Interview with Gloria Furman-Author of “Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home”

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

momWe moved to Dubai in 2008 to help start an evangelical church planting movement in this region. Dubai is a major city in the United Arab Emirates, a country that sits on the Arabian Peninsula just north of Saudi Arabia and across the Arabian Gulf from Iran. My husband Dave pastors Redeemer Church of Dubai, which was planted in January 2010, and helps coordinate other church planting efforts. When we landed on the sizzling tarmac five years ago we had one child, and now we have four (#4 due next month).

Describe what happens, spiritually and emotionally, to a mother who does not see the redemptive work of Jesus Christ in the mundane activity of daily life.

Speaking from my own experience, what this looks like for me emotionally is a burnt out, bitter frustration with everything—God himself, the season he has placed me in, the people he has placed around me, the things I’m responsible for, and the everyday circumstances that I deal with. Spiritually, this is a recipe for disaster. I’ve experienced flippant apathy toward prayer, evangelism, Bible reading, service, and participation in fellowship among other believers.

What are some practical ways a person can stay focused on Jesus and his ongoing work in everyday life?

This is a great question! We want the affections of our heart to be enamored by the person and work of Jesus. Then, temptations toward distraction are pushed out the heart by the expulsive power of a greater affection. Practically speaking, I think the spiritual disciplines are of tremendous help (especially in a busy home life!), and our conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit in these efforts is a guard against our tendency toward legalism.

What would you say to encourage stressed out, busy people to open their homes and show hospitality to their neighbors?

I’d say, in short, that God has designed showing hospitality to be a blessing to you and your neighbors even in the midst of your stress and busy-ness. The joy we receive in opening our homes and serving with the strength God supplies is joy in Christ himself. There’s much more to be said about hospitality and how God enables us to serve; I’ve expanded on this in a chapter dedicated to hospitality in Glimpses of Grace.

In your book, Glimpses of Grace, you write that the routine of everyday life provides us with an opportunity for spiritual growth and transformation. Can you explain what you mean by that?

To get the answer to this question go HERE and download the first chapter of “Glimpses of Grace” for free.

What are some books that have encouraged you when it comes to a greater understanding of the gospel?

A couple of my favorite contemporary books on the definition and application of the gospel include: God is the Gospel (Piper), Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Packer), Gospel for Real Life (Bridges), Comforts from the Cross (Fitzpatrick), What is the Gospel? (Gilbert), A Gospel Primer for Christians (Vincent)

Gloria’s Website

Gloria’s Twitter

To buy “Glimpses of Grace”

Interview With Mark Sellers About The Gospel, Community, And Living on Mission

Question: Tell us a little about yourself, your family and your role at Summit Crossing Community Church.

I am a native southern boy. I was born and raised in Mississippi and have now been in North Alabama for 13 years. I am a preacher’s kid and have been raised in the church world. Unlike many of my fellow PKs I grew up loving the church! My father is an amazing pastor and lover of the Father’s bride and his own bride and family. I have been married for 13 years to my amazing bride, Staci (also a native southern girl) and have two precious children: Andrew (6) and Ava (16 months). I was a part of the core team (4 families) that planted Summit Crossing Community Church 10 years ago. My official title at SC3 is “Community Life Pastor”. It’s my job to give both vision/ direction and execution to our missional communities. So I am responsible for discipling and equipping MC leaders, getting folks in the general church body connected, and overseeing the multiplication of the MC movement in our city. I also oversee our membership process and reaching out to new folks in our community. So basically, I get to hang out and eat with a lot of folks! Best job ever.

Question: What is your definition of a Missional Community?

In a sentence, a missional community is the family of God’s missionaries on the mission of making disciples who make disciples. We do this quite simply as we go, doing life together, seeing every moment in life through a gospel lens.

Question: What does it mean to be fluent in the gospel and why is this so critical for the spiritual health of every believer?

To be fluent literally means to be able to write or speak something with ease. Practically, to be fluent means that something is a natural part of you. It flows out subconsciously, without thought. To be fluent in gospel means that the gospel is a natural part of us, both literally and practically. So not only are we able to speak it without much thought, but we are also able to apply it without much conscious thought. So we speak it, we think it, we apply it when we make decisions, when we interact with situations and people, its natural! Why is this critical? Look, we are in a battle, both personally and corporately. And its the same battle that our original ancestors fought in the garden: our ways versus God’s ways. He has given us Himself and in that He has given us everything. But apart from both the purpose and power of the gospel, we are completely unable to choose anything other than ourselves. We must know the truth of the gospel and must apply its truth to our lives and to our communities to be healthy people and healthy communities. The world will not encourage or empower this. Our only hope is found in the gospel and the gospel is the answer for life period.

Question: Loving our neighbors in practical ways can be quite a challenge for people who do not all live in the same neighborhood. What does it look like for the MCs at Summit Crossing to be on mission?

When we transitioned to MCs, we really pushed folks to all unify around an adopted mission. It looked good and sounded good on paper, but it really frustrated many of our groups. That kind of mission is really easy (or I should say easier) for groups that are contained within 1-2 neighborhoods. But it was very difficult and frustrating for groups that were regionally connected but not defined by 1-2 neighborhoods. What we realized was that we were in danger of establishing a “missional legalism” that would take us away from Jesus’ simple words in His commission to us. It was subtle, but it was present. So we took a step back and encouraged our communities to consider asking these questions: “How are we making disciples both personally and corporately, and how does this community encourage and equip us for both?”

So we really want our MCs not to “rate” themselves on whether they are unified around A mission but to ask whether they are unified around THE mission. One of our MCs is localized in a suburban community but is spread out across many subdivisions. They were one of our “frustrated” groups that couldn’t unify around a particular mission. They began to break into smaller discipleship groups based on geography and relationship and found that each of these groups were much more effective in not only discipling each other but in making disciples within their other spheres of influence. So two times a month they all gather to share and celebrate the grace of God in their personal lives and in their missions. So at that gathering there is not only encouragement but the opportunity to partner with others in mission. The rest of the month these smaller groups meet and do life together to make disciples.

Our MC originally started as a neighborhood MC and it was really easy to be on mission in our neighborhood. We experienced a lot of traction early on but grew outside the boundaries of our neighborhoods. Our group was also very diverse and so it was even hard being on mission in our neighborhood with so many different walks of life. So we began to discuss where God was giving us favor or traction with people on mission. This led to some of us really giving time and energy to a rec team that involved a few of our group children. This led to the whole group being able to be a blessing to two families that we met through this rec league. One of the families has now since joined us and is getting to see what a gospel family looks like. Other parts of our group have been able to penetrate the artistic community and many of us have been able to join in with them on mission. Not all of us but a few of us! One of our girls got engaged and our group was able to help plan and execute her wedding which was a blessing to their extended family. So all of us didn’t do everything, but we all have had the opportunity to engage where God has given us personal traction with the help of our MC. And my family has been able to help others in our community do the same thing. So there’s no pressure to do it all, but there’s the freedom to follow the Spirit to engage with others as they live the mission. It’s actually fun and its a delight, not a duty!

