Church Planting Movement (CPM) – Our Definition

by davidwatson on June 15, 2009

The term “CPM” is being used by almost anyone in missions to mean anything related to church planting.  When I speak of a CPM on my blog or in anything I write, my team has a very specific meaning.

A Church Planting Movement is an indigenously led Gospel Planting and obedience-based discipleship process that has resulted in a minimum of 100 new locally initiated and led churches, three generations deep, within two years.  There is trained leadership in each church, and each leader relates to a mentor. Every-Member obedience-based discipleship that leads to ministry in the community is the norm for all new Believers and leaders.  The outsider who may have initiated/catalyzed the process is not considered the first generation.  The outside leader may maintain a mentoring relationship with the growing leadership of the movement.

This definition includes leadership, discipleship, ministry, breadth, depth, and time.  Less than 100 churches, regardless of generations, do not constitute a CPM.  More than 100 churches, but not at least 3 generations deep, is not a CPM.  It has to happen within two years or it does not qualify.  The two years can count from the initiation of the work, or count back from a given point in time.  If counting back, 3 new generations must be demonstrated.  If the work is not locally initiated, locally led, and obedience-based, and ministry-producing it is not a CPM.

To see a CPM, the equipping of leadership is critical.  Our definition of leadership includes reproduction of leaders.  A leader makes more leaders regularly, and…

To see a CPM, the obedience-based discipleship of all is essential.  Our definition of a disciple includes obedience and the reproduction of disciples.  An obedient disciple makes more disciples regularly, and…

To see a CPM, Bible study groups reproduce regularly, and…

To see a CPM, churches reproduce regularly, and…

To see a CPM, church members are ministering to their communities, and the Kingdom of God is expanding from individual to individual, family to family, community to community, city to city, and nation to nation.

Blessings!

David Watson

San Jose, California

 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kirk Anderson June 16, 2009 at 12:19 am

David, thanks so much for you regular posts. You are helping me learn, process and apply here in Bulgaria.

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2 Aaron June 16, 2009 at 7:58 am

I love your ideas related to a specific methodology for creating a church planting movement, but you’re being unreasonable. There may be some that use the term so broadly as to mean “anything related to church planting.” But, it would be better to coin a new phrase than to say that a church planting movement is not a church planting movement unless I say so. Say a missionary plants a church and then the next year that church plants another church and then the following year each of those churches plants a church, that is an exponential movement of churches planting churches whatever you want to call it. What do you call it if it only produces 128 churches in 7 years, but within 2 more years it has produced 384 additional churches? Was it not a church planting movement in the first 7 years, but then all of a sudden it was in the 8th and 9th years? There has to be a critical mass reached when starting in a totally new area before the numbers start reflecting what you’re suggesting.

That having been said, I love the aspects of your definition that emphasize regular reproduction of leaders and churches, but making it a numbers game rather than principles acted out, leaving outcomes to God . . . ? Well, I just don’t know.

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3 davidwatson June 16, 2009 at 10:40 am

Hi, Aaron. Please note that I was defining the term CPM as my team uses it. I was not insisting that anyone else use the term in the same way. I was also defining when we call something a CPM, based on 100 churches, 3 generations deep, within 2 years, which have identifiable leadership and ministry to community. The jist of the post was to let you know what we mean when we say CPM, and hopefully, others would tell us what they mean they use the term CPM. The term has become fluid. It is only fair that those who use the term CPM give a definitive statement of what he or she means when it is used. I gave such a statement. I am not imposing my definition, but exposing my definition so others can know what we mean when we use the term.

Blessings!

David Watson
San Jose, California

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4 Aaron June 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

I just read your post “http://www.davidlwatson.org/2007/11/21/the-secret-ingredient-for-church-planting/” and I think I’m starting to see where you’re coming from. I think I need to hear / read more about what you mean when you say that a cpm is an effect not a cause. That very important nuance needs to be emphasized in “your” definition.

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5 David Broodryk June 16, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Thanks, David. I find this helpful and challenging. It is not easy to place numerical boundaries on something such as this without raising eyebrows. However, it does help to provide a clear picture of CPM. When we have numbers (at least 100 churches, 3 generations) we have a definition that is accountable. We know what the term means. The vague undefined use of terms has caused much confusion and misdirection in the Body of Christ (especially in the mass evangelism and some church growth circles). I appreciate you holding your own team to precisely defined terminology.

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6 davidwatson June 16, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Hi, David. This week I am in team meetings. We hold ourselves to this definition, and it was these meetings that prompted me to write this blog post. Our teams currently are experiencing 6 CPMs and have other works that are near CPM. In the near CPMs, all had 3 or more generations, but did not meet the total church count or leadership requirements. We know they will make it next year.

