Annotated Bibliography on Church Planting
Updated March 2016
Compiled by Ken Davis
Baptist Bible Seminary
Project Jerusalem Director
Clarks Summit, PA
Addison, Steve. Movements That Change the World. Smyrna, DE: Missional Press, 2009. Shows that genuine missional movements that change the world—such as that founded by Jesus — are marked by: 1) white-hot faith, 2) commitment to a cause, 3) contagious leadership, 4) rapid mobilization, 5) and adaptive methods. As Jesus’ followers, we are called to continue his missionary movement by the Spirit’s enabling. This book is for anyone who wants to follow Jesus and change the world. Jesus founded a missionary movement. His followers are called to continue his mission in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Addison, Steve. Pioneering Movements: Leadership that Multiplies Disciples and Churches. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015.
This is the third in a trilogy of books on disciple making resulting in church planting movements. Addison’s first book (see above) dealt with five qualities of dynamic movements. His second book, What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World (2012) describes the movement that was initiated by Jesus and continued by his apostles. In this third volume, Addison deals with “leadership, specifically movement leadership. Not movements in a general sense but movements that make disciples and multiply communities of Jesus’ followers” (16). He does this in ten chapters punctuated by what he calls “Pioneer Profiles” explaining how pioneers have been used of God to initiate powerful movements.
To book focus on the anatomy of church planting movements that have multiplication at their core, Addison lays out a five-role plan for multiplication that includes a seed sower, a church planter, a church multiplier, a multiplication trainer and a movement catalyst. He particularly focuses on the latter three roles, which spur on multiplication. Rather than giving readers a step-by-step approach to multiplication, the author instead tells the stories of real-life movements taking place throughout the world—from China to Houston to suburban Indianapolis to Muslim communities.
In his 1st chapter “Movement Pioneers Led from the Inside Out” the author tells of his discovery that “Knowing something was not enough, [the Lord] wanted me to do something” (23). In a book dedicated to the strategy of movement-creation, it is uplifting to see how, although methods are important, the key is a burning heart for lost people. In chapter 2, the six activities that Jesus practiced are particularly helpful to seeing a dynamic movement created (39-40) and in chapter 3 Addison gives us four lessons in the making of a pioneer in the person of Simon Peter, an unlikely candidate. Chapter 4 deals with structures that are effective for movements to develop and thrive. Addison’s understanding of what he calls “missionary bands” compared to local churches needs to be grasped if structures are to lead to true spontaneity. Chapter 5 narrates the amazing church planting movement that developed under Nathan Shank and national named Lipok. The five dimensions of Shank’s strategy are key to what makes for an effective church planting movement (81).
The five levels of movement leadership in chapter 6 is alone worth the price of this book. Every church planter and leader of church planters needs to have an understanding of these levels. Chapter 7 explains how movements are developing in the U.S. Chapter 8 deals with the often neglected theme of moving from a church to a true movement. Chapter 9 describes what is happening among Muslims in terms of church planting movements. The greatest challenge to keep the vision presented in this book going is found in the last chapter. It’s a list compiled by Bill Smith – “What Would It Take to Stop You?” There is a price to be paid to see movements born and growing and Smith’s list does not pull any punches.
The three pioneer profiles Addison shares incarnate the principles that Addison is developing and shed light on what a true disciple making and planting movement looks like. Practical help is found in the appendix (171-173) giving an outline for Bible study and discipleship.
Pioneering Movements will be particularly helpful for church leaders who long to claim a city or region for Christ. Through the powerful stories of God multiplying churches throughout the world, the book will give you a fresh vision for what the Lord may choose to do in your backyard for the glory of God. With an estimated 3 billion people globally and 267 million people in North America far from God–and church planting being the best evangelistic strategy to reach them–Steve Addison’s new book, Pioneering Movements, is a must read.
Allen, Roland. The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes which Hinder it. London: World Dominion Press, 1956. [also Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1962]. Every missionary and those involved in church planting should read and reread this classic text. Allen was an Oxford grad and Anglican missionary to China (1895-1903) whose ideas were far ahead of his time. He is one of the most seminal missiological and ecclesiological thinkers of the last century. His overriding concerns: church planting must preeminently be the work of the Spirit of God and planters must stick with the basic strategy of the Word of God. Notice his subtitle, “and the Causes which Hinder it.” If we are not careful we can hinder rather than help the wonderful “spontaneous expansion” that God has built into his supernatural church. Allen posits that the key to evangelizing the world is the adoption of “Paul’s strategy.” Paul relied on trained lay leadership as pastors and elders. Those concerned with starting reproducing churches will need to heed Allen’s call for deploying indigenous lay leaders. Allen’s prescriptions can be applied to the North American scene with the development of lay church planting strategies. His focus on the Holy Spirit’s role is also key to fostering church planting movements today. This entire book is available as a pdf file from this website: www.nextreformation.com/html/resources/spontaneous.pdf.
Allen, Roland. Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962.
Another seminal and classic text by Allen (see above) on the missionary enterprise presented with careful analysis of how our mission practice should be shaped by the Apostle’s practices in the New Testament. This is essential and compelling reading for urban church planters today. Allen’s premise: “Paul’s strategy” (using trained indigenous lay leadership, relying on the Holy Spirit, etc) is the key to world evangelization. His prescription should be applied to North American church planting if we’re to see movements develop in our day.
Andrews, Brett and Dale Spaulding. Launch Strong: A Planning Guide for Becoming a Multiplying Church. Exponential.org and Passion for Planting, 2016. This small 95-page booklet introduces a six step planning process designed to apply to both launch planning for a new church plant as well as to a church multiplication context. Andrews is the founding pastor of New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA which has gone multisite and directly supported over 100 church plants. They also host Passion for Planting (led by the other author, Dale Spaulding), which provides free online resources and project management for numerous church planting ministries. This guide is designed to be a follow-up to Wilson and Ferguson’s “Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church Field Guide” by providing clear next steps in the church multiplication journey. A practical aid for those desiring to plant a healthy reproducing church.
Ark, Ron Vander. The Church Planter’s Primer. Louisville, KY: Ron Vander Ark, 2013.
The author gives his goal right from the start, “Here is a hard cold fact; most new church plants fail within three years. It seems to me that it is in God’s interest for church plants to succeed, so why do so many not survive? This book is intended to answer that question and to provide some insights into successful church planting” (3). Then in fifteen chapters going from “Why Bother” to “Discipleship” with a final epilogue “Final Thoughts” the author moves the reader into the basic aspects of church planting. This is a less technical and more practical book on church planting. That is its greatest value. The author was involved in church planting and states candidly, “I make no claim of being an expert on the subject; however, I was part of a church plant a number of years ago, so I know something of the matter. The church plant that I was a part of was successful for a time and then began to fade away and disappeared after about ten years” (3). Although some might say this disqualifies the author from speaking about church planting, I found this book quite helpful as he walks through his experiences in church planting and the various aspects of ministry. His honesty in dealing with various issues is refreshing. He certainly keeps things simple without reductionism. The supernatural is emphasized but not to the detriment of the understanding of key strategic principles in church planting. He states, “A church planter must have an extraordinary relationship with God” (14). Yet, again and again he gives solid advice to church planters as in the chapter “Choosing a Name” (Chapter 5). He also points out the importance of small groups to help Christians grow. I would recommend planters work through this book and underline every key element to help them do a better job and also to note mistakes made in church planting so as to not duplicate them.
Arment, Ben. Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before It Starts. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing, 2010. The author started Reston Community Church in the capitol area of VA and shows how to create a new church that fits the community and is one the community needs. As Ed Stetzer says in the foreword, “Don’t plant a church in your head; plant one in your community.” Arment contends that church planting need not be so mysterious or difficult if we understand and apply basic “organic” principles. Using this planting analogy, Arment writes about “Good Ground” (Part 1), Rolling Rocks (Part 2) and “Deep Roots (Part 3). In the 1st section he shows that wise planters know what kind of soil they are planting in. Every community has an established level of spiritual receptivity and ideally you want to plant a new church in fertile soil. Churches that plant in infertile soil often struggle for survival. If you find yourself in that kind of community, you’ll need to stop planting and start cultivating the hardened soil by refocusing on connecting with local people. In the 2nd section, Ben shows that, like it or not, local people will not care about your church unless “social momentum” is on your side. This is why churches that start public services too soon, with only a few people, often struggle or even die. Successful church planters launch with a team, sufficient funding and leadership, with a well-developed social network, and a growing core group — in order to create momentum. To achieve momentum you need a crowd; to get a crowd you need to meet people where they are and find where that intersects with you own God-given gifts and passions. You need to exegete and understand your community and its various people groups, and then contextualizing your plant. In the 3rd section, Ben shows that the vision for a new church can not be imported but must be birthed out of the community (i.e., be indigenous). The most effective church planters have a strong connection to their communities and a deep loyalty among their team. New churches that succeed fulfill a distinct purpose in their communities—they have identified their niche and do well what others aren’t doing, even if it means losing some people. Chapter 14 shows how to develop and implement your distinct church “system” (a step-by-step process for discpling) to carry out your corporate vision. The final chapter describes how simple and well designed systems actually help a new church to reproduce itself and its ministries, giving itself away; Ben cautions about avoiding 5 obstacles to reproduction. This book has a lot of wisdom. Potential planters need to read this book to grasp what can make or break a new church before it even starts (as the subtitle says).
Barna Group. Church Startups and Money: The Myths and Realities of Church Planters and Finances. 2016 Church planters are, as a rule, risk-takers who jump with both feet into God’s calling to grow new churches. But the financial and administrative challenges of starting a church can take a toll on even the most energetic Kingdom entrepreneur. Church Startups and Money is a study of the financial realities faced by church planters across the country. The Barna Group interviewed more than 700 planting leaders whose ministries are in “startup mode” to find out how money – or lack thereof – impacts their ministry, family, and overall well-being.
Church Startups and Money asks: 1) How do planters perceive their financial situation? 2) Do planters take in adequate household income to support their families? 3) What are planters’ primary sources of income, and which sources correlate to greater financial stability? 4) Does the location of a church startup affect the chances of long-term sustainability? 5) What kind of training and support do planters need in order to be effective startup leaders? This research can help planters, planting networks and other supporters talk honestly about the resources startup leaders need to thrive and to plant thriving churches. Bottom line: this national research discovered that many North American planters feel stressed with insufficient support which takes a toll on both their ministries and marriages. This report underlines the need for new paradigms for support for church starters and should be read by all agency and a denominational leaders.
Becker, Paul. Dynamic Church Planting Handbook. Vista, CA: Multiplication Ministries, 1992.
DCP is a three-ring binder/workbook (not a paperback or hardback). It is intended as a guide for a church planter to move through the planting process sequentially. It follows a five-stage model with dozens of steps to be fulfilled before going onto the next stage. This manual includes a large section of detailed checklists for each stage plus a timeline for the planter to fill out to keep the planting project on track and on time. Ten sample forms are in the appendix. This is a helpful resource for church planters looking for a step-by-step guide. A revised, downloadable improved version is now available online at www.dcpi.org. It is authored by Becker, Jim Carpenter, and Mark Williams and entitled The New Dynamic Church Planting Handbook. Oceanside, CA: Dynamic Church Planting International, 2003.
Becker, Paul and Paul Williams. The Dynamic Daughter Church Planting. Vista, CA: Multiplication Ministries, 1996.
This is the only book (actually a 3-ring binder) of its kind and is much needed. Sections 2 & 3 provides church planting churches with the step-by-step guide that they need to reproduce themselves. If you are planting a daughter church, you need this resource. Sections 3 & 4 are written from the perspective of church planters and are basically practical materials edited from Becker’s earlier manual reviewed above. I recommend planters buy this version (from www.dcpi.org ) and get two manuals for the price of one!
Benesh, Sean. Metrospiritual: The Geography of Church Planting. Resource Publications, 2011.
This book is about church planting in the city but should be helpful to anyone prayerfully considering where to plant a church. There is an outpouring of new expressions of church being started throughout metro areas across North America. Where are these new churches being started? Maybe a deeper question is, “Why”? Why are churches being started where they are and why is there a bias towards suburbia and an overall neglect the center city and less affluent neighborhoods? Benesh explores these questions, building off of his recent doctoral research and surveys of hundreds of church planters in seven large cities in the United States and Canada. He also takes a deeper look at pivotal issues such as gentrification, the Creative Class, community transformation, urban renewal, and the role new churches play in all of these. He identifies the Creative Class as a primary group to engage because they shape the culture and set a course for the future. Sean also deals with issues like urban infrastructure, transportation, immigration/demographics, and community transformation–and shows how they influence where churches are planted and how we tend to measure their success. It is rare to find an author who is both a skilled practitioner (he is an urban planter) and an academic theoretician (he’s also an adjunct seminary prof). Sean shows planters how to exegete the city!
Benesh, Sean. The Multi-Nucleated Church: Towards a Theoretical Framework for Church Planting in High-Density Cities. CreateSpace, 2012
This is a brief (100 pages) and unique contribution to church planting literature. Authored by urban theorist Sean Benesh, the book grapples with the missiological implications of a city’s mode(s) of transportation. Benesh argues that most church planting strategies are based upon suburban models – models that inherently rely upon automobiles. In many cities, these suburban strategies will fail, simply because urban residents are not dependent upon the car. Benesh explains that urban transportation frequently revolves around mass transit, biking and walking. For this reason, he contends that churches need to be pedestrian friendly. Since Benesh is currently based in Portland, he used his own city as an example. Portland has worked diligently to create “20 Minute Communities” – city centers in which everything you need is within a 20 minute walk. Benesh’s central thesis is that church planters need to rethink their strategy for church planting. He believes that urban church planters in particular should plant simpler, more neighborhood oriented churches. This was the key missiological insight and lesson of this volume. The latter part of the book, however, is a bit disappointing. After building his case, Benesh raised a lot more questions than he provides answers for (perhaps that was his goal). I didn’t agree with all of his ecclesiology in the final chapter, but many would find this acceptable. In spite of these drawbacks, the book is still a valuable resource and recommend for urban church planters.
Beynon, Graham. 2012. Planting for the Gospel: A Hands-on Guide to Church Planting. Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.
Benyon is a British author who planted a church in Leicester, UK. He is presently involved in guiding church planting in East Anglia. This small (120 pages) but insightful book is divided into two parts. The author explains the first section’s goal “to explore the main issues involved in planting a new church” (10). These issues cover the why of planting a new church, models, methods, key issues, and the beginning days of church planting. The second section contains a number of case studies – mainly in the U.K. but also a few in the U.S.—and resources available for church planters
The author begins by laying a good foundation in the first chapter, “Reasons for planting a new church,” rather than jumping pragmatically into the “how” of church planting. He then describes different models of church planting as well as how to decide on the best model for your context. In chapter three, he gives creative methods for starting a new church and in chapter four how to choose a model. In the fifth chapter, among other things, the question of what Beynon calls “replication” or a “blank sheet of paper” are discussed. The first of these is planting a daughter church identical to the mother church and the second planting a church that is open to all kinds of possibilities. The fifth and sixth chapter deals with key issues that need to be thought through as well as some of the struggles of the early days of church planting.
The case studies describe churches planted and some of the problems and concerns. Many of these case studies state that the goal was to reach new people not touched by the Gospel but that too often transfers from other churches ended up being the main result. Obviously, the biblical objective should be to focus primarily on reaching and discipling lost people. Christians often come with baggage. Church planter open to learn from others will profit from these case studies as they learn what should be done and what should be avoided. Wise church planters are not only mentored but they read and learn from other church plants around the world.
Bigelow, Marcus and Bobby Harrington. Together: Networks and Church Planting. Stadia/Self-published, 2011. Two leaders with Stadia, a national church planting network associated with the independent Christian Church/Church of Christ, show how their movement has successfully planted hundreds of new North American churches through national (macro), regional and local (micro) networks of partnering churches. This book fills an important need in planting literature by carefully describing how church planting through supportive, decentralized networks place church planters in the best position to succeed. To get a broader view of how networks work, the authors researched 10 of the more successful church planting networks in North America and share insights gleaned. They also include an interview with Ed Stetzer and give three helpful samples in their appendix: a church planting network coach agreement, a memorandum of understanding with partner churches, and a church planter expectations document. The biblical principles and key practices described in this 220 page paperback are readily transferable to denominations and associations of churches that hope to revitalize their church planting efforts. The key, they show, is building close relationships among pastors and churches who can then partner together to initiate and coach and oversee church planting projects.
Bloye, Brian and Amy. It’s Personal: Surviving and Thriving on the Journey of Church Planting. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
This is a one-of-a-kind book and much needed. It guides couples who are considering church planting or have already started a new church to avoid the many pitfalls and make wise choices so that they can thrive as a family in the high pressure challenge of launching a new church. Written by a couple who has been there and are very transparent about the temptations they faced. Boyle is a Liberty U grad who founded West Ridge Church in Dallas, GA and now trains and coaches other planters. Not a book about principles and methods of church planting but one filled with many personal, encouraging stories born out of the Boyles’ journey. Every married church planting couple should read this and benefit from their practical advice on everything from marriage/family issues to dealing with growth and change. Also covers how to build a team/ staff, building friendships inside and outside the church, and maintaining your spiritual vitality. A must read if you want to see the raw reality of church planting.
Bohlender, Randy. Jesus Killed My Church. Kansas City, MO: Randy Bohlender, 2102. ISBN: 9780615627342.
Here’s a book every church planter or aspiring church planter needs to read. In twenty fascinating but honest chapters, Bohlender shares what he learned from planting a church that did not survive. Planters can learn some great lessons here–more than they might from a book where there is nothing but supposed successes. What are some of these lessons?
First, the error of not planting a church that is a true organic body characterized by discipleship. Bohlender admits: “The bulk of my mistake … lay rooted in the ridiculous notion that Sunday morning was the most important part of church life” (79). Later, he admits he was seeking to “build a body when I should have started to build people” (166). Second, the mistake of enlisting people by an easy invitation to be part of a church. The author says, “In trying to win their support, I made my first obvious mistake of church planting. I made it too easy” (78). This approach leads to non-committed or weakly-committed people and the church plant does not grow. Third, attracting the wrong kind of people to a church plant. Bohlender speaks of “dysfunctional people church plants attract” (78). The wise planter needs will discern whether he is attracting people who are not healthy and who will make for an unhealthy church. Fourth, evidently this church planter never had the opportunity or privilege of having an upfront assessment of his gifts. Later on, a trusted friend states, “It just seems like maybe you’re not in the right place. Like you’re wired for something different” (160). Church planters who are assessed by other church planters and pastors have a greater survival rate than those who are not. Fifth, this planter never received much outside coaching as he walked through the church planting process and as a result had much wrong thinking and made many wrong assumptions, he admits. In the final chapter, the author summarizes many other valuable lessons he learned. Possibly the saddest is this admission, “I don’t think we missed God in planting a church” (199). All in all, Randy is very transparent and has a great attitude. Through it all he trusts God in spite of his plant not surviving. Planters and their trainers, would both profit from reading this book. Another big lesson: God’s sovereignty thru trials.
Branson, Mark Lau and Nicholas Warnes. Starting Missional Churches: Life With God in the Neighborhood. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press, 2014.
This is a 200-page collection of seven stories of new and diverse (geographically and denominationally) churches in the USA, told by planters and founding pastors who lead local teams. These are not new models to be packaged and transplanted but insights into the processes and lessons of each specific local initiative. The intent of the authors is to provide encouraging and enlightening narratives for others who want to be reflective and active in starting missional churches. The two opening chapters of the book, done by the book’s two editors, lay the foundation by 1) describing the social, practical and theological challenges for enhanced church planting in our post-Christian US culture; and 2) bringing the missional conversation into engagement with the church planting conversation. They set the book’s focus on the priority of engaging one’s neighbor as a subject rather than an object, by building relationships not buildings. The strength of this book is that it is grounded in lived practice, not theory.
The one concern I have with this book is that the missional process of discerning where God is already at work, proposed by the two Fuller Seminary-based editors, seems at times to minimize the role of mature pastor-planters for a more community based approach. Their proposed discernment approach (where God speaks today through community & peoples’ “stories”) could also lead to limiting the sole and primary authority of the Scriptures for the new church’s faith and practice.
Breen, Mike and Alex Absalom. Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide. Pawleys Island, SC: 3 Dimension Ministries, 2010.
Over the past few years the term “missional community” has become a buzz word. Many of the books coming out on MCs have been fairly theoretical. This 225 page, oversized manual is different, focusing on the practical nuts and bolts of launching, multiplying, growing and discipling people with MCs. It’s written by two veterans, leading MC advocates, who are have much field experience, both in the UK and the USA. The authors led a European network out of St Thomas Church in Sheffield, UK, where MCs supposedly originated. Missional Communities are carefully defined as a community of 20 to 50 people on mission together. One of the best on this subject; a helpful step-by-step field guide not only valuable for church planters but church leaders hoping to transition an established attractional church into a more incarnational and evangelistically effective body of involved believers.