Question: What do people study in your MCs?

Most of our groups study the same texts that we are preaching through in our corporate gatherings. Right now, that’s Romans (pray for us!). We have these groups answer 5 basic questions about the text each week that center around observation, interpretation, and gospel application. It is our hope that our people learn to be self-feeders! Many groups are actually studying ahead of what we are preaching so that they hit it before it’s preached. This allows them to hit the text fresh and be led by the Spirit and not just the preacher. A few of our groups do other book studies or other things like The Story of God or Gospel Parenting, etc. Anything outside of the sermon discussion must be approved by the church elders.

Question: How do you train your MC leaders?

Our training is really a two tier approach. On a large scale corporate approach, we offer quarterly workshops for all leaders and apprentices across all three campuses. This is a really big deal for us. We feed them all breakfast, take care of their kids, and give each family a free resource (not free to us usually!) along with the training that we do. In short not only do we try to equip and encourage them, but we try to bless their socks off too. The training generally has four sessions that revolve around these four components:

1. Evidence of God’s Grace (sharing MC stories)

2. Vision Training (one of our 5 community essentials or 4 rhythms)

3. Practical Training (gospel fluency through counsel training or the like)

4. Collective Prayer Time (both for the leaders and for their MCs; divided up geographically)

Our leaders love this and we almost always have every community represented at these events. They are led both by elders and MC leaders, but always by practitioners! On a small scale, our 3 campuses are divided into 9 geographic regions that we call collectives. Each collective has elders and deacons present that oversee individual coaching, accountability, encouragement,and equipping amongst the collective leaders. So the workshops are our air war and the collectives are our ground war for training.

Mark is also on the Executive Team for GCM Collective.

Interview With Alan Roxburgh

This is an interview I did with Alan Roxburgh about year ago while blogging for Missional in Suburbia…

alan roxburghAlan Roxburgh is a pastor, teacher, writer and consultant with more than 30 years experience in church leadership, consulting and seminary education.  Alan has pastored congregations in a small town, the suburbs, the re-development of a downtown urban church and the planting of other congregations.  He has directed an urban training center and served as a seminary professor and the director of a center for mission and evangelism.  Alan teaches as an adjunct professor in seminaries in the USA, Australia and Europe.  His books include: Reaching a New Generation, Leadership, Liminality and the Missionary Congregation, Crossing the Bridge: Leadership in a Time of Change, The Sky is Falling – Leaders Lost in Transition, The Missional Leader (co-authored with Fred Romanuk), Introducing the Missional Church (Baker, Nov 09) and Missional Map Making (Jossey-Bass, Jan 2010).  He was also a member of the writing team that authored Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America.

Through the Roxburgh Missional Network, Alan leads conferences, seminars and consultations with denominations, congregations and seminaries across North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and the UK.  Alan consults with these groups in the areas of leadership for missional transformation and innovating missional change across denominational systems.  Along with the team at RMN, he provides practical tools and resources for leaders of church systems and local congregations.

Through Allelon Alan co-directs the Mission in Globalizing Culture(s) Project.  This is a multi-year project addressing questions of mission in Western culture(s) from the perspective of the local church and its context, and the implications for leadership development.

When not traveling or writing, Alan enjoys mountain biking, hiking, cooking and hanging out with Jane and their five grandchildren as well as drinking great coffee in the Pacific North West.

Question: In chapter one of your new book (Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood) you write this, “In this book I propose that what I call “church questions,” with a primary focus on the church, only misdirect us. At this point in our history, we need to be asking radically different questions: What is God up to in our neighborhoods and communities? How do we join what God is doing in these places? Church questions are a subset of these far more important questions.” Explain for those who have not yet had the opportunity to read the book what you mean by the idea that we have been asking the wrong questions.

Alan Roxburgh: Almost all the books I read right now in terms of ‘missional’ are, in one form or another, proposals for fixing and/or making the church more effective. I am certainly not against this. My point is quite different. Its the focus of these books and the conversations they generate. The energy resourcing them is about the church. The focus of the conversation is the church. This is where I talk about the church being, either implicitly or explicitly, the subject and object of these conversations. This is what I mean by our asking the wrong questions. Not only are these the wrong questions but, theologically, they are the most uninteresting kinds of questions. Really, they are a continued expression of our North American preoccupation with ourselves. Church questions are the religious side of life coaches helping people to self-actualize. I know this sounds totally counter-intuitive to most people, especially clergy whose whole life is invested in church and shaped by church questions. My contention is that church questions are not the questions that preoccupied the early Christians. We need a reorientation of our imaginations to engage the world opening up before us. The good news is that the Spirit is breaking the boundaries and containers into where we have put the Gospel.

Question: Some people might misunderstand and think you are minimizing the role of the church in the world today. From the reading I have done of your book  I get the sense that you believe the church is incredibly important and relevant today. How would you explain the role of the church when it comes to the mission of God?

Alan Roxburgh: Yes, I do believe the church is incredibly important to the mission of God in the world. I am a member of a local church. I preach bi-weekly in my own parish so I’m pretty committed to the local church. But I also believe that the Spirit is out there ahead of us in the neighborhoods and communities where we live and work. It is as we Christians re-engage our neighborhoods by asking the question of what God is up to on the streets where we live that we get a picture of how the Spirit wants to shape our churches. So its not a question of whether the church is important or not. Of course it is. Rather, its a question of order an focus. I don’t primarily, discern what God is calling the church to be by huddling together in church meetings or having outsiders give us some mission/vision statement. We don’t even get there by reading books (even mine) on how others have made their church ‘successful’. Its as we learn to enter and sit at the table of the other (Luke 10: 1-12) that we get the chance of hearing what the Spirit is up to. Those encounters then change and change the shape of our churches. This is a reversal of how most churches function. Now this is not about giving away theological convictions but it is about having them shaped and reshaped by our contextual encounters with the Spirit in the communities where we live.

Question: I must confess that I enjoyed chapter five immensely! You are arguing that the way we read God’s Word may actually hinder us when it comes to us becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. You write, “Scripture isn’t a textbook of information; it isn’t a formula for making life work or a religious Dr. Phil for people who want to improve their lives, expand their bottom line, or ensure their kids get the right start in life. It is full of stories that invite us into the drama of where God is moving creation. Christians are invited to embody this drama.” Explain for us in practical terms how misreading scripture, as you have mentioned, could keep a suburban family from faithfully following Jesus into the world. Describe what that might look like.

