Ben Arment shares some lessons he has learned out of his church planting experiences in his book,
In the introduction, Arment writes for church planters who struggle.
How did church planting become such a spiritual crapshoot? Why is it that some churches fail why others succeed? How is it that prayerful, hardworking men and women who are called by God and filled with faith could fall flat on their faces?
Pulling from his own experiences in church planting, both from one that struggled to get going and one that he is currently in, he takes this angle:
- Understand the spiritual receptivity of the community where you are planting.
This book attempts to uncover the mystery of church planting. . . Church planting, it turns out, is remarkably organic.
Part 1 is called Good Ground – where Arment shares about spiritual receptivity at the level of local community. I write about spiritual receptivity a lot, but focused on the one-to one conversation level. Arment brings the wisdom of doing that work in the community.
Part 2 is called “Rolling Rocks.” Arment looks at momentum and suggest some was to capture that social momentum.
Part 3 is called “Deep Roots.” Arment looks at how a new church development springs out of the the roots of it’s community, rather than a vision being imported from another community. Church planters will have a deep connection to their local community, some that will take the time to build.
“Planting a church in a spiritually infertile community can be done, but it’s like walking up an escalator that’s going down.”
I’ve got the church planting bruises and blessings.
I know that church planting is not easy work from my first hand experiences.
I spent 5 years on the team to start a church for immigrants that still is up and running with it’s founding pastor.
I spent 7 years on the team to start a second church for immigrants that continues to this day with it’s founding pastor.
Seven months ago, we’ve gotten our family involved in a third immigrant oriented church that will look forward to starting public services in October 2015.
My role has always been a support role and never the lead pastor. That is consistent with God’s calling on my life.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve not seen the ups and downs of launching a new church.
Bruises from disappointments when people walk away.
Blessings of seeing people discover faith in Jesus Christ.
Bruises from early co-leaders who abandon the original vision and bail out.
Blessings from new believers who are so excited about Jesus they keep bringing their friends.
If you are planting a church, you’ll like this book
Other books to church planting take a look at leadership and theology of church planting. This book adds a sociological layer, focused on momentum and social networks.
For my take, the core of this book is knowing the spiritual receptivity of the community where you will plant your church.
Some might call this
- Knowing your community
- Community Exegesis (Read Brian Clark’s questions)
As I look to participating in my 3rd church plant in a brand new community where I have zero roots, this book points out some of the challenges that will be ahead of me.
Arment uses the parable of the soil types in Matthew 13:3-9 to apply to church planting along with examples from his own experience.
Not only is your ability to share the gospel dependent on a person’s heart condition, but your ability to plant a church successfully is dependent upon your community’s spiritual fertility as well. . . It never dawns on most church planters that their target community already has an established degree of spiritual fertility (page 20).
Arment then unpacks
- the spiritual fertility of the “soil” in which the church is planted,
- methods of cultivation,
- tapping into social networks, and
- creating and sustaining momentum.
To see how they all fit together, you’ll need to pick up your copy of Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before it Starts, by Ben Arment
When I have taught churches that want to do a door to door evangelism campaign, I invite them to not only think about how to share the gospel, but also to learn about the spiritual thirst of the community as one of the 5 outcomes of door to door work. I believe that noticing spiritual thirst will open good conversational doors.
You might do the community exegesis of visiting with local officials to learn about the community.
The church you want to plant is not a fortress, but are the people of God on the mission of God. Brainstorm ways the church can bless its community and ask the question “How can we be the best church for the neighborhood?”
In the process, you’ll learn the spiritual receptivity of the neighborhood.
Quotes I liked:
- When a new church struggles year after year to see fruit from its activity, we should assume it’s not quite time to plant. Instead, there is tilling, watering, and cultivating to be done.
- It doesn’t matter how good your service, your worship, or your preaching, your church is ultimately judged by social network.
- There are two activities for church planters: cultivating and planting. If you do the right thing in the wrong season, you get zero results.
- But if people are leaving because they don’t like our vision, we should celebrate. Their exodus verifies that our purpose is being lived out. Vision is affirmed not only by the kind of people we attract but also by the kind of people who leave.
- Not everyone in your church can help you further the movement. Nor should they be made to feel guilty if they don’t. But fueling a movement is about identifying your connectors and enabling them to reach even more people. This is what Jesus did by investing in twelve disciples to keep the movement going from his time until ours.
- People aren’t inspired by spreadsheets. They’re inspired by changed lives.
- After seven years of planting a church, it became clear that our most committed colaborers were the people who had found Jesus through our ministry.
- Paul made a groundbreaking statement to the church of Corinth that ought to forever change how we view our churches: “We have the hope that as your faith increases, our area of ministry will be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel to the regions beyond you” (2 Cor. 10:15–16).
- Planting a church in a spiritually infertile community can be done, but it’s like walking up an escalator that’s going down.
Links to Other reviews:
- If you are a church planter or thinking about planting a church you should read this book. Don’t expect it to make you feel great about planting and pump you up to a spiritual high though. It won’t do that at all. What it will do though is make you think through some issues and consider some reasons church planters struggle. I do not agree with all of Arment’s points, but I do think he does an adequate job of painting a realistic picture of church planting. From: http://pastortodd78.com/book-reviews/church-in-the-making-ben-arment/
- Church in the Making is a helpful resource for church planters and other ministry leaders, particularly those who are undertaking new ventures such as beginning new programs or casting vision for renewal. I wish I would’ve read this book before launching a youth ministry from scratch five years ago. Arment provides helpful insights on contextualization, innovation, connecting and fostering relationships for the building up of the church. He also cites a number of stories of hardship and trouble that are common to ministry–experiences that are authentic, humbling, and helpful towards those that suffer from naiveté or lack of ministry experience. (http://benjaminasimpson.com/blog/2011/1/13/book-review-ben-arment-church-in-the-making.html, also found on Twitter at @bsimpson
- Church in the Making by Ben Arment doesn’t mince any words, and it has the tone of a soldier who has fought the good fight and won, but at a high personal cost, with the sense that the battles could have been easier with better intelligence, and mourning the soldier-friends who he has seen fall around him. http://therooftopblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/book-review-church-in-the-making-by-ben-arment-terrific-and-not-just-on-church-planting/, also found on Twitter at @JamesWJewell
Related Church Planting books
All links will connect you with the book on Amazon. Any purchase made will earn me a small commission. I’ve read each of these and can recommend them to the discussion.
- Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age, Ed Stetzer.
- The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay
- Getting Started: A Practical Guide to House Church Planting
- Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens, Niel Cole
- Evangelism Where You Live: Engaging Your Community by Stephen Pate
- Planting Missional Churches. Ed Stetzer
- Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture (Exponential Series), Brandon Hatmaker
- Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, Andy Stanley
- Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch, Nelson Searcy
- Transforming Church in Rural America, Shannon O’Dell
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Order your copy of Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before it Starts, by Ben Arment from Amazon. I will receive a small commission.