Breen, Mike & Steve Cockram. Building a Discipling Culture. 2nd ed. Pawleys Island, SC: 3 Dimension Ministries, 2011.
The biggest weakness in many new church plants is a lack of solid discipleship. Church planting without discipleship leads to a weak, anemic, and non-reproductive church. On the other hand, discipleship as done by some para-church ministries is often without church planting – and that is certainly not biblical or effective. Here is a book that properly puts the two together. The authors state, “If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples” (11-12). Jesus did not tell us to start churches but to make disciples. And in the book of Acts we see the result of making disciples was normally the planting of dynamic churches that grew and reproduced. n This book sows us how this works out in practice.
The book is in three clear parts: 1) Understanding Discipleship; 2) LifeShapes: Our Discipling Language; and 3) Using Huddles to Disciple People. Part one challenges us to make disciples and not just church attenders where “disciple” often just means “someone who shows up to our stuff, gives money and occasionally feeds poor people” (12). The authors rightly believe that disciples cannot live and function without the local church. They advocate making disciples in such a way that the result is church-centered discipleship–not a discipleship separated from the planting and growing a local church. Part two is composed of 9 chapters using what the authors called “lifeshapes” to create a discipling culture. To illustrate this, the authors use these symbols: a circle, a triangle, a semi-circle, a square, a pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon, and an octagon. Each one of these represents a discipleship language that becomes a process moving from moments when God breaks through into people’s lives (circle) to what they call “relational mission” (octagon). This reviewer found this a helpful process for building a context where the major issues of discipleship are not only taught but also lived.
Part three deals with how to put all this into practice using what the authors call “huddles” – groups of 4 to 10 people (the ideal is to start with four to six) meeting regularly to build discipleship into lives and to create the discipleship context. Those attending these “huddles” then find others and create another huddle and thus multiply themselves. In this book, Breen and Cockram provide solid and functional help in disciple-making. Putting this into practice could make a difference in local churches too often characterized by simply attending and giving. This process, if implemented well, should result in dynamic changed lives that multiply missionally for God’s glory.
Breslin, Scott. 2007. “Church Planting Tracking and Analysis Tool.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly. October 2007: 43:4, 508-15. Here is a tool that I wished I had at hand when doing church planting along with a team. Breslin gives you a means of tracking what is happening in terms of 5 major areas that church planters work in: 1) Positioning (context), 2) Sowing (crowd), 3) Watering (community), 4) Reaping (congregation), and 5) Keeping (committed and core). He states, “This tool helps you take a snapshot of a team’s progress in the church planting process. In a one to three-hour meeting the group facilitator can complete the chart with the team.” (p. 515). You can download a blank copy free at http://www.fcpt.org but you will want to read and use the article to guide you. If you do not receive the EMQ, you can get this article online at www.emqonline.com by paying a fee for an online subscription—well worth it for church planters.
Brock, Charles. Indigenous Church Planting: Nashville: Broadman Press, 1981.
Brock’s resources are time-tested and valuable. However, they do reflect a paradigm used more frequently in decades past. His ideas often come from his years of church planting in the Philippines among tribal people. As such, they will often relate well in a lower socio-economic bracket in North America, but not to all contexts. The greatest value will be for indigenous lay persons seeking to plant churches in center cities or rural North America.
Browning, Dave. Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
Pastor, church planter, and innovator Dave Browning wants to help churches structure themselves to reach an unlimited number of people in an unlimited number of places. He unpacks the six elements of a new equation for church development. These concepts – minimality, intentionality, reality, multility, velocity, and scalability – provide a realistic plan for streamlining church while maximizing impact.
Carpenter, Jim. Ed. Daily Encouragement in the Church Planting Journey: 365 Days of Wisdom, Inspiration, and Courage for Church Planters by Church Planters. Oceanside, CA: Dynamic Church Planting International, 2011.
Here is a unique book for church planters. It is a book of 365 daily devotions specifically targeting those who are planting and growing churches. The editor states in the preface: “Years ago God gave me a dream to produce a devotional just for church planters, one that would give them a dose of courage and hope for every single day of the year. And who better to write such a book than church planters?” My experience in coaching and helping church planters has been that they tend to become discouraged in the church planting process. The book has twenty-one contributors from ten different countries—all of them church planters and church multipliers. Two of the authors are ladies and this gives to their contribution special help to both men and women. The book is organized around the twelve months of the year with a basic principle as theme for each month as developed by Dynamic Church Planting International. These twelve principles have a value of grounding in key principles of starting and growing healthy churches. This is such an important book, one that all church planters should get a copy and use daily. Those who train church planters would be wise to do use this with those they are mentoring.
Chaney, Charles L. Church Planting at the End of the Twentieth Century.
Wheaton, Il: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1993.
In the early nineties, Chaney’s book was the best available resource on the topic of North American church planting. It has now been largely replaced by Malphur’s and Stetzer’s church planting books. The most recent expanded revision adds contemporary methods like the “big start” and shows how to contextualize by using new technology like marketing demographics, psychographics and ‘ekklegraphics.’ His first two chapters on the biblical foundation for church planting are some of the best I’ve read. Chaney, a Southern Baptist, builds a strong case for developing both a congregational and associational planting strategy, and for reaching large cities and even inner cities. His discussion of how to create a corporate climate for new church planting is very helpful. Though dated this remains one of the better books specifically related to North American planting.
Cheyney, Tom J., David Putnam, & Van Sanders, eds. Seven Steps for Planting Churches. Alphretta, GA: North American Mission Board of the SBC, 2000. This concise 30-page booklet has a seven step approach to church planting in a North American context. It provides you with the basic overall steps for planting a new church as well as other recommended resources for each step. The steps are principle driven (“enlist a team” rather than “start a cell group,”
etc.) It answers, in a simple and practical way, “how” to get started. A good starter resource yet the authors are clear that it is only intended as an introductory piece. Certain adjustments will need to be made for overseas planting. A church planter who knows how to contextualize could readily profit from this manual. It is also available as a free download from the following website: www.churchplantingvillage.net (note the other great church planting resources on this website).
Christopherson, Jeff with Mac Lake. Kingdom First: Starting Churches That Shape Movements. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing, 2015.
The author is the North American Mission Board’s VP for the Send City Network and Regional VP for Canada. His main focus is on fostering “Kingdom movements” of reproducing churches that transform neighborhoods and the world with the gospel. A seasoned planting practitioner in a very tough area, Jeff is clearly one of the foremost thinkers and influencers in the field of church planting today. With a holistic view, this book is comprehensive, biblical, principle-based as well as practical. The author properly sees church planting not as a career, but a calling. He shows how planters can live on mission both in private and public. Jeff shows that planting is not about a checklist but about the planter’s proven character. He shows why reaching the lost from the very beginning of the church plant is vital but also stresses disciple-making making, giving fresh insights on how to do both. His chapter on contextualization is excellent, worth the price of the book alone. He insightfully advocates including those new to the faith on your launch team. His co-author contributes helpful chapters on building healthy teams and developing leaders—Lake’s areas of expertise.
Jeff emphasizes it’s not about building the church but building the Kingdom of God (a concept he never clearly defines from this reviewer’s perspective). His kingdom-centric church approach may be questioned by some because of its apparent over-emphasis on the present aspects of the Kingdom and our role in “building” it. Yet, everyone starting a new church North America, particularly in in post-Christian settings, should first read this recommended book. The eight principles articulated in this book will serve as a great resource to guide those passionate about seeing church planting movements in North America. Jeff will stretch your mind, challenge your motivation and redirect your heart toward a wider Kingdom (=Great Commission) perspective.
Cole, Neil. Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2005.
Cole is co-author with Bob Logan of Beyond Church Planting. He is also one of the key leaders in the Church Multiplication Associates (CMA), a movement that has planted some 700 new house churches in 23 states in the USA and 23 nations in the past 7 years(as of 2007). According to Bob Logan, each of these churches has an average attendance of 17 people but also have a 100% conversion growth. So they are not built on people moving from one church to another. Cole shows how to plant seeds of the Gospel in places where unchurched people hang out and culture is formed – restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, parks, neighborhoods, etc – rather than expecting them to show up at church. Cole’s premise: if we want to connect with young people and those who are not coming to church, we must go where people gather. His rather radical goal: “to lower the bar of how church is done [so that it so simple even lay people can start new ones!] and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple (p. 26).” His ideas on “Life Transformation Groups” [2 to 3 people who meet weekly to challenge one another to grow] are powerful. Though some will be stretched by his ideas and question his definition of the local church, his views on small being better, on finding a person of peace, on how to identify good soil, on discipleship, on developing leaders, on expecting God to provide the resources for building His church from the harvest, on the importance of carefully setting the church’s DNA, and on church multiplication need to be understood and practiced by all planters, no matter what model of church they use. Read this book if you want to reach the younger generation, the lost and unchurched! Organic Church offers a hands-on guide for demystifying this new model of church and shows the practical aspects of implementing it.
Cole, Neil. Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2010.
As a follow-up to Organic Church, this newer book provides practical insight to encourage church multiplication movements. Cole answers common questions and provides practical advice on everything from avoiding heresy to working with children. The book will provide challenges and insights to different kinds of churches, but it particularly focuses on those using organic, simple, and house church models.
Cole, Neil. Journeys to Significance: Charting a Leadership Course from the Life of Paul. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011.178 pages. ISBN: 978-0-470-52944-7
This is a very challenging book on the life of Paul and particularly his ministry of church planting and vision for multiplication. Cole takes the reader through the life of Paul following Robert Clinton’s “paths and processes of leadership formation.” He shows the development and change in Paul’s vision and strategy for ministry in what are normally described as three missionary journeys. Neil adds a fourth journey to Rome, orchestrated by the sovereignty of God, and then a fifth journey which he calls “The Final Journey: Influence Beyond the Grave.” If Cole is correct in seeing the development of Paul’s approach to ministry and, in particular to church planting, then we need to rethink much that has been written about the methodology of Paul. His proposals certainly deserve more discussion by Bible scholars.
A big question in Acts: what is normative and descriptive? Church planters will need to think about this in the light of where Paul’s methods are being used and in which missionary journey. It will be interesting to see what develops from Cole’s approach to Acts by further studies. Obviously there is room here for differences of opinion. From my own doctoral studies on mentoring church planters, I agree with Cole that Paul’s 3rd missionary journey was centered in Ephesus and that there was a major shift in his strategy from doing church planting to multiplying church planters out from the center in Ephesus. All those concerned with leadership developing and making ministry more effective will profit greatly from reading and reflecting on Cole’s book.
Comiskey, Joel. Planting Churches that Reproduce: Starting a Network of Simple Churches. Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing, 2009. Order: www.joelcomiskeygroup.com
The author is an internationally recognized consultant on cell-based churches who has researched them all over the world. He was a C&MA missionary in Quito, Ecuador and has recently planted Wellspring, a cell-celebration church in southern CA. This practical book builds a strong case for Christ-honoring cell church planting in North America and starting new churches that intentionally multiply. Joel challenges all of us, even those not leading cell churches, to a more biblical ecclesiology. Unlike Ralph Neighbor, one of the earlier writers and advocates of the cell approach, he does so graciously without being overly critical of the traditional church. Comiskey gives timeless principles, numerous real life examples from his own experience and travels, and wise insights into how to start a cell (simple) church. Yet this practical and inspirational work can help those starting other types of churches as well. His chapters on prayer, relational evangelism, discipleship, developing leaders, learning culture and customs, are helpful for all planters. In post-Christian America of the future, the typical attractional suburban planting model may not be effective as it once was. All of us may need to take a long look at the simple church approach—moving away from buildings and events to people and more organic forms of outreach. If you’re concerned with reaching the Next Generation in North America, this book will challenge your assumptions! If you can buy and read but one book on the cell church, this is it! The six appendices alone will help you understand the modern cell church movement. Joel also shows how the cell church differs from and is an improvement over (in my opinion) the house church in key areas.
In our day, planting a “church planting church” is often promised and rarely implemented in the world of church planting.
In the search for a model that is culturally effective and highly reproducible, Comiskey has offered a level-headed approach to house and cell church planting. His book offers a guide to the “root system” of a new church and how simplicity leads to high reproducibility. This is a key lesson we can learn from Joel: simplicity leads to high reproducibility.
Collins, James C. & Jerry L. Porras Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.
Most church leaders seem to know about Good to Great, the flywheel, and the hedgehog concept. As critical as that book is to leadership, Built to Last actually develops out the conceptual framework to create a highly visionary organization. In their research, they discovered that all visionary companies have a core ideology, an unrelenting drive for progress, and an organizational structure to preserve the core and stimulate progress. Whether you’re a church leader or a denominational/network leader, unless you understand how to preserve the core and stimulate progress, you’ll never get to multiplication. Essential for understanding how to build planting multiplication movements.
Comiskey, Joel. The Church that Multiplies: Growing a Healthy Cell Church in North America. Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing, 2005.
This veteran cell church researcher and church planter shows how the cell church is working in North America, not just overseas. He has an entire chapter examining 40 No Am churches in 21 states that are successfully using cell strategy to grow quality and quantity. Joel provides the latest statistical research about the North American church and why the cell church may restore health and growth. Deals with six commonly suggested “obstacles” to the cell church in No Am., examines five cell models from overseas and which work best in our land, discusses the basic elements of successful cell churches (prayer, community, group evangelism, disciple making, leadership training, coaching, priesthood of all believers, and the need for large group celebration to balance out the house cells, etc). He has one solid and practical chapter on how to do cell church planting. Builds a convincing case!
Comiskey, Joel, Sam Scoggs, & Ben Wong. You Can Coach: How to Help Leaders Build Healthy Churches through Coaching. Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing, 2010.
Three experienced coaches combine here to produce a very helpful guide to coaching other pastors and church planters. In nine chapters and two appendices these leaders both encourage coaching and give tools to coach effectively. As they state, “Today we are inundated with books and seminars (information), but many pastors are not equipped to handle that knowledge. They need a coach” (16).
Learn from this book: why everyone needs a coach (chap. 1), how to coach in a way that God-given vision becomes reality (chap. 2), tools and principles for coaching (chaps. 3-4), the importance of friendship in coaching (chap. 5), that ordinary leaders can coach (chap. 6), pitfalls in coaching (chap. 7), how to focus on what is important (chap. 8), and having a coaching plan (chap. 9). Chapter eight points out the basics of a healthy church by “Seven Essences of the Church” and is worth the price of this book alone. Big Lesson: what a difference it would make if every church planter had a coach!
Conn, Harvie, M. ed. Planting and Growing Urban Churches: From Dream to Reality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1996.
Conn’s book is not a “how-to” resource for urban planting. It is an advocacy book, not a practitioner’s book. If taken as advocacy, it does well. Conn points out the importance of having an urban strategy to reach the burgeoning inner cities of the world. Top urban specialists from around the world contribute essays on four main themes: research, strategy planning, targeting and examples of successful urban ministry. Each section provides a list of further resources. Valuable resource on urban church planting that exposes readers to various models and strategies.
Cordeiro, Wayne with Francis Chan & Larry Osborne. Sifted: Pursuing Growth through Trials, Challenges, and Disappointments. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.
While not about church planting specifically, this book, offers help for church planters and those in ministry in general. Cordeiro states: “the core message of this book [is]: sifting happens, but God is still in control, and in fact God uses this season for your good because he wants to do something in you before he does something through you” (60). The authors want us to see that “growth happens best in sifted soil” (87). They challenge church planters and pastors to think through their heart motivation (part one), their home as priority in ministry (part two), and the importance of working hard in being a servant (part three). Those in ministry are challenged to personally think through the importance of caring properly for their heart, their home, and hard work (meaning effectiveness rather than busyness).
The big lesson: “church leadership is as much about being as it is about doing” (39)
First, in terms of the heart, “Why do so many leaders lose heart and want to quit? The heart, metaphorically speaking, can be a tricky organ” (25). How true this is for church planters. Second, in terms of the home, the problem is explained, “Church work was all-encompassing for me, and, I hate to admit it, in many senses I viewed my family as a necessary evil” (97). A priority list is given placing the priority as God, self, spouse, family, and ministry (97). Cordeiro carefully explains that it is not always a question of priority but rather of priorities at any given moment—a much more balanced approach. Third, in terms of hard work, Cordeiro explains the importance of really working effectively rather than busily. Effective work also means having a servant attitude. “As a leader in the church, one of the areas in which you will be sifted is your willingness to be a servant” (149). Chapter 12, “The Classroom for Great Leadership” contains some jewels for planters and pastors. One by Francis Chan: “No matter the size of our congregation or how dysfunctional it seems, Jesus is enough” (201). Can we say this? Is Jesus enough for us in our highs and lows of church planting and development?
This book would be an encouragement to church planters and pastors who are going through difficult times. It may motivate some to rebalance their lives. Because two of the three authors have been church planters, this would be a good book to put into the hands of new church planters as well as others involved in ministry
Cray, Graham (?). Mission-Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context. London: Church House Publishing, 2009.
This book is a report from a working group of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council seeking to offer lessons learned since the 1994 publication of Breaking New Ground: Church Planting in the Church of England. It assumes that the missionary context in Great Britain has changed enormously since then and thus requires “new inculturation of the gospel within our society”—i.e., contextualized church planting. It contains good discussions of the changing culture in the UK, lots of case studies of new planting efforts in England, and recommendations for successful planting in the future. This is a reaffirmation of the urgency of church planting and the need for “fresh expressions” of the church. Under this last heading, there is a good overview (chapter 4) of: alternative worship communities, base ecclesial communities, café churches, cell churches, “multiple congregations,” network-focused churches, school-based churches, seeker churches, replants, new monasticism, youth-oriented congregations, and why many expressions are needed. Chapter 5 is a fair discussion of how to build an adequate ecclesiology as a base for lasting church planting; it particularly focuses on salvation history, mission dei, and the interaction of culture and gospel. Chapter 6 shows that good planting methodology must ask three vital questions: Who is the new church for (mission goal questions)? Who is it by (the mission resource questions)? And, who is the new church being planted with (mission partner questions)? This 175-page book does not contain how-to steps but is helpful for those seeking to lay a strong theological and missiological foundation for church planting, particularly in the UK and post-Christian settings.
If you want to plant a missional church, then you need to start to think like a missionary. That is exactly what these 4 authors challenge you to do in this book. The central question they are seeking to address is: How will we think and live like missionaries in the everyday rhythms of our lives wherever we are? Themes they engage include following the Spirit, mapping, exegeting culture, building relationships, identifying persons of peace, engaging tribes, contextualization, and protecting indigeneity. Excellent!
Cushing, Doug. Where There is No Road at All: Adventures in Church Planting. Lexington, KY: Pinnacle Leadership Press, 2013.
The author of this book planted the Tyger River Presbyterian Church in Moore, North Carolina, and served there for fifteen years. His experience in planting a new church enriches this particular book. The title gives an indication of the author’s concern to help others navigate church planting and healthy growth in an area of ministry where it is important to have direction. In the first chapter “A New Mission Field Without Roads” he deals with four assumptions about missionary work in general and then relates these assumptions to church planting in North America. He declares, “This means that church planting is, perhaps, the most urgent and important task for the Church in North America! (17). His comparison showing the differences between “a missional new church and a maintenance new church” are very enlightening (18-19). In the second chapter, after challenging leaders to be sure that they are called of God for this ministry, he gives seven compass points to keep clear direction in church planting. Church planters will want to look carefully at these seven points in starting or leading a church plant. In chapter three Cushing lists eight core values and explains how to understand and evaluate these as a church is planted and growing. In chapter four he opens his heart and explains four major mistakes he made in church planting and how the tension to grow a church militated against his heart concerns. Church planters will want to examine themselves in the light of Cushing’s own experience and learn from them.
Dale, Felicity. Getting Started: A Practical Guide to House Church Planting. Woodland Park, CO: Karis, 2003.
Though there are many house church books in print (see a list at www.newhousechurches.com.), this is one of the better because it is not primarily an advocacy book but a how-to manual. It provides a clear, simple and reproducible method for planting new churches that meet in homes. The author’s goal is to show that anyone can do it!
Dale, Felicity, Tony Dale, and George Barna. The Rabbit and the Elephant: Releasing the Mega Impact of Micro Churches. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2009.
The authors believe the early church grew rapidly—like a litter of rabbits—primarily because they understood and practiced “simple church” principles. They contend churches today should seek to be simple and organic by not owning their own property but meeting in homes, office buildings, college dorms, coffee shops, factories, etc. Simple church approaches have great potential to impact the globe because the Holy Spirit often expands these small gatherings to the far reaches of the world.
