Friday, March 3

CPM: Babies teaching babies?

Our family doesn't have cable TV but we tend to spend a lot of our free time surfing the net. I enjoy reading various of the SBC web logs and news sites. In the midst of all the issues currently under discussion, one topic that seems to come up is the ongoing debate about the IMB's emphasis on CPMs as their principal methodology for fulfilling the Great Commission.

For example, on Marty Duren's blog in an issue related to the IMB and MLC orientation, there are more than 50 responses (comments) from SBC constituency and M around the world, most of them questioning the IMBs emphasis and teaching CPM methodology at the Missionary Learning Center.

It seems there is a lot of misunderstanding about CPM and I am not hearing many voices seeking to clarify the issues.

In summary, the concern seems to be that CPM methodology is about "babies teaching babies that teach other babies" and that house churches aren't real churches. Of course these are issues we face on the mission field as well, so it shouldn't surprise me that S. Baptists are now beginning to question the same things as well back in the States.

Is it time to revisit our reasons for using CPM methodology in our church planting?

For me, CPM methodology is about using the CPM principals and hammering out their applications in each of our local contexts. There is no one universal way of getting the job done. Each missionary team has to prayerfully seek the H.S. guidance as to how to reach their assigned people group.

CPM methodology is a tool chest of proven principles and great ideas that encourage a church planting movement. No one can MAKE a CPM happen. It is like the sails on a ship. If you set them correctly, when the winds of the Spirit begin to blow, you will move in the direction of a CPM.

I realize some of us may be frustrated with the level of results we are seeing, but is CPM to blame, or other factors? It seems CPM gets the bad name when in reality there are numerous other issues that need to be addressed first before throwing in the CPM towel. SHOW me something better that is being blessed by the Lord and bearing an abundant harvest!

If there is a question for discussion in all this, it would probably be to identify what some of those factors are that are hindering a CPM in our context?

Anybody out there is welcome to voice your opinion on the matter. Is there a better way to fulfilling the GC in our generation? What ideas are working for you in your local context that might help the rest of us?

25 comments:

Kiki Cherry said...

Thank you for your input on this!!! We are using CPM methodology here in the North, and it is working well so far.

I think you hit a nail on the head: are the problems inherent in the model, or in the application of them? How can we go wrong with teaching the Word of God????!!!!!! Show me churches in the US who are actively feeding their members the kind of scripture that members of simple churches are getting? I would say there are very few.

We have got to get back to the WORD!!!!! Not books about the Bible. Not Biblical History (although I do believe it is important to know our roots. But history does not take precedence over the Bible!!!) And we have got to get back to real, committed, intentional prayer. I think CPMs, when applied correctly, have those components to them.

BTW--I'm an MK, too. And I spent one Spring Break in Guayuaquil with the Packwoods. Also drank the kool-aid at the church and got a lovely stomach parasite. : )

Man, I miss my international life sometimes. I still am not American, even after living in this country for several years. I guess you can take the MK out of the field, but you can't take the field out of the MK.

GuyMuse said...

Hello to a fellow MK!

We actually live in the Packwoods old house, so you have probably
been in our house. What a small world! I know what you mean about
the "koolaid", we battle the little pests all the time. What did you do that Spring Break in Guayaqui? We may have been here ourselves at that time.

It almost seems that those "for" CPM methodologies tend to be those
seeing some degree of church planting taking place in their midst. Those "negative" towards CPM methodolgies tend to be those who (for any number of reasons) are NOT seeing much church planting taking place.

This latter group tend to fall back into the more comfortable "default
mode" they are familiar with--the way church is done back home in the States. We allow ourselves to be convinced it is the CPM
methodology/theology that is flawed, rather than humbly coming to grips with understanding God's plan for reaching our assigned people group. "Ask of me,
and I will give to you the nations."
That is His will and desire--to give us
these nations for the Glory of His Name
!

CPM methodology is full of wonderful church planting principles and has loads of helpful, practical concepts. Granted, it is NOT like church as we may know it back home, but It is a true N.T. approach to
church planting and accelerating the completion of the Great
Commission task.

I totally agree with what you have written above. It amazes me how often theologians are the ones quoted on some of these blogs/comments as being the definitive word. It indeed seems
that history, what "so and so says", what some book says, what the BF&M says, are more important opinion makers than the what the
WORD SAYS!

RMc said...

Hi there!

I'm a pastor in a small town in eastern Arizona. Graduated a couple of years ago from Golden Gate. While there, I was introduced to the CPM concept. Pretty different than what is happening stateside.

