My thanks to David Watson for passing along Dave Hunt’s dissertation (Download 2009huntcpmdissertation) on church planting movements in East Africa. There is so much of Hunt’s experiences that I relate to, albeit on a smaller scale and budget, that I am excited to see this compilation of what he has been involved in. There are so many wonderful principles here that can be applied in any context!
Here are some of the concepts that Dave Hunt’s dissertation highlights:
1. True church planting is not the planning and implementing of programs but the natural, organic process that emerges spontaneously when the Gospel in its core essence is proclaimed and lived in word and deed.
Church planting becomes the natural and essential expression of the missional church as the gospel is proclaimed in word and deed, and believers are gathered together for fellowship, worship, and mission. What the Church needs to do according to Christian Schwarz is to “concentrate on the removal of obstacles to church growth and multiplication within churches. Then church growth can happen all by itself…
Believing that church planting is the work of God and that churches emerge spontaneously and naturally, perhaps the term catalyst best describes the human part in this process of church multiplication.
2. In many cases, the church has been hindered by the institutional model that has come from the West.
What we found in East Africa was a church of highly committed mostly “uneducated and untrained”1 workers, passionately in love with Jesus, but who were often bound within an institutional church structure that restricted rather than released and empowered their zealous witness of the gospel.
Much of this church planting strategy has to do with removing the barriers so that the church can more easily emerge. These barriers are largely those systems, structures, and demands which are added to the biblical requirements for doing church. When these are removed, people are introduced to and fall in love with Jesus. As they are discipled to obey all that He has commanded them, they will naturally want to gather together in fellowship to worship, learn, support and encourage one another and work together to spread the good news. As such, they become the continuing presence of Jesus in the dark places of the world.
3. The dynamic multiplication of churches is not dependent on education-level nor are long periods for disciples to mature needed before they can become involved in discipling others and starting new churches.
In this East Africa project the movements have been characterized by young believers still in a discipleship and maturing process themselves, passionately in love with Jesus who go from their newly established community of believers to make new disciples in a new region from which a new community of believers quickly emerges.
4. Church planting movements are fueled when believers discover Jesus as the head of the church rather than maintaining an unhealthy dependency on human leadership.
The believers are taught not to obey the church planter but rather to discover for themselves what the Word of God says and to obey the Word. The image of the church as the body helps to bring understanding to this critical element. The believer is not a member of an organization led by a pastor, but part of a body with Christ as the head. In Christ lies all the authority for the church.
5. Teaching simple obedience produces mature disciples rather than knowledgeable converts. This is the key to replication.
Much of modern day discipleship is based on the acquisition of knowledge… Books, tapes, videos, and materials of all sorts have been produced to support the discipleship process. Much of this leads to knowledgeable converts but does not make mature disciples. Converts may be religious, but they may not be obedient. What is a mature disciple? It is one who is obeying all the commands of Jesus… and teaching others to do the same. A mature disciple is a disciplemaker… Disciples replicate by making other disciples.
I will share more in future posts or you can download the entire dissertation for yourself here.