In Jesus’ masterplan for the Kingdom found in Mark 4:26-29, we see Jesus lay out five sub-plans or parts that will be present in any Kingdom building or CPM strategy: 1) Entry, 2) Gospel proclamation, 3) Discipleship, 4) Church Formation, and 5) Long-term Leadership Development and Multiplication (For a more detailed discussion of the 5 parts, see The Four Fields by Nathan and Kari Shank). In every successful CPM to date, we have seen these five parts or sub-plans present. Additionally in every case, these 5 parts have been carefully, prayerfully, and intentionally implemented to work well together. Proverbs 24:6b states that in an abundance of counselors there is victory. As we strive to be intentional about implementing Jesus' masterplan for the Kingdom, let us consider some practical "lessons learned" from various practitioners for applying these five elements into our CPM strategies:
Scripture provides us with two different Entry plans for use in different situations. The first is a plan to use when going to a new place (not in your home area) to share the gospel and make disciples. The second is a plan to use when sharing with those within your sphere of influence, what CPM practitioners commonly refer to a your oikos. A good Entry plan will likely require both types. Some practical rules when developing your Entry plan are as follows:
- Have believers map their spheres of influence (oikos) as their starting place. Everyone needs to list all of their contacts (their sphere of influence) and intentionally pray and share the gospel with them. This plan should include methods for engaging in spiritual conversation within their sphere of influence and also training in sharing (See Gospel Plan below). Scripture has many examples (Samaritan woman at the well is one) of people returning to share the good news within their sphere of influence (community).
- In strategizing for places where you don’t have relationships, use the underlying principles from Luke 10:1-11.
- An accountability plan is a must. Everyone must report and be accountable for sharing with others (See Gospel below).
- Set actual sharing goals with dates. For example, “How many people will I share with this week?” “When will I do this?”
- Any Entry plan should prayerfully ask and faithfully expect God to bring the right person at the right time and right place to hear the gospel. (See Acts 17:26-27).
- An Entry plan is more than a platform (i.e. not simply a method of getting into a place), rather it is a plan for teaching people how to bridge a conversation to point to Christ and an opportunity to share the gospel. It should answer the questions of when, where, and how to share the Gospel.
Every believer must know how to share the gospel simply (what to share) and ultimately how to model the gospel by their life of service. Some practical rules when developing a gospel plan are as follows:
- Explain clearly how the gospel should be delivered. See 1 Cor 2:1-5, 1 Cor 1:17, 2 Thess 2:1-8.
- Teach the gospel to everyone using a simple method. The Shank’s “Four Fields” manual has some simple methods. We’ve personally had really good success with a method called "2-3-4".
- Hold yourself as well as those you train accountable for sharing the gospel through weekly accountability groups. Make sure you ask “controllable” questions (i.e. check one’s obedience based on attainable goals). Examples of “controllable” questions are “How many times did you share the gospel this last week?” or “Tell us how you modeled Christ to someone this last week?” Don’t ask “uncontrollable” questions, such as “How many people accepted Christ this last week?” These are “uncontrollable” because the individual does not have control over who accepts. These types of questions lead to frustration. Ask and hold one another accountable for those things that God has given us the authority and responsibility to perform. Remember, we are checking obedience to Christ’s commands!
- Spur one another on to good deeds (like sharing and service) through testimonies shared in groups. Whenever someone has modeled Christ or shared the gospel, share it with the group to spur others to do the same.
Every believer must learn to correct himself by obeying the Holy Spirit and the word of God. All discipleship must be obedience based (i.e. follow Jesus’ mandate to make disciples and teach them to obey everything He commanded). Some practical guidelines when developing a Discipleship plan include:
- Keep God’s purpose and goals always at the forefront of discussions and teachings.
- Be intentional about discipleship. Groups meeting merely for “fellowship” don’t produce disciples. Every believer must continually practice “observing whatsoever” Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Without intentionally moving towards God’s purpose and goals with every believer, we will never get there.
- Provide every believer with the same foundational teaching. 1 Corinthians 4:17 states that the Apostle Paul taught the same thing in every church everywhere. Paul demonstrates that there was a set of short-term discipleship lessons or themes that God wanted every believer to know and understand. These include both the elementary teachings from Hebrews 6 and what may be called “Paul’s Pattern” from Ephesians and Colossians (This pattern is discussed in depth in Dr. Thom Wolf's "Universal Disciple" material). You may want to develop your own simple method of remembering the foundational teaching so that it can be easily transferred from one person to another.
