the Gospel spread like a grassfire…

From Brian Hogan’s story of a CPM in Mongolia:

We had been trained to expect that cross-cultural evangelism would be one of the first and most difficult hurdles our team would face. I know that many church planting teams working among unreached groups experience much of their struggle just getting the Good News across the cultural divide in a bold and effective manner. We were ready for this battle, but it never came. The one church planting task our team did not handle “in-house” was evangelism. We outsourced this job to overseas Asians. Mongolians have a natural gifting when it comes to sharing their faith. They just can’t keep good news to themselves. After short-term teams of Mongolian believers won a foothold for God in Erdenet, we had watched in amazement as those first converts, not hindered by cultural differences, quickly began to win their friends and neighbors to Christ. In the first year the teenaged girls who formed the early core won their peers, but through summer and fall of ’94, the Gospel spread like a grassfire through all age groups and both genders. Our New Believers classes were crowded, with many older people getting saved, and even some of our shyest and most unassuming members leading their neighbors to Christ. The believers poured out their hearts in prayer for family, neighbors, their countrymen and even other nations in our weekly prayer gatherings and in the house church meetings. And those prayers were answered. We church planters were so quickly thrust into discipling the growing band of converts that we never really had to do much evangelism ourselves—at least among Mongolians. But we did look for opportunities anyway, at work, on the long overnight train journeys between Ulaanbaatar and Erdenet, and as we lived out our lives in the community. Indeed, with so many Mongolian believers, it made little sense to cross barriers of language and culture to carry the Good News ourselves when we were far more effective training Mongolians to win their own people. We had learned during our training that when locals began sharing the Gospel with their neighbors, it was a signal to the church planting team to shift gears and concentrate their energies on discipleship and leadership training.

From There’s A Sheep in My Bathtub
by Brian Hogan

he has baptized 230 people and started 35 churches….

“Gohar is a farmer and day worker. He earns about $1.75 from the landowner for each day of hard work in the rice field. During good weather, he works 25 days out of an average month. Gohar also takes care of his own 1/3 acre and supplements his income by growing rice and fresh vegetables. One day his father learned about Isa (Jesus, in Arabic) and became a disciple of Christ. Through his father’s inspiration, Gohar became a believer in the Lord and became active in telling his family and friends. At the time of this writing, he has baptized 230 people and started 35 churches. Gohar has reproduced himself in many other leaders and now invests in ten Learning Communities, where the leaders of these churches gather for support and ongoing instruction.”


from Movements That Move

by Robert Reach

Are We Calling People To The Same Thing Jesus Called Them To?

“After all, Jesus did not call a bunch of fishermen by saying,

“Follow me and I’ll help you grow spiritually.”

He called them to something greater than personal growth. His bid was for them to grow spiritually to the extent that they became fishers of men. They were called into disciple making in order that they might do the works of God—that they would be strong enough to make disciples of their own, who would in turn make disciples of others.”

Making Disciples
By Ralph Moore
Loc 1272

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

The Single most important thing….

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

John 6:63 (ESV)

I recently re-read Small Groups, Big Impact by Jim Egli and Dwight Marable.  This book is based on a research project that these men conducted to answer the question, what are the factors that impact conversion growth through small groups?  They surveyed over 3000 small group leaders in 21 countries using a survey instrument and interviews to discover the right things that groups should do to be effective fishers of men.  I thought that their findings had applications for DMM / CPM in several respects.  David Garrison found that the first characteristic of CPM’s is extraordinary prayer.  I’ll just lift some quotes from the book to give you a sneak peak into their findings:

The practice that impacts the health and growth of a small group the most is the prayer life of its leader.  If you walk away from this book with only one insight, perhaps it should be this: If you want a vibrant and growing small group, consistently take time to grow in your relationship with God!

The prayer life of the leader correlates positively with the other three dimensions of small group health—Reach, Care, and Empower. Leaders who pray more have groups that are more outward focused. Their groups also experience more community and are more engaged in mobilizing new leadership. But the prayer life of the leader has a particularly strong impact on the evangelistic effectiveness of a group.

the amount of difference that a leader’s prayer life makes on a group’s evangelistic impact is startling. Our research reveals that leaders with a strong prayer life have groups that are more than four times more fruitful evangelistically.

