GMI Connection

Research Helps Train and Encourage Church Planters GMI Connection - Issue 3 : Article 3

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nl3-3.jpgResearch Helps Train and Encourage Church Planters

In the Muslim world, people are moving toward Jesus in surprising numbers. Still, the work is difficult: one agency reports that nearly 70 percent of its church planters have yet to see a group form that has the potential to become a church.


"We were losing people because they weren't seeing any results at all," the representative told us.


How can church planters avoid frustration – persevering with confidence and/or learning how to change their approach for greater impact?


That is where Fruitful Practice Research comes in. This effort develops resources based on data and stories gathered from church planters who have seen fruit among traditionally Muslim peoples. FPR is an initiative of a network of more than 10,000 church planters from more than 50 agencies, many based in the Global South.


Based on hundreds of interviews over the past six years, FPR has documented 68 practices that have been frequently noted in places where new churches and fellowships have emerged.


GMI has been a part of the FPR team since 2008, conducting and coordinating site visits to interview fruitful and not-yet-fruitful teams.


A key emphasis of Fruitful Practice Research is producing resources designed for field teams. Busy teams may not have the time or desire to read a research report. But they will watch a 20-minute training presentation, or do a self-assessment exercise or read success stories from their peers.


Several agencies are now using and adapting FPR resources in their training. One has developed a training curriculum for new church planters based on the material. Another has adapted the assessment tool as part of its agency-wide reporting. A third uses a book of stories and related discussion questions as part of its home-assignment training – even for teams working outside of the Muslim world.


"We use the book Where There Was No Church to look at the 'postcards of fruitfulness.' Then we encourage our staff to write their own postcard for fruitfulness," the representative said. They use this to develop a plan for using their strengths and addressing areas of concern. "Probably 300 families will go through it this year," the representative said.


Prominent themes in the material include early planning for intentional reproduction, working with natural social networks and developing fluency in the heart language rather than a trade language. Taking its own advice, FPR conducts its interviews and produces its resources in a variety of languages for its network. Please pray for the research team as it continues its next round of research and resource development.


For more information on Fruitful Practice Research, contact us. To get a copy of Where There Was No Church, visit And make prayer for those reaching out to these hard places a regular part of your prayer time.


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