T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution: An Overview by John Lambert
Chapter 9: “Starting New Generations, Not Just Multiplying Groups”
T4T is different than traditional small group multiplication. Instead of grow THEN multiply, it is launch and repeat. You don’t wait for a new group to grow before launching new groups out of it.
These new groups become their own house churches or sometimes new small groups under the Lordship of Christ in a larger existing church.
Every new believer is potentially a new group.
The trainee may lead his family and friends to faith and incorporate them into his group. At the same time, he is training them to be a witness to their circle of influence and launch new groups with them.
People you are training should not bring new believers to the original group but rather start a new group with them. If they do, you must take steps to get them pointed back in the right direction. If a new believer comes into the group, you should stay with the original lesson, but also be willing to stay after with the new believer and go through lesson one.
Generations of Groups
The author points out that the goal is get consistent 4th generation groups and for a CPM to emerge. (How often do we lose sight of this or do not ever have it as something we are aiming for? I would say more often than not. This maybe why we don’t yet see CPM emerging in our own contexts though we have trained on it.)
He reminds us that not all will start a new group. Some will be attenders, some witnesses, some starters of groups, and some trainers of trainers who have caught on to the concept of training trainers.
Messiness: Groups or Churches?
The author quotes Proverbs 14:4 “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of an ox.”
You can’t have growth without the mess. Problems are a sign of growth.
CPM’s are messier than neat orderly organizational chart, but also much more exciting! (This will be something we will have to make as a personal value if we value strict organization versus a messy life on life. I would rather have to control some wild fire rather than raise the dead. I would rather the noise of the nursery rather than the peace and tranquility of the cemetery. How about you?)
Groups or Churches?
Ideally in T4T each group is designed to become a house church
(In a place where only 1-2% of less of the population are believers, house churches are a necessity. They are truly life lines for those who are still waiting to hear. There is little other choice unless we are wanting to only build churches (buildings) based on our local economy. Until then, church planters should not be waiting and praying for outside funds to come in before they plant!)
Ying Kai was working with an “officially registered church” in a closed nation. Because of the restrictions they chose to call their groups “official Bible studies” of the main church.
The point is not to get overly concerned about what you call your groups, but understand that a key breakthrough would be for each group to function as a local church, baptizing their new believers, doing communion together, giving offerings, etc.
Pastors could view themselves as pastors of a large church or with T4T they could view themselves as Pastors of Pastors and their church as the training base for a movement!
Taking a Risk
The author tackles the issues of whether CPM’s are risky. He says that they are absolutely risky, but points out that every other type of church planting inherently has its own sets of risk and challenges. (Especially among an unreached people group where millions are still waiting for the Gospel and a church within reach of their community, the challenges of CPM far outweigh the alternative of maintaining the painfully slow processes we have been operating under.)
He talks about the principle of the NT in “commending” new believers to the Lord. This has to do with addressing the fact that initiators of groups do not stay with the groups forever, but entrusts them to the Holy Spirit. (One leader of a house church network in Laos told me that he had to do the same thing because his house churches were so spread out over the country and communication was very difficult.)
A Key and Important Step For All Leaders Working For CPM:
The author points out a key for all leaders, he says, “Giving up personal control and management of all the believers and the groups is an important step for any leader who longs to see a Church Planting Movement develop. This is the only way to launch new generations of churches rather than gradually grow and multiply groups in an orderly system.”
Biblical Precedent: Life on Life Fluidity
This is described as tearful, heart-felt interaction, challenge and encouragement toward a movement of God. AKA: Training with Tears. Not sterile classroom training, but real life. More like a sports locker room than a classroom!
The author goes through the ins and outs of Paul’s work in Acts 19 as the main example.
He points out that movements are “counterintuitive.” (This is a key word for us to understand.)
We launch and repeat, but that doesn’t mean we drop the groups. We still guide and shape through our influence rather than seeking to control.
Chapter Ten: Mentoring a Movement
Launching of a space craft as an example. After launch, mission control doesn’t drop the astronauts. Instead it monitors, gives feedback, and sometimes instructions to change course all the way through the journey.
