Church planting

On CPMs and DMMs

It seems that the terminology is changing. People now are referring to Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) rather than Church Planting Movements (CPMs).

After my last post on this subject, one where I am just beginning to explore the differences, a few people, who have far more experience (at least of DMMs) than I do, commented. Their comments were so insightful, I decided to post them where more people are likely to read them.

John King: 

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).


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.

Jay Pratt:

My study of CPM’s & DDM’s is that they are driven by what I call Ordinary Christians. They are non-professional, with no special theological training, who are 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.

Anyone else with experience of DMMs like to comment?

The Rabbit and the Elephant from on Vimeo.

10 replies on “On CPMs and DMMs”

As church planters, one of the things my family and I love most about simple expressions of church is that, as Jay mentioned, anyone can catalyze them. Part of making disciples is modeling the “one anothers” and practicing them with those we disciple. Church happens, whether we call it that or not, when we obey our King and teach others to do the same.

To me, this is typical Greek “either/or” thinking. The Hebraic approach of “both/and” is far better. I believe we are called to both. Church planting and disciple making are simply two sides of the same coin. Church planting (as taught by Jesus) requires disciple making. And, disciple making requires church planting (Jesus mostly made disciples in community).

Not sure about the church planting part? I suggest you read “House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity” by Roger Gehring. He demonstrates that Jesus modeled how to fulfill the Great Commission (ie, disciple making). Rather than figure out our own strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission let’s look and see how Jesus did it!

Gehring: First three stages. 1. Jesus did it. He imparted the “virus” of the Kingdom into certain households (Peter’s, Martha and Mary, etc.) 2. Jesus taught and sent the 12 to do it. (“Whatever town or village you enter, find a worthy person and stay at his house until you leave.” Mt. 10:12). 3. Jesus taught and sent the 84 (72 + 12) to do it. (“Stay in the house (of the man of peace)…” Lk. 10:6-7)

Jesus’ primary strategy for disciple making was birthing and nurturing “vibrant families of Jesus” in God-prepared (that’s the house of peace part) homes. Let’s follow in His footsteps.

John, thank you for your response. Very helpful in clarifying this issue. Writing on the topic of discipleship and the Kingdom (and how Jesus made disciples of the Kingdom) over the past year, this has been an on-going question issue. Honestly, your description of Gehring’s summary is exactly what my studies in discipleship have produced. Jesus made disciples who gathered as “churches,” and those disciples made more disciples, who also gathered as “churches.” Thanks, John. And my thanks to Felicity for stimulating this discussion.

Here in the West, we think of church as “gathered.” No doubt, you must gather to accomplish some of the “one anothers” and other functions of church (as the body of Christ). But what we generally fail to recognize is how much our cultural individuality impacts how we understand “gathered.” As John White notes, referring to Gehring’s book, we overlook the household language of scripture.

The gospel was planted into existing households.

Church was not primarily isolated believers who come together to act like a quasi-family. The gospel took root in the families, friends and employees that were 1st Century Roman households. It is not that church took the household structure.

Because we start from an individualistic bias, we miss this. Because we start from an individualistic bias, our strategies and tactics are often damaging to households, and thus extractional. Yes, there are times when some members of a family will come to trust in Jesus and others will reject them because of that, but Disciple Making Movements want that whole household to hear the gospel, interact with the gospel and not make their decision just because they incorrectly view the gospel as a Western oppressive intrusion.

This is why we evaluate our approaches to insure that they can be reproduced within an existing culture that highly values close-knit, multi-generational families. This is why we work to disciple the whole household to faith. The last thing we want is for the household to feel like Christian families do when one of their children converts to the Moonies or another cult–“they kidnapped and brain-washed” her/him.

Too much of the church planting talk is about gathering unconnected individuals and trying to get them to act like family. Real movements come when the gospel is being planted into existing family/friendship structures where people are discipled to trust and obey Jesus.

I agree with John and Hannah, good points. May I start off by saying PTL for faithful servants who are in the trenches doing the work of the Lord. It is quite perplexing to think about how Jesus and Paul made disciples. The two did things like… demonstrate the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders. They prayed, they worshipped, they raised people up as well as they left the Holy Spirit plenty of room to operate in the lives of believers. Paul would minister to a group of Christians and leave leadership in place with the expectation that the Holy Spirit was the one responsible to grow the group both in numbers and in maturity. One of the best examples in the world that I have learned about comes from Iris Ministry. Heidi Baker raises leaders and children up in the understanding of the “fathers heart.” As a result children with out seminary degrees and without Western Church Practices are able to do the work that Jesus advised was possible for those who believe. Discipleship movements must be about aiding people to look and smell like Jesus.

One other comment occurs to me on this subject. Whether we are talking about CPMs or DMMs, a key question is “How exactly do you do it?” How do you make a disciple? How do you plant a church?

In answering these questions, much of what I see in America is a default to programs. (My definition of a program is “man’s best efforts to accomplish God’s goals”.) “Seven steps to making disciples” or “Ten lessons on planting churches”. What’s the alternative?

What if we asked this question… How did Jesus know what to do with His disciples? How did He know what to teach? When to teach it? Etc. Did He have a manual that He was following? Obviously not! I believe his discipleship “program” is revealed in John 5:19. “I do nothing on my own initiative. I only do what I see the Father doing.” (He repeats this idea in Jn 8:23-29, 12:49-50, 14:10-14, 15:14-25). Jesus’ entire strategy was this: Find out what the Father is doing in each situation and in each person and do that.

How about this as a methodology for making disciples and planting churches: Listen (to God), obey and teach others to do the same.

Leave a Reply