It raised several questions in my mind concerning how do theological issues get transmitted adequately to prevent heritical issues from creeping in. And how to adequately train pastors, etc.

Then I started remembering the New Testament and why Paul and others wrote much of what they wrote. I've not seen a CPM in action, but am going to be spending some time in the Dominican later this summer where one is happening. I'm looking forward to being in an area where the spiritual is much more important and apparent than where I am now.

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts as time goes by!

GuyMuse said...

Hi Rodney,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving some good comments.

I'll try to share how it is that we deal with these issues here with our church planting.

1) We feel all believers to be active participants in the Great Commission. The GC was given to all those professing disciples who follow in Christ's footsteps.

2) Our role as missionaries is to pray, model, train, encourage, and mobilize the saints into the fields of harvest. We understand Eph.4:11-12 as meaning that our role as apos, evan, proph, pastors, and teachers is to equip the saints for the work of service.

3) As "lay" believers go out in obedience to Christ's commands, they WILL begin to win people to the Lord. It is their responsibility to "make disciples" of them, baptizing and teaching them to "observe all that I commanded..."

4) As they begin this work of planting a church with these new believers, we encourage them to continue their study and preparation. We offer TEE (Theological Education by Extension) for all our house church leaders. Around 90% have, or are currently receiving the on-going theological training. We don't train and send out; we send out and train as they are DOING the work.

5) We believe the churches planted are not ours, but Christs. The same Holy Spirit that indwells us is in these new believers with their leaders. Yes, there will be problems along the way. But He will watch over His church. He has also given to the church the Eph. 4:11-12 apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are for. Regardless of what roles these five play in today's world, they are definitely needed functions. The new church plants will benefit greatly from these five-fold ministries in operation.

I could say more, but will stop here for now. Hope this helps some.

stepchild said...

We're IMB, and working to plant house churches in Western Europe. They are real churches. They seem like a good approach in this cultural context, and may, in fact, be truer to the biblical idea of church than many congregational churches in the States.

That said, the reason I've not jumped to the defense of CPM has nothing to do with inherent theological flaws. I'm not a big fan of CPM because it's a "model." After a bunch of churches were planted in China, some M's looked back, and with hindsight, mapped out how it all came together. Then the Board decided to prescribe it as a model for "completing" the great commission. We should have left it as a great example of one of the many ways we've seen God work. Instead, we've wrapped it up as

I agree with what you said in another post; that the only way to really be effective is to follw the Holy Spirit every step of the way. Relying on a model is taking a shortcut around the work of staying in tune with the Spirit, studying the culture, and allowing local believers to decide what church in their culture will look like.

GuyMuse said...

Stepchild,

I am a regular reader of your blog and thrilled that you have come over to our side of the world for a visit. You have an interesting perspective on missions that I share with in many regards. Over on the S. American continent I sometimes feel we are the "stepchilds" that you are there in W. Europe! We do things quite differently and are seen as "way out there" compared to most of the other churches around us.

Thanks for your observations about CPM.

What I mean by CPM principles and methodologies is that we use many of the concepts which have been observed as common elements of all CPMs: prayer, abundant Gospel sowing, intentional church planting, house churches, Scriptural authority, lay leadership, churches planting churches, MAWL, etc. Where we continue to struggle is in the "rapid reproduction" category. That last one is the subject of another long post which I won't get it to now.

I do understand what you are saying and agree that the only way to be effective is to follow the H.S., but in following the H.S. He has led us to put into practice the above principles. They are working for us locally. Other ideas/methodologies that have come down the pipe from the chain of command--such as T4T--have not been as helpful. We have learned from T4T, but totally readapted the ideas into what we call COSECHA (Harvest) and use this as our CP manual for new lay leaders.

stepchild said...

I'm encouraged by your comments. I like that "toolbox" idea; that we take all these things as principles that may or may not apply as the Spirit leads.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on "rapid reproduction." Thanks for sharing your perspective on these things. It's neat to see how blogs can facilitate communication between co-workers and supporters. Keep it up!

RMc said...

Thanks for responding so quickly!!! Having had all of 1 class in seminary that obviously gave me all the answers I ever would need to know, it helps having someone who is around this kind of activity is helpful.

It is also good for me to see different "methods" in action. I was confused when the CPM methodology was presented, because very little of it seemed to be human-centered. To me, it appeared to be following what we are told to do in Scripture. It seemed that this "methodology" would look different in each culture. I struggled with how it would look, act, smell like, etc in real life.

