Written by 9:00 am Book Review

Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers

By Faith Bosmans

Outline & Theme

Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird outlined their book, Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers, into four parts to assist reader’s use of this resource. First, Stetzer and Bird begin with the methods and the standards of their research for writing their book. Second, they discuss importance of evangelism, and the dependency of church planting to accomplish the mission of church multiplication. Third, the authors look at the different church planting methods exploring the benefits and hindrances in church panting models. Fourth, they discussed the importance of looking at new ways to evaluate if the church has a multiplying mindset and what factors produce fast or slow growing churches.

Stetzer and Bird express that the purpose of writing their book, “We are absolutely convinced that a huge influx of new churches is required in this country, an influx that will not happen unless present patterns change.”[1] The premise of this book, continuing to do church, in the same way will not impact the world we live in today.

The authors believed that, “…church planting is the best way to take the church to the people it needs to serve. We believe new churches are the best platform for followers of Jesus to live as salt, light, and doers of good deeds in our communities, to demonstrate love in practical ways, and to intentionally make more disciples of Jesus Christ.”[2] Stetzer and Bird’s classification of what it will require Christ-followers to reach and disciple their communities has the prerequisite of a healthy church planting movement that leads to multiplication.

Most Meaningful Material & Ministry Related Issues

Stetzer and Bird wrote about how churches need to use a new matrix to measure effectiveness. By using a different matrix, could enable churches to focus on multiplication instead of addition. Stetzer and Bird believed, “The way that most pastors and congregations measure health by whether their church is growing.”[3] The challenge that this assertion raises for congregations and pastors that churches can have the appearance of health; however, with different criteria, churches may not have the health that church leaders thought they had.

The authors continued, “The better measurement is whether their people are learning to reproduce themselves. Ralph calls it disciples multiplying churches.”[4] As pastors and congregations overcome the fear that they will lose control or lose people when they reproduce themselves, they will see multiplication in the church as a necessity.

Significant Quote

Evangelistic methods have evolved; at times, the church needs to evaluate its effectiveness. One of the ways that church leaders could do this by looking at the past. Stetzer and Bird noted, “Paul’s evangelistic strategy was to plant new churches that in turn planted new churches.”[5] This statement’s significance should raise the question for church leaders to consider how they may become more effective in reaching the lost in our world today. Do churches need to plant new churches or for smaller churches to partner together to plant churches. As churches return to this evangelistic method, church leaders can look at nontraditional ways of doing church that may provide more effective ways to multiply itself.


Throughout the book, Stetzer and Bird discussed that the church needs to move from an addition to a multiplication mindset[6]; they keep this theme throughout their book. Stetzer and Bird wrote, “…this is not a book for those whose approach is to start only one church. Instead, we are speaking to those who have a dream of starting lots and lots of churches. Not via one-by-one addition, but by multiplication.”[7] Stetzer and Bird did well presented the need well for new churches to plant new churches,“…when the church uses new benchmarks this can be accomplished.

More organic mindsets focuse on abundance versus size. In agricultural terms, farmers sow lots of seeds with the mindset that they will reap more than they sow.”[8] From establishing new benchmarks in the conclusion of their book or establishing the intended purpose in writing their book stayed consistent with multiplying the church. Stetzer and Bird covered the intended purpose of their book well. The authors provided a detailed account on how they conducted their research, which provided (possibly validity or anything else you think this gave the text).


Church planters or those interested in the church planting movement would benefit from reading this book and having it as a resource to refer back to as a tool. As churches embark on the journey of planting a church, this book shows the importance of not only planting one church but multiple churches. Stetzer and Bird cover a broad range of topics that could help existing churches get out of the church’s Status quo.


Stetzer, Ed, Warren, Bird. Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint, 2010. Kindle.

[1] Stetzer, Ed, Warren, Bird. Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers: (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint, 2010), Chap. 2. Kindle.

[2] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches Chap. 2.

[3] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches, Chap. 3.

[4] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches Chap. 3.

[5] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches Chap. 2.

[6] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches, Chap. 2.

[7] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches, Chap. 2.

[8] Stetzer, Bird, Viral Churches, Chap. 14.

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