Our research, involving thousands of small groups, dramatically underlines the simple Biblical truth: When we pray, we see God do awesome things! If you want others drawn to Jesus and their lives changed, pray. If you want Jesus’ life flowing to you and through you, draw near to him. Life-giving ministry depends on God and his abilities, not on you and your abilities!

prayer-in-small-groupswe were surprised to discover that the amount of time spent preparing the Bible lesson shows no correlation whatsoever to small group growth. In other words, the leaders who spend five hours preparing the Bible lesson for their groups have groups that grow no faster than the leaders who spend five minutes preparing the lesson! Amazing but true. It does make a dramatic difference, however, how much time the leader spends praying for his small group meeting.

Interestingly, when we asked leaders how much time they spend preparing the lesson and how much time they spend praying for their small group meeting, most leaders told us that they spend far more time preparing their lesson than they do praying for their meeting! Few leaders realize that lesson preparation makes a negligible difference in group health and growth, but prayer makes a big difference. It is much more important to prepare your heart than it is to prepare your notes!

having a vibrant group depends more on God than on you. Your primary role is to tune into him.

we asked small group leaders how much time they spent watching television in the average day. The statistical analysis showed an extremely strong negative correlation between small group growth and the amount of time the leader spent watching television. Most likely this correlation simply means that when we do things that take large amounts of time away from relationship with God and relationship with others—it adversely affects those relationships.”

From Small Groups, Big Impact

by Jim Egli

Nonreproducible methods

“As a church planting coach in Cambodia, I once brought lanterns for use in a drama, a contextualized performance of the Bible story about Ruth and Naomi. I say contextualized in that the Cambodian church planters allowed the surrounding context to influence the style and nuances of the play. The Cambodian farmers were only able to meet at night after they came in from the fields, so I thought it would be beneficial to provide artificial lighting. I also brought a few other resources from the city to enhance the drama and create a pleasant atmosphere in this village setting. I viewed the lanterns as a simple act of kindness and a way to increase the effectiveness of this friendly community event.

A couple of weeks later, the church planters and I were preparing for another storytelling gathering. The church planters gave me a list of things I could bring to the gathering: a tarp, a car battery, and a portable stereo. As I held the list, I realized that I had made a momentous mistake. I was thinking of the success of the immediate event. “What will make this ministry event that I am a part of succeed in a timely manner?” This short-term thinking was a problem for several reasons. One, I communicated through my actions that the local resources of that village were somehow inferior. Two, I conditioned the church planters to feel a need to access resources not readily available to them in order to succeed in this ministry and future church plants. Third, if the church-in-process were to daughter a church in the future, they would want to use external resources to do it, as I had modeled to them.

This whole method can be summed up in one word: nonreproducible.”

We Are Not The Hero
Jean Johnson
Loc 1201

The crippling effect of dependency

“At one point, I was working in conjunction with a local Cambodian pastor to train some of his members to plant daughter churches. The soon-to-be church planters sat in a circle, and I asked them to share their experiences of why and how they came into a faith journey with Jesus. Their testimonies revealed that most of them began their faith journey because they received glasses, rice, land plots, or employment from Christian organizations. Upon hearing their stories, I knew that their experiences of how they came to know Christ would greatly affect their church planting approaches. As the church planters launched into various areas to plant churches, they began to ask the pastor and me for glasses, rice, land, and jobs for other people as a means to share their faith. The pastor did not have these types of resources readily available. I considered my options and realized that the only way I could keep this church planting process alive was to feed into the chain of unhealthy dependency. I was not willing to create a spirit of dependency around myself. So I declined their requests as well. One by one, the church planters quit when they realized they would not personally receive ongoing handouts and salaries or goods to pass on to potential believers within their realm of ministry.

Despite the majority withdrawal, several of these Cambodian church planters stayed the course. As they visited people and shared about Jesus, a question was repeatedly posed to them: “How much money do you make, and can you get me a job too?” Folk Buddhists among their community perceived the Cambodian church planters as paid hirelings of a foreign organization. Even worse, many Cambodians perceived those who joined the “Jesus religion” as traitors who were lured by opportunity for handouts, money, and jobs.”

We Are Not The Hero
By Jean Johnson
Location 2077

do the opposite…

Earl Nightingale was a entrepreneur and leadership guru of the last generation.  He has hit on exactly the dynamic that is involved in the counterintuitive aspects of DMM / CPM.  There is a reason why this approach works.  It is that the majority is wrong.

“If you enter a market and don’t know what to do, watch what everyone else is doing, and then do the opposite, if you want to be successful. The majority is almost always wrong.”

Earl Nightingale

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