Thinking back to my Bible college days, I don't remember hearing a whole lot about church planting. That was some fifteen years ago, but today church planting seems to be everywhere. If you search for the term "church planting" on Amazon.com, you'll end up with a list of six hundred plus books to consider. In addition to the abundance of church planting books available today, there are numerous church planting conferences, seminars and even church planting networks. It is probably an understatement to say that the church planting movement has gained some momentum since my college days. If like me, you are new to the church planting scene, you may not quite know the best place to get started. In many cases when I am looking to learn a new skill or gain some new information, I will seek out a book that promises to deliver what I need. In the case of church planting, a book that may be a useful resource to introduce you to church planting is Planting for the Gospel: A Hands-on Guide to Church Planting by Graham Beynon (Christian Focus, 2011).
Planting for the Gospel explores core issues related to planting a church. The book is divided into two sections. Section one introduces the many considerations that must be made when planting. Chapter one explores the various reasons a group might have for planting a church. Ultimately, each group striving to plant a church must answer the question, "How can we best grow both in quality of discipleship and spread of the gospel?" (p. 19). Chapter two introduces seven different models of church planting:
*Start Up Church - "This is the formation of a new church in an area 'from scratch'." (p. 21)
*Mother-Daughter - "This is where a church in one part of a town or city starts a new church relatively nearby." (p. 22)
*On-Site Plant - "One of the most common tactics when a church is growing too large for its meeting space is to have multiple services." (p. 23)
*House Church - "House churches are by their nature much smaller in size-they need to fit into someone's house!" (p. 24)
*Multi-Site Church - "A multi-site church has a number of congregations meeting in different locations but which remain united as one church structure." (p. 25)
*Network Collaboration - "Some churches are part of a network of churches across the country or in a specific city or area." (p. 25)
*Re-Start Church - "This is where a group of people move to an existing church to 're-start' or reinvigorate it." (p. 26)
Chapter three focuses on how to decide on which model will best suit your particular situation. Beynon offers a three-part formula for picking an appropriate church planting model:
1. Our beliefs about what Scripture says constitutes a church and what we think church actually is will influence the model.
2. The decided aim and purpose of the church plant will influence the model.
3. The context of the plant (geography, community, social dynamics, church planting network, etc.) will influence the model.
Chapter four expands on what was covered in chapters two and three, relating the three-part formula to the various church planting models. Chapter five looks at some of the key issues faced by the leadership of the church plant, touching briefly on forming and managing a core group, leadership and vision, constitutional issues, legal considerations, youth and children's ministry, and staffing / leadership. Chapter six brings section one to a close, outlining some of the challenges planters are likely to encounter during the early days of the new church plant.
Section two offers numerous case studies that are organized around the seven models of church planting that were introduced in chapter two. The context for the case studies is both UK and US. Of the different models represented, the breakdown of case studies is as follows:
*Start up - 8 case studies
*Mother-Daughter -7 case studies
*On-Site Plant - 2 case studies
*House Church - 2 case studies
*Multi-site Church - 1 case study
*Network Collaboration - 6 case studies
*Re-start Church - 5 case studies
The final few pages of the book offers a list of web / ministry resources and books for further reading.
While Beynon has quite a bit of experience with and is passionate about church planting, he by no means claims to be the be all, end all expert. If you are on the lookout for a detailed tome on church planting, this is not that book. However, if you are looking for a book that will give you a high-level introduction to the practical ins an outs of church planting, this is just the book you've been looking for. Planting for the Gospel will be a great help to those readers who are just getting started with or are completely new to church planting.
Graham Beynon has experience of church planting having planted the Avenue community church in Leicester. He is currently studying a PhD and acting as Course director for 'Team' (Training for East Anglia Ministry) and involved in church ministry in Cambridge. He is married to Charis and they have three children.
This book was provided by the Christian Focus Publications for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.