I’ve just had the opportunity of a lifetime. Four days in Singapore with a room full of church planting movement practitioners from around the world.
They do what I write about.
Some of the case studies included thousands of new churches and hundreds of thousands of new disciples. Others were much smaller. The common factor was multiple generations of new disciples and new churches.
Here's what we can learn from what they do:
1. Apply principles
Participants came from every continent. In four days I never heard anyone say, “That principle won’t work here.” I hear it all the time from people in the modern-postmodern Western world who have not yet seen a church planting movement.
2. Teach for obedience
Everyone was big on teaching disciples to obey the commands of Christ (repent and believe, be baptized, love one another, forgive your enemies, share the gospel, make disciples etc). The expectation of obedience was backed up with accountability in face to face groups.
3. Forget about us
The focus was not on the outsider—the missionary, church planter, or missional community. It was not about what we do. The end game was ensuring the new believers had the responsibility to reach their world, make disciples and form churches.
4. Proclaim the Gospel
It was refreshing to be with a group of Christian leaders who are clear about the centrality of Christ’s death on the Cross for sinners.
5. Find resources in the harvest
Nobody was paying people salaries to plant churches. In some regions of the world you can get plenty of churches started that way, but a movement cannot be sustained by outside funding. Some funds were available for the cost of training or to help a church planter move to a new district. The outcome was partnership not dependency and control.
6. Equip the saints
Everyone was doing a lot of training of ordinary believers. Training was on the job; obedience oriented; head, heart and hands; life long. No one was taking people out of their context to put them in a classroom for long periods of time. Obedient disciples quickly became trainers of others. No one was developing professional clergy.
7. Check the fruit
These guys wanted to learn from each other. Instead of trading abstract ideas they shared stories of disciples made and churches multiplied. Then they debriefed the principles and applied them to other settings.
8. Do what Jesus did
There was a heavy emphasis on the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels and Acts as a standard to follow.
9. Multiply descendants
Nobody was concerned with how large the churches were. One question riveted their attention—how many generations? Of the new churches, how many had seen children, grand children and great grand children? Some counted up to twenty generations.
10. Slay giants
A generation ago, most fields and people groups represented in the room was regarded as “unreached” and probably unreachable. Some were in Communist lands, others dominated by Islam. One by one the breakthroughs have come. That builds faith that God can do the impossible.