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Apr 20, 2009

Church Planting Bibliography

Since I am in Orlando at the Exponential Conference, church planting is on my mind. I get a lot of requests for book recommendations, especially as they relate to church planting. In recent years we've seen a great increase in the number of books written on the subject. Here are books (along with some of my thoughts) that may be helpful to those thinking through church planting. (If I missed any, feel free to let me know. And, if you choose to share this on your blog, please note the comment about reproducing it at the end.)

Also, throughout the day, I will be tweeting some church planting related info. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Annotated North American Church Planting Bibliography

Updated April 2009

"I like reading sailing books by people who have circumnavigated the globe; I prefer history from the pen of eyewitnesses who participated when the tide turned for a nation; and I want to read church planting books by people who have been down the alley-ways of neopagan Western society and know what it means to call together a new body of believers in Jesus Christ." -J. Nelson Kraybill, from the Foreword to Church Planting: Laying Foundations.

The books:


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 in 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.

Amstutz, Harold E. Church Planter's Manual. Cherry Hill, NJ: Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, Inc., 1985.

This book starts as a standard manual with forms, procedures, policies, and the like. The second part of the book then provides five examples of planting situations. Each of these examples is taken from international fields but have application to North American contexts.

Becker, Paul; Carpenter, Jim; Williams, Mark. TheDynamic Church Planting Handbook.
Oceanside, CA: Dynamic Church Planting International, 2003.

DCP (eBook on CD) is intended as a guide for a church planter to move through the planting process sequentially. It includes a large section of checklists for the plant. It is a helpful resource for church planters looking for a step-by-step guide.

Becker, Paul and Williams, Mark. The Dynamic Daughter Church Planting. Oceanside, CA: Dynamic Church Planting International, 1999.

This is the only book of its kind and is much needed. It provides church planting churches with the step-by-step guide that they need to reproduce themselves. If you are planting a daughter church, you need this resource.

Brock, Charles. Indigenous Church Planting. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1981.

Brock's resources are time-tested and valuable. However, they do reflect a paradigm used more frequently in decades past. His ideas often come from his years of church planting in the Philippines among tribal people. As such, they will often relate well in a lower socio-economic bracket in North America, but not to all contexts. The greatest value will be for indigenous lay persons seeking to plant churches in center cities or rural North America.

Bunch, David, Jarvey Kneisel and Barbara Oden. Multihousing Congregations: How to Start and Grow Christian Congregations in Multihousing Communities. Atlanta, GA: Smith Publishing, 1991.

This resource is the only widely published resource available on planting churches in multi-housing congregations (in apartment buildings, trailer parks, etc). Since the vast majority of residents will only be reached by a ministry based inside the multi-housing facility, this is an essential resource. Although multi-housing ministry has declined in visibility in the last decade, the ministry remains essential since 60% of unchurched North America lives in multi-housing settings.

Chaney, Charles L. Church Planting at the End of the Twentieth Century. Wheaton, Il: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1993.

In the early nineties, Chaney's book was the best available resource on the topic of North American church planting. Since it is out of print, it has been largely replaced by Malphur's church planting book. The most recent revision adds contemporary methods like the "big start." This is one of the five best books specifically related to planting.

Cheyney, Tom, J. David Putman and Van Sanders, eds. Seven Steps for Planting Churches. Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, SBC, 2003.

This resource is a small book that contains a seven-step process for planting a church. The steps are principle driven ("enlist a team" rather than "start a cell group," etc.) It answers, in a simple and practical way, "how" to get started. Since I am constantly asked by prospective planters, "If I want to start a church, how would I do it?," this book is a good starter resource for them. The authors are clear that it is only intended as an introductory piece and they offer suggestions of where to go deeper. This book can be downloaded free from www.churchplantingvillage.net.

Comiskey, Joel. Planting Churches that Reproduce. Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing Company, 2009.

