Dr. Dietrich Schindler is a first generation American who has dedicated his adult life to planting churches in Germany and greater Europe. In a day when more churches are closing their doors on the European continent, any example of church multiplication is welcome.
In The Jesus Model: Planting Churches the Jesus Way, Schindler attempts to encourage and equip pastors and church planters with motivation and a model through eight principles he gleans directly from the gospels. In the first several chapters of the book he seems to do just that; using the the life and ministry of Jesus, he draws contemporary applications for the modern church planter. There are some excellent points in this respect, such as the first chapter on Christ’s incarnational ‘with the people’ kind of ministry. Here he encourages church planters to lead the way in living amongst the people.
Toward the later part of the book, the chapters focus more on the step-by-step process for planting churches. While these steps may serve as a helpful guide or roadmap, they aren’t exactly drawn directly from the ministry of Jesus. Rather these points seem to be from Dietrich’s experiences as a church planter and his instructions for others to do the same. While helpful in offering practical advice for church planters, some of the details seemed a bit arbitrary. My sense is that Schinder’s success a church planter has come more as a result of his personal passion and leadership drive than these detailed steps.
One criticism I do have with the book has to do with principle #3: Christ-Centered Proclamation. I was excited when I first read the chapter title, but was disappointed with the contents of the chapter. The author argues that we need to make sure we are preaching about the arrival and presence of the Kingdom of God. Herein lies the problem with trying to draw out a “Jesus Model” rather than a “New Testament Model”. It’s true that Jesus’ number one topic His sermons was the Kingdom of God, and should be present in our overall gospel proclamation. However, in this chapter, there was no mention of proclamation of repentance of sin, need for regeneration, salvation by grace through faith, Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross, or resurrection from the dead – all of which are necessary components for us to truly be Christ-centered in our gospel proclamation. I get the sense that Dietrich would agree with all of this. However, when talking about Christ-centered proclamation, clarity and accuracy are paramount.
What I loved about the book was Dietrich’s passion for the lost and his desire to see a vast movement of churches that plant churches spreading throughout Europe and the world. I pray that God would use his ministry and this book toward that end.
For more information on the ministry and work of Dietrich Schindler go here.