Recommended Books

Church Planter by Darrin Patrick & Mark Driscoll

Much of what is written about church planting aims at methodology and strategy for facing such challenges, but specific strategies do not apply to every context. What lies deeper, at the heart of every church plant?

The most critical human component of every church plant is the planter: Darrin Patrick, vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, looks at what Scripture teaches about this man’s character, his teaching, and the aim of his church. Offering guidance and wisdom from years of experience, Patrick reminds us that ultimately no church will succeed apart from a man with a message who leads a church on a mission.

This book is for every Christian leader: Church Planter is an essential resource for those considering planting a church or already in such a plant, and maybe even more important for those leading an established church. It has wide-ranging application for elders and leadership teams seeking to better understand how the gospel must take root in their church. Avoiding an over-emphasis on particular models or methods, Patrick lays out biblical principles and sound wisdom as he urges the church to return to biblical criteria for determining the man, the message, and the mission God uses to build his church.

Viral Churches by Ed Stetzer & Warren Bird

A groundbreaking guide for multiplying the impact of church plants

Based on a study that was commissioned by the Leadership Network, this book reveals the best practices in church planting and uncovers the common threads among them. A much-needed resource, this book will inform, guide, and even catalyze today’s many church planting leaders. The authors clearly show leaders how to plant churches that create a multiplication movement and offer inspiration for them to do so. The book addresses their questions about what to do next in their church planting strategies, in light of research on what’s actually working best.

 

Houses that Changed the World by Wolfgang Simpson

Millions of Christians around the world are becoming aware of an imminent reformation of global proportions within the church. God is changing this revered institution and is making a new collective awareness of an age-old revelation, a corporate spiritual echo that reflects God’s desire for the church. In this book, Simson brings to light what God is saying to Christians everywhere. Researched across the globe, he presents the case for the reformation of the church’s existence. In a world where the church is being ignored, it is time to bring the church to the people and not the people to the church. Whether it is what we know as church from the last five years or the last five hundred years, no one has truly been able to break free from the structures of the past. Many may see this book as radical, many may see it as a reforming of old ideals but all who read it will be challenged and their priorities refocused in a life-changing way.

 

Tangible Kingdom & TK Primer by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay

Written for those who are trying to nurture authentic faith communities and for those who have struggled to retain their faith, The Tangible Kingdom offers theological answers and real-life stories that demonstrate how the best ancient church practices can re-emerge in today’s culture, through any church of any size. In this remarkable book, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay “two missional leaders and church planters” outline an innovative model for creating thriving grass-roots faith communities.

Everyone is talking about community. Everyone seems to want it, but most struggle to find it. Matt and Hugh have written The Tangible Kingdom Primer with two specific purposes. First, to be a spiritual formation tool to prepare your heart for mission. We want you to grab a few friends to go through this with, there is no big commitment required to becoming an incarnational community. You can simply be friends going through an 8 week spiritual exercise together. You can challenge each other as you build a community, and you will have a much better experience as you process your struggles together. The second purpose is to be a field guide for starting mission together. Some of you are ready to go and have friends that want to go with you. If that is you, then dive right into the Primer as both spiritual formation and missional practice. In either case, at the end of the eight weeks, you will have the opportunity to decide what to do next. Remember, this is just a Primer to begin building lifelong habits. Some of you will just thank each other and move on. Others will decide to formalize your missional community as you go on mission together. There is no failure here, just a chance to create your own incarnational community. The Tangible Kingdom Primer is an 8 week, daily Workbook/Journal that will help you define new terminology, inspire the imagination with full-color graphic design work, and provoke new missional practices naturally. A great resource for existing churches, small groups, or new communities.

 

The Forgotten Ways & The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch

Alan Hirsch is convinced that the inherited formulas for growing the Body of Christ do not work anymore. And rather than relying on slightly revised solutions from the past, he sees a vision of the future growth of the church coming about by harnessing the power of the early church–a movement which grew from as few as 25,000 adherents in AD 100 to up to 20 million 200 years later. Similar meteoric growth has also been recorded in history and is currently being in many apostolic movements throughout the world today. How do they do it?

 

The Forgotten Ways proposes the concept of Apostolic Genius as a way to understand what caused the church to experience exponential growth and impact at various times in history, interpreting it for use in our own time and place. From the theological underpinnings to the practical application, Hirsch takes the reader through this dynamic mixture of passion, prayer, and incarnational practice to rediscover the dormant potential of the modern church in the West.

The Forgotten Ways Handbook moves beyond theory to practice, offering ways for any missionally minded person to apply the ideas contained in The Forgotten Ways to their life and ministry.

This intensely practical handbook includes many helpful tools: summary sections encapsulating the ideas contained in each chapter in a popular way; suggested practices to help readers embed missional paradigms concretely; and adult learning-based techniques and examples from other churches and organizations that enable readers to process and assimilate the ideas in a group context.

