CPM Essentials on a Napkin – Part 2
– By Steve R. Smith –
In Part 1, we looked at setting our sails to catch the Spirit’s wind, and the essential elements of God’s heart in the CPM process. We now turn our attention to…
To fulfill the vision, you do your part in the divine-human partnership: five high value activities. These position you to be used by God to develop healthy, sustained movements. You must do each in a way that can be reproduced by new believers. We describe this simple CPM plan by four agricultural fields. These four fields must all be in place for healthy CPMs to emerge. In many fields around the world, farmers build huts or platforms in which to rest, store their tools and watch for predators. We, too, need a platform – leaders to watch over the churches and movement.
We separate the four fields so that we know the critical elements we need to give attention to, but don’t expect them to always happen in order. For instance, after you lead someone to Christ, he may already be working in field one to find lost family members to win as you move him to field three (discipleship). And while you are discipling him and his family/friends in field three, you will help form them into a church (field four). In addition, you will find yourself in different fields at the same time with different groups as you walk them down the CPM path.
Field 1: Finding God-prepared people (Lk. 10:6; Mk. 1:17; Jn. 4:35; 16:8) [This is represented by seeds planted in furrows – casting seeds to find good soil.]
CPM catalysts believe that the Holy Spirit has gone on before them to prepare people to respond immediately (or very soon) – John 16:8. Through dozens and hundreds of spiritual conversations, they look for the white harvest already prepared. They expect these persons of peace to be the keys to winning others (John 4:35). They also search for existing believers in their communities who God is leading to partner in this CPM vision.
Therefore, you and your team must search diligently to find God-prepared PEOPLE or FIELDS. You live with the simple choice of everyone falling into one of two categories: saved or lost. Fulfilling Mark 1:17, you try to fish for the lost and help the saved follow Jesus with a whole heart.
- You hunt for SAVED persons who will work alongside you to reach this city or people group. How do you find them? You bridge into the conversation and relationship by sharing vision with them of what God can do in and through them, then offering to train (or learn together with) them. Virtually every CPM I know of started when national believers caught the vision to work in partnership with a missionary or church planter to fulfill God’s vision. You need to have many conversations to find such people.
- You and your team hunt for lost persons of peace (or in your oikos) and start witnessing to them. You must have dozens (sometimes hundreds) of conversations that get to the gospel to find the people God has prepared. Most of us find it difficult to get started. So in CPMs, believers have a simple bridge into gospel conversations such as a testimony or a set of questions.
Field 2: Reproducing Evangelism (Lk. 10:7-9; Mt. 28:18-20) [This is represented by seeds sprouting into plants.]
As we bridge into spiritual conversations with the lost (or help the saved to do the same), we must EVANGELIZE in a REPRODUCING manner. Lost people must hear the gospel in a way that is complete enough that they can fully follow Jesus alone as Lord and Savior and can then use the same method to evangelize others. In CPMs we don’t just look at the theory – what might reproduce. We judge a method by whether it does reproduce. If not, then either the method is too complex or in some way I am not equipping the disciple properly.
In every CPM the gospel is being shared by many disciples with hundreds and thousands of people relationally in a way that can be reproduced. This evangelism follows the pattern given by Jesus in Luke 10:7-9 – the three P’s: a loving presence from the believer and God, praying that God will move in power to demonstrate His love, and clearly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus with a call to commitment to Jesus alone as King.
Field 3: Reproducing Discipleship (2 Tim 2:2; Phil 3:17; Heb. 10:24-25) [This is represented by plants bearing fruit.]
As people believe, they are immediately brought into reproducing DISCIPLESHIP relationships, sometimes one-on-one, but usually in new small groups. They begin a well-defined process of simple short term discipleship sessions that they immediately pass on to those they are witnessing to. This happens through a very reproducible process. Eventually they enter into a pattern of long-term discipleship that enables them to feed themselves from the whole counsel of God’s Word. We must have a process that works in our context for new believers – both to grow spiritually and to pass on to others.
Most reproducing discipleship processes use the elements of a three-thirds format (e.g. Training for Trainers – T4T). In this format, believers first take time to look back through loving accountability, worship, pastoral care and recalling the vision. They then take time to look up to see what God has for them that week’s in Bible study. Finally they look ahead to determine how to obey God and pass on what they have learned through practicing it and setting goals in prayer.
Field 4: Reproducing Churches (Acts 2:37-47) [This is represented by bundles of harvested grain.]
In the discipling process, believers meet in small groups or reproducing CHURCHES. In many CPMs, at about the 4th or 5th session, the small group becomes a church or part of a church. CPMs have a simple process to help the believers develop the basic covenant and characteristics of church – based on the Bible and fitting for their culture. Many use the church circles diagram in this process.
Center Platform: Reproducing Leaders (Titus 1:5-9; Acts 14:23) [This is represented by farmers or shepherds.]
Some of the believers will prove themselves to be reproducing LEADERS appropriate for that stage of the work. Some will lead one church, some multiple groups, some whole movements. Each will need mentoring and training appropriate for their level of leadership. CPMs are as much leadership multiplying movements as they are church planting movements.
Many believers will go on to REPEAT various parts of the four fields – some will look for God-prepared people, some evangelize, some disciple/train, some form new groups and some train the groups to repeat the process. Not every believer goes on to the next stage. [This is represented by smaller arrows into each new field.] In CPMs, believers go amazingly far, not only in their own discipleship but in ministering to others.
The spiritual triggering effect of all of this is DEATH (John 12:24) – the willingness for believers to boldly persevere, even die, to see God’s vision fulfilled. [This is represented by a grain falling into the ground.] Until believers choose to joyfully count the cost, this all remains theoretical.
Though it is difficult to describe a complex movement adequately in a chapter, the Heart and Four Fields gives the basic essentials. Effective CPM catalysts build momentum by making sure each part of the process naturally leads to the next, through the way they disciple and train believers. In this way they raise the sails for the boat to keep moving. As I draw out the Heart and Four Fields for friends, they marvel at the depth and richness of a CPM. It is much more than a method of evangelism or church planting. It’s a movement of God.
Can you reproduce this drawing on a napkin with a friend?
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, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 29-31, and published on pages 213-222 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or Amazon.
(1) For a description of church circles, see “The Bare Essentials of Helping Groups Become Churches: Four Helps in CPM” in the September-October 2012 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org, pages 22-26.