Reading Tozer feeds me devotionally. Owen stretches me. Reading J.C. Ryle is sacramental and warm. I read Piper to see again the joy of a life set on God’s glory. Jerry Bridges serves me by making difficult themes accessible. Some books I read for pleasure. Others are read because I need to. Darin Patrick’s book, Church Planter is that kind of book. If The Pursuit of God is feast, Church Planter is an hour on the treadmill. Important. Difficult. Beneficial.
Darin Patrick serves the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and is the founding pastor of the Journey Church in St. Louis, Missouri. As a man who is personally invested in the church planting renaissance and himself a church planter, it’s reasonable that he would target pioneers. That said, I hope this book finds a wider readership than just those involved in or aspiring toward church planting. Anyone in church leadership would benefit from a few hours on this treadmill.
As the subtitle suggests, the book is divided into three parts: the man, the message and the mission. The first two sections have broad application, far beyond those in eldership. With minor edits, Crossway could republish each division as three separate primers: one on Biblical Manhood, one onThe Gospel and one on Ministry Philosophy.
I was helped by Patrick’s overview of the qualities needed in church leaders. (He was bold in acknowledging that Scripture gives the duty of church oversight to men–scriptural, gracious and not the least bit vague.) Humbly walking through this biblically-informed summary of the qualifications found in the pastorals would be time well spent for anyone. The book is well-written and pithy, but I love how the author draws heavily from “the old dead guys”. The quotes alone make the book a valuable tool.
The strength of the book, as I see it, is part II which lays out beautifully the historic gospel message. This section, in particular, I would love to see available as a stand-alone book. I’m sure the author’s intent was to so clearly articulate how Scripture handles the questions of sin, justice and redemption that prospective church planters would be encouraged to speak with similar clarity. Section III, though valuable, was the least important of the three divisions, in my opinion. It dealt with matters of structure and duty within the church.
Until some contemporary produces the next Reformed Pastor or Lectures to my Students, we need voices like Darin Patrick who know their ecclesiology and can articulate it with clarity and precision. This book, I’m sure, will serve our generation of church leaders in this way. So I’m advising friends to read it for the same reason you visit the gym. You need to.