PLANTINGMISSIONAL CHURCHES: A BOOK REVIEW
Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer is a manual for a biblicalway of growing churches while considering faith as a primaryrequirement whereas relevantly merging various cultures. As the titleof the book signifies, it concentrates on methods of establishingchurch planting. Three chapters categorize the book in an organizedmanner. The first section provides background information regardingchurch planting. The second chapter discusses the “who” and “how”of church planting while the third section explains the process. Itprovides practical guidance for the operations undertaken throughtaking a mission in the existing culture along with issues thataffect the conduction. The entire book reworks on the purpose,concept and objectives of planting a church. The work is leadinginfluence on the purpose of church planting in both North America andthe world as a whole. The author`s main messages revolve around themissionary approach, theological considerations and upholding Christsymbol during church planting.
The opening chapter of the book dominates on church planting as themost significant action for planters. Stetzer majorly assumes themissionary stand in which Jesus is sent to seek and save the lost. Heopenly illustrates that the North American churches are declining andmentions about the growing lines of the non-Christian Americans. Heestablishes that a mission implies acting to the opposite side ofthis growing trend. This response means planting new churches as thesolution to the increasing non-Christian Americans as he terms itboth the biblical comeback to the church’s “decline” and the“most effective means of evangelism”.1Focusing on the bringing non-Christians to the church is the mostimportant part of the church planting.
Stetzer then moves on with the same argument in chapter two to remindpeople that the church is the direct link to God and the mission Deiinstrument. This part dedicates to re-build up the task mind that isthe core way to planting more churches. The author proceeds toanother chapter connecting the mission’s significance and thechurch planting as the logical way of fulfilling it. Again, Stetzerbrings out elements of Jesus instructions on a mission. The first oneis going into the earth to search for the lost. The second element isto make disciples with all the nations where the author meanstargeting on evangelizing every person. The third aspect is to preachforgiveness and repentance while the fourth one is to extend the taskacross all nations and overseas.
The author’s second most important message centers on theimportance of considering theology in church planting. According toStetzer, theology is simply the declaration of the Holy Bibles truth.The commitment to the Bibles loyalty will not change the undertakingsof church planting as it is supposed to remain the same throughoutdifferent cultures of the world.2Stetzer requirements for church formation include covenant communitywith exclusive and inclusive boundaries, regular physical meetings orfellowships, biblical leadership as outlined in the New Testament,celebrating ordinances of baptism and communion and preaching theword of God. Church planters need to approach the church plantingactivity in a spiritual manner with inventiveness, charisma ordiscipline and not out of a small business mind. He urges that prayershould be the first activity because it is essential to encounterpersonally with God before passing to transformation. Prayers are notonly guidance but also a means of finding peace and the strengthrequired to accomplish the church planting work successfully.
Stetzer third theme is Christ incarnation during church planting. Hepresents one of his main arguments that the church planting needsincarnation. He argues that churches need to take unique chances tocombat the tradition shaped expectations of the modern community sothat to attract them to the house of God. The author is of theopinion that establishing new churches represents new gestures thatthe gospel is unchanging, and the mission sets out to reach all thepeople of the world. He asserts the need for considering thedifferences in culture and ethnicity during the church planting as inthe heart language of the population of North America. Churchplanting would need a culture-friendly approach especially with therejection of negative aspects of beliefs, which he considers“antithetical to the gospel”.3He also recommends some strategies for accomplishing thepost-modernity in the process including engagement and leading bytransparency in a team. He urges that planters should realize theirsymbol of Christ to lead the mission in their regions and beyond.4Stetzer empathizes on constructing relationships among congregantsother than recruiting members for launching.
Stetzer succeeds dealing with the main agenda of the book that ischurch planting, and that entails it. He uses his personal andbiblical insights to make several remarkable contributions thatinstantly assist any perspective or church planter finds an actualmission to the ministry. His extensive experience in church plantingand mission-based research significantly contribute to this churchplanting manual. The author tackles the fundamental issues requiredfor church planting. By explaining to detail and in a procedural wayabout church planting being a mission factoring theology andembodiment of Christ, Stetzer manage to drive the main points of thiscontext.
