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Top 10 Church Planting Related Books from 2018

Leading means reading.

This applies even more to movement leaders who are leaders among leaders. I highly recommend church planting leaders keep a balance of reading between theology, sociology, organizational theory, learning theory, and even science and technological trends. But in case you don’t have time to read as broadly as you’d like and need an array of books that can help you think through strategy and encourage church planters in your movement, I’d recommend these ten books from 2018.
Here are some brief criteria for this list:

  • They pertain to some aspect of church planting.
  • They offer profound ideas, but also application.
  • They are written by a credible thought-leader or practitioner in the field.
  • They are published and printed books from 2018. (No ebooks.)

The books are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. Also provided is an excerpt from the author explaining a little bit about the book:

Top 10 Church Planting Related Books from 2018

The Mosaik Miracle
How God Is Building a New Church for Refugees, Immigrants and Nationals
By Stephen Beck

“This book is also about one of the most formidable challenges Europe has ever faced: the immigration of millions of people who have fled Islamist butchery in their war-torn homelands. Since 2011 distraught and traumatized people have traveled across Middle Eastern roads, African deserts, and Mediterranean waters to Europe. The politicians and the media call it a ‘refugee crisis.’ What is not reported, however, is the effect these people have on small, struggling churches (like ours) when they step into Christian communities.”

Navigating the Intersection of Church Planting + Social Entrepreneurship
By Sean Benesh
“Intrepid’s mission is to partner with and mobilize local churches to plant new churches across North America in under-reached and off-the-beaten-path communities, particularly communities that have been in economic decline and are transitioning to revitalize their local economy (both urban and rural). It is to see churches planted where people come to Christ and the community is lifted up through new businesses, non-profits, job creation, and more.”

City Shaped Churches
Planting Churches in a Global Era
By Linda Bergquist and Michael D. Crane
“Because the world’s cities are changing rapidly and because the body of information about cities is growing at such an accelerated pace, this book is very different than it would have been ten years ago and maybe even five years ago. In addition, Christian theology and missiology is morphing. They are learning not only from one another and from a fresh breath of God’s Spirit, but also from God’s urban pioneers who loved and cared for cities during the generations in which the story of church planting was mostly relegated to the ‘burbs.”

Church Forsaken
Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods
By Jonathan Brooks
“Like Jeremiah’s letter, this book is a prophetic work from a fellow exile to you. I want you to hear the voices in my neighborhood. I want you to meet some of the amazing people who have helped me to realize that God has not forsaken Englewood [Chicago] or any other place in the world. As a matter of fact, we read clearly and directly in the Bible that God has promised never to forsake us. If this is the truth, yet there are communities that deal with greater ills and injustices, we must ask ourselves who has forsaken these places.”

Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement
By Gary Comer
“The reason we do not see waves of prolific missional Christians rising from our ranks today is that our problem is systemic, rooted deeply in church tradition and popular market culture. Like chemotherapy, this book will attack the virulence head-on. I believe the developmental process explained herein works regardless of a church’s platform or cultural positioning. I am not charging you to be something that is not befitting of your vision; I only want to see your church, group, or agency have exceptional impact.”

Seeing Jesus in East Harlem
What Happens When Churches Show up and Stay Put
By José Humphreys
“Like the colorful murals found on brick walls in the barrios of East Harlem, I hope the stories I’ve curated at the intersections of a contextual discipleship can have universal yet contextual value anywhere. Each chapter in this book is expressed through personal narrative, helping readers reflect on a discipleship that takes personal salvation, public prophetic witness, and place into weighty consideration.”

Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil
Theology and Practice
By Christopher B. James
“Thousands of new churches and new forms of church are springing up each year across the country. The sheer volume of church planting and innovation efforts underway across the Western world call for careful study and theological reflection as churches pursue Christian witness in increasingly post-Christian settings. As a practical theologian, I write this book as part of my commitment to equip church leaders with interpretive insight and theologically grounded counsel regarding faithful practice as they strive to faithfully lead their churches into spiritual and missional vitality in the midst of a changing context. The aim of this project is to share the practical wisdom of new Seattle churches with the broader church.”

Ideas to Lead the Church in Post-Christendom
By Rohadi Nagassar
“This book is designed to help you and your church survive and thrive in a post-Christian world. It propels you beyond a comfort and complacency, and into the extraordinary plan God has in store. It is a guide to help turn the necessary components—your dreams and ideas for better—real. Five main parts are ahead of you, each with multiple chapters. Part One will diagnose the problem the church finds itself in today. I explain the current state of the church, how we got here, and examine the cultural shifts that have rendered the contemporary church facing obsolescence. After that, we dive straight into what can be done about decline.”

Now That I’m Called
A Guide for Women Discerning A Call to Ministry
By Kristen Padilla
“I am sharing my calling story with you so you can see that calling is fluid. It takes different shapes and sizes along the way. However, I also want you to see that while my life and work have evolved, God and his call to deliver his Word has been sure and steady. He who has called me is faithful. God isn’t asking us to be in control of our callings or to make them look like what we want them to look like. Rather, he is asking us to be obedient and trust him every step of the way, knowing that he is always faithful. Besides, it is not about us, is it? It is about God receiving all the glory (2 Cor. 4:7).”

Underground Church
A Living Example of the Church in Its Most Potent Form
By Brian Sanders
“The UNDERGROUND is composed of 201 microchurches (or mission entities)—of all shapes and sizes—in Tampa Bay. Some of these churches are grand endeavors with hundreds of people, paid staff, and a large budget. Others are made up of a dozen people who are picking a fight with a big problem in the name of Jesus. Then there’s everything in between. Our diversity demonstrates our philosophy. The UNDERGROUND is a family. We do not tell people what to do, only that they ought to—in Jesus’s name—do something. To the casual observer, the UNDERGROUND might look like just another church, but we are actually a collection of churches. We are a practical paradox. At once centralized and decentralized, we are the church, and yet we are made up of individual churches.”

Two Must-Read Missiological Works

I would be remiss not to mention these two books also released in 2018. I did not include them in the top 10 list because of their broad application and their academic orientation. But, I highly recommend them as you lead your movement!

Participating in God’s Mission
A Theological Missiology for The Church in America
By Craig Van Gelder
“This book focuses on this question: What might faithful and meaningful Christian witness look like within the contemporary American context amid these unravelings? To answer it, we must take up the dynamic relationship between the gospel of Jesus Christ and local culture in different times and places, as well as how the Spirit of God brings forth new forms of church even while it reforms existing ones. We reflect on the long, complex, and contested history of Christian mission within America over the centuries with a particular eye toward local congregations and their public witness. It is not our intent to offer a new history of the church in the United States; that story has been—and continues to be—told richly by others more qualified than are we. Rather, we draw on that historical record to take a distinctly missiological read on the church’s engagement with its neighbors and the broader nation.”

The Church and Its Vocation
Lesslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology
By Michael Goheen
“To be sure, Newbigin never discarded the traditional concerns of ecclesiology—worship and liturgy, preaching and teaching, leadership and church order. To the contrary, he wanted to see each of these areas of the internal life of the church serve the vocation and role God had given the people of God. Neither did he neglect the traditional concerns of mission—evangelism and church planting, mercy and justice, social ethics and political engagement. Rather, he wanted to place them within a broader vision of the missionary vocation of the church. Ecclesiology was relating our identity to all these things and reshaping them in light of the role that God called his people to play in the biblical drama.”