Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review - Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

Purpose - This book chronicles the beginning years of Mars Hill Church. Driscoll wrote this extremely transparent book to help others with their ministry. It's not hard to find a book that is extremely honest about mistakes made in church planting. Rarely, though, is the book written by the church planter.

Content - You always know a book is going to be interesting when it has a "Chapter Zero!" That chapter doesn't disappoint. It discusses ten theological and philosophical point, apparently discussed in greater depths in The Radical Reformission. He discusses the differences between the traditional, the contemporary, and the missional church, the 'gospel' proclaimed by each group, the missional and attractive approaches to church, and a few other topics. "Chapter Zero" is foundational for the remainder of the story. The rest of the book is stuffed like a Christmas stocking with fascinating stories, painful mistakes, public repentance, and gospel triumphs. 

Analysis - The book is full of fantastics insights, such as "It was at that time I realized our church would never have a sign out front that said "Everyone welcome," because I did not want everyone. Instead, I wanted people who would reach out to the lost young people in our area" (63). Driscoll seems like he was largely unprepared for starting a church, especially one with the impact that his was going to have. It seems that each stage of the church brought challenges that he didn't have an answer to. His response was to dig down deep and study out the issues. He worked through ecclesiology, reformed theology, male leadership in the church, and spiritual gifts by this forced process. Driscoll's language is at times a bit vulgar, especially in recounting a counseling situation.


Who will benefit from the book? Those curious about the process involved in starting Mars Hill, or just a church in general. It's very honest regarding the things a church planter has to work through and the challenges that are faced. Those seeking information about cultural changes and different responses to them will find this a helpful introduction. This book is certainly not perfect though (namely because it was written by a human and humans tend not to be perfect). For anyone who has a huge beef with Driscoll already, I was advise against reading this book. You are likely to be jumping on every point of disagreement while missing the good insights the book does offer.

How will they benefit? This book will prepare you for some of the challenges face in church planting. It also will help guide you through the often painful process of reaching people and growing the church for the grace of God.

Where does this book fit into the process of ministry design? God is an infinitely creative God, so it is doubtful that anyone's church planting story will or should look like Driscoll's. The book would be very useful to those starting a church to ensure that they've thought through some key issues. This book would also be useful to pastors who wake up to find that their church is stalled, in decline, or is having a hard time breaking through to the next level. I wouldn't follow this book like a blue print, but it certainly provides some helpful points. If you are desperate or time deprived, then perhaps read a book specifically on the subject. If you want a fascinating book to pull you through the points, then this book would provide that.

Aha Thoughts? "Our church was not the people we had but primarily the people we did not yhet have, and I needed to go get those people. I'm still not sure if most pastors are aware that their churches are comprised of peple they don't know yet."
"With things going so well, I feared we'd get too comfortable, and so I decided it was time to blow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start over yet again" (please read the book for crucial context).

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