Archives For Church Matters

RATING:

What do Tim Keller, Ed Stetzer, Albert Mohler, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Larry Osborne, Dave Ferguson, and Mark Batterson have in common?  They (and many others!) wrote reviews for Darrin Patrick, Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, in his first book, Church Planter: The Man, The Message, and The MissionWhether or not I thought church planting would be in my future (which I do), the book had to be read on the basis of the wealth of reviews from respected voices!

While Church Planter is not an exhaustive resource, it serves as a fantastic guide for future and current church planters as well as those in pastoral ministry.  The book, at 238 pages strong, is a systematic introduction of sorts to church planting methodology, and more than that, the man behind the methods.  With regards to the church planting man, Patrick covers an array of topics such as what kind of man it takes to plant a church, how one should understand the call to ministry, what the primary responsibilities for a church planter are, the place and priority for giftings, and more.

Patrick’s heart for the Gospel must not be under-celebrated.  It’s so exciting to see a man speak of Jesus with joy, gratitude, reverence, and relevance without softening the message or bowing to polemics.  Patrick’s intentions are clear, “Salvation is the first and most important qualification for Christian ministry.  Without it, nothing else is possible…” (26).

I thoroughly enjoyed Patrick’s book for a number of reasons.  The strong emphasis on the man behind church planting (over 40% of the book) was refreshing, challenging, and eye-opening.  Furthermore, I loved Darrin’s approach and voice.  Darrin is a no-nonsense guy.  He’s been and is still clearly in the trenches of daily ministry.  I don’t know if I could stand to read another church planting book by a guy who hides away in the recesses of his office.  Where others would put forward theoretical CPM (church planting movement) strategies that may work, Patrick speaks openly, yet confidently about what has worked well and what really matters most.

Content-wise, I wish the value of empowering lay people was mentioned.  The book gave appropriate emphasis for the pastorate, and some for delegating as a “relief” strategy, but little vision for empowering people as a massive part of ministry.  These days, one of the larger problems church planters face is the issue of becoming the “Pastor Rock Star” (see Stetzer’s article).  The pulpit is not the place for an exegetical dunking show, as Steven Furtick says.  Now, I know the book could not be exhaustive, but I do wish something could’ve been mentioned about the nature of empowering people.  Also, while I enjoyed the story behind Mission: St. Louis, the entire chapter (Chapter 16) was inconsistent with the content of the rest of the book.  Lastly, the nearly three page discourse on Patrick’s vasectomy was also a bit unnecessary and distracting.

Overall, get it if you think you’ll be in church leadership one day.  Patrick has much you can glean from.

RECOMMENDATION:

If you’ve thought you might plant a church one day, this book will serve you well.  It’s not the be-all end-all church planting book, but it’s undoubtedly a great resource!

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A great word about Biblical norms and what’s truly “weird” from Francis Chan at Catalyst 2010:

Dave Harvey is the head of church planting and church care for Sovereign Grace Ministries and is a self-proclaimed “Reformer.”  Harvey recently released a book with Crossway entitled Rescuing Ambition aiming to clarify what it means to have Godly ambitions.  The back of the book sums it up well: “It’s time to reach further and dream bigger for the glory of God.”  Amen!

One passage from Harvey’s chapter on “Ambition’s Confidence” particularly grabbed me.  It is a challenge for the “Reformers,” but serves as a great reminder for all believers:

I believe there can be a tendency in our systematic world to allow a theological emphasis on God’s sovereinty – which is good and necessary – to wrongly mute a conscious awareness of our need to actively grow in faith.  If our understanding of doctrine creates passivity toward God’s empowering presence or cools the hot embers of our ambition, we’ve misunderstood God’s sovereignty.  When we rightly understand God’s caring control over all things, that knowledge should ignite a robust faith toward him and bold desire to act in our hearts.  We see God more clearly so our ambition can reach further (p. 85).

Buy Rescuing Ambition from WTS Books for only $7.49 (47% off retail)!

Dave Harvey recently sat down with Desiring God for a two-hour live-streaming event.  You can watch the footage here.

RATING:

Thabiti Anyabwile is a former muslim.  Now he loves Jesus.  And he’s also the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church Grand Cayman.

What more would you want from an author writing on how to lovingly engage and witness to Muslims?

Having been in several Muslim nations in the last few years, I was excited to see what Anyabwile had to say about sharing with them.  In the first few pages Anyabwile reveals that his book is not designed to be an apologetical guide, but a practical help for those wanting to understand a muslim’s values and mind-set and how to share Christ in that place.

The book is broken up into two parts: “The Gospel” and “As You Witness.”  The first section spends most of the time tracking through critical theological differences between the Christian and the muslim such as the Trinity, the Bible’s validity, and Jesus’ divinity.  Anyabwile brings life to these topics with stories of his own encounters and experiences.  I actually laughed a number of times thinking to myself, “How true that is!”  Anyabwile knows his stuff; you won’t find a muslim who won’t bring up something about the Scriptures, Jesus, or the Trinity, if not all three!  The second section focuses on things you must know for wtinessing to muslims.  I loved that he spent time talking about the necessity of being filled with the Spirit to witness here.  This is all too overlooked in books like these.  The hospitality chapter is super-helpful for those trying to lovingly engage muslims.

I especially enjoyed that at the end of each chapter, there was a “Things to Remember” list recapping the main points being communicated.  This became a great help in hammering away the heart behind what Anyabwile was saying.  I found myself underlining nearly every point in these sections.

On a funny note, Chapter 4 was not numbered in my book, but the rest were.  I’m not sure how that one slipped the system.  While the book claims to be practical rather than apologetical, it surely spends half of the book being apologetically geared.  However, Anyabwile’s unifying plea is undoubtedly clear: believe in the power of the Gospel to save (Romans 1:16). Overall, the book is concise, readable, and insightful.  With it’s focus on the Gospel and practicals on how to witness well, I think it will be helpful for reaching out to anyone, not merely muslims!

RECOMMENDATION:

I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t  buy this book.  So get it.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Publishers by request in order to review its material. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.