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Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the July edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Gentry McColm’s recent book The Inner Life of the Church Planter. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

The Inner Life of the Church Planter

Author: Gentry McColm

Publisher: ChurchSmart Resources, 2012
ISBN: 978-1889638997

Summary

Although many books address the principles and practices of church planting, few address the real-live heart issues that a church planter faces. In this new book, Gentry McColm asks, “What about the person entrusted with this vital work?” How church planters view themselves has everything to do with their work. How they handle themselves has everything to do with planting a God-honoring church. What is going on inside the church planter’s heart has tremendous impact on his work.

McColm devotes successive chapters on issues that church planters typically face: idolatry, success, passion, identity, leadership, faith, and church planting core values. The book does not discourage one from formulating a good church planting plan, but it encourages planters to self-examine their heart and honestly ask themselves, where they have been relying more on themselves than God and how to change that.

 Best chapter

The content of Chapter 6: Faith, helps keep perspective and balance not just for church planters but to any engaged in ministry. It focuses on the old Puritan adage, “Work as if it all depends on you. Pray like it all depends on God.” (Page 55). McColm strikes a balance between the two, using Scripture like Ephesians 3 and Hebrews 11 to show our need of believing God as we do our/his work. “Work your goals, pray your desires” (page 58) is the essence of this chapter.

Best quotes

“From the outset of this book (Colossians) Paul challenges these Christians to think of their whole lives through Christ. How can they “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” if they are not thinking through Christ?” (p.iii)

“First, church planters are not immune to the sin of idolatry…Darrin Patrick writes about idols, ‘Idols are objects or persons to which we give inordinate attention. Idols are things that we glorify other than God. An Idol is anything that gets more glory, more weight, more importance in our eyes than God does.’ Anything we trust or are loyal to apart from God is rivalry. God is a jealous God, and he will not tolerate our taking idols into our hearts.” (pp. 2-3)

“Idols are stumbling blocks because you don’t tend to think they are all that bad. When you trip over one, you find yourself feeling like we were caught by surprise. That is because idols do not appear wearing a sign that says, ‘Hey, church planter, I’m the idol of success (or the idol of power, or the idol of suffering). Worship me.'”
(p. 4)

“The last principle I want to discuss…is this: the church planter cuts himself off from others, but especially from God, when he clings to his idols.” (p. 8)

“In spending much time with this passage (2 Cor. 6:3-10), I’ve noticed four things that make for a successful church planter: 1) servant attitude (v4); 2) great endurance (vv.4b-5); 3) great integrity (v.6); and 4) great faithfulness (vv.7-8a). But Christ calls us church planters sundoulos (fellow servant) because we weren’t picked for this work because of how valuable or necessary we are. You and I were picked by the Lord Christ because he intended to lead his people through us, for his own glory.” (p. 37)

“Being a leader within a church plant means you have to be able to bear the cost. In the course of your ministry you are going to meet people who will blame you for all their problems…a leader has to be able to bear the cost of blame if he’s to lead in a church. And of course this includes the cost of being lied about.” (p. 44)

“Remember Dr. Childers’ words, ‘One of the reasons many drop out of the ministry is because they have never learned this simple distinction between their goals (responsibilities) and desires (concerns).’ A church planter, like so many people, is often stretching out the inner circle (responsibilities), attempting to do what only God can do. That is a recipe for trouble.” (p. 61)

“So, the point is that an emphasis on personal holiness (sourced by faith in the grace of God) enables the church to remain both distinct from its culture, and yet quite attractive to it. The people we are trying to reach are looking for good news, news that there is hope and rescue from a sense of powerlessness, purposelessness, loss of direction and meaning. They are looking for news that they don’t have to be slaves to their lies, their lusts, and their lack of love.” (p. 69)

“Our church plants are to be the ‘city on the hill’ that can’t be hidden, the light that lights their world, that the darkness has not overcome (John 1:4). If they look at our churches and don’t see something substantially different from what they are getting at work, or in their play places, they will only move away from us and our message. An emphasis on personal holiness grounded in faith in the free gracious love of God in Christ is ‘excellent and profitable for the people.’ (Titus 3:8).” (p. 69)

Best illustration

“Passion is like fuel for a car. With it you’ll go places; without it, you’ll stall out. It may seem like that’s putting too much emphasis on passion. Isn’t truth the fuel? Or what about vision? These things are crucial to fruitful church planting, but you can have both of these, and yet still be headed nowhere because there is no passion propelling you forward.” (p. 29)

 Best idea

“Success in church planting isn’t tied to external factors…numerical growth can happen and yet a church can be a failure. Vision and exciting plans can happen, and yet the church can be a failure. We church planters need to settle first in our minds what kind of success we’re aiming at before we begin our ministry…Biblical success comes when the church planter demonstrates a servant’s heart, great endurance, and great integrity.” (p. 25)

Best Take Away

“Church planting is, to borrow a phrase from George Guthrie, ‘a blind and focused journey.’ I believe this is one of the most important truths for a church planter to understand. What do we mean when we say we struggle to believe God cares about our church and our planting labors? Is it possible we don’t really understand what faith is? If we are looking at our circumstances to extrapolate God’s attitude toward us and our work, then it is sure we don’t understand true faith.” (p. 56)

Recommendation

Are you presently on or will you be on a church planting team? Use this book as a team building exercise. Cover one chapter each time you get together, utilizing the discussion questions at the end of each chapter for group discussion.
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