A Vision of the Possible: Pioneer Church Planting in Teams

by Daniel Sinclair

In this practical church planting guide, Daniel Sinclair draws from years of experience working as both a field director for a major missions agency, overseeing 750 field workers, and in ministry in the Middle East.

Authentic, 1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921, 2006, 294 pages, $17.99.

—Reviewed by J. D. Payne, national missionary with the North American Mission Board; assistant professor of church planting and evangelism, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; and founder of www.northamericanmissions.org.

In this practical church planting guide, Daniel Sinclair draws from years of experience working as both a field director for a major missions agency, overseeing 750 field workers, and in ministry in the Middle East. He writes from the conviction that the only thing that stands between the Church today and the end of history is “reaping a harvest among the remaining people groups for whom the gospel has not yet taken root, through establishing healthy, indigenous churches” (p. vii), with these remaining groups representing the largest blocs of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists.

This work contains chapters addressing the importance of the apostolic ministry, ecclesiology, teams, phases of pioneer church planting, language learning, residency, evangelism, discipling believers and raising up leadership, church planting movements and church planting models. Although this resource is a scholarly and well-written book, it is not so academic that only the seminarian is able to understand its contents.

Of the numerous strengths to Sinclair’s work, following are four. First, his emphasis on evangelism is to be commended. According to him, the team needs “to be evangelizing until we exit, serving as examples to the flock” (p. 68). Second, his emphasis on a team approach to church planting is excellent. Two of the chapters address the foundational principles and practical applications of working in teams. Sinclair addresses many of the matters missionaries need to consider when putting together church planting teams. Third, the work contains helpful information on the importance of language learning and practical steps to grasping the language of the people. Finally, Sinclair does a great job addressing the need and practical elements involved in rapid church multiplication.

There are at least two minor limitations to this work. First, although Sinclair has a passion for reaching Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, and makes reference to them many times throughout the book, he devotes little space to contextualization matters related to church planting among the diverse people groups making up these religious blocs. Second, although the subtitle of the work references church planting in teams, only a small amount of the work specifically addresses teams. Aside from two chapters and two appendices, teams are assumed and referenced throughout the work, but the focus is not on teams.

I recommend Sinclair’s work to those involved or interested in church planting. This work contains excellent discussion and illustrations of biblical and missiological principles. Although much of this work is written for church planting teams serving outside of North America, I believe North American missionaries have much to learn from this work.

Check these titles:
Brock, Charles. 1994. Indigenous Church Planting. Neosho, Mo.: Church Growth International.

Hesselgrave, David J. 2000. Planting Churches Cross-culturally: North America and Beyond. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

Scoggins, Dick. Building Effective Church Planting Teams. Unpublished manuscript. Available at www.dickscoggins.com


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