It was taught by two M's who were on stateside assignment at the time and they brought in others who were traveling also. I learned a lot, but in no way, shape or form would I even think that I have much of a clue as to how they work. I just hope that at some point, the Holy Spirit decides to work in some way similar to this where I am.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Rapid Reproduction too!

GuyMuse said...

Stepchild and rmc:

The "rapid reproduction" matter is one of our biggest frustrations. It just isn't happening in our context like we believe it should. We have tried several things in the past, but so far have not seen the results anticipated.

Recently we began a whole new approach to working in teams of eight church planters. Our hope is that through these "accountability teams" each church planter will pass on to his own group of eight the same concepts that led to the first G church getting planted. In this way we hope to begin to see this year many more 2nd, 3rd G church starts.

My thoughts on the "rapid reproduction" are that this is one area of CPM methodology where we need someone else to help us! I don't have many answers, just a lot of questions!

In the coming days I hope to post something along these lines, sharing how it is the "teams of eight" are working out.

Stay tuned...

Kiki Cherry said...

I understand your frustration with the "rapid reproduction" aspect of CPMs.

But "rapid" looks vastly different depending on the part of the world you live in. You face some of the same challenges in South America, and Stepchild in Western Europe, as we do here in the Northern U.S.

Our area, while being non-Christian, is still traditionally religious. People here already have a religion, and many would even call it Christianity. But it is not a true relationship with Christ.

It's a lot harder to see rapid multiplication in areas like ours, because you have more barriers to tear down before you can even begin with the true gospel.

I grew up in Southern Africa. Multiplication happened quickly there. You would sometimes see whole villages come to Christ.

But part of that is because they mainly relied on animism, but not much established religion, before being introduced to Christ. The same is true in many Asian countries.

I don't think we can compare rates of evangelization in S. America and Asia. It's apples and oranges. But if you are being obedient to what God has called you to do, and are sowing seeds, then you are successful.

God will harvest at the rate HE chooses, and that may look different in various parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

Greetings. Anonymous due to level 3 security.

I think one of the main reasons why CPM's are hard to understand for those in the states is because of the following hard-to-shed mindsets.

Some Recurring Dead-End Mindsets
1. Meeting based “church”
The church is not a meeting. Yes, the term ekklesia carries the idea of an assembly, and what we do as a church we are to do together. But the scope of the church’s ministry cannot be fulfilled in a meeting. In this mindset you will only meet with your disciple contacts once a week: at the meeting.

2. Everything about the church should be EV
The scope of the ministry of the church is more than just evangelism. Consider Eph. 4:11-16 where Paul says the “result” of the church’s ministry is that the saints (“each one”) will grow up in Christ. Of the five ministries the church is called to fulfill (worship, service, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship) three of these are directly focused upon believers (worship, fellowship, discipleship) and only evangelism is directly focused upon non-believers (service has both believers and non-believers as its focus). In this mindset, there is no room for NOT inviting non-believers to the worship time because everything must be EV-first.

3. Pragmatism
This means that the worth of an action is determined by the results of the action. This does not mean “the end justifies the means” though that, too, is pragmatism. When we don’t understand what God is doing, we should worship, not question and especially when we are faithfully doing exactly what God called us to do. It is this mindset that says, "Man, just look at how few believers there are! We must be doing something wrong..."

4. Little or NO focus on TRAINING
This results in believers who are long on facts but short on character. I believe the biggest need in the non-American churches is for TRAINING (discipleship). I asked a group of non-American believers who had gathered for a Bible study time to discuss the question, "Why did Jesus have to die?" in anticipation of the Passion movie that was about to come to theaters locally. Their answer? "He didn't." No one has 'arrived' until we are all fully mature as compared to Christ (Eph 4:13).

5. Church growth = numbers.
This is different from "pragmatism", though the two are generally inter-related. This is the view that "church growth" is measured in terms of "numbers". Scripture speaks more often of growth in terms of maturity. The two focii are numbers and maturity, but numbers is God's blessing and maturity is the fruit of the church's ministry. Our focus should never be JUST numbers -- and, I believe, the overwhelming focus should be on quality against quantity. In this mindset, whenever you hear the term "church growth", you immediately think of quantity.

GuyMuse said...

Kiki and Anon M,

Thank you both for continuing to enrich the CPM dialogue, you both make good points clarifying the issues at hand.

As you say Kiki, "rapid" is a very relative term. I just wish rapid meant MORE rapid in our context!

