My Church Planting Model Is Better Than Yours

HarvestNot really. Or at least I’m not sure. Church planting is a hot topic right now in western Christianity, and it needs to be with the spiritual condition of North America and western Europe. And when anything is a hot topic, it creates tension.

Tension can be good.

Out of tension flows a creative discussion and differences of opinion that force us to re-evaluate our viewpoints and emphases to ensure that we’re thinking biblically and effectively.

Right now, the tension in church planting discussion surrounds models. Should we launch large and fast? Should we take our time and build a strong core group? Should we start having church to make disciples? Should we make disciples and allow a church to form out of the discipleship? Should we be attractional? Missional? Uni-laterally bi-directionally intentional? And so we have megachurches, house churches, traditional churches, organic churches, plus a lot of dead and dying churches (unfortunately).

As we plant Grace Hills Church, here are three words that stay at the forefront of my mind, as well as the biblical phrases that these words reflect.

We Need to be Attractional (The “Come and See” of the Gospel)

The attractional approach gets a bad wrap for a couple of reasons. First, some churches know how to attract people to a production, but have no depth past Sunday morning. Second, we sometimes think the sound, the lights, and the technology are the attractive part.


We need to be attractional by living distinctively redeemed lives, keeping our integrity and trust with the surrounding world, leading people in genuine God-directed worship, serving in tangible and visible ways, and teaching a life-changing, absolute truth from the Word that acts like a sword, piercing to the depths of the human heart.

We Need to be Transformational (The “Come and Die” of the Gospel)

Jesus invited four fisherman to follow him one day. By the end of the gospels, they are ready to die for Him. In fact, three of them do indeed become martyrs for the faith and John suffered nearly to the point of death for the gospel. That is transformation. That is life-change. And that needs to be celebrated from the very birth of a new church.

We Need to be Missional (The “Go and Tell” of the Gospel)

God’s intention was never for us to isolate ourselves from the world or to imitate our surrounding culture. Rather He wants us to infiltrate the culture around us and demonstrate His love to the least, the lost, and the last of humanity so that the nations of the world can be brought into the enjoyment of the glory of God.

If attraction is all about gathering a church, then mission is more about scattering the church into the community, and into every possible mission field on the planet.

Perhaps we should stop arguing over models. We have plenty to learn from people who are successfully bringing new people to Jesus through this church planting movement, but ultimately, I think what we see in how Jesus trained the twelve and then how the twelve turned the world upside down one community at a time is probably a great place to start.

Photo by Jason Ewert

Five Great Books About the Apostle Paul

Last week I began a new post series that will feature “five great books” every week on a variety of subjects. I said I’d talk about five great books for women, but I spoke rashly. I’m going to postpone that until a bit later. Instead, today, I’m going to plug five great books about the life of the apostle Paul. I’m beginning a teaching series on this subject with tonight’s service and it’s a great way to get acquainted with almost half of the New Testament in survey fashion.

Paul The Apostle (Robert Picirilli)

Robert Picirilli was a professor at Free Will Baptist Bible College, not far from where I grew up. He’s one of those men of whom his students teased that he “must have walked with Paul.” His book is clear and concise, providing a great outline for Paul’s life.

Paul Apostle of the Heart Set Free (F. F. Bruce)

F. F. Bruce writes about Paul from a more scholarly perspective. Bruce strongly defends the New Testament as an accurate historical account of Paul’s life and does a little more expounding upon the extrabiblical history as well.


Paul: Living for the Call of Christ (Men of Character Series by Gene Getz)

Getz writes this book for men and it would make an excellent men’s Bible study curriculum. He’s practical and helps us see Paul’s great leadership abilities in addition to his theology and character.

Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit (Great Lives from God’s Word Series by Charles Swindoll)

Few authors can compete with Swindoll when it comes to a profound mixture of thorough theology and practical life application. As I read Swindoll’s character studies, I feel like I’m living in the moment. He holds the reader’s attention all the way through.

The Apostle: A Life of Paul (John Pollock)

Pollock’s work is a classic, along with his biographies of Jesus and Billy Graham. He knows how to illustrate a life and shows us in a dramatic way Paul’s sufferings and triumphs.