Christopherson, Jeff and Mac Lake. Kingdom First: Starting Churches That Shape Movements. Nashville, TN: B&H, 2015. 280 pp., $14.99.
Kingdom First, written by Jeff Christopherson and Mac Lake, is a book for church planters and church communities that desire to see Kingdom multiplication. It is a dense book, with lots of information that is a must have for those who want to see the Kingdom of God explode in their communities.
The book is divided into eight parts and covers everything needed for successful Kingdom multiplication. It is a book heavy on practical insights and methodologies.
- Part one of the book clarifies the need to make sure that church planting isn’t about anything other than seeing the Kingdom of God flourish in a particular community.
- Part two looks at character and leadership—the character of Jesus, the character of a church planter, the pastor’s leadership of the family and the pastor’s leadership of the church (chapter 8 on pastoral leadership in the church is by far the best chapter in the book).
- Part three looks at the importance of context, different planting models, and how to effectively know who you are seeking to reach.
- Part four gives practical steps on how to communicate the gospel to the unchurched as well as how to successfully share vision.
- Part five is about the importance of team and how to build a healthy team that can produce kingdom results.
- Part six is about the Kingdom good a new church can do in a local community.
- Part seven shares the do’s and don’ts of discipleship.
- And finally, part eight shares the importance of church plants being multiplying communities and shares a lot of practical information to help a church multiply.
Overall, if you want a serious book about church planting, Kingdom First is the right book for you.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
As a former church planter (planted a multi-site church), I found the book profoundly refreshing and on target. Many times books like this are narrow, academic and not that helpful. Kingdom First is about helping churches and church planters actually create new church communities. There is a lot to love about this book but there are two main things that stood out to me.
First, it is extremely practical. From beginning to end, it is about sharing best practices that will help the planter and planting church succeed. Here is one example. Sharing from the wisdom of Brian and Amy Bloye, the authors shares 11 things that church planting couples must do to make sure they thrive as they plant:
- Do what is important, not urgent.
- Bring fun and adventure into your relationship.
- Take time off every week.
- Keep intimacy a priority.
- Focus on being a team.
- Find your significance and security in Christ.
- Make time for meaningful conversation.
- Help your spouse go as far as he or she can go.
- Share your spiritual lives with each other.
- Make your spouse your project.
- Set meaningful boundaries.
This practical advice is priceless. But it isn’t just marriage advice that they give. From discipleship, to leadership and everything in between, this book is filled with gems that can help a planter or planting church thrive amidst the many dangers of planting.
The second thing I love about this book is that it is realistic. Almost every church planter I know is a big dream who believes that he will be the one to plant the next Saddleback or Willow Creek (including me). This book tempers good dreams with Kingdom reality. Church planting can get messed up when our values and goals are wrong. The primary way that Lake and Christopherson help planters live in reality is by making the focus the Kingdom of God not big churches. The authors write:
“If the goal of a new church is to be relevant … and … grow to a place of self-sufficiency, then a thoughtful discussion on ‘church’ is all that is required. But, if the goal of a new church is to appeal to the spiritual cravings of the lost and … introduce them to their heart’s desire in Jesus Christ, then a soul-searching, gut-wrenching discussion on ‘Kingdom’ becomes absolutely essential.”
It is this hard but necessary conversation of the Kingdom that these authors engage the reader with. Their gift to us is this: they help us know and embrace the only reason to plant churches—Jesus Christ.
This is a great book for planters and churches who want to plant. If this is you, buy this book.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
If you want a serious book about church planting, Kingdom First is the right book for you.