Aubrey Malphurs, professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary, gives us a guide to church planting organized in two sections: 1) the preparation for church planting and 2) the process of church planting. The purpose of the book is to both inspire readers toward church planting and also provide biblical and practical wisdom for church planters. Throughout the book Malphurs includes helpful summary outlines and key questions to help readers to comprehend and apply the material. The appendices include evaluation instruments to help assess spiritual gifts, temperament, leadership style, core values, and much more.
The first section of the book includes justification and motivation for church planting. Too often churches start to decline twenty-five years or so after its start and new churches must be started just to make up for the churches that are closing. Also newer churches tend to better fit within a neighborhood as it is rather than as it once was. New churches are needed because neighborhoods are constantly changing.
Malphurs attempts to appeal to a broad audience of church planters: those starting a seeker services, multi-venue, mega-churches, traditional churches, or purpose driven churches; all need to work through common planning steps. These steps include refining vision, developing strategy, setting goals, mobilizing the congregation, training leaders, and dealing with finances.
I think that the section on identifying and developing primary ministries is one of the most insightful, see p. 141. Identifying and developing these primary ministries will help new church leadership teams to determine which ministries available for a new church plant are opportunities and which are distractions. A tool to help focus leadership teams to develop core ministries is essential to create momentum in the right direction.
Though Malphurs works toward a broad rage of church planting models, readers who are looking for informal church structures will be disappointed with the book. There isn’t much content that includes organic, missional, or post-modern language.
I would recommend this book to both church planters and organizations such as churches that sponsor new churches. Nearly everyone can gain from the wide variety of insights and practical information that Malphurs includes in the book.