Over the past few years, a not-so-quiet revolution has been sweeping across the world of frontier missions. That revolution involves movements—Kingdom Movements. They began popping up on our (David Garrison’s) radars in the 90s. We (David) defined movements as “rapidly multiplying indigenous churches planting churches that sweep across a people group or population segment.” For more on this, see my (David’s) book, Church Planting Movements, WIGTake Resources, 2004. For typical benchmarks you might look for parameters like:
• 1000 or more people coming to Christ,
• In a relatively short period of time (12-18 months)—rapidly-multiplying—and
• Four or more streams of growth in the same general city/region/tribe/people.
The phrase, “four or more streams,” can be understood as four or more genealogical “trees” that are separate but related (For more on movements and case studies, see, for example, my (David’s) A Wind in the House of Islam, Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2014).
As of June, 2020, researchers have found evidence of 1,369 movements involving over 76 million people and 4.8 million groups or simple churches (see the dashboard at https://2414now.net/resources/). This data points to a sea change in missions. It represents the single most significant shift in global missionary strategy in the past century. Millions of new followers are glorifying Jesus Christ as divine and as the Lord of their lives. This is the end goal of missions and the Church. This is the purpose to which we’ve been called.
Among mission agencies, churches, and missionaries, initials like CPM (Church Planting Movement) and DMM (Disciple Making Movement) have become commonplace, sometimes used synonymously, while at other times defined by their differences. The truth is—there’s no one person or office defining strategies and approaches. One trainer once quipped to me, “The most effective training session will always be the one you just completed.” In fact, it’s tempting for every single implementer to conclude that his or her approach is the most biblical, most effective and most efficient way to go about it. Granted, part of this could be due to the fact that we are all experiencing different “edges” of kingdom growth—and they seldom look exactly the same in each and every case. As a result, ask five blind men to describe the elephant they’ve just touched—and you might get five different answers depending on which part of the elephant they touched—even though they all touched the same animal. So although we now have a fairly clear picture of the goal, there is a diversity of roles that humankind can play in setting the stage for the Holy Spirit to bring about a movement.
The Primacy of Prayer
In spite of variation in strategy and approach, however, it seems universally true across all spectrums that all these movements have begun by emphasizing prayer for the lost (Garrison, 2004). That’s probably the one key strategy upon which everyone agrees. In our (Doug’s) own agency (Team Expansion), we’ve actually started tracking how many hours we pray for the lost in each of our respective regions. Prayer has gone from being a ceremony before a meal or a two-minute prayer during a group worship service to becoming the primary start-up strategy in every field!
The Geography of Movements Thus Far
In spite of monumental growth around the globe, unfortunately, precious few (handfuls) of those movements are said to be taking place in the West (see the 24:14 Dashboard.1) Meanwhile, more and more churches have witnessed and are witnessing testimony after testimony of movements overseas. For this reason and others, it seems prudent to ask, “What strategies, if any, can foster CPMs/DMMs in North America? How can we remove the barriers for movements so that God’s Spirit might do, here, what He is doing elsewhere?” These are ongoing questions with no clear answers. Leaders of churches of all sizes are asking, “Is this approach going to work in North America?” They’ve learned the hard way to be ruthless and relentless in evaluating what they assume are new plans and programs. In reality, CPM/ DMM strategies are not gimmicks or even methods. They are life practices, strategies and biblical instructions. For this reason, it now seems more critical than ever that we define very carefully what we mean when we say, “CPM/ DMM strategies.”