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Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers

ISBN: 978-0-470-55045-8
256 pages
April 2010, Jossey-Bass
Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (0470550457) cover image


A groundbreaking guide for multiplying the impact of church plants

Based on a study that was commissioned by the Leadership Network, this book reveals the best practices in church planting and uncovers the common threads among them. A much-needed resource, this book will inform, guide, and even catalyze today's many church planting leaders. The authors clearly show leaders how to plant churches that create a multiplication movement and offer inspiration for them to do so. The book addresses their questions about what to do next in their church planting strategies, in light of research on what's actually working best.

  • Author Ed Stetzer heads up LifeWay Research
  • Provides reliable, credible information about what church planting strategies work best
  • A volume in the Leadership Network Series

Offers a definitive guide for church planting and the burgeoning movement it is part of.

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Table of Contents

About Leadership Network ix

Foreword by Rick Warren xi

1 Introduction 1

2 Church Planting: The New Evangelism 11

3 Growth by Multiplication: Big Contrast to Addition 31

4 New Players: Aggressive Local Churches and Church Planting Networks 49

5 Kingdom Cooperation: Church Planters Learning Together 67

6 Predictors of Success: Recruitment, Assessment, and Deployment 83

7 Thriving: New Church Survival Rates 101

8 House Churches: Separating Reality from Fiction 115

9 Multisite Strategy: A Fast-Growing Trend That Affects Planting 129

10 Rapid Growth: Still Not Reproduction 139

11 Funding: Partnerships Matter 149

12 The New Scorecard: Measuring a Church Multiplication Movement 161

13 Obstacles to Missional Replication: What Holds Us Back 185

14 Conclusion: Solving the Toughest Challenges 195

Acknowledgments 209

Appendix: List of Churches and Networks Cited 211

Notes 215

Annotated Bibliography for Church Multiplication 225

The Authors 233

Index 237

Scripture Index 244

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Author Information

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is president of LifeWay Research, visiting professor of research and missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, visiting research professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a contributing editor for Christianity Today, and a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly. He has been a church planter and has trained pastors and church planters on five continents. His books include Planting Missional Churches.

Warren Bird, Ph.D., directs the research division at Leadership Network, teaches atAlliance Theological Seminary, and regularly contributes to several magazines. An ordained minister, he has been involved in five church plants. Bird has coauthored twenty-one books including Starting a New Church.

Visit the Leadership Network Website, www.leadnet.org, for more innovative resources and information.

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Press Release

April 14, 2010
VIRAL CHURCHES: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers

Books on church planting are plentiful. What’s sparse is sound research on what’s really working.  In arguably the most comprehensive study ever done by Leadership Network to review the methods, trends, and outcomes of church planting organizations across the United States, surprising results emerged. Not only were more U.S. churches being started than closed each year, but the greatest increase of new churches were being planted by networks

Taking findings from the original study and reframing them to catalyze today’s church leaders, Ed Stezter, head of LifeWay Research, and Warren Bird, director of research at Leadership Network, coauthored VIRAL CHURCHES: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (May 2010; $24.95; Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-470-55045-8), the latest book in the Leadership Network series with Jossey-Bass. Beyond merely describing the research on church planting movements, Stetzerand Bird advocate for a fresh alternative to one-at-a-time  church planting and offer specific help and inspiration for pioneers of the new frontier.

“Church planting is good. A vision for a church multiplication movement is better,” the authors write in the introduction. Whether starting an emergent community geared towards the urban poor or a rock-n-roll mainline congregation for suburban baby boomers, readers will uncover the common threads of successful church reproduction. In addition to showing what types of church models are working best, Stetzer and Bird also provide the tools for collaborating with others in the process, an integral step in increasing the odds of a church’s long term success.

Rick Warren calls the book “pure gold” in the foreword, while Mark Driscoll recommends it for those “who want to go from making a dent to making a difference.” For church leaders who take seriously the Great Commission to spread throughout the world, VIRAL CHURCHES casts a clear vision of how to plant churches that will multiply.


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