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Both the culture and the ministry of church planting in North America are in an important time of reformation as indicated by the Church Planting Manifesto released earlier this year. It takes multiple disciplines to fully express how different the cultural climate of 21st century North America is compared to when our modern versions of church planting developed over forty years ago.

Think about this: We are closer to the year 2050 than we are to when Rick Warren planted Saddleback Church in 1980!

These books capture how some leaders are responding to the church planting challenges and opportunities in the 21st century. Here are some brief criteria for this list:

  • They pertain to some aspect of church planting.
  • They deal with profound ideas, but are easy to read.
  • They are written or edited by a credible thought-leader or practitioner in the field.

Here they are listed by publication date:

Top 10 Church Planting Related Books from 2019

Covocational Church Planting
Aligning Your Marketplace Calling and the Mission of God (January 18, 2019)
By Brad Brisco

Over the past several years there has been an increasing interest in church planting. As a result of declining attendance and the closing of many existing churches, every major denomination is focusing more resources toward starting new congregations. In the midst of this proliferation of church planting, one of the most significant trends is the starting of new churches by covocational leaders.

A covocational church planter is one whose primary vocation is in the marketplace, but at the same time feels lead to start a church.

Named+Known
Uncovering the Identities of Women Who Plant Churches (March 1, 2019)
By Heidy Tandy

We know that our creator God deeply knows us. This identity first as a child of God is the ultimate descriptor as we discover who we are and why we’re here. This book is a collection of stories written by 14 women: all of whom are church planters. They lead in diverse ways: as pastors, on staff at churches, in the marketplace, at home with kids, as single women, on the east coast, on the west coast, and everywhere in between. These stories are about learning, struggling, overcoming, and celebrating!

Blank Slate
Write Your Own Rules for a 22nd Century Church Movement (March 19, 2019)
By Lia McIntosh, Jasmine Smothers, Rodney Thomas Smothers

Blank Slate guides leaders to envision, and actually design, the future church. The authors start by describing each generational group currently living in the US, helping readers understand the varied context of people in every age group. Next, they explore five innovative secular organizations, drawing sharp lessons for the church. The last section includes a seven-step process for ministry leaders to engage current and upcoming generations. This book, with questions for individual and group reflection in each chapter, is a powerful planning tool for ministry teams.

Viral Multiplication In Hispanic Churches
How to Plant and Multiply Disciple-Making Hispanic Churches in Twenty-first Century America (May 8, 2019)
By Iosmar Alvarez

Reverend Iosmar Alvarez created this book to teach church planting leaders how to plant new, healthy, vital, and vibrant churches with multiplication DNA. Using scripture-grounded values, principles, and the author’s own testimony, this book will help reach both new and diverse Hispanic/Latino people, as well as other cultures and contexts.

Together for the City
Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement (August 27, 2019)
By Neil Powell and John James

It’s not enough to plant individual churches in isolation from each other. The spiritual need and opportunity of our cities is too big for any one church to meet alone. Pastors Neil Powell and John James contend that to truly transform a city, the gospel compels us to create localized, collaborative church planting movements. They share lessons learned and principles discovered from their experiences leading a successful citywide movement. The more willing we are to collaborate across denominations and networks, the more effectively we will reach our communities―whatever their size―for Jesus.

Marks of a Movement
What the Church Today Can Learn From the Wesleyan Revival (September 10, 2019) By Winfield Bevins

Winfield Bevins reminds us of the vital multiplication lessons from the Wesleyan movement, one of the greatest missional movements the world has ever known. He highlights the necessity of discipleship as the starting point and the abiding strategic practice that is key to all lasting missional impact in and through movements. The Methodist movement is an example of the power of multiplying movements that utilize the strategy of discipleship. Within a generation, one in thirty people who were living in Britain had become Methodists, and the movement soon became a worldwide phenomenon.

