"I don't know of another book like this. If you want to know what it's like to do church that's gospel-centered (as opposed to attractional) in a post-Christian context (as opposed to where there's a ready-made customer base) with the aim of planting more missional churches (as opposed to to simply getting big or franchising) from a pastor who's about to enter his third decade doing it (as opposed to a guy who just thinks about it), What Church Can Be is for you. It is engaging, sharp, and rich with hard-won wisdom."
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Spurgeon College
Author in Residence at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
General Editor of For The Church (and host of the FTC Podcast)
Director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri
"In the near future, the rest of America will become more secular like the city of Boston or the New England region. My friend Matt Kruse has written a useful book for doing gospel-centered ministry in such a context as this. Seven Mile Road Church, with its theological vision and missional strategy, has cultivated a network of like-minded churches in the area. I highly commend this book for your consideration. I believe it is a tool that can be used to encourage many future leaders who will be doing ministry in our post-Christian world."
Dr. Stephen T. Um
Senior Pastor of Citylife Presbyterian Church in Boston, Massachusetts
Council Member of The Gospel Coalition
Trainer for Redeemer City to City
Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Author of Why Cities Matter, 1 Corinthians (Preaching the Word Commentary), and Micah for You
"Matt Kruse is a 'townie.' That's New-England-speak for a local - a guy who's 'from here.' I've walked the streets of greater Boston with Matt and seen cab drivers, laborers, and random pedestrians greet him by name. This is a man who knows and loves real people in a real place. Matt may be unknown to you - but he shouldn't be. His joyful, provocative, prophetic voice makes me want to be a better pastor and fills me with hope for what church can be. I long for every pastor and church planter to read this book."
Lead Pastor of Coram Deo Church in Omaha, Nebraska
Founder and co-host of Wednesday Conversation podcast
"This book is written with the integrity, creativity, and urgency I expect from Matthew Kruse, who has given himself to a fruitful, multiplying New England ministry for nearly two decades. As I read it, I was encouraged and challenged. I'm confident that those who read What Church Can Be will be inspired and equipped. I thank God for Matt and for Seven Mile Road."
Dr. Stephen Witmer
Pastor of Pepperell Christian Fellowship in Pepperell, Massachusetts
Professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Co-Director, Small Town Summits
"The Seven Mile Road churches have been planted with the goal of fruitfulness, not success. This is because Matt Kruse captured the Biblical blend of being counter-cultural and authentic. In this wonderful volume, he does not mince words, nor “make nice” with the challenges of ministry in a post-Christian setting. Matt has honestly faced the joys and discouragements of church in what the Second Great Awakening would have called, the “burned over” district of America – the places where religion is a dirty word, and church is no longer a culturally safe space. I can surely commend What Church Can Be as a volume that speaks to the heart with a courageous and Gospel-centered honesty."
Dr. Richard Lints
Provost and Andrew Mutch Professor of Theology
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Matt has written a book on the church he has lived. This is not a pristine doctrinal treatment of the church, but a broken-in, frayed, grace-filled look at life together in Jesus. By God's grace, I've experienced much of what Matt describes here, but as I read, I found myself wanting more. May every person who reads this book experience more of Christ's favorite thing in the world--his Church!"
Jonathan K. Dodson
Lead pastor of City Life Church in Austin, TX
Founder of Gospel-Centered Discipleship
Author of Here in Spirit, The Unbelievable Gospel, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, and 1-2 Peter and Jude in Crossway’s Knowing the Bible Series
"Matt Kruse is a faithful and gifted pastoral leader. I have learned much from him in my previous interactions, and this book has brought further encouragement and insight. His work in Boston is inspiring, and his comprehensive vision of discipleship is instructive. I'm sure this book will be a blessing to everyone who cares about the health, vitality, and impact of his/her local church."
Dr. Tony Merida
Founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina
Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Seminary
Content Director for Acts 29 Network
Author of several books, including The Christ-Centered Expositor, Ordinary, Orphanology, and is general editor and contributor of eight volumes in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary Series (B&H)
"Before my family moved to the Northeast to help plant churches, Matt Kruse befriended me through an Acts 29 online pastors forum. I'll never forget him typing at me "It's not that bad! It's just Jersey!" These words were a comfort. Over the years Matt and I have worked together in various capacities to see the gospel planted in Northeastern lands. Matt has maintained a sincere missional focus, a robust biblical theology and a Christ-centered hope as he has plowed the hard grounds of New England. We need to hear what he and the Seven Mile Road communities have learned about planting the gospel in post-Christendom western culture."
