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Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission [Paperback]

Darrin Patrick
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Book Description

Aug. 12 2010 Re: Lit Books

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 ofevery 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.


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Format:Paperback
"[W]e have a cultural crisis and a theological one," writes Darrin Patrick in Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission. "We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence. They are neither boys nor men. They live, suspended as it were, between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being grown-ups. . . . This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even, frighteningly, vocational ministry." (p. 9).

In short, we have a man crisis. Modern society shuns the traditional role of the man as the head of the home, the breadwinner and the spiritual leader of the family. Advertising and entertainment show the man as the oafish buffoon, Mom's "other child." Emasculated, men have abdicated their responsibilities and escaped into the fleeting pleasures of hobbies, video games and pornography.

They are neither men nor boys. They are are "Bans," a hybrid of both a boy and man. They're in our communities, our churches, our workplaces, and our families.

Ban needs godly men and women to show him there is more to life than he is currently experiencing. Ban needs to be more than just a male. He needs to be becoming God's man who is being transformed by God's gospel message and is wholeheartedly pursuing God's mission. (p. 18)

That's why Patrick, the pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis and vice-president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, wrote Church Planter. In its pages, Patrick offers sound advice and biblical wisdom as he challenges prospective church planters, longtime pastors and the average churchman alike to be God's man armed with God's message and on God's mission.

So what kind of man does it take to plant a church? What kind of man does the church need to carry out its mission?
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  72 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for all Christians and Church Planters Alike Sept. 12 2010
By Jacob Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The church planting varsity league of the 21st century, Acts 29, has finally released their first book on church planting: Church Planter by Darrin Patrick. In particular, Patrick's work is about raising the bar for ban's (boy+man=ban) to stop merely being humans with male plumbing, but men who are defined by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The subtitle of the book gives away its three sections: The Man, The Message, The Mission. Under "The Man" Patrick spends a chapter on each the seven characteristics of what a man should be: Rescued, Called, Qualified, Dependent, Skilled, Shepherding, Determined. Under "The Message" he says that a man's message should be The Historical, Salvation-Accomplishing, Christ-Centered, Sin-Exposing, Idol-Shattering Message, with a chapter on each aspect. In section three, he talks about how the heart of a man's mission is compassion, the house of the mission is the church, the how of his mission is contextualization, the hands of his mission are care, and the hope of his mission is city transformation. Needless to say, Patrick covers a wide range of material in this book that lands at a mere 238 pages.

Main Review
At the center of this book beats a heat centered on Jesus Christ and him crucified. This got me excited about the book. At no point does Patrick slip into the all to easy vein of moralistic guilting. Darrin Patrick is a pastor, a pastor who loves Jesus, and you get the sense through the book that Patrick wants us to know the power of King Jesus as it relates to the call of some to plant churches. He wants what God wants, what the Bible clearly calls men to (if they should so choose to let the Bible speak for itself): men who know the power of Christ to rescue them from sin and call them into a life with God. He makes appeals to men being men of God simply because they are fundamentally rescued men.

Eric Simmons has noted that page 25 of the book where he talks about "What does it mean to be rescued?" is worth the entire price of the book. I couldn't agree more. But let me add a couple more places that the book is worth its weight in gold. In chapter three, Patrick gives a fresh and helpful exposition of 1 Timothy 3's qualifications of a pastor. Seriously rich and illuminating stuff here. Further, on page 124 in chapter 9 on "Salvation-Accomplishing" I have a huge star for personal reference where Patrick goes through and gives an extensive Scripture listing of "The blessings that Christ has procured or us through his death and resurrection [that are] immeasurable". I know I will be continually referring back to this helpful listing (along with a section a few pages over on the imputed righteousness of Christ).

A further helpful aspect of the book that I would note is Patrick's pastoral care for us through the material. He likes to ask you lots of questions to help you think through things. These tend to be at the end of chapters. He also wants to keep you from going off on bad roads from various things he presents. So very often he presents biblical truth, applies it to your life, and then gives observations (typically two or three) on how people can avoid this truth, supress it, take it the wrong way, etc. His wise insight will be helpful in guiding many men on a godly path of pursuing a church planting calling.

