Reaching The Online Generation

An Initiative of CityTeam Ministries

The Pieces of Gospel Planting Movements

Posted on | March 30, 2009 |

CPM Stratigic Overview by David L. Watson

At the recent Church Planting Round Table workshop in Florissant, CO, David Watson shared the slide to the left.  Although I’ve attended conferences with David, I hadn’t seen this slide before.  

Several things hit me immediately.

Gospel Planting Movements are a lot of work.

Many people don’t understand the tremendous work behind movements.  I remember David working by himself and with his team for four years to establish the framework for the movement among an unreached people group in North India.  Now, after twenty years, there are over 2 million baptised Believers and over 80,000 churches.  Although we’ve seen over 7200 churches planted in Sub-Saharan Africa in the last four years, many people and ministries worked in that area for decades and created the pieces that were brought together in multiple strategies to catalyze Gospel Movements among multiple people groups.

The most effective Gospel Planters I know are not a lazy bunch!  They study multiple fields, learn how to start businesses, and strive to become better strategic thinkers - on top of studying the Bible and listening to God’s voice.  They work long, crazy hours and push their bodies to the limits as they travel extensively and work within whatever conditions are available.  They express their love for Christ through intense focus and dedication to the task set for them in the Great Commission.

Gospel Planting Movements are intentional.

At the same conference, I heard a case study of 400 years of missions in the Philippines. (That video will be available at later this week.) One of the presenters shared that missions in the Philippines operated for a time under the assumption that strong evangelism results in strong disciples and churches.  The presenter went on to share that all the data shows otherwise.  If you want strong disciples, you have to intentionally develop strong disciples.  If you want new churches, you have to intentionally plant new churches.  Discipleship and churches aren’t natural byproduct of evangelism.  They are intentional.

Many, many, (did I say “Many”) seminary students have argued with me on this point.  They usually say, “Church planting is God’s work.  It’s not about church planting, it’s about making disciples.”  They are partially correct, but so wrong at the same time.  They never answer the followup question, “How do you make disciples in a way that results in them gathering and doing all the functions of church, including replication?”  Hundreds of years of mission history demonstrates that if we are not intentional the lost will not hear, new Believers will not be baptised into church, and churches will not replicate disciples and churches.

I’m really sick of “It Will Just Happen” Theology.  It’s stupid.  And it’s not Biblical.  The result of “It Will Just Happen” Theology is disobedience and a gradual drifting away from the Gospel.

Gospel Planting is an intentional act of obedience on the planter’s part to obey the Great Commission, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and make disciples who obey the commands of Christ and teach others to do the same. 

Gospel Planting Movements require multiple partnerships between people, organizations, churches, and missions.

There is no way for one person or organization to do the work behind each brick in the photo above!  Some people and organizations are researching machines!  We need them!  Some people start businesses.  We need them!  Some are great Bible Scholars.  We need them!  All those and much more have to work together if we want to reach entire people groups and ultimately nations with the Gospel!  Denominationalism and organizational boundaries must become less important in light of the task at hand.

We have a lot to do to catalyze Gospel Planting Movements among the online communities and cities composing the online generation. 

The tools for communicating online and for building online community are fascinating.  They are exciting.  But we have got to shift our attention off the tools and focus on the task.  We need to find people willing to put in some hard work.  It’s going to be fun, but the party isn’t the point.  We need researchers willing to dive into people group research among communities on Second Life and within tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk.  We need a group of missiologists to wrestle with the realities of ministry, discipleship, evangelism, Gospel planting, and church planting online.  (Folks, the internet is not going away.  I believe the Bible shows us how do deal with it if we stop arguing and start praying and searching.)  We need Christian sociologists, social anthropologists, psychologists, communications experts, ecologists, and social philosophists who will wrestle with identifying communities online and figure out ways to meet their needs and create opportunities to find the Person of Peace within those communities.  We need online businessmen.  We need people who will create worlds in Second Life that are fun places to hang out and meet new people.  We need people who ask strategy questions and those who are concerned with implementation.

God has put us here and now - with all our passions, experiences, and giftings - for this time.  We can work together now, at the beginning of a paradigm shift, rather than scrambling to figure out what we’re going to do later. 

There is no doubt that it is going to be hard work, but now is the time to get started.

That’s what I see when I looked at that chart.  What do you see?

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    Who is God?' was one of the top three sentences googled in 2007, according to Google Zeitgeist. According to Alexa, the top two religious websites are Muslim, with BibleGateway coming in at a close third. The Online Generation is spiritual. They are seeking. And the church is the last place they would go to find spiritual fulfillment. This site is dedicated to those walking with The Online Generation and living lives of obedience to all the commands of Jesus Christ.
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