Before we take a look at common objections to church planting movements (CPMs), I'd like to examine what we do in contributing to their emergence.
A church planting movement (CPM) is not a strategy, it's an outcome. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says to himself, "I'm going to create a church planting movement today!"
No one can predict where or when the next CPM will pop up. Although plenty of people make reverse predictions. They tell you what caused the CPM after the event, never before.
The causes are somewhere to be found in the fog of human factors and the sovereignty of God. What we can do is learn from examples of CPMs in scripture, church history and around the world today. Then we ask, what is best practice? We can't reverse engineer a CPM, but we can make a contribution in partnership with what God is doing.
We plant, we water, the rest is up to God. it's hard work and mystery. So any talk that CPMs will never happen again in places like Australia, the US, and Europe is pure speculation. We just don't know. But we do know what best practice looks like. And we do know that God is not bound by the latest sociological trends.
Effective practitioners ask these six questions:
- Do I see the end? Best practice is not asking, “What can I do?” Best practice asks, “What needs to be done?” What does it look like for my job to be done? What does it look like for my task to be complete? Jesus knew the answer to that question—he went to every town and village. Paul knew the answer—he planted reproducing churches in the major cities between Jerusalem and Illyricum.
- How do I enter a new field and connect with people? How will I connect with people who are far from God? How will I look for responsive people who are the bridge for the gospel to cross over into new relational worlds?
- How do I share the gospel? How do I share the gospel in words and deeds so that people put their faith in Christ? How do I ensure new believers, who are insiders in the community, are sharing the gospel?
- How do I train disciples? How do I teach new disciples to obey Christ? Are our methods simple and transferable? Are disciples learning how to discover and obey the truth of the Scriptures for themselves? Are they teaching others to follow Jesus?
- How do I gather communities? How do I gather new believers into disciple making groups? Are the groups forming into new churches that are growing in maturity and reproducing disciples and churches?
- How do I multiply workers? Effective practitioners MAWL: (a) Model effective ministry (b) Assist workers to minister (c) Watch them and provide instruction (d) Leave and left them to get on with the job.
Next we'll look begin looking at the common objections levelled at church planting movements.