In the last couple of years Gareth Bowley, Robert Dlamini and their team at Reconciliation Road Church have been involved in the training and equipping of church planters based in under-resourced areas – rural and urban. The team has developed a training program, which will run an extended pilot in partnership with a couple of Advance churches in South Africa in 2020. We caught up with Gareth to get some background on this exciting development.
Reconciliation Road Church has historically made a substantial investment into church planting in under-resourced areas. You currently have a number of planters and future leaders in your group, can you tell us a bit about the guys you are working with?
Yeah, we have a great group of guys participating in our second round of the program at Reconciliation Road. There are currently nine planters working through the material. They are working in a range of contexts in Kwa-Zulu Natal – including rural, per-urban and urban areas.
Is CPMP fundamentally the same as Advance’s existing Church Planting Course (ACPC) or has it been necessary to start from scratch?
Robert Dlamini and I did Advance’s Church Planting Course a couple of years ago. After finishing we knew that the churches we were working with in under-resourced areas would benefit hugely from this sort of training, but would require a course format tailored for those settings. Four years ago we gathered a group of guys who had experience leading churches in under-resourced contexts to consider an appropriate curriculum. It is essentially the same as ACPC but the philosophy of ministry and the methodology is different.
CPMP is built around three components,
Facilitator lead input and discussions based on the CPMP resource material. These are regular (every 3rd week) evening meetings as all of the participants are bi-vocational. The philosophy is centered around input, discussion, group processing and application into the planters/leaders contexts.
Mentorship is a key component of our philosophy of ministry. We currently limit each mentor to no more than 4 students.
These range from mission trips, attendance at Advance gatherings and intense teaching times.
So is it from scratch? Yes and no. The content is fundamentally the same but rewritten, condensed and simplified for the purpose.
You recently gathered a group in Cape Town to initiate the first national pilot. Where are the other partners based and what sort of contexts are they working in?
We had a great time together in Cape Town, with a diverse group of leaders from around the country gathering to check out the program. All of the guys are supporting, mentoring or planting into under-resourced contexts, be it urban or rural settings.
Greg, Nkululeko and Jacques flew in from Gauteng. Their Hub is working with a couple of planters working in townships and urban areas around Johannesburg. Theo and Michael traveled down from Vredenburg – they are working in small towns up the West Coast of South Africa. Chris Mgajulwa, from the Eastern Cape, is working in rural settings. Andre and Ziba are supporting various urban plants in the Western Cape and we also had Michael Moerdijk representing a non-profit based outside Cape Town who is looking for tools to disciple potential leaders.
Long term, do you think this material could serve rural areas in other parts of the world or is this tailored to the Southern Africa context?
I believe the 2020 pilot run in contexts outside of our province will help us modify and learn so that it can have a wider impact in more regions. That is the hope.
Gareth kindly provided us with a course overview, which can be downloaded here. For more information, contact Gareth Bowley.