Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World. By David Garrison. Bangalore: WIGtake Resources, 2004. 362 pages. Paperback, $12.
"In 2001 a newly emerging Church Planting Movement yields 48,000 new believers and 1,700 new churches in one year" (p. 49). How can you start a church planting movement that sweeps through an entire people group? You can't! But God can. And God can use you to facilitate His purposes.
David Garrison's Church Planting Movements invites the reader to view God's blueprints for reaching all people groups- quickly! But before delving into missiological theory on how these movements work, Garrison takes the reader on a trip to eight major sectors of the world to view already existing church planting movements (CPMs). Each of these episodes narrates the events that catalyzed a full-fledged movement resulting in unreached peoples turning to Christ. He visits India, China, Africa, Latin America, Europe, North America, and the Muslim world. Next he distills the common elements from each movement into comprehensive lists of: 1.) What occurred in every CPM and 2.) What occurred in most CPMs. Some of these elements are: house churches, rapid reproduction, and lay leadership (p. 172). With the good, Garrison includes the bad. He lists the "seven deadly sins" of a CPM. These include: sequentialism (i.e. adding churches versus multiplying them), developing dependency on foreign funds, and not contextualizing the Gospel to the culture (p. 239). These elements choke a budding movement.
The last section of the book challenges the reader to assess his own standing in the scheme of God's church planting movements. Then, it equips him with tools to works towards getting on mission with God.Read more ›
Because Garrison's book was published in 2004, the stories of church planting movements in all areas of the world, are exciting to read and more importantly, credible. He brings in numbers to support his claim that all over the world, people groups are coming to Christ in ways that parallel "the book of Acts", planting churches instead of focusing on the traditional missionary strategy of making one church grow larger in size and in population. Garrison focuses on the idea that the Gospel needs to be heard to people groups, taking the focus away from geography (there are Christians in India but there are many Indians.) The first two parts of this book focus on different movements- in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and India, South America, Europe, and North America. It is valuable that even in these last three areas (places that are considered "Christianized"), there are still groups and even nations that are spiritually poor and in need of missionary activity.
Garrison works hard to take a new approach to missionary strategy, even redefining missionaries as "strategy coordinators". He also works hard to write about Church Planting Movements in places where missionary activity is dangerous, often protecting the anonymity of the people involved in certain countries, even renaming some countries themselves. Garrison uses the last sections of his book to describe essential characteristics of these movements and even points out "sins" that many missionaries commit in their work. Important tools for bringing the gospel to these people groups include media and translations of the Bible and stories into their own language, a strong emphasis on prayer, and bringing training to the people instead of requiring the people to leaver their people for training.Read more ›
There were quite a few wisdom nuggets that stuck out to me while reading David Garrison's book:
-The Church Planting Movement (CPM) principle holds that "smaller is better"
-CPM's are often launched among the most least likely candidates -- unreached people groups
-For a healthy CPM, it is important for outsiders (missionaries) to become less and less dominant
-"Whenever foreigners linger too long, refusing to turn over the reigns of church leadership, they are depriving the new church of the power to fall the power to rise"
-"Mankind without Jesus Christ may bear God's image, but not his glory"
-In India, finance is not a problem as most house churches run on 'low' or 'no' budget -- instead of sermonizing on stewardship and tithing, leaders focus on completing the Great Commission
-Kui Christians focused on training church members, rather than professional clergy, to become the frontline evangelists and church planters
-The prayer of a Chinese missions worker: (1) God, do something so supernatural it can only be explained that You did it (2) Let the work last (3) Let the work not be dependent on me to keep it going
-"Part of the missionary vocation is working yourself out of a job"
I enjoyed this book, though some sections (such as portions of Part Two: Around the World) became a little tedious to read. The book really shines in the practical application of its findings. Part Three, Part Four, and the Additional Resources bring the review up to 4 stars.
If you're looking for a "big picture" resource for church planting movement principles, this is an excellent, solid, and inspiring tool.