Today, more than ever, we have an abundance of digital resources, webinars, training videos, and templates for church planting. However, as you might already know, not all resources are created equal. (That’s why Ed Stetzer and I created and lead NewChurches.com together—an online hub for church multiplication.)
Having said that, there really is nothing that replaces a good book! I love what the great theologian J.I. Packer says about books, “Read two old books for every new one.” Or how about this quote from Francis Bacon, “Some books are to be tested, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
While less books on church planting are being published today than in years past, there is still a steady stream of new books coming out on a regular basis.
The purpose of today’s article is not to create some sort of bestseller list or rank some church planting books higher than others, but rather to give you perspective on five new and five old church planting books you should be aware of.
Five Old Church Planting Books
Moore, Ralph. How to Multiply Your Church: The Most Effective Way to Grow. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009. Ralph is the authority to write on the multiplication of churches since he’s started over 2000+ in his lifetime. No, he didn’t plant them all himself, but these are churches that have been planted from churches that have been planted from churches, etc. And all 2000+ of them originate to the ministry of this man.
Allen, Roland. Missionary Methods, St. Paul’s or Ours? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962. Though not directly related to North American church planting, this is a seminal book on missiology. Allen posits that the key to evangelizing the world is the adoption of “Paul’s strategy.” Paul relied on trained lay leadership as pastors and elders. Allen’s prescriptions can be applied to the North American scene with the development of lay church planting strategies. His focus on the Holy Spirit’s role is also key to fostering church planting movements today.
Nevius, John L. Planting and Development of Missionary Churches. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1958. Nevius is not well known in North American church planting for good reason. His influence is primarily found in Korea. However, his ideas influence North American planting. His emphasis on indigenous ministry (three-selfs) helped spark the remarkable growth of the Korean church.
Stevenson, Phil. The Ripple Church: Multiply Your Ministry by Parenting New Churches. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2004. There are few books that are focused on “churches planting churches.” Phil has provided a tool to help churches get involved—it is an advocacy book with many helpful tools. It won’t tell you how to plant, but it will help you gather some partner churches on the journey.
Schaller, Lyle E. Forty-Four Questions for Church Planters. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1991. In Schaller’s typical 44 question format, he addresses many surprisingly contemporary issues, for the time, related to church planting. Unlike many how-to books, Schaller uses his question format to explore in-depth the background of many issues.
Five New Church Planting Books
Christopherson, Jeff, and Mac Lake. Kingdom First: Starting Churches that Shape Movements. Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2015. While the book is sectioned out like a nuts and bolts church planting book, the one theme that is constant throughout is the kingdom of God. So in every aspect of church planting, starting with the character of the planter, the context of the church, the way that communication is done, teamwork, making disciples, and multiplying, it’s always kingdom first.
Stetzer, Ed, and Daniel Im. Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply, 2nd Edition. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishers, 2016. Rather than reviewing our own book, let us tell you what it covers. This is the revised second edition with Daniel as the new co-author. In this second edition, with over 50% new content, not only will you find a completely redesigned book with new content in every single chapter, but you will also find several new chapters on topics such as church multiplication, residencies, multi-ethnic ministry, multisite, denominations and networks, and spiritual leadership. It is divided into five sections: the foundations of church planting, models of church planting, systems for church planting, ministry areas for church planting, and multiplication and movements.
Woodward, JR, and Dan White Jr. The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2016. This step-by-step guide to planting a missional-incarnational church was birthed out of the V3 Movement’s training curriculum. Although it was developed with their students in mind, the principles and exercises work for anyone wanting to approach church planting in a missional-incarnational manner.
Griggs, Donnie. Small Town Jesus: Taking the gospel mission seriously in seemingly unimportant places. Damascus, MD: EverTruth, 2016. In light of the fact that city and urban are the hot topics in church planting, rural ministry has unfortunately gone to the wayside. Griggs, a rural church planter by vocation, presents a fresh case for small town ministry, and then outlines a few principles on how to do ministry in small towns.
Morrow, Aaron. Small Town Mission: A Guide for Mission-Driven Communities. GCD Books, 2016. While not a book on rural church planting, Morrow’s book, just like Grigg’s (see above), is an important piece to encourage and guide all rural church planters out there. This book fleshes out what gospel-centered missional ministry looks like in small towns.
As Mark Twain once said, “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” So take some time and “sharpen your saw.”