In some ways I feel this book is mistitled. It should be something along the lines of "Being A Christian". The book centers around what the Gospel of God (the message) does to a person rescued by Jesus (the man) and what it sends them to do (the mission). Certainly the book is applied to those called to be pastors and church planters, but the sense I kept getting through the book was simply that, as all commentators have noted, the call of godliness on the pastor is the call of every Christian. Very little of this book is relegated to only church planters.

Critique
The strength of the book lies primarily in the first two sections: The Man and The Message. Certainly the third section has it's strengths, but I think along the lines of Paul's instructions in 1 Timothy 3 and 1 Corinthians 15, Patrick's instructions about who the man is, and what he's about are primary.

The two concerns I would have about the content of the book have already been noted by others (ironically one was Mark Dever's recommendation printed in the book!). I'd simply say that I think Patrick should have given more discussion to the qualification of a man's love and care for his wife, especially given the fairly stark picture he paints of the modern man in his preface.

Secondly, I am not sure I fully agree with some of the applications Patrick makes for mission of church planting in section three. Patrick opens the last chapter in presenting the statistics of modern population grouping to show that a vast majority of people live in the city today. He then proceeds in two steps to make the case that we should aim to plant in cities and then aim to see the transformation of those cities by the power of the Gospel.

My concern here is that quiet simply the people who are moving to the city are young, 20-30 somethings, who have the ability to up and move, which means that the unintended effect of setting to minister in cities is that we end up aiming to plant to people who are like us, 20-30 somethings. Additionally, the people who live in rural or suburban areas might not be the targets in mind with this "plant in the cities" approach and largely (though unintentionally) be over looked. I think this application and appeal for church planting to the cities is helpful, but I merely sit back and wonder how helpful it is. Will people, in say, rural Michigan be the targets of church planters inspired by this book? I'm not a wise man, nor a wise cookie, so take my concern for what it's worth.

Overall
I think all Christians who want a simple, packed, and "go to" manual in getting clarity and insight into who they are as a Christian, what they're called to, what their message is, and where they should be thinking about going will benefit from this book. If I were on a church planting team (or by some absolutely bazaar twist of providence leading a team) I would want every person with me to have a copy of this book. The strength of the book lies its ease of accessibility and helpful insight. While I have my disagreements, they're relatively small on the scale of the vast stores of Gospel glory that this book brings to the table. I'm certain that this book will become a standard in the years to come for men thinking about or in the process of church planting.

May God be so kind as to use this book to raise up more men to be church planters that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would go to the ends of the earth.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific insights for shaping godly men by God's message for God's mission Oct. 19 2010
By Aaron Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"[W]e have a cultural crisis and a theological one," writes Darrin Patrick in Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission. "We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence. They are neither boys nor men. They live, suspended as it were, between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being grown-ups. . . . This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even, frighteningly, vocational ministry." (p. 9).

In short, we have a man crisis. Modern society shuns the traditional role of the man as the head of the home, the breadwinner and the spiritual leader of the family. Advertising and entertainment show the man as the oafish buffoon, Mom's "other child." Emasculated, men have abdicated their responsibilities and escaped into the fleeting pleasures of hobbies, video games and pornography.

They are neither men nor boys. They are are "Bans," a hybrid of both a boy and man. They're in our communities, our churches, our workplaces, and our families.

Ban needs godly men and women to show him there is more to life than he is currently experiencing. Ban needs to be more than just a male. He needs to be becoming God's man who is being transformed by God's gospel message and is wholeheartedly pursuing God's mission. (p. 18)

That's why Patrick, the pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis and vice-president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, wrote Church Planter. In its pages, Patrick offers sound advice and biblical wisdom as he challenges prospective church planters, longtime pastors and the average churchman alike to be God's man armed with God's message and on God's mission.

