Book Review – Replant by Darrin Patrick and Mark DeVine

“How a dying church can grow again,” the subtitle really caught my eye. I don’t know much about church planting, or rebooting, or replanting neither do I feel called to doing any of those things at this moment however I am always interested in learning about how to make dying/stagnant/cold churches grow again. That is why I decided to pick up this book.

This book wasn’t what I expected at all. I expected some stories about replanting dying churches along with some practical wisdom as to how to go about doing that. Honestly I expected a list of things dying churches could do to stir growth. I definitely did not get that list in this book; instead I got something way better.

Replant tells a brutally honest story of how draining replanting a church can be, yet at the same time showing how rewarding it can be.

Replant is told manily from the perspective of Mark Devine, who was a seminary professor and interim pastor at First Calvary Baptist Church in Kansas City. Calvary was once thriving church, but as is sadly the case with many historic churches in urban environments, it slowly began to die. Mark entered this church with the goal of revitalizing it, however God had a different plan for the church. Instead of simply revitalizing God wanted the church to partner up with Darrin Patrick and The Journey to convert a once autonomous church into a Journey Campus (which happened to have its center 250 miles away). The result was a church that is thriving in a way that nobody could have ever imagined.

The Pros

  • Authenticity – People nowadays talk about authenticity being a virtue. If that is the case then Replant is a virtuous book. The author’s don’t sugar coat anything. They tell it as it is. Because they did this I walked away with a greater appreciation for the replanting process. (I also walked away afraid of church business meetings. I am starting to question whether congregationalism is the right way to go for church leadership).
  • Helpful Hints – This is not a how-to book, but it does include a ton of helpful hints from Darrin Patrick. These hints are interspersed throughout the book. Most of them are short one-liners, so they are really easy to remember.
  • The Appendix – The appendix alone is worth buying the book. It includes a chapter on the theological value and meaning of buildings. It offers a strong theological argument for why church buildings are actually important. Many young Christians should heed this word of wisdom. It also includes a chapter on the dangers of open business meetings.

The Cons

  • I really enjoyed the book, however it wasn’t very practical. If I were replanting a church, I don’t think I would have gotten very much out of it, other than the fact that replanting is harder than it sounds….


Having finished the book I now have greater respect for church re-planters. I have a better understanding of all the stuff they have to go through. So if you are looking for a window into the re-planting world, want to see how hard it really is, and come out encouraged, I recommend this book to you.


Note: I received an advanced copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and David C. Cook in exchange for an impartial review.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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