David Watson is one of those few.
In one of his recent blog entries entitled The Secret Ingredient for Church Planting David shares some very helpful thoughts about CPM that are not only instructive but affirming to me and the direction our team is sensing God's guidance...
God began to teach me through many failures that I had to focus on making Disciples of Christ, not followers of my church or denomination, and teach them to obey all the commands of Jesus, not my church/denominational doctrines or traditions. And this is what led to the breakthrough that has resulted in more than 40,000 churches among a people who were once considered unreachable.
Many people use the term “CPM” to describe or justify what they are doing. But, on closer examination, I find that many groups who use this term are simply applying it to what they have always done. CPM is not a method! It is an observation of results. In my experience, and this is what I teach, CPM is the result of obedience-based discipleship that sees disciples reproducing disciples, leaders reproducing leaders, and churches reproducing churches. If this is not happening, it is not CPM.
True CPM methodology is about being disciplined in education, training, and mentoring to obey all the commands of Jesus, regardless of consequences. The results are not quick. They only appear to be quick because of exponential growth. When one is truly engaged in the process that leads to observable CPM, then one is spending years investing in leaders. The typical investment timeline is two to four years. But, because of the replication process due to obedience to make disciples and teach them to obey, in this same two to four years, as many as five more leaders, who are also developing more leaders, will emerge. Each leader is investing two to four years in other leaders who invest two to four years in other leaders, and so on. The apparent result is explosive growth that does not seem to take much time and energy. But appearances are misleading.
CPM is extremely time and energy intensive. Leaders invest a major portion of their time in equipping other leaders. Churches invest in starting more groups that will become churches as they obey the teachings of Christ and begin to fulfill the nature and functions of church, which means they teach others to do the same.
There were no visible or measureable results the first four years of my ministry among a very resistant unreached people group. My mission was ready to discipline me for failure to do my job. But during those years I was equipping five leaders. These five leaders began to equip twenty-five more leaders, who in turned equipped hundreds of other leaders.
A few churches became more churches as leaders were equipped and trained to obey all the commands of Christ. More churches became hundreds of churches as the leadership equipping process continued. Every leader has years invested in him or her by other leaders. Nothing is quick. It only appears to be quick because more and more leaders are being produced in obedience to the command of Christ to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)
So, CPM rapid multiplication really isn’t. We go slow in order to appear to go fast. We invest extensively in one in order to reach and train many. Our goal is to add at least two new leaders to our mentoring process each year, and equip the new leaders to do the same every year. As leaders multiply, churches grow and multiply.
If you really want to have CPM anywhere in the world, invest in teaching, training and mentoring leaders to obey all the commands of Christ. If you want to evaluate a so-called CPM, examine the discipleship and leadership equipping process. Real and lasting CPMs invest heavily in leadership and training. CPM is a result, not a cause.
The above words affirm the direction our team senses the Lord leading us. After years of deliberate church planting emphasis, we are restructuring ourselves into what we are calling the "Centro de Apoyo Para la COsecha" CAPCO (Harvest Support Center.)
We understand our task as primarily that of "making disciples." We do this by teaching, training, and mentoring of leaders. To be honest, it has caused me to panic in that our primary focus is NOT church planting. How will we ever plant churches if that ceases to be our focus? But the conviction is strong amongst our team that if we stick with the very things David is talking about above, we will position ourselves to be on the road to seeing a genuine CPM here in Ecuador.
The past few months we have thoroughly examined and revamped our whole discipleship and leadership equipping process. Will it pay off? Time will tell. David speaks of little visible or measurable results until after four years. We have been at it for seven now without the longed for results. With our change in focus, are we now looking at an additional four years before we begin to see the true fruits coming forth from our labors? Only the Lord knows, but we are excited about the coming days and what we sense God will do to bring glory to His Name.