CPMs is powerful because it does not just focus on knowledge. Each person is expected to obey what he or she learns. Too many churches mainly focus on knowledge—leaders are those who have the most knowledge (i.e. education). Success is gathering more members and teaching them more information. In CPMs, the focus is not on how much you know, but on how much you obey. As groups study the Bible, they ask “How will I/we obey this?” The next time they meet, they answer “How did I/we obey?” Everyone is expected to obey, and leaders are identified as those who help others obey. Obeying God’s commands in the Bible is the fastest path for disciples and leaders to become mature.
Strategy: the Gospels and Acts Provide the Main Strategy and Models
Not only does the Bible contain commands, it also contains patterns and models. In the 1990’s, God led various people working among the unreached to focus on Luke 10 as a pattern for mission into new areas. Every CPM we know of uses a variation of this pattern of laborers going out two by two. They go seeking the person of peace who opens their home and oikos (family or group). They stay with this family as they share in truth and power, and they seek to bring the whole oikos to commitment to Jesus. Since this is a natural group (not a group of strangers gathered together), leadership is already present and just needs shaping instead of a wholesale transplant.
Empowerment: People Become Leaders by Leading
This sounds obvious but is often overlooked. One example of this occurs in the Discovery model of CPMs, where the interested oikos begins to study the Bible. A key series of questions is used to “make disciples” of those studying the story of God from Creation to Christ. In some of these CPMs, the outsider will never ask the questions. Instead he or she will meet separately to coach an insider(s) to ask the questions. The answers come from the Bible, but the question-asker(s) learns to facilitate the process of learning and obeying. We see an example of this in Training for Trainers (T4T). Each new disciple learns to share what they learn – by training others and thereby growing in ability to lead. The same principle applies in continuing to develop leaders: believers have an opportunity to practice and train far more quickly than in most traditional church settings.
Biblical Leadership: Standards from Scripture
As leaders emerge and are appointed, biblical standards are used, such as the requirements for new church leaders in Titus 1:5-9 and for established church leaders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The believers discover and apply roles and responsibilities from a thorough study of leadership passages. As they do this, they find various character elements and skills needed at each stage of the maturing church. They also avoid foreign extra-biblical standards or requirements for church leaders.
Unbiased: Focus on the Fruitful (Matthew 13:1-18)
Leaders are chosen, not based on their potential, personality, or style, but rather on their fruitfulness. When anyone asks CPM trainers how we know who will be fruitful when we first train people, we often laugh. We have no idea who will be fruitful. We train everybody and the “least likely” often become the most fruitful while the “most likely” often don’t do anything. Leaders become leaders by reaching people who become their followers. As these leaders emerge, more time is given to those who are more fruitful so they can produce more fruit. Special training weekends/weeks, annual training conferences, intensive training programs (often mobile) are some of the tools used to keep developing and equipping fruitful leaders. Then they in turn equip others.
Shared: Multiple Leaders (Acts 13:1)
In most CPMs, churches have multiple leaders to ensure more stability and to develop more leaders. This has the key advantage of allowing leaders to keep their existing jobs. This enables the movement to spread through ordinary believers, and avoid crippling dependence on outside funds to pay leaders. Multiple leaders can better manage leadership tasks. They also have greater wisdom together and mutual support. Peer learning and support between multiple churches also play important roles in helping individual leaders and churches thrive.
Churches: Focus on New Churches
Appointing and developing leaders enables the planting of new churches on a regular basis. And this happens naturally. As a new church starts and is full of passion for their new Lord, they are asked to repeat the pattern that led to their salvation. So they begin to look for lost persons in their networks and repeat the same process of evangelism and discipleship that they just experienced and were trained to reproduce. In this process they often realize that some leaders are gifted to focus inside the church (pastors, teachers, etc.) and some are gifted to focus outside (evangelists, prophets, apostles, etc.). The inside leaders learn to lead the church – to be and do all that a church should be (Acts 2:37-47) both inside and out. The outside leaders model and equip the whole church to reach new people.
What can we learn from God in these new movements he has birthed? Are we willing to let go of cherished cultural and denominational biases and use the Bible as our primary manual for birthing and developing leaders? If we follow biblical commands and patterns and avoid extra-biblical requirements for leaders we will see many more leaders emerge. We will see many, many more lost people reached. Are we willing to make this sacrifice for the sake of the lost and the glory of our Lord?