I used to think that it would be easier to plant a church than to deal with the traditions of an already established one. And by the time a church is five years old, she probably has some pretty firmly established traditions! So if you never want to hear things like "when I was going to Sunday School here back in the XXXX's", or "But Pastor, we've always done it this way", or "we've never done that before", or my grandmother donated that pew, how dare you let some stranger sit in it?" then you may be better off planting your own church and settling back and waiting for the traditions to take over.
Ed Stetzer has an extensive history in church-planting: studying, teaching, doing, consulting and writing about, so when he writes a book on "how to" we need to understand that he speaks with authority. IN 2006 Stetzer authored the first edition of this book, and now 10 years later, faced with changing communities, contexts and cultures, he invited Damiel Im to join with him in updating the data. Planting Missional Churches Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply ( 2nd edition, B&H Academic, 2016) is the result of their collaboration.
I frequently read with a pen. I make little notches at the beginning and end of a passage I want to be able to find again or refer back to; and then I write the page number on the inside front over. It didn't take long in this case to have a lot of page numbers written down. I stopped for a while, but kept finding those nuggets that I want to refer back to, and pretty soon the pen was busy again.
With five sections, filled with more information than I could ever hope to absorb, my brain was quickly on sensory overload. Don't get me wrong, that’s one of the reasons I liked the book, and why there are so many underlined and highlighted passages.
The sections are fairly basic 1) Foundations of Church Planting, 2) Models of Church Planting, 3) Systems for Church Planting, 4) Ministry Areas for Church Planting, and 5) Multiplication and Movements.
Stetzer and Im offer their assessments of the various models, movements, systems etc, but the primary focus is being missional: "adopting the posture of a missionary, joining Jesus on mission, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound." (P. 1) Right from the beginning the reader begins to learn what it means!
A church which is not intent on joining Jesus on mission, on responding to the plan that God has for a particular group or location tends to be more of a social entity than a theologically sound church. It's fine to be popular with the people who are already attending, but sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zones to make an impact on those whom we are trying to reach with the Good News.
Each section starts with a very brief overview. Don't forget to read them. They set the stage for what is to follow, often by providing definitions, and if you're understanding certain words in ways other than the authors intend, you may end up far out in left field.
Some of the information may be familiar, some may seem redundant, some may cause you to scratch your head, but just as there is no 'one size fits all formula' for planting, there is no 'one size fits all book'. Some people who read this book have never been involved in planting before, and they need to see the harsh realities. Others have been involved with church plants at various levels before and are looking for ways to do things better, and some have some experience but know that they lack expertise in certain areas, and they want to do the best they can to further the Kingdom.
Whatever your reason for picking up this book, you're bound to find something that will help. (I quickly realized that at this stage of my life and ministry I'm better off sticking with established churches than trying to come up with the energy for a church plant. )
I received a review copy of this book from the published in exchange for agreeing to write a review and post it on my Blog and on a retail site.