14) The Last Bit: We Loved This Response to Critics of DMM/CPM

Recently, we found ourselves in the middle of an exchange of emails aimed at designing rebuttals toward some critics who were casting stones at disciple-making movement (DMM) and church-planting movement (CPM) approaches. In the midst of no small amount of wrangling scriptures and forging powerful responses came a mature voice of tranquility. It was David Garrison. His reply seemed so balanced, we asked his permission to reprint it to a wider audience, volunteering to remove all proper nouns. Somewhat embarrassed, but at the same time, convinced his approach was prayerfully true, he agreed. Here’s what he essentially said:

 

“What we’re now hearing from these various critics (of DMM/CPM) is not new, though it is coming out of a new front. I’ve seen this for years from various naysayers. The good news is that these brethren are brethren, and do have contributions to make to our own thinking and understanding. We should listen to them and see what positive things we can take away from their critiques without getting sidetracked by these skirmishes.

 

“On the one hand, they are attempting pioneer church planting, and for that we can be grateful. Many who begin with them may some day migrate over to more fruitfully exponential paradigms. In one particular region, some years ago, we had a whole cadre of folk who seemed to have all come from one common stream, who were no friends of CPMs, but these young missionaries quickly came to see that “planting a church” among a particular people group (as some would advocate) does little to impact the exponentially compounding lostness of the world’s UPGs. These young missionaries, over time, saw for themselves that DMM/CPM was, in fact, occurring among many UPGs around them. It didn’t take them too long to ask for training in more fruitful practices, and the great majority of them (at least in our region) have gone on to become highly fruitful DMM/CPM catalysts.

 

“It’s important that we be Christlike in our interaction with these who cast doubt and questions on our claims – while making sure we are not inflating any claims ourselves. They, the critics, are not the real enemy; lostness is the enemy, and we must not yield to the temptation to become distracted by those who find it so difficult to grasp the CPM/DMM paradigm. Missionaries are feisty people; let’s keep our feistiness focused on lostness.

 

“In summary, let’s keep our eyes on the prize, friends: the knowledge of the glory of God (which is Christ in us) multiplying exponentially until it covers the earth “as the waters cover the seas.”

 

Blessings,

 

David Garrison

[end of David Garrison’s comments]

 

When we grow up, we want to be like David Garrison. This balanced response doesn’t invite the formation of roots of bitterness. What’s more, it promptly ends cat fights. The roar of flame-mails soon dies out when one party refuses to spar in response. We would all do well to learn from Garrison’s patience, even if we wish for more disciples and more disciple-makers. Maybe the secret to multiplication isn’t really in our arguments and logic. Maybe it has rested in God all along anyway. Do you agree or disagree?

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