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Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and Beyond Paperback – May 1, 2000
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About the Author
David J. Hesselgrave is retired as professor of mission and director of the School of World Mission at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a past president of the Evangelical Missiological Society and is the author of Theology and Mission and Dynamic Religious Movements.
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I think the biggest strength of the book is the amount of time he spends describing the need of preparation that a team needs before they show up. Many church planting books don't stress this enough. As a church planter myself, I wish someone had talked to me about the things which he brings up as it would have saved a lot of time and energy and pain. I'm not sure that he even emphasises his point enough when he says, speaking of Jesus' great commission in Matthew, "...the emphasis is not on the going, but on the reason for going." So many missionary sermons place there emphasis on challenging people to go that when they get there they're not even sure what they will do! He is one of the few writers that I've read that stresses the premier importance of knowing what you are going to do. As far as I'm concerned, he could have emphasised it even more than he did.
I like other points he made as well. He did a good job of speaking about the need for narrative theology and an emphasis on the biblical super-narrative in our communicating in areas that are highly unchurched rather than just on topical preaching or systematic theology. He also did well to decry the fact that we tend to send just about anyone to plant churches cross-culturally even if the person is ungifted and untrained. He also did well to discuss the role of the sending church and their need for both discretion in who should be sent and the need for continued support once the missionaries have been sent. Hesselgrave's book mentions some very practical things that others simply have failed to mention in their books. This is the book's greatest strength.
On the down side, It seemed like he could have said these things in a shorter, more direct way. He also spends a lot of time sharing various ecclesiastical views on different subjects that I didn't feel were necessary in a book that should have been focused on the particulars of planting churches cross-culturally. But if you grab a hold of the few gems that are in the book, it is a worthwhile read.
Some points were not as clear as others.