So what kind of man does it take to plant a church? What kind of man does the church need to carry out its mission? What kind of man is needed to see lives transformed?

Patrick breaks down who that man is as follows:

He is a rescued man. He is, quite simply, a man who has indeed personally experienced forgiveness and acceptance from Jesus Christ. He must be growing in genuine love for God and people.

He is a called man. Pastoral ministry is impossible for man on his own. He must be clearly called by God.

He is a qualified man. He is a man growing in the character qualifications of a biblical elder as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

He is a dependent man. He is a man who solely depends on the power of the Holy Spirit for the success of his ministry. He knows that it's not by his will that anything can be done and seeks to grow deeply in his dependence by cultivating his relationship with God.

He is a skilled man. He is a man who exhibits (in varying degrees) the three basic skills necessary for pastoring: leading, teaching and shepherding.

He is a shepherding man. He is a man who cares for Jesus' sheep, and is prepared to lay down his life to protect and nurture them.

He is a determined man. There are going to be seasons in every pastor's ministry where it will be very tempting to "tap out" and give up.

This first section of the book provides a compelling and captivating picture of what a godly man should look like--not simply a pastor or church planter. As I read through these pages, I had to stop and seek the answers to the questions that Patrick posed along the way--questions that were incredibly challenging to answer. But the book's insights allow for real and reliable self-examination, as well as examination by others. And this alone makes Church Planter a worthwhile investment.

In part two, Patrick examines the message of the Church--the gospel--in all its provocative glory.

It is a historical message. The gospel is rooted in history. "[T]he historicity of Christianity and the physicality of Jesus must be defended, because a Christianity not grounded in history is no Christianity at all." (p. 114).

It is a salvation-accomplishing message. The gospel is the message of what God has done in history--and that is, first and foremost, Jesus coming to atone for the sins of mankind. The good news of the gospel is good news because Christ actually saves sinners.

It is a Christ-centered message. The gospel is not just the message about what Jesus has done--Jesus is the gospel. Jesus Himself declared that the whole of the Old Testament was about His life, death and resurrection. "It's the central truth, the primary thread, the `Big E' on the eye chart when it comes to understanding Scripture" (p. 134).

It is a sin-exposing message. Today, the only unpardonable sin in our culture is to call anything "sin." But when the true message of Scripture is proclaimed, sin will be exposed. "If there is no challenging of the sinful heart, there is no gospel preaching," writes Patrick (p. 151).

It is an idol-shattering message. The sin Scripture's most repeated and emphatic denunciations are reserved for is the sin of idolatry; but true gospel preaching forces us to confront our idols, to repent and turn away from them and toward Christ.

Part two of Church Planter, by and large, reminded me of how breathtaking the truth of the gospel is--and how breathtakingly ridiculous the gospel is if it's not true. If the gospel isn't historical, doesn't accomplish anything without my involvement, is centered on anyone or anything but Christ, serves to prop up my sins and doesn't lead me to turn from my idols and trust in Jesus, it's of no use to me or anyone else.
But it is all of these things--and more! Reading these chapters once again reminded me of just how much I need this message in every aspect of my life.

The message of the Church is nothing but salvation through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It's the message that makes the dead live. And it's the message that drives the mission of the Church.

Part three examines the mission of the Church, which Patrick breaks down as follows:

The heart of mission is compassion. "[C]ompassion is the dominant emotion that the Gospel writers ascribed to Jesus." It's compassion that motivates mission; compassion for the lost drives us to share the good news of the gospel and to live in light of it in practical ways.

The house of mission is the Church."The local church is God's eternal plan to both edify his people and evangelize the world" (p. 187). While there are a number of different models of how to "do church," ultimately a local church that is on mission is one that is focused on Christ, on seeing people come to know and love Jesus. Members are disciples marked by a humble confidence. Confident but not judgmental; humble but not depressed (c.f. p. 191). A gospel-centered church is a reproducing church, making disciples and planting new churches.

