What is a CPM? Part 2
– By Stan Parks –
In modern Church Planting Movements we see dynamics similar to what God did in the early church:
- The Holy Spirit empowering and sending. One of the striking aspects of modern CPMs is the role of the “ordinary person.” God’s work is not restricted to trained professionals. Instead we see ordinary people being used by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel, cast out demons, heal the sick, and multiply disciples and churches. Non-literate people are planting many, many churches in these movements. Brand new believers are powerfully bringing the gospel to new places. They are ordinary people filled with the Spirit of an extraordinary God.
- The believers praying constantly and showing great faith. Someone has said a CPM is always preceded by a prayer movement. CPMs are also marked by prayer, being “prayer movements” in and of themselves. This is because when we pray God works, and CPMs are an act of God, not a human work. Also, praying is one of Jesus’ basic commands. So every disciple realizes the need to pray and to multiply prayer for himself/herself and for the movement he/she is a part of.
- A powerful witness through the way these disciples treat other people. Many Christians and churches around the world have separated the physical from the spiritual. Some Christian groups seem concerned only about spiritual matters, while they neglect the physical needs of people around them. However, disciples in these movements focus on obedience to Scripture. As a result they eagerly show God’s love to people. Obeying Scripture leads them to love their neighbor. Thus people and churches in these movements feed the hungry, care for widows and orphans, and fight injustice. A biblical worldview does not separate sacred and secular. God wants all of our lives and societies holistically transformed by the good news.
- The number of disciples increasing rapidly. Just like the early church in Acts, these modern CPMs multiply rapidly. This speed comes partly from a powerful move of the Spirit. It also comes from biblical principles being followed. For instance, those in movements believe that “every believer is a disciplemaker” (Matt 28:19). This avoids leaving only a few paid professionals to make disciples. In these movements, disciples, churches and leaders learn that one of their main functions is to bear fruit. And they do this as soon and as often as possible.
- These disciples becoming obedient to God. Disciples in CPMs take Scripture very seriously. Everyone is expected to truly be a disciple of the Word. All have freedom to challenge one another with the question: “Where do you see that in the text?” Believers give careful attention to hearing or reading the Word, both privately and in groups. God is the foremost Teacher, through His Word and they know they are accountable for obeying the Word.
- Households being saved. Just like an in the book of Acts where we see households, multiple households and even some communities turn to the Lord, we are seeing the same thing in these movements. Most of these movements are happening among unreached groups, which tend to be much more communal than Western culture. In these cultures, decisions are made by the families and/or clans. In these modern CPMs we see the same type of group decision making.
- Opposition and persecution. These movements are often happening in the hardest places and as a result there tends to be significant persecution. Unfortunately sometimes that persecution comes in the form of established churches reporting activities of these new movements, to avoid negative impact on themselves from religious fundamentalists or governments. Often the persecution comes from religious and/or government forces seeking to stop these movements of God. But the movements overcome this persecution by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. There is a price to be paid and many people in these movements are paying that price.
- Disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit and joy. Despite the opposition and persecution we see toward movements, the believers have tremendous joy, as they have come from the depths of darkness to the light. As a result they are very motivated to share the good news with those around them. In many instances those suffering persecution saying they are rejoicing that God has counted them worthy to suffer for his Name.
- The Word spreading through the whole region. We see in Acts 19 that the gospel spread throughout the Roman province of Asia in just two years. That seems incredible! We see the same dynamic in these movements. Literally thousands and even millions of people in different regions are hearing the gospel for the first time in a few short years because of the tremendous rate of multiplication of disciples.
- The gospel spreading to new languages and nations. Unless a movement fits its social and cultural context, it will fail. This begins with the first contact into a people group. The outsider looks for a man or woman of peace who then becomes the church planter. If the outsider is the church planter, they will introduce a foreign pattern of faith. If insiders are the church planters, the gospel seeds planted from the outside can grow freely. The good news will bear fruit in ways natural to that culture yet rooted in with Scripture. Thus the gospel can spread more rapidly. Note, these movements normally happen within a people group or population segment. Crossing over into another group normally requires more teaching and people with cross-cultural giftings. Most CPMs today are happening among Unreached People groups. This is partly because indigenous movements arise better in places that have not been (as) exposed to a pre-packaged westernized gospel.
A CPM has certain characteristics.
- Awareness that only God can start a movement. At the same time, disciples can follow biblical principles to pray, plant, and water the seeds that can lead to a “book of Acts” type movement.
- Every follower of Christ is encouraged to be a reproducing disciple, not merely a convert.
- Patterns of frequent and regular accountability for obeying what the Lord speaks to each person. Also for passing on God’s truth to others in loving relationship. This happens through active involvement in a small group.
- Each disciple is equipped for spiritual maturity. This includes equipping to interpret and apply Scripture, a well-rounded prayer life, living as a part of the larger Body of Christ, and responding well to persecution/suffering. This enables believers to function not merely as consumers, but as active agents of Kingdom advance.
- Each disciple is given a vision for reaching their relational network and extending God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Priority is given to the darkest places, with a commitment to see that everyone in the world has access to the gospel. Believers learn to minister and partner with others in the Body of Christ in every context.
- Reproducing churches form as part of the process of multiplying disciples. A CPM aims for 1) disciples, 2) churches, 3) leaders and 4) movements to multiply endlessly by the power of the Spirit.
- CPMs focus on starting movements of multiplying generations of churches. (The first churches started among a group are generation one churches, which start generation two churches, which start generation three churches, which in turn start generation four churches, and so on.)
- Leaders evaluate and make radical changes as needed to grow. They make sure that each element of character, knowledge, disciple-making skills and relational skills is 1) biblical and 2) can be followed by other generations of disciples. This requires keeping all things very simple.
We are now seeing the gospel spread in many places as it did in the book of Acts. We long to see this happen in every people and place in our generation!
Stan Parks Ph.D. serves the 24:14 Coalition (Facilitation Team), Beyond (VP Global Strategies), and Ethne (Leadership Team). He is a trainer and coach for a variety of CPMs globally and has lived and served among the unreached since 1994.
This material is taken from pages 35-38 of the book 24:14 – A Testimony to All Peoples, available from 24:14 or from Amazon; reprinted from the July-August 2019 issue of Mission Frontiers, www.missionfrontiers.org.