It had become very clear that there are only two options available to effectively reach the unreached / unchurched peoples of Northern Mozambique as quickly as possible:

  • To raise up and flood the region with evangelists (our initial consideration)
  • To start a process of rapid exponential church planting.

We subscribe to the basis and methodology of David Watson and his team from the Church Planting Movement (CPM) who have been responsible for the planting of literally 100,000's of sustained churches across the world.


Below are two contributions by David Watson and his team from the Church Planting Movement:

10 Core Elements for Church Planting Paul Garrison

Over the last decade or two, a number of successful Church Planting Movements have sprung up around the world, especially within the unreached regions of the world. Such a study was recently undertaken among various leaders of Church Planting Movements. The purpose was to determine those critical characteristics which are common to all. This was done and the following 10 universal elements were to be found within each movement:  


Prayer has become the first priority of every Church Planting Movement strategist. As soon as a Strategy Coordinator senses the gravity of his calling he immediately falls to his knees and prays, “Oh God, only You can make this happen.”


Essential to every movement is the principle of over-sowing. Just as nature requires a tree to drop thousands of seeds to produce a single sapling, or a human body to generate hundreds of eggs to yield a single baby, so it is with evangelism. In Church Planting Movements we find hundreds and thousands of people hearing the gospel every day and out of this abundant sowing, a growing harvest begins to take place.


A wise person said, “You will probably accomplish exactly what you set out to accomplish, nothing more, nothing less.” If you aim to do a Bible translation, you will probably produce a Bible translation. If you aim to do ministry, you will likely succeed. But you cannot assume that a Bible translation or Christian ministry alone will result in a church plant. If you want to see churches planted, then you must set out to plant churches. The same axiom can be taken a step further to say, “If you want to see reproducing churches planted, then you must set out to plant reproducing churches.”


As Church Planting Movements produce multiple reproducing churches, what keeps the movement from fragmenting into a thousand heresies like a crack splintering across a car windshield? There can be only one answer: the authority of God’s Word. Like an invisible spinal cord aligning and supporting the movement, there runs through each Church Planting Movement a commitment to the authority of the Bible.

Even among the largely non-literate peoples, for whom Scripture reading is rare, converts rely heavily on audiocassettes of the Bible, clinging to every word. They have also learned to approach every faith and life situation with the question, “How can I best glorify Christ in this situation?” Through the principles underlying the Inductive Bible Study techniques or a sound Discipleship Program, the new believer learns the importance of OBEDIENCE to God’s Word.


Missionaries who successfully launch Church Planting Movements have learned to keep foreigners out of the spotlight. The principle has now been translated into an important watchword that accompanies Strategy Coordinators everywhere: “The resources are in the harvest.” This axiom is a continual reminder to look for local leaders to get the job done. And it provides an important corrective for foreign missionaries whose strategies call for heavy reliance upon foreign teammates. So in Church Planting Movements, practitioners quickly develop local leaders and entrust to them the future of the movement.


In Church Planting Movements the laity is clearly in the driver’s seat. Unpaid, non-professional common men and women are leading the churches. Why is lay leadership important? There are several reasons:

For Practical Reasons – A movement that produces thousands of new churches needs thousands of new leaders and the largest source for finding these leaders is the local church membership itself. To produce these leaders, one must fish from the largest pool of candidates.

For Theological Reasons – Lay leadership is firmly grounded in the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer—the most egalitarian doctrine ever set forth. After centuries of reliance on a small tribe of Levitical priests, God turned to the church and said, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood…”

It is not that Christianity has no special status for religious leaders; it is that now every Christian has this special status as a priest of the Lord God. Every believer is fully endowed with the right and responsibility to lead the lost to salvation and maturity in Christ.

Following Jesus’ Model – Jesus’ own pattern of calling laymen and women to come and follow him has not been wasted on Church Planting Movement practitioners. It is a great comfort to bolster a new believer’s willingness to be a servant leader of the church by pointing him to the example of the Twelve and those who followed them.