The how of mission is contextualization. "We take the unchanging gospel into the ever-changing culture so that persons in a specific time and a specific culture can comprehend the truth of the gospel and be saved by it" (p. 207).

The "hands" of mission is care. Jesus expects His followers to obey the revealed Word of God and that is summed up primarily as loving God and loving people. "Jesus . . . wants the church, the unified body of all believers, to strategically seek reach, teach, and serve people" (p. 211).

The hope of mission is city transformation. Looking at Jeremiah 29:4-7, wherein God commands the Israelites in exile to build homes, plant gardens, have children and seek the welfare of Babylon, Patrick writes, "It seems to me that God is commanding his people to sink themselves deep into the fabric of that wicked city. . . . What would happen if we really tried to be like salt and light to the people living around us?" (pp. 227-228).

Part three of Church Planter is very strong, although not nearly as strong as the first two. The explanation & defense of contextualization is solid. The example of how his church is serving as the hands of Jesus in St. Louis is encouraging. The commitment to (and brief explanation of) the local church is wonderful. The need for Christians to be a part of their community, seeking its good for God's glory is inspiring.

But as I read that final chapter, one statement in particular jumped out at me:

"It is strange the way many Christians give so much money every year to foreign mission efforts without ever considering the need to be a missionary right in their own neighborhoods" (p. 228).

I believe this actually hurts the argument that Patrick is trying to make in this chapter. He's rightly arguing that we need to be acting as "salt and light" in our communities; to be engaged in our communities as problem solvers, rather than problem finders. To be "in the world but not of the world." But he didn't need to set it up as an either/or with foreign missions giving, especially when the stats indicate that approximately 2% of all giving goes to foreign missions (that's not a lot--I'm pretty sure more money is spent on Starbucks every year).

Maybe it's one of those instances where I'm reading something into the statement that's not there, but I've seen it enough times from enough voices in the "missional" church movement that it really concerns me. We need to be missionaries at home, absolutely.

But we also must do all we can to reach those who are outside our local sphere. We need to think locally and globally, to seek and save the lost wherever they might be. To become too narrow in our focus can cause our vision to become too small.

When all's said and done, I do believe that Church Planter is an encouraging and inspiring work. Its insights are built upon the firm foundation of Scripture, making it a valuable resource to show people what it takes to be a church planter, showing us godly men who are shaped by God's message for the sake of God's mission.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Resource for Anyone Involved in God's Kingdom Oct. 22 2010
By Khua - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mark Driscoll addresses it well in his forward to the book: Darrin Patrick is a "pastor to pastors." Darrin Patrick is the Vice-President of the Acts 29, one of the most highly innovative yet theologically-faithful church planting networks today. Often time, pastors and other ministry leaders find themselves alone in leading their congregations and ministries, and it is very hard to receive the feedback and support that Patrick has been able to provide his fellow pastors as they fulfill their callings.

Patrick writes a great new book about church planting. I knew once I saw the endorsements on this book that I had to pick it up and take a look for myself. While I am not a pastor or church planter, I am a former parachurch worker and I have been praying over God's direction and call on my life. My desire to was to pick up this book and perhaps gain a better perspective of what it might look like to plant a church and start a new ministry.

What I found was much more than that--it isn't so much a book about "church planting" as much as it is a book about what a faithful ministry is and what is clear, convicting gospel preaching. What I appreciate about Patrick's writing is that he takes you one step further and also talks you through some of the commonly made mistakes and misconceptions that occur between gospel preaching and cultural engagement.

The book is split into three sections: The Man, The Message, and The Mission. Personally, I found the last two sections to be immensely better than the first. Not that the first didn't have good content, but I would guess the last two sections are immensely helpful to ANYONE involved in ministry (and that should be all of us). It is very clear that Darrin Patrick has been very influenced by the ministry of Tim Keller, especially in the areas of preaching the gospel to the heart (idolatry) as well as proper cultural engagement (contextualization). As a follower of Keller's ministry myself, I am very excited that a resource has been put out that has consolidated much of the principles of his ministry into a very readable and practical form.

