Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before it Starts Hardcover – April 1, 2010
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About the Author
Ben Arment is the founder of several popular ventures in ministry, including the STORY Conference in Chicago, The Whiteboard Sessions, and Dream Year. He is the former director of Catalyst West Coast and the author of Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before it Starts. He and his wife, Ainsley, live in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with their three boys. Ben blogs daily at BenArment.com.
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I found this to be one of the most interesting approaches to church planting and this, in part, from its clarity in both approach and development of a new church. This has been of help to me in understanding past experiences in church planting--in particular why some churches survive and thrive.
As the book jacket states, "Church planting, it turns out, is remarkably organic." (back cover) So Arment basically tells a church planter to first, look for receptive soil, gather momentum through proper nurturing of the soil, and seeing deep roots planted.
A set of key questions after each of the three parts makes this an invaluable book for church planters and church planting teams.
The book reads easily, not at all like a textbook, but it could easily serve in this role. The observations offered were learned first hand from a church plant in northern Virginia. As American coastal culture eventually moves inland, so this East Coast context will soon be the norm in the midwest. As Ben describes in his tome, the "big event" launch church planting days have ended and planters will now be forced to employ new measures in order to start a church from scratch.
The most important contribution Arment offers in this book is concerning the failure of church plants. By dissecting the anatomy of some failed plants, we see that even the most talented ministers can fall short because of infertile soil.
As a church planter and adjunct professor I have already started to recommend Church in the Making to people interested in planting churches. It offers a distinctive view point of church planting in the 21st century.
There are many books out there which lay down a formula on how to be a good church planter. They have charts and graphs, day planners, sage advice, and are loaded with church planting 'theology.' But most of them do not go into what you might be missing. In Church in the Making, Arment shows us how important it is to learn about our people, cultivate our environment, and in some cases (or many cases), admit that we are wrong about something. This is the kind of advice I think more church planters need. We need to hear from others mistakes in a non-glorified manner. We need to know that failure is OK, and it can sometimes be helpful, as well as not being afraid to share that failure with others so that we might be able to help them.
The book itself is a quick read. The author states simply what needs to be said and in modern-day language. There is no wrestling with philosophy here, just plain, cold truths. I recommend this for any planter, whether they are successful or not, as a great tool to learn from.
Then the book came crashing down to earth for me! The second half of the book is filled with method that you in most other church planting books today! Gather a crowd, launch big, and bingo you have momentum. Now harness that momentum and you're good to go! Oh Ben, that that may work in this production, all we want is a show culture, but we are called to create a show, we are not called to organize and engineer momentum, if so then what's the point of having Pastors, business marketing guru's so be leading our churches!
I believe if Ben had used more biblical theology behind his outstanding definition of the church planter in the first three chapters then this book would have been a church planting masterpiece, instead it's just another one of those books which jumped on the the latest fads and methods of American church planting.