Church planting

What is a church planting movement

One of the areas I’m exploring at the moment is the difference (if there is one) between a church planting movement (CPM)  and a disciple making movement (DMM). My impression is that they both result in multiplying churches, but there are subtle differences in how they come about. Many of those involved in CPMs now seem to be emphasizing DMMs.

The CPMs I’m most familiar with are in India. They use Luke 10 principles to find a person of peace and start a church in their home. For example, a few years ago, I met with two middle-aged housewives, one of whom was responsible at that point for having started 2000 churches and the other 6000 churches. The movement they are part of has seen 750,000 baptisms each year for the past several years.

In David Garrison’s book, Church Planting Movements, How God Is Redeeming a Lost World,  he defines a CPM:

A CPM is a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.

Three key points to note:

  1. It’s rapid–things happen quickly and appear out of control.
  2. It’s multiplicative–not growth by addition.
  3. It’s indigenous–the church planting doesn’t occur because outsiders come in (although they may be catalytic in the early stages) but because local, indigenous people are starting churches.
It’s further defined by David Watson as having at least 100 churches, three generations deep that have occurred within 2 years.

There are CPMs all around the world, but none that have been labeled as such here in the States. Church Multiplication Associates led by Neil Cole is probably the closest in this country. CMA has trained more than 45,000 people around the world since its inception.

Church Planting Movements are also characterized by things such as intense prayer and abundant evangelism, small groups usually meeting in homes, Bible study and discipleship. The churches themselves plant other churches.

Have any of you studied these areas? What have you found?


19 replies on “What is a church planting movement”

“…having started 2000 churches and the other 6000 churches. The movement they are part of has seen 750,000 baptisms each year for the past several years.”

That was amazing to read and think about. I hope to see and be a part of even 1% of something like that. I was just contemplating this morning about my small part in this and what I can and should do to be more bold. I am blessed to be a part of a network that is doing some of these things.

I know. When I talk with some of these people, I sometimes feel like we are just playing at church in this country. But God is on the move here too, and I’m excited to hear your network is involved in this kind of thing.

As I have shared before, I am a pastor in a Charismatic House Church model known as Safe Harbor Tustin, CA. Since we transitioned into this model, we have attracted lone rangers, Holy Ghost chasers, people who claim to be prophetic but will not allow leadership in, and so forth. At the same time, we have not exploded into a movement that is “rabbit like.” I feel like the disconnect is on discipleship. Not coffee and cake, where after 5 years one does not know anything personal about another. I’m talking about a group of people who radically look and smell like Jesus. And in the process of going after Jesus, we share with whomever will give us a opportunity or whomever He advises to. That said, I feel when people are being groomed to look and do as Jesus, that all the other characteristics (prayer, apostolic teaching, signs and wonders, fellowship, evangelism and prophetic worship) of the Early Church will appear!

Bob, it sounds like the Lord has you on an interesting journey. I think God is emphasizing discipleship too–we’re just beginning to explore more of what it looks like. I agree with you that as seek Jesus more and more, we’ll find ourselves walking in these other things, but it really helps to keep our focus outwards as well, asking Jesus whom he would have us minister to.

Multiple factors have produced this change in terminology. Some suggested it because Jesus directed “make disciples,” while he is the one who builds his church. Churches (communities of faith practicing the “one another” passages) will result when people are discipled to Jesus. Secondarily, the shift happened because CPM terminology was being hijacked by folks who are not seeing rapid, multiplicative and indigenous growth. When terms are used to mean whatever you want them to, they really mean nothing (sort of like the guy shooting the side of his barn and then painting a bull’s eye around where the shot landed).

Intentionally discipling disciple makers forces you to:

* Use only resources, tactics and strategies that the indigenous people group can readily replicate.
* Strip away all the catalyst’s cultural “over-hang” and trust the Holy Spirit to guide family/friendship groups to contextualize the gospel as they learn and obey it (since different cultures already have strong, deep views of the context in which spiritual activities transpire and how they are conducted, that will impact the kinds of gatherings they develop and eventually call “church”).
* Model and train discovery of who God is and how he wants us to live at every level of growth and maturity. Jesus’ discipling of the 12, 72 and 500 was as much through the flow of life as it was what he said. (Here we assume giving people new information will result in transformation. It won’t. On-the-job training, just in the nick of time additional training is critical to DMM).

