Planting. Watering. Growing. ‘Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century’.

Planting. Watering. Growing. ‘Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century’.

Edited by Daniel Hyde & Shane Lems (Reformation heritage Books, 2011)

This book has contributions from a number of authors including such luminaries as: Michael Horton, Brian Vos & Kim Riddlebarger to name a few. The book is split into four parts:

  1. The foundation of planting churches
  2. The methods of planting churches
  3. The work of planting churches
  4. The context of planting churches.

As you would expect with a book like this, it is jammed pack with biblical thought and principles. One thing stood out early on and that was David Hyde’s assertion that Acts 22:3 must be applied to a bible college education. I, for one, do not agree that just because Paul was ‘educated in the Word’ that we must make the jump to a formal seminary education. Whilst not disparaging such, I think we are on very dangerous ground to think that the only people God can use for church planting purposes are those who have had a Bible college education. Yes, we must be competent in the Word and yes we must be biblically literate but more and more churches are (rightly) rediscovering their responsibility to train their men (and women) in house rather than sending them off to an institution for 3 or 4 years. I think the future lies more in ‘real’ partnership between colleges and churches rather than the current state of affairs, where more and more Bible colleges, seeking ratification from worldly universities, are more inclined to adapt their programmes to those standards rather than meeting the concerns and needs of local churches. I think that there needs to be some sort of clearer moratorium on this issue because lots of Bible colleges are operating as completely separate entities from local churches these days.

This book is very meaty and deserves slow and thoughtful consideration. Michael Horton’s essay in chapter 4 entitled, ‘No church, no problem!’ stands out. As he reminds us, ‘we come to church first of all because the creator of the universe has summoned us to appear before Him in His court.’ (p49) By this he means the Sunday gathering. Meeting together corporately during the week is about coming in Jesus’ name to hear God address us through His Word by the power of His Spirit. It caused me to pause and consider the increasingly popular view that Sunday’s are just another day in the week, no more important than when we meet together at any other time. In all our talk on mission and evangelism it does us good to be reminded that the mission of the church is to ensure the proper preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments and discipline of the body (the forgotten task).

Chapter 9 by Daniel Hyde, entitled: ‘On being A Church Planter’ is perhaps one of the finest chapters you are ever likely to read on the subject anywhere. Crammed full of great advice and biblical insight, it left me encouraged, challenged, enlightened and envisioned. Great stuff!

Despite the fact that it is written with an obviously Presbyterian bent, this Baptist boy still absolutely loved its depth, practical insight and helpful, thoughtful and deeply theological outworking. I disagreed with many things, particularly methodologically, but without doubt by far the best book I have read this year on the topic. Get it.