I’ve been reading a book called T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution. It is an encouraging account of an approach to church planting that focuses on discipleship, i.e., teaching people how to walk faithfully as followers of Jesus and how to pass on their faith to others. The strategy described in the book is one of several approaches to evangelism and discipleship called CPM or, “Church Planting Movements.” In the house church world, this fits neatly with what is called “strategic multiplication” or “rapidly reproducing house churches.”
This kind of talk inspires me, but also intimidates me. We’ve been “doing house church” for about 24 years. You’d think in all that time we’d have seen what are called “rabbit churches” multiplying all over the landscape, but we haven’t. We are a solid little core of fellowships, but we’re certainly not a juggernaut of church growth. This tells me we can do better at intentional multiplication.
Tale of Two Views
It also highlights a rift in the simple church world. There are two schools of thought about multiplication. One says that discipling people with the outcome of new churches being planted is really up to the Holy Spirit. If we grow (multiply) we grow. It’s God’s business. Sweat not thyself… I suppose we come closer to this approach, although not deliberately.
The other view argues for strategic and zealous disciple-making with the goal of producing a never-ending stream of energetic disciple-makers to plant one small-group congreg- ation after another — rapidly multiplying house churches. Honestly, this sounds really exciting! Imagine generations of fellowships and new believers, multiplying like rabbits, every year. Pretty cool! Read about this kind of approach here.
Rapid multiplication has happened more in other countries. India reports a robust CPM as do several other countries in Asia and the Middle East. Nevertheless, there is evidence of some stirring in the US, too. I have been enjoying conversations with some brethren in the Portland area who are passionate disciple makers after the T4T mold.
Here’s my problem: I’m not a very strategic guy — I’m way down the alphabet from “Type A.” Most (OK, all) the CPM folks I know are more “out front” about making disciples than I am. Believe me, I’ve cultivated a little garden of guilt about this, but I can’t seem to get amped up. I would make a horrible salesman. I hate selling as much as I hate being “sold.”
So, where do I fit in this discussion? Where do you fit? If we’re not eager “rapid church multipliers” is there room for us — I’m assuming I’m not alone — at the table of the church? I’m going to reflect on this in another post.
You’re welcome to reflect on what I’ve written so far in the comments.
2 thoughts on “Where are All the Rabbits?”
I began life in a church that desired to be intentional about evangelism and multiply like rabbits. The people there spent a *lot* of time talking about evangelism, training for evangelism, trying to “do” evangelism. . . . I heard a person in “full-time Christian ministry” with a prominent para-church organization opine at a retreat one time that you “should” be sharing Jesus with someone (by this he meant explaining God and sin and repentance and salvation and asking someone if they wanted to “pray the sinner’s prayer” with you) every day.
I sincerely tried to buy into that model although it felt very uncomfortable and very unnatural to me because people who had walked with the Lord far longer than I had were advocating it. But the Lord brought me up short one day in Matthew 4.19: Follow Me, and I will make you people-fishers. Wait, you mean *all* I have to do to be a people-fisher is . . . follow You? That’s it? I can forget about trying to improve the methodology I use to “win souls” and just . . . follow You? Wow!
When I quit worrying about being a people-fisher and disciple-maker and started focusing on *passionately* following Jesus, two things happened. One, a huge burden of false guilt and failure fell off my back. And, two, it looks to me as if I probably became way more effective as a people-fisher and disciple-maker. I fall into deep conversations about Jesus on a pretty regular basis now, not because I’ve carefully engineered them, but (I think!) because He has.
I’m not dissing Type A evangelists and disciple-makers. It’s certainly possible (I think) to be “leaning forward” in the Spirit as well as in the flesh, just as it’s possible (I think) to be without method in the Spirit and in the flesh. I’m just saying I suspect the reason there are two streams of thought in the Church is in part because there are (at least!) two kinds of people in the Church. And because the Lord likes us the way He made us, in many respects, and is often pleased to work through our distinctive personalities rather than to ride roughshod over the top of them. Wisdom, after all, is justified by *all* her children.
I think you’re right Carolyn. I just posted a poem I wrote about the variety of gifts in the body and the tendency we have to devalue gifts that differ from our own when, in fact, they are all part of the same body and designed for their unique purpose.