Planting a "church planting church" is often promised and rarely implemented for many in the world of church planting. In the search for a model that is culturally effective and highly reproducible, Comiskey has offered a level-headed approach to house and cell church planting. His book offers a guide to the "root system" of a new church and how simplicity leads to high reproducibility. (Full disclosure: I wrote the foreword.)

Conn, Harvie, M. ed. Planting and Growing Urban Churches: From Dream to Reality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1996.

Conn's book is not a "how-to" resource for urban planting. It is an advocacy book, not a practitioner's book. If taken as advocacy, it does well. Conn points out the importance of having an urban strategy to reach the burgeoning inner cities of the world.

Dale, Felicity. Getting Started: A Practical Guide to House Church Planting. Karis Publishing, Inc., 2003.

There are many house church books out there. (I list many of them in the house church section of www.newchurches.com.) This one is unique in that is provides a clear and reproducible (dare I say "simple") method for planting churches that meet in homes. As Felicity describes it, anyone can do it, which, is sort of her point!

Faircloth, Samuel D. Church Planting for Reproduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991.

Faircloth's book starts as a survey oriented textbook, but quickly becomes a systematic church planting strategy. It is not geared toward North American planting, but this is not a shortcoming. This is one of the few principle-oriented books available that relate to North American planting. In this case, Faircloth calls his system PERT (a system of Program Evaluation and Review Technique). Regardless of the terminology, this is an important missiological resource for discerning North American planters.

Francis, Hozell C. Church Planting in the African American Context. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000.

Hozell's book is one of the most recent texts published in church planting. It is a valuable resource in a field with limited literature. Unlike the other texts dealing with African-American church planting, Hozell actually focuses less on the mechanics of planting and more on the sociology of the African-American church (preaching, ministry, leadership, etc.). These are helpful materials, but further study of "how to" plant in the African-American context would add to the strength of the book.

Galloway, Dale and Warren Bird. Starting a New Church: How to Plant a High-Impact Church.
Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 2003.

Galloway and Bird are veterans to church growth. Their new resource is about planting "large" churches using contemporary methodologies. It comes as a manual with a CD, but it is a little pricey (about $100). If I was planning on using contemporary outreach methods like direct mail, seeker-sensitive worship, and contemporary worship, I would invest in the resource before I invested thousands more in an outreach campaign.

Griffith, Jim and Bill Easum. Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by Church Starts. Chalice Press, 2008.

Griffith and Easum are professional advice givers though their writing and coaching. But, more importantly, their advice is good. This book points out the most common mistakes--but also proposes good solutions to avoid (or work through) them.

Harris, Richard H., compiler. Reaching a Nation through Church Planting. Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, SBC, 2002.

Richard Harris is the Vice President of Church Planting for the North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist). For this book, he assembled several high profile leaders and several church planting experts and asked them to "write what they know." Thus, the book covers a broad landscape from town and country planting, to postmodern, to being a mother church, to mentoring planters. Since the authors are so diverse, they bring a great spread of knowledge and experience. This was not intended as a "how-to book," but rather is a "why we should" book that does a good job answering that question in a multitude of contexts. The book is also available for download from www.churchplantingvillage.net.

Herron, Fred. Expanding God's Kingdom through Church Planting. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2003.

Herron is from a Vineyard background and that is reflected in his writing. The Vineyard folks have done a great job in church planting and Herron demonstrates why with this effective book. He lays out a thorough church planting strategy with lots of detail and helpful suggestions.

Hesselgrave, David J. Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and Beyond, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2000.

Hesselgrave's book is a step-by-step guide to planting a church in a culture different from one's own. Though systematic, it avoids being simplistic. Instead, each step is explained in practice and in theory. This is the most valuable resource available for cross-cultural planting.

Hiebert, Paul G. and Eloise Hiebert Meneses. Incarnational Ministry: Planting Churches in Band, Tribal, Peasant, and Urban Societies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House, 1995.

On the surface, this book would have little to do with North American church planting. Understandably, its primary focus is planting in the developing world. However, it is a not a book about methods or biblical underpinnings. It is about the sociological structures that make up a society. Since the book's primary focus is urban societies, it provides great discernment for inner-city planters seeking to understand the urban context.

