The Wholehearted Church Planter: Leadership from the Inside Out
By Allan Karr, Linda Bergquist
The most essential criteria for church planters are not skill based, nor personality driven, but character-centric and rooted in the Great Commandment. The authors of The Wholehearted Church Planter insist that church planting proficiencies flow best from those who truly know and love God, people, and in an appropriate way, themselves. If the authors are correct, the potential for multiplying leaders and reproducing new churches is greatly enhanced. It means that ordinary Christians can evangelize, disciple, and gather people into all kinds of new communities of faith. They can therefore impact church planting movements in ways they never imagined. This book does not disregard the importance of training or the role of the professional, but it calls for a broader, but deeper discernment of whom is being called by God to start new congregations.
A TCP Books title
"I recently received a complimentary copy of The Wholehearted Church Planter for review on this blog (via Net Galley) and found it to be a refreshing surprise. Instead of a bunch of leadership tips and suggestions for creating flashy events, authors Allan Karr and Linda Bergquist say the key to effective church planting is spiritual. The secret to launching a vital congregation is for the leaders to live in the overflow of holy character and love. It is about passion for Christ rather than personality or programs. I deeply appreciate this rich and biblical challenge to put first things first and to minister reflectively."
Mark Wilson, Revitalize Your Church
“The authors of the Wholehearted Church Planter, Allan Karr and Linda Berquist, both draw upon their vast experience of church planting and their many years of instructing planters. The central thesis of this book is that the conventional wisdom that some Christians are called to church planting and others are not is flawed. Karr and Berquist believe that too many planters are selected based upon their personalities and skills sets. The authors state that they have more confidence in planters that are rooted in the Great Commandment. They feel the planter’s calling should flow out of their own wholehearted love of God and the people that they are called to share the Gospel with. The authors suggest that all Christians are called to start new faith communities. These new churches may be Bible study groups or prayer groups but all Christians have within them the ability to reach out and share their faith within their circle of influence. The implications for the Church are extraordinary. If this central premise of the book is correct, then the potential for multiplication of both leaders and churches is greatly enhanced. It implies that lay persons and clergy alike can evangelize, disciple and gather new people to the faith. The book does not de-value the professional clergy planter but instead encourages denominational leaders and church bureaucrats to widen their search for planters and core team members of church plants to persons that have a big heart for reaching people for Christ.
The book is organized around four key principles: knowing and loving God, knowing people, loving people, and knowing and loving self. It provides tools to help identify and assess those who may be a church planter. It also provides an opportunity for a potential church planter and her or his family to consider if they are ready for the journey. This book can be used for potential planters as they consider beginning the journey of church planting. Additionally, a planter can use this book to develop the planting team.
The authors also highlight diversity issues, noting that our calling to plant new faith communities must reach beyond our traditional understanding of Church. This includes an expansion of language and culture and the way in which we do and plant churches. The Wholehearted Church Planter addresses these issues in effective ways based upon real life stories.
The most effective portion of the book is the straight forward approach to self-care. A church planter can be seduced by many challenges as they put themselves on the line in their mission field. The authors remind the reader and planter alike to stay focused on the Word and their prayer life. They help us all to remember the need to nurture the family, spouse and children. If the family doesn’t remain healthy, it cannot share the Gospel in a complete way."
--Charlie Wallace, Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation
“Church planting is a deeply personal experience. If we fail to foster genuine community with God in our own hearts, we will inevitably fail to build strong communities of believers, regardless of strategy and resources. Allan and Linda guide readers toward a path of authentic pilgrimage with God to plant missional churches.”
--Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research
“Anyone who has engaged in church planting knows that it can be an exhausting activity. To avoid burnout, we need all the guidance and tools we can get…and this dynamic duo delivers.”
--Alan Hirsch, author of The Shaping of Things to Come
“Linda Bergquist and Alan Karr, both seasoned church planters, are uniquely qualified to write a book that is more focused on the character of the church planter than on any single technique or model of church planting. If I had had the opportunity to read it before starting the church-planting journey, it could have helped me through many of the challenges that I faced because of my inexperience.”
--Felicity Dale, coauthor of The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church
“The Wholehearted Church Planter is about a life of wholehearted devotion to God where church planting becomes more of a lifestyle rather than a job or applying the right tactics. This book liberates church planting from professionalism and places it back into the hands of everyday disciples."
--Sean Benesh, director of the Epoch Center and author of View From the Urban Loft
"Linda and Allan remind us that church planting is not rocket science, it comes down to knowing and loving God, people, and the place to which God has sent you. This book is your invitation to join God in making disciples, for as you do that you might discover that you too can plant churches! Watch out, this book may change your life."
--JF Woodward, national director of the V3 Church Planting Movement, author of Creating a Missional Culture
“Allan Karr & Linda Bergquist get to the heart of the matter by showing us that loving God and loving people is what creates a healthy church plant. If you want to plant a church with your whole heart, read this book!”
--Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church (with multiple sites in the Chicago area), coauthor of On The Verge