Microchurches
A Smaller Way (September 10, 2019)
By Brian Sanders

When Jesus thought about the church, what did he imagine? Most churches are small, and rightly so. With power being redistributed in our time, networks of smaller enterprises are both growing and thriving. The yearning for participation and empowerment has us all looking for versions of church that make room for everyone. Perhaps, after all our hand wringing and insecurity about the size of our churches, we have missed the point. Microchurches can be strong, beautiful, accessible and potent portraits of just what Jesus had in mind, if not for all time, at least for ours.This book is a guide to understanding, appreciating and if you are up for it, starting a micro church.

The Coming Revolution in Church Economics: Why Tithes and Offerings Are No Longer Enough, and What You Can Do about It (October 15, 2019) By Mark DeYmaz and Harri Li

Our entire understanding of funding and sustainability must change. Tithes and offerings alone are no longer enough to provide for the needs of the local church, enable pastors to pursue opportunities, or sustain long-term ministry impact. Growing financial burdens on the middle class, marginal increases in contributions to religious organizations, shifting generational attitudes toward giving, and changing demographics are having a negative impact on church budgets. Given that someday local churches may be required to pay taxes on the property they own and/or lose the benefit of soliciting tax-deductible gifts, the time to pivot is now. What’s needed is disruptive innovation in church economics.

Sent to Flourish
A Guide to Planting and Multiplying Churches (October 22, 2019)
Edited by Len Tang and Charles E. Cotherman

Church planting is hard work. Planters face a thousand pressures related to leadership, finances, identity, and more. Quick fixes don’t produce sustainability. How can church planters and their congregations flourish for the long haul? Sent to Flourish is a unique guide to accompany current and prospective church planters as they respond to this essential but sometimes daunting call. Theologically grounded while remaining practically oriented, it combines biblical patterns and practice to equip men and women planters to develop their own holistic planting plans. Written by a diverse team of scholar-practitioners who have planted churches in a variety of contexts, cultures, and church traditions, this book provides a tested roadmap based on Fuller Theological Seminary’s renowned church-planting program.

A Big Gospel in Small Places
Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters (November 5, 2019)
By Stephen Witmer

Jesus loves small, insignificant places. In recent years, Christian ministries have increasingly prioritized urban areas. Big cities and suburbs are considered more strategic, more influential, and more desirable places to live and work. After all, they’re the centers for culture, arts, and education. More and more people are leaving small places and moving to big ones. As a ministry strategy, focusing on big places makes sense. But the gospel of Jesus is often unstrategic. In this book, pastor Stephen Witmer lays out an integrated theological vision for small-place ministry. Filled with helpful information about small places and with stories and practical advice from his own ministry, Witmer’s book offers a compelling, comprehensive vision for small-place ministry today. Jesus loves small places, and when we care deeply about them and invest in them over time, our ministry becomes a unique picture of the gospel―one that the world badly needs to see.

More Works Relevant to Church Planting

In addition to my recommended books on church planting, I offer up eight more books in evangelism and missiology that I think are important as we continue to think about missions in 21st century North America.

Diaspora Christianities
Global Scattering and Gathering of South Asian Christians Kindle (January 15, 2019) By Sam George

This book portrays the fascinating saga of Christians of South Asian origin who have pitched their tents in the furthest corners of the globe and showcases triumphs and challenges of scattered communities. It presents the contemporary religious experiences from a plethora of discrete perspectives. It deals with issues such as community history, struggles of identity and belonging, linkage of religious and cultural traditions, preservation and adaptation of faith practices, ties between ancestral homeland and host nation, and diasporic moral dilemmas in diaspora. This book argues that human scattering amplifies diversity within Christianity and for the need for hetrogeneous unity amidst great diversities.

The Ongoing Role of Apostles in Missions
The Forgotten Foundation (February 15, 2019)
By Don Dent

Numerous trends are presently converging in ways that make this moment in mission history significant. These include the growth of short-term service, the multiplication of mission organizations, local churches sending missionaries without an agency, and the internationalization of missions. It is crucial in the midst of such change that we not lose connection with the New Testament model of the missionary apostles. Apostles, now commonly called missionaries, are God’s gift for the initial planting phase of the church among every people, to the end of the age. This unique church-planting role is the forgotten foundation of the church. Much of the ineffectiveness in missions is due to our attempts to build Christ’s church on a different foundation.

