When it comes to church planting in North America, we stand in need, not so much of a new model, but of a fresh vision altogether. For those with ears to hear, 'missional' invites a fundamental (and much needed!) reframing of theological perspectives and ministry practices that gives rise to such a vision. The diverse narratives and theological insights offered in this book are compelling resources for those who would take a missional posture toward church planting. This book will be at the top of my list to recommend to those interested in joining in on God's mission through beginning new local churches.
director, Missio Alliance
Mark Lau Branson and Nicholas Warnes have offered an invaluable gift in Starting Missional Churches. They fruitfully reframe church planting away from old expert-driven models toward the birthing of new communities joining God's life in the neighborhood. Best of all, the heart of the book is a series of first-hand stories from real planters serving in a variety of contexts. This is a hopeful and inspiring book grounded in lived practice.
-Dwight J. Zscheile,
Congregational leaders don't need to be told that the context of Christian ministry has radically changed in our lifetime, nor that, for many of us, these changes continue at a dizzying pace. The contributors to this book are neck deep in these realities, so they're well-positioned to invite us into an important conversation about what it means to be the church in mission today. We would be suspicious if a book like this offered easy answers, but we have much to learn from these stories about hearing the voice of the Spirit in our local contexts as we envision and cultivate missional churches.
-Joel B. Green,
Fuller Theological Seminary
Two of the most significant developments in twenty-first-century American evangelicalism are the missional church movement and the church planting movement. However, these two movements have not always produced the most robust, ecclesial works that reflect the great cultural diversity and innovative ministry necessary for the changing face of American Christianity in the twenty-first century. Starting Missional Churches is the necessary corrective step towards an ecclesial engagement as well as a relevant embodied practical theology. This book may prove to be the essential starter text for those engaged in both the missional and church planting movements.
The essays in this volume rescue the phrase 'missional church' from the kind of indiscriminate use that threatens to make it little more than a slogan or cliche. The editors do not give us a one-size-fits-all strategy for church planting but offer instead a series of accounts about the ways a group of local congregations, as they thought about the ways they would organize their life together and ministries, sought above all to be attentive to ways the Spirit is at work in our rapidly changing world. The result is a book that stimulates the imagination for responding to the unique circumstances of our communities with the good news of Christ.
Nick Warnes is a passionate church planter who reflects well. Mark Lau Branson is an excellent thought leader who has planted and participated in daring missional communities. The two of them have come together with several other engaged missional thinkers and practicing planters to offer compelling stories that will inspire missional leaders to renew local missional communities. Stories (re)create worlds, and this volume is in the business of renewing leaders and communities to shape our local neighborhoods (our worlds) for the gospel.
-Kyle J. A. Small,
Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan
If the Western church is going to do more than survive, at some level she will have to accept the critique and theology that was first espoused by Lesslie Newbigin in the 1970s. This very creative volume does just this. A must for would-be church planters and for pastors who want to avoid both cultural drift and Christendom shackles. Lau Branson and Warnes have pulled together a community of church planting practitioners who are reflecting on church planting with theological integrity, cultural awareness and missional conviction. A must read for church leaders in North America. One of the classic lines of this important volume is Lau Branson reflecting on the nature of any church: 'Newbigin would have us become aware, be participants, while also being people of a counternarrative.' This creative volume will help people 'become aware' as they plant churches that embrace local contexts while living a 'counternarrative.' This is a practical volume with theological integrity.
-Scott W. Sunquist,
Fuller Theological Seminary