Movements in the book of Acts

Vance Pitman is someone I only learned about recently. He has planted a church in Las Vegas that has grown rapidly and has led over one thousand people to Christ. He is not a movement pioneer as we understand it in missiology, but he “gets it” when it comes to God doing the amazing multiplication of the book of Acts all over again. This message titled “THEM” from Acts 11:19-26 is good stuff. Enjoy.



Two Thirds Prayer

In relation to the last post on the importance of prayer for small group health, I came across this interesting end note in the same book:

“The reality of keeping the Bible study central without letting it overwhelm the other components of the meeting was brought home to me by an insight that my friends David & Lois Gardner shared with me. The Gardners were visiting the world’s largest church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, in the early 1990’ s. The church has over twenty thousand small groups, and the modern small group movement was launched in this church in 1964. Pastor Yonggi Cho’s personal secretary, American missionary Lydia Swain, shared with the Gardners and other foreign guests visiting the church that Sunday, that when small groups were first launched at YFGC, their format was two-thirds Bible study and one-third prayer. Using this format the groups did not go very well. The groups’ growth took off, however, when they shifted to one-third Bible study and two-thirds prayer.”


Small Groups, Big Impact

by Jim Egli and Dwight Marable

you could miss out on….

“What I have seen over the last decade tells me that movements are not the mere work of men. They are the work of the Spirit. If God is actually in the middle of movements, then to ignore them means you could miss out on the most significant work of God since the Reformation. Why not take the risk, look over the horizon and ask the Lord to show you what He is about in the world?”

Robert Reach
Movements That Move

A history lesson – what killed a Church Planting Movement

The Baptists and Methodists flourished because they mobilized common people to preach the gospel and plant churches wherever there was a need. The Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Congregationalists languished because they were controlled by well-paid clergy who were recruited from the social and financial elite. Early growth was dramatic for the Methodists – from 2.5 percent of the church-going population in 1776 to 34 percent in 1850, with four thousand itinerant preachers, almost eight thousand local preachers and over one million members. This made them by far the largest religious body in the nation. There was only one national institution that was more extensive – the U.S. government. This achievement would have been impossible without the mobilization of ordinary people – white and black, young and old, men and women – and the removal of artificial barriers to their engagement in significant leadership as class leaders, local workers and itinerant preachers. Unfortunately, the Methodist rise was short-lived. Whereas before 1840 the Methodists had virtually no college-educated clergy among their circuit riders and local preachers, their amateur clergy were gradually replaced by seminary-educated professionals who claimed the authority of the church hierarchy over their congregations. Their relative slump began at the same time; by the end of the nineteenth century the Baptists had overtaken them in numbers.

Steve Addison

Movements That Change The World

Bible College / Seminary training hinders more than helps

The mode of training is also critical, particularly at the earlier levels of training. The problem with a Bible college or seminary-type training is that it uses a classroom-academic methodology that is inconsistent with the model of church that is being planted. The college – trained church planter may often feel uncomfortable with the informal atmosphere of the home gathering or the church under a tree. He or she wants to preach extensively rather than equip the people to discover the truth from God‘s Word for themselves so that they can become mature believers, not dependent on the church planter. The mode and tools of training should be consistent with the expected model of church.

Extractive training should also be avoided if possible. When emerging leaders are removed for significant periods of time from their local community they become an outsider to their own community. They often return from the training (if they return at all) with an outsider (and academic) view of church and ministry, with strange ideas and habits and are no longer able to relate naturally to their people.

On-the-job training is much more effective in terms of rapid church multiplication. This continuous training is done primarily through a discipling/mentoring relationship between the coordinator/trainer and the church planter. It reflects Jesus‘ model of training with the disciples. They were almost constantly with Him.

David Hunt

Church Multiplication in East Africa

There is a ready army of workers

Every believer, specially gifted by the Spirit of God, is to be a minister in the work of the Kingdom. Kingdom work is not the domain of the ―professional trained paid church planter/pastor/leader. In fact, the separation of clergy and laity has perhaps become one of the greatest barriers to the engagement of the believers in the ministry. This unbiblical class distinction leaves most believers with a secondary role in the work of the ministry. Classified as laity or volunteers they are generally expected to serve the professional leaders in secondary functions leaving the important roles to those who are trained, credentialed, and paid.

The criticality of discipling every believer, because every believer is to be a minister using the gifts assigned to them by the Spirit, leaves no one out. There are no spectators. Everyone must be empowered to do what God has ordained them to do.

This fundamentally changes the role of the church planters. They must resist the temptation of doing the work and focus on equipping the new believers to do the work of the ministry. From the very beginning nothing is done by the church planter that could be done by the local believers. It becomes part of the DNA of the new church. The ministry is done by the believers and unless the believers do the ministry it doesn‘t get done. It is an unhealthy church where the church planter or paid pastor is the minister and the people are the spectators, or are relegated to secondary roles of ministry.

When the people are the ministers there is a ready army of workers. The local believers win their neighbors to Christ. The local believers lead the newly formed church including all the functions of church. The local believers minister to the needs of the people in the community. The local believers go out and plant new churches. Rapid church multiplication simply cannot happen through a strategy of ―professional paid ministers. It will only happen when the believers are empowered and engaged in the work of the ministry.

