Global Missiology English, Vol 1, No 12 (2014)

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There Are No Church Planting Movements in the Bible: Why Biblical Exegesis Missiological Methods Cannot Be Separated

Jackson Wu


In recent years, missionaries have discussed and strategized ways to catalyze “church planting movements” (CPMs) around the world.  However, many people have challenged mission practices that are oriented on CPM-theory.  Both sides of the debate appeal to Scripture to support their arguments. Indeed, CPM theorists implicitly and explicitly contend that CPMs are found in the Bible itself.  This article examines and contests any such claim.

This article makes a simple argument: there are no “church planting movements” in the Bible. Although someone might regard this as a “negative” thesis, the aim of the essay is quite constructive. It is utterly critical that certain notions and associations be set aside if we are to develop biblically faithful and strategically wise missiology. Of course, there is much to commend in CPM literature. However, we cannot simply draw out what is good from a CPM theory without examining related ideas, such as its use of Scripture. When applying some aspect of CPM missiology, we may unwittingly assume ways of thinking or interpreting the Bible that are counterproductive. Therefore, this essay tries to help readers discern theory from theology.