In Case You Missed It

1) Two posts for this one. Southern Seminary president Al Mohler offered some historical reflection in light of the Supreme Court’s recent indecision on gay marriage. ERLC president Russ Moore also weighed in with some thoughts for how the church ought to respond. Both are well worth your time.

2) It’s a perplexing though powerful text. So John Piper clarified his take on Romans 7.

3) Ed Stetzer notes well that idolatry lives today, so pastors much guard and preach against it.

4) Thom Rainer offers a helpful list on seven ways the pastor’s family comes under attack.

The Church Planter’s Library (3): International Church Planting

[Editor’s Note: This summer we are posting some old but good pieces from BtT. This post originally appeared on July 10, 2009.]

The apostle Paul was at once the early church’s best theologian, most perceptive observer of culture, and most active evangelist. As an embodiment of these traits, he provides for us an example of the qualities demanded of an international church planter. He must be both theologically and culturally savvy. He must be a theoretician and a practitioner. He sometimes is asked to be both a church planter and a one-man seminary.

Precisely because of these expectations, the international church planter must think deeply and widely about a host of issues. The little booklist that I am presenting is woefully inadequate, but hopefully it will provide the prospective church planter with a good start.


After having put in the hard (and fruitful) work of studying Old Testament, New Testament, theology, church history, etc., which provide the matrix within which we can think about church planting, the first order of business is to study ecclesiology and the classic texts on church planting. As I did in the previous post, I recommend John Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches and Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church as basic texts on the doctrine of the church.

Classic Church Planting Texts

Also as I mentioned in the previous post, I recommend John L. Nevius, The Planting and Development of Missionary Churches and Roland Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of The Church. In addition, however, I would add Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?, a classic text in theology of church planting.

Theology of Mission

John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad is the single best place for an aspiring church planter to start reading theology of mission. It is a theological, missiological, and motivational masterpiece. For a more in-depth treatment, see J. H. Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions and George Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions. These two books are classics of 20th century theology of missions and ought to be read side by side. Finally, David Hesselgrave’s Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today is an exemplary theological and missiological treatment of major issues in missions today.

Contemporary Texts on Church Planting

After having beefed up on ecclesiology and church planting classics, you are ready to move to make a more sound theological and missiological assessment of contemporary trends in international church planting. Because of the scope of this installment, I will limit myself to a few of the most influential contemporary texts. I want to go ahead and put my cards on the table here. There are very few good books on international church planting (maybe only 2 or 3). You will notice, when reading even some of the books below, that much of what is written in this discipline is severely lacking in theological depth and breadth and for that reason is deficient missiologically also.

1. Stuart Murray, Church Planting: Laying Foundations. Murray’s book provides a theological foundation and historical framework for understanding the task of church planting.

2. David Hesselgrave, Planting Churches Cross-Culturally. Hesselgrave builds a biblical-theological case for church planting and delineates what he calls the “Pauline Cycle” of church planting.

3. Tom Steffen, Passing the Baton, rev. ed. Steffen divides the task of church planting into five stages and focuses on the “phase-out” stage, arguing that the church planter must make clear plans to “pass the baton” to national leaders or else he will endanger the health of the church.

4. David Garrison, Church Planting Movements. This book offers a definition of “church planting movement,” examples of global CPMs, and instruction on how to prepare for a church planting movement. Garrison’s book is a descriptive text about what he has observed in various global CPMs; it is not a biblical-theological treatment of church planting.

5. George Patterson and Richard Scoggins, The Church Multiplication Guide. Patterson and Scoggins teach the necessity of discipleship for healthy church reproduction. They center their discipleship methods on seven commands of Christ, and instruct church planters to teach and embody obedience to those commands. (Note: This book has one of the tackiest covers and most unhelpful page layouts of any book that I have ever encountered. But don’t let this deter you. Patterson planted churches for over twenty years and has plenty to offer.)