David Hunt

Church Multiplication in East Africa

Muslim Sheikhs as Persons of Peace

Initially in the East Africa project the Muslim sheikhs were avoided. They were considered to be the enemy. As the principle of the person of peace began to take hold, some church planters started to focus on the sheikhs. They were indeed often the spiritually sensitive people in the community. They were influential with the people. Many sheikhs were discovered to be the person of peace to bring the gospel into the community. In one part of the Rift Valley the church planter began to seek out sheikhs with the gospel message. Within three months, five local sheikhs had become believers and were deeply engaged in a discipleship process with the church planter sometimes meeting together several times a week. These five then began to carefully share the newly discovered ―truth with other sheikhs in nearby communities. Within twelve months, seventy-two sheikhs became followers of Jesus. The goal in this area is to see one thousand sheikhs become Christ- followers and then to ―go public. The desire is that the entire community will be transformed through the power of the gospel.

David Hunt

Church Multiplication in East Africa

The Importance of the Person of Peace

“Perhaps no one principle in this strategy of church planting has had such a singularly powerful impact as the principle of finding the person of peace. From a strategic perspective it becomes one of the key elements in this overall process. Many church planters have been freed from the overwhelming burden of an institutional/traditional method of church planting by adopting the person of peace principle.”

“Nekarat is a diligent and committed church planter. For years he worked tirelessly succeeding in establishing thirteen churches throughout his region. By most accounts he was a very successful church planter. But for Nekarat it was not enough. Learning the principle of the person of peace he immediately changed his whole approach and began looking for that special person or family that God had already prepared in each community to receive the gospel message and to open their community to the gospel. Within the next two years seventy new churches emerged in his region.”

David Hunt

    Church Multiplication in East Africa

Within three months, thirty of his neighbors had become believers in Jesus….

One of the best resources to learn about DMM/CPM is free.  It is the doctoral dissertation that David Hunt wrote about how he was used to catylize a DMM/CPM in East Africa.

When he was twenty-two years old, Ibrahim turned from being trained as a sheikh to becoming an ardent follower of Jesus. He was so thrilled that he had ―found the truth‖ that he could not stop himself from telling others about it. First he led his wife to Christ, then his cousin Eyobe. Within three months, thirty of his neighbors had become believers in Jesus, creating no small stir in his Islamic community where his father was the current sheikh. Needing to band together, this small group of believers met regularly to support each other, study the Word together, worship their new-found God, and talk about how to reach still more. Ibrahim and Eyobe met regularly with the local church planter for discipleship, but the church planter was not regularly in the village and did not lead any church services. After a few more months, Ibrahim had a passion to take the ―truth that he had recently discovered to the next community so he took his cousin Eyobe and began to look for an open listener in the neighboring village. After initial resistance it was the sheikh of that community who first responded to the gospel, and through his witness a new community of believers quickly emerged. Ibrahim and Eyobe moved on to the next community where again God moved and a church was born. Eyobe planted three churches in less than twelve months because no one told him he couldn‘t! He did the thing that naturally came out of the passion of his heart to share Jesus with his community and those around Him. Today these communities of believers are continuing to grow and mature as the people learn how to become obedient follow of Jesus.

David Hunt

      Church Multiplication in East Africa

A Free Resource

I just finished reading a doctoral dissertation on T4T written by Steve Smith, who was the co-author of the T4T book with Ying Kai. Smith has been involved with T4T since the early days of CPM research, and has implemented T4T successfully with a rural tribal group in Asia and has taught T4T to missionaries and consulted on various CPM initiatives for many years. He is probably one of the 10 most knowledgeable people on the subject of Church Planting Movements / Disciple Making Movements. This dissertation is book length and includes far more in-depth information about T4T than the book mentioned above. You can download a copy here for free.

However, I am also aware that most won’t take the time to read through a 350+ page doctoral dissertation, so I’m going to just highlight here in the blog some things that caught my attention as I read it.

In the last post I surveyed the 3/3rds process that is the genius of Ying Kai. I mentioned the 4 essential elements that are necessary for multiplication. I want to just quote a few comments from Steve Smith on this subject.

“It has been observed in T4T training around the world that a general lack of awareness prevails about the three-thirds process in general and the four essential reproduction components in particular. In the International Mission Board where T4T was developed, a general lack of awareness prevails in many contexts despite (and sometimes because of) the T4T training received.

I personally find in my T4T training of missionaries, church planters and pastors globally, that these four components are the greatest surprise of the discipling process of T4T. In general, it seems that would-be T4T implementers typically drop many or all of these four components from their training time for two main reasons: lack of awareness of them (i.e. they do not realize they are essential elements of the T4T process) or the pressure of time. In regards to the latter, when trainers are pressed for time, (e.g. the meeting starts late, so they have less time for their T4T meeting), the elements of the seven most commonly dropped to save time are these reproduction essentials. The typical order of what is left out is:
• Practice (most common; the meeting is out of time)
• Accountability (second most common; the trainer is uncomfortable with this)
• Vision casting (third most common; the trainer forgets its importance)
• Setting Goals with Prayer (fourth most common; the meeting runs out of time)”

As one would expect in a doctoral dissertation, Smith did research via surveys of CPM practitioners and drew conclusions from the statistical analysis of the responses and the relative success of those practitioners. Without boring you with the details, I’ll just quote his summary of those results:

“The top performers emphasize all the components except new lesson more than the bottom performers. This indicates an attempt to create a well-rounded meeting, even sacrificing / shortening a new Bible Study at times in order to help the trainers [disciples] work through problems or get to reproduction. In contrast, bottom performers emphasize the Bible study (new lesson) element much more than the top performers… It is important to note, that while the top performers struck a healthy balance of all seven components, the four reproduction components were among the most frequently practiced. This regimen appears to indicate purposefulness by these practitioners to get to reproduction – to implement a new way of discipling that enables their members to become disciple makers.”

In the next post I will describe some things I learned and that surprised me about Vision Casting.