Purpose - The subtitle of this book is "Helping Church Planters become Movement Makers." That pretty much says it all. Stetzer and Bird largely assume that if you are a Christian that you are interested (or preferably involved) in church planting. The purpose of Viral Churches is to "inspire and help you develop a church multiplication movment--an exponential birth of new churches that engage lost people and that replicate themselves through even more new churches" (5).
Content - The book leads you on a mental journey from your status quo (church planting, finers crossed) to the author's preferred reality (church multiplication). Each chapter is dedicated to one specific concept, and the authors have kindly included an example of a church or movement that they believe exemplifies this principle. This book discusses the need for church multiplication, the necessity of evangelism, and the dire lack of leaders in the church. The church needs to actively develop leaders if it is going to have the capacity to reach this generation. Viral Churches also discusses the process of training, launching, and streamlining networks of churches.
Analysis - I loved the fact that they weren't trying to shove one method or one group down your throat. There is definitely room for such books, but it wonderful to read a book that was much more concerned with the destination than the precise path traveled. Chapter 6 demonstrates that proper recruitment, assessment, and deployment all contribute to the viability of a church plant, but shows a variety of way by which each of these points can be accomplished.
Who will benefit from the book? Any pastor or church planter who is concerned about the growing population of the globe and the current inability of the church to keep pace will benefit from this book. Those who already have this burden will benefit greatly from the mechanics and examples that Viral Churches provide.
How will they benefit? This book will radically transform your vision of what God could and desires to accomplish in this world. It will give some practical suggestions for making this possible. It also identifies some pitfalls that will thwart even the best of intentions.
Where does this book fit into the process of ministry design? Any pastor who is looking for what God has called their church to do in this lifetime should consider reading this book. Church planters are more likely to adopt the principles in this book as they are already vested in starting a new work of God rather than maintaining existing works. These concepts might be rather daunting to those in previously established works as it is so far from the realm of their thinking, but if you find yourself in this category, it's probably all the more reason that you should read this book.
- The concept of deliberately building church multiplication into your DNA from the very first day was revolutionary.
- One impediment to church multiplication has been the development of a professional clergy that limits ministry to the ordained.