Monday, May 25, 2009

The Barnabas Factors – J.D. Payne

©2008 Missional Press, Smyrna, DE

J.D. Payne is a mission worker, church planter, and seminary professor. He is the founder of church planting resource site Payne has an extended history of working in both mission work and church planting. Granted, Payne (and others—myself included) would argue that the two are synonymous, but that’s an argument for another venue. Our focus today is on Payne’s recent book The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members.

The author uses Joseph of Cyprus, better known to us by the name given him by the apostles—Barnabas, as a role model for all church planting team members. In the scriptural references to Barnabas, Payne finds the following eight essentials:

Ø Walks with the Lord

Ø Maintains an Outstanding Character

Ø Serves the Local Church

Ø Remains Faithful to the Call

Ø Shares the Gospel Regularly

Ø Raises Up Leaders

Ø Encourages with Speech and Actions

Ø Responds Appropriately to Conflict.

One would be hard-pressed to argue with the importance of these practices in the life of church planting team leaders, but often we discover teams that have been recruited on the fly where members are lacking in any number of these qualities. Payne suggests that to do so would endanger the effectiveness or even the longevity of the team.

At times the book reads like another leadership book, and that is one of the drawbacks. Another is its brevity. Some might think that a short book on recruiting the right team members is a gift to church planters everywhere, but at times the brevity of the book underscores the rush with which it was put together (a struggle which Payne admits up front).

Other than those small drawbacks, let’s spend a more important moment discussing why you need to buy and read this book and keep it as a constant reference on your shelf. To begin with in a footnote early in the introduction Payne lists a gold mine of resources for the church planter and church planting team that go into much greater detail about the process of team building. Some readers will find encouragement in the periodic pauses to get testimony from real live church planters about how important each of the factors is to the team (entitled throughout the book as “Factors from the Field”). But probably the most useful part of the book, at least to me, is the “Points to Ponder” section at the end of each chapter.

One of the popular things for authors, editors, and book publishers to do today is to include some form of discussion questions at the end of their chapters in order to review and help the reader to fully internalize the material from the chapter. I must admit that this particular section is usually a waste of time on the part of the publishing community as far as I am concerned. I normally find such questions trite and inappropriate, an attempt at making an otherwise good resource into a “teaching tool” by emphasizing what the reader either should have picked up anyway, or didn’t find that important to the information. In The Barnabas Factors I had just the opposite reaction. Some of the most practical material in the book can be found in the thought-provoking and purposeful questions at the end of each chapter. They are more practical application than “did you really read the chapter?” type questions. I, for one, would like to see more of this in the course of ministerial reading.

Finally, Payne includes several tools for church planters to use as they are trying to build their team: a process evaluation that lets you assess potential team members against the Barnabas Factors, and a guideline (read that suggested starting point) for developing a team covenant between team members and team leaders.

I highly recommend this resource with four and one-half reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, May 25, 2009

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