This book does an excellent job of clarifying, a mans heart for the mission of church planting. The theology was sound, and principles very applicable.
If you are considering a church plant, I would highly encourage you to read this book, and examine yourself in the light of the call you are seeking. This book has meat, and substance in a short read, and doesn't dance around the real issues of launching a church.
I have found this book to be an excellent source for anyone considering church planting. Actually, I think it is a must-read for church planters. Darrin Patrick's research, as well as, his personal experience with this subject has made him very qualified to write such an important ministry tool.
I'm not a church planter. I wanted to be, but as it turns out, it isn't what God has called me to doâ€”at least not right now. After I found out about Darrin Patrick's book, Church Planter, I wanted to give it a read even though I'm not planting a church. (One small caveat: I've been a part of two Acts 29 Network Churches and believe that church planting is thoroughly biblical and really exciting.) I had high expectations for this book and Patrick did not fail me. In fact, he exceeded my expectations and I'm glad he wrote this book. It is needed for reasons I will mention below.
The book is divided into three sections: 1) The Man, 2) The Message, 3) The Mission. Each of these sections are creatively broken down into sub-chapters and each topic very well covered. One of my first reactions to the book was the amazing artwork on the cover: VERY cool. My second observation was the plethora of footnotes throughout. I absolutely LOVE footnotes. You can never have enough footnotes_
One of my favorite things about this book is the concise yet thoroughness of the topic at hand. Patrick digs deep into theology and practice while weaving in anecdotal stories and lessons he's learned throughout the years. The book covers a lot of deep topics and Patrick does well by not getting too bogged down in the details while still touching on the many issues therein. Concise yet informative = huge win.
The issues discussed are very timely, too. There has no doubt been a wave of church planting efforts here in the U.S., and there is a strong need for clarity. It is important to be on the â€˜right' mission with the â€˜right' message and a â€˜right' man leading the charge. Patrick clarifies what this means. He's thoroughly biblical, passionate about culture, and excited about the future of God's people. These elements are crucial if a church planter is going to do what God has called him to do.
Another thing I appreciated about Patrick's book is his wisdom, humility, and reliance on Jesus. It bleeds through each and every page. The man is humble and honest about his mistakes while also being willing to demand that others do not make those same mistakes. (This is wisdom).
Last, I do not believe this book is strictly for church planters/planting. While this is Patrick's focus (because this is what he does), every pastor could benefit from reading this book. Even if you are a pastor in a church and have been for 30+ years, you will glean a lot from Patrick's work.
P.S. - The first paragraph on page 237 is a series of questions. Read this a few times over again. It sums up the book and will challenge you. Pray, and then get to work.
Darrin Patrick draws his knowledge from 20 years of experience in ministry. He has walked the church planting road as founding pastor of the Journey Church in St. Louis and has the qualifications to speak on areas that make or break church planters and church plants as the vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. He makes no apology for the title of the book ruling out Â½ of the population by gender and quickly reduces the number left due to a lack of maturity required to be considered a man apart from his gender. After establishing the fact that more than anatomy is needed in order for a man to be considered to lead the Lord's church in our day, he dedicates the first 1/3 of the book to the biblical qualities needed. He begins by examining the spiritual condition of the man in question and progresses all the way through to the man's determination to persevere in ministry no matter what the price. Quitting is not an option. Further, the man must possess a clear call into the ministry, be dependent wholly upon the Holy Spirit, possess the correct skillsâ€”gifted by the Holy Spiritâ€”to plant/pastor a church, and be willing to lay down his life to protect the sheep that Jesus has placed in their care. While these qualities seem obvious on the surface, Patrick delves into each area in a manner that will convict even the most tenured pastors by holding up a mirror that reveals to them how they look to God in each area. Only the people with the most hardened hearts will not be convicted. The one additional area that probably should have been addressed is where the man fits in demographically (urban, suburban, rural, etc.) to ensure a good fit in the area where he is planting, or pasturing, a church.
After covering the man in question from every possible angle, Darrin moves onto to examining the message that the man proclaims to the world. This may seem like a no-brainer but many people do not even give the message a fraction of the time that they give the marketing strategy. This creates a problem when tens of thousands of dollars are raised and spent, the crowd arrives to see what the hype is about, and then they do not even get a chance to hear the gospel. People do not need another hip self-help club to attend once a week, they need a savior and Darrin Patrick makes no apologies for this fact. He covers the message from every conceivable angle beginning with the historical reliability of what we believe, the salvation accomplishing power which must always remain centered on Jesus Christ. A message properly expounded will expose sin in the hearer's lives and shatter the idols that they have elevated into God's rightful place. He anticipates the fact that many people will question the truthfulness, effectiveness, sufficiency and authority of the message we preach and he addresses the objections with sound biblical support. He handles the message with reverence to the object of the message and necessity of proclaiming the message truthfully and fully. This section will cause even the long-term preachers to step back and examine the message they have been proclaiming to assure that every time they step in the pulpit they are lifting up Jesus and not themselves or their agenda.
If you build it they will come may work in theory, but it makes little sense to build anything without an intended purpose. Darrin Patrick tackles the church's mission in a manner that challenges the traditional idea of what it means to "do" church. This section is right on time, given the ease in which one can forget the big picture once they get into the heat of battle. Everyone must know what they are doing for God and keep that in focus. Further, if the church is to be a biblical church, it needs to follow the biblical mandate for why a church even exists in the first place. Just calling itself a church is not enough as Patrick reveals through the final section of the book. He asserts that the heart of mission is compassion in reaching a lost world, and addresses the biblical teaching answering the questions, what is the church and what does it look like? He covers the manner in which we can contextualize the gospel for people to understand it and gives a charge to care for the city in order to win the right to have an audience. The ultimate goal, he concludes, is city transformation whereby the city would weep if the church were no longer present. This is a radical concept in an age where many churches have turned so inward that they exist to serve and entertain the current members at the expense and exclusion of those outside the fellowship. This final section will challenge any pastor or leader to examine their church's activity in the world based upon what the Bible teaches it should be doing and will, if considered, bring about a radical change in our communities.
In a world overflowing with books designed to help the church planter develop their methods, and strategies, Church Planter addresses the more foundational issue of whether or not the person is even a qualified person with a biblical message and mission. I highly recommend this book to anyone considering a call to plant a church as well as established church pastors. It is time that we get back to the foundation of building God's kingdom which involves real people hearing a Christ-centered saving message from a church on mission to transform its community and this book will help all who are serious at coming alongside of God's work.