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Exponential by Dave Ferguson & Jon Ferguson

June 16, 2010

I do not believe God is leading me, at this time, to plant a church or start a church planting movement. I was hopeful that Exponential would give me some principles for church growth that I could apply in my context. While there was some of that, overall I was very disappointed in the book. Basically, I have three comments to make about the book; one is positive and two are negative. I will begin with the positive.

It is evident that the authors have a passion and a burden for church planting and growth. That is good, since I believe God shares that passion. They want to see people come into and grow in their relationship with God and with other believers. They believe in partnering with other like-minded leaders and church planters to form networks to improve effectiveness and efficiency. While there are many differences, there are some similarities with denominational mission agencies. And they have been effective. I applaud them for that.

My first negative comment is that the book is very formulaic. In other words, they present a specific formula that says, “We did it this way. If you will follow our steps exactly as we tell you, you will experience the exact same success we did.” While there is value in sharing their methodology, it has to be considered in its context. Every church leader and planter is different and will experience differing levels of success. Every ministry context is different and people respond differently in various cultural contexts. The authors worked in the Chicago area. The overall attitude and biases are different there than in the northeast or Pacific northwest or Austin, Texas or south Florida. It is just different. One formula cannot work consistently.

My other negative comment is that the book is written from a very man-centric perspective. Perhaps because it is published by a Christian publisher and targeted toward an audience of Christian leaders we should assume that all the work described in the book was allowed and led by the power of the Holy Spirit. But you would almost have to assume it. There is precious little mention of following the leading of God or the Holy Spirit. I am sure the authors did not rely on their own efforts only, but they did not talk about anyone else’s. This was a real disappointment.

Overall, it was not a bad book. It just was not helpful. It also seemed to have misplaced loyalties. I would not recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan as part of their Exponential Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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