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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Where Are The CPMs?

Our regional (and organization-wide) mission and strategy is to "facilitate a Church Planting movement among people groups and/or population segments greater than 100,000 people and less than 2% evangelized. In past posts, I've taken issue with the definitions of "people groups" and "evangelized," and I've voiced my confusion over the seemingly random numbers that guide our strategic decisions.

My question today is this: where are the church planting movements?

Church planting movement (CPM) is a term the refers to those instances in which multiple church-planting churches are planted among a people group. Such an occurrence would certainly be an act of Almighty God, and would transcend any program or campaign that we could initiate. This is how it happened in certain parts of Asia fifteen years ago.

Eleven years have passed since the CPM strategy was adopted by the board. Faithful men and women have poured their lives into the people to whom they've been called. They have been trained, equipped, led, encouraged, and prayed for. They have learned language(s), adapted to culture, and made efforts to partner with other Great Commission Christians in an effort to facilitate a CPM. Despite all their efforts, the IMB's missionaries to Western Europe have not yet seen such a movement.

Where are the CPMs?

Everyone seems to have a theory as to why we haven't been effective at fulfilling this vision. "We don't pray enough," many have said, or "we've gone about it the wrong way." Some have suggested that we haven't cooperated enough, others say we've cooperated too much. I've heard our current situation blamed on poor language skill, not enough "broad seed sowing," and sin.

These theories are usually followed up with solutions. A book to read. A model to study. A formula to follow. We need to fast, pray, repent, work harder, or bring over more personnel. "If we only had 50,000 more people praying, then we'd see a CPM."

I refuse to believe that the reason we aren't seeing Church Planting Movements is that we just haven't gotten it right yet. I'm tired of seeing good, faithful people feel pressure to produce something that is totally out of their control. We have people on the field that feel like complete failures because they haven't seen God re-create what He did in Asia, and it weighs heavily on them. It's time to re-evaluate our strategy and goals.


shannon said...

so as someone on that frontline, what do you see as the reason for CPMs not working? are they even the best strategy for western europe?

Watchman said...


is it possible that we are in a season of God's silence? My whole life I have been told that the world has yet to see what God can do through one man who's heart is fully devoted to Him. This presuposes that since Jesus' day, no one has been faithful, no one has been whole hearted, no one has really walked with God. I think that's a bunch of baloney, but what do I know since I'm an open theist.

Could it be that you and your cronies actually have excellent strategies, and that you are just waiting (like a watchman) for that movement in the night, signalling it's time to move?

stepchild said...

I'm not sure CPMs are supposed to work.

My cronies? When did I get cronies?
I think you're on to something with the whole "season of silence" thing. While we do see God at work in the lives of the people around us, there's no real "movement" to speak of.

It seems silly to set as our mission and goal something that only God can do.

Strider said...

For me there is a both/and aspect to this discussion. I have been on the field eleven years now and we are seeing God move more than ever before. Surely that is God's own timing, but partly I wonder if it has taken God eleven years to work in my life to make me what He wants me to be to do this work better.
So, on the one hand we need big visions. I don't believe that Almighty God left His throne in Heaven to come down to die on a cross so that he could create a really mediocre Bride. No, we need big vision and CPM is a big vision. So, if you don't think that CPM is for your society what is a big God-size vision Western Europe? For us it will not look like India or China for sure. We don't have that many people!
Yes, CPM has been used by others as a cookie cutter- I would emphasis that the main guys who have seen CPM and developed the principles never intended for it to be used this way.
But on the other hand there is an element of 'we could do better' in all this as well. Jesus gave gifts to His children so that we could advance His Kingdom. We don't know much about that. From Miracles and Tongues to Discernment and Mercy we generally don't have any idea of what the proper use of any of these things is. We are pretty sure we have seen these abused and know what they are not but no one I know in SB life can give a positive description of use of the Gifts. You and I are apostles for crying out loud but we have no theology in SB life to describe what that is supposed to be. And if we go into battle without weapons or armor can we be surprised if we don't win?
We need to grow much more in Faith and Love and Hope and all the ways that the Spirit wants to move in us.
But you are right in that guilt will not move us where we need to be. We need a positve vision for the work that He is calling us to. I have leadership that is trying to profer such a vision. They are patient and have said all that I have heard you say about CPM. The big problem is our sad attempts to measure spiritual progress. In my eleven years of work and seeing lots of others' work I think that two families being baptised last March in the smallest, poorest, remotest village in our country is the biggest advance for the Kingdom we have seen. Do others see it that way? I doubt it but like I said, we need to work on our Discernment. I not the least.

Watchman said...

strider for President!

this guy's reply made more sense than anything I've ever heard from the bigwigs.

stepchild said...

I'd vote for him, Watchman!

