Steve Smith asked Bill*, a father of modern church-planting movements, what characteristics he sees consistently in men and women that God is using to catalyze the movements. This is a composite of what he has seen.
1. A passion to see many saved throughout an area, people or city—their focus is on the lost that have yet to hear the gospel. This results in an urgency to bring salvation to as many as possible as quickly as possible. Their highest priority is dealing with lostness because of their deep awareness of heaven and hell. The eternal state of people around them weighs heavy on their hearts.
2. Perseverance to fulfill the vision of reaching all the lost—this often looks like a dogged tenacity—an unwillingness to take “no” for an answer. Such an attitude means that they fail often in their attempts, but they are failing forward, learning in each experience so that they can do better the next time.
3. Not wedded to a single, unchanging methodology—as learners seeking the best ways to reach all of the lost, they are ruthless in self-evaluation. They know that their plans and methods are simply ways to apply biblical principles. Therefore, they are ruthlessly willing to adapt methods and fix problems in order to more effectively reach the lost. Their methods and strategies are constantly being updated, not putting their trust in just one approach.
4. Self-discipline to cease a multitude of unfruitful, distracting activities—the CPM practitioners are focused on doing the right things—they place the highest value on things that will get them to movements that reach all of the lost. Therefore, their ministries are as much about what they DO NOT DO as what they do.
5. Action-focused not idea-engrossed—these are people of action. They are often impatient with the hypothetical but want to implement immediately what they are learning.
6. Not man-pleasers—they live for One Person’s agenda—God’s. They do not let their plans or methods be dictated or restricted by what others think. In addition, they are not agency or organization focused—looking only to or limited by what their organization initiates. This means they are uninterested in most activities and priorities of religious professionals in order to spend time with the lost and with new disciples, launching approaches appropriate to endless multiplication throughout their target groups.
7. Experience the power of God in life and ministry—these are people abiding deeply in God, expecting God to demonstrate Himself in their personal lives and in their work. They live by faith and see God show up.
8. Faith that God can and will save many, in this place, at this time, among these people—they believe the harvest is prepared around them and they work to find those ready to believe and multiply. They believe God is going to do it here and now!
9. Extremely high work ethic—they often are driven people, to the extent they make peers uncomfortable. Most have been successful in secular occupations. They’ve learned work ethic and the necessity of tailoring their efforts to bear fruit.
10. Results-oriented, bottom-line thinkers—they are willing to do whatever it takes under God to evangelize their people. This results in a single-minded focus that is committed to effectiveness. If there is no fruit, they are asking “why” and making adjustments.
11. Cognitive ability to oversee complex multi-dimensional processes—they know that movements are not simplistic, so they possess the ability to monitor the entire process from new disciples to mature leaders, generation by generation.
12. People of prayer—they live in frequent, two-way communication with the Father. Their relationship with God is a close daily walk.
13. Bold evangelists—they actively model what they expect others to do.
14. Biblicists—the Bible is their standard to apply in every situation. The Bible is their handbook; whatever it says is what they believe and do.
15. K.I.S.S.—in order for movements to start and continue, they recognize the necessity of keeping every step of the process simple. All things must be reproducible.
16. Often, mature believers who have been though hardship, suffering, internal and external challenges—they’ve been tested and found faithful.
17. Hear God and obey—bottom line, they believe “God holds me responsible for these people.” So they live their lives in obedience to reap a harvest and present them to God as an acceptable offering.
*Bill prefers to travel the world unnoticed, so we’ve withheld his full name.