|Annotated Bibliography of Church Planting|
Readings on the Practice of Church Planting
The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community; The Posture
Written for those who are trying to nurture authentic faith communities and for those who have struggled to retain their faith, The Tangible Kingdom offers theological answers and real-life stories that demonstrate how the best ancient church practices can re-emerge in today’s culture through any church of any size. In this remarkable book, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, two missional leaders and church planters, outline an innovative model for creating thriving grass-roots faith communities. The kingdom becomes tangible at the vortex of (1) communion with God, (2) community that invites and incorporates the sojourner, and (3) mission that compassionately reflects qualities of God’s kingdom. Forces within Western culture and within the Western church, particularly consumerism, individualism, and material, distract Christians from becoming God’s missional people. This book helps Christians develop the habits and instincts of missional living!
The Tangible Kingdom Primer: an eight-week guide to incarnational
Many of us have lived so long in closed Christian community that it is hard for us to break out of the Christian bubble to live incarnationally. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay in The Tangible Kingdom Primer guide Christians to develop the habits and instincts of incarnational living. The book was written to be (1) a spiritual formation tool to prepare hearts for God’s mission and (2) a field guide for starting mission together.
Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006.
The book Simple Church guides church leaders to develop a simple process for making disciples. Forming this model is the most important task in developing a missional model for church renewal or for church planting. The book is primarily written to help church leaders renew existing churches that have cluttered and imprecise patterns of spiritual formation. The writers focus on clarity of the process, movement from one stage of another, alignment of all programs around the process, and focus of the church on the process. As church planters, we have the advantage of using this book to develop new structures instead of struggling to revamp old ones.
The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community by Randy Frazee. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2001.
Randy Frazee's The Connecting Church first provides a cultural description of suburban North America, where many of us will minister. These cultures are characterized by individualism, isolation, and consumerism. After reading this book you will realize the loneliness and brokenness of many suburbanites. Frazee then gives a preliminary biblical focus for ministering in suburban America followed by incisive sections on strategy formation. He believes that the church must “redeem” impersonal suburban communities by multiplying simple intergenerational, geographical home fellowships for the purpose of both incarnational evangelism and spiritually forming people into the image of God.
Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time by Greg Ogden. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Greg Ogden's Transforming Discipleship first describes the lack of intentional discipleship in contemporary North American churches, then explains the spiritual formation patterns of both Jesus and Paul, and concludes with patterns of disciple-making. Ogden’s equipping triads provide an important model for the grass-roots spiritual and practical training of home fellowship leaders.
Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006.
Planting Missional Churches is an instruction book for planting biblically faithful and culturally relevant churches. It addresses the "how-to" and "why" issues of church planting by providing practical guidance through all the phases of a church plant while taking a missional look at existing and emerging cultures.
More Ready Than You Realize by Brian D. McLaren. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.
Brian McLaren in More Ready Than You Realize recounts his personal and email conversations with Alice. This dialogue illustrates relevant evangelism in a Post-Modern context. Christians and searchers (and/or skeptics) travel together learning reciprocally as spiritual friends. The relationships are intensely personal, narrative, usually non-structured.
Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: 5 Views, edited by Gary McIntosh. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.
This book evaluates the assumptions and practices of the Church Growth Movement, the major paradigm for missions and church planting during the second half of the 20th century. Two chapters (Chapter 2 and 4) contrast the Church Growth and Missional perspectives of mission and church planting.
Church Planting from the Ground Up, edited by Tom Jones. Joplin, MO: College Press, 2004.
Church Planting from the Ground Up is written by church planters of a Christian church heritage. The book is exceptional as a practical manual for church planting. The emphasis, however, generally reflects a great desire to make the church grow without adequate concern for theological frameworks and spiritual formation for ministry.
Readings on the Church in Contemporary Culture
The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World, by Robert E. Webber. Baker Books, 2002.
The Younger Evangelicals provides an incisive analysis of the church in contemporary culture. Webber categorizes evangelicals as traditional (typified by Billy Graham), pragmatic (characterized by Bill Hybels and Rick Warren), and younger (as illustrated by Brian McLaren). The Younger Evangelicals reject the market driven mentality of the Pragmatic Evangelicals. They desire interactive rather than static communication, think narratively rather than propositionally, reject rational apologetics in favor of an "embodied apologetic," and are turned off by excessive materialism and value ministry among the poor. While not traditional, they recognize the value of the faith and rituals of the past. They desire a new contextualization of Christianity within a post-modern context.
The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World by Alan J. Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006.
