Tuesday, March 13

Why not CPM?

CPM: Babies Teaching Babies? is one of my first posts written over a year ago on the "M Blog". It also stands as probably my most read and commented post.

Recently, a year after writing the post, I received yet another comment from "Uncle" an IMB missionary serving in East Asia. What was particularly interesting to me is that "Uncle" is personally involved in what has been classified as a "Church Planting Movement". CPM is what all of us M's out there are praying for and longing to see happen in our midst.

"Uncle's" comments about CPM brings the subject back to center stage and revisits some of the issues that have made CPM a highly debated subject in many quarters. I definitely think it is worthy of our attention (especially for M's and church planters) and so I am reprinting his comments with the hope of rekindling what I believe is one of the most relevant church planting subjects out there.

"Uncle" asks, "Why not CPM?"
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,
QUESTIONS: What are your thoughts, comments on CPM? Can it be done in your context? Why or why not? What is different about "Uncle's" context from your own? Does our context make a difference whether or not we should see CPM? Does "Uncle" serve a different Lord than you or I? What can we learn from the above comment?


Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...


I am glad to see that this EA "M" was cognizant of the role of the HS in a CPM. (Pardon the flurry of initials, please.)

To me,the HS is the single-most important factor, followed by a strong faith and steadfast, hard work.

With that in mind, I strive to not settle for anything less than a movement of God; should he choose to give us a CPM, that will be fine. In other words, yes, the CPM can be done in our context, providing we let him do it his way, not ours.

jeff w. said...

Hi Guy,

I wish a CPM would break out in the States. I first heard the term at Glorieta one year when Rankin spoke. Later, my wife and I spent a short-term IMB tour teaching and went through what they teach about CPM at MLC. It was fascinating.

I don’t think we will see a US CPM sponsored by churches until we are willing to change what we believe a church is and how a church operates. We are trapped by how we do what we do and why we do it.

We had spent several years out West in Mormon country and have seen how NAMB starts churches. BTW - I asked Rankin one time how come we do everything that kills a CPM in church planting in the US and nothing that supports one. He smiled and told me that the IMB had invited NAMB to send people to their training, but NAMB said that it wouldn’t work here. I also heard Charles Brock, who has a similar approach, teach a group of church planters, pastors and mission pastors out West. As he was busy telling them what they were doing wasn’t working, they were busy taking notes and figuring out how to use what they could without changing how they did what they did. Why do we expect different results when we aren’t willing to change?

As bad as this sounds, I suspect that the trained clergy – of which I am one – hinders CPMs, as well as other works of God. As I understand it, with a real CPM, the clergy takes a back seat (BTW, I think history shows that this is true in most spiritual awakenings). Also, denominations take a back seat as the HS moves as He wills.

So, as long as we have clergy who need to “be in charge” and a concern about “the denomination”, I don’t think we will see a SBC sponsored CPM. But, God is great and gracious, so who knows!


Ken said...


You know I could camp out here for a long time, but will resist from saying too much.

I believe CPM's to fall under the category of "the works of God" that we should learn from. Psalms 111:2 says, "Great are the works of the Lord. They are studied by all who delight in them." The lessons learned from observing CPMs can tell all of us much about church planting.

At the same time we need to be careful not to use CPM as the only measure of success in our missionary work. The work of the HS is critical in this process and we never know when God is going to decide to move among a people that is as visible as a CPM.

Although every region of the world has it's challenges and I am not one of those who says, "it may work for you but where we are is different", but, we cannot ignore cultural and environmental differences in some cases. For example, I have yet to find someone who can tell me how to overcome the influence of national conventions or zealous volunteers when growth begins that might move toward a CPM. When most of the hindrances are coming from those who should be on the same team rather than those opposed to the spread of the Gospel, Satan has already won a great victory.

Whether are not we will see a large number of CPMs in our part of the world or even in the US does not concern me as much as are we willing to do whatever it takes to see multiplication of believers and churches that allows for all to hear?

I'm not sure many on our side of the world are willing to pay the praice to see a CPM take place.

Darrell said...

God bless you for your honesty Jeff! May your kind increase! I agree that a CPM in the States will not come through the existing "wineskins". Isn't it great though that there in nothing keeping those who desire to do this to do it?

Ken I could not agree more with you the real point is as you said,

"...are we willing to do whatever it takes to see multiplication of believers and churches that allows for all to hear?"