Hurn, Raymond W. The Rising Tide: New Churches for the New Millennium. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1997.

Hurn is former superintendent of the Nazarene denomination and this text is geared toward Nazarenes. One strength of the book is the historical overview of Nazarene church planting. The book is primarily an advocacy work.

Jackson, John. High Impact Church Planting: You Can Lead a Harvest Directed Ministry. Visionquest Ministries, 2000.

I had mixed feelings about High Impact Church Planting. The book was self-published and has too many errors in it (for example, Gallup never said there were 195 million unchurched, etc) and lacks the proper footnotes (no reference on many stats), and I disagree with several parts (you don't need $100-200K to start a high impact church). However, it is a good primer to help church planters who want to plant churches that start with over 200 (Jackson's idea of a high impact church plant). It is short (95 pages) and includes a large number of appendices (examples from the author's church).

Jones, Ezra E. Strategies for New Churches. New York: Harper and Row, 1976.

Jones writes about church planting from a mainline denominational perspective. The book was ahead of its time, particularly in its attempts to quantify personality characteristics in effective planters (as Ridley has done today). Unfortunately, it is not up to date with today's technologies and strategies.

Jones, Tom, ed. Church Planting from the Ground Up. Joplin, MO: College Press, 2004.

Here is a brief excerpt from my foreword to Tom's book: I have always found learning practical skills from theorists to be an odd thing. Hearing experts on church planting and growth who have never planted and grown a church always seemed strange. I prefer to learn about carpentry from carpenters. Church Planting from the Ground Up is just that--a wealth of wisdom from a diversity of practitioners.

Keller, Tim and J. Allen Thompson. Church Planting Manual. Redeemer Church Planting Center, New York, 2002.

Keller and Thompson. What more can you say? Thompson was writing on church planting movements when I was in grade school. Keller is helping lead a movement of church planting and city transformation. This is an excellent resource. It is a workbook, not the typical book, so it has projects and assignments to work though. It also has an urban focus that is appropriate for their passion.

King, Fred G. The Church Planter's Training Manual. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1992.

This is a manual / book primarily geared at church planters in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church with a small amount of universally applicable material. It consists of articles, forms and examples. It will not be of great value to the non-CMA planter.

Lewis, Larry L. The Church Planter's Handbook. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993.

Lewis is former president of the SBC Home Mission Board and now involved in the Mission America project. He is an experienced planter. Though the book is out of date technologically and methodologically, it provides excellent resources related to time management and the priority of evangelism in church planting.

Logan, Robert E., Be Fruitful and Multiply. ChurchSmart Resources, 2006.

Here is a brief excerpt from my foreword to Bob's book: There is little that is done in North American church planting leadership that was not developed or influenced by Bob Logan. Few realize that before his keen insights and organizational acumen, church planters did not go through assessment, boot camps, and coaching networks. Why did Bob do these things? Because he cares about church planting and church planters... For thirty years we have taken baby steps toward true biblical church planting--but books like these will help us break through to movements.

Logan, Robert E. Beyond Church Growth. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1989.

Though the title can be misleading, the book is a great resource for church planting. It provides resources for all churches, but is a great supplement for Logan's "Church Planter's Toolkit" available from www.churchsmart.com (the best widely-available resource). Bob Logan is the most significant church planting leader in the last 50 years and every church planter needs to be aware of his writings and his toolkit (see below).

Logan, Robert E. and Steven L. Ogne. Church Planter's Toolkit. Pasadena, CA: ChurchSmart Resources (www.churchsmart.com), 1995.

The Toolkit is the most widely known resource in North American church planting today. It is a twelve-tape series that provides guidance through each step of planting a high impact North American church. It is widely known because there is no other resource as effective for practical preparation. Its two disadvantages are that it is only available in tape format and Logan is a bit dry in his presentation (though the content makes up for that).

MacNair, Donald J. The Birth, Care and Feeding of a Local Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976.

