Wednesday, May 3

Church Planners or Church Planters?

The following comes from missionary colleague, Manuel Sosa, who at the time was the Strategy Coordinator for our Guayaquil church planting team (today known as the Guayas Mestizo Team.) To read the full, unedited article, click here.

What follows is an edited and slightly updated version (minor changes) of Manuel's original paper entitled, "The Missing T"

Today almost 10 years after New Directions, we now have the tools, the clinics, the models, the training and the resources to help us plant churches. However we have seen very few CPMs or anything that would remotely resemble a CPM. Why is this so? We asked to be trained and to be given the tools to accomplish the task but in all honesty we must admit that it is happening only in a few places and not as we would hope that it be taking place. Permit me to give a couple of reasons for believing this is such.

1) We have become excellent church planners! Not church planTers but rather church planNers! There in lies what I call "The Missing T." We have missed the target. We are now developing meticulous Master Plans, wonderful World Views, super Segmentations of our people groups BUT still we see little result of all this efforts. This is not to be negative but hopefully to help us all get back on the right tract that New Directions intended for us to be on. It was not to be experts in the theories of church planting but to be actual church planters.

2) We are reading books on the subject by people that have never planted a church but have great ideas on how it should be done and being given seminars on the subject by folks that have great intentions and are expert didactic presenters but have never known the joys and sorrows of church planting. They present to us what others have written and lived not from actual experiences.

Our call is to be the planters not only the planners...we must come away from our computers and the printed pages we are submerged in to go into the world and DO IT! We share our plans with each other and are amazed at how well they are presented and prepared. We seem to work to see who has the best plan of attack for starting new works in a certain area. We have the right words, the tools and the training yet the bottom line has not changed much since 1997. After 10 years it is time for things to be happening...

This is a call back to why New Directions was instituted, not to scare people off the field but to usher more peoples off the fields into the Kingdom...All the training and tools in the world will not replace us going out and doing what we have learned to do. We can not teach others to do what we have not done ourselves...We do not teach people how to plant churches, we plant churches while training people...We must learn together with the church planters how to start the new works not teach them from a program that was taught to us. Nothing will prepare you to train church planters like planting itself and not from planning to plant churches.

--from "The Missing T" by Manuel Sosa, as shared on the "Church Planting


Mark said...

Sounds to me that the difference between church planners and church planters is the basic "gestalt switch" between knowing and doing. You can only go so far as a church planner. Then you simply have no choice but to make the leap to "planting". That is where the "rubber meets the road". I am beginning to look for people to work with who show their provenness, not just their potential.

The difference between a church planner and a church planter...For many, it is the difference (as Morpheus would say) from knowing your path, and walking it.

imb m said...

This is one of the best things I've read regarding church planting in a long while.

Gary Snowden said...


Another excellent post! Thanks for passing along the edited version of Manuel's article. I wanted to tell you as well that I shared your previous post about the Mango church with our Wednesday evening prayer meeting crowd last night. What an awesome testimony of the power of God working in and through "ordinary" believers. May their tribe increase.

brazil-nuts said...

This was one of the best posts yet.We've only been on the field 5 years, so came in after the "changes" were in place. We've had so much training, and appreciate all of it. Man, we still have so many questions. Would love to hear opinions on our latest blog if you get a chance ( We got the WHY down, now we need the HOW... or would it be WHEN? Your blogs have been helpful. Would love to see your work sometime. Until then, it's inspiring to get the updates.

Ken Sorrell said...

After listening to comments and questions during various training events for the past several years, it is becoming more and more evident that many really do not know what they are going to do or need to do when they wake up in the morning. I agree with others that say that we must move from knowing to doing. Do we not tell new believers that they must incorporate an obedience disicipeship into their lives rather than just increasing in Bible knowledge? To know Strategic Directions or CPM strategies is not the same as doing them. Some have confused busyness with doing. Doing does not produce new believers, multipying churches, and developing leaders, only the "right" doing will afford us this opportunity to impact lostness. Excellent article for your blog!

Don Minshew said...

As an M, I found certain aspects of New Directions appealing. Despite this, I felt from the very start that the emphasis on CPM was fundamentally flawed. The problem is exactly what Mr. Sosa notes. Those who were leading us toward the CPM model were observers who had not participated in that difficult process of establishing and guiding new works. Their problem was the emphasis on the final word rather than the first two. They were enamored with the “movement” rather than on the “church planting”. I am personally convinced that men cannot create a CPM. It is as much a product of the Spirit of God as is revival. You cannot legislate revival by method. Neither will movements be produced by the confident principles espoused in our IMB materials.

GuyMuse said...


I can identify with your observation of those leading us toward CPM were as "green" as the rest of us. Most of what we have learned over the past six years has been by trail and error. CPM for us has been a "tool box" of helpful concepts and ideas which have assisted us in the first two words of CPM. We are still waiting and praying for the final "M" to take place--but as you say--such is a product of the Spirit, not our efforts.