I love to learn, which is a good thing as a church planter. Every day is a new learning experience, which is one of my favourite things about this calling. And, I both want and need to be an intentional learner as I continue on this journey. So, each month, I'll highlight some of my favourite resources I've come across lately. While most of these will connect with starting new communities of faith as a vocation, I'll also highlight resources about leadership, spirituality, theology, and more along the way. So - welcome to the first installment of Resource Roundup!
Here's what I've been learning from lately.
Let me begin by saying this cover gives me a headache. But that's my main complaint. Jeff Vanderstelt is a fairly well-known pastor and church planter in Tacoma, Washington, who pastors the Soma community and creates resources and training through the Saturate the World organization. This book essentially distills into one resource what Saturate the World is all about. Vanderstelt and his teammates want to see churches that know the Gospel deeply and live out that good news in their day-to-day lives. In the book, Vanderstelt begins with Jesus and his ministry, moves into an examination of discipleship as life-altering relationship with Jesus, and then describes our new identity as God's people. And while this sounds like just a theological thought-process kind of book, it's full of the practical implications of these truths in our lives as followers of Christ. I especially appreciated the resources provided at the end of the book, and I've used some of them as I've moved forward in my own church planting journey. This is a great book for all believers, not just pastors or church planters, as a way of better understanding who we are as God's family and why that matters in our day-to-day lives.
Faithful Presence by David E. Fitch
This was my favourite book I've read in awhile. David Fitch talks about the mission of the church - the work of God's people to make Him known in our neighbourhoods - as attending to God's presence. When we serve others, we attend to God's presence in our place and among our people. When we worship together, we attend to God's presence among the body of Christ. When we recognize God's presence among, within, and around us, we recognize the dignity of others and the worthiness of ourselves. And, out of this recognition, Fitch lays out seven concrete disciplines for the Church to engage in faithfully attending to God's presence in our place. Love, love, love this book. Go read it!
This was a helpful read in which JR Woodward - a pastor and church planter in Southern California - lays out some practical insight into creating a church culture in which people don't just show up for worship, but are committed to loving and serving others so that they might know Christ. Woodward dives into what, exactly, a church culture is made up of; then, he explores a variety of leadership postures and giftings that will allow for a missional culture to be cultivated. I appreciated this book because Woodward balances both learned skills and strategies with our spiritual giftings as leaders. He recognizes that the way God created us to be works with the leadership skills we cultivate to help us create the culture we long for in our churches - making for a book that affirms a variety of leadership styles and personalities as valid in God's work. This felt like a slightly more academic book than the other two, but it's chock full of so many good nuggets for today's church leaders.