Frequently Asked Questions
As we discuss Church Planting Movements with missionaries from around the world, a number of questions frequently recur.
1. What about volunteers?
The key to effective use of volunteers in missions is orientation. Most short-term volunteers want to be strategic, but don’t realize that some forms of help can actually hinder a Church Planting Movement. Constructing church buildings, subsidizing pastors and creating dependency are well-intentioned obstacles to a Church Planting Movement.
Prayerwalks, evangelism, literature distribution, pastoral
human needs ministry are some of the many positive contributions that
volunteers make. Volunteers also provide invaluable support to long-term
missionaries who suffer from isolation, difficulties in language learning,
culture stress, family hardships, etc.
One of the greatest contributions volunteers provide
is vision and passion. They inspire and encourage missionaries and new
believers alike with their demonstration of faith in traveling great
distances to demonstrate their love for the lost and obedience to the
Great Commission. This love and obedience are contagious.
2. What is the place of Baptist unions and
Baptist unions and conventions hold great potential
as partners in fulfilling the Great Commission. Sharing a common
commitment to Christ, they should be natural allies. However, commitment
to initiating and nurturing a Church Planting Movement requires vision.
When union leaders have a vision for church multiplication that exceeds
their need for control, they can greatly facilitate the movement.
Missionaries can help to impart this vision through dialogue, education
It is also important for missionaries to recognize
that their role is different than that of denominational leaders. The
unique role of the missionary is to continually push to the edge of
lostness, to the unreached, and introduce them to the gospel. Denominational leaders have a much broader responsibility, which the
missionaries can bless and encourage, but should not try to duplicate or
3. How about church buildings and institutions?
Church buildings and institutions can contribute to
Church Planting Movements, but they also can become stumbling blocks. When
buildings and institutions emerge indigenously and naturally within the
needs and means of the local believers, they undergird the work. When
institutions (seminaries, schools, hospitals, etc.) are imposed by or
dependent upon external agents, they may leave a burden of maintenance
that distracts from the momentum of evangelism and church planting.
Church buildings have become second nature to us in the West. We forget
that it took Christianity nearly three centuries before it indigenously
arrived at the need for dedicated church buildings. During those same
three centuries the gospel exploded across much of the known world. When
we instantly provide church buildings for new congregations, we may be
saddling them with an external burden they are ill-equipped to carry.
buildings and institutions can contribute to Church Planting Movements,
but they also can become stumbling blocks.
4. Where do teams fit in?
Like everything else we’ve discussed, teams are
not inherently for or against Church Planting Movements. If each team
member sees the purpose of the team as fostering and nurturing a Church
Planting Movement, then the prospects for success are good. If, on the
other hand, the team or its members turn inward and become an end in
themselves, then a Church Planting Movement is unlikely. When people
group-focused teams die to themselves, and set their sights on doing
whatever it takes under the lordship of Jesus Christ to initiate and
nurture a Church Planting Movement, success cannot be far away.
5. Do Church Planting Movements foster heresy?
Critics contend that a grassroots phenomenon such as
a Church Planting Movement is fertile ground for heresy. This may be true,
but is not necessarily so. The often-proposed solution is more theological
training. However, church history has shown that the cure can be worse
than the disease. Since the first theological school at Alexandria, Egypt,
seminaries have proven themselves capable of transmitting heresy as well
as sound doctrine. The same is true today.
The key to sound doctrine is God’s Word. In the
explosive church growth environment of the first century, there were no
seminaries, simply a practice of “teaching them to observe whatsoever
things I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Out of this mandate grew a
number of approaches to discipleship and training. The challenge of the
first century has changed little for us today and invites the same types
of creative responses to ensure a continued faithfulness to Christ’s
6. What do you do with the kids?
Missionaries and those with traditional church
experience have raised many questions about the mechanics of cell-church
methodology. One of the most common questions concerns the place of
children in cell churches. Cell church practitioners admit that this is a
weakness compared to traditional churches with their graded Sunday School
programs. Solutions range from incorporating the children into the cell
church Bible study and worship to segregating them into separate programs
that may be led by rotating volunteers or older youth. If we resist the
temptation to let cell churches get too large before they divide and
multiply, we keep the task of nurturing and discipling our youth more
While there are no universal answers to this
challenge, there are a variety of responses that are surfacing around the
world. As with so many challenges related to a Church Planting Movement,
missionaries and church planters are encouraged to continue to experiment,
innovate and adapt!
7. Can we start again please?
Some missionaries who begin to seriously study
Church Planting Movements occasionally find that they are simply off-track
and wonder if it is possible to begin again. Of course it’s impossible
to actually begin again, but it is possible to correct earlier mistakes
and tip the scales of a movement in the right direction. Because Church
Planting Movements aren’t just sequential, step-by-step programs, they
can be facilitated whenever we stop doing those things that impede them
and begin doing more of those things that seem to support them. This
should be an encouragement to anyone who hopes to see a CPM unfold among a