Alan Roxburgh: One really simple way to illustrate this is our deeply embedded individualism. Everything about suburbia is about the self-actualizing individual. Go inside the homes of suburban folk and individualism is the way of life from each having their own rooms, TVs, computers etc. So, the deepest value of modernity and the Western imagination is codified in bricks and buildings, in the design of houses, the construction of roads and the TV adds that bombard us 24/7. What this means is that the typical suburban Christian reads his/her Bible from the perspective of the individual. The Bible is a guidebook for me, for my self-development, for my personal life. NO! When the typical suburbanite reads, for example, Paul’s letter and comes across the pronoun YOU it is read individualistically when in fact all this language is plural about social community. The narrative about self and identity in the Bible is the opposite of the narrative the the suburbs. And so, churches shape their ministry around meeting people’s needs or the self-development of individual Christians (often called discipleship) when these are actually the opposite of what is happening in the Scriptures.

Question: In chapter 11 you write about the danger of “decisionist evangelism”. If I understand you correctly, and please let me know if I am off base, what you mean by this is that we have reduced the gospel to simply making a decision to follow Jesus. You go on to explain that when it comes to the gospel we need to understand the depth and power of the word “peace/shalom” as mentioned in Luke 10. So here is the question, what does it mean for disciples of Jesus Christ to bring a gospel of shalom to our cul-de-sac? What does it look like?

Alan Roxburgh: You’re asking a question that really needs a lot of time and space to address. ‘Shalom’ is shorthand for the ‘reign of God’ that has come. It is far more than personal peace etc and way more than some decisionist evangelism that invites people to make ‘personal’ decisions (there is that misplaced individualism again). To be very brief, to live the shalom of God in the cul-de-sac would mean, minimally, recovering basic practices of Christian life (I write about this elsewhere). It would mean living into the rhythm of Luke 10:1-12 which means choosing to stay put and make the neighborhood ones’s priority. It would mean modeling kingdom life which, for example, would mean create extended family in the house with open doors that welcome the neighborhood into its life.  There is so much to discuss here. Let me be very clear though, I am convinced that the cul-de-sac is not something to be cursed but is the place where God’s transformative shalom is waiting to be birthed.

Question: This may be a little off track from your book, but I know that there are quite a few leaders who are attempting to transition their church from traditional to missional. What are four or five things that you believe are most critical for such a transition to occur? Since I am always looking for hope and reasons to be encouraged in these uncharted waters, have you witnessed any churches that have actually made the missional transition?

Alan Roxburgh: Hmm! Always struggle with the ‘four or five things’. But let me be foolish. Pastors trying to transition…

Stop trying to change and transition your people. That makes them a project. Start loving them for who and where they are just now. This creates safe space. You start to model what you believe the Spirit is calling your church toward. In other words, YOU move back into the neighborhood and start practicing Luke 10. Until you do that stop trying to change others.

Share the stories of what God is doing in the neighborhood and be a detective of divinity by looking at where the Spirit is stirring heart desire in others in the church. Encourage them, work with them.

Become an interpreter of the Biblical narratives so people can start to read their neighborhoods with God’s eyes.

Stay put, stop moving from church to church.

Interview with Caesar Kalinowski

This is an interview I did with Caesar Kalinowski a number of years ago…

Caesar is a spiritual entrepreneur and an avid storyteller. His background includes communications, media production, working with youth, and extensive travel in international missions. He has worked in over 15 countries around the world including Sierra Leone, Sudan, Nigeria, Burma, India and the Czech Republic. Before moving to Tacoma in 2004 to help launch Soma, Caesar and his wife owned and operated several businesses in and around the Chicagoland area.

At any given moment Caesar is starting a new Missional Community and handing over another to a new leader.  He’s one of the elders in the Hilltop Expression, leads the charge for international missions and helps oversee a lot of the structures and systems we need to keep a big family organized.

He has been married to Tina, his high school sweetheart for over 25 years; they have three children: Caesar, Christin and Justine.

Question: Your Missional Communities in Tacoma are living on mission together in very practical ways. Give us one or two examples of how your MCs are being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in their neighborhoods.

Caesar: One of our missional communities is led by Greg Landon. Greg’s “day job” is as the VP of Network Services in Tacoma. Network is a sister org to Soma in Tacoma and owns and manages 31 low-income and transitional housing. The goal of Network (and the Gospel) is to give homeless families a leg up, get them off the street, in many cases off of drugs, and to see them move on to be healthy families that are no longer homeless and fully dependent on “the system” to get by. Ultimately we want them to come to a restored relationship with the Father through knowing Jesus.

Greg has led his missional community to focus on being “family” to several of the individuals and families within Network housing. The idea being that to just give them an apartment is not enough—we want to be their family and show them the love of God and an active gospel via close relationships.

It has been amazing to watch young mothers and teens come off the streets, finding true community, becoming exposed to the Word via The Storyformed Way (a 10 week narrative, dialogical way to begin to make disciples) and living out the gospel in real time as they grow closer to God and his people. Simple things like shopping and cooking together, throwing birthday or graduation parties and filling out school or job applications can be profound expressions of love as God meets real needs in real time.

Greg is now looking for and leading others to form missional communities right inside the housing complexes as he desires to see the gospel more fully incarnated among the “least of these” people God loves in Tacoma.

Question: From my time with you guys at Soma I saw a wonderful, biblical balance between the Sunday Morning worship service and living together as a community on mission during the week. There are many leaders who would like to grow when it comes to how they live in community Monday-Saturday. What practical advice would you give pastors and churches that are trying to transition from a traditional church model (it’s primarily about Sunday) to a more holistic missional model (every day is sacred)?

Caesar: It all starts with the leaders. Always.

Leaders–the senior pastor…the XP…the elders etc. are going to have to become convinced that living life in gospel community on mission is the life we were created and saved to live out. As men, as women, as parents, as leaders in the church. Then begin to lead others into this life with you. Try using the following common, cultural rhythms to give you some “handles”. Try and begin to live life in each of these daily rhythms with “gospel intentionality”.

Story-formed. Live in the Story of God and get to know others’ stories and how they fit into God’s bigger picture.

Listen. Spend time daily and weekly just listening to God. Listen both “backward and forward”.  Listen backward through “listening” to the Word of God and listen forward by listening to the Holy Spirit and others in your missional community. You’ll be amazed at how much God has to say when you listen instead of talk.

Eat. Try and have 3 (of your 21) meals per week with not-yet-believers. You’ll have great opportunities to live out all of the other rhythms with them!

Bless. Live a life of blessing. Blessed to be a blessing was apart of God’s call and promise to Israel. Ask God to show you 3 people you could intentionally bless each week through words, gifts or service.

Celebrate. Make your Sunday “services” into true celebrations. Also, regularly throw parties, BBQs, and go to others’ parties with “gospel intentionality”.  Look to show them what God is like by bringing the best food and consumables!

