Ten Common Factors for Church Planting Movements (David Garrison)
Beyond the 10 universal elements found in every Church Planting Movement, there are at least 10 frequently, though not universally, found characteristics. These are not listed in any particular order of priority or frequency. In most CPMs, however, we are seeing most if not all of these factors.
1. Worship in the heart language
There are cases in which God’s Word has not yet been translated into the heart language of the people and worship is conducted in a trade language. Even in those rare instances, though, the heart language of the people emerges in their prayers, songs, sermon illustrations and applications. Worship in the common heart language keeps it accessible and within reach of all members of the community and allows everyone to participate in a new church’s formation. Missionaries who identify and embrace the heart language of the people they are trying to reach are well positioned to stimulate a Church Planting Movement. Nothing reveals a people group’s worldview as much as an intimate knowledge of their heart language. Missionaries who choose to work through a trade language begin their ministry with a curtain between themselves and the hearts of the people they are seeking to reach.
2. Evangelism has communal implications
Unlike the predominant pattern in the West with its emphasis on individualism and personal commitment, Church Planting Movements typically rely on a much stronger family and social connection. Missionaries in CPMs have recognized this and urged new believers to follow the web of their own family relationships to draw new believers into the community of faith (see Acts 16:31-32). In many cases, the churches come to consist of family units and are led by the family’s head.
3. Rapid incorporation of new converts into the life and ministry of the church
In most Church Planting Movements, baptism is not delayed by lengthy discipleship requirements. On the contrary, discipleship typically precedes conversion and continues indefinitely. Even when baptisms are delayed, new believers are expected to become witnesses immediately; these new disciples immediately become disciplers of others and even church planters. One elderly man who came to Christ in a Church Planting Movement in India planted 42 churches in his first year as a believer. In an effort to keep the movement growing outward, CPM-oriented missionaries typically encourage new believers to join or help start new churches, rather than simply adding larger numbers to existing congregations.
4. Passion and fearlessness
Church planting Movements are characterized by passion and a sense of urgency that attests to the importance of salvation and the necessity of conversion. New believers exhibit a boldness in the face of opposition. A spirit of timidity or fear quenches a CPM. Boldness may invite persecution, but it fuels a Church Planting Movement (see Joshua 1:6).
5. A price to pay to become a Christian
Church Planting Movements often emerge in difficult settings where conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a popular or socially advantageous thing to do. In many cases, conversion leads to severe persecution or even death. In the face of this persecution, believers find strong support in the testimony of Jesus and the New Testament church (see Matt. 10:17-25). Persecution tends to screen out the uncommitted and ensures a highly dedicated membership.