As can be guessed from the publishing date, this book is out of date. Redford's book is equally dated, but it provides the same resource information with more clarity. The section on "Locating Seed Families" is probably the only part of the book that would be helpful for planting today.

Mannoia, Kevin. Church Planting: The Next Generation. Indianapolis, IN: Light and Life Communication, 1994.

Mannoia provides a "systems" book. He describes the system of his denomination (Free Methodist) which mirrors that used by many others (and created by Bob Logan, see above). Mannoia divides the system into the following categories: Parent Church Network, Profile Assessment System, New Church Incubator, Recruitment Network, Pastor Factory, Church Planter's Summit, Maturing Church Cluster, Strategic Planning Network, Harvest 1000, and the Meta-Church Network. This will be a particularly helpful resource for groups and denominations that do not have a church planting system.

McNamara, Roger N. A Practical Guide to Church Planting. Cleveland, OH: Baptist Mid-Missions. 1985.

McNamara is writing from the perspective of starting an independent Baptist church in the fundamentalist tradition. The book is very detailed and provides example constitutions, services, etc. It will be of limited use to others.

Malphurs, Aubrey. Planting Growing Churches for the 21 Century: A Comprehensive Guide for New Churches and Those Desiring Renewal, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998.

Malphur's book is the most commonly used church planting text in academia. The book is often accused of being too focused on large church planting with large mother churches. However, this is the best resource available. (I am a little biased since I wrote a study guide on the book, available at www.seminaryextension.org.) Aubrey tells me that he is working on a third edition that will incorporate more strategic planning information. This will make the book even stronger.

Moore, Ralph. Starting a New Church: The Church Planter's Guide to Success. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2002.

Ralph is the founder of the Hope Chapel movement and currently pastors a Hope Chapel in Hawaii. The book is packed filled with good ideas and practical advice. He writes as a seasoned church planter dispensing advice to new church planters. I particularly like the chapters on relationships. Also, the section on teaching and preaching is a necessary corrective to some trends in church planting today. This is a great book.

Moorhouse, Carl W. Growing New Churches: Step-by-Step Procedures in New Church Planting. Chicago: Standard Publishing Company, 1975.

Moorhouse provides a workbook-like text that is primarily made up of example forms, publications, and brochures. It is out of date.

Murray, Stuart. Church Planting: Laying Foundations.
Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001.

The author explains, "This book is not a training manual. It does not engage with all the practicalities of church planting. But it is written for practitioners rather than hearers." This is an excellent work that, I hope, will help prompt others to think missiologically and theologically about church planting. The book was originally (1998) available only in Great Britain but now has a North American version. The book is one of the few books that analyzes the criticisms of church planting and gives solid answers (not just refutations). There are some excellent references to postmodern church planting without the typical obsession with "nifty" ideas and methods. I have some theological differences (see Timmons below) but it is a helpful resource.

Nebel, Tom. Big Dreams in Small Places: Church Planting in Smaller Communities. St Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2002.

Most church planting books tell the story of church planting in suburban areas. A few address urban contexts. This is the first that address rural areas and it does it well. The book points out some of the unique challenges and opportunities in rural church planting and provides several helpful principles for successful ministry.

Nebel, Tom and Gary Rohrmayer. Church Planting Landmines. ChurchSmart Resources, 2005.

Here is a brief excerpt from my foreword to Church Planting Landmines: Tom Nebel and Gary Rohrmayer have provided a service to the church and her planters. As I read the book, I repeatedly thought, "He is right about that one." In most cases, a former planter came to mind that fit each example... and I was grieved as I thought about each loss. But these losses can serve as the foundation for future church planting success if the courage exists to examine those failures. This book can spare many church planters and teams from stepping on the landmines of ministry--or at least prepare them to respond well when they hit one.

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.

Payne, J.D. Missional House Churches: Reaching Our Communities with the Gospel.Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster, 2007.