Dever, Mark. 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. 2004. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Here is a healthy book on developing healthy churches. I call it a healthy book for it draws us back to Scripture. Dever, a Calvinistic Southern Baptist, is concerned about the wrong use of pragmatism in both church planting and church development. His understanding of church health is divided into nine chapters each one dealing with one of the “9 marks” as follows: “1) Expositional Preaching; 2) Biblical Theology; 3) The Gospel; 4) A Biblical Understanding of Conversion; 5) A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism; 6) A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership; 7) Biblical Church Discipline; 8) A Concern for Discipleship and Growth; and 9) Biblical Church Leadership.” Dever adds “If I had one more mark to what you’re about to read, it wouldn’t be missions or prayer or worship; but it would touch on all of those things. I think that I would add that we want our congregations to be outward-looking.” (17) Dever explains that the first five marks major on preaching and the last four marks major on discipleship. (28) Here are two main areas for church planters to use as priorities. Church planters, it is important to soak yourself in a book like this that draws you back into a greater grasp of NT teaching. You might want to make a check list as you go through each chapter and ask yourself if you might be shoddy in any of these nine areas. As another pastor states in the foreword, Dever is “not enamored with size and growth. He wants to see God glorified. He wants to see the church faithfully representing the Gospel, not mirroring the culture.” (10) Here I add my own comment agreeing with Herman Ridderbos who, commenting on John 17:17-19 states, “God must ‘protect’ the church from the ‘evil one,’ not only from open or violent hostility and ‘hatred’ but also from the world’s desire to squeeze the church into its secular patterns of life and to seduce it into solidarity…” (The Gospel of John, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, 558). Dever also warns, “This book isn’t a complete inventory of every sign of health. It is intended to be a list of crucial marks that will lead to such a full experience.” (12).
Devine, Mark and Darrin Patrick. RePlant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again.
David C. Cook, 2014.
This is a book from Acts 29 via David C Cook that is not a how-to text but a narrative of the resurrection of a local church body, the re-emergence of a thriving Gospel ministry in a tough, urban context. It’s the encouraging story of the reanimation First Calvary Baptist Church in Kansas City. DeVine, at the time a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was asked to serve as interim pastor at FCBC, a historic congregation that had seen several decades of decline. In the first few chapters, he recalls his struggles to unseat the “cartel” of four long-time members who ran the church. Realizing the church was on its last legs and that realistically it did not have the internal resources to resurrect itself, he began to seek another church in town which would take on FCBC as a satellite or mission church. This didn’t work out, but he became acquainted with the Acts 29 church planting movement, which had an active ministry in St. Louis. Ultimately, FCBC became Redeemer Fellowship, an extension of The Journey, a multi-site church in St. Louis led by Darrin Patrick, a leader in the Acts 29 network.
Replant offers lots of practical possibilities for church planters. The partnership model (actually a multi-site satellite approach) the authors write about is one interesting solution to the problem of a dying urban church. As Patrick writes, “Urban soil is the most difficult place for any church to grow.” But that is where the need is often greatest today. What a great example of a church reestablishing a beachhead for the gospel in an urban setting. Replant is a hope filled revitalization model for declining churches to look to and consider. On the other end of things, churches with a surplus of leadership and resources should look to partner with a struggling church to help preserve a gospel witness in the city.
There’s always a danger in church revitalization books of this type to read it as: “It worked for them, so what they did must have been God’s will and will work for everyone else.” Still a study of planting models is profitable as we learn church growth principles and glean strategy ideas that might be adaptable to our own church and community context. One other minor concern: I found lacking in DeVine’s exploration of solutions for the church a reflection on the FCBC neighborhood. Surely one factor in the declining attendance was changing demographics. It sounds like the church retained its character as a white, middle-class church while the neighborhood around the church changed—possibly ethnically and economically. DeVine mentions that many members drove in from outside the area for services, but says little about ministry and outreach to the changing neighborhood. I would have been interested to hear how that factored into the church’s decline—or what changes they made to minister to their new neighbors and whether they intentionally moved to a more multicultural model of ministry.
Faircloth, Samuel D. Church Planting for Reproduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Book House, 1991.
Faircloth was an early planting missionary with the Conservative Baptists (CBFMS) in Portugal and so this book is written by a practitioner. His book starts as a survey oriented textbook but quickly becomes a cross cultural church planting strategy. This is one of the few principle-oriented books available and is very adaptable to North American planting. Faircloth uses a proven management system called PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). He presents 45 steps in the process of planting a church capable of reproducing. Over 60 charts illustrate his process and principles. Those who are engineering types will like his very systematic approach. This is an important missiological resource for overseas planters and for discerning North American planters. Some may find this too analytical.
Ferguson, Dave and Jon Ferguson. Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
These church planting brothers use their own multi-site megachurch as an illustration to show how leaders of today’s church have the ability to catalyze and contribute to a movement that will accomplish the mission of Jesus. Exponential presents a Biblical strategy that explains how every Christ follower can successfully “reproduce” and maximize his or her impact. A good book for leaders of churches seeking to plant new churches.
Fitch, David and Geoff Holsclaw. Prodigal Christianity. Jossey-Bass.
The authors, two pastors, give us ten signposts that will help planters engage in mission well. They help us understand our post-christendom context, missio dei, the implications of incarnation, what it means to be witnesses, the foundation of scripture, the gospel, the church, relationships and justice. If you want to plant a missional church, this book will help you understand concrete ways to be the church today. It will help you build a missional theology and practice that will move you into a gospel-centered way of life in a challenging North American culture.
Fleming, Dean. Contextualization in the New Testament. InterVarsity, 2005. For some, contextualization is the bogeyman of contemporary mission to be avoided at all costs. For others, it’s a mere click away from syncretism pursued relentlessly. Any form of church planting is an act of contextualization. The only question is whether it’s good or bad. This book tackles this critical issue in a robust and biblical manner with theological richness that is both rare and refreshing. Fleming helps us understand why contextualization is not making the gospel relevant but showing its relevant. He surveys the entire NT to show that the early church & its leaders did contextualization. Shows how to do it in a biblically balanced discerning way.
Galloway, Dale and Warren Bird. Starting a New Church: How to Plant a High Impact Church. Kansas City, MO : Lifestream Resources, 2003. (Available at www.BeaconHillBooks.com)
Galloway, a former church planter/ pastor, is now dean of Asbury’s seminary and an authority on starting small groups. This how-to resource manual (a 3-ring notebook) has three sections: “1) Start on Solid Foundations, 2) Keep Focus on Your Strategies, and 3) Beyond the Status Quo.” It is more about planting “large” churches using contemporary methodologies. It includes a DVD with successful church planters sharing testimonies. It has a helpful appendix with lots of extra resources (web sites, church links, etc). Though published for a North American context, it contains material that, when contextualized, can be helpful in international church planting. For example, his recommendations on setting up small group ministry in a new church are very helpful. Because it is a little pricey (about $100), I would buy this manual only if I was planning on using contemporary outreach methods like direct mail, seeker-sensitive worship, and contemporary worship.
Garrison, David. Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World. Midlothian, VA: WIGTake Resources, 2004.
Order from SBC International Mission Board: http://churchplantingmovements.com/download.php. Garrison describes numerous and amazing case studies from almost every continent of rapidly multiplying indigenous church planting movements, mostly overseas. An exciting account of how God is growing new churches all around the world and the lessons we can all learn. Very insightful is his ten universal elements found in every CPM and ten qualities found in most. His perceptive insights help us understand how CPM’s start/ grow and the obstacles which prevent them. He grapples with the question of why we don’t see but few CPMs in North America in our generation. Challenges traditional church planting strategy. Builds a strong case for unpaid, indigenous lay leadership and planting rapidly reproducing small churches that are characterized by evangelism, prayer, persistent obedience to God’s Word and intentional reproduction. Garrison issues a challenge to traditional church planting strategy, not only through its exegesis of the Scriptural text, but through the distilled wisdom gained from case studies. Destined to become a classic mission book in the 21st century.
Gentry, McColm. The Inner Life of the Church Planter: Getting to the Heart of God-centered Leadership. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart, 2012. ISBN 978-1-889638-99-7.
This is a revealing book on the inner life of one who is involved in church planting. The sub-title says it all: “Getting to the Heart of God-centered Leadership.” Leadership in planting a new church should always be God-centered and not driven. The book’s brief introduction compares church planting to a teenager’s harrowing experience on a roller coaster. Gentry wants to prepare church planters for the surprise ride in the planting adventure. He shares, “Sure, I heard what you’ve heard: cold calling is tough; money often runs out; you (and probably your wife!) get stuck doing everything in the church. But I never heard about the wild ride my heart would take. I would have to discover than on my own”(ii).
The author clearly lays out his goal: “What I am attempting to do in this book is examine church planting through the lens of Christ. And we cannot go far down that path without facing the inner life, the heart of the church planter (iv). This is what makes this book different from others on church planting. The six chapters move through the themes of idolatry, success, passion, identity, leadership, and faith –all this in the context of planting a new church. Throughout this “wild ride” Gentry does not, however, leave us discouraged since in the introduction he states, “I am seeing that church planting is really a wonderful and exhilarating thing. I hope that my reflections and observations will help orient you, so that you’ll be saying, ‘Let’s go again’” (vii). Every prospective church planter should work through a book like this to prepare his heart and mind; he’d find help and consolation from one who has been there before.
Gladwell, Malcom. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Little, Brown & Co, 2002.
Here is a secular book (Augustine might call it “gold from Egypt”) with some amazing insights for those seeking to plant and multiply churches. The back cover of the book states, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” Isn’t that exactly what church planters and facilitators are seeking to do? I hope that is what you are seeking to do—make a difference! Well here are some great concepts. When does the Gospel spread like an epidemic in an area? You will want to read chapter one entitled, “The Three Rules of Epidemic” which deals with three elements of the “Tipping Point—the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, the Power of Context…” (p. 29) When one understands the concept of the “bridges of God” as seen in the book of Acts—key people who reach many other people, one can relate this to Gladwell’s concept of “Connectors” –that is to say people who have a lot of contact with other people. Some call these “persons of peace” as Jesus explained in the Gospels. For years I have been asked, “What is the maximum size for a church?” and struggled with the concept. Obviously there is no biblical data on this. But Gladwell speaks of the “Magic Number of One Hundred and Fifty” – a key number for effective working together of a body. (See chapter five). If your church is to have small groups, Gladwell speaks about the concept of “caring” – in other words how many other people can you care for and about? His answer is “somewhere between 10 and 15 people.” That is exactly what we teach in small group training and Jesus knew all about this when he chose 12 disciples.
Gray, Stephen with Trent Short. Planting Fast-Growing Churches. Saint Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2007.
Gray, a seasoned church planting leader with the General Association of General (Free Will) Baptists, surveyed 112 church plants and found some surprising data in the areas of leadership ability, financial support of the plant, conceptual freedom for the planter, coaching and training, core groups, and ministries offered at the launch. Shows why some new churches are thriving and others are struggling.
Gray, Stephen and Barry Smith. Full Disclosure: Exposing Church Planting Blind Spots. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart, 2009. Like few church planting books available today, the authors frankly share their mistakes and failures in church planting. They deal with real-life, down-to-earth issues all planters face. Potential problems covered: workaholism, too much focus on money, vision drift, dealing with difficult people, neglect one’s family, neglecting one’s personal walk with Christ, going public too soon, hastily selecting the wrong leaders, selecting the wrong facilities, no follow-up strategy, etc. Each issue is described and then helpful solutions are proposed to keep one from the danger. I wish I had reading this book before starting my first church—it would have saved me lots of heartache!
Gray, Stephen and Franklin Dumond. Legacy Churches. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2009. A one-of-a-kind book written to help dying and/or non-growing churches consider the viable option of leaving a lasting legacy by passing on to future generations something of eternal significance—a daughter church, one that could better carry forward their values, beliefs and mission. The authors, leading consultants with the General Baptists, discuss the reality that many small churches in America will one day close their doors over the next 10-20 years. Too many churches today are in denial about their impending death and could profit much from this reasonable and selfless plan for transferring assets to the next generation—from death to life. They offer to lay church leaders a fair discussion of the life cycle all churches pass through, alternatives leaders can consider, plus practical help for closing a church in a dignified way that does not waste resources but advances Christ’s Church. Excellent diagnostic tools are also provided—the self-test of the health of the church (page 80) and life cycle survey (pg 110-15) are worth the price of the 115-page book.
Griffith, Jim and Bill Easum. Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2008.
I’ve planted churches and coached dozens of new church planters, and can tell the authors know what they are talking about! I laughed and cried through the book because I’ve made many of these mistakes myself. The practical suggestions they discuss transcend culture and can be readily applied to most any situation. Issues discussed: 1) neglecting the great commandment in pursuit of the great commission; 2) failing to take spiritual warfare and opposition seriously; 3) loving one’s fantasy statement so that it blinds one to the real mission field; 4) premature launch; 5) evangelism ceases after launching; 6) no plan for the other six days of the week; 7) fear of talking about money until its too late; 8) failure of the church to act its age and its size; 9) formalizing leadership too soon; and 10) using a “superstar” model as the paradigm for all plants. The appendix, on taking a public offering, is also very helpful. This would be an excellent guide not only for planters but those coaching and supervising them.
Gupta, Paul R. & Sherwood G. Lingenfelter. Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision: Training Leaders for a Church-Planting Movement. Winona Lake, IN: BMH
Books, 2006. ISBN 10:088469-305-8. Paperback, 246 pages.
This is not a book on church planting for those who are afraid of change, correction, and even shifting to a new paradigm for training leaders. It was forged in the furnace of failure to accomplish the goal of training leaders and shows the wisdom of course correction and the difference it makes. It is co-authored by Paul Gupta (of the Hindustan Bible Institute in India), who deals with his experience in seeing traditional formal leadership training in a new way, and Sherwood Lingenfelter (Senior VP at Fuller), who gives missiological explanations to explain what has happened. This is not a book written by arm-chair church planters but leaders who have seen thousands of new churches planted. The three major parts of this book are:
- How can a school train church planters?
- The birth of a national church-planting movement.
- Challenges to accomplish the vision. This book is a gold mine of information on seeing an indigenous church planting movement take place. The main means were by the use of non-formal training, being willing to constantly assess and correct the trajectory of a movement, and by teaching church planters to be cross-cultural missionaries. You will really want to look at p. 206 where there are Five “Lessons about God’s Mission.” The late Paul Hiebert writes, “This is essential reading for those around the world who are involved in higher Christian education and church planting.” p. 246.
Halter, Hugh. BiVo: A Modern Day Guide for Bi-vocational Saints. Littleton, CO: Missio Publishing, 2013. This is a small book (150 pages) packing a big and provocative message. Halter is a founding planter of Adullam, a congregational network of missional communities in Denver, and also a consultant/ leader in the Missio network. This volume builds a strong case for church planters to consider being “tentmakers” who are on mission with Christ. But it’s also written, as its subtitle reads, “Leveraging All of Life into One Calling,” for any lay person desiring to make a difference. The author contends that with the declining economic climate of our nation, more and more of God’s people—especially leaders– will need to simplify their lives and live bi-vocational lives, supporting themselves through “secular” employment. Rich benefits: less consumer Christianity, more intentional missional living, the people of God practicing the priesthood of all believers, more funds freed up for investing in the community and evangelism, etc. At times Halter oversells his case and misinterprets some scriptures, but all in all this is a good book which will challenge conventional thinking about how we do Great Commission ministry.
Halter, Hugh and Matt Smay. The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.
The authors are seasoned church leaders who record their lessons learned regarding the establishment of small missional communities of faith. The emphasis of the book is on the need for believers to leave the safe communal “bubble” we tend to establish for the real-world experience of God’s kingdom arriving among the culture. With a strong focus toward ancient practices of faith regarding hospitality and friendship, this book can enhance a person’s view of how the church interacts with their city on a pedestrian level.
Harris, Richard H., compiler. Reaching a Nation through Church Planting. Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, SBC, 2002.
Harris is the VP of Church Planting for the North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist). For this book, he assembled several high profile SBC leaders and several church planting experts and asked them to “write what they know.” Thus, the book covers a broad landscape from town and country planting, to postmodern, to being a mother church, to mentoring planters. Since the authors are so diverse, they bring a great spread of knowledge and experience. This was not intended as a “how-to book,” but rather is a “why we should” book that does a good job answering that question in a multitude of contexts. The book is also available for download from www.churchplantingvillage.net.
Harrison, Rodney, Tom Cheyney, and Don Overstreet. Spin-Off Churches: How One Church Successfully Plants Another. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2008.
A solid resource that shows how one established church can successfully sponsor or parent a new church into sustainable existence. Spin-Off Churches is written by a team of veteran missional church planters whose access to current church sponsorship data through the SBC North American Mission Board is second to none. Their experience and teaching guides readers through the church sponsorship process from its biblical basis to the nuts, bolts, and resource basics of implementation and follow through. The authors discuss funding options and current parenting models (such as multisite, ethnically diverse churches, church splits, and multiple sponsorship approaches, etc). This book has 8 helpful appendices with sample forms for parenting churches to use (such as a sponsor church agreement). Recommended: possibly the best parenting book available today.
Herron, Fred. Expanding God’s Kingdom through Church Planting. Lincoln, NE:
Herron is from a Vineyard background and so power theology is reflected in his writing. The Vineyard folks have done a good job in North American church planting and Herron demonstrates why with this effective book. He lays out a thorough church planting strategy with lots of detail and helpful suggestions.
Hesselgrave, David. Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and Beyond. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.
This is the most recent edition of the classic church planting book based on the “Pauline Cycle” (10-phases) written by an experienced missionary to Japan, later Trinity Evangelical Divinity School mission prof. It is full of insights for all cultures. Using the NT record, Hesselgrave has developed a pattern for church planting based on the “Pauline Cycle”. Without discounting the prerogatives of the Holy Spirit, he asserts that successful church growth requires careful planning and structure. He documents each segment of the Pauline Cycle with scriptures, appropriate theory, research and examples. Hesselgrave is practical, thorough and biblical; he incorporates relevant sociological, anthropological and historical insights. This has been a standard text for college and seminary classes for over 20 years. The 340-page 2nd edition draws on more recent literature and refines his arguments. Excellent charts and graphs add to his step-by-step approach. Highly recommended. The best cross cultural planting book available.
Hiebert, Paul G. and Eloise Hiebert Meneses. Incarnational Ministry: Planting Churches in Band, Tribal, Peasant, and Urban Societies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House, 1995.
On the surface, this book seems to have little to offer North American church planters. Understandably, its primary focus is planting in the developing world. It is a not a book about methods or biblical underpinnings. It is about the sociological structures that make up a society. Since the book’s primary focus is urban societies, it provides great insights and discernment for inner-city planters seeking to understand the urban context.
Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006.
This book is so full of seminal thinking that one can only touch the surface in reviewing it. Let me whet your planter’s appetite. Hirsch’s central thesis is that God has implanted a missional DNA (mDNA) in every church that seeks to follow Jesus in any time. This mDNA comes in the form of six simple but interrelating elements and forms a complex living structure – that, when identified and activated, creates an apostolic movement that spontaneously expands. The book is divided into two main sections: 1) “The Making of a Missionary” and 2) “A Journey to the Heart of Apostolic Genius.” The book’s title The Forgotten Ways refers to two movements of God that Hirsch would like to see “reactivated” and they are the ways of the apostolic church and the ways of the house churches in China. He sees in both these movements what he calls “Apostolic Genius (the built-in life force and guiding mechanism of God’s people) and the living components or elements that make it up.” (18). He calls these components “missional DNA, or mDNA, for short.” (18). He states that the goal of his book “is to explore Apostolic Genius and to try to interpret it for our own missional context and situation in the West.” (20). He sees what he calls “Apostolic Genius” composed of “passionate love of God, prayer, and incarnational practice” (21) along with the Ephesians 4:11 leadership ministry, true discipleship, structures that relate to the culture, and “appropriate conditions for these to be able to catalyze.” (21).
Hirsch, an Australian house church planter and now global strategist, rightly acknowledges that change will only come as the story that is at the core of our paradigm changes. He discusses six elements of “Jesus movements” that can bring hyperbolic growth through spontaneous expansion. He states, “The movement that Jesus initiated was an organic people movement; it was never meant to be a religious institution” (54). He quotes Bill Easum: “following Jesus into the mission field is either impossible or extremely difficult for the vast majority of congregations in the Western world because of one thing: They have a systems story that will not allow them to take the first step out of the institution into the mission field, even though the mission field is just outside the door of the congregation” (54). Other writers such as Bob Roberts state the same thing—just changing the way we do things will never work until a true Jesus movement begins.