John –

You said “Churches (communities of faith practicing the “one another” passages) will result when people are discipled to Jesus.” I think you’re hitting on a key thought here. I think there’s a “the chicken and the egg” sort of confusion going on in many circles. What comes first – the church or the disciples?

My guess is that many of the CPMs that have gone on have learned over time that getting a bunch of people to meet together all over the place in vast numbers doesn’t amount to much if they aren’t discipled. This has likely led to the shift of believing the disciples come first (DMMs).

But, the problem with that is that true disciples simply aren’t made outside the confines of true biblical-Kingdom-organic-body-church life. You don’t see Jesus meeting one-on-one with the disciples in first-century “coffee shops” waxing on about how to live the Christian life.

No, you see Him first plant a church and then live life together and form them into little Christs. THEN the multiplication begins. But, the problem is most of the people involved in CPMs are still adolescents in the faith and therefore have no clue how to do DMMs. We want the multiplication before the maturity, which is an area we should all explore the roots of in our hearts.

Interesting conversation, John and Michael.

I once did a study on how often I could find Jesus in a one-on-one conversation with any of his disciples, and the answer was twice, both with Peter. Once over the temple tax and the other time was over how many times you should forgive someone (70 X 7). Which leaves one wondering where the emphasis on one on one came from. Now I’m sure Jesus did spend a lot of individual times with his disciples, but they aren’t recorded.

I’m sure we’ll be thinking a lot more about this.

My study of CPM’s & DDM’s are driven by what I call Ordinary Christians. They are non-professional, with no special theological training, who re average people but love to spend lots of time with Jesus. Many of these ordinary christians are just months or even weeks old. Another form these kinds of movement that has started in the US is the T4T Training with Jeff Sundell in North Carolina. He’s a former IMB Missionary who ignited a movement in Nepal but now is igniting one in N. America.

I’ve been drawn to prayer walking with a few other believers here in Tucson, but I still don’t think I’ve scratched the surface of what God wants to do here to expand his Kingdom. I continue to feel the tug to pray the streets more and hopefully partner with others to discern God’s intentions for our city. Brian Goodall and others with have been especially helpful during this process.

That is a great observation Felicity. Having been involved in a CPM in India I would say from my observation that to a certain extent a CPM is a disciple making movement. You can’t have a CPM without leaders developing leaders several levels deep. The exponential growth is a result of leaders being developed and trained to reproduce. To me that is a level of discipleship. You can’t make disciples without being first a disciple. However, I think the real question is depth of discipleship. You know the old saying, “A mile wide and an inch deep”. So on one hand a CPM is in itself a DMM to a certain level. But on the other hand, there is a need for the next level of a DMM to help sustain and grow the maturity level of each church.

I think you bring up a great point Larry about depth of discipleship. The problem with fast movement is the lack of time needed for people to grow up. If people haven’t grown up, what are we multiplying? Most likely not something very desirable. It’s like asking a 10-year old to go start his own family, is it not?

We have a good friend in India who’s seen thousands of churches start (6,000 if I remember the figure right) and he’s now starting to deliberately infuse the movement with discipleship principles via discovery Bible studies. He says it’s making a huge difference.

One of the problems I see here is using numbers as a measurement to define something. Yes, I know it’s really hard not to, but when it comes to life, numbers can be very deceptive. It reminds me of a commercial run by Their motto is something like “more dates, more relationships and more marriages than any other site.”

The problem? Given the divorce rate, they also have more divorces than any other site. So sign up today! 🙂

Seriously though, even if we call something a church planting movement, it doesn’t mean it’s what we hope for. In fact, if something spreads too fast, doesn’t that affect the quality of what’s produced?

Instead, we should define a church planting movement by the story that is created (much harder). If there are 5 churches who are living out the Kingdom and it takes them each 5 years to plant 1 other church that also lives out the Kingdom, is this not better than 1000 churches that are a mess?

I think a lot of people claim they are starting a church planting movement but without really understanding the principles. It’s so important that we learn from what is going on around the world–not in terms of copying but in order to understand the principles of what is going on and hopefully to avoid the mistakes some of them have made–we’ll no doubt find plenty of our own to make!

David Watson clarified this from me when you commented on an article I have written called Hybrid Church. He said there is often confusion between CPM and DMM. CPM is a term that looks at results. DMM is a methodology to get to CPM. CPM is not a methodology, but a reporting/measuring of results.

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