“Guardrails: Six Principles for a Multiplying Church,” by Alan Briggs and Dave Ferguson

I recently had the chance to read Guardrails: Six Principles for a Multiplying Church, by Alan Briggs and Dave Ferguson. This nonfiction book was published on September 15, 2016, by NavPress.

About this book (from the back cover):

An estimated 4,000 churches are planted every year. An estimated 3,700 churches close every year. It’s not easy starting or sustaining a vital Christian witness of any kind. It’s even harder when there’s no structure to support the good work you’re doing. Guardrails offers structure to your good impulse to follow the great commission to go and make disciples right where you are.

Guardrails provides six principles that allow for sustainable growth in a church’s mission, for the health of God’s people and the sake of the world.

Final Verdict:

My husband is currently developing a church plant, and we were both really interested to read this book to find any new insights we might gain  into the process. Briggs’ book is a helpful look at some of the foundational principles of churches that not only grow, but thrive. If you are looking for a model, or specific practices to implement, this may not be the book for you. As the title indicates, the book focus on six principles that characterize multiplying church. The era in which we live is in near constant flux; with changes in demographics, culture norms, and popular belief coming almost by the week. Any church that is attempting to reach this culture with the Gospel is going to need to be adaptable. But how adaptable? Is there not a danger that in adapting to the opportunities around us we either lose what is foundational about the faith? Might we end up adopting practices that are unsustainable and jeopardize the longevity off the ministry? Briggs’ “six guardrails” aim to give foundation principles that act as need boundaries, not only to unhealthy novelty, but also to institutional paralysis or drift. Multiplying churches are simple, holistic, adaptable, regular, reproducible, and positive. Each of these characteristics represents, not so much a practice, but an attitude toward opportunities in the task of making disciples. Briggs spends a chapter on each, demonstrating why a wrong attitude in these areas can be a hindrance to growth. He does a good job of balancing these principles, not only with each other, but also not applying the principles in a way that would lead to lopsided and dysfunctional ministry. There is a certain amount of dualism between the principles themselves. Discipleship must be simple, which he describes as “light-weight and low-maintenance”. But at the same time, it is holistic; touching and changing every aspect of one’s life. Discipleship must be adaptable,  able to change with new opportunities, and sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. And yet, that does not mean chaotic. It must also be regular, developing patterns of almost habitual growth. Discipleship should also be reproducible in that it should function not as the result of an individual or team that is highly skilled or gifted, but as something that anyone can do and should be doing. And finally, the effect of these discipleship opportunities should be positive, producing growth and good, and not just bash sessions where we foster guilt and shame. His illustration and justifications for these six principles do a great job convincing you that they really are at the heart of our issues concerning disciple making and multiplication. The closing chapters look at some practical issue with implementation as well as a chapter on perspective problems and hinderances to the process. I’ll bet there is little new in this book, especially if you have been in ministry for a while or read a few books on making disciples. Much of the content can and is found in other places. But the way Briggs brings it together and lays it out is helpful, and I think would be a great benefit to anyone seeking to make disciples who will make disciples.

 If you’d like to check out Guardrails: Six Principles for a Multiplying Church, it is currently available for $8.87 for the Kindle version. If you prefer a physical copy the paperback version is currently on sale for $9.34. Remember, Amazon’s prices can change at any time.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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