Life On The Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community by Philip D. Kenneson. InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Kenneson is convicted that the church in the United States is seriously ill and aims to accurately and honestly provide both a diagnosis and remedy. He believes that "it is quite possible for the church to be both growing and yet not bearing the fruit of the Spirit." After describing the divine character of the nine fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23, Kenneson explains why Christians have difficulty implementing them.
"Imagining Christ's Church in the City", Monthly Missiological Reflection #33, by Gailyn Van Rheenen. www.missiology.org/mmr/mmr33.htm, 2004.
Christianity has become so mingled with Modern thought that it no longer speaks to many post-modern peoples. This article describes these syncretisms by answering the question, "What does the church look like if it truly reflects the nature of Christ?" In doing so, the article attempts to give a portrait of a missional church.
Readings on Missional Ecclesiology
Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, edited by Darrell L. Guder, ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
The church in the contemporary age has become highly commercialized. Leaders seek to meet the needs of consumers thus becoming vendors of religious goods and services. Churches of Christ have themselves increasingly opted into this pragmatic paradigm. Missional Church provides an alternative model. The church should be a distinctive community formed by the calling and sending of God and reflecting the redemptive reign of God in Christ. Missional Church provides the theological framework for the Gospel and Our Culture Network (www.gocn.org).
Storm Front: The Good News of God, by James V. Brownson, Inagrace T. Dietterich, Barry A. Harvey, and Charles C. West. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.
Storm Front contrasts contemporary life with a thorough reading of the biblical narrative. The authors help American Christians discern how our cultural location makes it difficult for us to live out the transformative message of the gospel. This book is the cultural text of the Gospel and our Culture Series.
Treasure in Jars of Clay by Barrett, Lois Y., et al. 2004. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Treasure in Jars of Clay presents eight patterns of missional faithfulness. These are discerning missional vocation, biblical formation and discipleship, taking risks as a contrast community, practices that demonstrate God's intent for the world, the public witness of worship, dependence on the Holy Spirit, pointing toward the reign of God, and missional authority. This book not only provides a framework for missional renewal of existing churches but also a framework for missional church planting for Mission Alive.
"Church Planting: A Theological Framework" (Chapter 2, pp. 66-86). In Church Planting: Laying Foundations, by Stuart Murray. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001.
"The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting," Monthly Missiological Relfection #26, by Gailyn Van Rheenen. www.missiology.org/mmr/mmr26.htm, 2002.
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N.T. Wright. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2006.
N.T. Wright's Simply Christian is to Post-Modernity what C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity is to Modernity: An explanation of Christianity to non-Christians. The book asks, "Why do we expect justice? Why do we crave spirituality? Why do we seek relationship? Why are we attracted to beauty? These are not simply perrennial questions with which all generations struggle. They are, according to Wright, echoes of the divine which take us to the heart of who God is and what he wants with us. Wright both challenges skeptics and establishes belief by walking the reader through the Christian faith step by step and question by question.
Soultalk: The Language God Longs For Us to Speak by Larry Crabb
In this extraordinary book, Larry Crabb introduces a revolutionary new way for Christians to experience God, a process he calls "soul talk," which happens when two Christians talk to each other in a way that results in their passion for God being stirred, ignited, and released. You'll learn a language that, when used, releases supernatural power that enables you to move to the deepest level of relationships with fellow Christians and with God. The culmination of a lifetime of research and writing, Soul Talk carries a vision for what the Church was created to be.
Pilgrim Heart by Darryl Tippens (Leafwood Publishers, 2006)
Living God's Love by Gary Holloway and Earl Lavender (Leafwood Publishers, 2004)
From Brian McLean: "At last: a book that brings the essential subject of spiritual formation down to earth. Clear, reverent, practical, and warm--I'll give this book to people in my church to help them get a healthy path to authentic Christian living."
From Randy Harris: "This profoundly simple book grounds the practices of spiritual maturing in a sound theology of relation in and with God. The result is not a simple formula for instant spirituality but healthy food for the soul."
Reflecting the genre of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Wright in Simply Christian describes the essence of Christianity and how it is practiced. He describes echoes of a voice that we dimly perceive but deeply long to hear inferred by the questions, “Why do we expect justice? Why do we crave spirituality? Why are we attracted to beauty? Why are relationships often so painful?” Simply Christian walks the reader through the Christian faith step by step and question by question. With simple yet exciting and accessible prose, Wright challenges skeptics by offering explanations for even the toughest doubt-filled dilemmas and provides believers with a reason for renewed faith. This book prepares the hearts and minds of church planters before the Mission Alive Theology Lab.
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