I certainly see how we can (and often do) disqualify ourselves from God's service. I agree that we should focus on being sure we are in tune with the Holy Spirit so that we don't miss out on what He's doing (especially those things that we might not be comfortable with).

Vision and strategy are not the same thing. Our vision is to see the people of our city worshipping the Most High God in a way that reflects their unique cultural context. But that vision isn't something we can do. So we set goals, and develop a strategy to reach those goals.

Strider said...

What? What did I say?

Matt said...

I just read this quote. Seems relevant to this conversation.

"If we claim to justify the actions we take by the effects they promise, we shall be led to pride in the abuse of power in those cases when it seems that we can reach our goals by the means of our own disposal. … We are drawn into the two fold pride of thinking that we, more than others, see things as they really are and of claiming the duty and the power to coerce others in order to move history aright. If our faithfulness is to be guided by the kind of man Jesus was it must cease to be guided by the quest to have dominion over the course of events. We cannot sight down the line of our obedience to the attainment of the ends we seek."(Royal Priesthood p.203).

Publius said...

I'll throw this in, in favor of CPMs.

I think the idea of concentrating on building self-replicating indigenous churches is right on. It's Biblical, and in the end it's the only thing that can possibly work.

For what little it's worth (not even two cents - maybe two lire), the reason I believe CPMs don't work in Europe like they did in Asia is simple:

Not enough persecution.

Nothing makes the church grow like the guvment trying to stamp it out.

Nomad said...

I have to agree with Publius. Of the several CPM's ongoing in Asia, they are in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian or where Christians are severely persecuted/penalized.

I don't think you guys in Western Europe are "doing" anything wrong. I just don't think the "cookie cutter" approach works everywhere. That is why ALL OF ASIA is not experiencing CPM's.

My RL gets bent out of shape because there are only a few going on in my region. Don't get me wrong; he praises God for that, but wants more.

However, Stepchild, I do agree with you that it's time to take another look at your stategies and see what needs to be changed instead of just banging on the same ole nail, if it is caught in a knot.

Strider said...

I know the discussion has moved on but I couldn't let the persecution thing slide. Persecution is very valuable for the church as it purifies it. Committed believers are left to love and care for each other in a community that looks out for itself or dies. This then is a powerful witness to the power of God and it shows the Church as the light that it is.
However, you can hardly find a more hostile environment to the Church than Western Europe. True evangelical churches can be spotted miles away and draw negative attention in any community they are in. In most European cities you would get more acceptance telling your family you were gay than telling them you were now a firm follower of Jesus. Yet, no cpm.
You might tell me that well, in some places people are being beaten a killed for Christ- well, yeah- they are in my own country. But there are lots of different kinds of persecution that reveals the true character of the church. No friends, you touch on one small aspect but there is much more going on.

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...


Your question, "Where are the CPM's?" has elicited some great responses, but none have answered that question, "Where are the CPM's?" Aside from China, are there any fast moving, self-replicating exponential growth of Churches?

bryan riley said...

Strider, you are hitting much with talking about gifts and faith. We have anesthetized (quenched) the Spirit with our lack of faith, and it is clear that such doubt prevents His people from entering the land.

Justin Long said...

10/40: Yes, there are. I know of more than a few but they are in very sensitive places. One word of encouragement (I think): if you go back and read everything written about a CPM, one thing is clear. MAN CANNOT MAKE A CPM HAPPEN. Only God does that. The main thing that man does in a CPM is pray, give, go, tell, and stay out of God's way so that when it does start happening, we don't do anything to dampen it.

Uncle said...

I feel a need to comment here on where cpm comes from ...I am with you when you say that it is God who makes it happen, yet I feel compelled to say this. It appears that much of the work that is going on in your countries is being done by the M. I am in EAsia and we are currently in CPM out to the 5th level and if I had to put my finger on a few things that are practicle I would point out the following. Our guys demonstrait an extreem obedience and in that they share their faith (I have one guy who lead 200 people to faith last year), and they have a system and a vision that they believe is obtainable. They believe that God has given and will continue to give their city to them. It is not M driven, I help them solve problems, give them vision and help them think ourside of their box...but I never pickup the baton, I never do for them what they can do for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I think it is great to have a focus on building churches, but as a short-termer in WE I feel like all we talk about is strategy and ways to start churches when most of the missionaries here don't have any REAL relationships to speak of with the people group to even start a core group. It's like the first step never gets talked about.
Its really frustrating that so much time gets taken up with things (like events, conferences, big wigs, meetings, volunteers, ect.) that we can't consistently see people to build relationships. Sure those things that take up our time are good sometimes, but it just makes it that much harder to see much happen, especially when you are here for 2 years.
Oh, and short-termers shouldn't have the job title of "church planter".