Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Decline of the Church Planting Movement Strategy?

From “Mark” at Second Thoughts on The Future of Missions (edstetzer.com):

For the last twenty years the primary strategy in evangelical missions has been the Church Planting Movement (CPM) strategy. This strategy was developed by the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (but is now widely used by many other organizations). The leaders of the IMB were frustrated because most of their evangelistic fruit came from only five countries: Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines, and Korea. They longed to see similar results from their work in all the nations. So, they developed the CPM strategy in order to emphasize the planting of rapidly reproducing churches around the world. CPM was seen as the "golden key," a strategy that will work in any place at any time. Many missions agencies have embraced CPM as their strategy. For example, Youth with a Mission (YWAM) has held seminars on CPM all over the world.

What's the problem? Surely, it is a good thing to seek to plant churches that will rapidly reproduce. Yes, indeed. CPM has much to commend it. It stresses fervent prayer, widespread evangelism, and planting indigenous churches. The problems with CPM have been discussed by Dr. David Sills in his book, Reaching and Teaching. (highly recommended!) Dr. Sills cogently argues that CPM fails because it neglects training disciples and especially church leaders. Another weakness is that CPM has a weak ecclesiology. This has been pointed out by writers at 9Marks Ministries and Mid-America Seminary. Beyond that, many of the featured CPMs seem to have a short lifespan. That is, after a few years researchers cannot find the churches. In John 15:16 Jesus told his disciples "I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit--fruit that will last." It seems the rapidity emphasized by the CPM strategy does not produce fruit that lasts. I am not predicting that CPM will disappear overnight. Missions agencies change slowly; however, it does seem that CPM will slowly decline due to inherent weaknesses.

Interesting that this criticism comes out as Mission Frontiers publishes their March-April 2011 Issue on Church Planting Movements!

See this article: Church Planting Movements Among Muslim Peoples

What do you think?

No comments: