10 New(ish) Important Books For Church Planting
The cereal aisle will murder you. Don’t believe me? Go live in another country for a few months, especially one that doesn’t have supermarkets. Then come back home, head to Walmart, and left-turn down the lane of sugary grain. Yes, three new versions of Captain Crunch came out while you were gone. And as you’re processing that, lift your eyes to the seemingly endless rows of choices. Go ahead, try to decide on just one. We’ll see if you make it out alive.
Deciding on your next book to read can sometimes feel like the cereal aisle—the options are shockingly endless. Thanks to the rate of modern Christian publication, what starts as a simple search can spiral into the puzzled line from Hamilton: “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?!” How do you decide on one book (which also means deciding against hundreds of others)? Well, let us help.
Here are ten books from the past year(ish) that are worth pulling off the shelf (see older books GCC has recommended). As you’ll see, some of them are more directly related to church planting than others, but all of them contribute something significant to the conversation. Perhaps one of them could be your Captain Crunch.
The Faithful Church Planter: Eleven Essential Competencies For the Work, by Tony Merida
It’s a safe bet to read anything Tony Merida writes. It’s sure to be coated in biblical insight and affection for the church. Here, as part of his role as Director of Theological Training for Acts 29, Merida focuses on the characteristics that allow a church planter to defy the statistics and remain in fruitful ministry for the long haul.
Church Plantology: The Art and Science of Planting Churches, by Peyton Jones
If you’re looking for more nuts and bolts, here is a self-described “comprehensive textbook”. Peyton Jones is a household name in church planting thanks to his production of the Church Planter Magazine and the Church Planter Podcast. His personal experience certainly comes through, and the fans of this book are already a-plenty.
Planting a Church Without Losing Your Soul: Nine Questions For the Spiritually Formed Pastor, by Tim Morey
For an introspective approach to church planting, consider this book from church planter, Tim Morey. It leverages thoughtful questions to encourage church planters toward spiritual formation as a matter of first priority. After all, what would it profit to gain the whole world and lose your soul?
Rural Mission: Insights From a Rural Church Planter, by Will Basham
Will Basham leverages his experience as a church planter in West Virginia to provide the unique angle of this book. If you’re in a rural context, considering a rural context, or simply wanting a broader church planting perspective, Rural Mission is a short and motivating read.
The Plurality Principle: How to Build and Maintain a Thriving Church Leadership Team, by Dave Harvey
Although this book isn’t specifically about church planting, the leadership model of plurality is critical to the health of any church. Here, GCC’s very own Dave Harvey provides the biblical precedent for it and the tools for building and maintaining healthy plurality. As a pastor, I have found this to be the most useful resource out there on the subject.
Practically Trained Pastors: A 52-Week Field Guide For Ministry in the Trenches, by Brian Croft and James Carroll
Founder of Practical Shepherding, Brian Croft, is probably best known for his work in the realm of church revitalization. However, all his writing, speaking, and training have culminated in this manual for training pastors. If you’re hoping to raise up leaders (or be raised up yourself), you might want to add this book to your church planting library. I have, and my church is already starting to use it.
Help! I’m Married to My Pastor: Encouragement For Ministry Wives and Those Who Love Them, by Jani Ortlund
Jani Ortlund has provided a jewel here. In the same vein as The Church Planter’s Wife, this resource gives attention to the unique experience of pastor wives. Let me just say, my wife has been reading it and yesterday she texted me, “This book is really good. And I also feel like it’s peering into my soul. You should probably read it too.” Need I say more?
Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case For Theological Triage, by Gavin Ortlund
Yes, another Ortlund book here. And yes, another one right on time. Its aim is to help church leaders navigate the current moral convulsion and its polarizing effects in the church. Especially as a church plant grows, it will desperately need the thoughtful prioritization of doctrine so as not to become minimalist or sectarian. My pastor team is reading it right now and we’re learning these big words too.
The Sending Church Defined, by Bradley Bell
Now here’s the Captain Crunch you’ve been looking for! Just kidding. The Upstream Collective asked me to write this book in order to bring clarity to the term “sending church”. Here’s what it brings to this list: church planters who catch its theological vision and practice can empower their churches to send their members into global missions—from day one (instead of years down the road).
**Building a Multiethnic Church: A Gospel Vision of Love, Grace, and Reconciliation in a Divided World, by Derwin L. Gray
When it comes to the topic of multiethnic church and racial reconciliation, over and over I’ve heard people say that this book from pastor Derwin Gray is the one to pick up. So I did. And so should you, especially if you hope to engage with this important issue in the context of your church plant.
And just in case you want to spend more time in the cereal aisle, here are a few honorable mentions...
A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson, by Winn Collier
Lead: 12 Gospel Principles For Leadership in the Church, by Paul David Tripp
Love Your Church: 8 Great Things About Being a Church Member, by Tony Merida
Gospel-Driven Ministry: An Introduction to the Calling and Work of a Pastor, by Jared C. Wilson
How to Build a Healthy Church: A Practical Guide For Deliberate Leadership, by D. A. Carson
If you would like to know more about planting churches with GCC, check this page.
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