 

Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer

Planting Missional Churches is an instruction book for planting biblically faithful and culturally relevant churches. It addresses the “how-to” and “why” issues of church planting by providing practical guidance through all the phases of a church plant while taking a missional look at existing and emerging cultures.

Rick Warren says, “Ed Stetzer is on of the best informed, practical minded, and field-tested church planters that I know.”

Missional implies taking the methods of a missionary–being indigenous to the culture, seeking to understand and learn, adapting to the mission field–but planting the biblical form of the church.

 

 

 

Breaking the Missional Code & Breaking the Discipleship Code by Ed Stetzer & David Putman

Across North America, many pastors are excited to see churches growing as they achieve their mission to connect the message of the gospel with the community at large. Still others are equally frustrated, following the exact same model for outreach but with lesser results. Indeed, just because a “missional breakthrough” occurs in one place doesn’t mean it will happen the same way elsewhere.

One size does not fit all, but there are cultural codes that must be broken for all churches to grow and remain effective in their specific mission context. Breaking the Missional Code provides expert insight on church culture and church vision casting, plus case studies of successful missional churches impacting their communities.

“We have to recognize there are cultural barriers (in addition to spiritual ones) that blind people from understanding the gospel,” the authors write. “Our task is to find the right way to break through those cultural barriers without removing the spiritual and theological ones.”

Ed Stetzer and David Putman’s popular church leadership book Breaking the Missional Code is helping pastors and ministry staff to guide their collective congregations toward becoming missionaries in their communities. But the need remains for this concept to be further defined at an individual level. Breaking the Discipleship Code, written this time by Putman with a foreword from Stetzer, opens the door to a greater understanding of what it means to personally be a missional follower of Jesus in relation to every aspect of our changing world. Balancing cultural relevance with biblical faithfulness, the book invites ordinary believers, whether on Wall Street or in a Waffle House, next door or across the ocean, to begin having an extraordinary spiritual impact in their unique context. Endorsements: ‘A timely reminder of our most important task: making disciples.’ -Mark Batterson, author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day ‘If you lead the disciple-making process of a local church or simply long to be a disciple of Jesus, read Breaking the Discipleship Code to discover how to live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and leave behind what Jesus left behind.’ -Dave Ferguson, coauthor of The Big Idea.

And by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay

AND, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, asks and provides an answer for one of the most important questions for church leaders today: What is happening to the church in America? By all appearances, it looks like we are ‘doing’ church better than we ever have. In the past thirty years the number of mega-churches has increased from under 100 to over 7,500. In the past ten years the number of multi-site churches has increased from under 100 to over 2,000. By the numbers, these church movements enjoy the national platform, the national voice, and the resources to profoundly impact the Kingdom. In spite of the rapid growth of these prevailing church movements, why is the Western church still in massive decline? Numerous books have been written documenting the flight of members from the institutional church. This is not another book about how to do church better or how to just get people back into the pews. AND helps you—whether you are a mega-church, traditional, contemporary, or organic church leader—focus on the vast majority of unchurched Christians and non-believers who are not moving toward any form of church. You will learn how to value existing church forms—attracting people to a physical church and releasing people into hands-on ministry … bringing together the very best of the attractional and missional models for church ministry. AND will equip you and all church leaders to value existing church forms while catalyzing a missional movement of incarnational people into the world for Jesus Christ. AND is the second book in the Exponential Series—a partnership between Exponential Network, Leadership Network, and Zondervan featuring several signature books each year to tell the reproducing church story, celebrate the diversity of models and approaches God is using to reproduce healthy congregations, and highlight the innovative practices of healthy reproducing churches.

Transformational Church by Thom Rainer & Ed Stetzer

How are we doing? The church, that is. And how are we doing it? Congregations have long measured success by “bodies, budget, and buildings”–a certain record of attendance, the offering plate, and square footage. But the scorecard can’t stop there. When it does, the deeper emphasis on accountability, discipleship, and spiritual maturity is lost. Ignoring those details, we see fewer lives transformed, Christian influence wane, and churches thin out–a situation that is all too familiar across North America today.

It is time to take heart and rework the scorecard.

According to Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer, the authors of Transformational Church, “Too often we’ve highlighted the negative realities of the declining American church but missed the opportunity to magnify the God of hope and transformation.”

Based on the most comprehensive study of its kind, including a survey of more than 7,000 churches and hundreds of on-site interviews with pastors, Transformational Church takes us to the thriving congregations where truly changing lives is the norm. Stetzer and Rainer clearly confirm the importance of disciple making for all through active biblical engagement and prayerful dependence on God alongside of ever-increasing, intentional participation in mission and ministry activities. As the church engages these issues, the world will see the change:

  • More people following Christ
  • More believers growing in their faith
  • More churches making an impact on their communities

The transformation starts now.

