Church Planting Movements in the Bay Area

January 17, 2010

You may have heard of Church Planting Movements (CPMs) — you know, when the gospel spreads virally, with new believers (or even non-believers) leading others to follow Jesus, who in turn do the same to even more? Have you heard the stories from Asia and Africa and said, “Wow. Why doesn’t that happen here?”

But it is starting to happen here — right here in the Bay Area! Churches are multiplying exponentially — but you’re probably not aware that they even exist. These churches are not hip. They don’t attract Christians who are “looking for a church.” They may not have buildings, web sites, or catchy names.

If you’re in San Jose, San Francisco or Oakland (as well as outside the Bay Area in Portland and Philadelphia), you’ve probably heard of CityTeam Ministries and know them for their work serving the poor and homeless. What you might not know is that in the past few years, they have reshaped themselves around Church Planting Movements. They are having an information session this Saturday where you can learn what they’ve been up to, what they are learning, and what results they have had.

Come and hear testimonies of how God is planting his Gospel in different communities here in the greater Bay Area and how these communities of believers multiply rapidly through ordinary people.

Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010
Time: 9:30am – 12:00pm
Place: CityTeam Ministries, 1297 N. 13th St, San Jose, CA 95112  

Update: As a follow-up, CityTeam is offering CPM basic training.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

7 responses to Church Planting Movements in the Bay Area

  1. Way to go City Team! Keep up the good work. It is very exciting to see this trend!

  2. Jim, it is exciting. I wonder if any of the local home church crowd would be interested?

  3. Hey John, we are working right now at CityTeam on our Disaster Response to Haiti. Just imagine what God can do through our long-term 4 phase approach to rebuilding lives and communities there. Church Planting could transform Haiti.

  4. Carol,
    Good to hear from someone on CityTeam! The thought that CPM could transform Haiti is powerful. It’s like imagining what the gospel could do if it were unleashed.

  5. OK Jon,
    I’ll ask the question here. I’m not trying to cause trouble but would like to dialogue about this for real.
    What is the Biblical basis for our primary focus to be on CPMs, or even planting a single church? I myself have not been able to find it in scripture. I came to this realization through “reverse engineering” while on the foreign field where counting church plants has replaced the old school method of counting baptisms. There are several issues with letting CP or CPM become our focus but to me the most fundamental one is the fact that scripture lacks any emphasis on it.
    What do you folks think?

  6. Guy,
    You raise a fascinating question. Thankfully, the CPM folks I know seem to be aware of this, and actually prefer to speak of what they do as “gospel planting.” That is, plant the gospel, and churches will happen as a result — not the other way around. But the moniker “CPM” has stuck.

  7. Thanks for getting back to me Jon. I struggled deeply with this while working for one of the largest overseas mission orgs for 8 years. They have made cpm the primary focus and end goal of all their training. I asked God what was troubling me about it and He led me to check scripture to see what He said. As Jesus prepared to leave this world in His singular physical body, He left us with our primary task in regards to His Kindgom coming into the souls of man. He said go and make disciples teaching them everything He had commanded. This is the overriding umbrella of the task we’ve been given. Not to evangelize/”save souls” in the traditional sense where someone makes in intelectual ascent to the truth of the Gospel and lives an isolated spiritual life simply awaiting the day to cash in the decision made on a certain day so he can “enter into God’s heaven”. Not to attend/birth/plant churches. Not to transform a community. Not to care for the least of these. The primary task isn’t even to develop “gospel/missional communities”… All those things must be done and will be done as Biblical discipels are being developed. Trust me, I’m not diminishing any of those things. They are essential aspects of the war we are in but they must find their place in their proper order for them to have the vital impact they are meant to have.
    It is as simple as looking at Jesus. What did He do? Where did He go? With whom did He spend His time with and how did He spend it? When He left in his singular Body, He promised to send back His Spirit Who would empower us to be His plural Body. Jesus = jesus. Jesus’ task was to come and make disciples and be the once and for all sacrifice or all mankind. His purpose was to glorify God the Father and make His name known/famous. If we want to flesh out the definitions of terms like “disciple”, “serve”, “preach”, “teach” all we need to do is look to Jesus. Our cultural context will certainly change what things look like on the surface but we must look past that. Jesus made disciples from birth to death and not once planted a church. His use of the term “ekklesia” is only recorded three times (check it for yourself and correct me if I’m wrong, but if this is so, might that alone tell us something?). But He talked a LOT about His Kingdom and every moment of His life was intentional discipleship so that when He stood ready to return to the Father, His disciples would know exactly what He meant when He said go and make disciples. As we obey His task to live our lives as disciple makers, He will build His church. That’s exactly what He said.
    The danger of allowing anything else to become our primary task is we will begin to create groups we call churches that are filled with people who don’t walk with Jesus. And there is very little in our programed structure to address the problem of people simply attending and not being discipled. In fact, the scramble to increase attendance and warm bodies filling the pews (or locking stackable chairs) actually fosters a mindset that allows people to come every week and still return to aimless and lonely lives the rest of the week. You can visit most any church and find that most people come in on Sunday, sit for an hour and listen to one guy talk and sing some songs and then leave without having been discipled or discipled anyone else. We may be progressive and have small/cell groups but are we really making disciples? If we plant churches, our whole paradigm is about numbers of people and numbers of churches and may have (very likely) gatherings/groups filled with people who aren’t being discipled at all. But, if we make Jesus-disciples (teaching them all that He commanded) then our gatherings will become filled with disciples and we will have a healthy body of Christ being equipped to wage war against the kingdom of darkness.
    In regards to the CPM moniker… Our words not only betray what is in our minds and hearts, they also continue to reenforce and indoctrinate us according to the ideological source of those words. Example: People are coming to see the damaging distortion of terms like “go to church” rather than “be the church”. It is subtle and seems innocuous but satan’s most powerful lies are often only a degree or two off from the truth. “Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree in the garden… or touch it?” I understand that monikers stick but they don’t have to if they’re not accurate.
    Have you ever been in a church were you could back up and observe the fruit of it against the daunting task of advancing Christ’s Kingdom in the hearts of man? Have you watched and wondered how we are ever going to get all these people who merely attend to “get involved”? Could it be that the enemy is craftier than we can imagine and has gotten us drawn away from our true and simple task of making disciples with things like evangelism, baptisms, church buildings, planting churches, justice issues etc etc through out time? he did it with Israel, are we so arrogant to think that we can’t be fooled by him? The genuine disciples I know don’t have to be prodded to proclaim the Good News, gather as a body, care for the poor and downtrodden… those things happen as the fruit of being a spirit led disciple of Jesus.
    Now, if making genuine disciples of Jesus Christ is our primary task as scripture tells us, I know for sure it won’t happen once or twice a week in our traditional church-meeting model. It is an old and broken model. It is an old wineskin and God is making some new wine and we need new skins. The house/small church expression of the Body of Christ is the most likely place for genuine transparency and honesty (or two way conversation period…) to take place. But we must be careful not to think that just because we may have a new wineskin model that we aren’t pouring old wine into it.
    I am so excited to hear about God moving in the hearts of people in SF! I pray that this is a disciple making movement where organic expressions of Christ’s Body will move and love and do all the things He commanded us.