Along with other present writers, Hirsch talks about seeing a more organic reproductive church, emphasizing the need to see Jesus as Lord of all (chap. 3) and then to see true disciple making take place. He quotes Neil Cole’s vision, “We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple” (104). Hirsch’s comment on this is “If this is right, then many of our current practices seem to be the wrong way around . . . we seem to make church complex and discipleship too easy” (104). Ouch! Then Hirsch develops in four more chapters how this works out in practice by having a “Missional-Incarnational Impulse” (chap 5), an “Apostolic Environment” (chap 6), “Organic Systems” (chap 7) and what he calls “Communitas, Not Community” (chap 8). You may not always agree with Hirsch as you work your way through his book but you will certainly be challenged in your status quo thinking and stimulated to answer some of his concerns.
Hirsch, Alan and Darryn Altclass. The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009.
A follow-up practical handbook to the above book showing how to implement some of the ideas explored in the 2006 more theoretical edition. Whereas Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church, talked about six elements of “Jesus movements” that come together to create hyperbolic growth through spontaneous expansion, this book shows what it means to flesh out the principles in order to become a truly transformative movement for Jesus. The authors explain: “Our main purpose is to stir innovative missional action for Jesus.” They believe this is something lay people can be involved in. Helpful for those seeking to mobilize church multiplication.
Hirsch, Alan and Tim Catchim. The Permanent Revolution.
Hirsch and Catchim seek to make the case that the Church of Jesus Christ has been designed with “built in, self-generative capacities” for world transformation. They contend that if we can recapture the dynamics of apostolic movement, built on the fivefold ministry, then we can become a part of the permanent revolution empowered by God himself. Another important read in regard to movemental thinking — but I do not accept their understanding of the five types of leaders needed in every church based on Ephesians 4:11.
Hogan, Brian. There’s a Sheep in my Bathtub: Birth of a Mongolian Church Planting Movement. Bayside, CA: Asteroidea Books, 2008. This amazing study recounts the growth of a church planting and multiplying movement in Mongolia. George Patterson, the missionary God used to multiply churches in Honduras writes the preface and explains one of the reasons this Mongolian movement was effective. “Many church planters follow such a long list of things to do to start a church that they fail to give top priority to the few essential activities, and end up doing so many things that the key, pivotal elements of church planting are buried in the plethora of work items” (xvi).
This simplicity of doing church and ministry was a key to the growth and multiplication of house churches in this difficult area. The author shares two reasons why church planting movements do not take place: “One, what we are doing is too complex” and “Two, we don’t trust the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer” (251). This prioritizing of the basic is seen throughout the book. Here are some examples: First, they effectively discipled the new believers which led to growth by multiplication. Second, they trained leaders in the local church and not in a formal setting and thus avoided separating them from ministry which happens too often in an ivory tower academic context (210). Third, they passed the baton to Mongolian leadership at just the right time–from the beginning. This led to solid growth both in doctrine and life. Fourth, they were able to transition from a focus on teen-age girls at the beginning stages of the church to whole families. This transition made the church much more reflective of the Mongolian culture as a whole. Fifth, they understood the importance of holistic small groups for solid growth rather than large “celebration” type gatherings. They learned the importance of contextualization and avoiding cultural baggage from the Western approach to church. This led to the multiplication of churches rather than one large church and penetrated the culture, mading discipleship more effective (124-126).
As a missionary family, the Hogan’s went through some very difficult situations including the sudden death of a new born son. Even this terrible suffering was used by God as they modeled for the Mongolians “Grieving with Hope” (title of the epilogue 247-50). I would recommend that all church planters read this book even if they are planting a church in a more urban or western context. Lessons learned through real life history are a powerful means of church planter training.
Hoover, Christine. The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart Chicago: Moody Press, 2013. 2013.
This is one of the few really good books for church planting wives and singles. Hoover begins with an experience that every planter spouse has had:. “A fellow mom recently asked me, ‘What’s it like being a church planter’s wife?’ On my best days, when I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and can imagine nothing better than the life I live, I marvel at the privilege I’ve been given. In my darkest hours, however, when I am overcome with self-pity and a longing to be free of the calling God has placed on my life, I have formed a different answer… ‘Do you want the short answer or the long one?’” (13). In an interview with Lauren Chandler the question was asked “What is the church planter’s wife’s job description?” Her answer came, “There is no job description or checklist for how to be a church planting wife. Nor should there be. A good church planting wife is one who lives and leads out of her relationship with God” (31). Nevertheless the author does seek to give an answer to this question—something the Lord whispered in her ear when she was desperate to know what was expected of her: “Follow me. Serve your family. Love others” (31).
Here are a few statistics which Hoover quotes from a study done on church planting wives. This shows the need of books of this kind:
- 65% of church planting wives say their husbands provide their primary emotional support.
- 59% of church planting wives are busy leading one to three major ministries in the church in addition to family, community, and personal commitments and have little time for friendship cultivation.
- 56% of pastors’ wives report having no close friends
- 80% report having struggled with depression (69).
Chapter five “The Sacrificial Heart” will speak deeply to the heart of every planter spouse. If you are not ready to listen this is not a chapter to read. But I predict you won’t be able to put it down.
Hurn, Raymond W. The Rising Tide: New Churches for the New Millennium. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1997.
The book is primarily an advocacy work. Hurn is former superintendent of the Nazarene denomination and this text is geared toward Nazarenes. One strength of the book is the historical overview of Nazarene church planting.
Hyde, Daniel R. and Shane Lewis, eds. Planting, Watering, and Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011.
This 300 page paperback seems to be a manual for planters within the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) and North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). As the sub-title states, it’s an apologetic for starting Reformed and conservative Presbyterian churches, congregations “that uphold the Word of God and confess the ancient creeds and confessions of the church” (p. 2). Thirteen different authors, most of them church planters in this tradition, contribute meaty essays. Their united concern seems to be that too many evangelical churches today are pragmatically consumer oriented and have over-adapted to “pop culture with bar stools instead of pews, Bluetooth-style microphones that look hip, and ‘latte-and-a-band’ styles of worship” (p.1). Instead they advocate planting new churches that “adhere to the ‘old paths’” and “simply spread the seed of the Word through preaching, seek to water those seeds by means of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and humbly pray for the Lord to grant growth” without any gimmickry (2).
The book contains four sections. The four chapters of Part 1 lay the theological and Reformational foundation for church planting, seeking to prove that the great 16th and 17th century confessions and catechisms are all “pro-church planting” (I’m not convinced yet!). The first two chapters, solid expositions of John 12:20-26 (pleading for planters to die to self in order to produce much fruit) and Acts 16:6-10 (showing that the Holy Spirit is the sovereign creator, source and leader of church planting) are helpful. The four chapters of Part 2 describe basic methodology. Especially helpful is Hyde’s contribution (ch 5), laying out 10 church planting principles seen in the book of Acts. Murphy (ch 7) shares an “organic approach” for doing outreach evangelism (one not “impositional” impersonal and detached) which they have found effective in NYC: having workplace Bible studies, teaching ESL classes at a public school, and serving as a volunteer chaplain at a local hospital.
The nine chapters of Part 3 discuss some of the key issues in the actual work of church planting, covering practical matters such as: how to be a welcoming church to visitors; planning edificational and yet evangelistic (but not seeker-sensitive) public worship (similar to Keller); preaching in church plants (it must be redemptive-historical, Gospel-centered and with clarity, simplicity, passion) ; why church membership (in their view necessary for taking the “sacraments”); and how a “consistory” must be responsible to shepherd (=supervise) a young plant toward maturity (In their view every church plant is to be seen as “select group from the mother congregation meeting in another location” and is not a separate congregation until it can install its own qualified elders). This section reveals some of the unique positions of this church group (devotion to liturgy; the “regulative principle” = a reformed “style” of worship that sings only psalms and sometimes reverent hymns; strict observance of the “Lord’s Day”; covenantal law-grace preaching; catechetical instruction, use of creeds, etc).
For non-reformed church planters, the final section will be the most helpful, discussing cross-cultural factors and the need for biblically faithful contextualization. Mitchell Persaud’s discussion of cultural factors (ch 19), has many practical insights learned from his work with Chinese immigrants in the Toronto metro; he properly challenges his Reformed brethren to realize North America has changed and planters thus need to learn to respect the culture of their people and make appropriate adjustments in their manner of preaching, evangelism, and design of worship. Phil Grotenhuis (ch 20) has one of the more balanced discussions of the need for contextualized church planting I have read; his excellent review of Scripture shows that the gospel can penetrate (= infiltration not insulation) culture without succumbing to either “fossil theology”—faithfulness without relevance — or “chameleon theology”—relevance without faithfulness (using the words of Moltmann). Michael Horton’s final chapter warns of the dangers of over-contextualization and shows how some evangelicals are misusing Scripture (such as using the analogy of the incarnation as a paradigm for ministry today) David Hesselgrave has sounded similar warnings. Hortn contends that “Paul’s prescription [2 Tim 4:1-2] is not to accommodate the gospel to its context, but to confront the context with the gospel” (280). Planters should take the gospel more seriously than their context! We should study culture not in order to make the gospel more relevant and attractive but to better recognize the particular ways in which they—and we—have become .
If you can put up with the needless occasional pot-shots at dispensationalists and megachurches, this volume can benefit those outside the conservative Reformed camp. I have but two critiques: 1) the approach presented seems to assume that all church plants will birthed out of a mother church and must have close denominational oversight; and 2) most of the writers assume that a new church will be supported by those who are already believers turned off by overly pragmatic churches and looking for a solid Bible-teaching alternative. The Great Commission focus and priority for pursuing lost people at times is lacking in this otherwise fine contribution.
Ingebretson, Ben and Tom Nebel. Parenting Church Landmines: Ten Mistakes a Multiplying Church Should Avoid. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2009.
The writers rightly assume the engine for a true church planting movement must be a parenting church. Thus they seek to fan the flames and assist local churches in this grand task by focusing on ten potential obstacles which can be overcome: paralyzing fear; values disconnect; lack of trust and accountability; choosing the wrong launch model (with a good discussion of the multi-site option); poor planter selection; underestimating ‘environmental’ risk; coaching collisions; funding issues; launching misfires; and after-birth neglect. The authors, veteran church planting coach-consultants in their respective denominations, not only clearly analyze each parenting challenge but then offer lots of practical insights to help one avoid these pitfalls. The six appendices offer helpful forms covering: a values assessment for potential parent churches; a sample planter/parent covenant; sample expectations interview for the recruited planter; a risk factor analysis; coaching pointers; and an agenda/values survey for potential teammates and core group members. Though only 120 pages, this is a one-of-a-kind handbook, essential reading for parenting churches.
Jackson, J. David, editor. PlantLIFE: Principles and Practices in Church Planting. Smyrna, DE: Missional Press, 2008.
Words of experience and counsel from over 40 practitioners who have served as church planters in the [Southern] Baptist Convention of Maryland/ Delaware. Most of these articles originally appeared in the BaptistLIFE news journal. These personal testimonies would give insights and encouragement for those considering planting in the challenging field of the east coast.
Jackson, J. David. Planted: Starting Well, Growing Strong. Severn, MD: .Screven & Allen Publishing, 2012.
The author, a veteran church planting strategist/coach for the SBC in Maryland/Delaware, does a great job of showing church planters how to keep the main thing the main thing, keeping the new church focused on the heart of God, constantly seeking those far from God. From his 20 years of planting experience and research, Jackson shares ten key characteristics found in effective plants that enable them to start well and grow strong. Some of these keys are internal, within the mind and heart of the new community of faith: the planter’s calling, personal vision, creativity, and structure. Some are external, seen in the new church’s action and behavior: focused outreach, relationships, connection with the community, and focus on the Kingdom (rather than just their own ministry), etc. Each chapter begins with a helpful case study involving a hypothetical church planter and his new church; each chapter ends with a “Next Steps” section to help planters apply the principles to their setting. There is much wisdom here from the trenches with proper cautions given to help planters stay focused on the Great Commission. The final chapter on maintaining simple church structure and seeing the church as a permission-giving family not a boundary-restricting business, is worth the price of the book.
Jackson, John. High Impact Church Planting: You Can Lead a Harvest Directed Ministry. Visionquest Ministries, 2000.
I had mixed feelings about this short book (less than 95 pages). It was self-published and has too many errors in it (for example, Gallup never said there were 195 million unchurched, etc). It lacks proper footnotes (no reference on many stats), and I disagree with several parts (you don’t need $100-200K to start a high impact church). However, it is a good primer to help church planters who want to plant
churches that start with over 200 (Jackson’s idea of a high impact church plant). The book includes a large number of appendices (examples from the author’s church).
Johnston, Tom and Mike Chong Perkinson. The Kingdom Quest: Preparing to Church Plant in the Post-Christian West. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2007.
Don’t be turned off by the sub-title if you are not planting churches in the Western world. This book is applicable, if truly understood, to church planting anywhere in the world. The basic thrust of this book on church planting is not on technique or “how to” do church. It is more on what the church is supposed to be by nature. The authors state right at the beginning, “we believe the process of ‘doing’ church, particularly in the Western world, has been more focused on developing people who attend church rather than developing disciples who are the church” (p. 9). Ouch! Here’s another quote from the introductory section which is so relevant to our situation today in the Western world: “…our concern is that when you adopt an entrepreneurial launch model or incorporate a strategic plan without thinking through one’s ecclesiology or philosophy of ministry, then it presumes a model. You will tend to assume the launching of a public service (‘going public’) as your pathway, tend to staff to the mission (product creation and sales) rather than loving God, loving others, and making disciples (developing people) as the mission and tend to be consumer driven, seeking to attract people to a service rather than be a blessing and service to the community, spending most of your time, energy, and money on the big weekend service.” (pp. 10-11). Lesson: If we are not careful, we will import Western models into other parts of the world as we plant churches. Rather than copying someone else’s attractional model, these authors advocate a more “organic” approach where planters focus more on being the church and making disciples, rather than the process of “doing” church by attracting people who merely attend weekend services.
The authors say, “We believe the issue of church growth is not about the size of a church. That is, big is not better, nor is small better. There are a lot of large and small churches that are healthy and vibrant and plenty that are not.” (p. 11). Lesson: Big is not better; better is better! The two authors explain that to be an effective church planter you need to answer such questions as, 1) Who Are You? 2) What Do You Have to Say? 3) Are you ready? 4) What is Your [Vision] Quest? (chapters 3 -6). Their vision is simple: “love God, love others, and make disciples.” The final five chapters get into helpful discussions of: 1) building a relational ministry philosophy (by studying Jesus’ ministry, his life-on-life approach); 2) how to build your core community through a determining your call to plant, 3) forming your first core community from the harvest (they warn, “You cannot reproduce what you cannot incarnate”); 4) recruiting others to walk alongside (parent church, denominational overseers, mentors and coaches); and 5) the importance of completing your training first. The appendix spells out a helpful process for determining your personal core values as a planter. I highly recommend this short 120-page book because it will compel you to rethink what kind of church you are planting. Those starting out in church planting should read this first!
Jones, Ezra E. Strategies for New Churches. New York: Harper and Row, 1976.
Jones writes about church planting from a mainline somewhat liberal denominational perspective. The book was ahead of its time, particularly in its attempts to quantify personality characteristics in effective planters (as Ridley has done today). Unfortunately, it is not up to date with today’s technologies and methods.
Jones, Juha (pseudonym). 2008. “Four Ways to Mentor Church Planters.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly No. 44, 4 (October): 488-491.
Here is a succinct overview of four ways to help church planters in their ministry on the field. The author (pseudonym) challenges church planters who say, “In principle, I would be willing to mentor someone in church planting; however, I don’t have time, and anyway, we never got mentored, so surely it can’t be that important.” (488) If church planters don’t always say this I sense that often they think this. But surely we can do a more effective job by multiplying those who are mentored and who mentor others. The author gives four times in church planters’ lives when mentoring is important: 1) when they need to develop their vision; 2) when they need to develop skills as the ministry progresses; 3) when they need what he calls “peer mentoring” so as to apply those skills in a context, and finally 4) when they need “mature mentoring” to “help overcome the personal and community barriers to ministry.” (489-491). I’d like to challenge church planters to look at these four “times” in lives when church planters need mentoring and when mentors need to help other church planters. Who is doing this in your ministry area? Why not give some feedback so that what you are doing might help others. This fine article can be found online by subscribing to EMQ on the internet if you do not receive EMQ.
Jones, Tom, ed. Church Planting from the Ground Up. Joplin, MO: College Press, 2004.
This is the how-to manual for those within the independent (evangelical) Christian Church movement. I don’t usually like multiple authors—they tend to say the same things over and over–but I like this book. I appreciate it because it is not a group of theorists giving their opinions. Instead, it is a series of veteran church planters writing on well defined and practical themes. An excellent resource for church planters.
Jordan, Trinity. Jesus Never Said to Plant Churches and 12 More Things They Never Told Me About Church Planting. Springfield, MO: Influence Resources, 2012.
Don’t be deceived by the title. The author is committed to church planting but rightly points out not once does Scripture command us to plant churches His point is (found in chapter 2): “It’s All About Discipleship, Stupid” Jordan is expressing what more and more church planters are realizing—church planting that is not based on discipleship will end up just starting up another worship service in competition with other churches and drawing people from other churches rather than seeing people come to Christ and become fully-committed followers. Mike Breen in his good book Building a Disciple-Making Culture says the same, “Start with church and you will not get disciples but start with discipleship and you will get a church.” That is providing you see the importance of these disciples being formed into a body – a local church where discipleship multiplies leading to the multiplication of a church. This book deals with numerous encouragements and warnings for those wanting to plant a church such as chapter one “If You Can See Yourself Doing Anything Other than Church Planting, Put This Book Down and Go Do It now!” and chapter five, “Be MEAN About the Vision.” I recommend this book to those planting churches or contemplating doing so. It will save one some real headaches and heartaches.
Keller, Timothy J. Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
This is a 390-page urban church ministry textbook which will no doubt become a classic. Keller planted a vibrant & growing Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, in one of the world’s most challenging urban contexts, New York City. Now, more than 20 years later, he seeks to answer the question, “How did you do it?” Keller outlines a “theological vision” for contextualized urban ministry organized around three core commitments: gospel-centered, city-centered, and movement-centered. In his insightful way, he unpacks the gospel of grace and shows how it is non-negotiable, shaping the very content, tone, and strategy of all we do. Being gospel-centered is more than being gospel-preaching. He shows how cities increasingly influence our global culture and affect the way all of us do ministry. From his Reformed theological position, the author posits a very positive approach toward culture, demonstrating how to affirm and love cities as wonderful, strategic and underserved places for Great Commission ministry. Then with a gracious and broad biblical ecumenism, Keller calls for urban church leaders not to focus on building their own tribe but seek the prosperity and peace of the city, working with other urban leaders to catalyze a movement of Gospel impact in our cities. Keller practices what he preaches: he has mentored many young urban church planters and pastors in NYC and other class cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cities.
Though this is not a “how-to” text for urban church planters, it has great value in helping church planters see that having an orthodox theological foundation (the “hardware” of the church) and well-thought out ministry practice (the “software”) is insufficient for growing an urban church. Effective church planters will also need what Keller calls “middleware”—a carefully articulated and compelling “theological vision for ministry.” This Keller defines as “faithful restatement of the gospel with rich implication for life, ministry, and mission in a type of culture at a moment in history.” A TVM is “not an outline of our doctrinal beliefs but a statement of how we intend to discharge Christian ministry and interact with our culture in biblical and theological faithfulness” (Gospel Coalition website). Keller demonstrates the “why” and “how” of a TVM, laying out its surprising benefits. He shows that a church centered around the gospel will actually be a counter-cultural community. This is a “must” read for all aspiring urban church planters and pastors who desire to be culturally relevant yet biblically faithful.
Keller, Timothy J. and J. Allen Thompson. Church Planter Manual. New York, NY. Redeemer Presbyterian Church/ Redeemer Church Planting Center, 2002. This 245-page manual is a gold mine for urban church planters including missionaries. Rather than a standard text, it is a workbook, and thus has projects and assignments to work through. The authors are are two leading voices with great credibility in urban ministry who have been very successful in planting churches in an urban context. Thompson has written on church planting movements for years and helped Keller start Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan. Keller is now helping to lead a movement of urban church planting and city transformation. They realize that in urban ministry in the USA we are dealing more and more with cross-cultural communication.. Quoting from the preface: “But most books on new church development are either too general (telling us why to do church planting but not how to do it) or too specific (telling us how to reproduce just one particular kind of church model). Our contribution is to equip the reader to think creatively about how to start churches in any context, culture, or people group” (p. 3). The authors are also strongly committed to three elements: the Gospel, effective contextualization, and what they call “serving the peace/shalom of the city.” They are not armchair theoreticians since Thompson was a missionary in Latin America for a number of years and has written about church planting movements for years. Keller has been very successful in planting Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan and leads a movement to transform cities globally. Redeemer now runs around 5,000 in four Sunday services and its church planting center has helped to plant over one hundred new churches. The case studies that fill this book are very helpful as well as worksheets, projects, and suggestions. An excellent resource. You can order this recommended manual through their website: www.redeemer2.com/the movement/.