For the Purpose of Retention – Around the world, the gospel’s invitation to salvation has proven to be far more winsome than its call to a life of discipleship within the church. Within weeks of becoming a new Christian, far too many believers drift out the back door never to be seen again. Putting laymen and women to work within the church has proven to be the single most effective means of “closing the back door” to church membership and ensuring a lifetime of intimate involvement within the body of Christ.

For Reasons of Relevance – In traditional church structures, a clergyman is set apart from the congregation both in terms of education and livelihood. In the Catholic Church this is further compounded by vows of celibacy. In Church Planting Movements, the pastors remain one of the people sharing their lifestyles and struggles. This means, if the people are predominantly farmers, the leaders will be farmers. If the people are urban, the leadership will be urban. If the people are non-literate, then the leaders will also be non-literate. If the people are deaf, then the leadership will also be deaf.

 For Economic Reasons – So many Church Planting Movements have occurred in developing countries where financial resources are minimal. By using multiple lay leaders and meeting in homes, these limited financial resources are directed toward missions and ministry, rather than to church-staff salaries and facilities.

Lay leadership doesn’t exclude professional ministers.


The churches in Church Planting Movements begin as small fellowships of believers meeting in natural settings such as homes or their equivalent.

Meeting in small groups certainly has economic implications. Liberating the fledgling movement from the burden of financing a building and professional clergy is no small obstacle to overcome. But there is more. House churches create an atmosphere that fosters Church Planting Movement formation. Consider the following benefits:

§  Leadership responsibilities remain small and manageable.

§  If heresies do occur they are confined by the small size of the house church. Like a leak that appears in the hull of a great ship, the heresy can be sealed off in a single compartment without endangering the whole. However, as long as the groups remains dependent on, and obedient to, the Word of God this will not happen.

§  You can’t hide in a small group, so accountability is amplified.

§  Member care is easier, because everyone knows everyone.

§  Because house church structure is simple, it is easier to reproduce.

§  Small Groups tend to be much more efficient at evangelism and assimilation of new believers.

§  Meeting in homes positions the church closer to the lost.

§  House churches blend into the community, rendering them less visible to persecutors.

§  Basing in the home keeps the church’s attention on daily life issues.

§  The very nature of rapidly multiplying house churches promotes the rapid development of new church leaders.


Church Planting Movements are not in full flower until the churches begin spontaneously reproducing themselves. Many Chinese house church leaders taught their flock that the greatest joy was to train someone to start a church in their home.

Church Planting Movement practitioners look for the fourth generation of church reproduction as a sign that the movement is proceeding under its own momentum.

First, they model the kind of patterns in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting that they want the new believers to imitate. Then, they assist the new believers in following this model. Next, they watch to see that their protégés are able to effectively reproduce what they have learned and experienced. When they see their students carrying out the same reproducing patterns, they know it is time to leave.


Church Planting Movements reproduce churches rapidly. Of course, the word “rapid” is undefined. But missionary church planters often speak of church planting in birthing terms, asking, “How long does it take to birth a new church?” This gestation period varies around the world, just as it does within the animal kingdom. Elephants typically require 22 months to produce an offspring, while rabbits can yield a new litter every three months.


What kind of churches do you find in Church Planting Movements? This is the question many outsiders want to know. In addressing this question, the panel of Church Planting Movement practitioners used several words to describe the nature of the churches in the movements they had known. We can group these qualities under the term “healthy churches.”

In The Purpose-Driven Church, Rick Warren reminded the church of a more biblical standard for measuring church health. Drawing on Christ’s Great Commandment and Great Commission, Warren points to five purposes in a healthy church:

1) Fellowship

2) Discipleship

3) Ministry

4) Evangelism/Missions

5) Worship

Healthy churches exhibit all five purposes naturally, because these purposes flow from the church’s identity with the living Christ. Jesus endowed the church with these purposes when he issued the Great Commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heat, soul strength and mind; and love your neighbour as yourself” and the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them…and teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you.”

