by Patrick O’Connor
If you want your thinking about the training of church planters to be stimulated and challenged, here is the book for you.
William Carey Library, P.O. Box 40129, Pasadena, CA 91114, 2006, 343 pages, $19.99.
—Reviewed by Robert J. Vajko, international church planting consultant, The Evangelical Alliance Mission
If you want your thinking about the training of church planters to be stimulated and challenged, here is the book for you. However, if you are hesitant to think outside the traditional church planting box, you will not find Patrick O’Connor’s book helpful. This is particularly true of the fourteen “Myths and Facts about Church and Cell Group Reproduction.”
The ideas in Reproducible Pastoral Training are not unknown by those who have read George Patterson. Nevertheless, O’Connor’s distillation of his ideas into five phases with sixty-eight guidelines provides a sequential approach that helps you apply the material. Five chapters deal with the gathering of new churches, developing their health, seeing these new churches multiply, training leaders as Christ did and then passing on “a light baton.”
O’Connor understands the importance of what Patterson calls “obedience-oriented teaching.” Refreshingly, the author does not propose a rigid plan. Under guideline one, “Permit the setting to shape your methods,” he affirms, “Building congregations that reproduce within a culture is a dynamic process with unpredictable factors, including the mystical work of the Holy Spirit. No single working formula fits all field conditions.” O’Connor’s guidelines will need to be worked out within your context. One senses in this book the influence on pastoral training in the context of Honduras and its receptivity to the gospel.
I wish I had had material like this in my hands before starting church planting. I probably could have done a better job in developing national church planters and have seen more multiplication of churches than I did. Individuals working in formal training would do well to work through the section entitled “Mentoring New Shepherds Compared with Classroom Instruction.” If your church planting is bogged down, you will find help in guideline fifty-one, which deals with “shepherds and missions with outdated policies that hinder flocks multiplying.” O’Connor suggests applying “God’s oil to rusty organization,” including a checklist and a discussion of “Nine Freedoms Common to Church Planting Movements.” Anyone working in church planting and multiplication should find this book a good read.
Check these titles:
Ferris, Robert W. 1990. Renewal in Theological Education: Strategies for Change. Wheaton, Ill.: Evangelism and Missions Information Service.
Mulholland, Kenneth B. 1976. Adventures in Training the Ministry: A Honduran Case Study in Theological Education by Extension. Nutley, N.J.: P & R Publishing.
Patterson, George and Richard Scoggins. 2002. Church Multiplication Guide: The Miracle of Church Reproduction. Revised. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Press.
Smallman, William H. 2001. Able to Teach Others Also: Nationalizing Global Ministry Training. Pasadena, Calif.: Mandate Press.
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