Natural Church Development by Christian Schwarze

Natural Church Development (NCD) is a paradigm – a way of thinking about church growth. NCD suggests that quality (health) should precede quantity in church growth thinking. Size itself is no indicator of healthy growth. A healthy church is better able to grow through reproducing disciples, ministries and itself.

NCD is based on extensive international research initially in 1,000 churches in 32 countries on 5 continents. The research uncovered principles promoting healthy growth independent of a church’s denomination, theology, ministry model, liturgical style or size. NCD is principles-based not program based. Over the past 15 years or so, data on church health has been extended to 55,000 churches in 70 countries on 6 continents!

NCD uses a long term strategic process for improving the health of churches. It centres on a sophisticated diagnostic tool which provides a unique, accurate and up-to-date assessment of the health of a church in eight quality areas.

Armed with a regular “checkup” of the church’s health, leaders are equipped to:

  • refine vision, strategies and goals
  • assess the church’s commitment to essential growth values
  • focus limited resources for maximum impact on health
  • move from a program-based mentality to a principles-based approach
  • take a long term strategy for producing lasting health and growth
  • grow a church as a living organism rather than merely build a spiritual organization

Natural Church Development was founded by Christian A. Schwarz, who now heads up the Institute for Natural Church Development International, based in Germany. Over 3,400 Surveys have been completed in Canada and Canada represents a leading proponent of NCD globally.

Center Church by Timothy Keller

Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City

Today many pastors are struggling to adapt to a post-Christian culture without abandoning orthodox theology. How do we communicate the classic doctrines of grace and substitutionary atonement in our globalized culture and context?

In Center Church, Timothy Keller offers challenging insights and provocative questions based on over twenty years of ministry in New York City. This book outlines a theological vision for ministry—based on classic doctrines but rethinking our assumptions about church for our time and place—organized around three core commitments:

    1. Gospel-centered: The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ changes everything, from our hearts to our community to the world. It completely reshapes the content, tone and strategy of all that we do.
    2. City-centered: Cities increasingly influence our global culture and affect the way we do ministry. With a positive approach toward our culture, we learn to affirm that cities are wonderful, strategic and underserved places for gospel ministry.
    3. Movement-centered: Instead of building our own tribe, we seek the prosperity and peace of our community as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll

Reformation is the continual reforming of the mission of the church to enhance God’s command to reach out to others in a way that acknowledges the unique times and locations of daily life. This engaging book blends the integrity of respected theoreticians with the witty and practical insights of a pastor. It calls for a movement of missionaries to seek the lost across the street as well as across the globe.This basic primer on the interface between gospel and culture highlights the contrast between presentation evangelism and participation evangelism. It helps Christians navigate between the twin pitfalls of syncretism (being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your message) and sectarianism (being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your mission). Included are interviews with those who have crossed cultural barriers, such as a television producer, exotic dancer, tattoo studio owner, and band manager. The appendix represents eight portals into the future: population, family, health/medicine, creating, learning, sexuality, and religion.

 

For the City by Darren Patrick & Matt Carter

Within ten years, nine out of ten people will claim ‘no religious affiliation.’ Many of these people will live in urban areas. Church leaders must learn how to effectively engage in ministry with this urban core, a group that includes both the poor and marginalized as well as the wealthy and influential. This book will guide readers in developing a philosophy of ministry that can lead to restoration and renewal in their city. Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick explain the biblical, theological, and historical foundations of ministry within the urban core and how to plant churches where the gospel is not only faithfully preached and shared but also brings substantial benefits to those living in the community. For the City relates the wisdom gleaned from years of serving their cities for the sake of God’s kingdom. Carter and Patrick practically equip church leaders and Christians to look at their city as a mission field where individuals and churches can faithfully proclaim the gospel and live out the reality of a community changed and transformed by its message.

 

Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible? by Steven Furtick

“Does the brand of faith you live by produce the kinds of results in your life that you read about in the biblical stories of men and women of faith? Chances are, not even close.” But it doesn’t have to stay that way. In Sun Stand Still, Steven Furtick challenges you to believe that the audacious faith that we see in the Bible, the faith that caused a man to pray and see the sun stand still in the sky, is the same faith we can claim for ourselves today. This is more than just another book. It’s a call to all of us to begin living the life of audacity God has created and saved us for.

This book is not a Snuggie. The words on these pages will not go down like Ambien. I’m not writing to calm or coddle you. With God’s help, I intend to incite a riot in your mind. Trip your breakers and turn out the lights in your favorite hiding places of insecurity and fear. Then flip the switch back on so that God’s truth can illuminate the divine destiny that may have been lying dormant inside you for years. In short, I’m out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose and potential.

