danger of modern day CPM’s


Danger of Modern Day CPM’s
This is a review of Reaching and Teaching, by M. David Sills

CPM’s is the current wave of getting the gospel quickly into unreached communities. What is a CPM? CPM stands for: Church Planting Movement. Ideally the concept is an incredible vision with the multiplication of Christ’s church blooming where they have never been planted. The idea behind a CPM is to plant a church that plant churches that plant more churches. Thus you have a movement of churches being planted.

However, in the modern missions era speed to get the gospel out is the goal rather than making sure believers really get the gospel. M. David Sills in his book, Reaching and Teaching adds, “Global Christianity is growing in such a way that truth is considered to be that which works; pragmatism rules in the absence of propositional truth.” [29]

Missionaries are more into wrestling with which level of contextualization they are comfortable with and the best way they can orally speak the stories of Scripture [don’t get me wrong these are not horrible issues to wrestle]. All the while they are wavering from what really matters in the mission: the gospel, in all its gruesome and gorgeous culture-transcending glory.

About 10-years ago, I was involved in a church planting apprenticeship in the Western Cape of South Africa. There I observed a church planting movement 25+ years in the making. That is a long time, according to modern CPM’s. In the Cape there were multiple churches in multiple locations working together to get the gospel spread throughout their region. The planter was committed to these people for life [i.e. multiple generations]. Not only were churches being planted, but pastors were being trained and discipleship was happening within the churches at a healthy rate. Sills echoes,

“When the church growth outstrips your trained leadership, you are in trouble; weak and dysfunctional churches abound. [24] If we are not training national believers to believe biblically solid Christian doctrine and to interpret the Word of God correctly, the day will soon come when those who represent Christ in this world will be preaching a gospel that Jesus never gave.” [29]

What is essential before a church is capable of being autonomous? Or the leadership is fully trained? Here is where opinions differ. Let’s side with the Puritan view of ministry, “The basic qualification of personal godliness and giftedness coupled with single-minded learning in the interpretation of the Scripture; a spirit of prayerfulness; a deep care for the people of God; and the ability to unfold the mysteries of the gospel in a manner which reached into men’s hearts and touched their consciences–and all set within context of a prayerful dependence on the Lord.” [169] The Puritan’s planted solid churches, which still have remnants today.

Here is a solid CPM vision that I recently took note of while in  North Africa, an unreached climate:

“The team recognizes that, for the health of the church, at some point it will be necessary for the team to disengage from the church-planting process.  Recognizing that other missions may still be in progress, the team will remove itself from any participation it has within the church. When the following are present in the church, the team will disengage: first, there is at least a 3rd generation church (the 1st church has planted a 2nd church, and the 2nd church has planted a 3rd one). Second, the churches contain all the key elements of church as defined by the team.”

The key word above is generation. The key to gospel ministry and leaving a CPM is to be sure the people get the gospel, are growing in grace, and are engaging others with the gospel. The gospel is what transforms lives, reinforces righteous living, and marks true church planting movements. The urgency to get the gospel out to unreached people is great, but it must be packaged with generational reaching and reaching. There is a danger in using Speed as the best option to get the gospel to the unreached; rather patient discipleship over generation[s] making sure the gospel sinks below the surface of a communities culture.

Book Reviewed: M. David Sills, Reaching and Teaching, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL. 2010.

I would highly recommend this book to new missionaries or seasoned missionaries considering new methods.

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