Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yanyin Church Planting Movement

One Strategy Coordinator (missionary) for a Church Planting Movement (CPM) lived in a province of China the author nicknamed Yanyin.  He began by moblizing Chinese evangelists from other locations to do widespread personal and mass evangelism in Yanyin.  This was their process:
  1. Do abundant evangelsim by showing the Jesus film and using other materials so that as many people as possible are exposed.  The idea was that in nature trees produce thousands more seeds than ever sprout--but by sewing more you reap more.
  2. Identify those who are interested in knowing more about Christ from the initial exposures to the story of Christ.
  3. Then, direct the gospel message to the heads of households--those who have the most authority in the family.
  4. Trace family lines of these inquirers and heads of households to invite family members to a series of meetings that more fully explain the gospel and how to become a Christian.
  5. At the conclusion of these Bible studies invite the listeners to make a commitment to Christ.
  6. Incorporate new believers into basic discipleship Bible studies and baptize them at their conclusion.
  7. In each group of new believers identify suitable leaders and turn leadership of regular public worship meetings over to them.
  8. After such a church is established, reproduce (divide into) another church when the size of the group exceeds the number of people that can comfortably fill a household.
The last point was very appropriate for their situation to avoid persecution from the Communist government.  The police would oppose the building of church buildings (of any size) and large gatherings of people.  Gatherings of people confined to a single house were not viewed as a threat. 

The Strategy Coordinator began this effort in 1991.  At that time Yanyin province had 8-10 million people with only 18 churches all belonging to the controlled registered "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" church.  These churches were not growing, nor were they interested in evangelism.  The first year of their effort produced six new house churches.  The next year saw 17 more churches sprout.  The following year there were an additional 50.  Six years after beginning the total number of churches had climbed to 195 and the gospel had reached every county in the province with churche among each of the five ethnic groups that inhabited Yanyin.  By the end of 1998 when the Strategy Coordinator left, there were 550 house churches in Yanyin province with more than 55,000 believers.  Finally, a survey done in the summer of 2001 revealed more than 900 churches with close to 100,000 believers worshiping in them. 

There is more to tell about the Yanyin CPM and the methods they used for training.  You will have to get the book Church Planting Movements and read it for yourself.  It is very interesting stuff! 

On thing that is notable--though he was probably involved in some of the initial plants, the foreign Strategy Coordinator (missionary) isn't described as being the one planting any of the churches.  The movement went far beyond his influence or ability.  Why?  Because it started that way.  If he had begun by being "the man" then the model wouldn't have been reproducible and people would have felt that only a foreigner can do those things.  He started with a few local believers, along with some Chinese workers from other provinces, prepared them with a simple reproducible approach that was in its DNA, and helped to get it going. 

It is easy for missionaries to arrive on the field and do ministry.  It is easy to do things that impress supporters back home or puts an emphasis on what the foreigners (or his short-term guests) are doing in ministry on the field.  However, often the spread of the gospel is hindered because of those actions.

1 comment:

  1. I came from a church where leadership felt that it should be run like a business. The thing is, it's not. Unless BAM is your model. Hope all is well with you and your family, Koffijah. Praying for you.