You Found Me
New Research on How Unchurched Nones, Millennials, and Irreligious Are Surprisingly Open to Christian Faith (June 18, 2019)
By Rick Richardson

Many bemoan the decline of the church. We hear a steady stream of reports about how droves of people, especially younger generations, are abandoning Christianity. But new research shows that unchurched Americans are surprisingly more receptive and open to the Christian faith than is commonly assumed.

Researcher and practitioner Rick Richardson unveils the findings of the Billy Graham Center Institute’s groundbreaking studies on the unchurched. A study of 2000 unchurched people across the country reveals that the unchurched are still remarkably open to faith conversations and the church. Even unchurched “nones” and millennials are quite receptive if they are approached in particular ways.

Reframation
Seeing God, People, and Mission Through Reenchanted Frames (September 3, 2019)
By Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson

As Christians, we can often be starved of imagination, wary of paradox, and devoid of mystery. Reframation is a passionate manifesto, calling followers of Jesus to reframe and re-enchant our worldview, enlarging our perception of God and gospel. It’s an invitation to stretch our minds, expand our hearts, and awaken ourselves and those around us to the grand story of God. Rooted in Scripture, and drawing on poetry, literature, the arts, philosophy, and pop culture, Reframation refuses to settle for pious platitudes, and appeals to each and every one of us to experience and articulate the good news narrative in ways that resonate with the spiritual hunger and longings of those in our contemporary culture.

Against the Tide
Mission Amidst the Global Currents of Secularization (September 3, 2019)
Edited by Jay W Moon and Craig Ott

Belonging is declining and belief is changing. With increased globalization and modernization reaching into the furthest corners of the earth also comes the influence of secularization. These three tides of influence impact traditional religious beliefs, practices, and institutions in significant ways. Some modernizing societies see religion on the decline, while others find it thriving in surprising ways. This collection of essays presents the opportunities and the challenges of secularization for the mission of the Church, with hopeful signs and reassurance that God is still at work in a secularizing world.

Seeking Church
Emerging Witnesses to the Kingdom (October 1, 2019)
By Darren T. Duerksen and William A. Dyrness

New expressions of church that are proliferating among Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and other non-Christian religious communities, including so-called insider movements, have raised intense discussion in missiological circles. In Seeking Church, Darren Duerksen and William Dyrness address these issues by exploring how all Christian movements have been and are engaged in a “reverse hermeneutic,” where the gospel is read and interpreted through existing cultural and religious norms.

Let the Church Meet in Your House!
The Theological Foundation of the New Testament House Church (October 31, 2019) By Emerson T Manaloto

The communities in which we live all suffer alienation from God and the sin, social disorder and brokenness that follows. As Christians, we yearn to see our communities saturated with the good news of Jesus Christ, but there are countless obstacles to overcome in our churches and mission agencies as we seek to fulfil this vision. In this book, Emerson Manaloto offers the model of New Testament-based house churches as the vehicle for gospel ministry in communities around the world with specific applications for the Filipino context.

Pilgrims and Priests
Christian Mission in a Post-Christian Society (November 30, 2019)
By Stefan Paas

What does it mean to be a small missional community in a deeply secularized society? Drawing on a wide range of practical insight with mission in one of the most secular contexts of the West, Pilgrims and Priests blends this experience with a thorough analysis of relevant biblical, historical, sociological, theological and spiritual sources that bear relevance to missional identity in the challenging circumstances presented by the secular West. It presents a hopeful perspective, rooted in a realistic appraisal of reality and rich theological reflections. The result is an important resource for thinkers, practitioners and all who are fascinated by the future of Christianity in the West.

Daniel Yang
Author

Daniel is the Director of the Send Institute, leading and overseeing all of its initiatives. Prior to directing the institute, he planted a church in Toronto where he also helped recruit, assess, and train church planters through the Send Network and the Release Initiative. Daniel has served on various church staffs including Northwood Church, led by Bob Roberts Jr., where he was trained as a church planter and involved in global and multi-faith engagement. Prior to church planting, Daniel was an engineer for eight years. He earned an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, and is currently a Ph.D. Intercultural Studies student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

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