Seven Steps for Planting Churches (Planter Edition)

North American Mission Board. Seven Steps for Planting Churches (Planter Edition). Alpharetta, Ga: North American Board, SBC, 2003.

Tom Cheyney, George Garner, David Putman, Van Sanders, and John Shepherd put their church planting experience together to create Seven Steps for Planting Churches "[...] to serve as a simple resource in the hands of scores of ordinary people committed to do an extraordinary work: (vi).  If you're thinking the titles sounds rather Baptist, you're right--it's a publication of the North American Mission Board, a Southern Baptist Convention organization supported by the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.  And it may be the SBC goal of seeing 100,000 SBC churches by 2020 that gives reason for a publication that's focused on a church-planting vision (vi).

Seven Steps for Planting Churches is exactly what it claims to be--a book that provides 7 steps to plant churches. Cheyney, Garner, Putnam, Sanders, and Shepherd argue that planting churches is about "expanding the kingdom of God through evangelizing unreached or under-reached people" and the steps in this book increase the chances that a planter will get there (1).   Each step gets its own chapter, which include Receive a Vision from God, Define Church Planting Focus Group, Develop a Church Planting Team, Identify Resources, Evangelize Unreached People, Launch Public Ministry, and Mobilize and Multiply Ministry.  While many planters may argue over these steps, the authors seem to have drawn from their collective experience which includes many years of planting churches all over the US and abroad, pastoring, and serving in church planting ministries, and completing doctoral degrees.  Still, it's likely differing ideas and steps for planting will come from many different backgrounds and camps, from yesterday and today, for today and tomorrow.

This book is a short "how-to" that's oversimplified.  It's highly unlikely that apart from the Bible a complete and timely book on planting churches could ever be written, let alone one that's only 69 pages and proves the 7 steps.  Additionally, the SBC's publication is over a decade old.  How much has been learned in the past 10 years?  How much has changed?  This is not to say that older books are less valuable than newer ones or that there are not lessons to be learned from older.  Much of the material in Seven Steps for Planting Churches is helpful and fairly timeless.  But then there's some timely "do it this way" kind of stuff that may actually give some trouble to planters in different contexts.

Seven Steps for Planting Churches (Planter Edition) contains some little gems of helpful information but a lot of dirt has to be sifted in order to find them.  I wish I could give this book a high recommendation but I suspect the only people reading it are those required to do so.

*This book was among a stack of other books given to me by a NAMB Send City representative because I have entered a church-planting internship through NAMB and administered by my local church where I serve on staff.