A mile wide and half an inch deep.

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Objection #1: CPMs are a mile wide and half an inch deep.

It is said that CPMs substitute quality for quantity. In the rush for conversions, discipleship is compromised.

This raises two questions. First, is urgency in spreading the gospel required? Second, is breadth compatible with depth?

To answer the first question, let’s look at the example of Jesus. Was he in a hurry? Was he a mile wide?

There were one hundred and seventy-five towns and villages in Galilee, Matthew tells us that Jesus visited every one of them. No doubt the same pattern was repeated in Judea. In three short years, Jesus covered a lot of ground. He must have had just a few days in each location. When a whole Samaritan town believed in him and pressed him to stay and teach them, Jesus had just two days to spare.

His pattern of mobility was pressed upon the twelve and the seventy disciples he trained and sent out into unreached towns and villages.

Following Pentecost, the gospel spread to thousands throughout Jerusalem. When the church could settle down to enjoy the gains, persecution came and the gospel spread again into Samaria through the evangelist Philip. Thousands believed. The apostles Peter and John were sent down to investigate. We aren’t told how long Philip, Peter and John stayed but the impression is that it was weeks, perhaps months, certainly not years before they moved on to other pioneering work, leaving the Samaritans with the gospel and the Holy Spirit.

Peter had just a few days to spare with Cornelius and a household of Gentile converts before moving on.

Paul had only three Sabbaths in Thessalonica before he was forced to flee, yet he was still able to leave behind a functioning church of new believers. Under the sovereignty of God, this pattern was repeated in Paul’s ministry many times. The two exceptions were, Corinth (eighteen months) and Ephesus. In both cities Paul was not satisfied to play the role of a settle local pastor. From a base in those cities he sparked church planting movements that reached the whole provinces of Achaia (in modern Greece) and Asia Minor (in modern Turkey).

Paul did not fit the mold of a local pastor. He saw cities, provinces and wide geographical regions. Reflecting on his church planting ministry throughout the eastern half of the Roman empire, he wrote that from Jerusalem to Illyricum (modern Greece) he had fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ so that there was no more room for him to work in those regions (Romans 15:19, 23).

From this brief New Testament survey, it is clear that the movement founded and led by Jesus intended to be and was, “a mile wide”. Jesus’ ministry touched the whole of Palestine with it’s population of around one million people. He was not limited to one location. He did not settle, but kept moving. He trained his disciples to do the same. As Risen Lord he empowered his disciples to continue the pattern. When they settled down, he unsettled them.

God’s intention has not changed. So how could the Christian movement be a mile wide and a mile deep at the same time?