In the North American context on the new millennium, house churches are becoming a more standard model of religious expression than in the previous generations of those on our continent. Payne's book is both a result of careful research and biblical ecclesiology to help us understand the role of the house church within the current church planting environment. Through solid methodological survey work and a keen understanding of the culture, this book will aid us in understanding how this simple model of church planting can influence both the church universal and the world in need of the gospel.

Rainey, Joel. Planting Churches in the Real World. Missional Press, 2008.

Current research shows that church planting is not for those easily discouraged. In Rainey's book, he draws his experience of planting churches and training others to plant. The lessons gleaned from real life experience will aid any planter in assessing themselves, their plan for planting, and how to thrive in the midst of the church planting experience. This is a book about church planting where most of us live. (Full disclosure: I wrote the foreword.)

Ratliff, Joe S. and Michael J. Cox. Church Planting in the African-American Community. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1993.

Church planting is always difficult, but (according to Ratliff and Cox) it is even more so in the African-American community. In the African-American context, church planting is often perceived as an insult to the established church and its pastor. This work is intended for Southern Baptists, but is widely applicable in other situations. It provides advocacy, examples, and practical suggestions.

Reddin, Opal. Planting Churches that Grow. Springfield, MO: Central Bible College Press, 1990.

One of few women (or Pentecostals) writing on the topic of church planting, Redding provides an excellent resource. First, she provides insight into some of the growth in the Pentecostal movement by emphasizing spiritual gifts and the power of the Spirit. Second, she provides some interesting insights into planting churches targeted at cults and new-agers.

Redford, Jack. Planting New Churches. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978.

Redford's book was, at one time, the most influential book on Southern Baptist Church planting. His "Nine Steps" were the paradigm adopted by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Though dated, the book is still a valuable resource today for the mother church seeking to start a daughter congregation. Its "steps" should not be followed by the pioneer pastor. Instead, they are intended to be followed by the involved mother church starting a daughter congregation.

Ridley, Charles R. How To Select Church Planters. Pasadena: Fuller Evangelistic Association, 1988.

Ridley's writing and training have become the standard used in North America to evaluate potential church planters. This book, though difficult to find, is the standard writing and should be required reading for everyone who selects church planters.

Roberts, Jr, Bob. The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.

Bob Roberts asks the question of the Western world: why are we not seeing the rapid expansion of church planting here as is evident in other parts of the world? With his normal wit and excitement about God's kingdom, Roberts unearths the principles of church planting from the early church. Presenting the principles in clear fashion, both the novice and experienced church planter will benefit from these lessons and exhortations from a seasoned veteran. (Full disclosure: I wrote the foreword.)

Romo, Oscar I. American Mosaic Church Planting in Ethnic America. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993.

Romo describes the current ethnic church planting system in place among Southern Baptists. This system includes ethnic fellowships and intentional ethnic planting and training. He does advocate the need for planting by describing an increasingly pluralistic society. He then provides suggestions and worksheets to develop an ethnic planting strategy.

Sanchez, Daniel R., Ebbie C. Smith, and Curtis E. Watke. Reproducing Congregations: A Guidebook for Contextual New Church Development.
Cumming, GA: Church Starting Network. 2001.

This book is a textbook and has great value for academic use. The authors show a strong grasp of the available literature and it is heavily footnoted. I am a big fan of Dr. Sanchez and his thorough approach comes through. Because it is geared toward an academic setting, it may be too detailed for the average North American church planter. The book covers all of church planting, not just the North American side, so it moves from starting one church, to catalytic roles, to other topics. Honestly, I wish it were two books with more information in each. Dr. Sanchez tells me that they also have PowerPoints and accompanying notebook.

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 related to church planting. (The book was published in 1991.) Unlike many how-to books, Schaller uses his question format to explore in-depth the background of many issues.

Scoggins, Dick. Handbook for House Churches.
[on-line], accessed 1 December 1999, http://genesis.acu.edu/cplant/archive/contr036; Internet.

