Monday, April 21

Things God is showing us (Part 1 of 4)

The way to get to a 'church planting movement' is focusing on what it will take to initiate a 'disciple making movement'.

Our focus for many years has been in trying to get churches to reproduce themselves. The whole CPM thing of 'churches planting churches that plant churches' simply hasn't happened in our context.

What we are learning from the Lord is that we need to get back to 'making disciples that make disciples'. The church plants will follow if new disciples are being taught to make disciples themselves.

I have been reminded over and over the past few months that Christ didn't charge us with going out and starting churches. Our assigned task is to 'make disciples'. He has stated, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18)--not, 'WE will build his church'.

God is on mission. He invites us to partner with him in bringing about the Kingdom. In this partnership each "party" is responsible for certain things. If we will do our part and 'make disciples', He will certainly do his part and 'build his church'!

There is nothing new about any of this. But for some reason, we busy ourselves with all kinds of activities other than the clear cut commands and instructions of Christ to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach the new believers to be Christ followers who reproduce themselves into other new disciples.

One of the more helpful and practical books out there on discipleship and church planting is Neil Cole's Organic Church. I quote from page 98...

Trying to multiply churches is starting at the wrong place...We must go further down microscopically, to the smallest unit of Kingdom life if we want to start the multiplication process...The way to see a true church multiplication movement is to multiply healthy disciples, then leaders, then churches, and finally movements--in that order.

As passionate as I am about church planting, I found it perplexing that the Bible never instructs us to start churches...we are not to start churches, but instead to make disciples who make disciples. that is actually the way churches are started...Jesus gave us instruction that is one the molecular level of Kingdom life, for a very good reason: it works. Trying to multiply large, highly complex organisms without multiplying on the micro level is impossible.

Our focus must be on getting back to multiplying healthy reproducing disciples. Trying to get churches to multiply who are filled with non-reproducing believers is futile. Until we get back to basics of being disciples, and multiplying ourselves in others, there is little chance of ever seeing a CPM in our midst.


To see the rest of the series of posts on "Things God is showing us" click on Part 2 of 4, 3 of 4, or 4 of 4.


Mark said...

very true - i look forward to what it takes to develop robust, organic disciples of Christ in Ecuador! Keep up the good writing!

by the way, do you know about ? I think its right up your alley

Anonymous said...

Again, great post. You've inspired me to write about this subject next week over at the crossing. I think we like to focus on CPM because it's easy to create a formula and a process compared to discipleship which can be quite time consuming and messy. But you're right the Great Commission isn't about CPM, it's about discipleship. We need to get back to this.

riley said...

Spot on, Guy. God wants us to be operate on a relational level - with people - and not on an organizational or entity level. We are created to relate!

Jeremy Myers said...

Excellent post. I recently read Organic Church as well and was challenged/corrected by it in a similar way.

Are you using his Life Transformation Group format to make disciples, or something else?

Either way, how is it working?

Tim Patterson said...


Thanks for this post, and the one before it. Recently God has been speaking to me about the same thing. The LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) for multiplying God's kingdom is the disciple. You are right... we should always be about making disciples who will make disciples... this will lead to multiplying leaders, churches and movements that will expand God's kingdom.

I have found there are many different levels of relationships we should have going on in our lives at any given time. We should always have lost people we are investing in, and new believers in our life that we are discipling. We should also have some leaders that we are mentoring. We should always have some new church plants and movement projects that we are catalyzing. All of this can happen simultaneously.

Jesus had the inner circle of three, he had the twelve, he had the seventy, and then he had people from the crowds. Christ sets the best example for how we can disciple and have influence at multiple levels of relationship.

Right now I have two lost people that I am relating to and beginning to disciple... I have two new believers that I am discipling... I have a half dozen leaders that I am mentoring.... and then I have a larger circle of believers and lost people that I am influencing. I am far from perfect in all of these relationships, but by God's grace I hope to see them through.

I think there is a danger of getting bogged down in discipling a few individuals. Many times we invest the majority of our time in those few and then see little fruit in their lives. That is why I think it is important to have the different levels of relationships going on at all times. This way we will always have a number of people to choose from... if those few we are investing in don't respond... there are others to take their place.

Tim Patterson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GuyMuse said...


Thanks! I tried looking up the site but it isn't working for me. Am I typing in the right address?


I'll look forward to reading your post next week. I am all for CPM, but I think we too easily get lost in the forest of CPM and lose site of the trees.


I see you've picked up some of the local language there! :) I see what God is beginning to do here in Ecuador is mobilize the saints into the fields of harvest. We start with family, friends, and work out from there in the relationships that will hopefully become disciples.


Thanks for stopping by. I think the LTG concept is great, but we do not personally use this method. In our COSECHA (Harvest) we teach disciples to:

Orar (pray) for their lost family and friends...

Servir (serve) love, minister to those they are praying for...

Evangelizar (evangelize) seek to win those whom we are serving and praying for...

Conservar (conserve) the fruit by beginning within 48 hours the discipleship route we use to consolidate the decision...

Hogares (home) by meeting in their homes and encouraging all the family, friends and neighbors to begin meeting with us...

Adiestrar (disciple) discipling the new believers and forming a NT church...

That's probably more than you were wanting to know, but that in a nut shell is the method we teach anyone who will listen!


I couldn't have said it any better. Your comment merits a post in itself! Thanks for adding a broader, wider perspective by bringing out the different levels of relationship that we have going. Several others (including my mom!) have tried to say the same thing, and your good words are well received.

Mark said...

Tim, I agree - multiple levels simultaneously. Good contribution to the conversation. However, is this sustainable for bi-vocational workers, or only those few who are missionaries full-time?

Guy, sorry - the url is (i.e. Luke 10!) Its a community of practice for church planters. Started by John White and a few from the DAWN North America Team, which focuses on organic church models. It's been a great forum for discussion and reflection on our practices as church planters. Think "Facebook for church planters".


GuyMuse said...


Thanks for the link correction. Sounds like a great site that I will check out later today.

Tim Patterson said...


You stated/asked, "I agree - multiple levels simultaneously... However, is this sustainable for bi-vocational workers, or only those few who are missionaries full-time?"

I see your point. Many believe it is easier for the "full-time" worker to engage more people at different levels. However, I have found that it can actually be more difficult... Us full-time people are surrounded by believers most of the time and it takes extra effort to engage the lost because of the circles that we run in. "Bi-vocational" or ever better, "lay people", have greater exposure and more opportunities to engage the lost, because they are operating in more domains of society than the "full-time" ministers. Our challenge is engaging people outside of the church where they live, work and play.