Discipleship in Church Planting Movements
Church Planting Movements are fundamentally disciple-making movements. Discipleship here is defined as growing in Christlikeness over time. While discipleship begins immediately at conversion, and sometimes even before conversion, it continues for a lifetime: “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what shall be, but we know that when Christ shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
How it is done
The process of growing in Christlikeness does not occur in the same way in every Church Planting Movement, though some commonalities exist.
Never do anything by yourself; always bring a brother along…
In Church Planting Movements, discipleship tends to be much more life on life rather than classroom oriented. The 2 Timothy 2:2 principle is widely recited and practiced: “What you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
CPM trainer Bruce Carlton called this the 222 Principle, as he taught: “Never do anything by yourself; always bring a brother along with you so you can model and mentor as you go” (Garrison, Church Planting Movements, p. 187).
Good ecclesiology will naturally grow disciples. One of the hallmarks of healthy CPM churches is the blessing of participative Bible study built around Paul’s formula in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Recognizing that neither he nor the other Apostles would likely be around to lead the church into the next generation, Paul wrote:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Being “thoroughly equipped for every good work” is Paul’s way of saying: “being discipled.” The key to being discipled, he says, is to let all Scripture perform its God-ordained function of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training us in righteousness.
In our own little church multiplication movement in Bangalore, India, we structured our weekly participative Bible study around Paul’s four disciple-making questions:
1) What is God teaching us (what is the doctrine or value God is elevating in this passage)?
2) What is God rebuking (what is the immorality or heresy that God is opposing in this passage)?
3) What is God correcting (what is there in my life that needs to be corrected as a result of what I have read or heard in this passage)?
4) What is my training in righteousness (what would God have me apply to my life this week, as a result of what I have read in Scripture)?
Sometimes we would refer to these simply as “The Right Questions:”
1) What’s right? -- teaching
2) What’s not right? -- rebuking
3) How do I get right? -- correcting
4) How do I stay right? – training in righteousness
Asking these right questions of Holy Scripture with an intimate community of brothers and sisters in Christ is a sure path to growth in Christlikeness. The best of discipleship programs, it is guaranteed to leave “the man (and woman) of God thoroughly equipped for every good work.”