Dick Scoggins and the Rhode Island house churches are the best known home-based church planting movement in North America. The book describes the indigenous church planting methods of Fellowship of Church Planters, a network of house churches in Rhode Island and southern New England. It is the only resource this reviewer knows of that deals with indigenous house churches from a North American perspective.

Searcy, Nelson and Kerick Thomas. Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch. Regal Books, 2007.

Nelson and Kerrick provide a blueprint for planting contemporary churches using a large launch methodology. The book is highly practical and will be helpful for those planning churches that intend to launch large and grow rapidly.

Shenk, David W. and Ervin R. Stutzman. Creating Communities of the Kingdom: New Testament Models of Church Planting. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1988.

Shenk and Stutzman consistently look to the same place as they explain their model: the Scriptures. This resource is the best in dealing with scriptural issues and application in church planting. The model is thoroughly biblical while remaining practical. It is among the best five books available on church planting.

Sjogren, Steve and Rob Lewin. Community of Kindness: A Relational Approach to Planting and Growing a Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003.

Steve Sjogren is probably better known for his Servant Evangelism strategies as described in Conspiracy of Kindness. However, Steve is an experienced church planter and church planting mentor. The approach is dialogical--with 106 thought provoking individual ideas (like small chapters). The authors say that the book might be subtitled, Church Planting Through Servant Evangelism.

Halter, Hugh and Matt Smay. The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Halter and Smay are real-life church leaders who record their lessons learned regarding the establishment of small missional communities of faith. The emphasis of the book is the need for believers to leave the safe communal "bubble" we tend to establish for the real-world experience of God's kingdom arriving among the culture. With a strong focus toward ancient practices of faith regarding hospitality and friendship, this book can enhance a person's view of how the church interacts with their city on a pedestrian level.

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.

Steffen, Tom. Passing the Baton: Church Planting that Empowers.
La Habra, CA: Center for Organizational & Ministry Development, 1997.

This book can fool you. It is "about" international church planting, but it is very applicable to U.S. planting, particularly in the inner-city. (Steffan does training for World Impact, a pace setter in planting indigenous churches among the urban poor.) His emphasis on empowerment is an important addition to the training of every urban church planter.

Stetzer, Edward. How to Plant a Church, A Seminary Extension Study Course. Nashville, TN: Seminary Extension, 2001.

It would be a little odd to review my own book, but it might be helpful to be aware of it as a resource for church planters. This is a study course for church planters published by our denominational agency that provides external education. It can be taken as part of a certificate program or transferred to an accredited college for credit through their system. I used Malphurs' Planting Growing Churches as the textbook and that book would be necessary to take the course.

Stetzer, Edward J. Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2003.

Again, a little odd to review my own book... and, besides, this is the first edition. Planting Missional Churches is the second. See below.

Stetzer, Edward J. Planting Missional Churches. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishers, 2006.

Rather than reviewing my own book, let me tell you what it covers. The book basically addresses two issues: the nuts and bolts of how to plant a church in North America and what many new churches are doing to reach emerging contexts. The focus is to plant churches that are biblically faithful and culturally relevant. The companion web site is www.newchurches.com.

Sullivan, Bill M. Starting Strong New Churches. Kansas City, MO: New Start, 1997.

The book is a smaller text that provides some basic church planting information. It is intended primarily as an advocacy book geared toward Nazarenes. The strength of the book is the chapter that deals with objections to planting.

Suarez, Gustavo V. Connections: Linking People and Principles for Dynamic Church Multiplication. Friendswood, Texas: Baxter Press, 2004.

Gus' book is available in both Spanish and English and is a worthwhile read. The title is very descriptive--it is about making the right connections for church multiplication. As such, it has a lot of direction about how to involve partners in the work (the strength of the book). It is primarily geared toward Southern Baptists, but not exclusively so.

Sylvia, Ron. Starting New Churches on Purpose.
Purpose Driven Publishing, 2006.

Ron has written the definitive book on planting Purpose Driven churches. If there is an official "manual" for PD churches, this is it. It has a good amount of practical advice and step-by-step processes. If you want to plant a Purpose Driven church, this is the book to get. This book was previously published as Starting High Definition Churches.