- Use PBS (Participative Bible Studies). Teach so that everyone participates. Ying Kai recommends what is called the “1/3 rule”. Every meeting, group, or lesson must consist of 1/3 relational accountability time, 1/3 new lesson time, and 1/3 practice time. (Note: Scripture does not break it down this cleanly, however, Jesus’ method of teaching clearly involved ample opportunities for practice and accountability and not just teaching.)
- It may be helpful to use Bible-based questions to ensure that we get out of the Scripture what we should as we learn to self-teach and correct one another. For example, using the four questions from 2 Timothy 3:16, you can follow a Scripture reading with the questions: 1) What does this passage teach us? (Teaching); 2) What should we not do? (Rebuking); 3) How do we get right? (Correcting); and 4) How do we stay right? (Training in Righteousness). Consistent questions in small groups, regardless of the Scripture used, will quickly train everyone to handle God’s word accurately. Avoid subjective or non-directive questions like: “What do you think about this passage?” or “What does this passage mean to you?”
- Encourage one another to become “doers of the word” and not merely hearers (James 1:23). Again, ask controllable accountability questions about previous week’s applications – “What changes did you make in your life based on what you learned last week?”
- Intentionally program group opportunities to “do”. Have regularly planned “service” as a church/group. Without intentional programming to fulfill God’s purpose and goals, they will probably not happen.
- Group leaders should be trained (not just appointed). And again, group leaders should be selected based on their obedience to the Bible and the Holy Spirit, as proven doers of the word.
- Plan out a year’s worth of Scripture for Long-Term discipleship. Continue using the four questions derived from 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
- Disciple emerging leaders with in-depth long-term material (See Leadership Development and Multiplication tips below)
As new people are added to the church, where will they go and what will they do? What are their boundaries and what is expected of them? Some practical rules when laying out a church formation plan include:
- Lead your emerging church to write out from Scripture what a healthy church is and what it looks like. A healthy church will never appear without intentionality, but how can one be intentional without knowing what the target looks like?
- Remember that a healthy church will be about God’s purpose and goals. Lead your church to write out how each of the parts of a healthy church further those purposes and goals.
- Keep the plan focused on God’s endvision and the church’s role in fulfilling that vision. Clear vision is vital! (See Proverbs 29:18)
- Be intentional with everyone. Have a clearly defined plan when someone first accepts Christ or joins the church. For example, a “join the church” plan might include learning how to share the gospel, mapping their “oikos” and setting dates to go and share the gospel, joining a group, learning all of the short-term discipleship lessons, clearly understanding God’s purpose and goals and where the individual fits into that, and opportunities to try out their new faith (or new membership) in practice in community. Feed them fast!
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND MULTIPLICATION
- Develop and multiply leaders based on their obedience to Christ. Just because someone can do a job, doesn’t mean they should. Leaders are appointed in Scripture based on their obedience to God and Christ-like character, not solely on availability.
- Constantly filter for emerging leaders. Keep in mind that all of these plans often implement concurrently as new people at various levels of obedience are coming into the body of Christ. Let their faithfulness (obedience) be your guide. Maturity is marked by a life of obedience and self-sacrifice, not the length of time one has been a believer.
- A good plan operates under the John 14:12 and John 3:30 principles of leadership. The good leader expects and encourages emerging leaders to do greater things than he, himself, has done. A good leader also desires that he might decrease so that the emerging leaders might increase. Existing leaders must earnestly desire God to use their potential leaders in marvelous ways for God’s glory. Setting aside ego and self, a leader is a servant, one who earnestly desires the best for others. (Note: the more these principles are lived out and become a part of every leader, the more fulfilled the leader is. There is nothing, in this author’s opinion, more satisfying than seeing someone, who, after being trained, does great things for the Kingdom of God).
- Follow Christ’s model of filtering from crowd to faithful followers to “come and be with me” disciples. Invite a group of potential leaders to “come and be” with you for a specified length of time (6 months to year). Cut accountability covenants with them. Meet with them together and do ministry with them separately as well (Both Iron-on-Iron time between themselves and field mentoring times are required). Train them to multiply themselves into others and then go and find another batch of potential leaders to mentor. (There is a sense that this is also part of your long-term discipleship plan in that all leaders should have a group of faithful men and women they are discipling in depth.)
- Remember, one of the most important things you can do with your potential leaders is to make sure they understand fully how to intentionally move toward God’s purpose and goals.
Have you got any more lessons to share? If you have a suggestion or best practice that you think would benefit others, feel free to post it as a comment to this article. Click on the “Add Comment” button below. Together we can finish the task for His glory.