The challenge for me is to measure apples to apples. We can only do that if we have a definition, and hold ourselves to it. I am not asking anyone else to use this definition, but I am asking anyone reporting a CPM to tell us how they measure CPM.

Blessings!

David Watson
San Jose, California

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7 CS July 10, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Thanks David for your definition of CPM. But I do want to ask some questions.
1. Why 2 years? Will you modify this time limit in different context?
2. How do you qualify a “church?” Do you have any criteria for calling a church a church?

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8 davidwatson July 11, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for the questions. The two years part of the definition is based on observation and experience. Rapid reproduction is a key component. What defines rapid? We came down to about 1 new church per week, sustained over two years, with visible reproduction. The third generation part of the definition is a critical mass issue. When we see this we know the likelihood of continuing growth and replication is high.

The primary qualifier for church is fulfilling the nature and functions of church. This is a growth process, but is intentional and moving. Our basic definition is: A group of baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who meet regularly to Worship, nurture each other (teaching ministry), and fellowship (obeying the one-another passages of the Bible); and depart these meetings endeavoring to obey the Word of God in such a way that lives, families, and communities are transformed.

Blessings!

David Watson

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9 CS July 12, 2009 at 11:31 am

Thanks for your answers. Great! I do have some follow up questions:
1. 1 new church per week! What does it mean? How can you do that?
2. For the definition of a church, do you have a minimum number of members before qualifying the group a church?

Blessings,
CS

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10 Bruce G. July 16, 2009 at 9:56 am

David, I love your blog, and learn a lot from it, as well as from your son Paul. I think that your definition is a good place to start, and that at the same time, others may find definitions that
better suit their situation. In any event, I hope (along with you) that others will offer their
own definitions for comment.

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11 ilona sturla June 21, 2011 at 11:18 am

where two are gahtered Jesus is there; when one is added to the kingdom one is added to the church and so the viral additions of God's family growing becomes uncountable and nothing man should boast about.- as we are adding to God's kingdom not our own as man would want to boast..
I get shocked at the institutionalised scaffolding and beaurocracy that has been incorporated into a simple process that God initiated, love and disciple others and if this is done well the process will reproduce itself as it has done for years out of our friendship evangelism without the constitutional debates that detract from the simplicity of the gospel- we do not count but fruit abounds

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12 David_Watson July 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Hi, Ilona. You sentiment sounds good, but does not reflect Scripture. God has commanded us to count. Jesus counted and held people accountable. The issue is if counting is the focus or a measure. If I look at a ruler all day long I can't accomplish much. But if I use it to measure materials and adherence to plans, then something beneficial will come of it. Human nature is to sink the lowest level of accountability. A major problem with the church is that most of us are not held accountable to even make one disciple a year, much less develop systems to reach whole people groups, cities or nations. i will continue to plan and continue to count, because it is the only way I can see if I am making a dent on the lostness of the world and being obedient to make disciples of all nations. Counting is only a problem when it becomes one's focus instead of one's measuring stick.

Blessings!

David Watson

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13 Sug July 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

David,

I'm new to CPM and am just learning what it's about. It seems similar to something my church did some time ago called the Government of 12. (Basically the concept was that since Jesus poured into 12, we should commit to pouring into 12, and they should commit to the same, etc., through home groups.

It was our experience that we got lost somewhere along the line with the concentration being on the numbers and not the people. There was a big push for us to get our 12 firmly planted, but the people (children of God) that He had sent us were all amidst crises in their lives. God's hands were all over it. We saw God deliver people from drugs and pornography and broken marriages restored, but it happened in God's timing. Because of the push for us to get our 12, we pushed people that weren't ready and those people began to feel like they were just numbers in a quota to us.

How could we avoid hurting people like this, if we're putting numbers above loving them?

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14 David_Watson July 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

G12 has certainly had an impact on many lives. My experience is that there are not many who can carry the weight G12 demands. But there are millions who can disciple 1 or 2 people. It's about designing a system that works with 1 or 1000. The CPM we practice is very scaleable. With individuals who can lead one, we coach them to lead one. With those who grow to lead thousands, we coach them to lead thousands. The capacity of the leader is the determining factor within the counsel of Word and leadership of the Holy Spirit. Process is always the same, but leadership issues are addressed at the leaders' capacities.

Blessings!

David Watson

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15 Jared Berryman April 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Question: How many people does it take for you to normally make this to happen initially, 100 churches in 2 years?

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16 davidwatson June 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Hi, Jared. We can almost always track this to a single leader who mentor others and trains/expects them to also train/mentor others.

Blessings!

David Watson

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