Church planting movements and “the help that hurts”

I recently finished reading David Garrison’s,  Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World.  This is without a doubt the single most impactful book I’ve read regarding church planting and missions.  If you are even remotely interested in the vision of planting self-replicating churches at home or abroad, you ought to get this book. 

A church planting movement (hereafter, CPM), according to Garrison, is not simply someone who has the burden to go somewhere and start a new church.  Rather it’s a movement.  Movement is defined as rapidly multiplying churches that plant multiplying churches that plant churches.  A healthy mother church that spins off a church plant every few years is NOT a church planting movement.  It’s probably an awesome church, but just not what the author calls a CPM.

CPM’s are needed desparately to reach the several billion unreached people in hard to reach or closed areas around the world.  And Garrison has been there.  He gives dozens of actual examples of amazing CPM’s that are occuring in places like Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  Most if not all of these are totally unknown to most western Christians.  And most of these churches do not look much like the traditional institutional churches of the west. This is the part that really spoke to me and convicted me. 

In the next couple of posts I’ll share some of the incredible data and insight I gained from this read.  I will finish this post with one troubling finding from the book.

There are almost no CPM’s in nations that could be considered easily accessible to Americans.  Almost all true CPM’s currently happening in the world are NOT the product of American methods or money.  To the contrary, the more that Americans are involved, the less likely there will be a CPM created.

The author says this is because an unhealthy dependency is usually created when Americans and their money get involved.  The indigenous leaders soon begin to believe they need the support and leadership of Americans to accomplish their mandate.  Even though many or most of those involved are sincere, this arrangement actually hinders the movement of God’s Spirit in these nations.

Garrison calls this “the help that hurts.”

Get the book.  It will both convict you and create fresh vision at the same time.  I love this kind of book.  I’ll pass on some more insight from the book next time.

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