Thomasson, George. The Church Blueprint: Practical Helps for Building the Body. Columbus, GA: Brentwood Christian Press, 2002.

This book is a compilation of resources that will assist the new church in the effective establishment of its ministry program. It takes a church from inception through the first three years of early development. The book includes contributions from 15 different authors, all who are Southern Baptist and relating to the SBC context. A strength of the book is the included practical worksheets for implementing the steps in the book. The book can be ordered by e-mailing blueprint@bellsouth.net.

Tidsworth, Floyd, Jr. Life Cycle of a New Congregation. Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1992.

Tidsworth, former director of the Home Mission Board's church planting department, has provided a planting handbook. The title is misleading since the text deals little with the actual life cycle. Instead, it primarily focuses on the birth of a new church and then its reproduction--with little about the life cycle in the middle.

Timmis, Stephen, editor. Multiplying Churches: Reaching Communities Through Church Planting. Hearn, Rossshire, England: Christian Focus Publications, 2000.

This book is an advocacy, rather than a "how-to," book. The authors are quite clear about their intent: "(T)his is not a 'how-to' book... What the book is trying to do is to move church plating up the church agenda, and focus upon the principles rather than the practice." I believe they accomplished the former but I am not sure about the latter. Their book is strong on encouraging people toward church planting but it is really too small (128 pages) to address the principles. The chapter on ecclesiology and is excellent as is Timmons closing chapter. It includes much review of Murray (see above) and correctly points out and corrects some of his theological issues.

Tinsley, William C. Upon This Rock: Dimensions of Church Planting. Atlanta, GA: Baptist Home Mission Board, 1985.

Tinsley's book is an advocacy book for Southern Baptists. Long before other denominations began to promote planting, Tinsley (and Redford) promoted planting among SBC churches. The book is out of date, but was a genuine forerunner that still contains some helpful principles.

Tinsley, William C. Breaking the Mold: Church Planting in the 21st Century. Dallas: Creative Church Consultations, Inc., 1996.

This book is more up to date than Upon This Rock (and a better book, I believe). Tinsley displays a strong grasp of church planting principles but also deals with some of the new issues that began to emerge in the late 90s. Tinsley is unique in that he has not just written church planting books, but has also ventured into some good devotional material as well (see his publishing house, http://www.veritaspublish.com/). Tinsley has planted churches and has spent his life in mission service. He is director of a new missions agency, WorldConnex.

Towns, Elmer L. Getting A Church Started: A Student Manual for the Theological Foundation and Practical Techniques of Planting a Church. Lynchburg, VA: Church Growth Institute, 1985.

Towns' book has been published in various forms. (The latest is a workbook that contains the full text of his book and tapes presented at a recent church growth conference.) The book remains the same. It is geared toward the independent Baptist. It is highly sequential and provides an effective list of tasks that will provide the planter direction.

Towns, Elmer L. and Douglas Porter. Churches that Multiply. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press. 2003.

This book is a little different than many others listed... and that may be its strength. It is a series of Bible studies written in the down-to-earth style of Elmer Towns. It is not a "how-to" book. Instead, it is a series of Bible studies geared toward lay people in the church. Dr. Towns showed me an early version that was entitled "Our Church Planting a Church." That describes the book well.

Wagner, C. Peter. Church Planting For a Greater Harvest. Ventura: Regal Books, 1990.

Wagner's book is an advocacy book. It is an excellent resource for the person seeking to convince a church or denominational leader why church planting is important. It has limited methodology, but contains a good amount of denominational research.


The opinions expressed are mine alone and may not reflect the opinions of the schools where I teach or the agencies I serve. This annotated bibliography is copyrighted. It may be reproduced (without alteration) but only with this entire section included:

©Edward J. Stetzer, 2009, www.edstetzer.com

Send additional suggestions for review to research@lifeway.com.

Related Topics:Church Growth
Posted:April 20, 2009 at 12:00 am


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