Ten Favorite Books for Church Planting 2019

The V3 Movement has been raising up and releasing men and women church planters, from across the theological spectrum, all over the country, that are focused on locally-rooted presence, tight-knit community, life-forming discipleship, and boundary-crossing mission. We are a training movement. So, we wanted to share with you our favorite books in 2019 (and a couple gems from 2018) that might be a companion in equipping and training you for starting new a church in your local place. 

Sent to Flourish: A Guide to Planting and Multiplying Churches with Len Tang and Charles E. Cotherman (Editors)

Planters face a thousand pressures related to leadership, finances, identity, and more. Sent to Flourish is a unique guide to accompany current Planters as they respond to this daunting call. It is theologically grounded while remaining practically oriented, This book’s strength is its diversity of contributors – Carrie Boren Headington, John Lo, Tim Morey, Johnny Ramírez-Johnson, Scott W. Sunquist, Nick Warnes and our very own V3 Movement Planting Director JR Woodward. Filled with real-world insights, stories, and reflection questions, Sent to Flourish gives church planting teams the tools to be spiritually grounded, and missionally agile.

Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales

We all know it’s cool to plant churches in sexy cities. But who wants to plant churches in the suburbs? It seems out of vogue. We need Jesus-followers that stay put in the suburbs and linger, labor, and love faithfully in the suburbs. Finding Holy is winsome for that cause. What does it look like to live a full Christian life in the suburbs? Suburbs reflect our good, God-given desire for a place to call home. And suburbs also reflect our own brokenness. This book is an invitation to look deeply into your soul as a suburbanite and discover what it means to live holy there. Church Planters that find themselves rooted in the suburbs will discover inspiration and immersive help for that important work.

Reframation: Seeing God, People, and Mission Through Reenchanted Frames by Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson

Planting churches that are focused on the Gospel has become somewhat of a cliché. Church Planters can fall trap to saying ‘Gospel’ so much that its meaning is reduced. Well here comes Reframation for our starving imaginations. Reframation is a passionate manifesto, calling followers of Jesus to reframe and reenchant our worldview, enlarging our perception of the gospel. It’s an invitation to stretch our minds, expand our hearts, embrace paradox and awaken ourselves to the story of God. Alan Hirsch has been a godfather to the V3 Movement over the years and we highly recommend this robust and reenchanted view of the Gospel to women and men Church Planters everywhere. 

How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church by C. Christopher Smith

A genuinely missional-incarnational church plant is going to slam into the highly charged social and political environment we inhabit today. No slick sermon series or pat answers are going to suffice. Church Planters must learn the art of dialogue. C. Christopher Smith is our guide in helping us talk well with others–especially with people whose backgrounds differ from our own. How the Body of Christ Talks is a thorough resource for building conversation space amongst brothers and sisters of Christ in the local church. Every rookie church planter will discover how quickly community can crumble if healthy conversation is not cultivated. Smith shows us how church communities can be training hubs where we learn to talk with and listen to one another with kindness and compassion. For church planters this is an essential skill.

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison

Whether your starting a new faith community in a rural setting, suburban, or urban setting you cannot ignore the racial tension between us. But where to start? It feels like a jaunt amongst landmines. It is time for Christians to become the fearless leaders in the conversation on racial reconciliation. This power-packed guide helps us deepen our understanding of historical factors and present realities, equipping us to participate in ongoing dialogue serves to catalyze justice, healing, and ultimately reconciliation. Latasha Morrison lives out the bridge-building ways she presents. Certainly, words matter but Morrison points out our culture conditions us for more talking, analyzing, and self-righteous finger-pointing. We need embodied action and this book can be that careful guide for being a bridge building church plant in your local place.

Love Over Fear: Facing Monsters, Befriending Enemies, and Healing our Polarized World by Dan White Jr.

We admit our bias, this book is written by one of our own staff members in the V3 Movement. But either way, the book stands on its own as a dynamic missional resource for diving into the fray of polarization. Whether it’s the news, social media, or well-intentioned friends, we’re told daily to fear “others.” We fear strangers, neighbors, the other side of the aisle, even those who parent differently. And when we’re confronted with something that frightens us, we often pick one of two options: Attack it or Avoid it. Is there another way? Dan White Jr. is an apt guide for navigating that often-untried way. Saturated with stories about the life of Jesus, real practical steps, neurological insights, and a dab of psychology you’ll find the most accessible pathway for facing that which disgusts us and divides us. If your vision is to plant a healing-community that disrupts the Conservative and Progressive side-taking, you will want to disciple others through Love Over Fear.

Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods by Jonathan Brooks

This book came out at the end of last year but it’s so good it made our 2019 list. In Church Forsaken, Brooks challenges local churches to rediscover that loving our neighbors means loving our neighborhoods. Unpacking the themes of Jeremiah 29, he shows how Christians can be fully present in local communities for the common good. His holistic vision and practical work offers good news for forgotten people and places. God has always been at work in neglected neighborhoods. Church Planting that is place-based must rediscover its viable role as partners in community transformation. Brooks has lived this story and is passing on his hard-earned wisdom to all of us. If you love the neighborhood this book will plummet you deeper into that messy but beautiful work.

Co-vocational Church Planting: Aligning Your Marketplace Calling and the Mission of God by Brad Brisco

There is a seismic shift in American culture, the church now finds itself in increasing irrelevance in its “come to us” posture. The Church is invited to break down the sacred/secular divide. This is where Mission and the Market can converge in context. V3 is so passionate about this convergance we have launched a cohort to equip MarketPlace Planters. Today’s marketplace planters and pioneers are artistically finding ways to start businesses that contribute social good and while gaining favor in the civic structures of a particular place. Co-vocational church planting is the structure for that new but old missional approach. In Covocational Church Planting, Brad provides not only a new way to think about vocation, but also a fresh vision for seeing the work of being the church. There are very few resources for Planters who desire to start new business in the neighborhood while organizing a faith-community, this is one of them—it may be the best one available. 

City Shaped Churches: Planting Churches in a Global Era by Linda Bergquist and Michael D. Crane

This book came out in late 2018 as well but was worth a slow read in 2019. Linda Bergquist is a modern hero in the church planting world, everything she writes needs to be on your shelf if you care about movemental church planting. This book is her latest gift to the church. City Shaped Churches is honest about the challenges for planting – the soaring cost of living, continual shifting of people moving in and out, the multiplicity of global religions and worldviews, and the complexity diversity offers over homogeneity. These realities can sometimes seem formidable. However, Bergquist and Crane have seen the in-breaking Kingdom in their urban work and believe it’s truly worth the struggle. Bergquist and Crane offer a perfect balance of theology and applied theology —it is an inexhaustible reference. Read this book before taking another step in your church planting journey.

The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Whitmel Earley 

Pastor and Planters are burning out at alarming rates, living under enormous amounts of pressure. It is easy for them to collapse in on themselves by disappearing into Netflix binge-watching, spending hours on social media, detaching through unhealthy smartphone habits, yet finding themselves never refreshed. The modern world is a machine of a thousand invisible habits, forming us into anxious, busy, and depressed people. We yearn for the freedom and peace but remain addicted to our technology, shackled by our screens, and exhausted by our routines. What can we do about it? Recover our habits! Justin Earley provides doable practices, such as a daily hour of phoneless presence or a weekly conversation with a friend. These habits are “common” not only because they are ordinary, but also because they can be practiced in community. Church Planters must take their soul-work seriously, this book will help them find the freedom and rest that comes from aligning belief in Jesus with the practices of Jesus.

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