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a conversation on barriers to a movement in the U.S. - part 1

I recently had an email conversation with Tim Ahlen on the barriers to a church planting movement (CPM) here in the U.S. Tim was quick to point out that has yet to be a verifiable church planting movement here. And here are his initial observations as to why:
"It seems that there are a number of realities impeding CPM’s in North America.

There is so much “deviant DNA” in North America that rapid discipleship is very difficult. What I mean by that is: in remote areas of Africa, China or India, the only voices competing with Christianity are those of the dominant culture: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, animism. When Christian teaching is introduced to these cultures, it stands by itself against the dominant cultural religion. In North America, if you teach Calvinism, you will be contradicted by other Christian voices who are Arminian. If you are a dispensational premillenialist, you will be contradicted by a host of other millennial views. If you are a Trinitarian, you will be contradicted by JW’s, Mormons and other cults. IN addition, the long history of Christianity in North America has established certain institutional and educational expectations in people’s minds that are very difficult to overcome. Bottom line, it takes a lot longer to communicate the simple and essential message of Christ in North America.

Related to the above issue, many , if not most, North Americans have been inoculated with a Christianity that is weak, anemic, institutional and cultural. However, it is strong enough to hinder people from getting “infected with the real thing.”

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What do you think are barriers to seeing a movement of the gospel here in the U.S.?

image: the wall by: macieklew

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  • Blogger Shaun says so:
    11:04 PM, May 03, 2008  

    As far as this statement:

    "North Americans have been inoculated with a Christianity that is weak, anemic, institutional and cultural."

    I think that is totally accurate, but what is not pointed out is that this (I believe) is a major sickness within the Church that, for the most part, is not even recognized, much less dealt with. top

  • Blogger George says so:
    4:37 PM, May 11, 2008  

    I tend to agree, though I think sometimes we're a little too hard on the church in the U.S.

    It's very easy to romanticize what is happening in other parts of the world and over-criticize the weaknesses of those immediately around us. Though God is doing marvelous things in Africa, India, and China, many churches in these regions are just as indifferent, bound to culture and tradition, and confused by the prosperity gospel and other less-than-orthodox teachings. At least this is what my missionary friends in Africa, India, and China tell me.

    Personal experience testifies to their perception. I live in Argentina where there has been a great spiritual awakening over the last 30 years. Unfortunately, despite the exponential increase in the number of churches, there is just as much backsliding, man-centeredness, and back-biting, manipulative, power-hungry leaders as in the States.

    Though the U.S. may be responsible for exporting many of these problems, we can't deny that there's a lot of good going on there, too. God is doing an incredible work in and through countless believing communities and the men who shepherd them. Communities that are shepherded by men such as Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Os Guinness, Richard Mouw, Dallas Willard, and thousands of others just as intelligent and godly who are satisfied to labor in humble obscurity for His glory.

    There is room for improvement, but there is also need for praise and thanksgiving for what we've been given. top

  • Blogger Ken Shomo says so:
    5:05 AM, May 20, 2008  

    I think that "church planting movement" and "gospel movement" are not necessarily the same thing.

    I live in Virginia Beach, where there are evangelical churches in abundance (along with the problems your post describes). A movement of the gospel is going to look more like revitalization and discipleship than like church planting.

    Also, the Virginia Beach area is the largest concentration of military in the US (with DC being second, I hear). As military men & women are saved and discipled, the gospel is taken around the globe - but again, this is not church planting.

    I love church planting, by the way! This is not meant to be an either-or email, just injecting some thoughts about how we answer the question you posed. top

  • Anonymous stew says so:
    9:21 AM, May 20, 2008  

    great observations, Ken, about the difference between a gospel movement and church planting movement... top

  • Blogger theologien says so:
    2:05 PM, May 27, 2008  

    Grenoble, France has two english speaking churches in a potential english speaking population of 5-10,000 people (i.e., they speak english as a first, second, or third language), and a total urban population of 500,000 people.

    Given the same size population in the US, you would have about 7-10 churches in a population of 5-10,000 people, and about 120 in a population of 500,000 people.

    Why do you need to plant more churches? top