In 2017, a key ministry partner requested my help to evaluate the effectiveness of National Church Planting Processes on a global scale. With the help of my co-workers on the Global Research Team, I created an online survey, and over 110 workers with significant experience participated. In February I will travel to Berlin to interact with a group of global church planting catalysis to share the major findings of this study and new insights pertinent to advancing national church planting processes around the world. In addition, I’ve planning a series of additional reports focused on related topics. Reports and updates will be posted at www.OCresearch.info.
I consider this the most significant research project I’ve been involved with to date. It has been a super opportunity to collaborate with experts in the field of mission research as well as those with significant experience in advancing national church planting processes. If each person who completed the survey has just of ten years experience (highly likely), this totals over a millennium of experience!
A National Church Planting Process is based on the DAWN vision, which became a major strategy for world evangelization in the 1990s. DAWN, an acronym that stands for “Disciple A Whole Nation,” has biblical roots in Matthew 28:19-20. The DAWN vision, akin to “Saturation Church Planting”, grew out of Jim Montgomery’s experience in the Philippines as an OC missionary. In the 1970s Montgomery, along with Donald McGavran, played a key role in motivating and mobilizing Philippine church leaders to set a goal of establishing an evangelizing congregation in every small community of the country by the year 2000. Projections estimated that this would require 50,000 churches, quite an audacious goal when there were roughly 5,000 evangelical churches in the country! But by 2000, the Philippines had more than 50,000 evangelical churches – though not every small community had an evangelizing church.
DAWN became a highly significant world evangelism strategy during the final decade of the 20st century. In 1985 Montgomery founded Dawn Ministries to promote national church planting processes in other nations. Montgomery’s book, DAWN 2000: 7 Million Churches to Go, published in 1989, was key in spreading the vision globally. In the 1990s the DAWN strategy was championed by the Lausanne Movement, the World Evangelical Alliance as well as the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement. DAWN Report #21, a special AD 2000/GCOWE edition, lists 68 countries with active projects and mentions 68 additional nations seriously considering a DAWN-type project. A 1998 report disseminated by the World Evangelical Alliance for the Ibero American DAWN Congress ’98 provided information about DAWN projects for more than 60 countries. In 2002, Dr. Steve Steele, then Dawn Ministry’s CEO, presented a paper at The Billy Graham Center Evangelism Roundtable. Steele mentions “150 or so DAWN national Projects.” Roughly a million new churches were planted in the 1990s as a result of these projects. Thus DAWN had a significant impact on world evangelization in the 1990s, which continues into the third millennium, even though Dawn Ministries has essentially ceased to function.
Although numerous studies of particular DAWN country projects have been undertaken, we were not familiar with meta-evaluation of DAWN initiatives. Thus we undertook the challenge of a multi-national evaluation of DAWN initiatives.
In 2018 we continue to gather insights from those involved in national church planting processes. If you have been or are currently involved in advancing a national church planting process, you are invited to participate in this online survey. We value your input. The survey should take 10 to 20 minutes to complete and your responses are confidential. Click here to participate in the 2018 National Church Planting Process survey.