Of course the ultimate test of a healthy church is: “Does it glorify God?” Do these churches reveal and exhibit God’s nature as revealed in Jesus Christ?

 [Courtesy of David Garrison - "Church Planting Movements, How God is Redeeming a Lost World"]


Disciple Making / Church Planting Principles - David Watson

Counter Intuitive Paradoxical

·         Pray for God bring you 5 persons to disciple and teach. These are men / women of peace, but preferably not believers. These 5 persons must commit to God and to you (covenant) that they will each in turn disciple and teach another 5 persons. If the learner breaks the covenant and does not fulfill the promise, then this process stops! Such persons, repenting before God and prepared to re-commit themselves to this calling, may then start afresh and continue with the training.

·         Share only when and where people are ready to hear.

Mass evangelism does not result in churches planted. It must happen through an intentional discipleship and church planting program – preferably exponential. Only the Father calls those who will follow Jesus – only God can call people to Christ. (John6: 43-45).

·         A new, inexperienced outsider is more effective than a highly trained mature outsider.

It’s the people from the grass roots levels that are going to have the greatest impact.

·         Implement inductive bible study techniques or discipleship programs in order to establish obedience. People must learn and understand the Word (Holy Spirit) and then OBEY! This will bring the truth of the Gospel into people’s lives and the changes will be visible to the world. These visible signs will cause others to want to know more. The only way to teach obedience is to live obedience. If you want to honour God, do as I do.

·         Start with Creation and discover who God is i.e. Creation to Christ.

Set up the playing field so as to move from not knowing God to falling in love with Him. God loves us deeply and cares for us. What does it mean to relate to the Creator of the universe?

·         It’s about discovery, not preaching or teaching. Who comes to the Father? - those who listen and learn.

·         Let the lost facilitate (not teach) the bible studies. Transformation comes within the group and outside people see it, causing to become interested. The facilitator leads, God does the teaching, the people listen and as they hear and become interested, God draws them to Christ. The external leaders do not facilitate, but coach the ‘lost’ facilitators. The group will be held accountable to God.

·         Discipleship to conversion! Do not convert to disciple. The way to start churches is not through conversion – “Go, make disciples and baptise them”. Making disciples is not about saved people. Discipling is not about saved people, but rather about the “Lost”

·         Prepare to spend a long time in this process and expect a period of 2 – 3 years, but anticipate ‘miracle acceleration’.

·         The best time to plant a new church is when its new. Replicating churches grow fast during the first four years, then slows down. Why? Because people start building churches.

·         Buildings kill churches because the process absorbs so much effort. It changes the focus of the group from being an outward movement into an inward process, using up much needed (often critical) resources.

·         Paid local leaders kill church planting.  Church planters need to be self supporting. To pay church planters is a waste of resources; rather use a local everyday person in the community. Provide personnel to train and support the church planters.

·         No personal evangelism so that masses will hear. It is a non-biblical concept and discipleship is essential to move the person into a position of faith. Do not hand out any tracts.

·         No mass evangelism so that the masses will hear, or even tract bombing. This form of evangelism does not result in churches planted.

·         Focus training on ordinary people not professional or vocational Christians. Training is focused on ordinary people to help them live out their faith. Equippers / trainers can be paid.

·         Expect the hardest places to yield the greatest results. To the people living in any location, their place is the toughest. Compounding this toughness by using the wrong methods severely limits the results, perhaps even nullifying them. Meet people at their spiritual need.

·         Small for-profit projects often yield much higher long-term access and goodwill than charity or free services.

Measure what we plan to do, but we report on what God has accomplished!

HERESY is never established by ‘Lost’ people, but always by highly intelligent and educated seminary trained people who become more important than, and have different revelations to, the Word of God.

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