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5 Stars Out Of 5
Calling all wimps!
November 12, 2012
As a pastor, I love books that cut through the theoretical aspects of ministry and aim straight at the practical. Mike McKinley's "Church Planting is for: Wimps" is just such a work. Just before reading "Wimps" (the shortened title by which it will probably forever be known to me), I had read the theoretical treatise of Alexander Strauch entitled "Recovering Church Eldership." After having absorbed its 300 or so pages, I was left with a clear understanding of the theological evidence for advancing our church from a pastor-deacons structure into an elder-led form of government, but was left cold with practical suggestions for making that shift. By God's providence I was led next to McKinley's small volume. In a self-effacing and Christ-exalting manner, the author takes us along the journey of how the Lord used him to restore life to an all-but-dead church in the richest county of the nation. In that regard, McKinley's experience was not a "church plant," per se, but a revitalization ministry. That is not to say that prospective church planters cannot benefit from this book. They can, as can all who are called to bring the name of Christ to communities where it is absent or has been devalued. McKinley tells a story in "Wimps" that nearly every pastor who struggles to see Christ formed in his church will be able to derive benefit. As I read the account of the fractured work he had inherited, I visualized my own church--both facility and people--and, amidst both smiles and tears, I was given hope. Hope...it's what every pastor needs. If the Lord can do this for one church, I asked myself, cannot He do it another? The author is biblically truthful and brutally honest in the story he tells, and he is straightforward in admitting that no one man--no matter how strongly the sense of his call--can do it alone. God's grace--in the form of wisdom, strength, and courage--is needed, and so is the support of others who will hold us responsible and accountable. Whether it is church planting or church revitalization, the task is never an easy one. As McKinley explains, change requires patience and wisdom in knowing how and how soon to act (especially with regard to a clear understanding of church membership and its inherent responsibilities). By following the New Testament model, maintaining close relationships with others who share our vision, and focusing solely on the glory of God, messed-up people will be able by God's grace to do extraordinary things. This book is a great motivational beginning!
Based on the title alone, I am not sure I would have bought and read Church Planting is for Wimps (2010, Crossway). Wimps? Really? But I met Mike McKinley and heard him speak at a conference earlier this year. After that, I HAD to read the book!
McKinley is pastor at Guilford Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia. I previously reviewed Am I Really a Christian?
Church Planting Is for Wimps is the story of McKinley's move from being on staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church preparing to plant to taking on the role of revitalizing the existing Guilford Baptist Church.
I have only one quibble with this book, and it is admittedly a small one. The title leads to the assumption it is about church planting. The story is one of church revitalization. While there is much overlap, they are not the same. Please do not let that stop youâ€”or even slow you downâ€”from reading this book! That detail is quickly forgotten and the book is too practical not to read.
McKinley tells not only the story of his church, he does so in the context of his own story. This is not a method or plan or strategy that would work for every church planter. But with who God crafted him to be, it was a good fit. Instead of reading the book as a how-to manual, read the stories and look for the principles; they work with anyone's story.
One of the things I most appreciate about the author is his transparency. While not going into unnecessary detail, he is honest about the hardships of planting a church, especially on his marriage. I cannot speak with experience about the toll on a marriage of planting a church, but I do know that full-time ministry does bring an extra serving of stress into the relationship; and McKinley treats that honestly, pointing out that it is often our own sin that leads to that situation.
Perhaps the best chapter is the closing one. In it, McKinley made a few observations which were a real encouragement to me:
* As a general rule, pastors should stay where they are and tend the flock long-term. He quotes an unnamed older man as saying: "Young men tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in the short term and underestimate what they can accomplish in the long term."
* The obsession with church size is killing many church planters. I would add that it is having the same effect on pastors, in general. Regardless of the good ministry we do, we often struggle with disappointment over the size of our congregation. Pride on the inside and influence (books, conferences, etc.) on the outside encourage us to equate "big church" with "good pastor".
* We need to redefine extraordinary. God's extraordinary work is not necessarily big crowds, big buildings, and big budgets. It is when proud, angry, selfish people have their hearts changed by the gospel. It is when churches are selfless with their time, money, and prayers to multiply their ministry. It is when marriages are restored and when cultural prejudices give way to unity through the gospel.
If you are planting, thinking about planting, or have planted a church, you should read this book. I would encourage it for pastors for some perspective on the task at hand. If you pastor a church that is in decline or on its way out, read this book as you pray about the future of the congregation. In addition, most any believer should find it interesting. I recommend Church Planting Is for Wimps without reservation.
"How God uses messed-up people to plant ordinary churches that do extraordinary things" is the subtitle of this book and sums it up pretty well. Mike McKinley shares how God led him and his wife to a church that was in desperate need of revitalization. He shared things he learned and tries to encourage others that are being used by God in planting or revitalizing churches.
I requested to review this book because my husband is a pastor / church planter and we thought it might be a good read. First of all, if you are looking for a detailed how-to book, this is not the one we'd recommend. However, if you are looking for encouragement from someone that would understand some of the difficulties you may be facing in this type of ministry then this is a helpful book. It was very refreshing to be reminded to be faithful in the things that are most important and let God do His work. (Crossway provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair critique).
I just finished reading Mike McKinleys Church Planting Is for Wimps. In the interest of full disclosure, this book was released into the wild this year by Crossway Books and my copy is free from them.From the very start, I found Mikes writing style to be engaging and unpretentious.This is not a very Scriptural book, and I dont mean that as a slam. If you pick it up looking for a Bible-spackled manual of church revitalization you will probably be disappointed. No, let me rephrase, you will be disappointed. In a way it is like nearly every other book coming out these days about church planting, just in the sense that recounts practical ministry experiences. That said, I find Mikes emphasis very refreshing in the same vein I find Eugene Petersons pastoral theology refreshing: there need to be more voices saying that the ministry is about ordinary faithfulness to the gospel.If your perception of Dever or Capitol Hill Baptist was that they are slightly stuffy or academic, I think you will find Mikes style to be very refreshing. He is respectful without kissing up, and has some delightfully sarcastic digs. Reading his book has intrigued me and I want to look back into 9Marks and reconsider my previous exile from their website.This book is probably not for most people. If you attend a small or dying church, I think you would benefit from reading it. Mike offers realistic, gospel-oriented perspective. He mentioned several resources that I am checking into personally. As a staff pastor who moved into a revitalization work nine months ago, I have already found much of what he talks about to hit very close to home. Mike says his overarching purpose is to help people realize that faithful gospel ministry is truly extraordinary. I think he accomplishes his goal.Go to crossrooted.com for full review.