Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century – Book Review
Stetzer’s book Planting Missional christian mysticism is a very practical and well-researched book on the topic of church planting. Stetzer begin his book by giving five aspects of church planting: missional, incannational, theological, ecclesiological, and spiritual. His Major concerned in his book is to give church planters the necessary tools to understand and become missional. The author believes that a way to fix the problem of the North American church is to be involve in planting new churches.
The author emphasizes that North America has become a mission field, and the most effective method to work that field is doing church planting. He believes that every book on church planting must be about missions. The theology that does not come with a mission can not be a complete theology. There is a need for new churches that are fresh expressions of the unchanging gospel and new missional contextualized churches in every setting across the world, it is trough the work of planting new churches that God’s work can be fulfilled.
The author also gives a biblical basis for church planting, four commissions of Jesus, by the Apostle Paul, in the book of Acts. Along with that, the author brings three models of church plants and church planters: the apostolic harvest church planter, the founding pastor, and also team planting churches. He gives the principles, along with biblical examples, and contemporary examples are given as models for each of the above methods. The author also gives some detailed definitions of what the qualifications of a church planter are and the assessment that defined those qualifications (Ridley Assessment).
The author also focuses on structures, pointing out that purpose shapes ecclesiology along with the significance of leadership in the churches. He addresses four subjects that are exclusive to church planting leadership: prayer life, daily routine, the challenge of cultural adjustment, and the importance of coaching/mentoring. Leadership must be developed if success is anticipated; investment on leadership is a must. Stetzer talks about seven key leadership teams or core groups that are needed before starting a church plant.
The church planters need to be intentional on evangelistic efforts. Evangelism is emerging in this post-modern culture and many evangelical churches are recognizing it. There are challenges and benefits that come along when developing a launch team to plant a church. It is impossible to start a church without evangelistic effort and a good launch team available, which identified with the church planter who shares some of the same aims. He also examines some of the ways to launching the first big meeting of the church and the require preparation for the meeting. He gives some of the worship styles and stresses the importance of biblically sound worship program.
Preaching is also a very important part of church planting. There is a challenge as church planter preaches to a diverse congregation while planting a church. He gives some of the various style of preaching with the emphasis on transformation and not just information. Spiritual growth also should be kept in the mind as church plant occurs; this is a journey with a destination to be achieved. He also speaks about children’s ministry and the challenges that come with it. There is to be sensitivity to both children as well as parents. The church plant should have a vision when establishing new churches, being a church is not the final goal. He gives the foundation to establishing new churches, the biblical, theological, and spiritual foundation. The author’s final words are that: “As we join God in this task, we become missional-on mission with God to see his kingdom expanded” (p. 332).
In his own words: “This book is writing to inform, to clarify, to encourage, and to persuade evangelicals to embrace church planting” (p. 14). The book is very informative, very detailed, and contains some historical information on the subject of church planting. Stetzer’s method is very persuasive, his concept are clears and to the point. His book is very easy to read and up to date in the subject of church planting and missiology. The author’s heart is on this for the good of the church he loves, cares, and works for. His desires are not only to inform but to transform the way things are going declining churches are everywhere, and unless something is done the future seem very gloom.