6. Daniel Sinclair, A Vision of the Possible. Sinclair’s is a treatise on pioneer church planting in teams. He treats many of the same issues as Garrison (such as leadership, discipleship, CPMs, theological education, etc.), but from a different perspective.

7. Wolfgang Simson, Houses that Change the World. Simson’s book is one of the most widely-read books in the field. He has a fiery pen and wields that pen in order to promote house church planting. Although his argument is an exercise in overstatement that paints the worst possible picture of non-house churches and the best possible picture of house churches, it is helpful for stimulating one’s thought and demonstrating that house churches are not “second-rate.”

A Final Comment

As with the previous installment, I have only mentioned a few of the books that will be helpful for aspiring church planters. (I have not mentioned books in cross-cultural communication, world religions, contextualization, etc.) Further, I have provided little or no critique of each. For that reason, I would like to invite our readership to comment on books that I have not included that you think are particularly helpful, or even to comment on or critique the books that I have included.

What new books (since 2009) can you add to the list? 

Why We Dedicated The Christ-Centered Exposition Series to John Piper and Adrian Rogers

With the release of Exalting Jesus in Matthew by David Platt, 2 Volumes of Christ-Centered Exposition are now available.  There are 38 more to follow addressing all 66 books of the Bible.  On the inside cover one will read, “Dedicated to Adrian Rogers and John Piper.  They have taught us to love the gospel of Jesus Christ, to preach the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, to pastor the Church for which our Savior died, and to have a passion to see all nations gladly worship the Lamb.”  We have received several kind encouragements from the Rogers family, and we received the following note from Dr. Piper:

Thank you for the amazing gift and honor of the dedication of the series to Adrian Rogers and me…I am stunned.  I still feel like that little boy back in junior high and high school so insecure and unable to speak in front of a group larger than two or three of my friends.  I still feel like a deeply imperfect preacher, and pastor and husband and father and friend.  I feel like those who honor what I do must not know me well enough.

So you can feel perhaps some of my amazement at this tribute.  I receive it (as I am sure Adrian Rogers would) with wonder and thankfulness to you all and to the Lord Jesus who, as Paul says, has stood by me and enabled me to proclaim his word.  I love his word.  I want to live in it and by it and for it till I am home with Him.

May God give you all grace and wisdom and strength and joy in the editing of this series for his great name.

Gratefully and amazed,

John Piper

Some might be surprised that we would couple these two men for our dedication.  We, on the other hand, would be surprised if persons did not see why we did!  Sure, they had differences on certain theological issues.  We are well aware of that.  But, they agreed on far more!  Both men, without stammering or stuttering believe:

1)      The inerrancy, infallibility, authority and sufficiency of the Bible.

2)      In the Triune God who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.

3)      God as Creator and reject naturalistic evolution as nonsense.

4)      In both the dignity and depravity of man.

5)      In the full deity, perfect humanity and sinlessness of Jesus the Son of God.

6)      In the penal substitutionary nature of the atonement as foundational for understanding the cross work of our Savior.

7)      The good news of the gospel as the exclusive and only means whereby any person is reconciled to God.

8)      The biblical nature of a regenerate church witnessed in believer’s baptism by immersion.

9)      Salvation is by grace alone thru faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God along.

10)  The reception of the Holy Spirit is at the moment of regeneration/conversion and that the blessing of spiritual gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ.

11)  In the literal, visible and historical return of the resurrected Jesus Christ to this earth when He will manifest fully His kingdom.

12)  In the reality of an eternal heaven and an eternal hell with Jesus as the only difference.

13)  In a “sanctity of life” ethic from conception to natural death.

14)  In the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, the goodness of sex in marriage and the gift of children, lots of them!

15)  In the complementary nature of male/female relationships rejoicing in the divine ordering of them for the home and the church; and my list could go on.

These two “warriors for the faith” are role models worthy of consideration and emulation in the pattern of 1 Corinthians 11:1.  We see a lot of Jesus in both men.  It is a joy and privilege to honor them.  They both deserve our gratitude and thanks for all that they have done for the glory of Christ and the good of His Church and the nations.


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