In 1998, the International Mission Board Overseas Leadership Team adopted a vision statement: We will facilitate the lost
coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ by beginning and nurturing Church Planting Movements among all peoples. This vision
statement guides the work of nearly 5,000 IMB missionaries serving in more than 150 countries around the world.
So, what is a Church Planting Movement? A simple, concise definition of a Church Planting Movement (CPM) is a rapid and
multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.
There are several key components to this definition. The first is rapid. Church Planting Movement occurs with rapid increases
in new church starts. Saturation church planting over decades and even centuries is good, but doesn not qualify as a Church
Secondly, there is a multiplicative increase. This means that the increase in churches is not simply incremental growth
adding a few churches every year or so. Instead, it compounds with two churches becoming four, four churches becoming eight
to 10 and so forth. Multiplicative increase is only possible when new churches are being started by the churches themselves
rather than by professional church planters or missionaries.
Finally, they are indigenous churches. This means they are generated from within rather than from without. This is not
to say that the gospel is able to spring up intuitively within a people group. The gospel always enters a people group from
the outside; this is the task of the missionary. However, in a Church Planting Movement the momentum quickly becomes indigenous
so that the initiative and drive of the movement comes from within the people group rather than from outsiders.
If this definition is not enough, we might also clarify what a Church Planting Movement is not. A Church Planting Movement
is more than evangelism that results in churches.Evangelism that results in churches is a part of a Church Planting Movement,
but the end-vision is less extensive. A church planter might satisfy himself with the goal of planting a single church or
even a handful of churches, but fail to see that it will take a movement of churches planting churches to reach an entire
nation of people.
A Church Planting Movement is a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given
people group or population segment.
A Church Planting Movement is also more than a revival of pre-existing churches. Revivals are highly desirable, but they
are not Church Planting Movements. Evangelistic crusades and witnessing programs may lead thousands to Christ, and that is
wonderful, but it is not the same as a Church Planting Movement. Church Planting Movements feature churches rapidly reproducing
Perhaps the closest thing to a church planting movement that is still not a church planting movement is when local church
planters are trained and deployed to plant multiple churches among their own people. This is a highly productive method of
spreading churches across a population segment or people group, but the momentum remains in the hands of a limited group of
professional church planters rather than in the heart of each new church that is begun.
Finally, a Church Planting Movement is not an end in itself. The end of all of our efforts is for God to be glorified.
This occurs whenever individuals enter into right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. As they do, they are incorporated
into churches which enable them to continue to grow in grace with other like-minded believers. Any time people come to new
life in Jesus Christ, God is glorified. Any time a church is planted no matter who does it there are grounds for celebration.
So why is a Church Planting Movement so special? Because it seems to hold forth the greatest potential for the largest
number of lost individuals glorifying God by coming into new life in Christ and entering into communities of faith.
However, a Church Planting Movement is not simply an increase in the number of churches, even though this also is positive.
A Church Planting Movement occurs when the vision of churches planting churches spreads from the missionary and professional
church planter into the churches themselves, so that by their very nature they are winning the lost and reproducing themselves.
Let us review some key points. Missionaries are capable church planters, but will always be limited in number. Local church
planters hold more promise, simply because there is a larger pool of them available. Church Planting Movements hold an even
greater potential, because the act of church planting is being done by the churches themselves, leading to the greatest possible
number of new church starts.
To better understand Church Planting Movements, let us examine a few case studies and then dissect them for closer analysis.