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Fall 1988    Vol. 17 No. 2    pp. 99–100 

Book Review

Antioch Blueprints: A Manual of Church Planting Information and Church Growth Strategies

James Nikkel. Winnipeg, MB: Board of Evangelism, Canadian Conference of M.B. Churches, 1987.

Reviewed by Henry J. Schmidt

Antioch Blueprints is a resource designed for use by Canadian churches in the implementation of the denominational Centennial Antioch Plan. The Antioch church model is presented as a “blueprint” or “measuring stick” whereby churches, schools and conference agencies can assess their track record and project new growth in the areas of commitment, message, witness, penetration, assimilation, leadership, growth, generosity, prayer, worship, Holy Spirit, reputation, vision, accountability and conference. Its stated purpose is to “serve as an encouragement to churches in their outreach work” both in local expansion and in multiplying new congregations.

The manual was written to fill a void of “documented church planting understanding and experience.” Designed in a loose-leaf format, it is divided into twelve sections, each beginning with the caption “new church”: foundations, preparations, variations, implementation, organization, affiliation, leadership, programs, facilities, challenges, reflections and resources. The strengths of the volume are its comprehensiveness and its practicality. Each section covers seven to ten sub-themes in a one to two page summary outline. Sub-themes deal with both theoretical and “nuts and bolts” agendas: a rationale for church planting, removing fears/misconceptions, most frequently asked questions, organizing around a purpose statement, relationships between churches and conference, church planter’s job description, site selection guidelines, reasons for church buildings, and basic advice to new church planters. The sections also include actual church samples of the membership charter, philosophy of ministry, commissioning send-off, organizational structure, membership covenant, church constitution, publicity material, and other materials.

While at first appearance the manual may seem more applicable to new churches, many of the principles outlined can bring health and growth to older, established “plateaued” churches. The writer draws heavily from his fifteen years of church planting experience and from major study in the Church Growth Movement. Pastors, church leaders, educators, church planters and lay people will find a lot of practical {100} help in the manual for revitalizing existing churches, building a vision for multiplying disciples/churches and for starting new, healthy congregations. It is a valuable resource because of its scope and “capsule format.” It gives the essential steps, in outline form, for building healthy churches.

Henry J. Schmidt, Associate Professor of World Mission, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California

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