In 8-10 years of Paul’s three missionary journeys, it appears that 6-7 CPM’s developed. They were:
- Possibly Illyricum.
Paul was in mission control launching new work all over the province. (I would also say that he was not just in mission control, but in the booster rockers too! He was not removed and pushing buttons like and arm chair controller. He was on the ground modeling, assisting, watching them do what he did, and leaving when they time came.)
How long should I stay with a group?
(I think this is a key question! I think many missionaries have trained groups in CPM in 3-5 day seminars or even a week or 10 day trainings, but was that enough? Was there something missing in their approach? Maybe they did a decent job casting vision, but they didn’t do what was needed to see a movement start. They dropped the trainees and moved on way too soon.)
The answer to “how long should I stay with my group”? is “What’s your goal”? If you remember your goal then you will find your answer.
The Goal is: Multiplying generations of trainers and churches- at least four generations and beyond. (All new CPM trainers should focus on this goal and make it a standard throughout all new CPM training. Until I read this book, I did not understand this as the goal. Many talk of CPM, but don’t really have a target they are shooting for.)
9-18 months As A Time Frame
The author points out that it may be necessary to stay with your initial group 9-18 months.
(This assumes a few key things I should point out: Your groups are still willing to implement what you have been teaching them. You have 9-18 months as a trainer to invest in getting things off the ground. For missionaries, this means that you are not doing a lot of traveling or going home on furlough during this time. If you go home to your passport country every year, yet you are wanting to catalyze a CPM, you may never get off the ground. This is something each person has to look deeply into for themselves. Disseminating information through a seminar or conference to a local church is not enough. This may be a reason why so many say to you, “Been there, tried that, didn’t work” when you try to vision cast for CPM!)
The author breaks down what it looks like to move from one generation to another. The group you begin to train (those who are existing believers) are called G-0, not Generation One.
Each generation should be starting new groups.
Steve Smith says that one of the reasons we don’t get CPM is because we aren’t tracking results by key indicators. They are:
- #Consistent 4th Gen believers
- # Groups
- # Churches
Until these indicators are tracked to 4th generation and beyond consistently, you may have growth, but you don’t yet have a church planting movement. (This is key for all trainers to know and understand.)
Celebrating Second Generation As a Key Marker For Our Asia Context:
I would say that for us who are just starting out that moving from G-0 to G-1, then from G-1 to G-2 should be a huge celebration time!)
Another reason for staying at least 12-18 months with each initial group is to give enough time to develop solid leaders through on the job leadership development. This comes through the format of the “three-thirds” group format.
He gives examples from Paul’s ministry how he raised up leaders from within the harvest itself out of his three journeys.
Part Three: the Application of T4T
Chapter Eleven: Your T4T Package: Vision Casting
Some of the reasons T4T doesn’t work even though it should:
- We don’t understand the nuances and stages of T4T, hence the need for the book!
- We modify it too much and lose the processes that move us through the key stages of a CPM.
- We fail to train our trainers to know what to do at each stage when people say “yes.”
He mentions a CPM package and what it needs to include:
- Mobilizing the believers
- Finding persons of peace
- Church Formation
- Leadership Development
- That ANY believer can do!
Casting vision for both “being” and “doing” is important.
Key insight for cross cultural workers:
He mentions an in-house survey of the most fruitful missionaries in one part of Asia taken from 2007-2008.
- The most important characteristic was NOT evangelism or church planting, but rather the ability to cast vision to local believers and move them onto a Kingdom agenda toward CPM.
- In another survey of nine urban CPMs, the majority of their results, some up to 95%, came through believers they mobilized and trained and nor from people they had personally won to the Lord.
- In 2010 a research group studied over 100 CPM focused teams in Southeast Asia. Teams that had relationships with existing national believers were 90% more likely to be effective in baptisms, starting new groups, and starting new churches than teams that did not.” (This is a key stat especially for Thailand where a recent study by Dr. M. Visser showed that over 70% of new believers in Thailand came not through a missionary or Pastor but through the influence of a friend or relative who was already a believer.)