ReCreate. This is the idea of living out the gospel through Sabbath rest…al the time. The gospel says that we now rest because of Christ’s completed work on the cross and the work or “create” out of that love and acceptance. Ask the Spirit to help you life in a rhythm of rest–create, rest–create…

End of Interview

I want to thank Caesar for taking the time to do this interview with us! My hope is is that it spurs you on to both know and embody the gospel wherever you live. For me the challenge is how to live this out in our suburban context. I no longer wrestle with the question, “should we should try to live this way?” or “will it work here?” The reason I have stopped asking those kinds of questions is that I see this radical/gospel way of living so clearly rooted in the pages of Scripture.  The question for me now is “how will we make it happen?”  Please feel free to add your thoughts to this ongoing discussion! Do you have a story of how you are living out the gospel in your neighborhood?

Interview with Scott Boren

This interview was done a couple years ago while blogging for Missional in Suburbia…

Question: Thank you for being willing to answer a few questions! Tell us a little about yourself…

Scott BorenScott: Husband of a beautiful woman, father of four kids (all seven and  under), pastor and someone who cannot help but write and research. But  even more basic, I am a hay-throwing farm boy from North Texas who felt  God calling him discover what it meant to be a leader in the church. To  my surprise, I found that traditional church leadership did not fit me  well. This has led me down some wild paths, from extensive intellectual  pursuits to very practical hands on experiments of alternative ways of  being the church.

Question: Please define a Missional Small Group and explain how it  is different than what we typically think of when it comes to Small  Group life.

Scott: Definitions  of experiences are hard in some ways, but I know they are necessary so  that we can try to get a common understanding of what we are talking  about. In my book, I talk about four stories of group life, the first  two being normal and the second two providing stories of missional life.  Missional small groups are about living a story of life together that  steps beyond the normal group experience. By normal, I mean the small  group that is a Christian add-on to the normal American way of living,  the nice weekly or bi-weekly Bible study that helps us be better  American Christians. Missional groups live out an alternative story.  This story is shaped by a set of rhythms of life that we practice as a  community.

Question: I really enjoyed this quote from page 139, “We no longer  need haphazard gospel sharing that is not supported by visible  community. We need much more than good sermons, big buildings, and  professional video presentations. We need a people committed to specific  places who are called to bring redemption to those places.”  Explain  why you believe it is so critical to missionally engage our  neighborhoods “together” as opposed to an “individual” approach?

Scott: I’m finding that many people want  more than the normal American church experience. They realize that they  should be living differently, but they don’t know exactly how. The  practices that I offer in my book aim to provide entry points for groups  to discover together what it means to move into this “more” experience  or this “missional story.”

Question: I was excited to see that you explained that being  missional is not just another thing we do in the church, being missional  is a actually part of our identity as followers of Christ. Why do you  believe this is so important for us to understand?

Question:Personal  or individual evangelism has been a major thrust of the church for  decades. However, the “good news” of Jesus is much more than a message  that I as an individual can offer one of my friends. The good news of  the Gospel is a way of freedom, an alternative life to the entrapment  and bondage of the normal life that we typically live today,  characterized by isolation, individualism, rampant debt, fear, etc. The  only way that people can receive the good news of the Gospel is when  they see it. There will be a few who can see what the Gospel through  words alone, but most people need to see and outpost of heaven in a war  torn world. And they need to see it happening on their streets, in our  neighborhoods and apartment complexes, in our schools and playgrounds.  They need to see the good news lived out as we love each other and enter  into honest conversations with people around us. This is the reason the  word “engagement” is so crucial to being missional. But that gets into  the next question.

There  is a lot of talk about “missional” right now and many a using the  Mission alongside the words Communion and Community to help clarify  three parts of the life of a missional community. I find this highly  problematic primarily because when we conceive of mission as part of our  life we turn it into something we do for outsiders. Communion and  Community is insider stuff, mission is outsider stuff. But “missional”  is a being concept, not a doing concept. This is rooted in a rich  theological heritage. God is a God of missional being, not of doing. He  is a sending God, in that he sent himself through the incarnation and  through the sending of the Spirit. God is an overflowing fountain of  love who send himself out of his self gift.

Question: You write on page 49 that “When the focus of group life is  on the meeting, we limit the gospel…” Explain what you mean by a  “limited gospel”.

Scott: This  is the reason I talk about the three rhythms of missional small groups  in different terms: Missional Communion, Missional Relating and  Missional Engagement. Some might think that this is unnecessary  verbiage, but I think it is absolutely crucial. And my experience  reveals this. When we think of missional as something we do, then we  have strategic plans and activities for reaching people for Jesus. But  when it is something we are, then our praying has just as much impact  upon our way of sharing Jesus with our world as anything else. And our  way of loving each other can be as good if not better than the best  evangelistic sermons. Being missional is about living an alternative way  in conversation with people in our neighborhoods. The point of my book  is to help people enter into that life.

Question: What would you say to encourage the average busy Christian  who just does not think they have the time to commit to a Missional  Small Group?

Scott: A  limited gospel might get us into heaven but we don’t allow it to change  our lives now. A limited gospel has enough good news to forgive our  sins, but not enough to set us free to actually love and sacrifice for  those around us. A limited gospel opens the door for a personal  relationship with Jesus but lacks the power to challenge us to be  disciples. A limited gospel calls us to go to church or go to a small  group but does not call us on mission with others.

Don’t  discount this idea by using the excuse that you are too busy. You might  look at this idea and think it is too radical for your life, but I  guarantee that if you really consider it that your heart will resonate  with the possibility of living on mission. Just consider it. Pray about  it. Listen to your heart. And let the Spirit of God do the work in you.  Don’t start with action steps or trying to make something happen. Start  by listening to the Spirit of God within you and a new hope arise within  you from the inside.

One final note: I have  written a new study guide to help groups work through the ideas found in Missional Small Groups. If provides a simple and realistic process to  help groups get started on the missional journey. And one more thing:  It’s free. It can be downloaded at http://www.mscottboren.com/id5.html

Interview with Tracey Bianchi

I did this interview with Tracey quite a few years ago while blogging for Missional in Suburbia…

Question: Thanks so much Tracey for taking the time to dialogue with us about being green in suburbia! Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Green MamaTracey: My husband Joel and I have three young children (ages 3, 4 and 7). Two boys and a girl. And a goldfish named Stinky Pete. I work part-time at my church serving in Women’s Ministry, part-time as a freelance writer and speaker, and work all the time I can with my family. So that makes me completely harried and more than a little frantic at times. But it keeps life interesting. Caffeine makes it all possible.

We live just outside the city of Chicago in an older suburb. It’s an easy-going, walkable and historic community. We’ve all lived in the Chicago suburbs on and off for most of our lives and have spent well over ten years in the community where we currently live. I believe it is significant, in our transient culture, to set roots down and invest in a community. This has been our goal for many years.

Question: Being green has become the trendy thing to talk about these days (similar to the idea of pursuing justice). As soon as a topic becomes trendy I know that many people tend to disregard it merely as a passing fad. What does the Bible have to say that should compel us to live green lives?

