Church planting movement dynamics compared …

My good mate, Steve Addison, who leads CRM-Australia, has an interesting series going on his blog. It is worth checking out and joining the conversation.


The question he is posing is: “Why is it that there is so much evidence of dynamic church planting movements in the developing world and so little evidence in the developed world?” I weighed in with the following comments:

“Of course, we could debate how we define a church planting movement. Is it just the rapid multiplication of groups of new believers or is it a “people movement” as missiologically defined or is it the results of classic revival and awakening or is it a combination of any these?

Regardless of the nuances (which do make some differences), some reasons off the top of my head why the developing world has been more conducive to such movements in the past 100 years are:

  • Appropriating ethnicity: A willingness to promote and allow the gospel to travel among ethnic pathways. Every such movement has historically been a respecter of culture and has moved via culturally appropriate networks.
    Openness to the supernatural: Rationalism, secularism and the fear of the supernatural stunt such movements in the West.
    Not distracted by things: Materialism and competing allegiances make for a dynamic of impotence in cultures of affluence.
    Upheavel: Social and economic dislocation and upheaval, which is rife in the developing world, has always been fertile ground for movements of change
    Persecution: Oppression (such as China) forces the believing community to live out its essential DNA which is inherently reproductive.
    Poverty: Physical need (which is the norm in the two-thirds world) produces believers who are move heavenly minded and have a more holistic view of the fragile veil between mortal life and the life hereafter.
    Keeping it simple: Simplicity in message and methods. The developed world has over-complicated, over-analyzed and over-theologized the message. And the West has over-educated, over-trained and over-controlled the messengers.”

While these thoughts are genuinely original, I realize (after writing and posting) they are quite in sync with Alan Hirsch and much of his conversation of January 31, particulalry the observation about “essential DNA” which I know has influenced my thinking. So credit is definitely due to Alan.

I am hopeful Alan will unpack much of this and more in his next upcoming book. If anything like Shaping of Things to Come, it should be excellent!

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