King, Fred G. The Church Planter’s Training Manual. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1992.
This is a manual / book primarily geared at church planters in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church with a small amount of universally applicable material. It consists of articles, forms and examples. It will not be of great value to the non-CMA planter.
Lewis, Larry L. The Church Planter’s Handbook. Nashville: Broadman Press,
- Lewis is former president of the SBC Home Mission Board and an experienced planter. Though the book is out of date technologically and methodologically, it provides excellent resources related to
time management and the priority of evangelism in church planting.
Logan, Robert E. Be Fruitful and Multiply: Embracing God’s Heart for Church Multiplication. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2006. Little is done in North American church planting leadership that was not developed or influenced by Bob Logan. A seasoned planter, researcher and a consultant to many denominations, Logan has always keen insights and organizational acumen. He has impacted most of our current practices like assessment, boot camps, and coaching networks, etc. This newest book by Logan is a condensation of the C2M2 (Cultivating Church Multiplication Movement) seminars that he conducts regularly and helps us to grasp the essential elements of true church multiplication. Bob Logan, a veteran planter, coach and international consultant, has a special gift for clarifying the key issues involved in church planting. This short book (only 180 pages) deals more with general principles rather than a mono-cultural approach to church multiplication; thus it will be especially helpful to those planting churches cross-culturally. Logan cites many examples of church multiplication in various parts of the world. The book is in two parts. Part one deals with the question, “Why Multiplication?” and in six chapters casts a vision for multiplication, showing its biblical roots, etc. Part two deals with ten elements of an effective church multiplication movement. Logan finely balances the spontaneous and spiritual aspects of an effective CMM with the strategic and planned aspects. Every church planter, facilitator, mission leader, and ministry leader needs to read and begin to work through how to implement what Logan aptly presents in this book. This book helps us move to a more effective church multiplication model. How many more people might come to Christ if there was a shift from just planting one church to a church multiplication movement—particularly one that had a missionary sending capacity?
Logan, Robert E. Beyond Church Growth. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H.
Revell Co., 1989.
Though the title can be misleading, the book is a great resource for church planting. It provides resources for all churches, but is a great supplement for Logan’s “Church Planter’s Toolkit” available from www.churchsmart.com (one of the best widely available how-to planting resources). Bob Logan is one of the most significant church planting leaders in the last 50 years and every church planter needs to be aware of his writings and his basic toolkit (see below).
Logan, Robert E. and Steven L. Ogne. Church Planter’s Toolkit. Pasadena, CA:
ChurchSmart Resources (www.churchsmart.com), 1995.
The Toolkit is a 3-ring binder manual, the most widely known and used resource in North American church planting today. It was a twelve-tape (now in CD’s) series that provides guidance through each step of planting a high impact North American church. There is probably no other resource as effective for practical preparation. Its one disadvantage is that Logan is a bit dry in his presentation (though the content makes up for that). Logan follows a five-stage planting model: conception, prenatal, birth, growth and reproduction. His manual has detailed checklists and action planning worksheets after each of the 12 sections. He covers: knowing if you’re qualified; mobilizing a team and verifying roles; clarifying vision and values; developing your church planting strategy; evangelism and core group development; facilities, finances and organizational issues; getting systems ready for birth; planning dynamic seeker sensitive worship; expanding networks of cell groups; empowering and equipping leaders; lay mobilization; and starting churches that reproduce. Order from www.churchsmart.com.
Logan, Bob and Neil Cole. Beyond Church Planting. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2005.
This is workbook in eight sections accompanied by 7 audio CDs dealing with the main elements in what the authors call an “organic” approach to church planting. It is a gold mine of material and includes worksheets, power point presentations, and further resources. It offers helpful insights on growing healthy churches, doing effective evangelism (via redemptive relationships), reproducing disciples, multiplying leaders, planning for strategic growth, spawning movements, etc. Rather than copying models, the authors properly advocate a principle-driven approach which allows churches to emerge within each culture. Order directly from www.churchsmart.com or phone: 800-253-4276.
Logan, Robert E. and Tara Miller. From Followers to Leaders. St. Charles, IL:
ChurchSmart Resources, 2007.
Every church planter should major in what Bob Logan deals with in this book—the path from following to leading. This book develops the simple metaphor of a path from the parking lot to the summit and all that is involved in between those points of finding leaders and seeing them arrive at their God-given ministry. Logan’s metaphor of developing leaders in this way goes against many myths. It is a very helpful and simple way of giving us a path. To see how this applies to what Logan calls “The Path of Church Multiplication” and see the importance of steps in developing leaders, go to www.coachnet.org where you can download this study to help you multiply churches by multiplying leaders.
MacNair, Donald J. The Birth, Care and Feeding of a Local Church. Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Book House, 1976.
An early Presbyterian book written by a non-practitioner. As can be guessed from the publishing date, this book is much out of date. The section on “Locating Seed Families” is probably the only part of the book that would be helpful for planting today.
Malphurs, Aubrey. Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting: A Guide for Starting Any Kind of Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011. Most books on church planting offer a model for churches to replicate–usually one that is tied to a particular style, generation, or even demographic. What church planters really need, however, is a process that is flexible, not bound to a particular time or current fad. In this highly practical book, a church-planting expert shares the basic steps of a process for launching a new church, including: establishing values, mission, vision, and strategy; reaching the community; making disciples; recruiting a team; determining location and facilities; and raising money for the ministry. A must-read for every church planter. It’s biblical, concise, and yet fairly comprehensive. The author has provided college professors with a complete curriculum for students and prospective planters with the questions to ask and the answers to the questions.
Malphurs, Aubrey. Planting Growing Churches for the 21 Century: A Comprehensive Guide for New Churches and Those Desiring Renewal, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998.
This book was for years the most commonly used church planting text in academia. (Today, Ed Stetzer’s new book seems to have overtaken it). Malphurs stresses the importance of core values, mission and strategy. He presents a comprehensive guide for North American church planting, covering essential ingredients for success: Great Commission vision, strong servant leadership, a mobilized lay army, culturally relevant ministry and evangelism, authentic worship and a robust network of small groups. He deals also with the planter’s personal qualification and preparation, as well as the entire process of church planting (following a six stage model). The book includes 16 accompanying worksheets chapter-end checklists for review. Though Malphurs is often accused of being too focused on large church planting with large mother churches, this is still one of the best resources available. (Ed Stetzer has written a study guide for this book, available at www.seminaryextension.org.). Recommended!
Malphurs, Aubrey. The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting: A Guide for Starting Any Kind of Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.
Malphurs is professor of pastoral studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. In the Introduction he asks, “Why another book on church planting?” His answer: because of the various types of new churches being planted today, the current need is not for another guide for church planting in general, regardless of the model, but for one focusing on the overall process for building Christ’s church. This 260-page text is divided into two parts: 1) Preparation for Church Planting and 2) Process of Church Planting. The first section contains four chapters focusing on the definition of church planting, a church planter’s profile, funding issues, and foundational assumptions. Much of this is similar to concepts in his 1998 book. In the second section, Malphurs lays out his “Fourfold Process” — Core Values, Mission, Vision, and Strategy—and shows planters how to formulate each of these important components. For those familiar with his other writings, these are concepts he’s discussed before, only this time he applies them to church plants. His proposed step-by-step “process” will probably fit better with traditional types of church plants and less for more “organic” churches. Other chapters address what the author feels are the five key components of strategy: (1) community outreach, (2) disciple making, (3) team building (both congregational and staff), (4) establishing a ministry beachhead, and (5) raising the needed finances. The book also includes sixteen helpful appendices touching on various needs in a church plant from determining spiritual gifts to sample vision statements.
One strength of this book: Malphur’s emphasis on disciple-making; this is key to building a truly biblical and healthy church. Appendix M, “Jesus’s Command to Make Disciple,” is helpful. Here he rightly points out that “make disciples” is “a clear reference to both evangelism (baptizing) and maturation (teaching)” (246). Appendix I, “Is Pastoral Care the Primary Role of the Pastor?” is a vital article for church planters. If we are not careful it’s so easy to move to a maintenance mode of ministry rather than growing a dynamic healthy church that reproduces.
Mannonia, Kevin W. Church Planting: The Next Generation. Indianapolis, IN: Light and Life Press, 1994. This book introduces the “Century 21 Church Planting System” used by his denomination, the Free Methodists, and mirrors that used by other groups impacted by Bob Logan. Mannoia focuses on systems. His proposed “system” has ten components: “1) Parent Church Network, 2) Profile Assessment System, 3) New Church Incubator, 4) Recruitment Network, 5) Pastor Factory, 6) Church Planter’s Summit, 7) Maturing Church Cluster, 8) Strategic Planning Network, 9) Harvest 1000, and 10) Meta-Church Network “ These ten components help in effectively developing a multiplication of churches within a given region. In many ways this is similar to Logan’s ten elements of a church multiplication movement. Because it identifies key areas where resources and processes must be developed, it is most helpful for associational and denominational leaders who long to see churches multiplied in their state or fellowship and may not have a clearly articulated planting system.
McColm, Gentry. The Inner Life of the Church Planter: Getting to the Heart of God-centered Leadership. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2012.
The sub-title of this unique and revealing book says it all: leadership in planting a new church must be God-centered and not driven. . McColm wants to prepare church planters for the surprise ride in the exciting adventure of church planting. He says, “Sure, I heard what you’ve heard: cold calling is tough; money often runs out; you (and probably your wife!) get stuck doing everything in the church. But I never heard about the wild ride my heart would take. I would have to discover than on my own” (ii).
Six chapters move us through the themes of idolatry, success, passion, identity, leadership, and faith –all this in the context of planting a new church. Chapter six, entitled “Faith,” starts with a key question McColm asked Steve Childers during a church planting course: “I know that God loves his church. I know that he wants it to succeed. But he hasn’t given me any promise in Scripture that says he wants the church I’m planting to succeed. How do I go about my work in hope if I can’t know for sure God wants this work to last?” (55). The author goes on to show that church planting is in many ways a ‘blind and focused journey’ “(56). It is trusting God by faith to work. Malcolm insightfully encourages planters to distinguish between goals and desires. He explains that your goals are those you clearly work for and they are your responsibilities; your desires are in God’s hands and only he can accomplish those. He quotes Childers: “One of the reasons many drop out of the ministry is because they have never learned this simple distinction between their goals [responsibilities] and desires [concerns]” (61). Every serious church planter needs to work through a probing book like this to prepare his heart and mind for the challenges ahead.
McKinley, Mike. Church Planting Is For Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. The author, a Westminster Seminary grad, tells his personal story of how he was sent out by Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC to revitalize a dying Southern Baptist Church in Sterling, VA. Not a how-to book, Mike honestly and humorously shares the ups and downs of church planting. He shows that: 1) it is possible to plant a church that takes the Bible seriously and uses expository preaching; 2) that caring Anglos can build a multi-ethnic church even in the suburbs; 3) one doesn’t need to throw out biblical faithfulness to be culturally relevant; and 4) new churches that aim for just one demographic group ultimately weaken their community witness and go against the biblical ideal of being a Gospel-centered church reconciling diverse peoples together. His open confession that in his zeal (and sinfulness) he almost lost his wife and family (chapter 6), is a much needed warning that the stresses of planting can wreck a marriage unless one is working hard at marital priorities. Chapter 7 warns about pursuing church growth at the expense of also developing leaders and learning to delegate the ministry out to other trusted leaders. The book’s subtitle gives the basic theme of this small but helpful 120-pager. My only critique: his equation of contextualization with the now repudiated “homogeneous unit principle” (pg 19-22), doesn’t seem to recognize valid forms of contextualization.
McNamara, Roger and Ken Davis. The Y–B–H (Yes, But How?) Handbook of Church Planting. Xulon Press, 2005. (Full disclosure: this reviewer is one of the co-authors of this book) This 650-page comprehensive handbook is a practical step-by-step guide for church planters and their coaches. It covers everything they need to know to start healthy, growing churches that are biblically faithful and yet culturally relevant. While addressing the who, why, and where of planting new congregations, this comprehensive manual focuses primarily on the “how-to’s.” The authors use a five-stage “life cycle”—conception, pre-natal development, birth/infancy, adolescent growth, and adult reproduction—to flesh out the entire process of starting and growing a new church. Under each of these stages, a host of essential ministry and planning tasks is addressed so the planter can keep his “baby” church on course and can have the joy of watching the new church grow to maturity and eventually reproduce itself. Written particularly for the independent Baptist movement, it is yet helpful for others outside their tradition. According to missiologist Ed Stetzer, “You won’t find a more detailed resource on the mechanics of church planting.” Available in paperback or hardback from Amazon.
McQuoid, Stephen and Neil Summerton, eds. Fresh Shoots in Stony Ground: The Challenges of Church Planting. Chichester, UK: Partnership Ltd./ The Church Planting Initiative.
English church planter practitioners connected with The Church Planters Initiative (www.churchplantinginitiative.co.uk) look in a practical way at both the overall challenge and specific challenges of church planting. This book comprises 18 essays/chapters on the principles and practice of church planting, and 10 case studies which tell us what church planting is like on the ground in actual UK and European settings, illustrating what is said about the principles and practice.
Miller, H. Joseph. Building the Church: A Comprehensive Manual for Church Administration. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 2003. 2 vol.
This comprehensive 2-volume set contains over 1,100 pages of practical assistance for church development. These manuals give guidance for church planting, facility development, and stewardship training that espouses a Biblical world and life view. Most of the information in this set was written by church consultant Joseph Miller who has completed over 40 years of ministry, including 27 years in church consultation. During this time he has traveled to hundreds of churches providing Bible-based, conservative assistance in ministry, facility, and stewardship development. The learning experiences of these travels are reflected in the practical content of the manual. He also led in planting a new church. Many of these articles were originally published in THE CHURCH PLANTER and have been edited, reorganized, and supplemented for inclusion in this set. Several other writers (including an architect, accountant, attorney, pastors, and music minister) have contributed articles to make this textbook a valuable resource for training future pastors and church planters.
Miller, Robert D. A Legacy of Church Planting: Passing Truth From One Generation to the Next. Bloomington, IN: Crossbooks, 2009. Miller tells the stories of 13 church planters, all graduates of Liberty University or its seminary, who were each inspired by the ministry and vision of Dr. Jerry Falwell and Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. Each went out, like their mentor, Dr Falwell, as pioneering planters to be the founding pastors of growing churches (all “baptistic” but not all Baptist in name) in various areas of our country. Each chapter follows a similar outline, seeking to honestly describe the strategy, struggles, and successes of each planter. The book will be valuable to help prospective planters realistically count the cost. There is little here on methodology or technique, but much about the vision, faith and perseverance required to be an effective planting leader. The final three chapters are written by Dr. Dave Early, who now leads the Liberty Center for Church Planting; Dr. Lee Dittmen, the current leader of the Liberty Baptist Fellowship; and Jonathan Falwell, now pastor of Thomas Road. These guest chapters demonstrate Liberty’s and TRBC’s continuing commitment to ongoing church planting.
Moore, Ralph. Starting a New Church. Ventura, CA: Regal, 2002. This is one of the most refreshing books on church planting that I have read. It is full of life and has many wonderful examples. It is biblically based and gives practical help from someone who has been there. He has planted numerous churches and birthed a multiplying movement. The majority of church plants Moore speaks of are in the U.S. – mostly Hawaii. Ralph is the founder of the Hope Chapel movement and currently pastors a Hope Chapel in Hawaii. He gives us hope that the church can reach lost people and rapidly plant other churches. The cover of the book has a good quote: “It’s not about fitting more people into an existing model—it’s all about new models and multiplication.” Amen! The book is in four parts 1) “Thinking Through a Church Plant,” 2) “Designing the New Church,” 3) “Planting the New Church,” and 4) “Anticipating the Future.” The first chapter gives eleven reasons why new churches should be planted. For example, he deals with the common complaint, “Why start new churches? Shouldn’t we just help existing churches to grow?” Moore counters by stating, “New churches provide superior results.” He explains that when they were considering church planting in Hawaii, two churches there stated that new churches were not needed. Moore and colleagues planted 30 churches in two decades from one church plant and saw thousands come to Christ whereas the two original churches only grew by about 200 new people. (pp. 23-4). Read the book to find out the other 10 reasons—especially if in your area you hear “Why start new churches?” Moore gives some great warnings, “never try to merely copy any other church.” Listen to this one, “Church growth can become a game for clones and copycats. Many leaders use business models and build churches around the recent success of others. Unfortunately, they usually introduce a market-based competition for the already saved” (p. 71). The author also shows the three impediments to rapid multiplication: requiring seminary training for pastors; a dedicated building for church services; and full-time remuneration for planting pastors (p. 102).
Moore, Ralph. How to Multiply Your Church: The Most Effective Way to Grow. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2009. (Paperback, 254 pages).
Another fine book by the founder of the Hope Chapel Movement, whose ministry involves some 700 churches around the world. Moore has earned the right to be heard! This book does not deal with methodology but with the theology of church multiplication as we see it in the New Testament. Therein lies its greatest value for planters and pastors. This is a motivational book that gets one excited about seeing multiplication of churches take place. The book is in six parts: 1) “To Add, Multiply or Both?” ; 2) “Inside the Walls of our Minds”; 3) “In Search of Scripture”; 4) “Opportunity is Where You Make It”; 5) “You Can Do this!” and 6) “Stand and Deliver.” I would particularly urge planters to read chapter six entitled “Why Don’t Our Churches Multiply?” where Moore answers this tough question
Another issue that Moore deals with is the fact that there are many models of church planting in the NT and we do well to learn from each one of them (see his chapter 17 entitled “Education”). One of the best current books on parenting and church multiplication. Existing congregations simply cannot add enough believers to keep up with the population growth around them. The good news is that by multiplying – that is, by steadily and strategically planting new churches that, in turn, plant new churches – the global Church can create more of what Moore calls “harvest points.”
Murray, Stuart. Church Planting: Laying Foundations. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001.
The author, Director of Church Planting and Evangelism at Spurgeon’s College in London, writes from an Anabaptist Mennonite tradition. He explains his goal: “This book is not a training manual. It does not engage with all the practicalities of church planting. But it is written for practitioners rather than hearers.” This is a solid work that will help prompt us to think missiologically and theologically about church planting. The book was originally (1998) available only in Great Britain but now has a North American version. It is one of the few books that analyzes the criticisms of church planting and gives solid answers (not just refutations). There are some excellent references to Post-Christendom and postmodern church planting without the typical obsession with “nifty” ideas and methods. Has insightful overviews of current planting models and the shapes contemporary church plants are taking. The theology is off in several ways (see Timmons below; Murray places his theology of church planting within an overall kingdom of God context) but it is still a helpful resource.
Murray, Stuart. Church Planting: in the 21st Century: A Guide for Those Who Want Fresh Perspectives and New Ideas for Creating Congregations. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2010. 227 pgs, paperback. ISBN: 978-0-8361-9424-1
This volume is actually a revised edition of his earlier 2008 title, Planting Churches: A Framework for Practitioners. Murray’s previous work, entitled Church Planting: Laying Foundations (2001) was basically oriented towards a theology of church planting. The subtitle shows Murray’s perspective in this book; he explains: “The focus of this book is strategic and practical, rather than theological, addressing issues that church planters—and those who deploy them—need to consider as they assess opportunities for planting and as they embark on the planting process.” (p. 17). This book answers the practical questions of “Why plant?” “How to plant?” “Where to plant?” “When to plant?” “What to plant? and “Who to plant with?” Murray’s first chapter explains his previous concerns about some of the problems that church planting in Britain (and Europe) have run into. I do not always agree with what Murray says but he stimulates my thinking about church planting and gives me a British perspective. On page 15 he states, “Even in America, where church planting remains popular, few books on the subject have been published recently (and the different context means that these are of limited value in Europe).” Murray does not seem to realize that a multitude of books (some would say too many) have been published in recent years on church planting from all points of view.
In chapter two of this update he gives some sixteen reasons why churches should be planted. Some of these seem to overlap a bit but he does seek to give a solid answer to the “why.” Chapter three, “Planting Churches: How?” is very helpful as an overview with diagrams about the various approaches (12 basic models) to church planting. This section is really helpful to groups seeking to realize that church planting is more than just the “mother-daughter” model. In chapter four he discusses the question of “where” churches should be planted giving five steps for research. Chapter five seeks to answer the question “when” should new churches be planted and chapter six asks the question “what kind” of churches should be planted. This latter chapter should be a help to church planters seeking to develop a united philosophy of ministry. Chapter seven replies to the question “who” could plant new churches dealing with “criteria and characteristics” of church planters. Chapter eight closes with “what next” for three groups: the planting team, the planting agency, and the emerging church. Any serious church planter or planting agency needs to think through these questions and give clear responses if they are to be effective. Murray’s book gives questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. These will be helpful to those concerned to think through all the issues that church planting ministries face.