First, there is a simple understanding of the issues covered thatprovides the reader with a good sense of conducting church plantingdespite personal opinion on the recommendations. He uses practicalsuggestions and methods for all stages of church planting. Secondly,the authors work balances in the presentation because of theextensive application of other authors work. For instance, he drawssome of the influential texts from George Barna, Alan Hirsch, andFrost to move away from the Constantine church model. Thirdly, heapplies more than one approach from his surveys of the best practicesthereby including diversification of ideas. He can weave together abroad spectrum of church planting in an informative way through theapplication of numerous suggestions and illustrations for eachplanting process phase.
However, the author fails to address the measurable quantity forchurch planting models. He refuses to step out of his understandingof the mission task to as to expand it. Stetzer mentions that hisrole is to find out if certain models are working efficiently inregards to culture. For instance, the Koinos church house models havenot broken through culture as compared to other models.5For him, saving the lost attributes to the effectiveness or successof the models prompting for numerical outcome evaluations as ameasure of church planting. Stetzer relies on the number churchattendance and of baptisms of measure church plant feasibility, ashas been the case with his study on North American Mission Board. Theproblem is that this result-based strategy does not completelyreflect faithfulness of the ministry. This scheme raises the questionas to whether the results would still illustrate incarnation to thepattern of Christ. It could be debatable whether the number ofbaptisms and church attendance are essential measures of faithfulnessto the missionary efforts.
The book adds to my knowledgeable area the purpose of church plantingis to persuade, to inform, to encourage and to clarify evangelicalsto embrace the Gospel and to pass it to others beyond. The text hasadded to my understanding of the theology details and the newcultural dynamics behind church planting. Moreover, it has widened myperception of constructing a core team and how to work efficientlywith it. The book highlights the significance of focusing onmission-based approach rather than the modern ways because this planserves a broader population. I have added new meaning to theMissional as seeking to understand, learn and adapt to the nativeculture towards spreading the gospel in a biblical way. The exposuresto careful program explanations and systems of the church plantingmodels fill the gap between my understanding of the church plantingprocesses and ministry.
The three basic requirements for church planting apply to lead anattractive Missional Church. First, the preaching concept perfectlyapplies to my ministry as the center of Bible exposition. Preachingis the primary way to spread the gospel, the word of God, and toinspire faith among the non-Christians. Passing the message of Christis a mission in itself towards reaching more and more of the“unchurched”. Secondly, biblical leadership is another applicableconcept to my ministry as it affects the plurality of church elders.Paying attention and concentrating on the Bible while purposing toplanting churches offers assists to stay in line with Christianitypractices. The Bible itself is a manual for various Christian lifeactivities. Leading from biblical concepts preserves and nourishesthe faithfulness required to plant more churches. In addition, I findculture streaming worthy an application to the ministry. DanielMontgomery, Mark Driscoll, and Darrin Patrick began their churches bysimply understanding the cultures of the urban center before drawinga handful of congregants. Stetzer characterizes cultural liberty in aconservative theological manner that I bring to effect as the bestway of church planting.
This work adds to the culturally relevant methodologies needed tosolidify theology. Stetzer highlights on the necessity for positiveacculturation as core intention for church planting. The grantedfunctional advice in this book is another contribution to the dynamicfield of church planting. Advancing the church and expanding thekingdom comes through winning new converts. The concept that everychurch should praise God, nourish believers and win the world forChrist would need consideration of categorization among the variousdenominations. While Stetzer relates the success to baptism andchurch attendance numbers, more study would be necessary to accessthe evaluation of adherence to faith as the basic way of staying intrue Christian mission.
I recommend this book to aspiring church planters who have not yetother related books. Stetzer book is a good start for their discoveryjourney to how the church can effectively grow to other cities andregions. Church librarians might find it wise to keep a copy of thisbook. Correspondingly, the book is beneficial to those who plan tostart churches. It leads one to the discovery of a variety of ways toconduct church planting following a particular brand and otherdefinitive models. The more one continues reading the more prayerfulone turns to determine the most suitable context for the applicationin their ministries.
Stetzer,Ed. Planting missional churches. B&H PublishingGroup, 2006.
11. Stetzer, Ed. Planting Missional Churches. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman, 2006, 14.
22. Ibid, 116
33. Ibid, 126
44. Ibid, 161