People travelled from Cornwall, Lancashire, London and many places in between to converge on the Forest Community Church in Cinderford, Gloucestershire for the Counties M4 Ready event last month. The day was designed to inform interested parties and prepare teams of people to ready themselves for either church planting or replanting using the proven M4 tools that have assisted hundreds of churches of all styles and evangelical persuasions across 14 countries in Europe over the last 10 years to successfully launch new Christ centred churches. Church planting is notoriously risky with historically as many as 70% failing to get past the second year; but such is the effectiveness of the M4 process that it has yielded a 90% success rate due to the thoroughness of the preparation, training and support given. It is a huge privilege for us to make this resource available to the UK Church.
Speakers for the day were Oivind Augland from Norway, who founded M4 Europe; Kenno & Jana Leier, Estonians who have planted a large church in Finland and Craig Hammer also from Estonia. Craig explained how the process works by using the day as a live demonstration of how the learning communities within M4 operate during the 2 year programme. Participants were also given access to and training in the online learning platform. This platform has been created to give teams access to the vast amount of training videos and practical help that is available so that they can keep learning as they meet the challenges of planting a new church in the 21st century.
The M4 training programme focuses on Jesus’ great commission from Matthew 28 under the following headings:
M1 Master = “All authority has been given to me”. It all starts with God’s power and with God’s commissioning. The church is his dream and initiative. He says, “I will build my church.” The church is his. The church exists for him and though him. He is he one who calls us into church planting.
M2 Mission = “Therefore go…” He is the one who sends us on mission to plant churches. If we don’t reach out to new people we will stay the same group of people and eventually die as a church. We have to go on the Master’s mission.
M3 Multiply = “make disciples” We are called to multiply by making disciples not just make converts. Disciples are made as part of an intentional outworking of a healthy church.
M4 Movement = “and surely I am with you always…” As we move out in faith to see new churches planted and grow God goes with us. As new churches develop God goes with the leaders helping them to grow and mature into the people with the capacity to oversee His movement in His church.
The Counties UK team of Martin Erwin, James Hyde and Tim Cracknell were able to fill everyone in on how the assessment of lead planters, the basic training and monthly coaching will run in our British context. September 27-28 will see the first M1 Master weekend in the UK when hopefully we will have as many as 6 church planting teams join us for what will sure to be an unforgettable journey. If you are looking at planting or replanting a church in the not too distant future and are starting to pull your start-up team together why not join the Counties M4 training programme and learn from the experience of hundreds who have gone before you to make the most impact together for the kingdom of God in the UK? I would love to hear from you. I certainly wish that M4 was around when I was involved in planting the church in the Forest of Dean 14 years ago, as I am sure it would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights and made me much more effective!
Tim Cracknell – Counties Planting Network