Tracey: There is of course not a single passage that says “God is Green.” All our “eco-friendly” conversations did not exist in Biblical times. But the Bible is filled with so many stories of God’s interaction and engagement with his people through Creation. Starting with the Creation story itself in Genesis 1 & 2. We see that God Created this world, gave us a gift to sustain ourselves through it. So right away on page one we see God’s concern for the natural world. God speaks to his people through the natural world, from burning bushes to statements that rocks will cry out. The Psalms are also filled with statements about awe, wonder and worship that come because of experiencing the vastness of God through the sun and moon and stars, the natural world. Paul tells us in Romans that Creation itself has been subjected to the sin of humankind and groans to be released.

Question: How would you define being green?

Tracey: Living wisely by knowing that our lifestyles impact others and then taking steps to  keep that impact as minimal or positive as possible. For some this means driving less or turning to alternative energy sources, for others it can mean just ditching disposable water bottles and recycling. It’s more about creating an ethos, a culture that is aware of others and how our lives impact people all over the world.

 Question: What makes a Christian response to the topic of being green distinct from a secular response?

Tracey: The impetus for going green, for the Christian, is about God and about worship. Culturally, going green can be political, anxiety producing, or just an attempt to be trendy. For the Christian it is about honoring God by treating well the gift he gave us. Also, the impact of our environmental actions often lands indiscriminately on the shoulders of the poor, something Christians should care greatly about. Caring for the poor and needy among us.

Question:  I think that many times (urban or suburban) we just start going with the cultural flow and lose sight of how God is calling us to live differently. Please give us some examples of how you see suburbanites not being very green.

Tracey: The suburbs breed a culture of convenience. After time we just assume that everything should be quick and easy. That wider streets, bigger cars and drive thru windows or even bigger homes should be the way we live. We forget that taking our time, walking places, or passing by the fast food outlet is a better option. That the often coveted, 4000 square foot “McMansion” is not always the most convenient for our neighbors and others with whom we share the planet.

Question: What are some simple steps we can take in suburbia to become better stewards of God’s creation?

Tracey: We can advocate for simple changes in our communities. Idle-free parking zones in front of our schools, encourage children to walk to school or parents to walk to errands. Petition for curbside recycling if it does not exist or for community-wide hazardous waste recycling events for the whole community. Waste-free lunchrooms and eco-friendly fundraisers at our schools. The opportunities are vast for making change!

 Question: One of the characteristics of suburbia is the chaotic busyness of everyday life. So the idea of adding “being green” to our to-do list seems overwhelming. How do we make it a priority when our plates are already so full? Is it possible that being green can actually simplify and slow down our lives?

Tracey: No one wants more on their “to do” list. Being Green is less about adding things to the list and more about doing what we already do each day, and just doing it smarter. Fill up a water bottle from home rather than buying a disposable bottle at work. Walk to the store rather than drive. Pack lunches in reusable bags and snack bags rather than disposable items. Turn off your car engine in the school pick up line, ATM, or dry cleaner. All activities that we do each day/week, just doing them smarter and with a greater awareness of our impact on the world.

Question: Do you have any other thoughts or ideas you would like to share with us?

Tracey: Just an encouragement to think about green living as a way to connect with God and others. It’s less about trends and climate change or politics and more about a way to get in touch with God’s desires for our lives. That we would be wise people who care for others. Our environmental impact plays a very important role in the lives of others. If God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, being environmentally conscious is a way to do this.

Thanks Michael for the opportunity to share some thoughts! If people want to follow up they can visit me over at http://traceybianchi.com or via facebook and twitter.

My Interview with Shannon Sedgwick (The Mom Who Stopped Joseph Kony)

I did this interview with Shannon quite a few years ago while blogging at Missional in Suburbia…

UPDATE: Since I did the interview with Shannon I found HERE an article about how she helped stopped the reign of terror of Joseph Kony. Definitely take some time to read this fascinating, inspirational story! There is another link HERE from Christianity Today about Shannon.

I first heard about Shannon Sedgwick Davis by watching her do an interview with ABC News. The title of the interview is “The New Face Of Evangelicalism.” (This link use to work. When I tried it recently I had little success. If you know where I can find the video please let me know). What struck me was her passion when it comes to using her life for the good of others. Shannon agreed to answer a few questions for us at Missional in Suburbia…

Question:  Shannon, tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Shannon: I’m a “normal” working mom of two young boys- which are the joy of my life and continue to amaze me every day! My husband Sam and I have been married for 6 1/2 years. We enjoy spending as much time as possible with our boys and playing tennis together (although don’t tell him I told you; he’s a lot better than I am!) This year I learned to surf which was challenging but a lot of fun.

Question: What do you do for a living?

Shannon: I’m a Human Rights Lawyer and President of Bridgeway Foundation. I also serve on several advisory boards: The Elders, Eastern Congo Initiative, Humanity United, TOM’s Shoes, Blueprint Ministries and Relevate.

Question: Clearly you are a person who personally strives to see justice brought to a hurting and broken world. What motivates and compels you to live this way?

Question: My relationship with Christ. Not because I am a Christian but because I believe Christ’s life was about showing up. When I read about Jesus’ time on earth, I see a constant theme that runs throughout- He showed up. In every situation or person he encountered, Jesus was given knowledge and then responded by doing what God put on his heart. The knowledge I have been privileged to receive and the faces of people along my path, compel me every day just to show up and say yes to the life God has called me to.

Question: What do you see as the greatest challenges for families living in suburbia? Or to spin it this way; what are some of the things you believe keep us from living the radical life that Christ is calling us to?

Shannon: Fear. I think innately we know that knowledge equals responsibility. The atrocities of the world are overwhelming and we become paralyzed in fear because we don’t where to begin. Yet all God asks of us is to bring what we have to him. To be obedient and bring our gifts and skills to bear on these problems then trust the miracles to Him. There is nothing more powerful in the entire world than when a person finds himself caught up in a cause far greater than himself.

Question: Mothers today are so incredibly busy! Soccer practice, work, errands, managing a household, church, etc…With all the busyness of daily life is it even possible for moms to be thinking about issues of justice and the needs of a hurting world both locally and globally? If so, what are some first steps you would recommend to a mom or a parent to participate in God’s redemptive mission in this world?

Shannon: Yes, I know it’s possible first hand! A first step could be, to pray and ask God what you are supposed to do. He is faithful and will lead you. As Christians, as people who love God and love His people, we must not sit idly by and watch evil triumph! Even if we are incredibly busy with day to day life, we must do something, we must show up!  Whether that means to pray, to become more aware of the issues that people face in the world, or to give of our time, talents or treasures, God has placed in each of us a purpose that He will use for His glory. (end of interview)

Thanks again Shannon. I loved this line, “There is nothing more powerful in the entire world than when a person finds himself caught up in a cause far greater than himself.” It truly is liberating when we embrace the gospel truth that life is not about us, it is about losing ourselves for the good of others.

The picture of Shannon was taken from Christianity Today.

