It is true that students are the harshest critics of their teachers–especially when given the opportunity to review the teacher’s latest publication.
Truth be told I have known Ben Arment for around nine months, and in this short time I have received indispensable advice, encouragement and coaching, as a participant in his Dream Year program. Ben is mostly known as a conference producer, as the main driver of the WhiteBoard Sessions in Virginia Beach, Va., and the Story Conference in Chicago, though the first 10 years of his professional career was far from the spotlight of the stage, as he cut his teeth as a church planter in Reston, Va.
Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before It Starts drips with the essence of Ben, as it is a culmination of instruction, coaching and encouragement for the aspiring church planter. Ben takes his experience and yes, even his failures, to point the next generation of leaders to a better way to incarnate the gospel through the local church. Ben does not shy away from honest critiques of current trends in church planting, in which young leaders are “thrown to the wolves” with little guidance and support. His criticism is not left empty as he suggests solutions to the current problems and encourages planters to take seriously the contextualization of the gospel to the social context they have the most affinity toward.
Just as in marketing, in which a shotgun approach to product evangelism may not be the best strategy, Ben encourages church planters to focus on the relational dynamic, a rifle approach per se, which is so important for the organic, healthy growth of a start-up church.
I’d encourage you to read this book if you are: a youth pastor, an aspiring church planter, a pastor of a young church (1-5 years) or an established pastor who is investing in training and sending out your young leaders. It is most definitely a great read, with personal stories from Ben and fantastic study guides at the end of each chapter, it will leave you thinking about your personal strategy on how to reach out and invest in those that are in the margins.
And as Ben’s student, I have no harsh words, only words of thanks as he continues to encourage us to follow God’s leading in our life—even if that means leaving our current comforts and predetermined ideas, which is exactly what a good teacher does.