Nebel, Tom. Big Dreams in Small Places: Church Planting in Smaller Communities. St Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2002.
The author writes from Baptist General Conference church planting experience. The BGC has one of the best planting records in North America today. Most church planting books tell the story of church planting in suburban areas and a few address urban contexts. This is the first that address rural and small town areas and it does it well. The book points out some of the unique challenges and opportunities in small town church planting and provides numerous helpful principles for successful ministry.
Nebel, Tom and Gary Rohrmayer. Church Planting Landmines: Mistakes to Avoid in Years 2 through 10 by Tom Nebel & Gary Rohrmayer. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart, 2005. No one likes to talk about failure but probably 30% of church plants today fail to survive past their 3rd anniversary. This practical and insightful book is unique because it focuses on how to overcome common obstacles to health and growth in new churches. The authors are veteran General Conference Baptist (now Converge) church planters and experienced planting coaches. The ten common landmines they deal with are seen in many North American plants but are applicable in other cultures as well. They deal with topics such as: lack of leadership development, leadership backlash, evangelism entropy, fear of money, underestimating spiritual warfare, misfiring on hiring, delaying missions engagement, ignoring personal health and growth, etc. Recommended reading for planters!
Nebel, Tom and Steve Pike. Leading Church Multiplication: Locally, Regionally and Nationally. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart, 2014.
This is a solid resource that will inform and inspire leaders who recruit, train, and coach others to plant churches. Written by two veteran denominational leaders, this book focuses on three key areas: foundations for building a church planting culture; essential planter support systems; and leader strategies, landmines, and booby traps to avoid. This is possibly the first resource written specifically for movement and denominational leaders who are tasked with seeing new churches started. Nebel is a seasoned leader with Converge (formerly the Baptist General Conference) and Pike with the Assemblies of God, both groups that have had much success in North American planting. They have much to teach us. Nebel and Pike reveal valuable lessons they have learned as they led fruitful church planting movements within their denominations over the past 20 years.
They address: How do you create a culture through your communications? What is the role of partnership? How do you cast vision in a way that reinforces your direction? How do you maintain momentum? Their wisdom is reflected in the breadth of the questions they tackle. Chapter 22 addresses the subject of “stewarding opportunities by managing environmental risk”—an issue I’ve not seen addressed before in church planting books. If your role includes the oversight of church multiplication, this book is one you need to read, digest, and apply. It comes from a North American context but wise overseas planting leaders will be able to contextualize this for use in other nations.
Nevius, John L. Planting and Development of Missionary Churches. Nutley, NJ:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1958.
This is an old classic. Nevius is not well known today in North American church planting for good reason. His influence is primarily found in Korea. However, his ideas influence North American planting. His emphasis on indigenous ministry (i.e., the three-selfs) helped spark the remarkable growth of the Korean church.
Ott, Craig & Gene Wilson. Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.
This is the best international church planting book to date and will probably supplant Hesselgrave’s Planting Churches Cross-Culturally. Because it is more updated and has tons of references to current missiological literature, it will no doubt become the required text for training overseas planters. It is similar to Hesslegrave’s classic text in that it respects the biblical agenda. Yet, it is different in that Hesselgrave’s book uses the Pauline cycle found in Acts. Ott and Wilson use what they call “Developmental Phases’ similar to the “life cycle” approach used by many North American texts. Both approaches have value and I would still encourage study of both. This book does not just focus on one aspect of planting, like team ministry, but deals comprehensively with both biblical principles and best practices (as the title indicates). In four major parts, this text starts with the biblical foundation and then moves on to strategy and phases in church planting. The fourth part deals with five critical issues. The size of this book (over 420 pages) may be a bit overwhelming for some beginning practitioners. But this is also a strength because it enables one to delve into all the major questions. The one weakness of the book: there are no exercises at the end of each chapter to help one apply the rich material. If this book is used by a church planting team or as a course text, this might need to be remedied.
One of most important chapters in the book is chapter 4, which deals with “Church Multiplication and Indigenous Church –Planting Movements.” This should be the vision of every church planter—to catalyze a true movement that multiplies believers, cells, leaders, and churches. At the beginning of this chapter we read:
For this reason, we emphasize the need to plant churches that have multiplication potential in their DNA, that stress organic rather than organization values, that favor centrifugal rather than centripetal growth (outward sending rather than inward retaining), and that use reproducible structures and ministries (65).
What follows is invaluable as the authors explain how this works out in the New Testament. They reference the indigenous principles of John Nevius in Korea and Rolland Allen’s experiences in China and Africa. I highly recommend Allen’s classic The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes Which Hinder. The rest of chapter 4 deals with church planting movements and what can be learned from current CPMs. The authors list three “Deterrents to Church Multiplication”: (1) “expensive meeting places,” (2) educational processes that do not promote multiplication, and (3) financial dependence (84 -86). Figure 4.3 (81) –“Contrasts between ‘Hiving Off’ and Multiplication” is helpful. Every pastor, missionary, church planter, and mission leader should read and implement principles from this insightful chapter.
Patrick, Darrin. Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010. Darrin Patrick is the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey in St Louis, Missouri which runs eight services across four campuses and continues to aggressively plant new campuses and churches in the St Louis region and beyond. Darrin also serves as Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. This is an insightful look at the privilege and calling of being a church planter. Not about the how-to’s of planting, this book focuses on the church planter himself—his qualifications, his theology, and his character. Patrick covers all the bases on what it takes to be a successful church planter in the twenty-first century. It takes the right man, going in the right direction, with the right message to impact a city for Christ. The strength of this treatise: it’s a Christ- and gospel-centered approach to launching new churches. This isn’t an ivory tower book. It’s written by someone who has battle scars, who’s been in the trenches of church planting. I heartily recommend this book for anyone aspiring and training to be a church planter.
Patterson, George and Richard Scoggins. Church Multiplication Guide: The Miracle of Church Reproduction. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Press, rev, 2002. This insightful manual is by respected overseas coach/ planters and is built around the idea of corporate reproduction. The authors state: “We emphasize church multiplication because church growth by multiplication is more strategic and biblical than growth by addition only.” They speak of “exponential increase as daughter and granddaughter churches are born and reproduce like the grain in the planter’s parable, thirty, sixty and a hundred times” (p.12). In the first nine chapters the authors teach that simple obedience to Christ leads to church multiplication. They then look at church reproduction from the viewpoint of the non believer, the evangelist, the mission task group, the field supervisor, the cell or house church, the mother church, the trainers of pastors, a church leader, and a mission career advisor. If you are any one of these or form a team of these, this book should be of help to you. Helpful for both overseas and North American planters. It’s very practical in addressing the areas of church multiplication and reproduction.
Payne, J. D. Discipleship in Church Planting: Some Guidelines to Move Us Forward. 2011. Available free as an e-book on the following website: http://www.vergenetwork.org/discipleship-in-church-planting/
An insightful e-book that puts together discipleship and church planting but it does it without giving a rigid program. As Payne states, “The reality is that this book is not designed to be either exhaustive or extensive regarding the topic of discipleship. Rather, I want to provide you with some tools to get started” (8). The book is in six short chapters dealing with 1) setting the example, 2) keeping it simple, 3) beginning at the individual level, 4) teaching obedience, 5) teaching healthy disciplines as soon as possible, and 6) returning them to the field immediately.
In a book by Eddie Gibbs, entitled The Rebirth of the Church: Applying Paul’s Vision for Ministry in Our Post-Christian World, the author states: “The apostles first discipled a group of people until they became a church. We face the opposite problem of turning church members into disciples, which is to put the cart before the horse” (67). But the goal of Payne’s book is to link together discipleship in church planting so as to avoid this dilemma. Each chapter is followed by questions that a church planter and a church planting team will want to work over in order to integrate discipleship into church planting more effectively. Although, as the author states, this is not an exhaustive study on discipleship, it should put the church planter on the right road to integrating discipleship as a primary goal of the planting and reproduction of churches.
Payne, J. D. The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members. Smyrna, DE: Missional Press, 2008.
One of the few books focusing on church planting team dynamics. Sets forth the godly personal characteristics needed by teammates. Full of inter-personal relationship stuff, using the life of Barnabas, the glue from Paul’s first team. A good guide to help church planters be more proactive in recruiting and selecting planting teammates. Has a diagnostic tool at the conclusion of the book to help one evaluate potential team members. J. D. is a friend of mine from Indpls days (he used to teach part-time at Crossroads Bible College) and now is an associate prof in church planting at Southern Seminary. An easy read.
Payne, Jervis David. Discovering Church Planting: An Introduction to the Whats, Whys and Hows of Global Church Planting. Colorado Springs, CO: Authentic Publishing, 2009. The author is an associate professor of church planting and evangelism at Southern Seminary and a missionary with the SBC’s NAMB. Years ago I met him when he was just beginning to plant in Indiana and invited him to teach part-time at Crossroads Bible College in Indy. Payne’s almost encyclopedic book on church planting builds the theme of discovery into four main sections: 1) Discovering Biblical and Theological Foundations; 2) Discovering Missiological Principles; 3) Discovering Historical Paradigms, and 4) Discovering Contemporary Issues. One of the pioneers in training and writing on church planting, David Hesselgrave, states in the foreword that this work is “one of the finest books on church planting to appear in recent years” (xxi). I agree. This reviewer appreciates the fact that Payne does not start with the practice of church planting but rather its biblical and theological foundations. Nevertheless, having laid that foundation, he deals with what we can learn about church planting in missiology, history, and then speaks to current issues in church planting. At the end of each chapter there is a helpful summary, questions for reflection, and a list of important terms discussed in church planting. This book should be a standard text on church planting for years to come since it deals with the major issues and yet seeks to be practical. I will use this at BBS in classes.
Payne, J. D. Roland Allen: Pioneer of Spontaneous Expansion. Lexington, KY: J. D. Payne, 2012
A much needed study of the missiology of the missionary writer Roland Allen (1868-1947) whose writings have had a great influence on present day church planting movements around the world. After recounting the story of Allen in the first chapter, Payne, in chapters two to five, deals with what he calls the “four main components of Allen’s missiological foundation.” These four elements have to do with Christ’s preparation of the apostles, the way the apostles ministered, their view of the church, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Chapters six and eight deal with the role of missionaries in seeing spontaneous expansion and how they must manifest missionary faith. Chapter seven deals with a false “devolution” that went against the apostolic approach. Chapter nine challenges the false philosophy of training leaders in such a way that this training takes “the place of the Holy Spirit…” (83). Experience shows that institutional training does not give spiritual gifts but that the Holy Spirit does. Only gifted leaders truly profit from such training and in some cases such training can hinder rather than help. In many ways Allen was ahead of his time: chapters ten and eleven deal with bi-vocational ministry and what is often called today “tent-making.”.
Payne’s end-of-the-book conclusion speaks to the concern of many who want to control what happens in movements that expand spontaneously. He develops a three-fold equation for seeing true spontaneous expansion: the Holy Spirit working in the national church plus missionary faith equals spontaneous expansion. This spontaneous expansion means that the church grows from the power of the Spirit working within the churches and supernatural growth occurs. Payne’s book helps as we seek to think in depth about what can be done to encourage church planting movements and to avoid hindering their development.
Payne, J. D. Apostolic Church Planting: Birthing New Churches from New Believers. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2015. My friend J.D. Payne draws from his experience as a church planter practitioner, former professor, sponsoring church mission pastor and planter coach to provide timely wisdom for those who are about to begin or are already traversing the church planting journey. As a leading missiologist, his wisdom is well-grounded and trustworthy. Payne addresses some specific issues not covered in his earlier book, Discovering Church Planting. His basic premise: Church planting is not just about gathering new communities of people who are already Christians. “Planting churches from the harvest should be the expectation. Planting instant churches with longtime believers should be the exception, not the rule” (p. 29). In the book of Acts, church plants begin with sharing the gospel. Planting churches flows naturally out of making disciples. The author explains the process and stages of church planting, with biblical foundations and practical steps for planting teams. He provides a pathway for the multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches. Here are church planting strategies and activities that are simple, highly reproducible and can be implemented by ordinary team members, not just by charismatic leaders. This guide can be used for planting in contexts among any given people group, domestically or internationally. It is an ideal resource for teams to work through together as they follow God’s call in their community. Apostolic Church Planting is less like a how-to manual and more like a clinician’s guidebook. It deals with both the theology and theory of church planting. Payne graciously points out the shortcomings of conventional church plants in a way that does not appear ‘anti,’ untying the usual knotty problems and simplifying common complications. I love his emphasis on a solid biblical ecclesiology and carefully defining what the NT church is. I appreciate his phrase, ‘Plant the church that is, not the church to come.’ Had I read that when I was young, I’d have avoided years of foolishly trying to birth mature churches!
Plummer, Robert L and John Mark Terry, eds. Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours. Wheaton, IL: IVP, 2013.
Published on the centennial of Roland Allen’s original classic (Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?), this multi-author volume provides a detailed reading of Paul’s missionary activity and builds on Allen’s insights for a contemporary context. While various contributors critique Allen’s work in several respects, generally they all see Allen’s book as justly influential and seek to carry some of his emphases forward. The book divides into two sections: part one focuses on Paul’s message while part two focuses on the implications of Paul’s mission for today. These sections were written by two complementary sets of scholars. Part one is written by biblical scholars; part two is composed by missiologists, church planters and practitioners. Thus while each author tries to suggest what the implications of their topic are for today, the second section is more practical and the first section remains more theological.
In Part 1, Michael Bird sketches the cultural and historic milieu of Paul’s mission, placing it in context. Eckhard Schnabel examines what we know of Paul’s missionary journeys. Robert Plummer discusses the nature of Paul’s gospel (especially in reference to 1 Cor. 15:1-8). Benjamin Merkle `s and Christopher Stenschke`s chapters explore Paul’s ecclesiology and the nature of his mission for the life of the church. Don Howell explores Paul’s theology of suffering while Craig Keener looks at Paul’s understanding of spiritual warfare. Each of these authors presents their topic in conversation with Allen’s work. In Part 2, David Hesselgrave and Michael Pocock flesh out Paul’s missional strategy and discuss its value for today, John Mark Terry explore Allen’s reading of Paul’s mission and the implications for the indigenous church. Ed Stetzer and Lizette Beard write about Paul’s emphasis on church planting. M. David Sills discusses contextualization and Chuck Lawless explores Paul’s ongoing emphasis on leadership development in the churches he planted. Finally J.D. Payne has a postscript on the legacy of Allen’s work and its abiding influence 100 years after its original publication.
This collection of essays provides a good introduction to Roland Allen and his influence on missiology. Aspects of Allen’s work are critiqued (see especially Hesselgrave’s chapter), but each of the authors display deep admiration for Allen and follow his summons to conduct missions in the Spirit of Paul’s mission. As with all multi-author works, some essays are stronger than others and there is a certain amount of topical overlap between chapters. Too much of the modern missional literature is rootless and lacks biblical grounding. These authors (and Roland Allen) rightly call us to see Paul’s mission as integral to proper missional theology and praxis. I would recommend this book to both pastors and church planters.
Rainey, Joel. Church Planting in the real World. Smyrna, DE: Missional Press, 2008.
Most church planting conference speakers and book writers tell stories of reaching hundreds after just a few short years—a reality few church planters experience. Rainey uses his own church planting experience in Greenville, SC to paint a picture of reality, showing both the difficulties involved in starting a new church as well as the rewards. If you’re a planter drunk with your own vision and idealism, this book will sober you. The author shares many of his mistakes and lots of common sense biblical wisdom that can help church planters from failure and frustration.
Reddin, Opal. Planting Churches that Grow. Springfield, MO: Central Bible
College Press, 1990.
One of few women (or Pentecostals) writing on the topic of church planting, Redding provides an interesting resource. First, she provides insight into some of the growth in the Pentecostal movement by emphasizing spiritual gifts and the power of the Spirit. Second, she provides some interesting insights into planting churches targeted at cults and new-agers.
Redford, Jack. Planting New Churches. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978.
This older work was, at one time, the most influential book on Southern Baptist Church planting. His “Nine Steps” were the paradigm adopted by the Home Mission Board of the SBC. Though dated, the book is still a valuable resource today for the mother church seeking to start a daughter congregation. Its “steps” should not be followed by the pioneer pastor but are intended to be followed by the involved mother church starting a daughter congregation.
Ridley, Charles R. How to Select Church Planters. Pasadena: Fuller Evangelistic
Ridley’s writing and training have become the standard used in North America to evaluate potential church planters. This book, though difficult to find, is the standard writing and should be required reading for everyone who selects church planters. Some of his assessment training manuals are available today from ChurchSmart Resources (800-253-4276).
Roberts, Bob, Jr. The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.
In this third work in a series published by Zondervan, Roberts, a seasoned veteran, seeks to show how local churches must see their primary vision as multiplying churches. Churches should not merely strive to plant another local church here or there; they should actually multiply them through the proven methods of Roberts and others for church planting. The author seeks to answer the question of why we are not seeing the rapid expansion of church planting in the West as in other parts of the globe. He discusses principles from the early church and their applications for today. The author pastors NorthWood Church in Fort Worth, Texas, a large reproducing church that has started daughter churches all over the globe; thus he is no arm-chair theoretician. He writes clearly and with wit, humor and wisdom. However, the book has several weaknesses. Roberts writes much about the “Kingdom of God” and our need to minister in light of it (pp. 73-81), but does not define it with precision; his view of the kingdom is at best amorphous as he casts vision for how society can be transformed by Jesus Christ. Also, Roberts appeals to sociological and business principles of success, which he gets from non-biblical, secular sources rather than any apparent exegesis of biblical texts. He doesn’t really consider the Bible’s framework for understanding the purposes of the church and mandate for spreading the gospel.
At times, in his exuberance for catalyzing a global planting movement (one that’s “cataclysmic” and “exponential”), Roberts makes rather grandiose claims. For example: “A global church planting movement will be necessary for the bride of Christ to be prepared for the coming of Christ” (p. 47). Notice that his movement is “necessary.” Yet all in all, planters should read this. Roberts certainly cannot be faulted for his obvious and infectious desire to see the gospel of Jesus pervade and transform a godless society. The book’s last chapter, “Living as a Missional Family” provides very helpful practical advice, encouraging those in ministry to be open to criticism, to correct character flaws, to deal with past hurts, and to grow into the next dimension of leadership. Presenting principles in clear fashion, Robert’s lessons and exhortations will benefit both the novice and experienced church planter
Robinson, Martin. Planting Mission-Shaped Churches Today. Oxford, UK: Monarch Books, 2006. ISBN 13: 978-0-8254-6103-3 (USA).
The author shows how to move from a “mechanistic” to a “mission shaped” approach to church planting. Robinson is a minister in the Churches of Christ and a national director of Together in Mission, a mission organization in England. He has experience in church planting in Australia and the USA. Desiring at first to revise Planting Tomorrow’s Churches Today (1992), which he co-authored earlier, he ending up writing an entirely new book, stating, “My major criticism of the book is that it is too mechanistic in style. It seems to suggest that there is a fixed process or method that one can employ that leads to a successful church plant”(8). He also states that this book is a more “organic” approach needed for a present church planting context that is between the paradigms of modernity and post-modernity. Chapter one recommends dealing with the “what” question before one deals with the “how” question in church planting. For example: “what is the essence of Christianity, what is the church, what is the gospel, what is mission, what is evangelism, what do we mean by church planting, what kind of churches should we be planting, what is leadership and what do we mean by ministry?” (13). This reviewer agrees strongly since planting that does not think through these questions will sooner or later weaken because o f an inadequate biblical foundation.
Though critical of those who set lofty and unrealistic goals, Robinson is firmly committed to church planting giving five clear bases for the planting of new churches. He shows how a statistical study of a mainstream denomination in the UK demonstrates this by showing how it declined from 192,136 in 1972 to 81,638 in 2004 whereas a newer denomination went from 28,000 to 68,000 in that same period because it was dynamically active in planting new churches. Again this shows us that every denomination that is vibrant in planting new churches grows whereas a denomination that is only concerned about maintenance diminishes. All denominations or networks of churches need to learn this vital lesson. In chapters 3 to 7, the author discusses six practical issues in church planting moving from what he calls “The Art of Church Planting” (chapter 3) to “Gathering” (chapter 4) to “Building the Team” (chapter 5) “Discipleship” (chapter 6) and “The Spiritual Life” (chapter 7 ). Church planters and those working with them will find help in the planting and the development of churches in these practical chapters. I would particularly recommend the seven characteristics of effective teams following an acrostic PERFORM (91).
