10 Characteristics of Church Planting Movements

Few things get me more excited than the hope and thrill of major, massive movements toward Jesus on earth. And over the last number of years, there has been unprecedented fruit in the world through what have been called "church planting movements". A basic common definition of a church planting movement by most missiologists would be:

"A rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment."

David Watson defines it even further HERE. He says that:

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.

According to significant global missions leaders who are responsible for some of this stuff (and who I have had the privilege of meeting this year), there are approximately 120 verified church planting movements on earth today: 35 in China, 35 in India, 25 in East Africa and 25 in West Africa. These movements represent millions of simple, Biblical churches.

Finally, I have referenced several CPM characteristic lists and came up with my own compilation. Following are 10 key characteristics to church planting movements:

  1. Crazy fervent prayer
  2. Passionate, fearless and abundant gospel sowing
  3. Scriptural authority through Self-Discovery and community Bible discernment.
  4. Led by Local leaders, not outsiders. Authority is decentralized making it difficult to identify a "top leader." (this ensures Jesus the glory more easily)
  5. Radical Obedience-Based Discipleship focus.
  6. Size is small and structure is simple churches (and among natural communities)
  7. Churches plant churches intentionally (in their DNA from start) and quickly (1-6 months max).
  8. Passionate and creative worship in the heart language.
  9. Rapid, fairly chaotic growth that is often uncountable.
  10. Suffering and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel.

If you are interested, here is a video  on CPMs that you may appreciate: Click here.