By: Doreen Gosmire, with contributions from Christa Meland
“The question I have been concerned about is: Who is discipling the church planter?” Rev. Ben Ingebretson, director of new church development for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, said that was part of the motivation for writing his new book, “Plant Like Jesus.” Access the book.
Published by The Upper Room, the book offers 60 devotional readings that provide spiritual nourishment for planting leaders, innovating pastors, seminary students, and anyone seeking to root their mission work in the practices of Jesus.
Ingebretson’s experience in church planting brings hands-on credibility to this topic. He has consulted with organizations, churches, and denominations that include The United Methodist Church and the Reformed Church in America, for which he co-led the planting of more than 275 churches in 10 years. He also led the development of more than 45 church plants in the Michigan Conference of the UMC.
Ingebretson uses accessible language and real-life examples to encourage and equip those who are called to reach new people for Christ. With each of the devotional readings, he proclaims that by looking to the past, leaders can better tend the future.
Sourced from the best practices of Jesus and the early Christian movement, “Plant Like Jesus” addresses three concepts: missional engagement, ministry development, and effective leadership. Each devotion includes scripture, theological reflection, meditation, and prayer. Questions for reflection invite readers to dig deeper. Here’s a look at each of the book’s three areas of exploration:
1. Missional engagement: A look at how Jesus approached people and invited them into a life of faith. The key question here is: How does Jesus engage people? There are several chapters on missional engagement that offer a deep dive into what Jesus did and how Jesus goes about reaching out to all people.
“When I was planting a church, I looked at my work as a planter separate from my own discipleship,” says Ingebretson. “That was disconnected. I realized that Jesus had the toolbox for planting and my own spiritual formation.”
2. Ministry development: Church and spiritual formation are guided by structures and foundation. This section focuses on the question: How did Jesus structure the kingdom movement? Jesus was intentional in how he led and shaped ministry.
“It is easy to lose sight of the genius in Jesus,” says Ingebretson. Church planting in North America has been an adaptation to culture and context. Currently, we are adapting to digital church, prompted by the pandemic.”
3. Effective leadership: How did Jesus lead? The behaviors and practices of Jesus as leader are rich with lessons for church planters as they lead. The scriptures in this section are a lens into Jesus as a leader.
“This devotional can be very helpful to any leader that is engaging their community in a new, fresh way,” says Ingebretson. “I think I only scratched the surface. There is so much more to Jesus as the missional leader.”
“This is a much-needed resource to help ground the planter in their spiritual life and with the challenges of planting a church,” said Doug Ruffle, director of community engagement and church planting resources for Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.
Ruffle recently interviewed Ingebretson about his book. Watch here:
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church