Church Formation Strategies
At the heart of Church Planting Movements are churches, healthy reproducing churches. What are healthy churches? What kind of churches do you find in Church Planting Movements?
Dr. Curtis Sergeant is the Vice President for International Strategies for e3 Partners Ministries, and a veteran CPM practitioner. You can download a pdf version of Dr. Sergeant's article here.
The principles in this article are gleaned from experience in planting rapidly reproducing churches in China. They were then tested through training, coaching and mentoring church planters serving in over one hundred nations, mostly working among unreached people groups. Over the years I have concluded it is difficult to make generalizations
The principles in this article…were tested in over one hundred nations, mostly among unreached people groups.
about evangelism, but it is more appropriate to make generalizations about discipleship and church planting. Evangelism is quite context-specific because half of the process is determined by what an individual believes and understands truth to be. Once someone has given themselves fully to the Lord, the discipleship and church planting processes become almost entirely about what God is calling us to. That deals with the culture of the Kingdom of God rather than the cultures from which we come.
Church planting is messy, because people are messy. Four nights of every week are spent training four different groups of church planters. All are in various stages with their newly forming house church groups. Anyone engaged in church planting will quickly find they are up against some messy situations.
We usually approach the tough messy questions from three angles. I admit to having used the first two, but believe the third is the best. ??1) The urge is often to run to my library of heavily marked writings and see what David Watson, Neil Cole, Curtis Sergeant, Wolfgang Simson, Tony and Felicity Dale, Steve Atkerson, George Patterson or Frank Viola have to say about the matter. After all, they are the CP experts, right?
One of the most dynamic Church Planting Movements in the world today has taken place under the watchful eye of its overseer, Dr. Victor Choudhrie. Dr. Choudhrie is a retired septuagenarian oncologist from Madhya Pradesh, India.
In an interview with Dr. Victor Choudhrie conducted in 2003, I tried to arrive at the average size of the thousands of churches in the movement he oversaw.
What is the optimal Church Size?
He responded to me that ten adult members were the optimal size for a CPM church.
“You mean the average church size?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “the optimal church size.”
Outside the office I once occupied in the International Mission Board’s headquarters in Richmond, Virginia hung a beautiful posterized photograph of a group of Maasai warriors clustered beneath an acacia tree on the savannahs of East Africa. It was not until I visited the Maasai plains in 1999 that I returned to my office to immediately see that the photograph was a picture of a Maasai church. The Maasai conduct all of their important business beneath the shade of an acacia tree, so it was only natural that their scores of newly planted churches would meet beneath the same.
How can you recognize CPM churches when you see them? This is a good question, and one that does not have a simple answer.
Should every believer participate in evangelism? Of course, we all know that every believer is to share their faith in Christ. Should every believer do follow up? Yes of course. Should every believer make disciples? Yes that is clearly found in Mathew 28:18-20. Should every believer start house churches? You pause. Evangelism, follow-up and discipleship are for every believer but aren’t starting new house churches something for a seminary trained expert? Let’s look at some scriptures and see.
I know one young man, named Kumar, who has started so many house churches. He was not a pastor or chaplain. He was a young man who worked in the hospital canteen and served meals to the patients. He got saved in what is now referred to as the canteen revival at a hospital.
Should every believer start house churches? You pause.
He was just a single young man working in the canteen. He went back to his village and has started house churches. So many people have come to Christ and many new house churches have started through his ministry.
You can go back to your town or village and start a house church. You cannot imagine what God can do with you when you have a vision to start house churches that multiply.