Arment begins with speaking about the law of spiritual fertility and couples with it the Parable of the Seed and the Sower by Jesus along with the disciples' sending out in Matthew 10. He delves into an idea I had never thought about. He spoke of how for almost 5 years at his church plant, he still couldn't get his community to allow him or his church to really be a part of things. The townspeople wouldn't really accept him or his church. Those who came were destined to leave. In this vein he began talking about the seed being planted on the different types of ground and how some communities just aren't ready for a new church or at least a new church with a certain vision. Arment says that too many good leaders and church planters have given up and blamed themselves when in fact many times it was simply a matter of a community being spiritually infertile to the planter's Gospel message. Jesus gave a built in exit strategy in Matthew 10 when faced with this reality despite attempts to cultivate a path, that is, He said to shake the dust off your feet and keep going until you are welcomed. This really spoke to me.
Arment hit a direct spot with me as he began talking about the need for a church to contextualize their message and determine the church's spiritual DNA and identity and never look back. If I'm honest, many of the things I desire for my own church, I'm not seeing. Some is because I've allowed what I desired to fluctuate based on the desires and talents of the people. In an effort to keep some people, I've compromised on what I knew the church was supposed to be. Every time I've done this, it's bit me hard. I've learned authenticity wins and provides true joy over compromise and trying to make everyone like what you're doing and saying. Arment advocated establishing description sheets for positions and ministries so that everyone knows what is expected and what the identity of a church is. The last thing he said on this particular subject is don't be afraid to lose people or invite them to find another church. This doesn't mean they're bad people. It just means what's in their heart isn't what's in your's and your church's heart. There are too many good churches out there for every church to try to be like the other one. Focus on what your church's vision is and become in your community what's missing. Be unique. Be different. I've striven to be that and failed if I'm honest.
Arment asks a question at the end of the book which was huge. He asked what each of us would do in our churches and with our churches if there were no restrictions. My mind immediately pictured what I've desired for more than 5 years now and it was a reminder of what I haven't seen. Most of the times the restrictions we put on ourselves are people driven or financially driven. We seek to please who we have which is ultimately fruitless. The church doesn't exist to pamper saints and tend to their wants and needs. We've been brainwashed to believe that way which is why so many leave church after church today. When one pastor or church doesn't do it like we think is right, we leave and typically villanize the people. This shouldn't be and if it happens, it only reveals the true intent of the individual's heart. If there were no restrictions, things would be a lot different where I am. It's my desire to see that. It's my desire to build a church like what's in my heart. It's not only my desire. I believe it's my direction and purpose. It's something I have to do.
This book was tremendous. It'll definitely be a re-read. I'd strongly encourage all potential church planters, church replanters, or pastors in general to pick the book up. There are tons of good insight.