 

Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley

With surprising candor and transparency pastor Andy Stanley explains how one of America’s largest churches began with a high-profile divorce and a church split. But that’s just the beginning… Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend. Andy writes, ‘Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week…with a friend!’ Later he says, ‘I want people to fall in love with the Author of Scripture. And while we can’t make anyone fall in love, we can certainly arrange a date.’ For the first time, Andy explains his strategy for preaching and programming to ‘dual audiences’: mature believers and cynical unbelievers. He argues that preaching to dual audiences doesn’t require communicators to ‘dumb down’ the content. According to Stanley, it’s all in the approach. You’ll be introduced to North Point’s spiritual formation model: The Five Faith Catalysts. Leaders responsible for ministry programing and production will no doubt love Andy’s discussion of the three essential ingredients for creating irresistible environments. For pastors willing to tackle the challenge of transitioning a local congregation, Andy includes a section entitled: Becoming Deep and Wide. If your team is more concerned with who you are reaching than who you are keeping, Deep and Wide will be more than a book you read; it will be a resource you come back to over and over! ‘Couldn’t be prouder of my son, Andy. And I couldn’t be more excited about the content of this book. I wish a resource like this existed when I was starting out in ministry.’ – Dr. Charles Stanley, Founder, In Touch Ministries ‘Deep and Wide pulls back the curtain for all of us to see what is required behind the scenes to build a prevailing church. I was both challenged and inspired by this book.’ – Bill Hybels, author of Just Walk Across the Room ‘The most common question I get from pastors is, ‘How do I get the people in my church to be open to change?’ From now on my answer will be, ‘Read Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley’. Thanks Andy. Great book!’ – Craig Groeschel, Pastor, LifeChurch.TV, author, It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It ‘No one has given me more practical handles for establishing a focused vision than Andy Stanley. Deep and Wide is a rich resource to help all of us stay intentional about the main thing – building a church that reaches people who are far from God.’ – Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor, Elevation Church

 

The Multiplying Church by Bob Roberts Jr.

The Multiplying Church is a primer for pastors and lay leaders involved in, or wanting to learn about, the church multiplication groundswell in North America. It shows how multiplying churches should be a natural, regular function of every church to reach the 70 percent of Americans who have no meaningful church relationship.

Detailing the stories and guiding principles of this dramatic growth, this guide offers insight on:

  • Why churches are multiplying in the East but not in the West
  • Keys to church multiplication 
  • The missing link–pregnant mother churches 
  • Antioch vs. Jerusalem: Which got it right? 
  • What kind of churches should we start? 
  • What is the end game of church planting? 
  • How big does a church have to be to start multiplying churches? 
  • Church planting movements or Jesus movements?

Bob Roberts helps us return to an early-church model of multiplication where a single church sent laypeople out to plant other communities of believers.

Planting Churches in the 21st Century by Stuart Murray

What does church planting look like in the 21st century? Is the goal to plant more churches or is it to plant new kinds of churches? In Planting Churches in the 21st Century, Stuart Murray suggests that church planting isn’t just about numbers–it’s about the deep renewal of the church and the development of new ways of being the church that are biblically rooted and contextually appropriate.

But don’t look here for stereotypical hands-on ideas and ready-made blueprints in this guide; Murray’s theological and philosophical approach is open-ended, and leaves ample room for personal reflection and creative responses. With his gift for posing thought-provoking questions while writing in a clear, logical style, Murray provides stimulation and challenge to anyone who wants to see new churches come into being.

 

Launching Missional Communities by Mike Breen

For the past few years the term “Missional Community” has all but become a ubiquitous Christian buzz word/phrase. The interesting thing is that for all the people writing about and using the term, very few people have experience with the practical nuts-and-bolts of launching, multiplying, growing, and discipling people with MCs. This book is not only a practical guide in all things “Missional Communities” related, it is written by the people who pioneered them over 15 years ago and through their leadership have overseen the launching of more MCs than anyone else in the world.

Historically, MCs have been at the forefront of a revitalization that is happening in many churches in England and the rest of Europe for the past 15 years and now in the United States. St Thomas Sheffield, where MCs first originated (and now with two campuses) is today one of the largest churches in Europe (the Philadelphia campus) and also one of the fast growing (the Crookes campus), seeing more than 500% growth in the past five years.

For those unfamiliar to Missional Communities, a MC is a group of anything from 20 to 50 people who are united, through Christian community, around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. With a strong value on life together, the group has the expressed intention of seeing those they impact choose to start following Jesus, through this more flexible and locally incarnated expression of the church. The result will often be that the group will grow in size and ultimately multiply into further Missional Communities. They are most often networked within a larger church community (often with many other Missional Communities). These mid-sized communities, led by laity, are “lightweight and low

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