When people talk about Church Multiplication Network (CMN), their conversations typically center around Assemblies of God church planting in the United Sates and possibly CMN’s theme of “a healthy church in every community marked by spiritual and numerical growth.”
But recently, the CMN team packed up and headed to Africa with several key church planters to share their expertise with AG missionaries and their national teams at the request of Urban Tribes, a strategic initiative of AGWM Africa, that focuses on planting churches among “Gatekeepers” in Africa’s gateway cities.
CMN has worked with Urban Tribes to conduct church planter training events in both 2017 and 2018 in Europe and Africa to take AGWM church planters and their teams from their launch training process. This event, however, had more of a conference feel.
“The Urban Tribes CMN Conference was held in Durban, South Africa,” says John Jay Wilson, CMN chief of staff. “There were eight teams representing seven different African countries attending the event.” The countries represented included Kenya, Gambia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, South Africa, and a country considered highly sensitive.
“We are exceedingly grateful to CMN for partnering with us in our joint ‘For the City’ Conference,” states Randy Freeman, AGWM missionary and director of Urban Tribes. “This was our first conference, and it was designed to provide times of encouragement, ministry, and practical capacity building for Urban Tribes team members and leaders.”
Wilson says that each member of the CMN team and the accompanying church planters had opportunity to speak during services as well as lead breakout sessions.
Freeman says the CMN team provided the insights leaders needed to hear.
“From Zack Whitt’s session on going multi-site to Jason Patterson’s challenge to overcome our insecurities,” Freeman expresses, “to Shaylyn Ford helping us to understand ‘You will lead better on accident if you are healthy than you will on purpose, if you haven’t dealt with the hard things,’ we all came away better equipped to serve the purpose of God in our assignments.”
“It was like a mini-CMN Conference like the national conference we hold here in the U.S.,” Wilson says. “And what was really cool was the event was also used to help launch an AG church plant in Cape Town; one of the church planters who came with us donated $12,000 to provide seating for the new church.”
As Africa has only recently fully come out of lockdowns due to the fears generated by the corona virus, Wilson says that this event was one of the first larger in-person gatherings for missionary church planters.
“For example, Ethiopia went on full lockdown four times,” Wilson explains, “and they also had a civil war, so this conference was a welcomed event as many of those working to plant churches in Africa have been forcibly isolated from each other for quite some time.”
Wilson says that what was very encouraging to him and other members of the CMN team was to see how missionaries and their teams, many who attended a CMN training events in 2017 and 2018 have used those tools to subsequently launch churches all over Africa.
“They already have us scheduled to come back in May 2023,” Wilson says. “I believe this time the focus will be on training more national leaders and team members in effective church planting.”
In addition to resourcing church planters, the primary reasons for CMN to go to Africa were to inspire and encourage church planters in the Urban Tribes movement.
“I believe the church planters we brought from the U.S. accomplished that,” Wilson says. “But I believe we all also left feeling challenged, inspired, encouraged, and resourced from the planters we met in Africa, through interactions with their teams, and in visiting some of the church launches.”
Wilson says that next year’s CMN event in Africa will be significantly larger. In addition to resourcing church planters, a church is going to oversee ministry to missionary and national teams’ children to allow the event to be even more inclusive.
“I love what they’re doing there,” Wilson says of Urban Tribes. “And I love their vision for a healthy church in every major city in Africa.”