I finally finished Ed Stetzer’s book, “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age.” It was a highly touted book by all the church planting gurus. In fact, many of them mentioned that this is the “one book” that needs to be on the shelf of every church planter.
This is a very practical book. It has many chapters on the “how to” of church planting. It is pretty humbling to know that there were a lot of things that we in HMCC did not do when we planted our first church in 1996. But then, it is reassuring to know that it was really a “God thing” because we did not follow a lot of the expert’s principles – not that we were rebellious, but it was more out of ignorance. We just had a vision to “transform lost people into Christ’s disciples who will transform the world.”
The section on the biblical basis of church planting was excellent. Stetzer perused through the book of Acts and followed the pattern of the 1st century model (Apostle Paul). It was very insightful. It is interesting that there seems to be a re-surfacing of the 1st century methods of church planting. Even though in some Christian circles the term “apostolic” is not used or even shunned, we are seeing more people accepting the validity of the function (role) of the “apostle” (Gk: apostolos = “one sent forth”). This is what we are trying to do in AMI (Acts Ministries International). It is our desire to recapture the “apostolic” model of missions and church planting in our generation.
Stetzer in one section of his book tried to talk about planting ethnic churches. I thought that it was a bit too general. Maybe because he is not from an ethnic minority, some of the principles and comments did not account for a lot of the various issues that ethnic communities face in a church plant. But one thing we are seeing all over the world is more multi-ethnic church plant starting up with ethnic leadership.
It was interesting that even though this book was published in 2003, it was a bit outdated. This shows that the spiritual landscape is constantly changing. Even the various practices of the post-modern generation are constantly changing. We have to remember that “biblical principles never change, but the methods do” and we have to be ready to flow with the Spirit.
Towards the end of the book, Stetzer FINALLY mentions the importance of prayer and the importance of the Holy Spirit leading every church plant. It would have been more encouraging to see the prayer mantle in the beginning as well as interwoven throughout the book. If there is anything that we need to keep on reminding ourselves with is that fact that without prayer, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5).