We cannot change a heart, we cannot make people obey Jesus, and we cannot grow people or the church, these things only God can do. However what we do and what we don't do makes a profound difference. Anyone who is indifferent to the effect of forms and methods is not paying attention. If we are to see if a CPM we must be willing to change. One of my favorite authors is Rolland Allen he wrote:

The way of spontaneous expansion is not easy for such as we are. This does not justify us in rejecting it; neither does it justify us in saying that we are doing everything in our power to encourage it if we have not faced and overcome this difficulty in ourselves.

It is my sad experience that most are not willing to pay the price. They would rather people like us go away and leave them alone. However one of the most encouraging things for me is that CPM's can start with one person who will do what he can. If God chooses to bless then buckle your chin strap baby cause it is going to be an awesome ride! Even if a CPM does not emerge I believe those who have paid the price will not stand ashamed at the Judgment. The talents were not buried; the Kingdom was first in everything. Praise God that He is giving an open invitation to all to join Him in this!

I agree with Garrison:

"The question we face is not whether Church Planting Movements are right or wrong, but whether we will be participants or observers--allowing God's movements to pass us by. God's handiwork in these movements is as irrefutable as these movements are inevitable; it is we who are the question mark."

GuyMuse said...

Kevin, Jeff, Ken, Darrell,

GOOD COMMENTS ALL! I basically agree with what each of you share and each has done well to add to the CPM dialogue.

While there were several phrases and statements made by "Uncle" that caught my attention, it is where he says "There is a lot that goes into the effort part that I don’t have room for here..." It is the EFFORT PART that interests me.

I feel too many of us are waiting in prayer for something to happen, when God is waiting for us to put some action into our praying.

A quote that has long intrigued me says, "Pray as if everything depended upon God; work as if everything depended upon man."

Sometimes we come close to not doing our part in the equation. There is an attitude that says, "if God wants to do something big amongst us He is certainly free to do so" and we rest on that assumption.

But Scripture seems to indicate God led his servants to DO CERTAIN THINGS and chose to work through the obedience of those commands. An example would be Luke 10:1-9 instructions to the 70. He expected them to carry out these instructions, and when they did they came back rejoicing that "even the demons" paid them heed.

Could it be that a lot of us have quietly shelved CPM to a back storage room of faded dreams, when God is simply waiting for us to get off our behinds and DO something to make CPM happen?

A.W. Tozer once said,
"Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late - and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience."

Are we trying to substitute praying for obedience?

Darrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

It is a funny thing. For me it seems to go in spurts. First I pray allot about something...then I am busy with a fury of doing, then things come to a halt, and I pray allot. I know there have been times where I was busy praying instead of doing, but now it seems that I do all I know to do, and when I am done I don't know what else to do then to pray.

GuyMuse said...


I hear you, brother. Many of us are in the same boat with you! That's why I have always like the quote above that says, "PRAY as if everything depended upon God; WORK as if everything depended upon man." The two go hand in hand.

GuyMuse said...


What you say is so true. Most of our problems with CPM are in our heads. We simply do not believe it can happen in our own context. I happen to be one of those who still believes it could happen in our midst any day and I haven't completely given up hope, even though at times it sure seems distant!


I can really identify with your "I have yet to find someone who can tell me how to overcome the influence of national conventions or zealous volunteers when growth begins that might move toward a CPM." I wish these kinds of issues could be addressed more in our gatherings, trainings, and meetings. It's not that CPM cannot happen in Latin America, its that there are so many obstacles that are working against CPM in our midst.

NOTE: Kevin (first comment) has a great post today about his 29 years in ministry. Check it out here.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...


The whole thread is a good one. What can we say that will make a significant contribution? One commenter said something that bears repeating: "Are we trying to substitute praying for obedience?" I hope the answer is a resounding "no!" I hope our praying is, in fact, a single step of obedience that will result in other steps of obedience. After all, even carnal Christians have prayer meetings.

In every movement of God serious prayer has been accompanied by repentance and obedience. I think that is likely true in countries where the CPM is a visible thing. I pray it will be true here in South America.

Tim Patterson said...


Great comments. Something I recognized in our work in South Asia from my trip there last month. As hard as we tried to make it simple, we still complicated things! The more simple our pattern the more likely it will be reproduced. Although we saw some 4th generation reproduced... we still saw gaps and halts in reproduction that could be attributed to difficulties with our pattern. There is another unit there now trying to simplify what we started, I am praying they will succeed. We continue to send people to help with that.

