I am not a church planter or even part of the clergy. I am a dispatcher by day and an amateur theologian by night. So why am I writing a review on a book about small town church planting? To be perfectly honest, I was curious. I was curious to see how Donnie Griggs, the author of Small Town Jesus, would perform as a writer. Donnie is an individual that I have known passingly over the years; and with us both being from the same small town where any news is big news, I wanted to see what all the talk was about.
Does Small Town Jesus have anything original to say? The Christian literary world is filled with books on the missiology of church planting. What is strikingly interesting about the mountain of missiological texts is that the overwhelming majority falls into one of two categories: (1) Planting in urban settings, and (2) Planting in foreign lands. Jesus of Nazareth, the God-man from a small town, calls us as believers to bring the lost from all over into his kingdom. He calls us to search the highways and byways, the cities and the small towns to bring all those who will come to him (Lk 14:23). So what about the small towns off the highways and byways?
At the time of this review, Small Town Jesus is the only text written in the last decade that I could find readily available on Amazon on the topic of missiology and church planting in small towns. Out of a sea of 8,378 readily available texts on missiology and church planting, I certainly would say that Small Town Jesus has something very unique to say at this time.
But is Small Town Jesus relevant? Is it worth your money to buy a copy? Yes! Yes. And a little more yes with a side of yes for good measure. If you are passionate about missions, Small Town Jesus is for you. While the text is clear that it was written for church planters, there is so much goodness to be found in it. The text is relevant for anyone passionate about seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ advance. Griggs’ passion and love for missions is simply contagious. Griggs has delved into the world of missiology in both the rural, urban and foreign settings through real life experience and in-depth study, and have gleaned some of the finest contextualization insights to be found. While yes the text is targeted towards church planting in small towns; the gems however that are to be found in the text are abundantly useful for missions in nearly all settings.
Small Town Jesus is relevant as the Western civilization continues to move into post-Christianity in both the urban centers and small towns across America. The illusion of small towns as idyllic communities has been shattering for quite a while. To name off a few of the trends developing in small towns in a post-Christian western world: crime is rapidly increasing, illicit drug usage continues to skyrockets, sex trade becomes ever more normalized and violent crimes at times surpass statistically the urban centers. Small towns need Jesus just as much as the larger cities. Small towns need men and women passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring hope that Christ has commanded us to bring to all of humanity, from the cities to the ends of the earth. This includes small towns.
Are you ready to read Small Town Jesus? I hope so. This is a text that has been needed for a long time. From having observed Donnie Griggs around town, among mutual friends and now in a literary setting, I promise you he is an authority that can be trusted on this subject matter. This text is excellent, motivating and relevant. Out of the forty-four texts on my book shelves on missions, evangelism and church planting; I would place it among the top of the list. It is just that good.
I personally am looking forward to future editions of this text as I have feeling it’s going to be around for a long time. Some of the things that I hope for in future editions is a further development of ideas that are expressed. There is a bit of filler speech in the text that could be reworked. There is a degree of humbleness that came through in the text that would not be evident for those that are not aware of Griggs successes. The text could greatly benefit from an inclusion of an appendix chronicling select successes and failures constructively.
Small Town Jesus is a resource I would personally recommend for any Christian who is interested in missions, especially in small towns and similar settings. It’s short. It’s cheap. It is a text that has been needed for a long, long time. Oh, and why yes I do know what I will be buying a number of my pastor friends around the country come this December and it will certainly be this book.