Plant! is an upcoming conference on church planting organized by Sovereign Grace Ministries that features a diverse group of speakers who will teach and dialog together about the gospel, the church, and the need to start new churches. It looks great. Check out the deets: Date: March 24-26, 2011 Location: Covenant Fellowship Church, Glen Mills, PA Cost: $99/person Who Should Come?: Church planters, pastors, pastors who desire to see their church plant churches, members of churches who desire to be a part of planting a church some day. Why Should Someone Come to the PLANT Conference?: What's unique about this conference is that Sovereign Grace Ministries is gathering church planting thinkers and doers from different denominations and church planting movements (Acts 29, SGM, the PCA, 9Marks and SBC) for three days of teaching and dialogue about planting and building churches on the gospel.

Hit the Plant! website and register today.

Church Planter by Darrin Patrick

Darrin Patrick's new book, Church Planter, is the most important book aspiring church planters and pastors can read. Clear enough? Over the years I have been encouraging young men who are looking at pastoral ministry to read several classics. The more they lean into it, the more I have them read. They need to read Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor and take note of his perspective on the conversion and calling of ministers, the pastoral care of the body, and his approach to bringing the gospel to bear upon the souls of those under his charge. And, they should read Charles Bridges' classic, The Christian Ministry. All of it. Read it up, think it through. And, John Angell James' An Earnest Ministry. And select chapters of Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students (esp. on calling, earnestness, and the ministers' self watch). And, there are others, both older and newer than all of these, that should be read. Books like these don't deal with systems and paradigms and launch teams, but are even more important because they deal with the the men, their calling, and the ministry itself. I will still encourage men to read these books, but in Darrin Patrick's Church Planter we have one volume that covers much of this material in an easily accessible book. Easily accessible, not necessarily easy to receive. Darrin's book, like Baxter's, will be hard to read and apply, because it will force the reader to deal with himself and the gospel. And, like Baxter's and Bridges' classics, it will help to confirm that the readers either are, or are not, called by God to lead and plant a church.

Church Planter is divided into three sections: The Man, The Message, and the Mission, hitting the most critical issues related to the calling and ministry of church planters. Of course, most of this book is applicable to those in pastoral ministry, and not just those planting churches. In fact, I would also encourage those currently serving, those who have been at pastoral ministry for years, to read Darrin's words. They are biblical, sobering, challenging and encouraging words.

Get this book, and share it with others. Check out the promotional video for the book below. It's well worth 5 minutes of your time.

Theology Can Kill

Depending on the tribe you belong to, the term “pastor/theologian” might be seen either as a redundant, or oxy-moronic expression. Some view the pastor as a practitioner, and the theologian as a theoretician; two separate roles. Others, like those of us in Acts 29, understand the pastor to be a leading theologian among the people he is called by God shepherd. At the recent Acts 29 Bootcamp in Louisville, KY I was given the opportunity to lead a break out session in the Pastor as Resident Theologian Track. The title of my session was, "How Theology Can Kill Your Church." If the audio is made available, I'll link to it [Now available: here]. I sought to make four basic points.

Thanks to Chuck Heeke who took some amazing photographs throughout the bootcamp.

Theology Can Kill Your Church (Plant) when:

1. Your Theology is Under-developed Under-developed theology leaves your church defenseless against false doctrine and heresy, and corrupts the spiritual growth of the body. We need a robust theological confession and culture in our churches.

2. Your Theology is Over-valued Theology is over-valued when we find our identity more in a system than in the Savior. The dangers here are often pride and pugnacity. Good theology will always give a clear picture of God and self, which promotes strong convictions and humble hearts.

3. Your Theology is Compartmentalized Compartmentalized theology is a purely academic discipline removed from Christian experience. The danger here is being satisfied with knowledge over transformation. We need "experimental Calvinists" who are not content to be right, but desire to be made right by the Spirit of God in conjunction with the truth of God.

4. Your Theology is Disconnected When our theology is disconnected from the gospel, all of the above dangers are likely, and additionally our preaching will be little more than moralism. Imperatives apart from the gospel tell people to "do this," and doctrinal preaching divorced from the gospel tell people to "know this." In both cases people are not led to the grace of God in Christ, but to their own attainments. We need theologians who can show the connection between doctrines like sin, creation, the Trinity, etc. and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

In short, I was aiming at encouraging our men to be passionate, convinced, humble, experiential, gospel-centered theologians.

I shared some of my journey and failures in all this, and some of you asked what books I have found helpful. Here are just a few of them, but these were instrumental in breaking me of pride and theological elitism, while encouraging humility. Feel free to make your recommendations in the comments.

The Practical Implications of Calvinism, A. N. Martin (read it online for free) Words to Winners of Souls, Horatius Bonar (read it online for free) Vital Godliness, by William Plumer (read it online for free) Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, Matthew Henry