I think multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches is possible in every context. As you and others have commented in different ways, we depend on God through prayer but work as if it depended on us.

GuyMuse said...


The whole idea of "serious prayer accompanied by REPENTANCE AND OBEDIENCE" is one where I think most of us fall far short. Yes, we "pray" but where is the repentance and obedience? We are not broken people but rather prideful and even lazy, not willing to pay the price to see the CPM that God wants to give.


I too think multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches is possible in every context, but as I commented above to Kevin, either we have become weary of perservering in our praying and working, or we simply don't believe that God can happen in our context. I believe most of us have lost faith and become weary. How many of us are really willing to pay the price of seeing CPM even if it means ten more years of sacrificial giving of our lives?

Darrell said...

Guy your comment to Tim leads right into a great subject for a post. HOW do we keep going? How do we fight disappointment and frustration?

Tonight I was going to meet with a new group...but it all fell through. It is so hard to fight the urge to give up.

What can you and the wonderful brothers and sisters share to help those beginning on this journey stay in it for the long haul?

GuyMuse said...


I think we need one another to stand alongside us in our journey. We need one another for encouragment in exactly the kinds of situations you describe above. In our context we try to make times for gathering of servant-leaders to study, share, and pray together. Unfortunately few ever show up for these times, but they are always edifying and mutually strengthening times. One of the least under-emphasized issues in CPM is the need to establish meaningful hc networks.

Anonymous said...

As I read your post I see very devoted fellow M’s who seem to have the heart and desire to see CPM start but I see you sharing very little as far as practical things. I am wondering if you ever do that? In our work here we make an effort to share what is happening, what God is doing in our work through the use of testimony…we do this not only in leadership group training, but also in church meetings. Do you guys share these practical things or just ideas? I don’t intent this to be a slap at you at all, I am asking the question because it is my desire to learn what God is doing around the world through CPM methods and I want to learn from you. As I said in my original post the growth of CPM is difficult to manage and directing all aspects of the growth can be difficult. There have many times when I found myself in that quite place crying out to God because I simply did not know what to do next and there was no one to ask. I am tempted to start this process, but am hesitant to step out there as the new guy to your blog …but I would like to hear some of your methods and would love to hear what you say about what we are seeing happen here. I am sure that most of you may see what I have to say as basic, but I want you to see what God is using in EA as compared to what you either think He is using or what you are yourselves using.

There are a few premises that I come to this conversation with that you should be aware of. To start with I do my best to never be in a place to have to worry about “Passing the Baton”. What I mean is that I never pick it up therefore I never have to pass it. I believe that as M’s in too many places in our work we tend to do things for the nationals that they need to be doing for themselves and therefore we taint everything with foreign DNA and impede a contextualization of the message and method. In my work I have devoted myself to a small number of people who are leaders and I train them and they in turn train all the other church leaders…in fact only this group knows that I am a missionary and therefore the one facilitating the work. The others only know me as a Christian and being “around” a lot. I not only do this so that I don’t taint the work but also because I work in EA and security considerations are a must.

I also believe that EV drives the whole thing and that the method of EV must be complete but simple to use, if we don’t have this then there is no way that we are going to see the HS move in a sufficient manner to support a movement. Along with this we believe that new believers don’t share because they don’t know “what to share nor whom to share it with.” So, in our city we utilize a 3-5 minute testimony to determine if the HS is moving in this person …are they open to the Gospel? If they respond positively then we proceed with a Gospel presentation …we also do this to stay within the law. Among learners I only allow one presentation method and that is the 4 Spiritual Laws, we ask all groups to stick with this rule when it comes to new believers and ask that all new believers be taught in this way. Because we also believe that they don’t know “who” to share with we go through a process with them to help them identify these people and help them to share effectively. During that first training we ask to identify their “circle of influence” …those people that they know that are not saved. This circle includes their family, friends, coworkers, classmates, acquaintances’ (might know their name), others (those people that they see often but don’t know their names …shop owner on the corner etc). Once they have listed this group of people we ask them to pray over them and ask the HS to show them 5 people that they should share with this week and for divine appointments with those people. The idea is that they will name/list everyone they know and because of this as they go about their everyday lives they will not only find themselves face to face with those they prayed about, but with many others that are on their list, and they will begin to feel conviction by the HS to share with those they are seeing …everywhere they go. Once they have gone through this training we send them out that week to share with those 5 on their list …and let them know that next week when they return to our meeting that I will ask them who they have share with …”we don’t get what we expect, but what we inspect”.

