In February 2009 a meeting was held of several urban church planting practitioners from nine urban centers ranging in population from three million to twenty-five million.  The selection criterion for these cities was that more than one hundred churches had been planted to at least the third generation.

The goal was to learn how these practitioners are getting to CPMs in the cities….

The goal was to learn about how these practitioners are getting to CPMs in the cities, as well as to help them each move forward. They were trying to determine what common significant factors were present in these cities and the lives of the practitioners where God is clearly at work in an extra-ordinary way.  The prevailing common factors included abundant and fervent prayer; close personal relationships between the strategy coordinator and the local partner; one or more significant local partners who champion the vision and work; abundant evangelism; segmentation of the city for strategic targeting; consistent tools and methodology for training that facilitate generational growth; and a passionate work ethic on the part of the strategy coordinator and local partners.

It was recognized that most if not all of these critical components were not urban specific; in other words, their characteristics were consistent with other CPMs.  What was distinct was their mode of application often had distinct urban characteristics; these practitioners were able to apply CPM principles in urban-specific models.  For example, all CPMs grow along lines of relationship, but in cities, relationships are with a different set of persons than in the countryside (e.g. workmates instead of neighbors).  The extended report from this Urban CPM Forum also includes the urban CPM practitioners’ response to several questions submitted by other urban practitioners prior to the forum.

Fervent Prayer – – a common characteristic cited by practitioners from all nine cities was the abundance of specific targeted prayer for the work of the Gospel in their city.  This included both prayer offered by outsiders, prayer offered by the Strategy Coordinator directly, and also prayer offered by the local Believers.  Specific prayer strategies employed by these practitioners included the mobilization of prayer for open doors to specific segments of the city, specific neighborhoods, specific factories; prayer with expectation for finding persons of peace (Matt 10, Luke 10); praying daily for the individual lost people; modeling prayer for local partners, joining in prayer with local partners, asking for prayer from local partners, and mobilizing city wide prayer events such as prayer walking days.

Close Personal Relationships – – the urban CPM practitioners present also exhibited an intentionality in building close personal relationships with local Believers.  Such relationships were typically entered into not as a means to an end but via a sincere desire to be Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  Praying together, fellowship over meals, life on life sharing and mentoring, and withdrawal from the work for joint times of spiritual retreat were all common activities.

Local Champions – – these urban areas with significant CPM and near CPM generational growth have all had the blessing of significant local partners who became local champions for the vision and work of abundant evangelism, discipleship and the rapid multiplication of churches.  In all of these CPMs, a significant portion of the work was started by finding existing believers or near-culture believers and training them in T4T-type ministry.

Abundant Evangelism – – in each of these urban centers, a massive amount of evangelism as occurred and is occurring.  Believers are also consistently trained and challenged to share their personal testimony with a call for decision.  Supplementally, in many situations, the Believers have been engaged in distributing large numbers of Gospel tracts and evangelistic movies.  Believers keep name lists of non-Believers for whom they regularly pray for their salvation and target with evangelism.  Name lists are maintained and reviewed during training times and church meetings.  An awareness of the number of lost in the city, or numeric targets for evangelism was a common theme that was kept in front of local Believers as a means of vision casting and challenge. Application: many urban practitioners today are daunted by how to do relational evangelism in the city. But, as in any context, relationships and persons of peace are readily present. It is just that in cities, relationships spread along lines of work or school or interest rather than by geography.

Strategic Segmentation – – Most all of the practitioners engaged in these urban centers had segmented their city for the purposes of making a structured approach to the city for evangelism, prayer coverage, training or division of labor.  Segmentation was also seen as important to insure that different sub-populations in the city were not overlooked.  The varied population make-up of the city was seen to necessitate a combined approach for segmentation; typically including both a geographic segmentation and also segmentation along socio-economic-affinity lines.  Socio-economic affinity lines were how relationships worked, but for vision-casting purposes with national believers, it was often easier to encourage them to reach people geographically.  Application: bottom line, encourage national believers to evangelize people they are in relationship with, or to purposefully find people of peace in new segments.

Consistent Tools & Methods for Generational Growth – – Across all of these urban centers there was a strong desire or objective to see multiplication or generational growth of churches.  While each urban center employed different tools (training curriculum, tracts, etc.), within their individual city they stressed a consistent usage of a single or small set of tools.  The method or process used while sometimes varied in terminology was basically consistent across all of the cities.  The common foundation both for the methods and the tools used was that of the early implementation of the Training for Trainers (T4T) methods and tools with local adaptation.  For each urban center, that process followed a common line of abundant prayer and evangelism (usually of people of peace) leading to salvations; immediate or quick initiation of obedience based discipleship / training including baptism; accountability of each Believer to pass on what they have been trained in resulting in successive generations; and an intentionality, challenge or expectation that new churches (or in some cases new groups) would be started as a result or the process.  Tools and methods were regularly evaluated for their efficacy in producing these results.

Passionate Work Ethic – – A passionate work ethic, strong sense of ownership and drive toward the goal of multiplication and generational growth was present in both the foreign and local practitioners in these cities.  Numerous stories were shared of local Believers in these cities who, in addition to working full time jobs (long work days, 6 and 7 day work weeks), were involved in multiple training groups and churches daily involved in evangelism.  Foreign practitioners were likewise engaged in long work weeks, and seen as very driven in their work with a singular focus toward their goals.  These foreign practitioners consistently looked for ways to maximize their time available to facilitate a CPM in their city.  Examples of this included moving to a bi-weekly training cycle to increase the number of groups they could personally relate to at any given time.  These urban practitioners also sought out ways to maximize their time in order to meet other urban residents at their time of availability (ranging from early morning, lunch times, evening, late evening, day times, weekends).  The passionate work ethic of the foreign practitioner was often seen as an example and testimony to the local Believers. Each of these practitioners was involved in starting multiple streams or avenues of work and training throughout their cities.

You can view the documents that we gleaned from this Urban CPM Consultation here:

Urban CPM Forum Specific Distinctives

Urban CPM Forum Q&A

Urban CPM Forum Practical Steps