A High Value CPM Activity
Therefore the author points out that mobilizing (casting vision then training) is not a time waster but a HIGH VALUE activity in initiating a CPM in your own context. (For me personally, this falls right in line with something I felt God speaking to me over ten years ago when he told me that my ministry would be characterized by two words: “catalyst” and “strategic.” This was before I knew anything about what that might mean in regards to missions work.)
He gives an acronym we can use to mobilize: R.E.L.A.T.E
- R-Relationship: Getting to know people in a life giving way. Not manipulating. Drinking lots of coffee or tea together.
- E-Evaluate the Status: Ask people how they are doing in regards to fulfilling the vision. (Here in Thailand all churches are focused on the 2015 vision. This can be a great bridge.) Then you may ask, “If you could find a biblical long lasting way to get there faster would you be interested”? (T4T also answers the questions of “how”?)
- L-Lay Out God’s Vision: You could share a 3 minute story that highlights what you feel like God may be saying and doing in your local contexts. ( I personally love fresh stories that highlight how God is already at work and how he is waiting on us. Luke 10:2 is a favorite verse.)
- A-Ask Them To Commit To the Next Step: Conviction does not equal obedience. You don’t know who is willing until you give them something to commit to.
- T-Trial Group: Give me 10-20 believers, not leaders or those who are responsible for ministries. Let’s train them together in T4T for six months. At the end, you can evaluate and keep going, give us more time, or call it off.
Train everyone you can, but if you can only get 10-20 believers, pick those who have the least responsibilities and the least maturity! The most fruitful trainers tend to be “ordinary, more recent believers and not current ministry leaders.” (This is what we have found as well especially with a case study that was recently done here in Thailand)
It is important for ministry leaders to endorse CPM but they are usually not the most effective in being “doers.” Most are already overcommitted, have ingrained ministry patterns already, less open to new ideas, are already vested in the original system, and don’t know many lost people.
(The key things that will be needed by these leaders is the ability to flow with the principles CPM’s operate by including the willingness for things to get messy sometimes, for things to be out of control at other times, and for people they would have never chosen for leadership choosing themselves as leaders, not through knowledge but fruitfulness that comes from obeying the Holy Spirit’s direction. They have to be people of passion, compassion, and heart for those who are perishing without Jesus. They have taken personal responsibility to be an “equipper of the saints” and a releaser of ministry rather than a personal kingdom builder and spiritual politician.)
Don’t be discouraged, Ying Kai had to cast vision to dozens of near culture partners in order to find the few who would commit. If you don’t find partners, you can and should still pioneer to find workers from within the harvest itself.
Once you have your first group, you start by teaching session one: Why, Whom, How.
Chapter 12: Your T4T Package: Gospel Bridges
First session, your “three thirds meeting” should be:
- Why?- Great Commission vision- Go, All, Trainers (Disciples)
- Whom?- Prayerfully write down people’s names. Talk with strangers too. 5x /week
- How?- Culturally sensitive presentation of the Good News with Power!
Cast the seed widely! Share the Gospel then build relationships. Shift for person’s of peace through sharing the Gospel widely. Bridge into Gospel conversations quickly- within 5 minutes identify yourself. (Identiy is a big issue in this part of the world! Who are you? Is a big question to answer. Even bigger is “Who are you to me”? Identity of every believer should be a “a person of power.” I John 4:4)
Bridges- help you move from normal conversations to spiritual ones. The most classic bridge is your own personal testimony in 1-2 minutes. It may be all you need.
- Healing the Sick and Praying for Miracles
- Any 3: Anyone, Anywhere, Any Time.
- (Local religious stories, idioms, sayings)
- What religion do you follow? (Becoming a learner)
- Move toward understanding need. (Scratching where it itches, not where we think he should)
- Get to the Good News. (It must make sense in their context to be really Good News)
Keep It Simple
Use just one bridge method that everyone can remember. Keep it very simple! We could be so good at it that when we teach it to others we give them too much and they feel that they can never live up to your example.
(Finding the best bridge in your own context may take lots of trial and error, but this is where the rubber meets the road. It is where mere theory meets real life experiences on the ground. Once you find one that hits to spot, stay with it and teach it to everyone you train.)
Stay tuned for more…