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


Preface by Scott W. Sunquist
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


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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