Yesterday I responded to a fellow M here in S. America who has his own blog http://swisa.blogspot.com (see comment) expressing my own bewilderment at why God chooses to work in one place and not others? Do we not pray as hard as the S. Asians? Do we not work hard enough? Are we doing things wrong? Where is the promised abundant fruit that Jesus talks about in John 15? Yes, we rejoice in all that God is doing in our midst, but we would certainly like to rejoice more to see this thing (CPM) take off like it is doing in other parts of the world.

Chris Turner said...

Guy, great to see you blogging. I have always remembered fondly our time covering the story of iglesia en tu case. After investigating it for myself, I believe I can safely say that those who speak of CPMs and rapid church multiplication in theoretical terms have little to no business commenting on it.

I wish you'd gone into how your team spent a year in prayer seeking God's face for direction and strategy and how when you got off your knees you saw explosive growth. Thanks for the great analogy about setting sails. Dead on. When there is the expectation that God will move supernaturally, supernature things happen. That is an expectation that is unfortunately in short supply among North American churches and those who provide arm-chair commentary on church planting movements.

Bendiciones!

GuyMuse said...

Hey Chris,

Speaking of the GREAT story you wrote for us, I have it linked right here!


We've gotten a lot of mileage out of what you wrote for us on the Guayaquil house churches, thanks!

Are you still writing for Lifeway?

I know what you mean about "arm chair" commentary on CPM by those not ever having had to struggle with the issues first-hand. That is one reason I posted the two CPM entries on my web log, in an attempt to try and clarify some of the misconceptions floating around.

Tim Batchelor said...

Guy,

My wife learned her spanish in the neighborhoods of Guayaquil. Her parents, Stewart and C.L. Pickle, began their IMB Service there back in the mid 70s. I too have been to the house you live in 16 years ago.

One question that I have about CPM movements is what a "house church" in Guayaquil looks like as it matures in structure,practice, assembly and cooperation with other churches? What are the problems house churches face as they mature? What are their strengths?

Thanks

Tim Batchelor

GuyMuse said...

Tim,

Glad you stopped by and greetings to Susan, my MK cousin who is your wife! Yes, this old house we live in has seen many a person come and go through the years.

I plan to blog in coming days on the question you ask about. For an immediate answer I refer you to Wade Burleson's blog to my comment on this very subject. It is a rather long comment, but describes a typical house church experience that we had just last night. I wrote it because there seems to be so much misunderstanding about the kinds of churches that are being started overseas. Click HERE for the comment. I think you will find my answer interesting!

Guy Muse

Bowden McElroy said...

I just discovered your blog today and have really enjoyed reading it. I understand that one of the chief issues behind the controversies at the IMB has to do with methodology. I'm getting a clearer picture of that after reading this post.

Would you be willing to write another post; only this time CPM for Dummies? For example, what does it stand for? I get house church vs FBC County Seat, but there must be more to it than that.

Thanks.

Kiki Cherry said...

Tim,

You're married to Susan Pickle? I went to Ouachita with her!!!!

Tell her I said hi. I was Kiki "Schleiff" then. Her little brother, Stewart, was there at the time, too. We sometimes played soccer together.

You have the sweetest wife!!! How cool to make that connection!!! Give her a hug for me. : )

Kiki Cherry said...

BTW--Chris and Michele Turner also went to Ouachita. We ALL knew each other there.

This world is getting smaller really fast.....

Chris--glad to see you posting. You have so many good things to say. Still would like to see that story of yours published someday.

GuyMuse said...

Greetings Bowden,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Sorry about the missionary lingo. Someone else also asked me the same thing on the other CPM entry on my site. This is the dictionary I sent back to him:

CPM= Church Planting Movements
CP= Church planting
IMB= International Mission Board
SBC= Southern Baptist Convention
SA= South America
M= Missionary

I don't know about writing a "CPM for Dummies" in that I AM one of the CPM dummies!

What is meant by CPM principles and methodologies is that we use many of the concepts which have been observed as common elements of all Church Planting Movements observed around the world: prayer, abundant Gospel sowing, intentional church planting, house/cell churches, Scriptural authority in theology and practice of church, lay leadership, churches planting churches, ModelAssistWatchLeave steps to church planting, and a bunch of other good concepts. The key is understanding through prayer how the Holy Spirit would have you apply these concepts to your local context.

Hope that helps some! I just posted an entry entitled "Those questionable churches being planted overseas". This is how all these concepts play out in the real world.

Bowden McElroy said...

