Church planting is not an easy thing to do, there’s a tonne of things to learn and to think about. Good reasons to have some good books on the subject and I’d recommend from the outset adding David Stroud’s Planting Churches, Changing Communities: A hands on guide to successful church planting.
It comes from the Newfrontiers family of churches and draws much of its material from within that network, however much of the advice would be useful or helpful no matter what your denomination or church movement.
It doesn’t particularly deal with theory or theology but very much concerns itself with the practical and personal side to church planting. What’s your vision? What qualities do you need? How do you manage your time and gather people? How do you build community and maintain momentum? What do you need to be ready to launch publicly? As a result of it being broken down into its various parts and with regular quotes and anecdotes from church planters you can motor through this book quite quickly. However if you’ve never planted a church before, you want to be making extensive notes and refer back to it regularly.
I guess I have one slight reservation, one that was flagged up by Howard Kellett not too long ago, when he said,
“In truth “you only launch once” is very much the language of the big company product launch, reaching the self focused consumer. So the more I reflect on the term the more I don’t feel comfortable with Godfirst Church Cheltenham as a Sunday morning product and even less at ease with the idea of Jesus followers as consumers.”
And there is the underlying idea that what you need to make your church fly are good musicians, good teaching, good kids work and a comfortable venue. My some what jaded reaction was ‘Perfect if you want the middle classes’. But if you’re planting into the inner city, or a rural area, or even just your average working class neighbourhood then you may not have any of those things and still be a great church.
Now I know Dave and I know he knows that. So now you know that I know that he knows or whatever. But the point is, in the book there’s this edge to consumer values that made me a bit uncomfortable and I know it’s not just me because one of the contributors to the book has said so.
None of that stops this book though from being on the shelf of every church planter and every church leader who hopes one day to help a church plant or send leaders. This is hands on, down to earth helpful stuff.