Reviewed by Aaron J. Harvie
Mark DeVine and Darrin Patrick have set out to tell their story of how God led First Calvary Baptist Church of Kanas City to live again. The book illustrates Mark DeVine’s leadership in awakening Calvary to the realization of their impending death and moving them to release their church to another church with the desire and strategy to replant. This book by its own admission presents a possible strategy for older churches and newer churches to work together for a greater gospel impact.
RePlant is written for pastors and lay people in older congregations who find themselves in a changed community whom they are no longer effectively reaching. It is also written for planters to see the possibility of partnering with these churches to impact our urban areas.
Mark and Darrin wrote this book because it is a true story that provides weight to the possibility for greater gospel impact in our cities when older congregations partner with new church plants. The book is structured in a series of chronological events beginning with Mark. He tells the story from the eyes of a pastor desiring to restore Calvary Baptist to an effective gospel ministry. His honesty is refreshing, especially as he identifies what he terms “the lay cartel.” He writes, “Unless the current power structure was dismantled, the gospel witness would eventually die at the corner of 39th Street and Baltimore Avenue.”
What is unique about this book is that its story is true, and it draws principles for churches that find themselves in similar circumstances. It is not a formula to follow, as each story is unique in and of itself, but it encompasses solid principles that ring true for any church looking to replant with the desire to reach its community.
The primary strength of this book is the authenticity of its story. Testimonies are powerful and their witness of change is transforming. Calvary Baptist through toil and pain eventually gave their ministry and assets to the Journey Church in St. Louis. The Journey planted a church called Redeemer Fellowship and the church flourishes. It is a success story that needs to be heard.
Strength & Weakness
The weakness is in the strength. There is the potential to create an idol from one story and think it can happen the same way in any city and in any church. We all want success, and we have the tendency to see this success story apart from the long arduous road that it took to get there. We also must remember that not every story will end in victory.
I truly enjoyed this book because it mirrors a similar story in my own life. In 2007 our church replanted a church that was dying, and it was truly a success. Unfortunately, I did not have the privy of seeing the process or the sacrifice it takes for a church to surrender their assets to an up and coming ministry. This book opens our understanding to what it really takes in leading a church to reimagine themselves in light of God’s glory to reach the world with His gospel. It is not an easy road, but the potential for a new generation to follow Jesus is worth the sacrifice. RePlant is a tremendous value to pastors, lay leaders, planters, and denominational leaders who need to see what God can do when we fully trust his leading. In the end, Calvary Baptist lives and their legacy endures in the eternal work of our Lord.
Aaron J. Harvie is Professor and Church Plant Mobilization Strategist with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the North American Mission Board, and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Buy the books
Replant: How A Dying Church Can Grow Again