Church planting: Two opposing models

IT HAPPENED again last month. Missionaries, pastors and church leaders are very passionate about planting new churches.

One pastor said: “We prefer to plant churches using the established model of Singapore’s Methodist churches. Each church should have a full-time pastor and a proper church building.”

Another pastor disagreed. “CPM! CPM! The established model is too slow. We must use the CPM model. The Holy Spirit is starting Church Planting Movements all over the world. These churches are lead by lay pastors. They meet in homes. This allows them to multiply rapidly.”

I believe the Lord is using both models. Naturally, it is easier for Methodist churches in Singapore to reproduce the established church model because that is what we ourselves have been blessed with. Several Singapore churches are at this very moment raising funds to redevelop their church buildings because we believe the Lord can use these facilities to bless our communities.

However, it is equally clear that especially in the seven countries that the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) has decided to focus its efforts in, the Lord is also using CPM – Church Planting Movements – to extend His Kingdom.

Freed from the burden of raising funds to support a full-time pastor and purchase a property, it is not uncommon for 100 new house churches to be established within five years.

Up to this point the MMS has been on the fringe of such movements. The MMS has seen the Lord do this with a few of the ministries that it has links with. It has not yet seen this happen within its own circle of churches. But I believe it will, if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us develop this CPM model which is different from our own experience.

I believe He will lead us into a careful integration of both models. He will help us set up a few signifi cant bases, using the established church model – He will
provide the funds to purchase a property, build a church sanctuary and employ a full-time pastor. Each of these bases will train lay pastors to plant many new house churches following the CPM model.

For the next few years, the MMS’ priority will be to develop its understanding and experience of CPM. At the same time, it will try and listen to what the Holy Spirit may still be saying about using the established church model.

Charis Methodist Church, for example, has been led to donate $71,000 to help
Sanphranet Methodist Church (Thailand) in Chiang Mai purchase a property (the church has been renting premises for eight years). The Rev Prasarn haisrimonthon
and his members are asking the Lord for another $50,000 to build on the vacant
property they have just bought.

If you, your small group or your church are interested in finding out more about CPM, please contact me and I will arrange for one of us in the MMS Home Team to share with you what the Lord has been doing. I believe it is possible for you to play a significant role in the planting of many new house churches in the region.

The Rev Dr Norman Wong is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society.


Emmaus Women’s Centre conducts new courses

PHNOM PENH – Since its opening seven years ago in October 2000, Emmaus Women’s Centre (EWC) has been receiving girls who come from poor family backgrounds to be trained for one year in its core Dress-Making module.

In August 2008, the programme was widened to include training in Beauty Care (hairdressing, facial care, manicure and pedicure), and Cooking & Baking.

The courses offered will be for an expanded 1½ year period. In addition, the core curriculum will include English and Discipleship.

EWC, which is located in Angsnoul, about 40 km north of Phnom Penh, aims to reach out to young girls, aged between 13 and 25, from poor families, with few or no skills. Besides equipping them with a skill, EWC also hopes that they will come to know the Lord, and be able to return to their villages upon completion of their courses to start small groups where they are, while supporting themselves with the training they have received.

If need be, EWC may look into helping them with some start-up costs to enable them to run their own small businesses.