Interview with Helen Lee (The Missional Mom: Living With Purpose At Home And In The World)

I did this interview with Helen Lee a couple years ago while blogging at Missional in Suburbia…

Helen LeeHelen Lee is a busy mom living in the Chicagoland area and she is also the author of a wonderful book that is soon to be released; “The Missional Mom: Living With Purpose At Home And In The World.” Helen has graciously agreed to allow me to interview her and  my prayer is that this interview, and her book, will be a tremendous encouragement to all the moms (and dads too!) who are working hard everyday to raise up and train their children in the way they should go!

Question: What motivated you to write, “The Missional Mom: Living With Purpose at Home and in the World”?

Helen: I had been aware of the growing trend of churches calling themselves “missional”, then had the chance to write about this trend in more detail for Leadership Journal. As I began to speak with missional church leaders and understand more about what the word meant, I was captivated! At the same time, I’d been thinking for a while about writing a book about Christian motherhood, and one day the idea came to me that being a “missional mom” was exactly what I wanted to think and write about. So for the past year and a half, I spent time finding a number of women I felt embodied the spirit and substance of living missionally, learning from them and from their life choices, and I finished the book this summer. It comes out in January 2011 from Moody Publishers, and I am hopeful that it will be encouraging, inspiring, and challenging for today’s moms in their own life and faith journeys.

Question: You mention in your book that many women today are not finding joy and fulfillment in their role as mother. What do you have to say in this book that will inspire and give moms a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in their day-to-day life?

Helen: I think that today’s moms are pulled in so many different directions, and one of the reasons they have a hard time attaining a sense of joy and fulfillment in their lives is due to a sense of internal tension; “am I living the life that God intended me to live?” Part of that tension comes from either not knowing their calling, not feeling the freedom to pursue it, or erroneously misunderstanding their calling. In the book, I write about this idea of calling and suggest how today’s moms might consider rethinking their own sense of purpose and mission. I think once you have the proper perspective about your own mission in life, you can live with much more freedom and passion than if you are constantly struggling with the question of, “Is this what God has intended for my life?”

Other factors that weigh today’s moms down are the strong cultural pressures on moms to produce “perfect,” “successful” children. In the book I try to identify some of the more insidious of these pressures that moms might not even realize might be affecting them–hopefully as they understand these cultural influences better, they will be able to make choices to free themselves from those influences, which I believe will help them attain more joy and fulfillment in their lives as moms as well.

Question: What would you say to all the busy moms out there who don’t think there is enough time in the day to be missional?

Helen: I understand all about busyness! I have three young sons, 8 years old and younger. I also homeschool, so you can imagine that my life is very full. But there are so, so many ways we can be missional that won’t even add a minute to our day–there are lifestyle and attitudinal changes you can make that can make a huge difference in your life and especially in the lives of your children that will have longstanding effects. For example–you can start talking more in your household about the global needs in the world, and help your children to be aware of those needs. You can pray with them on a regular basis about children in other countries who are suffering and who are in great need, and this opens a child’s heart and mind to the idea that we have a responsibility to care for “the least of these.” You can encourage your kids to donate their own money to help others, you can reduce consumeristic and materialistic attitudes in your own home, which can all help your family live more missionally…the list goes on and on! Being missional isn’t just about “doing” missional things–although that is part of the picture–it is a way to live and those are just a few examples of changes that can any mom can start making regardless of how busy she is.

That having been said, though, we all make time for the things we care about. Even if it’s only an hour a week or month, every mom can take steps in her life to build in active missional living–which, as Scot McKnight says in the book, comes down to a simple question: asking “how can I help you?” in every situation. We can all take time to help a neighbor, a friend, someone in need. And we need to build that discipline in our lives, no matter how busy we are, no matter how much we would prefer to just live our own private lives, because ultimately loving and caring for others is at the heart of what it means to love God.

Question: Highlight some of the cultural pressures you see at work today that makes it difficult to raise children who love God more than anything else on earth.

Helen: I mentioned a couple above that are worth repeating: materialism and consumerism are two huge pressures. It’s very difficult to live counterculturally to the constant messages in our culture that we must always attain more wealth and more stuff in order to truly be “happy.” Achievement-orientation, I feel, is another. Here in America, we like saying that every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What that usually means here in this country is the pursuit of material success. But I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that we are either entitled or guaranteed happiness or material success. I see a Christ who sacrifices everything to save the world, and who calls us to be willing to do the same. God may choose to bring material blessings into our life, (and many of us are blessed beyond measure, compared to the majority of the rest of the world), but it’s not something to seek after, or to train our children to seek after.

I have a friend who is a pastor of a missional church, and he regularly asks his congregation, ‘How many of you who are parents pray for your children to be missionaries or to go to full-time Christian ministry?” It’s a good question to ask ourselves as parents, to test our desires for our kids and see if we are wanting for them a future that is based on a specific idea of success that might actually not be God’s ideal. The issue is not whether our child will end up in ministry, but whether we ask ourselves, “Are we as parents praying for our children to fulfill God’s calling on their life, whatever that calling might be?” It can be a very challenging prayer–but God is not asking us to do anything as parents that he did not do himself, which was to offer up his own Son to give his life for the world.

Question: What are one or two things that you hope moms take away from your book?

Helen: One: that God has a purpose in mind for you, and that motherhood–while vitally important and a critical role in your life–is not the only purpose and not even the primary purpose for you. (The book will explain that concept in much more depth!) Two: that as mothers, we have an incredible opportunity to help our children embrace missional living. Three (sorry, I couldn’t stop at two!): that living missionally can be the key to helping a mom experience more joy and fulfillment in her life as a mom.

Thanks to Helen Lee for taking the time to join the conversation here at Missional in Suburbia! Wonderful stuff, lots to think about! We would love to hear your thoughts, questions and comments…

Interview with Jayne Vanderstelt (Soma Church)

A few years ago my wife and I spent a week at Soma Church in Tacoma, Washington. We went out there to be a part of what they call “Soma School.” Soma School is an opportunity to learn about what it means to be immersed in both the gospel and community while on mission to the city of Tacoma. The week that we were out there had a profound impact on me and my view of ministry.

jaynevanderstelt (1)Jayne Vanderstelt is married to Jeff (Elder and Missional Community Leader at Soma). Jayne was kind enough to answer some of my questions so that I could learn from her and in turn share her responses with you. She has some incredibly insightful things to say in regards to life in a Missional Community, making disciples, and the importance of loving where we live.

Tell us a little about yourself.  I was born and raised in the Northwest, Seattle, and met Jeff when I was 19. He was working as a youth pastor, fresh out of college, a transplant from Michigan. We’ve been married for almost 20 years (March 13) and have 3 kids…Haylee (10), Caleb (8) and Maggie (6). I have a graphic design degree and worked a bit in that before having Haylee when I was 30. I have always loved art and am a visual artist on the side. Most of the work I do is for my kids’ school auction or projects for friends. I took a classical drawing class that I really loved, but mostly do art as a hobby. I haven’t worked outside our home since my oldest daughter was born. I currently volunteer at my kids’ school (mostly on the auction committee and in the classroom), I am a hospice volunteer, have played a very active role in our Soma Kids Ministry, and finally I am meeting with various women in our body in a mentorship role. We host MC at our place and I do DNA with 2 ladies. Our kids are in soccer and Swim team, so those things keep us busy as well. I also like to read, watch movies with Jeff, listen to music and eat and drink yummy food! Haha…oh and now that I am 40, I am learning to like exercise.

