This book could be summed up by the word Faithfulness. A Faithful God in the preservation of a church, and dispatching preservation minded men of to continue His faithful work. God has promised to build his church (Matt 16:18) and the church in this story, is a testimony to that promise. As a pastor, this gets me excited.
When this book was first commended to me to read, I honestly thought I would be reading a how to manual on taking a struggling church back from the brink of death. I was pleasantly surprised that this was far from anything I expected. This is what I found.
First, God’s faithfulness in preserving the local church:
Replant focuses in on a storied church in the middle of Kansas City Missouri once named First Calvary Baptist Church, now Redeemer Fellowship. Even though the transcendent ceilings were high, and one would feel very small walking through the historic sanctuary, man had become the central figure piece in this church for many years. But like many churches in this country that had their glory days in the beginning, Calvary was experiencing what many baptist churches are now in the throws of; a declining membership and dilapidated facilities; the years of gospel neglect, preaching its sermon through a dying building. But God wasn’t done with Calvary. He was bringing the right man with the right set of tools to once again shore up the foundation of this historic centerpiece of gospel ministry in Kansas City.
Second, God’s faithfulness in dispatching preservation minded men:
The Lord brought Calvary Dr. Mark DeVine, a former professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and current Associate Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School as an interim pastor. Dr. DeVine, familiar with the strategic location of this church and unwilling to “assume a benevolent, hospice-care attitude”, determined to stick it out and eventually seek out Darrin Patrick and the Acts 29 Network to shepherd Calvary until the right man was brought in for long term shepherding. Both men contribute to telling the story of Redeemer. DeVine writing from first hand pastoral experience, and Darrin providing footnotes to help the reader understand the facts associated with dying churches and what must take place in order to turn a church from death to life.
And lastly, God’s faithfulness to build Christs church:
The book ends on a very encouraging note. The name was changed, the gospel brought back, and a man of God; Kevin Cawley now the new shepherd of this revitalized congregation. One can’t help but trace the faithfulness of God through the entire project there at Redeemer. It is very easy to take the men that God used in this church and highlight their work as the formative reason for the churches success. While I do applaud these men, the rightful and right direction to look, is at the faithfulness of God. My heart rejoiced to see the wisdom and intentionally implemented during the entire transition, but I rejoiced more to see that God was powerfully working to keep his footprint in the community of central Kansas City. This book encourages me to take on such a task. Knowing that in the end, it is the Lord’s work. Unless he builds the house, those who dare to build, labor in vain (Psalm 127:1)
The man of God must believe that replanting churches is akin to reclaiming territory for the glory of Christ. He must drive gospel stakes into the ground and declare to the community that “This is Christs!”