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The Reformed Reader
5 Stars Out Of 5
One of the best, if not the Best book on Planting
May 11, 2011
The Reformed Reader
Daniel Hyde and Shane Lems' Planting, Watering, and Growing takes the reader through the beginning stages of church planting to important aspect for maintaining a healthy plant. The book begins with Michael Horton making a solid argument for how the reformation was mission-minded. Horton explains how several missiologists argue that the reformation was devoted to theology and not to the missions/church planting. Horton demonstrates how the church is in need of looking to the reformers as examples of mission/church planting should be done. Hyde and Lems explain that the church and church planting currently devote themselves to being culturally relevant. There are seeker-sensitive churches, cowboy churches, emergent churches, emerging churches all filled with blue-tooth wireless headsets and bar stools instead of pews. One does not have to drive very far down the street to find a church that fits his niche. In the midst of all this Hyde and Lems call pastors to be faithful to preaching the gospel. The book is divided into four parts: Foundations of Church Planting, Methods of Church planting, Work of Planting Churches, and the Context of Church Planting.
The foundation of planting churches begins by giving a theology for missions and church planting. Too many Church Planting books begin and end with practicology divorced from scripture and theology. Part one of the book explains why church should plan towards the future plant. Part I also discusses how planting is a work of the Holy Spirit through local churches. In an age filled with people who believe that Christianity is all about me and Jesus, part one demonstrates how this individualism is antithetical to Christianity. Church Planting is the means by which the mission of the church, reaching the nations for the glory of Christ is accomplished. Part II of the book addresses where to begin if one is considering planting. Church Planting arises out of a people in need for a solid biblical church. Often times, people will move to an area due to a job and find out that there are no reformed churches in this area. In this common situation there are two options: either planting a church or moving to another area. The authors encourage those who may be in an area where there are no reformed churches that if possible move to an area where there are reformed churches. This concept may seem strange to some people, but we often move because of jobs, family, and ect. Why would the church we attend be any less an important reason to move? If church planting is an option the authors give a great deal of helpful advice for beginning a plant. Once one has determined to plant a church, he should establish a core group of families to meet and plan the plant with. Part II of the book gives a great deal of practical advice on preparation for the plant. For those who are considering planting or are already planting I would highly encourage you to buy the book just for part II of the book. Part II of the book gives great advice for shepherding even for those who are not planting. Part III then establishes what the service and the life of the church planting team should look like. Part III gives a theology for the life of the church and advice on how to shepherd your congregation to maturity. Part III discusses issues such as hospitality, be a welcoming church, and being culturally sensitive to the areas which you may be planting in. Part III would be extremely helpful even for pastors of established churches and not just church plants. Part IV discusses the difficulty of planting a church in a post modern, moralistic, therapeutic society. Part IV warns of the importance of not gearing our churches towards unbelievers (e.g. Willow Creek Community Church). Part IV also has a helpful section on different ways to present the gospel in different contexts (e.g. direct, indirect, family evangelism, ect). In this section the authors provide practical ways to share the gospel with your community (e.g. free breakfast, giving away books, library at your church, a hand written letter, ect).
I would highly recommend the book to anyone considering church planting or even to the seasoned pastor of an established church. The book is filled for incredible practical advice for church plants. The book also is filled with great citations. What I mean by that is that there are not any church planting books, that I know of, who quote Bavinck, Kuyper, and Van Til. Generally those names are not associated with good church planting books, but I have found that they truly are. This is book is certain to go down with the great titles in church planting (e.g. Keller's Church Planting Manuel, Patrick's Church Planter, Stetzer Planting Missional Church, ect). Just to re-iterate this book is amazing and I think it would be a great addition to any pastor's library.