Learning From Other Congregations

Getting a Church Started, by Elmer Towns (Benson, 1975, 185 pp., $4.95), The Exciting Church, by Charles Shedd (three volumes, Word, 1975, 105, 122, and 88 pp., $3.95 each), and All Originality Makes a Dull Church, by Dan Baumann (Vision, 1976, 141 pp., $2.50 pb), are reviewed by William Brindley, pastor, Reston Presbyterian Church, Reston, Virginia.

Those interested in vital growing congregations have an increasing array of “case studies” to ponder. The authors of these three books have attempted to present model American churches from which others can—it is hoped—learn transferable concepts and principles.

Towns’s book is geared to the planter or organizing pastor of a new church. He features ten new, small, and prospering congregations, providing some helpful “how-to’s” on starting a church “in the face of insurmountable odds with limited resources in unlikely circumstances,” as the subtitle puts it.

Towns selected his ten churches from varying socio-economic and geographical areas with the hope of increasing the impact of his main point: different formulas may be used in church planting, but the fundamental principles remain the same. Without question the most useful portion of the book is the last four chapters, in which he draws together these principles and adds some practical tips on such matters as finding the right location, advertising, and establishing credibility.

Getting a Church Started is a helpful handbook for church planting and might be used in a college or seminary course. It certainly is a book for pastors of new churches in America to consult. However, there are a number of drawbacks. Minor ones include a penchant ...

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