For several years, the missions organization that we are part of (the IMB) has encouraged us to implement CPM methodology and principles. Over the years we have marveled at the incredible harvest stories coming in from these God movements around the globe. But these reports are always from places with non-Spanish names and people groups.
David Garrison, in his classic "Church Planting Movements" defines a CPM as a "rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment..." While there is more to it than that, this gives a general idea of what it is we are talking about.
In the book Garrison identifies ten common elements found in every CPM taking place around the world.
1-Extraordinary Prayer (we are talking about a lot of serious praying going on)
2-Abundant Evangelism (the idea of sow abundantly=reap abundantly; sow sparsely=reap sparsely)
3-Intentional Church Planting (not just evangelism, but planting new churches with the new converts, not trying to get them into existing churches)
4-Authority of God's Word (not only in doctrine, but in church practice)
5-Local Leadership (locals "call the shots" not so much the foreign missionaries)
6-Lay Leadership (not seminary trained professional pastors, but everyday lay people in leadership positions)
7-House Churches (no church buildings, instead many small home-based churches averaging 10-20 per house)
8-Churches Planting Churches (the idea of multiplying new groups rather than adding numbers to existing groups)
9-Rapid Reproduction (they multiply very quickly and in short time)
10-Healthy Churches (rapid reproduction in no way means lower quality, deficent teaching, or unhealthy church life)
I love each and every one of the ten elements described above. They are all important and exciting aspects of God's Kingdom. What I am struggling to understand is God's version of CPM for our local context. What will the above look like in Guayaquil? What forms will emerge from these ten elements?
For the past seven years we have sought to implement a model that is producing extraordinary results in Asia and Africa. As hard as we have tried, we have simply not seen the same level of fruit as those working in places like India and China. Are the missionaries serving there somehow smarter, wiser, more spiritual than those of us in Latin America? I think not.
My conclusion is that God is up to something very special and different for the Latin American context. He is indeed "alive and well" but has yet to fully reveal what He is up to in bringing about His Kingdom in the Spanish/Portuguese speaking world!
What has been lacking is for someone to do in Latin America what David Garrison and others have done in Asia. We need to identify God's activity in the LA context and put a framework around it. We need to put our heads together and discern what God is up to in our own local contexts.
Our GMT (Guayas Mestizo Team) continually wrestles with these issues. We want to join God in what He is doing. We don't want to be "spinning our wheels" trying to do something that He never intended for us in the first place.
As a team, we are beginning to paste together together some of the pieces the Lord is revealing. For now, the "hints" are along the lines of understanding the importance of...
1) unity, harmony and strong relationships across evangelical lines (Kingdom first, denominations second),
2) multiple church models working side by side (house, cell, traditional, simple, and hybrids) accepting the validity of each as legitimate expressions of ekklesia,
3) getting back to the basics of "making disciples" as our main task,
4) training and mobilizing the saints in the pews out into the harvest fields; "empowering them" to take on tasks traditionally reserved for professional pastors and missionaries.
5) and yes, continue to pursue the ten CPM elements above, every one of them is a powerful arrow in the strong bow of our Lord
The Church in Latin America is indeed exploding in growth, but it is not along the same lines as the Asia CPMs. I have a strong sense that God is up to something truly remarkable in bringing about His Kingdom here, but have yet to decipher the mystery of all that God is up to in our midst. All we have so far are clues, hints, hope, anticipation, and faith that God is up to something really BIG!
What will CPM look like in Latin America? Only God knows. But in the mean time we are asking God for 500,000 new disciples in the coming five years in Guayas. We understand our task as making disciples. His to build His Church in whatever forms it may be expressed.
How many new disciples are you praying for?
Will you pray with us--I mean not just read this--but really pray for a continent wide spiritual awakening and revival and a massive bringing in of the harvest in Latin America?