If you bought a book entitled Church Planting is for Wimps, what do you think the subject would be? Well, this book is not about church planting, and I should have been more careful in my selection. Mike McKinley’s book is a memoir of his work to revitalize Guilford Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia, over the last four years, so it is not about church planting.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. For one, McKinley seems to want to have it both ways. He seems to think that church revitalization is really harder than church planting (thus the title) but he keeps saying that the lessons he learned in church revitalization can be informative for a church planter. Second, one of the endorsements on the back specifically endorses this as a book for church planters, church planting teams, or churches that want to sponsor a church plant. I wonder if the endorser read the book or was misled by the title as I was.
McKinley does provide some insights about working with small churches, the need to develop a team of leaders, and about the importance of a church leader maintaining healthy family relationships. He is also clear about the importance of centering a church in the preaching of the Word and the need for diversity within the body.
I admit that my theology differs in some ways from McKinley’s but there is really no excuse for his statement “that most of . . . [the] Roman Catholic or Pentecostal churches . . . have abandoned the gospel.” I also disagree with his limitations on women in church leadership. He also seems to revel in the fact that the way that his church has dealt with mission and vision statements is to do away with them. In citing writers like Aubrey Malphurs and George Barna, he deliberately misinterprets their statements on the subject to show how much insight he has.
In the last chapter, he notes “It’s a little embarrassing to write this book so early on in my pastoral career.” He’s right. A little more maturity would have helped to give a more well-rounded perspective on what it takes to build and nurture a healthy church.