When they come back next week I write their names on a whiteboard and ask how many they share with, how many believed, how many were baptized? …later on I will ask how many leaders they have trained, how many groups that they have started. You have to apply accountability to all aspects …especially at first. This process is what we call the “EV Method” and it makes up two lessons that are taught prior to teaching the T4T 6 lessons. This is what we do first and try to do with everyone …what do you guys do that differs and what are your thoughts?

GuyMuse said...


Thanks for the helpful and practical comments to further clarify some of the issues involved with CPM.

Over the past year of blogging, I have tried to share many practical things we have learned and experienced over the past seven years of church planting aimed at CPM.

In the right-hand side bar, towards the bottom are post categories. There you will find 47 posts related to "Methodology". Much of this is an attempt to share our own methodology and practices.

Since 47 articles is a lot of material to wade through, I would suggest starting with Simple churches need simple plans, and C.O.S.E.C.H.A which is our step by step training of believers to plant churches. It is essentially our own contextualized T4T adaptation. I would invite you to look over these two posts and offer any observations.

Much of what you share in your comment on the way you start out with praying for the lost and sharing testimonies is also part of our methodology.

I believe that all of us need to have a simple, but concise way of training for the harvest. In fact I believe it so strongly that I just printed up 1000 more COSECHA manuals in hopes of daring to believe the Lord will allow us to train 1000 new people to go out and start new groups. We start this coming Wednesday evening where we have invited (via radio) anyone in the city interested in being trained as a church planter to show up for the training. We hope to continue this training with wave after wave through the end of this year.

So YES we believe in process. We believe in method. We believe in prayer and being empowered by the HS to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach...

to-obey-is-better said...

We are in the same region as "Uncle". In our region, which has hundreds of workers, there are fewer than 10 CPM's happening.

Why? With hundreds of workers?

I think too much has been banked on t4t as "it". I think the thought behind it is good, but there may be more ways than this. (The methods/ideas you mentioned, Guy, as an example.)

I wonder if our region were "open", if there would even be the CPM's happening the way they are. I think the persecution has a lot to do with the movements. So to think it will work exactly like this in a more open place.....I don't know.

Just my thoughts,

imb m

OC Hands said...

Guy et al:
Thanks so much for sharing your heart as well as your approach to reaching your target group with the gospel. Our time was spent in a great city in the big country, and we struggled with some of the same challenges as have been presented here.
One challenge that we were not able to overcome was this: how to bring new believers into a "fellowship" that becomes a church. One of our first groups had about eleven new believers who met for fellowship, word study and training. When the new year arrived, ten of them went home to ten very distant provinces. It was extremely difficult for them to form a "group" although all of them lived in the same great city.

One of the key factors in the formation (or lack thereof) of the group was that our team leader had serious mis-givings about the CPM approach. Still, in questioning other Ms in the same country very few had success with CPM. Now this was pre-T4T, so perhaps this was the reason.

We also struggled with whether the new believers should attend services and participate in the registered churches or not. After much discussion, we considered having them request baptism in these churches as a safety precaution. (Many of you will remember the publicity that CPM received in the media from a formem M regarding evangelism and home baptisms) From that time, security became a real issue, because many believers were asked by the police 'Where were you baptized and by whom?'

Is this a subject that can be addressed here, or is it too sensitive?

GuyMuse said...


Interesting comment coming from someone as closely related to CPM as you guys are. Our region went through a time of pushing T4T but it simply wasn't working. Our own team had developed an approach which incorporated many of the CPM/T4T principles, but was designed for our reality here in Ecuador. We have continued to tweak over the years and our methodology is constantly in the process of change. I just finished printing another 1000 copies of our COSECHA (Harvest) material. This makes about 7-8 revisions. Even as I awoke this morning I was troubled by thoughts of things in this latest revision that need to be corrected! To me, values and principles are more important than methodologies and materials. People are always asking us for our training materials and how we go about it, but it is more about what takes place in the process, our ability to be flexible and adapt to the needs as we see them develop.


We too have long struggled with how to "church" new believers. In our own case, 2 out of every 3 groups end up NOT churching. In my post about catalyst, I mention we have seen over 250 churces started. They have indeed started, but only one out of three remain today.

I read with interest your experiences shared in the "big country". Of course, here, we don't have quite the same government issues as you describe, so security is not really an issue with us. We get most of our questioning and criticism from the established traditional churches who do not understand or agree with many of the things we do.