There's a story at the end of the second to last chapter that makes me tear up every time I read it about a life being changed through encountering Jesus. Just wanted to mention it so you all would pay special attention to it.

I highly recommend this book to not just church planters, but anyone involved in ministry. It will help you proclaim the life-changing truth of the gospel to everyone around you, and this is a resource I will come back to time and time again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Crossway book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Helpful Resource for Church Planters Jan. 31 2011
By Shane Lems - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
[NOTE: Crossway graciously provided me with a review copy of this book without any requirements of writing a positive review.]

Rather than echoing the earlier reviews of this helpful book, I'll simply list my "pros" and "cons." To lay all my cards on the table up front, I'm a church planter/pastor in the Presbyterian/Reformed confessional tradition.

PROS:
1) This book is gospel centered and full of Scripture. It's not a book that uses the methods and models of the corporate world, but the principles of Scripture.
2) I appreciated the sections on the qualifications of a pastor/elder and wrestling with idols in the church planter's life and preaching.
3) Patrick's repeated call to maturity, godliness, and solid biblical leadership were great emphases. His chapter on contextualization was also thought provoking; I'll refer to it again in the future for sure.

CONS:
1) He lamented the fact that many pastors/planters don't know much about ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church), but his chapter on this subject was very short and quite incomplete. The church planter who has little understanding of the doctrine of the church will not be helped by this book.
2) Patrick is very weak on church history. It would have been nice to have some examples or stories about church planters in the past. This book has no roots in church history.
3) Building on #2, this book doesn't go very far back in what it means to plant churches or be a church planter. It's important for us to remember that Tim Keller (as great as he might be) is not the first church planter from whom we can learn.
4) This "con" is subjective, I realize, but the book's weak ecclesiological position has to do with the baptistic/congregationalist perspective of this book. Perhaps the cover itself depicts this best: one individual standing there to do the harvest. How can church planters depend on established churches to help? Does a church planter have elders to support, help, encourage, and pray for him - perhaps from the 'mother' church that is planting another one? These are questions that should be asked when church planting, but were not really discussed in this book.
5) Patrick devoted a whole chapter to churches transforming cities. I'm wary of "transforming culture," so I wasn't impressed by this emphasis.

Aside from these 'cons,' I do recommend this book for church planters. There aren't a lot of decent books like this on the market to help church planters. This is a good place to start. It doesn't have all the answers, but it is definitely a good resource as we humbly "make disciples of all nations."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for every church planter and pastor! Sept. 15 2010
By Ricky Kirk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
'Church planting' has come to be somewhat of a buzz word within various denominations and networks. Various models and paradigms of ministry are espoused, critiqued, implemented, succeed and fail. Patrick's book calls the church planter back to the basics of what is involved and provides a thorough biblical foundation for the type of man called to plant a church, the message of the gospel that is to be proclaimed and the mission of the church as it proclaims the message of the gospel in it's city.

I am not a church planter, but found this book extremely insightful to me as a pastor. The work uses scripture throughout to establish the main points of each section, as illustrations to points, and as general encouragement. In addition to a solid scriptural basis, Patrick incorporates a wide selection of quotes throughout the book from early church fathers to pastors of our day.

One of the most helpful parts of the book are the very penetrating questions in the beginning chapters for a church planter. These questions examine the call of a church planter and delve into the character and gifting he has (or doesn't have). I found these questions to be valuable not only for a church planter, but for every pastor to examine his call afresh. As I disciple others who have expressed a call to ministry, I will use many of the questions in this work to guide future church planters and pastors.

If I could summarize this book in a succinct way it might be as follows: The Man, the Message, and the Mission of church planting/the church is Jesus. While the man called of God to plant/pastor, the message of the gospel he proclaims and the mission of the church plant to reach it's city have responsibilities and practical decisions to make, the man is simply a man (with a call from God) proclaiming a message with a mission. The Man, the Message, and the Mission of church planting/the church is Jesus.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Crossway book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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