Wednesday, October 31

What will CPM look like in Latin America?

One of the questions that continues to intrigue me is trying to figure out the Latin American version of CPM (church planting movements). Though we have been praying and seeking CPM, we are finding there is no one size fits all when it comes to the way God chooses to plant HIS Church.

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?


Gary Snowden said...


What you write about perceiving that God is doing in your midst (the pieces that you're pasting together) really resonates with me. Each of the four items that you mention (before encouraging the 10 steps of Garrison) is a powerful statement.

I like the emphasis on the priority of Kingdom endeavors over the denomination and the idea of multiple church models existing in the same broad movement with respect for the validity of each one.

I will join you in praying that Latin America will experience a significant CPM that is culturally relevant.

GuyMuse said...


There's the old saying, "todo lo agunata el papel" (paper will support anything). While these things look good on paper, they are much more difficult to carry out in the real world. Nevertheless, these are things we feel God is showing us and leading us to throw our weight into. Thanks for the encouragement to continue walking in these directions. We need your prayer support too as we continue to seek a culturally relevant CPM.

Chadd said...

Your recent blog post is timely for me. For at least 3 years, a group us in Guadalajara, Mexico have been praying, thinking and trying to live into a vision that would lead to a CPM in central Mexico.

God is working, but we do not yet see evidence of a CPM here (at least as we've heard them described). We know God is working according to God's time table.

Thanks for your blog.

I am with you in the prayer for movements of God in Latin America--am praying with you to the Lord of the Harvest.

GuyMuse said...


Glad to hear of your keen desire and prayer for CPM there in Mexico. I can't help but feel in my soul that a tidal wave of God's Spirit is about to come crashing down upon this land to the Glory of God. Let's keep up the prayer that God would pour out his Spirit upon all the peoples of Latin America.

tony somervell said...

Thanks for this stimulating post! Our experience here in Paraguay is plough, plough, sow, sow, water, water (there's a lot of drought tho'!) pray, pray, seek, seek, preach, preach, live the Gospel, live the Gospel and persevere, persevere!
We have actually seen little (apparent) fruit over the last ten years, but this is a very traditional Roman Catholic country where mary and the saints + other superstitions have strongholds...
Lord, break through, increase our faith and may your Spirit bring conviction and repentance in us first and then those who are to believe through us!

Camel rider said...

Great post. I'm with the IMB in North Africa and we're asking the same questions you are. Th teaching on CPM is good but we have to remember it's not the only way. God didn't just creat palm trees, he created countless varieties of trees. He's much more creative than we are and will start movmements as diverse as He is. Good stuff.

GuyMuse said...

Tony and Camel Rider,

Thanks to you both for stopping by and for the good comments. I think many of us are in the same boat doing the best we know how, yet praying for a break through where God steps in and does something only He can do. I know on our own team we are constantly seeking to realign ourselves with what we understand God is showing us. It's good to know others out there like yourselves are dealing with many of the same issues and questions. Blessings on you both in your respective ministries.