Reid S. Monaghan
Founder and President of Power of Change
Assessment Director US South Central Network
Co-host of The Gospel Underground Podcast
"Having just finished reading a draft of Matthew Kruse's captivating new book, What Church Can Be, I am delighted to commend it to you and to recommend its publication. Written in a lively, winsome, disarmingly honest and engaging style, the book describes how God enabled the planting of an interconnected family of Gospel-centered churches in the rocky soil of New England.
One might ask, of course, whether yet another book on church planting is really needed. Indeed, even a cursory search of the Amazon book listings under "church planting" yields literally dozens of volumes devoted to various aspects of the theme. However, what makes this new book uniquely valuable, in my opinion, is that its context is here in New England and its author is not a theoretician so much as a seasoned pastor and church planting veteran with more than a few scars to validate his long years at the task.
What Church Can Be, in short, has the aroma of authenticity. Its insights have been thoroughly field-tested in communities such as Melrose, Malden, Waltham, Kennebunk and Hyannis and its failures have been clearly identified. In the final analysis, however, it is a story that is filled with joy and hope. By God's grace, as its author affirms, it is possible to "build a strong church in a post-Christian context that brings glory to God and life to the people" -- the very kind of community that members will "actually love belonging to."
The Seven Mile Road model is not for everyone, of course. Some will find it too theologically restrictive, too passionately relational, too liturgically informal and/or too personally demanding. For those who are hungry to be part of a high-demand, high touch, highly relational and authentically Christian fellowship, however, this might be exactly the book they need to read and study. It is, in my estimation, a story that needs to be told -- not, God forbid, to bring glory to the Seven Mile Road movement but because God can use it to inspire, encourage and inform a whole new generation of believers who yearn to serve God more fully and faithfully."
Dr. Garth M. Rosell
Senior Research Professor of Church History
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Matt Kruse in one of the best pastoral voices in the northeast that churches all over should hear and have not yet known. I have been blessed to know Matt, work with him in church planting in the northeast, and watch the church he has shepherded, 7 Mile Road, grow and multiply. When someone comes to Terra Nova and tells me there are from 7 Mile Road, I am thankful. They likely know, love, and live church well. Or to say it another way, they have been well pastored."
Lead Pastor of Terra Nova Church in Troy, NY
Northeast Liaison Acts29
"If you’re looking for advice on how to plant a church in a post-Christian city with a soul as hard as concrete, this isn’t the book for you. But if you want to learn how to love and lead people to experience the grace of the gospel in just such a context, then you couldn’t have a better guide than Matt Kruse. What you’ll find in these pages are humble but brilliant insights dug out of a decade of planting life-giving churches in Greater Boston and beyond. Each chapter has “you can” written all over it, anchored in both scripture and the gritty and deeply personal story of Matt’s life and ministry. He has carefully avoided all the well-worn cliches and unhealthy expectations of church planting. Instead, you’ll hear a trusted voice and feel the heartbeat of someone who has been there and still on the front lines, planting churches, strong churches, vibrant and beautiful."
Dr. David Butler
Director of SEND Boston (North American Mission Board Church Planting Collective)
Former Pastor of CenterPoint Church in Concord, New Hampshire
"Matt Kruse has been a friend for over fifteen years. We share the huge honor and humble calling of planting churches in New England. Matt is one of the smartest pastors I know, but even more impressive, he's a holy pastor. Matt's book is desperately needed as a handbook for the normal pastor called to slug it out for decades in hard places. I can't think of many guys I'd recommend to you more highly than Matt Kruse!"
Rev. David Pinckney
Pastor of River of Grace Church in Concord, New Hampshire
Co-Director of the Acts 29 Network's Rural Collaborative
"This is the book I've been waiting for a long time. It is a personal memoir of a real pastor in a real place doing the hard work of gospel ministry. It is also a soundly theological exposition of what the calling to Christian ministry entails. And it is an extremely practical, hands-on book on how to do ministry in a post-Christian context. Matt Kruse is open, honest, and transparent, as well as downright inspirational. I would buy this book by the case to give out to all my colleagues in ministry."
Rev. Paul McPheeters
Pastor of Forestdale Community Church in Malden, Massachusetts
"Church planting is hard work in any context. Church planting in post-Christian northeast America is a uniquely challenging task that leaves many planters tired, frustrated and burned out. Success needs to be measured differently if we are to see a gospel presence and voice remain and thrive in these contexts. Matt Kruse and his team have built a church planting model that is sustainable over the long haul in tough soil. This book tells you that story and the lessons learned can impact ministry in any context."
Executive Pastor of Mosaic Church in Orlando, Florida
Founder of Backstage Pastors Publishing
Author of Defining the Executive Pastor Role and Eldership Development