There are many people who do not feel deeply connected to the city, suburb, in which they live. Why is our attitude towards the place in which we live so important?  Being connected in a community is a very intentional act. It means I am meeting people and engaging in events that are happening in my city. I am going to the grocery stores and coffee shops, learning people’s names and trying to frequent places that will communicate that I am a faithful and consistent customer (you can easily do this in the city or a suburb). I strongly believe that you need to be loving the people you are living with…and if you struggle with this, to ask God to give you a heart for them. It’s very true that you can either love or despise a people group/culture quite easily. Growing up in Seattle, I was afraid of and even looked down on Tacoma. In fact, had you asked me in my 20’s to move here it would have been a straight up “NO WAY!” But as God called us here and I started to engage with the people, I realized what an amazing place this was. We had lived in Chicago for 6 years prior to moving to Tacoma and a close friend that I had developed there told me once that I was always comparing Seattle to Chicago and she was starting to take it personally. I didn’t realize that my homesickness for the Northwest was starting to affect my ability to really enjoy and engage in the people I was ministering to so I’m sure I was portraying a bit of an arrogant posture, not trying to, but communicating to them that what I was experiencing there wasn’t quite as good as what I had “back home.” How offensive is that??? Well, once I realized this, I started to become very careful with my comments and started focusing on the positives of my new home. I realized that I was encouraging the natives and ministering to them in a way they felt built up and loved. This in turn helped me to get my focus off myself and my selfish desires and put it on others. I then started to really love the people and the culture. This lesson has served me well in every subsequent experience of new surroundings. Bottom line…If God calls you somewhere, HE alone will put a love in your heart for the people.

Many Small Groups have primarily been focused on caring for one another, Bible study and prayer. All great things! Why is being on mission to your city so critical for Missional Community life?  Any time we completely focus on ourselves we miss so much of what God has to do in us and through us while we are living on this earth. God intended for us to not only receive grace, but to give it away. I have so enjoyed being part of other people’s lives in a way that leads me to pray for them and the people they are reaching. Being involved in mission in the city fuel’s our time together at the MC meeting. We all come together and are able to build each other up, bring the Gospel to each other’s situations and relationships, pray for each other and experience joy together when someone has a victory. I think it’s hard for people to understand that caring for each other within the body is only fully realized when it involves caring for people outside the body.

What are a couple things that you love most when it comes to being a part of a MC?  I love seeing people experience family in a new way. I love seeing needs being taken care of. I love it that I have a group of people who are checking in on me when Jeff is away. I love the spiritual dialogue and growth that happens in our lives. Just last week, Jeff was gone and I hosted our MC. I looked around the room and realized that most of the people we were on mission with have come to faith in our community…or are “coming” to faith presently. People’s lives are very precious and the journey God has us all on is very unique to each one of us. This is the beauty of an MC. We are all at different places, but God is at the center of it, uniting us all. Our MC is a community where we are all personally growing and being stretched as well as constantly talking about the people God has put in our lives and how we can pray, watch and join the Lord’s work in their lives.

What are some of the struggles, challenges you have when it comes to sharing life in a MC?  We have been a part of many MC’s over the years and I am learning to recognize a cycle that we go through. We start with a smaller group, learn to trust each other, get to know personalities, work through conflict, find sometimes that we are socially drawn to some more than others, and learn to love and grow…as a family…all the while some leave, new ones join, and others remain “consistently” “inconsistent.” (for lack of a better description:). I can recall one group in particular that I really struggled with at first and I remember praying and asking the LORD why He would put us with these people, I thought there might have been some mistake and entertained the thought that maybe we needed to reaccess this group and assign ourselves people we had better chemistry with. I knew this was wrong and that God had a purpose in choosing us to be together so I devoted myself to praying that God would give me a new heart for these people. Long story short…as I prayed and applied my heart to loving them, God gave me a deep love and understanding into their lives and the very different perspective they were coming from. My love muscle was exercised and grew during that time. I constantly look back on that experience and thank God for it because it taught me the power of God in my life…to change my heart towards another person. Functioning and “surviving” in the MC God has chosen for us will help us learn the discipline of applying ourselves to love…which will in turn, help us in the”real world” be the kind of selfless people that those in the world need to be in a relationship with. To learn how to interact with people in which we don’t see eye to eye on everything is of great value and a vital practice if you are going to reach the world for Jesus…and shouldn’t that start in our MC family!

How do you personally disciple ladies in your MC/church? In a nutshell…it’s not in meetings. I am devoted to prayer, reading God’s Word (where I am learning a ton on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus), living it out,  and I am sharing it with the people in my community. I have found that my life experiences are way more impactful than what I believe and teach. I am in a DNA that meets on Monday nights and I am starting two separate Mentorship groups of women who have contacted me to ask if I would meet with them. I am convinced that one on one mentorship is not nearly as effective as a group situation. But mainly, I am interacting with the ladies by asking them what they are learning and how are they working it out…and sharing with them what God is teaching me and how I’m working it out. If you want a practical example, here is a recent situation…I was helping at a function at my kids’ school and needed some extra hands so the first people I contacted to help, were a handful of the ladies I am mentoring. They were eager to help and it was an amazing testimony to the school who thanked me for providing my own helpers and were encouraged by people outside the school who are willing to give up a Friday night to serve them.

Lastly, I just want to add that prayer is a vital part of all of the above. I encourage intimacy with Jesus and a devotion to learning to listen to the Spirit in everything. Honesty with Jesus and those around you and a humble submission to His will, will open the door of clarity in the area of truly being missional in a way that pleases God. Life on mission is messy, changes frequently, unpredictable, etc… If you are not truly connected to Jesus through it all you will rapidly crash and burn because of your weak choice to burden yourself with a life that is not empowered by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. As a beloved daughter of God I have functioned in both arenas and will say with great conviction and authority that the Spirit of God is mysterious and unpredictable but simultaneously grounding, comforting and clearly the only one who will leave you with the profoundly supernatural experience of peace, joy, and the undeserved fruit of your labor.

Interview With Seth McBee About Being On Mission, Community And Discipleship

Who is Seth McBee?

Seth McBee is the adopted son of God, husband of one wife and father of three. He’s a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a finance degree. By trade Seth is an seth mcbeeInvestment Portfolio Manager, serving as president of McBee Advisors, Inc. Today, he’s a preaching elder with Soma Communities in Renton, WA and part of the Executive Team with the GCM Collective. In his down time he likes to CrossFit, cook BBQ, host pancake ebelskiver breakfasts at his home and many other neighborhood events in his hometown of Maple Valley, Washington

Question: What do you do (the strategy) to make sure that people in your church are being discipled do that they can go and disciple others?

