Church planting is hard work. Planters face a thousand pressures related to leadership, finances, identity, and more. Quick fixes don't produce sustainability. How can church planters and their congregations flourish for the long haul?

Sent to Flourish is a unique guide to accompany current and prospective church planters as they respond to this essential but sometimes daunting call. Theologically grounded while remaining practically oriented, it combines biblical patterns and practice to equip men and women planters to develop their own holistic planting plans.

Written by a diverse team of scholar-practitioners who have planted churches in a variety of contexts, cultures, and church traditions, this book provides a tested roadmap based on Fuller Theological Seminary's renowned church-planting program. In addition to coeditors Len Tang and Charlie Cotherman, contributors include:

  • Carrie Boren Headington
  • John Lo
  • Tim Morey
  • Johnny Ramírez-Johnson
  • Scott W. Sunquist
  • Nick Warnes
  • JR Woodward

Every church planter needs a healthy "root system" of three interwoven components: a biblical theology of church planting, personal spiritual formation, and robust intercultural competencies to navigate diverse ministry contexts. Each section of this book delves into these areas in turn, covering topics such as

  • biblical, cultural, historical, and contemporary dimensions of church planting
  • the missiology of Jesus' ministry and teaching on the kingdom of God
  • resources to sustain the spiritual formation of church planters, leadership teams, and church members
  • how to contextualize the gospel message and planting methods in different cultures and communities

Filled with real-world insights, stories, and questions for reflection and discussion, Sent to Flourish gives church planters and their teams the tools to be theologically reflective, spiritually grounded, and missionally agile.

"As I settled in for a flight, I asked my seatmate about his work. 'I am a church planter,' he said enthusiastically. 'That's interesting to hear,' I responded, and then asked with apparent naiveté, 'So what does it take to plant a church?' 'Two simple things: a good sound system and a dynamic speaker!' This rich volume offers multifaceted wisdom about how much more church planting actually requires than just those two things. I hope my seatmate, and all who read this very helpful book, will see that church planting is about deep sowing and nurturing, about how much God has a passionate purpose in all of it, and about what a faithful adventure and daunting challenge church planting really is!"

Mark Labberton, president, Fuller Theological Seminary

"If you want to view church planting through a missiological lens, this is the book for you. Written by scholar-practitioners, this volume will be a great primer as you explore the world of church planting and multiplying."

Daniel Im, pastor, podcaster, and author of You Are What You Do, No Silver Bullets, and Planting Missional Churches

"Drawing from Scripture and the experience of many church starters and reproducing churches, this book has the capacity both to inspire and to guide planting initiatives into healthy, practical activation. Along the way, the authors remain ever attentive to helping startup teams cultivate the supportive environments and practices conducive to their flourishing and the multiplying of new churches. What a helpful resource for anyone or any church considering a role in planting!"

Daniel Steigerwald, missional catalyst and coach at Artesia ReSourcing

"Again I am proud to count Fuller's church planting program among our partners in this work. Cotherman's quick and deep picture of mission history, Woodward's clear and honest take on the work and his journey in it, and Tang's pastoral take on leadership are all gifts to the conversation. Whenever I encounter an honest response to the colonial and mission history of the church and the prevailing culture that surrounds planting in evangelical traditions, I am glad for the courage that gives it voice. This book's four-part structure offers fresh insight, and the third section, reminding us that the God who sends us is also out in front of us, already among those to whom we go, is an insight worth delving into and pushing deeper. Read this book for fresh takes, bubbling up from the canonical work of evangelical and missional theologians and embodied by the familiar voices of practitioners as well as scholars."

Karen Rohrer, director of the Church Planting Initiative, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

"What I wanted most as a young church planter was the advice of those who had gone ahead of me. Sent to Flourish is just that—a compilation of experienced voices answering questions that are on the hearts and minds of church planters. When many voices on several topics all begin with fostering personal growth in relationship with God and responding to the Holy Spirit, you know the wisdom that follows can be trusted. Well done!"

Robert E. Logan, author of The Church Planting Journey and The Missional Journey

"The honest, experienced, and insightful collection of Sent to Flourish authors clearly demonstrates the value of collaboration in church planting. Together they have blessed the church with this beneficial resource. Clearly and compellingly written not only from but for the trenches of church planting, this book reflects and will serve the work of many. Rooted deeply in biblical, historical, and narrative soil, Sent to Flourish is refreshingly descriptive versus prescriptive, cultivating contextualized church planting with spiritual nourishment displayed by diverse examples of fruitful ministry. Church planting is frequently biased toward action, and this book provides a healthy contrast, beginning with a foundational understanding of the missio Dei, followed by reflection on critical formation of church planters. The authors continue by providing examples of healthy embodiment of the gospel in and as community. They then recognize the critical importance of communities of faith moving beyond sustainment to propagation. Both scholarly and accessible, Sent to Flourish encourages us to prioritize the kingdom of God over our respective castles with both inspiration and evidence."

Nathan "chivo" Hawkins, regional director, StadiaChurchPlanting.org
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CONTENTS

Preface by Scott W. Sunquist
Acknowledgments
Introduction (Len Tang)

Part 1: What Roots Does a Church Need to Flourish? A Biblical Theology of Church Planting
1. How Do We Discern God’s Activity in Scripture and in Our Community? The Missio Dei and the Missional Hermeneutic (Charlie Cotherman)
2. What Would God’s Reign Look Like in Our Neighborhood? Jesus, the Kingdom, and the Church (J. R. Woodward)
3. How Does God’s Story Spread? The Gospel, Evangelism, and Reproduction (John Lo)

Part 2: How Do We Cultivate a Missional Spirituality? The Formation of a Church Planter
4. How Can I Survive, Then Thrive, in the Midst of the Storm? Missional Spirituality for Church Planters (Tim Morey)
5. How Are Leaders Mutually Formed for God’s Mission? Missional Spirituality for Leadership Teams (Len Tang)
6. How Do We Lead a Community into Flourishing? Missional Spirituality for Church Plants (Scott W. Sunquist)

Part 3: How Do We Embody the Gospel in Our Context and Culture? Missional Competencies
7. To Whom Has God Sent Me? Contextualizing the Gospel (Johnny Ramirez-Johnson and Len Tang)
8. How Do I Become All Things to This People? Contextualizing the Church Planter’s Leadership (Tim Morey)
9. How Is the Church Good News for Our World? Living and Speaking the Gospel Near and Far (Carrie Boren Headington)

Part 4: How Do We Develop Fruit That Lasts? Faithful Planters and Fruitful Churches
10. Where Do We Start? Developing a Holistic Planting Plan (Nick Warnes)
11. What Am I Really Planting? From Tree to Orchard (John Lo, Nick Warnes, and Charlie Cotherman)

List of Contributors
Name and Subject Index
Scripture Index

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Len Tang is the director of Fuller Theological Seminary's church-planting program. He is a Fuller alum and an ordained Presbyterian pastor, and currently is planting his second church, Missio Community Church in Pasadena, California.

Charles E. Cotherman (PhD, University of Virginia) is pastor and planter of Oil City Vineyard Church in Oil City, Pennsylvania. He is the administrative director of the Project on Rural Ministry at Grove City College and has taught church history at Fuller Seminary and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

BY Charles E. Cotherman

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