Planting Churches in the 21st Century: A Guide for Those Who Want Fresh Perspectives and New Ideas for Creating Congregations
by Stuart Murray
Written for present and potential church planters, this is not so much a book of new ideas but, rather a book of ideas on how to generate new ideas relevant to the church planter’s specific cultural and economic context.
Herald Press, Scottdale, PA 15683, 2010, 280 pages, $19.99.
—Reviewed by David R. Dunaetz, departments of psychology and management, Azusa-Pacific University, Azusa, California.
The title and subtitle of this book describe its contents exactly. Stuart Murray, chair of the Anabaptist Network and formerly lecturer at Spurgeon’s College in London, leads the reader beyond the church-planting rhetoric of the end of the twentieth century. Murray claims the excesses of this rhetoric, especially that leading to unrealistic goals for the year 2000, had negative effects on church-planting movements, especially those outside the U.S. He successfully responds to the critics and demonstrates that church planting is still relevant in the twenty-first century.
Written for present and potential church planters, this is not so much a book of new ideas but, rather a book of ideas on how to generate new ideas relevant to the church planter’s specific cultural and economic context. Murray’s own context is “post-Christendom Europe,” but his focus is helping church-planting leaders and teams develop appropriate and relevant new ideas within their own context.
The goal of the book (which is successfully achieved) is to provide “a framework for practitioners to think through what they are doing or planning.” The concepts in this book are perfectly applicable to both church-planting teams in formation and teams that already exist, as well as church-planting leaders who desire a new perspective.
Each of the eight chapters focuses on a different aspect of church planting, which includes the why of church planting (covering both theological and other motives), the how (examining twelve models of church planting), the where (emphasizing the need for research), the when (involving vision and coordination of effort), the what (the factors which determine the shape the new church will take), and the who (the selection and qualities required of team members and the team leader).
I strongly recommend this book, not only for use in church-planting teams, but as a textbook in church-planting courses. The questions at the end of the chapter are profound and can best be answered in a team or classroom context. Individuals looking for a cookie-cutter approach to planting churches will probably not appreciate this book. However, those who are looking for tools to think about practical and theological issues in their own church-planting context (whether it be post-Christendom Europe, a frontier mission context, or anywhere else) will greatly appreciate Murray’s contribution to this subject.
Check these titles:
Kilpin, Juliet and Stuart Murray. 2007. Church Planting in the Inner City. Cambridge, U.K.: Grove Books.
Murray, Stuart. 2001. Church Planting: Laying Foundations. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press.
________. 2004. Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World. Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster Press.
EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 4, pp. 510-511. Copyright © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.