My strategy to ensure people are making disciples is pretty simple.   We trust in the work of the Spirit as we live out the implications of the gospel in community as a family of missionary servants.  I am not sure any other way to “make sure” people are being discipled.  You can do trainings, classroom discussions and studies, etc. but that isn’t ensuring anything is actually happening.  You must get the people in community, living out the implications of the good news with the power of the Spirit for this to happen.  We see this is exactly how Jesus did it as well.  We can see him discipling his disciples on the mission field with the broken 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time was just with the disciples.  The interesting thing is that by doing this we get to see the real responses of the discipleship process, meaning, we even as readers 2000 years later, get to see where the disciples need the gospel.  We see Peter saying some pretty stupid things and the apostles failing to heal (Matt 17) and asking Jesus for explanation, (with many other examples) all these happening as real responses from being on the mission field.   So, by living out discipleship on the mission field, you will see where you, your missional community and those that are not yet believers actually need the good news of Jesus in their life.  When you are having a BBQ and a neighbor’s kid spills his fruit juice on your carpet and you yell at him and get angry at the cost of carpet cleaning, it reveals you need to understand who’s carpet it actually is and why you have your home.  You need the good news applied to both your anger and your possessions.  If you have the BBQ with your MC, and you see them as family, they can point these gospel needs to you with confidence you desire correction to make you more like Jesus and under his Lordship in every area of your life.

Not only this, but we encourage everyone to live as normal people with normal lives, but understanding they have an abnormal calling.  Everything we do needs to be transferable to each one of our people instead of discipleship only being able to be done by a select few.  If your discipleship can’t be transferred over to a single mom, a CEO or college student…you are probably not doing what Jesus was doing.  He lived in such a way that was transferable to a wide range of people.  Fisherman, tax collectors, zealots and even crazier…women. (crazy for that day…don’t get mad at me).

The last thing I’ll say about this is to realize that the second people meet someone, they are discipling them to who Jesus is.  Everything you say and do people perceive is what a follower of Jesus does.  When your people see this difference, it opens their eyes to understanding discipleship and how much they are discipling in the every day.  Much more to say on this topic, but we don’t want to belabor that here.

Quick summation: Holy Spirit empowered, Gospel saturated,  in community, on the mission field, transferable, in the every day.

Question: Do you make disciples in a group (Life Group or Missional Community) or do you do it one on one? Or is it a combination of the two? Please explain.

Both, but mostly, like 90%, in community.  There are times to meet up one on one, I get that.  But that cannot be the totality of our discipleship.  There is a reason that God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, God calling out Abram to start a new nation, God calling the people of God the church, a family, a body, a flock.  Because the point of all these are to point people to who God is and what he is like.  God is Trinitarian, therefore, by living and discipling in community, we show off who God is and the fact that he lives in community as Father, Son and Spirit.  If I merely disciple someone one on one, that person will start to look like me, instead of Jesus.  I can call them my disciple, instead of them being Jesus’ disciple.  It would be like going to the gym and merely working out your right bicep.  Sure, that bicep will be huge, but it will not help your whole body’s development.

Again, this doesn’t mean you negate one on one, but you must see the fallacy of that being the way to make a fully formed disciple of Jesus.  Even Jesus rarely met with the disciples one on one…what makes us think we should spend most of our disciple time doing that?  Unless one thinks they are greater than Jesus.

Question: How often should Life Group or Missional Community Leaders meet for training? What curriculum do you use?

How often? Not sure.  This will be different for every community.  We need to be careful from trying to set this up for all people for all time.  Some questions to ask to determine for one’s community would definitely be these:

  1. Where do we see our people needing to be trained in?
  2. How long do our people need to live out the training before we start a new topic to train them in?
  3. Can we gather for training that will not interrupt their normal discipleship lives in an unhealthy way?  If yes, the question then comes, how often should this be to make sure it is not a burden?
  4. Can we use our other gathering times for training? MC meetings, Sunday gatherings, etc.

We use many of the resources found on the GCM Collective.  I am about to embark on this with my MC as I am moving and expecting three MCs being born as I leave.   I will be going through these first: Empowered by the Spirit; Gospel Fluency; How to Create an Environment for Discipleship; The Power and Purpose of the Gospel.

Question: What should we do if there is a lack of Life Group or Missional Community apprentices? Steps to take?

They are there.  Usually people just have too high of expectations for apprentices.  Too high being the apostle Paul would struggle to pass your test.  I think the very first step is to ask the Spirit to reveal them to you.  Remember it is the Spirit’s mission and the Spirit’s power, so he’ll provide the workers.  We must rely on him and him alone for leaders to be not only born, but empowered.  Once he shows who this is, and he will, take extra time with them.  Make sure you are continually living life on life with them and tell them what you see in them.  Tell them you believe they’ll be leading some day and you believe in them because you believe in the power of the Spirit.  If we think every one of our kids are going to be “good enough” to one day lead their own families, we should look at our MC family the same.  Every one of them could lead, doesn’t mean all of them will.  But, just as you treat each of your children differently because of age, maturity,etc. do the same with those in your MC.  Some will be ready for leadership more quickly, so spend more time with them now readying them to multiply, and when they do, look for the next batch by asking the Spirit again.

This all goes back to the first question though.  You have to make sure that you are discipling in ways that are empowered by the Spirit, transferable and in the every day.  If you do this, more people will believe it’s easy to lead an MC.  I am about to leave for Arizona and my MC is freaked out some, but they know that they can do everything that I’ve done, because everything I’ve done is pointing them to the Spirit’s power, easily transferable and very much in the every day.  They’ll miss me because we are family and I have some distinctive gifts, but they won’t miss me because they don’t think they could do the exact same thing with me gone.

Question: What are a few books that you have read lately that have had a big impact on you?

I always get rocked by seeing the life of Jesus and how he lived with the power of the Spirit, in relationship with his Father and discipling in such simple ways.   I have been reading the Bible and focusing on the life of Jesus looking for these things.  Powerful.

Other books that have been killing me, in a good way, are Creating a Missional Culture by JR Woodward and also The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim.  Both focus on Ephesians 4 with the giftings given to the church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers.   Both these books are revolutionizing my thoughts on the church and I believe is the tip of the iceberg for the church at large.

Question: Is Caesar Kalinowski coming out with a book? If so, tell us why we should be excited about reading it.

The reason you should read it is because Caesar does a great job of showing everything I/we believe about discipleship in the everyday empowered by the Spirit.   Love that guy…he means a ton to me.  Great friend and even better brother.

The book will be coming out next year, stay tuned!

END INTERVIEW

If you want to learn more about Missional Community life go to GCM Collective. There is a GCM movement underway in South Jersey; if you are interested you can contact me (Michael Wallenmeyer).