Created and Led by the Spirit: Planting Missional Congregations

by Mary Sue Dreier, editor

—Reviewed by George Beals, global impact pastor, Central Wesleyan Church, Holland, Michigan.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2140 Oak Industrial Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49505, 2013, 227 pages, $30.00.

Reviewed by George Beals, global impact pastor, Central Wesleyan Church, Holland, Michigan.

Church growth consultant George Carl has noted that planting new congregations (with a missional identity of reaching the lost) is the most effective method of evangelism in North America today. The unique paradigm is to do a missional church plant from a Spirit-led theology. This volume of essays is the fruit of the Missional Church Consultation (November 2009, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota) around this theme of planting missional congregations. The purpose of this book is to bring historical clarity, biblical and theological substance, and practical advice to this aspect of church life. The authors attempt to bring understanding to the multifaceted discussion of how new congregations come into existence through the creative work of the Spirit. The authors draw heavily on the developing body of missional church literature, as well as a diverse range of other applicable sources, case studies, and anecdotes.

The first section of three essays provides the theological framework for planting missional congregations. Miroslav Volf explains that the act of loving God and our neighbor rightly is the core theological challenge for establishing human community that flourishes. Volf, who gives enough meat to chew on for several areas of study, contextualizes church planting amidst our culture, which is dominated by the pursuit of “experiential satisfaction.” Lois Malcolm creates a Pauline theological framework for church planting.

The two essays in the second section provide stories of churches where we see the Spirit’s activity in the world through church planting. Leith Anderson traces how the Spirit led his congregation in numerous church-planting efforts and summarizes his experience into a mini-primer for planting missional congregations.

The third section of three essays discusses new missional church plants, highlighting theological reflection on emerging churches, multiculturalism, and new organizational possibilities for church planters to consider. Daniel Anderson provides a process for discerning missional identity that is usable across denominational lines. The fourth section is a sermon by Paul Chung, who orients the church-planting efforts to the heart of a God who loves a lost and dying world.

This book provides original scholarship for missional church planting, and thus contributes fresh insights to the missional church conversation, as well as to the increasing literature on church planting. Together, these essays present a diverse, but cohesive story of missional church planting in the power of the Spirit for our time. One of the ways the Spirit of God is creating a new future for Christianity in North America is through the planting of missional congregations—faith communities, created and led by the Spirit, that are intentional about participating in God’s Trinitarian mission to reach the world. The authors cover the spectrum of theology, planning, and practice of church planting that will be helpful for those planting as well as those reviving a church.

Check these titles:
Roxburgh, Alan. 2011. Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.
Woodward, J.R. 2012. Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World. Downers Grove, Ill.” InterVarsity Press.

EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 244-246. Copyright  © 2014 Billy Graham Center.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.

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