Robinson also has insightful discussions on two current issues: church planting movements (ch. 8), and house or “simple churches (ch. 9). In his last chapter, “Going Public,” Robinson deals with the question of the use of church buildings and the message projected by publicly meeting in this context. He gives four needs that must be met before launching and going public: 1) at least 50 people, 2) resource people for the church plant, 3) leaders for home groups, and 4) solid connections with the community where the church is planted. (179-180). I recommend this book to those who want to think through vital issues before planting a new church. Robinson gives a more organic/ reproductive approach than many books on the subject.
Romo, Oscar I. American Mosaic Church Planting in Ethnic America. Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1993.
Romo describes the ethnic church planting system in place for years among Southern Baptists. This system includes ethnic specific fellowships and intentional ethnic planting and training. He does advocate the need for ethnic specific planting by describing an increasingly pluralistic society. He then provides suggestions and worksheets to develop an ethnic planting strategy. Today the emphasis has rightly shifted toward multi-ethnic church planting.
Sanchez, Daniel R., Ebbie C. Smith, and Curtis E. Watke. Reproducing Congregations: A Guidebook for Contextual New Church Development. Cumming, GA: Church Starting Network. 2001.
This book is a textbook with great value for academic use. The authors show a strong grasp of the available literature and it is heavily footnoted. Because this text is geared toward an academic setting, it may be too detailed for the average North American church planter. The 435-page book covers all of church planting, not just the North American side, so it moves from starting one church, to catalytic roles, to numerous other topics. It presents a sold biblical foundation for planting, meets objections, overviews models of church planting, funding issues, and the entire planting process. It could easily be two books. Must be ordered from: www.ChurchStarting.net.
Scates, Dan. Recalculating: 8 directional changes new churches face. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010.
Most church plants survive year one. But will it be a viable, self-supporting, and reproducing ministry at year five? It takes a huge amount of work to get a new church launched. Unfortunately, after all that work to achieve the goal of getting the church started, many new churches lose their momentum and begin to struggle in their second or third year. This workbook helps church planters see the transitions they’re going to face, prepare in advance for them, and navigate the changes required to move from a newborn to a maturing church. The 25 worksheets are as valuable as the text, because they give you the framework for thinking through your own situation and how to apply his principles. The author is a third generation church planter with three decades of church planting experiences. As a certified coach, Dan currently coaches church planters for six organizations nationwide. He has also led the outreach ministries of LifeBridge Christian Church since 1992 and currently coaches the entire staff.
Schaller, Lyle E. Forty-Four Questions for Church Planters. Nashville, TN:
The author is well known United Methodist church consultant and writer who has much to teach us all. In Schaller’s typical 44 question format, he addresses many surprisingly contemporary issues related to church planting. (The book was published in 1991.) Unlike many how-to books, Schaller uses his question format to explore in-depth the background of many issues and answer many of the important questions on the topic of church planting. His wisdom and practicality prevail in this classic text.
Schnabel, Eckhard J. Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008.
This recent book follows on from the author’s two volume work Early Christian Mission and hones in on Paul as a missionary. It is a goldmine for missionaries as they seek to look at Paul and then apply his methodology today. After an Introduction which deals with how this book is going to approach relating Paul and missionary work, it has five major sections dealing with Paul`s missionary work, task, message, goals, and methods. Then the sixth chapter deals with “The Task of Missionary Work in the Twenty-First Century” and thus relating what has been dealt with to present day missionary work.
This is no short book to be breezed through easily. However, working through this book could produce a better understanding of missions and, in particular, church planting. Church planters would particularly do well to read section 6.3 on “The Proclamation of the Gospel and Church Planting.” This is no simple book on Paul`s methods and ministry but it will pay the church planter in encouragement and depth to work through Schnabel`s book.
Schwarz, Christian A. Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential
Qualities of Healthy Churches. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2005. German-born Schwarz has had global impact surveying now over 40,000 churches throughout the world. Many struggle with the question of the relation between quality and quantity in church planting and growth. The author shows the two are definitely related and that the real issue is not church growth but church health. From research with churches in over 35 countries and all six continents, he shows the true causes of church growth. He identifies and describes 8 essential qualities of healthy, reproducing churches: empowering leadership, gift-oriented ministry, passionate spirituality, functional structures, inspiring worship services, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism, and loving relationships. No quality may be missing. He advocates “biotic” principles of growth as opposed to technocratic thinking and shows that many “church growth dogmas” are merely myths. This refreshing book can help churches of all ages be revitalized and is now available in most major languages.
Scoggins, Richard. “Building Effective Church Planting Teams: A Handbook for Team Leaders and Mentors.” Fellowship of Church Planters International. “The purpose of this book is to share our experience in how the Fellowship of Church Planters have built and used teams of church planters.” If you are interested in building more effective teams to plant churches, go online to download this free manual from their website [www.fcpt.org]. This manual is divided into four sections: 1) Foundations for Teams; 2) Forming Teams; 3) Developing and Reproducing Teams and 4) Applications. There are nine appendices. The ninth is entitled “Church Planter’s Skills Check List” (pp. 123-135) and could be invaluable in dealing with many issues. Appendix 2 is entitled “Guidelines for Developing a Covenant of Team Understandings” (pp. 98-100) and should serve as a model for building coherence in a church planting team. Scoggins is not an armchair theorist but has had successful ministry experience in planting many churches in Rhode Island and now serves as a respected consultant in resistant areas of the world.
Scoggins, Dick. Handbook for House Churches. [on-line], accessed 1 December
1999, http://genesis.acu.edu/cplant/archive/contr036 ; Internet.
Dick Scoggins and the Rhode Island house churches are the best known home-based church planting movement in North America. The book describes the indigenous church planting methods of Fellowship of Church Planters, a network of house churches in Rhode Island and southern New England. It is one of a few solid resources dealing with indigenous house churches from a North American perspective.
Searcy, Nelson and Kerrick Thomas. Launch. Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006. The co-pastors of The Journey church in Manhattan, N.Y. (which was launched right after 9/11 and now runs around 1000 in attendance), share their experiences and insights in this very practical guide to church planting. Their counsel covers everything from checks to chairs, and includes advice on maintaining a focus on the unchurched; designing promotional materials with no more than 50% text; and choosing buildings based on target demographics (i.e., don’t expect farmers to meet for lunch in an art gallery). The name of the book comes form their main proposition: that ‘launching’ a new church large and quickly is often a better approach than slowing growing a core group and ‘planting.’ This reviewer finds this to be true in most North American settings.
Senge, Peter M. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.
As important as vision is, “vision without systems thinking ends up painting a lovely picture of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to move from here to there” (11). The Fifth Discipline is the premier book on systems thinking. Senge even provides multiple models of systems by drawing them out, explaining their structure, providing warning symptoms, and giving corresponding leadership principles to address them (they’re called systems archetypes). If you want to create a movement of multiplication in your church, then you need to understand systems.
Shenk, David W. and Ervin R. Stutzman. Creating Communities of the Kingdom:
New Testament Models of Church Planting. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1988.
The authors, who come from the Mennonite tradition, consistently look to the Scriptures to give a NT foundation to planting churches. This resource is one of the best in dealing with scriptural issues and their application in church planting. It gets very practical with issues that church planters need to think about. Some of the topics that they address include: the message of the church, prayer, calling and commissioning, the team, vision and planning, the power of God, developing the congregation, gospel and culture, peoples & places, discipling & training, leadership and accountability, facilities & finances.
Sjogren, Steve. Conspiracy of Kindness: A Unique Approach to Sharing the Love of Jesus. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003.
This is one of those key books on evangelism in this post-modern age. Sjogren (pronounced Sho-grin) has been involved in church planting in three areas of the U.S. and overseas in Oslo, Norway. He is presently launching a new church plant in Tampa. He shows how a church can make a unique impact by the simplicity of being kind and doing things for people. Sjogren’s concern is that the church be a servant in spirit and live like the good Samaritan, he clarifies, “In other words, the way we (the Church) treat them (the un churched) serves as a litmus test of our spiritual health.” (p. 86). The key is “servant evangelism” which means demonstrating the kindness of God by offering to do some act of humble service with no strings attached.” p. 18. Chapter five is called “Five Discoveries That Empower Evangelism” and they are simple and yet needy. Sjogren is not an armchair evangelist but someone who has effectively done and taught evangelism. He shares his past failures and his present experiences. In Appendix 1, he lists a number of practical ways that Christians and churches can do servant evangelism and make a difference in their communities. These various projects will need to be contextualized for your region or culture but they do give some great ideas that you may not have thought about for being servant-evangelists in your area. This book has changed the way I see my own neighborhood and what I am to do to make a difference here.
Sjogren, Steve and Rob Lewin. Community of Kindness: A Relational Approach
to Planting and Growing a Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003.
Steve Sjogren is probably better known for his servant evangelism (community acts of kindness) strategies as described in Conspiracy of Kindness (see above). However, Steve is also an experienced Vineyard church planter and church planting mentor. His approach here is dialogical—with 106 thought provoking individual ideas (like small chapters). The authors say that the book might be subtitled, “Church Planting Through Servant Evangelism.” Lots of practical insights.
Smith, Steve with Ying Kai. T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution. Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2011. Paperback. 340 pages. ISBN-13:978-09747562-1-9.
This is a delightful read for those motivated to see disciples and churches multiplied. The authors chronicle a church planting endeavor in an Asian nation that saw 1,738,143 baptisms and 158,993 churches in ten years! The acronym found in the title of this book is key to understanding how this amazing church multiplication took place. T4T stands for “Training for Trainers.” Ying, following this idea, “expected every disciple to train others” (22). What a wonderful New Testament vision. The book is divided into three parts: 1) the foundations of T4T; 2) the process of T4T; and 3) the application of T4T. Chapter one addresses the important question of what the authors mean by “church” which they define as communities of believers “that display the basic covenant and characteristics of the first] Acts 2 community whether they meet in homes or in dedicated buildings.” Usually they speak of “house churches or church-like small groups of a larger worshipping community” (28, n. 1). This is exactly what the NT speaks of when it describes local churches; thus they are using, I believe, a truly biblical definition of church.
Ying shares three insights he learned about church planting movements. First, the Great Commission teaches “Go, not come.” Second, the Great Commission speaks of “Everyone, not just some.” Third, the Great Commission says to “Make trainers (disciples) not just church members” (35). How simple and yet how profound and how easily we forget this. Yet the author rightly warns: “T4T is not a silver bullet to give you a church-planting movement: only a move of the Holy Spirit can cause a CPM [Church Planting Movement]. But when understood and applied appropriately, the principles and tools of the training process can help you position your ministry to live out kingdom principles God delights in using” (38). Basically, he is saying to follow the Great Commission which speaks of multiplying disciples who then multiply churches. T4T may not produce for you what it did in this great Asian country, however, using the principle of discipleship multiplication will change what you are doing from addition to multiplication.
Steffan, Tom. Passing the Baton: Church Planting that Empowers. LaHabra, CA: Center for Organizational and Ministry Development, 1993/ 1997.
Though this book is about international church planting, it has application to North American planting, particularly in the inner city and urban settings. The author is a former New Tribes missionary among the animistic Ifugao tribe for 15 years in the Philippines and now teaches at Biola University. He also does training for World Impact, a pace setter in planting indigenous churches among the urban poor. Steffen lays out an insightful five-stage planting model which would be helpful in any cross-cultural context. He shows that planters must have a solid plan to carefully release leadership to nationals. More importantly, Steffen shows how the missionary planter’s role must change at each stage as he progresses toward the goal of empowering national leadership. Bottom line: effective cross-cultural planters start with the end in mind and plan a phased-out strategy from there. Too many missionaries sow the seeds of ineffectiveness from the beginning by failing to think through a phase-out strategy even before they enter a field! This book includes very helpful chapters on team formation/preparation, pre-evangelism in oral societies, designing an evangelistic-discipleship model, developing curricula, etc. The 15 appendices offer a comprehensive 5-stage checklist, chronological Bible teaching evaluations, helpful charts for understanding tribal societies, etc. This is a goldmine of material for all missionaries and is definitely not for those who want to perpetuate paternalistic church planting! Steffan’s emphasis on empowerment is an important addition to the training of every urban church planter.
Steffan, Tom. The Facilitator Era: Beyond Pioneer Church Multiplication. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011. Years ago, Ralph Winter identified three eras of modern missions: Era 1: Wm Carey focused on the coastlands; Era 2: Hudson Taylor focused on the islands; Era 3: Donald McGavran and Cameroon Townsend focused on unreached peoples. Steffan shows that with the furious changes swirling around us in the 21st century, we have no doubt entered a 4th Era—what he terms the Facilitator’s Era where the role of the missionary has once again changed from one who “passes the baton” to one who never picks it up! This is a groundbreaking book which every overseas missionary MUST read before he/she goes abroad. It’s an eye-opening work on mission theory and praxis. For students of missions this should be a required text with lots of resources and a global tour of recent, relevant case studies (16 of them!) worth the price of the book alone. Both students and teachers will love this easy-to-read text. Church planters desiring to see churches multiplied not just added will want to read this strategic 390 pager.
Stetzer, Ed. Planting Missional Churches: Planting a Church That’s Biblically Sound and Reaching People in Culture. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2006. This is a rewrite and updating of Stetzer’s 2003 title, Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age; of the two, this one is the better! It will be the new standard in this decade for North American church planting with its ‘nuts and bolts’ approach. Stetzer helps planters think missiologically, theologically as well as practically about the entire process of starting a new work. He has insightful suggestions on reaching post-moderns and the younger generations. The book has particularly helpful chapters on “Models of Church Plants and Church Planters” and “What Makes a Church Planter?” Stetzer has become the leading church planting researcher for the SBC and possibly for all evangelicals. For example, he confirms, “the attendance of a new church with an involved mother church is higher than those without the participation of a sponsoring/mother church” (p. 76). He has an excellent chapter evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of house churches. He gives lots of current web and book resources for planters and the best annotated bibliography on church planting books. If I could buy only one book on church planting, this would one of my top choices.
Stetzer, Ed and Daniel Im. Planting Missional Churches (2nd Edition). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2016.
This 3rd edition comes out 10 years after Ed’s 2nd edition of this classic. Since then many things have changed in the landscape of church multiplication. In this updated revised edition you’ll find new chapters on multisite church planting, residencies, multi-ethnic ministry, theological education, spiritual warfare, the mission of God and the differences between denominations and networks. Ed has added his associate at newchurches.com as the co-author, and together changed over 50% of the content. The stories, content, and models are different in each chapter. They’ve completely reorganized the book, and integrated the research they conducted in the new State of Church Planting study, a research partnership of over a dozen denominations on church planting in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Highly recommended! I use as a text.
Stetzer, Ed and Warren Bird. Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Leadership Network Series, 2010. Ed Stetzer (Author) › Visit Amazon’s Ed Stetzer PageFind all the books, read about the author, and more.See search results for this authAre you an author? Learn about Author Central Based on a national, cross-denominational study commissioned by the Leadership Network, this book reveals the best practices in church planting movements and uncovers the common threads among them. A much-needed resource, this book should inform, guide, and even catalyze church planting leaders who seek to plant exponentially reproducing churches. The authors, both with doctorates in research and veteran church planters, clearly show leaders how to launch new churches that create a multiplication movement; they also offer inspiration for leaders to do so. They point to numerous illustrative case studies of North American churches and planting networks that are successfully multiplying new churches in our day. Has great stories of people who have shifted from planting churches to birthing movements–this is the major difference between addition and multiplication. Has great statistics about church planting. Did you know that at the 4-year mark, 68% of churches are still going? (This debunks the myth that 80% of new churches don’t make it past their first year.) This book includes helpful chapters on keeping the focus on evangelism; recruiting, assessing and deploying planters; increasing survivability on new churches; using a multisite strategy effectively; funding options; overcoming obstacles; and facing challenges. Throughout the book the core belief is that “Church planting is good. A vision for a church multiplication movement is better.” The Appendix lists churches and networks that are practicing these concepts, along with an annotated bibliography for church multiplication. This is an excellent resource. Because this work is so missiologically hefty and well-researched, it will be a definitive book for years. A must read for leaders—whether pastors or church planters! If you want some practical wisdom to move from simply being a church planter to a movement maker, then you need to read this book. Too often we think too small, (i.e. God called me to plant a church), when in reality, it is likely that God wants to use you to help build a movement.
Stevenson, Phil. The Ripple Church: Multiply Your Ministry by Parenting New Churches. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Pub House, 2004. (Paperback, 186 pages). One of the best books on church parenting available today. It explains the why, what and how of starting churches through an existing congregation. Ripple Church is an easy read featuring “13 Ripple Principles” important to church parenting. Based on his own ministry experience, Stevenson presents a compelling case (chaps 2-3) for parenting. He offers a menu of nine parenting models (chap 4) for any ministry setting. The last five chapters reveals some great insights about financing, leadership, core teams and working with a denomination or association of churches. Stevenson starts each chapter with what he calls a “Ripple Principle” and each of these are succinct and powerful. For example the ripple principle in chapter four (“Models of Parenting”) is: “There are many ways to parent churches.” I agree – too often we’re limited to only one way of parenting a new church. To his credit, this author shows us how to plant churches in ever-increasing concentric circles. This book is not ivory tower theory but written by a pastor whose church has not only parented but gone the extra mile by building reproducibility into the churches they have started. The mother church is now credited with six daughter churches and three granddaughter congregations. The author also gives nine appendices with helpful examples of documents for planting daughter churches.
I like the title of this book because it encourages us to see our churches making ripples in the right sense—by parenting new churches. The author rejects the idea of one church in one place and says: “We must reject the model of success that simply measures the number of people gathered in one place. Genuine success is when men and women fulfill their God-given vision by creating new churches where there were none before” (p. 33). Stevenson contends that too many leaders settle for simply growing a regional church. It gathers together a large number of people to worship in a single place. This limits kingdom growth to a ministry by influx. Instead, he argues, “Why not pursue a regional ministry which also starts churches!” They can reach a variety of people through a diversity of church ministries. This raises the level of kingdom impact to a ministry by influence.
Shenk, David W. and Ervin Stutzman. Creating Communities of the Kingdom.
This book gives some New Testament grounding to planting churches. It gets very practical with issues that church planters need to think about. Some of the topics that they address include: the message of the church, prayer, calling and commissioning, the team, vision and planning, the power of God, developing the congregation, gospel and culture, peoples and places, discipling and training, leadership and accountability, facilities and finances.
Sullivan, Bill M. Starting Strong New Churches. Kansas City, MO: New Start,
This small book is intended primarily as an advocacy book geared toward Nazarenes. The strength of the book is the chapter that deals with objections to planting.
Suarez, Gustavo V. Connections: Linking People and Principles for Dynamic
Church Multiplication. Friendswood, Texas: Baxter Press, 2004.
Gus is the State Director of Missions for the New Mexico (Southern) Baptist Convention. His book is available in both Spanish and English and is a worthwhile read. The title is very descriptive—it is about making the right connections for church multiplication. As such, it has a lot of direction about how to involve partners in the work (the strength of the book). It is primarily geared toward Southern Baptists, but not exclusively so.
Sylvia, Ron. Starting High Definition Churches. Ocala, FL: High Definition Resources, 2004.
The author is committed to the Saddleback Purpose Driven church planting approach. His book is about how to plant Purpose Driven churches that make a high impact. Ron draws heavily on his own experience as the founding pastor of Church @ The Springs in Ocala, FL (which grew to 2000 in 10 years!) He also borrows lots of ideas from Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, and Ed Young, Jr. The book’s title is very descriptive—this is a great resource to know how to plant large distinct churches that reach the lost. It is immensely practical as one starts from scratch. This older book has now been replaced by his newer and better work, Starting New Churches on Purpose: Strategies for the 21st Century, Purpose Driven Publishing, 2006. (order it at: www.purposedriven.com). Recommended.
Thomas, Scott & Tom Wood. Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012. 239 pages.
This book will shift the thinking of many about coaching in general and coaching church planters in particular. Many Christians leaders have been taught a way of coaching that is more passive and is characterized by what this book calls “a nondirective, client-centered therapy (CCT) approach to solving personal problems in which the therapist/coach deliberately avoids directing or instructing the client in a particular way—even if he feels it can help the client” (45). Scott and Wood give an alternative approach to coaching described as “gospel coaching” where the good news of the gospel permeates both the coach and the person being mentored. Instead of “performance-centered living” (63), the person being mentored is encouraged to adopt “gospel-centered living” (69-70) where our roots are found in our being in Christ. This means realizing all that I have in Christ and living on that identity. This approach does not lead to a passive life style since this “gospel-centered life” has as its goal the worship of God and is empowered by the Holy Spirit (77).
