Church in Hard Places: How the Local Church Brings Life to the Poor and Needy

By Mez McConnell, Mike McKinley, Foreword by Brian Fikkert

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It is impossible to alleviate poverty—in its fullest sense—apart from the local church.

In recent years, Christians have shown an increased commitment to helping the poor. But this renewed interest in poverty alleviation is doomed to fail if it is not rooted in the local church—God’s established means of drawing downtrodden people into a transformative relationship with himself. Emphasizing the priority of the gospel, Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley, both pastors with fruitful ministries among the poor, offer biblical guidelines and practical strategies for planting, revitalizing, and growing faithful churches in hard places—in our own communities and around the world.

Part of the 9Marks series.

Read Chapter 1


Mez McConnell

Mez McConnell is senior pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has been involved in pastoral ministry since 1999 and is the founder of 20schemes, a ministry dedicated to planting gospel-centered churches among the poorest of the poor throughout Scotland. He is the author of Is There Anybody Out There? and Preparing for Baptism.

Mike McKinley

Mike McKinley (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of Sterling Park Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia. He is the author of a number of books, including Am I Really a Christian? and Church Planting Is for Wimps. He and his wife, Karen, have five children and live in Northern Virginia. 

Product Details

Category: Church Ministry
Evangelism & Missions
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 208
Size: 5.25 in x 8.0 in
Weight: 7.89 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-4904-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-4904-5
ISBN-UPC: 9781433549045
Case Quantity: 52
Published: January 31, 2016

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Gospel in Hard Places

  1. What Is Poverty?
  2. What Gospel Do They Need?
  3. Does Doctrine Matter?

Part 2: The Church in Hard Places

  1. The Parachurch Problem
  2. The Local Church Solution
  3. The Work of Evangelism
  4. The Role of Preaching
  5. The Importance of Membership and Discipline

Part 3: The Work in Hard Places

  1. Prepare Yourself
  2. Prepare the Work
  3. Prepare to Change Your Thinking
  4. Prepare for Mercy Ministry?

Conclusion: Count the Cost . . . and Reward


“Two pastors from opposite sides of the Atlantic come together to share their stories of pastoring people in hard places. Mike McKinley and Mez McConnell care about what the Bible says, they care about people, and they care about the local church. Their stories communicate love, joy, humor, and wisdom. I pray that this convincing and compelling book encourages others to labor for the spread of the gospel where today there is no witness.”
Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC

“Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley have written a book that we need. Church in Hard Places is timely and will instruct a generation serious about taking the gospel to and seeing the church planted in difficult contexts and situations. Those with the highest views of God and grace ought to be most passionate about seeing the church gathered in the hardest places. Mez and Mike spur us on to this task.”
Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary

“Finally—a book on this vital aspect of the gospel mission that is Bible-rich, gospel-centered, and church-focused! And it’s written for the average Christian by two guys with skin in the game. Church in Hard Places is a gift to the church.”
Jared C. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Author in Residence, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, The Imperfect Disciple and Love Me Anyway

“If your heart is moved with compassion for the weak and the suffering in the world, then you will want to pick up this book. But I must warn you, it’s not the book you think you’re getting. Instead, it’s the very book you need to read. Mike McKinley and Mez McConnell argue that while it is heartless to ignore the needs of the weak and suffering, the greatest need they have is the same need we all have—to turn away from sin, embrace Christ, and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ in a healthy fellowship of believers committed to one another under the faithful leadership of caring pastors who will equip the church for ongoing ministry. Apart from that, we are merely meeting temporal needs and offering no hope for a changed life now.”
Juan R. Sanchez, Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas; author, Seven Dangers Facing Your Church