Thanks! That helps. I'm taking a self-imposed sabbatical from blogging about the IMB for a little while. I want to be able to write more intelligently about MISSIONS (instead of barely intelligently about denominational politics). This helps.

uncle_sqirrel said...

Hello, I must say that I just found your blog on CPM (is this thread really a year old?) …read it from top to bottom and found it interesting. I am an IMB M in EA with a city focus and we have been classified as a CPM by the current standards. I must tell you that CPM is difficult to define outside of the definition of “churches rapidly reproducing churches”. There are lots of “handles” or “tools” that are taught at the Farm or Ranch …what ever they are calling it now that are solid principles that can help you reach your goal of a CPM. Maybe unlike some of you I believe that these handles/tools which are what I would call “canned” do indeed provide building blocks by which you can indeed plant churches. I am not negating the role of the HS in this for without the stirring of the hearts of the lost by the HS we would not see salvation occur, therefore no church planting and ultimately no CPM. For those of you who would look at things like T4T, MAWL and others as a “model” and therefore dislike it I am sorry that you feel that way. I also know that as you will as I did when you attempt to use the material will look at it and wonder how will this simple thing work. But, I can tell you that your being on your knees, your trust in God and the HS as he does his thing will do wonders with your effort and this small tool. Granted I know that it does not work for everyone that way and we are experiencing mixed results here in different areas of our work as a team, but I think that Clyde Meador, Executive Vice President with the IMB has a very good take on the subject in his article “Left side of the graph”. I know that in our area of work the HS used many years of folks on the “left side” to get us to a point that we got to see huge numbers of people saved. Granted it is never going to be easy and the groups and churches that are started are difficult to manage and growth is messy, but it is worth the effort. The CPM model that we are utilizing that includes T4T is showing huge results out to past the 5th generation of churches. My word to you is don’t take away what the HS can do with your effort, a small little tool and a willing heart. There is a lot that goes into the effort part that I don’t have room for here, but would be more then willing to go into some of it later if folks are interested? Peace and grace my brothers and sisters.
Press on,
Uncle

Anonymous said...

Why not CPM?s
Hello, I must say that I just found your blog on CPM (is this thread really a year old?) …read it from top to bottom and found it interesting. I am an IMB M in EA with a city focus and we have been classified as a CPM by the current standards. I must tell you that CPM is difficult to define outside of the definition of “churches rapidly reproducing churches”. There are lots of “handles” or “tools” that are taught at the Farm or Ranch …what ever they are calling it now that are solid principles that can help you reach your goal of a CPM. Maybe unlike some of you I believe that these handles/tools which are what I would call “canned” do indeed provide building blocks by which you can indeed plant churches. I am not negating the role of the HS in this for without the stirring of the hearts of the lost by the HS we would not see salvation occur, therefore no church planting and ultimately no CPM. For those of you who would look at things like T4T, MAWL and others as a “model” and therefore dislike it I am sorry that you feel that way. I also know that as you will as I did when you attempt to use the material will look at it and wonder how will this simple thing work. But, I can tell you that your being on your knees, your trust in God and the HS as he does his thing will do wonders with your effort and this small tool. Granted I know that it does not work for everyone that way and we are experiencing mixed results here in different areas of our work as a team, but I think that Clyde Meador, Executive Vice President with the IMB has a very good take on the subject in his article “Left side of the graph”. I know that in our area of work the HS used many years of folks on the “left side” to get us to a point that we got to see huge numbers of people saved. Granted it is never going to be easy and the groups and churches that are started are difficult to manage and growth is messy, but it is worth the effort. The CPM model that we are utilizing that includes T4T is showing huge results out to past the 5th generation of churches. My word to you is don’t take away what the HS can do with your effort, a small little tool and a willing heart. There is a lot that goes into the effort part that I don’t have room for here, but would be more then willing to go into some of it later if folks are interested? Peace and grace my brothers and sisters.
Press on,
Uncle

GuyMuse said...

UNCL SQUIRREL,

Welcome to the "M Blog". Even though the post is indeed over a year old, the subject matter is highly relevant. Thanks for your excellent comments. How exciting to hear from somebody actually experiencing a CPM! If you don't mind, I'd like to post part of your comment on an upcoming post. If you'd rather not be quoted, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

You mention being "more than willing" to go into some more of the effort that your team is involved with. We would LOVE to hear more about it, please feel free to share as much as you'd like, and again, I would likely share at least poritions of it on my blog.

Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Anonymous said...

I am completely open to you using anything said if it can help others see God move through this method. Keep up the good work.
Uncle