The effective coach is to be a “shepherd-leader” (chapter six) and out of this flows the four qualities of a shepherd: knowing, feeding, leading, and protecting the disciple leader. The coach is also concerned to help those being mentored to avoid the idols of power, approval, comfort, and security (69). The authors state their concern that “ministry leaders often drink a poisonous cocktail of narcissism and isolation” (69). Gospel-centered mentoring deals with the person–spiritual, and missional aspects of the disciple-leader (97). This book also shows the importance of not only mentoring but being a part of a network of church planters. The authors discuss the problems of church planters not being accountable to others involved in the church planting process. Six appendices show how this type of gospel-centered coaching is worked out in practice. This reviewer wishes he had this kind of help when seeking to help other church planters. This stimulating text will certainly influence how I work in mentoring church planters in the future.
Thomasson, George. The Church Blueprint: Practical Helps for Building the
Body. Columbus, GA: Brentwood Christian Press, 2002.
This book is a compilation of resources that will assist the new church in the effective establishment of its ministry program. It takes a church from inception through the first three years of early development. The book includes contributions from 15 different authors, all who are Southern Baptist and relating to the SBC context. A strength of the book is the included practical worksheets for implementing the steps in the book. The book can be ordered by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tidsworth, Floyd, Jr. Life Cycle of a New Congregation. Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1992.
The author is former director of the SBC Home Mission Board’s church planting department. He has provided a basic planting handbook. The title is misleading since the text deals little with the actual life cycle. Instead, it primarily focuses on the birth of a new church and then its reproduction—with little about the life cycle in the middle.
Timmis, Stephen, ed. Multiplying Churches: Reaching Communities Through
Church Planting. Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2000.
This is an advocacy (not a “how-to”) book for church planting and the strategies for planting churches. It is written from the experiences of planters in the UK. The strength of this work is its recognition of the unique centrality of the local church in God’s purposes. It has fine discussions of the nature of both the church and the gospel. It properly critiques Stuart Murray’s Church Planting: Laying Foundation by showing how he sets up false polarities between church planting and the mission of God and church planting and the kingdom of God. Has a good historical overview of church planting by (Particular) Baptists and Methodists in the Britain beginning with the 7th century. Documents that C. H. Spurgeon’s ministry in the 1870s was dominated by church planting—he was responsible (through the Tabernacle and his preacher’s College) for the starting for some 187 of the 682 Baptist churches planted in Britain from 1855-97! This reviewer has one critique: the authors say they are seeking to “move church plating up the church agenda, and focus upon the principles rather than the practice.” They seem to accomplish the former but not the latter goal. This book is strong on encouraging people toward church planting but is really too small (128 pages) to address the principles. The chapter on ecclesiology is excellent as is Timmis closing chapter on key success principles.
Tinsley, William C. Upon This Rock: Dimensions of Church Planting. Atlanta, GA:
Baptist Home Mission Board, 1985.
Tinsley’s book is an advocacy book for Southern Baptists. Long before other denominations began to promote planting, Tinsley (and Redford) promoted planting among SBC churches. The book is out of date, but was a genuine forerunner that still contains some helpful principles.
Tinsley, William C. Breaking the Mold: Church Planting in the 21st Century.
Dallas: Creative Church Consultations, Inc., 1996.
This book is more up to date than Upon This Rock (and a better book, I believe). Tinsley displays a strong grasp of church planting principles but also deals with some of the new issues that began to emerge in the late 90s. He has planted churches all his life and is now director of a new missions agency, WorldConnex.
Tomberlin, Jim & Tim Cool. Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church Planting or Giga-Church World. Rainer Publishing, 2014.
Seasoned consultants give a practical guidebook to help growing churches decide where to meet in these changing times. They focus on the kind of facilities usable for church plants and multi-campus congregations. Tomberlin and Cool, with three other contributors, share the keys to find and maximize the best available location as a way to reproduce and increase community impact. Coining a term “locality,” they show it’s all about the convergence of location and facility. Finding the right building in the right place is crucial to a successful launch!
Options evaluated and compared include: meeting in schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, using “big box” commercial space, and in other non-traditional locations. The authors also discuss how to meet/greet guests well (“the 7-second introduction,” parking lot first impressions, etc.), tips for the first month after launch, funding options for buildings, the merits of leasing over buying and building, and using building assessment tools. Church planters wanting to locate the best space for their new church to best serve their community and a growing plant, will benefit greatly by the research-proven principles and insights shared in this resource.
Towns, Elmer L. Getting A Church Started: A Student Manual for the Theological
Foundation and Practical Techniques of Planting a Church. Lynchburg, VA:
Church Growth Institute, 1985.
Towns’ early book is geared toward independent Baptists. It is one of the first and only books on church planting I could find when I came out of school and started in church planting years ago. It is highly sequential and provides an effective list of tasks that will provide the planter direction. It has been published in various forms through the years and is now available as a free download online at: www.elmertowns.com/books/online/ .
Towns, Elmer L. and Douglas Porter. Churches that Multiply. Kansas City:
Beacon Hill Press. 2003.
The strength of this little book is that it is a series of Bible studies written in a down-to-earth style for lay people. It is not a “how-to” book. Instead, it is studies primarily from Acts geared toward showing churches the rationale of parenting a daughter church. It shows how lay people can help in the planting initial research, provide prayer support, do evangelistic outreach for the new church, coordinate resources, etc. Good for a Sunday School class to study.
Vajko, Robert J. Sr. “Why Do Some Churches Reproduce?” Evangelical Missions Quarterly for July 2005. This excellent EMQ article lists 14 qualities of a reproducing church based on the author’s research in France as well as other cross-cultural experiences in Switzerland, Taiwan, and Australia. These are applicable to churches in any culture. Write the author, a veteran with TEAM, and ask for a reprint; he’ll be glad to send you one: Robert J. Vajko 5395 N Darlene Court, Bloomington IN 47404 USA.
Van Gelder, Craig. The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by God’s Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000.
Too often church planters quickly go to pragmatic books, without a strong theological understanding of the nature and ministry of the church. In this book Van Gelder gives us some deep theological reflections that have practical implications for church planters. He wants us to rethink the true nature of the church. This rich read includes historical views of the church, a missional understanding of the church and well as issues like the organizational life of the church. He corrects misguided ecclesiologies.
Vanderstelt, Jeff. Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015.
This book presents a compelling & biblical picture of Jesus and the mission He’s given His people. Vanderstelt, visionary founder/leader of the Soma network of churches in the Northwest, inspires readers, through his own life story and the story of Soma, to live intentionally on mission with Jesus in the mundane events of everyday life. Saturate presents a three-tiered strategy for discipleship: environments, identities, and rhythms. Environments are where discipleship happens, identities are who we are and who we’re growing into, and rhythms are how we live out everyday life with gospel intentionality. Vanderstelt shows that discipleship is “an ongoing process of submitting all of life to Jesus, and seeing him saturate your entire life and world with his presence and power.” The author seeks to help congregations understand that discipleship is not a passive activity and someone else’s responsibility. Instead, it’s their responsibility, and it’s achievable. Jeff’s basic discipleship strategy: the three key environments for discipleship are life on life, life in community, and life on mission. In and through these environments, the goal is to grow in our understanding of who we are in Christ. It’s out of this core identity that we do everything that we do. Because this is so important, everyone at Soma learns that they’re part of the Father’s family, servants of Christ, and missionaries filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In order to make mission normal and live everyday life with gospel intentionality, Vanderstelt and the leaders at Soma asked the question, “What are the everyday rhythms of life that everybody engages in everywhere?” With that list of rhythms, they then seek ways to train their people to engage in those rhythms, in light of the gospel, with the purpose of making disciples. They narrow those rhythms down to: eat, listen, story, bless, celebrate, and recreate.
I recommend church planters use this book to train their small-group coaches and leaders. Saturate provide a framework to help your group leaders deeply understand the gospel so that they’ll be fully saturated with Jesus. Group leaders will learn how to normalize mission for their group, taking it out of the “weird” category, integrating it into the rhythms of their group and the rhythms of their group members’ lives. Vanderstelt provides a roadmap to do this. Instead of starting with mission, the first step is to start with the gospel and help your group members understand who they are in Christ (their identity). By starting with the gospel, we’ll develop the right foundation, which will be a springboard for everything else.
Van de Poll, Evert & Joanne Appleton. 2015. Church Planting in Europe: Connecting
to Society, Learning from Experience. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.
A much-needed book on church planting in Europe which gives one the challenge and contexts for starting new churches on the continent. A valuable aspect of this particular book is that it came from a symposium conducted in Belgium in July 2014, entitled “Mission in Europe: Developing New and Existing Churches Connected to Society” (ix). This symposium led to what was called “discussion highlights” where feedback was given by the participants. This book shares the various reactions of church planters to the ideas and practices of other church planters in Europe. In the introduction, Van de Poll comments on the different types of church planting and points out that pioneer planting is necessary among some “unreached” peoples in Europe and is called “replacement planting” (3). Unfortunately this has become an increasing necessity in Europe. The reality is that in some European countries where the growth of evangelicals is almost negligible, church planting or, in some cases, church renewal is the only way to truly evangelize effectively.
In Part I, three different authors deal with: the biblical criteria for church planting, the importance of prayer in church planting, and the need to create a church planting movement. Dietrich Schindler, the author of the 3rd chapter, builds church multiplication upon eight qualities of Christ which produce healthy multiplying churches. In Part II, entitled “Church in Europe,” eight chapters are given over to the questions of cultural relevance, context analysis, signs of hope, the role of Christianity, barriers and bridges for the Gospel, the kind of church needed for postmodern Europeans, multiculturalism, and church planting among Muslims. These various questions will be of help to those seeking to understand how best to plant relevant and healthy churches in Europe. Church planters in other contexts and other parts of the world should be able to learn from the questions asked, the discussion, and the possible solutions.
In Part III, the main focuses changes to church planters themselves. Four chapters in this section focus on:
- Missional Spirituality and Taking New Initiatives in Church Development
- How Can We Measure the Effectiveness of Church Planting?
- Creative Church Planting Involving Lay People
- Workable Ways to Start Healthy, Reproducing Churches.
These chapters deal with issues sometimes neglected in church planting studies. The chapter seeking to understand how to measure the effectiveness of church planting will be important to mission leaders as well as church planters. In Part IV, three case studies are given for Belgium, Spain, and the Balkans. Church planters and missions working in these three areas could be helped in their ministry and how others relate to them. This book will be an invaluable resource for those working in Europe as well as to those considering church planting in Europe.
Wagner, C. Peter. Church Planting For a Greater Harvest. Ventura: Regal Books, 1990.
Wagner’s book is an early advocacy book used to stir up interest in many denominational circles. It is an excellent resource for the person seeking to convince a church or denominational leader why church planting is important. It has limited methodology, but contains a good amount of denominational research.
Watson, David L & Paul D. Watson. Contagious Disciple-Making. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2014
A number of books on discipleship have been published in recent years but this is one is of particular interest to planters. It deals with what the authors call a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) created and multiplying. It then sees that DMM becoming a “Church-Planting Movement” (CPM) with a result that instead of just planting worship services new disciple-oriented churches are planted that multiply.
The book is in two parts. Part one, “The Mind Set of a Disciple-Maker,” explains nine qualities of a person who makes disciples that multiply. Each of the qualities is described in nine chapters. The first chapter starts off with “Disciple-Makers Embrace Lessons Taught by Failure” to the last chapter –“Disciple-Makers Understand the Importance of the Priesthood of the Believer.” In Part two, “Practices of a Disciple-Maker” the authors explain nine ways true disciple-making works out in concrete situations. Each of these chapters need reflection and application. The discussion on distinguishing between strategy and tactics (59-63) is very helpful in order to see true disciple-making becoming effective in all contexts. The questions on page 61 give tactical elements to fill out the strategy. This section can make a difference in your own approach to seeing a true disciple-making movement take place. All those concerned about seeing leaders develop in a disciple-making movement will want to take a look at way the two authors view this in “The Long Tail of Leadership” which is a part of chapter 17. Their understanding of “silos” gives a clearer view of establishing churches of disciples rather than just gathering people together for worship. If you are truly interested in seeing disciples made and multiplying, this book is for you.
One caution is their use of the word “doctrine” which could be misunderstood. They obviously mean this word to imply “indoctrination” into one way of thinking that is not necessarily biblical teaching. There should be no objection to “doctrine” understood as biblical doctrine since Acts 2:42 states that new disciples are devoted to “the apostles’ doctrine” (in Greek the word didachê can mean “what is taught” or “doctrine.”)
Wilson, Todd and Dave Ferguson. Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church Field Guide. Exponenetial.org, 2015.
Woodberry, J. Dudley. Editor. Reaching the Resistant: Barriers and Bridges for
Mission. Pasadena, CA: William Carey, 1998.
A composite study by some fourteen mission scholars writing on the issues involved in, as the title states, “Reaching the Resistant.” The book has four parts: 1) “Foundational Issues: Reflecting on the Barriers; 2) “Case Studies: Encountering the Barriers; 3) “Means of Overcoming: Finding and Building Bridges,” and 4) “Preparing for the Future: Planning Bridges.” Questions, assumptions, and theological issues are deal with in the first part and four groups showing resistance to the gospel are dealt with in the second part: Jewish, Muslim, Japanese, and Post-Christendom groups. Part three gives us four means of overcoming resistance and part four deals with two areas: equipping for resistance and planning globally. A seminal book on a neglected area that church planters need to think through. I would encourage church planting teams working in resistant areas to read through this book and begin to see how bridges might be built to the resistant by God’s grace/ working.
Woodford, Brian. 2007. Master Plan: Biblical Foundations for Living Churches.
Taupiri, New Zealand: Eastwest College of Intercultural Studies.
Here is an experienced church planter who worked among an unreached people group and now works to help other church planters. He states his concern in the introduction, “Although we have had many books about church planting strategies, I and many of my fellow church planters struggled with knowing exactly what it is we are trying to plant. When all the cultural specifics are stripped away, what are the universals of the church? That is what this book seeks to answer.” (p. xiii). So if you are looking for a model for a church plant, Woodford gives you an image of “A Five-Room Model of the Church.” He has the following rooms: Family, Household, Worship, Message, and Service. After introducing the model he deals with each one of these rooms in a chapter giving principles for each room with a resume at the end of each chapter. If you are looking for a more clear foundation for biblical church-planting, here is the book. Mike Barnett, Professor of Missionary Church Planting at Columbia International University recommends this book stating “Woodford answers the most vital strategic question of church planting teams—what are the essentials of church?”
Wright, Christopher J. H. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative.
The Mission of God is a magnum opus describing the mission of God. If you want to make sure that the church you’re leading is rooted in solid missiology, then you need to read this book. Wright will help you ask the right questions in regards to your church. So when you are examining new methods to engage people in your community, the question is not about whether these things will fit into your church’s mission. Instead, the question is, are these things going to develop your church into the kind of church God expects for His mission.
Multicultural Church Planting Books
Cox, Michael J. and Joe Samuel Ratliff. Church Planting in the African American Community. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1993. In this valuable resource, widely regarded church planting authorities Joe Ratliff and Michael Cox ask the question, “How did we get all of these black churches in the inner city, anyway?” What they uncover is the greatest untold church planting story of the twenty-first century. The authors offer a road map for intentional church planting, navigating case study milestones that offer successful models and highlighting the dynamics that distinguish church planting in the African American community from church planting in general.
DeYmaz, Mark. Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandates, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation. Leadership Network/Jossey-Bass, 2007. DeYmaz is founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas (in Little Rock), a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church where people from thirty nations currently worship together as one. He is also co-founder of Mosaix Global Network, an org dedicated to helping leaders develop multiethnic churches. I’ve met Mark and share his passion; he is a grad of Liberty Baptist Seminary and so holds our ecclesiology. In this excellent book, he organizes his examination of multi-ethnic churches into three distinct parts. First, he develops a biblical-theological apologetic for the priority of pursuing multi-ethnicity in a church. Next, he discusses seven specific strategies that a church pursuing healthy multi-ethnicity should employ. Finally, he examines each of those seven strategies in three different contexts: new church plants, unhealthy church revitalizations, and healthy church transformations.
Mark gives three main biblical reasons for m/e churches: the prayer of Christ in John 17, the pattern at Antioch found in Acts, and the Pauline mystery from Ephesians. He knows how to exegete Scripture better than most writers on this subject, but at times, in his zeal as an advocate, does overstate the case. For example, after discussing relevant passages in Acts, he acknowledges that most would argue Acts is only descriptive. He states, “However, I do not believe this to be the case … such passages are both descriptive and indirectly prescriptive in nature” (25). Yet he fails to present evidence to prove this to my satisfaction. I might also question when he proposes that the “first love” which the Ephesians abandoned was the prior love they had for all the saints in their diverse congregation. When Jesus confronted the Ephesian church about leaving its “first love” (Rev. 2:4-5), was he really talking about their passion for multi-ethnicity (pp. 36-37)? Mark at times sees multi-ethnicity in texts that seem suspect. Despite this weakness, he builds a strong biblical case for m/e churches—one of the best, I’ve seen. The strength of grounding his discussion in these three passages is that it combines the biblical-theological themes of Christ’s high priestly prayer, a live example in the young church, and an explanation of the theological foundation for these developments. Also, by placing his theological arguments for diversity in the universal church next to a specific example of diversity in one local church, DeYmaz bridges the gap from theory to practice quite effectively.
In part 2, Mark offers wise and insightful strategies for pursuing multi-ethnicity in the church. His presupposition is that multi-ethnicity doesn’t happen by accident. He says that a church should pursue seven practical commitments:
- Embrace dependence: only God can bring the goal to fruition.
- Take intentional steps: don’t expect to stumble into multi-ethnicity.
- Empower diverse leadership: don’t establish quotas or recognize unqualified leaders, but recognize that a component of biblical qualification is a leadership team that reflects the ethnic diversity of God’s kingdom.
- Develop cross-cultural relationships: take personal steps to get outside the box of what is most natural, convenient and comfortable.
- Pursue cross-cultural competence: get to know the cultures you’re ministering to in order to make the message clear and avoid unnecessary miscommunication.
- Promote a spirit of inclusion: by surrendering personal preferences in order to serve others.
- Mobilize for impact: leverage multi-ethnicity to effect transformation both culturally and spiritually, both locally and globally.
These strategies broadly demonstrate a healthy balance between dependence on God and an awareness of the role of the church in presenting an accurate picture of the glory of God. The concluding three chapters consider multi-ethnic church plants, revitalizations, and transitioning a church from mono-cultural to multicultural. They don’t answer all the questions, but they do help the reader to apply the seven strategies from three distinct perspectives. One of the better books on this subject. Recommended.
Fong, Ken Uyeda. Pursuing the Pearl: A Comprehensive Resource for Multi-Asian Ministry. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1999. In what is probably a foundational work for future Asian-American ministry resources, Fong presents a simple and clear model of the flow of generations which calls into question prevalent models of Asian church growth, e.g., “umbrella” (multi-lingual congregations under one roof) and “parallel” (at least 2 sister congregations with separate pastors, budgets, etc.). Says Fong, “I challenge a good number of things about the typical Asian church in North America that must be changed if we are to be relevant and acculturated to Asian North Americans. I tried to make this book practical, prophetic, and easy to grasp.” Though not writing solely on church planting, anyone wanting to plant churches among Asian-Americans should work through Fong’s advice. He deal with practical information on worship, evangelism, Asian culture, reaching 2nd and 3rd generations, church growth, etc.
Francis, Hozell C. Church Planting in the African American Context. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999. One in every six churches in the United States is African-American. So, given the church’s central role in the black community, why is the number of unchurched African-Americans increasing? How can you plant a church that proclaims with power and relevance the unchanging Gospel to our changing African-American culture? An experienced church planter, Hozell Francis presents basic theory and practice for raising up a church in today’s black community. Unlike the other texts dealing with African-American church planting, Hozell actually focuses less on the mechanics of planting and more on the sociology of the African-American church (preaching, ministry, leadership, etc.). These are helpful materials, but further study of “how to” plant in the African-American context would add to the strength of the book.
Ortiz, Manuel. One New People: Models for Developing a Multiethnic Church. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996. In One New People Ortiz persuades us of the benefits in fellowship and outreach that we can experience in church planting across racial, ethnic and cultural lines. To that end, he offers a wide variety of models for creating and sustaining a multiethnic church. Church planters will appreciate his effort to help planters find the best model for their particular situation — Ortiz has questions for thought and discussion points included throughout the book. Finally, you’ll find here ideas and principles to guide you through the process of change and growth: improving communication, managing conflict, encouraging and training new leaders, and much more.
Ratliff, Joe S. and Michael J. Cox. Church Planting in the African-American Community. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1993.
Church planting is always difficult, but (according to Ratliff and Cox) it is even more so in the African-American community. In the African-American context, church planting is often perceived as an insult to the established church and its pastor. This work is intended for Southern Baptists, but is widely applicable in other situations. It provides advocacy, examples, and practical suggestions.
Contact the author of this bibliography at: email@example.com