Friday, September 30, 2005

Church Planting Movements

I just finished reading the pamphlet, Church Planting Movements, that all of our U.S. staff received out at CSU. The book advocates a style of launching movements that involves rapid, exponential growth that results in seeing massive numbers of people coming to faith in Christ. What I found intriguing about the book was some of the common traits that existed in successful Church Planting Movements (CPM) all over the world.

What first stood out was the emphasis on prayer. And this isn't "say some grace before dinner prayer." It seems that the believers involved in these movements are committed to deep, spiritual intercession for the communities that they are seeking to reach. They recognize the spiritual battle they are entering into when seeking to take new ground that the enemy has occupied for centuries.

Secondly, there's a deep commitment to ministering in the "heart language" of the people they're seeking to reach, or simply, contextualization. When we as missionaries fail to connect with the heart of a people group and do not value what they value, our ministry efforts will often fall flat. It is extremely rare that individuals will set aside their culture in order to hear the gospel. Aspects of a culture such as style of dress, music, humor, oral traditions, communication styles, etc. all contribute to cultural differences that need to be given attention in order to effectively reach a people group.

A third thing that I noticed was that the really effective CPM's did not rely on professional clergy or on-going outside funding to accomplish their mission. There is a huge reliance on lay leaders and an intentional involvement of new believers in the life of the church. In some cases, non-believers are becoming active members of the church community before they even come to faith. They are a partof the life of the church before coming to faith, but once they do come to Christ, they're already leading. One elderly man in India planted 42 churches in one year! He didn't know any better!

Many of the principles contained in this booklet apply to us in the Campus Ministry. A deeper commitment to prayer is needed. We need to understand that we are not all the same culturally and that a commitment to ministering in the heart language of the people were trying to reach is a non-negotiable. Lastly, we shortchange our student leaders when we deprive them of opportunities to lead. As I heard it said recently, we have 18 and 19 year olds leading troops of young men into battle in Iraq, but we can't trust them to lead a spiritual movement?

Let's trust God to blow our socks off in the coming years as the number of movements, numbers of student coming to Christ, and laborers being sent to the field absolutely dwarf anything we've seen before