Church Planting Movements, How God Is Redeeming a Lost World Kindle Edition
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When Christians think "church planter" many will automatically shut that idea off because that role is only for pastors and paid ministers of the Word. What I love about this book is because Garrison challenges that idea by showing us how church works in the rest of the world besides the United States and trust me it is COMPLETELY different. These church planters are unpaid, brand new believers with barely any training. ANYONE can and should become a church planter by simply just inviting people to your homes to study the Word, living life alongside them (discipleship), and training them to evangelize while also telling them to start these movements in their homes.
Seriously, read this book!
In my opinion this book should be read by all Christian leaders at any level, or anyone concerned about God's pattern for the church in the 21st century and beyond.
Dr. Garrison begins this remarkable account of a modern day move of God in the autumn of 1994 when the annual reports from missionaries from locations as diverse and far-flung as India, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia suddenly began to report a quantum leap in the number of conversions and new churches in their respective mission fields. In the introductory chapter, How It All Began (p. 17) he relates how a missionary strategist working with a North Indian people group reported phenomenal growth from 28 churches in 1989 to more than 4,500 churches with an estimated 300,000 baptized believers by the year 2,000, due to the "eruption of a church planting movement."
In the second chapter, "What are Church Planting Movements?" Dr. Garrison describes his approach to writing this remarkable book as well as providing the reader with valuable insights into the unique characteristics he and his colleagues have observed in these modern day miracles. A careful reading of this chapter will provide the reader with a good foundation to grasp the uniqueness and enormity of these modern day works of God. Perhaps more importantly, the advice of this reader/reviewer is to make a decision to ask God for the grace to adopt the author's attitude and spirit regarding how to process the information presented about CPM's. Rather than attempting to summarize the book, I have chosen to use the limited space available for this review to describe the author's treatment of the subject and the methodology behind the writing of the book because I was so impacted by his wisdom and humility regarding this subject. I don't believe his perspective can be improved on, and the best way to convey it to you is to share a few direct quotes from this chapter of the book (p.21-23):
"A Church Planting Movement (CPM) is a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.....You'll note that this definition describes what is happening in CPM's rather than prescribing what could or should happen. Throughout this book we'll try to remain faithful to what God is actually doing in these movements and avoid the temptation to prescribe or predict how he ought to be working. By clinging to a descriptive approach, we are humbly admitting that the work is not ours; it belongs to God. So rather than trying to squeeze him into our flawed predictions or prescriptions, we'll let him be God and we will alter our understanding and behavior to be on mission with him."
Taking five key words from the above definition of CPM's, in less than three pages (p21-23) the author presents five principles that form the heart of CPM's wherever they have occurred.
The author's treatment of one of these five words/CPM concepts will serve to illustrate how this book will likely challenge your preconceptions about church and ministry:
(p.22) "The third word is 'indigenous'. Indigenous literally means `generated from within', as opposed to started by outsiders. In CPM's the first church or churches may be started by outsiders, but very quickly the momentum shifts from the outsiders to the insiders. Consequently, within a short time, the new believers coming to Christ in CPM's may not even know that a foreigner was ever involved in the work. In their eyes the movement looks, acts, and feels homegrown."
Though all five of these key words point to important principles for success in CPM's, the author gives case after case where violation of this particular principle led to hindering or downright stopping of a burgeoning CPM.
The author describes a "special type of missionary that figures prominently in many CPM's that is called a Strategy Coordinator, who takes responsibility for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy....to bring an entire people group to faith in Jesus Christ." Dr. Garrison claims, and gives convincing evidence, that "this new paradigm of 21st century missionaries is reshaping the world of missions and contributing immeasurably to the spread of Church Planting Movements." He also reports that "CPM's are surfacing in all corners of the globe..." and that "researchers are monitoring more than thirty locations (of CPM's) around the world."
I believe that any believer, especially those called to serve the church as one of the "gift ministries" of Ephesians 4:11, that finds the courage and humility to emulate the author's approach to this subject as they read this book will be deeply impacted, as I was. I urge you to get this book and read it carefully, prayerfully and with humility, consciously posturing your heart to allow yourself and your preconceptions of church ministry and leadership to be challenged. I'll predict you will be very glad you did.
Every one of us who have put our trust in God and His Son Jesus have an inner desire and a mandate from God to take the words of God to the whole world so God can transform them too.
Jesus said that He looked to see what the Father was doing and then did likewise (John 5:19-20), and if we want to do the same, this book can be a great inspiration and help!