About Movements

CPM Essentials on a Napkin – Part 1

CPM Essentials on a Napkin – Part 1

By Steve R. Smith –

You’ve decided in your heart that you want to see God birth a church planting movement (CPM) in your community or people group. The question is: “How do I start?” Suppose we’re sitting in a coffee shop and I hand you a napkin, saying, “Sketch out the path to a CPM.” Would you know where to start?

You must get onto a path that will possibly lead to a movement, rather than one that won’t. You must understand what that path looks like. 

The challenge of the CPM path is the word movement. GOD starts church planting movements, not His servants. Yet He uses His servants to be the catalyzing agents in CPMs. This happens when they understand His ways and submit their ministry efforts completely to them.

Setting Your Ministry Sails to Catch the Wind of the Spirit

Think of it this way. As a sailor, I can work on all of the factors that can be controlled. I can make sure my sails are up, the tiller is in the right position, and the sails are trimmed correctly. But until the wind blows, my sailboat is dead in the water. I cannot control the wind. Or if the wind is blowing, but I fail to raise the sails or trim them to catch the wind, I go nowhere. In that case, the wind is blowing but I don’t know how to move with the wind.

A traditional Jewish teacher of the law had a hard time grasping Jesus’ radical ways. Jesus told him this:

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

The Spirit blows in ways we cannot predict, but He does blow. The question is not whether He is blowing. The question is: “Is my ministry positioned to move the way the Spirit blows, so it can become a movement of God?”

If our ministries don’t cooperate with the Spirit’s ways, we can be tempted to say: “God no longer moves today as He did in previous times!” Yet dozens of CPMs around the world and on every continent testify: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) 

The Heart and Four Fields: CPM Essentials on a Napkin

As we look at these CPMs, what are the essential elements – the factors we can control? What will enable us to position our sails to move with the Spirit of God, if he blows strongly? CPM catalysts express these in many ways. But what follows is a simple summary of essential CPM elements. I often draw this simple diagram on a napkin in a coffee shop for a friend. I use it to explain to him how we can cooperate with God for a movement. If you can’t draw a basic CPM plan on a napkin, it’s probably too complex to live out yourself and too complex for others to reproduce. To encourage you, I find that the worse my art, the more confidence my friend has to pass it on!



Find God’s HEART for your people and seek Him in faith for the fulfillment of His vision


You and your team have a VISION to do whatever it takes under God to see ALL people have a chance to respond to the kingdom. [This is represented by a large heart.] You are seeking God’s vision not your own. Matthew 6:9-10 and 28:18-20 tell us that his kingdom will come fully to all people and people groups. A vision of this size should result in huge numbers of believers and thousands of churches (and/or small groups). Such a vision inspires believers to make radical lifestyle choices to bring God’s kingdom to their community.


  • Since this vision is so large, you must break it down into basic SEGMENTS. This will help you know how to start. In every society people create relationships by geography (neighbors) and/or socio-economic factors (workmates, classmates, club mates). Your goal is simple: plant reproducing mustard seed groups (Mt. 13:31-33) with the ability to reach that segment and beyond.
  • You know a movement has taken root in each segment when you can track at least four generations of believers and churches – G4 – in that place. (2 Tim. 2:2) [This is represented by a generational tree.] CPMs are defined by at least 4th generation churches consistently emerging within a short period of time (months and years, not decades). Effective CPM catalysts evaluate their results by generations of believers and groups/churches, not just numbers of believers and groups/churches. They often track the movement with generational trees.


Until we know God’s heart, we can’t expect Him to show up in miraculous ways. He will not fulfill something that is not on his heart, or less than what is on his heart.


Crying Out For God’s Heart as Those Abiding in Him


To fulfill the vision, you have to start at the foundation by ABIDING in Christ (Jn. 15:5; Ps. 78:72; Mt. 11:12; 17:20) [This is represented by a person with the right heart]. Those who bear fruit are those who abide. There is no way around it. Anything less gives temporary and stunted fruit. Men and women at the center of CPMs are not necessarily greater spiritual giants than other people, but they all abide in Christ. You do not get a CPM by abiding in Christ, but you don’t get one if you don’t.

  • Remember, God uses men, not just methods; people, not just principles.

As we humble ourselves by abiding in Christ, we must cry out fervently to God in PRAYER to see His vision fulfilled (Mt. 6:9-10; Lk. 10:2; 11:5-13; Acts 1:14). [This is represented by a kneeling person.] Every church planting movement begins first as a prayer movement. When God’s people get hungry enough to fervently fast and pray for His heart, amazingly miraculous things begin to happen.

Steve Smith, Th.D. (1962-2019) was co-facilitator of the 24:14 Coalition and author of multiple books (including T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution). He catalyzed or coached CPMs all over the world for almost two decades.

This material is edited from an article originally published in the July-August 2013 issue of Mission Frontiers,, pages 29-31.

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