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David Garrison, PhD University of Chicago, has been a student of Islam and God's work among Muslims since his days as an Arabic student in Egypt two decades ago. He is the author and editor of nine books on God's work among the world's least reached peoples.
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 ›
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I've one chapter left to read and I am very pleased with this book. The author writes well (though he could use a little help from an editor) and presents a very comprehensive discussion of the Church Planting Movement that is present across the world and some practical action steps that every believer can do.
There is just enough coverage on the different case studies that the reader doesn't get bogged down in details but still gets a feel for what God is doing on the different continents. Then, he shifts to summarizing the characteristics of church planting movements, things that hinder them, and suggests that what we see as novel in the 21st century is actually akin to what the 1st century experienced.
WARNING: The book is inspiring. If you have any kind of heart for the lost, I can't see how you can read this book without feeling like you should be doing more to unleash God's power in your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or the uttermost parts of the world. Get ready to be challenged.
Some forgivable problems that wouldn't keep me from recommending the book: * Some of his scripture references are lifted out of context but not in a heretical way, so I kind of forgive him. * The book is pretty cheaply bound. My 9th grade English teacher taught us to flex the spine of paperbacks (for some reason I can't remember), but as soon as I did that, the glue cracked and two chunks of pages came out.
Lastly, I recommend that you not buy the book from Amazon. At the time of this review, the going price is close to $50. Visit the author's website ([...]) to order it for under $20.
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