Interview with Aubrey Sampson, Author of “The Louder Song” (NEW POST)

I believe one of the most important things we can have as believers is a biblical theology of suffering. No matter who we are we are going to experience pain, trials, and difficulties in this life. This is the reason why I was delighted to interview Aubrey Sampson. She recently wrote a great book called “The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament.” I hope you enjoy the interview…

Hi Aubrey! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your family?

Aubrey SampsonMy husband, Kevin, and I are church planters in the Chicagoland area. We have three hilarious sons, ages 12, 9, and 7. We love our city, our neighborhood, and love praying through what it means to “gospel” in our city. I am a graduate student at Wheaton College and an author/speaker- so we are usually balancing a lot. But we are so grateful for the opportunities.

In your book you mention how you are struggling with rheumatoid arthritis. How are you feeling these days?

Thank you for asking. I am feeling very good and I am praising God for that, as it’s been a very difficult last three years. Although, as most people with autoimmune diseases experience, I still have daily pain and sometimes odd issues now and again (sometimes I randomly can’t open a door because turning a doorknob is too painful). But overall, my disease is at bay. As one of my friends said, “I am in the process of experiencing healing.” I’ll take it.

I loved the story in chapter one of going to a concert and how you discovered the power of a louder song. Would you mind explaining what happened at the concert and how God was using it to teach you a valuable lesson about suffering?

That is actually my favorite story in the book! I won’t explain too much because it will spoil the book. But here is a little peek:

During a very difficult few years which I write about in The Louder Song, my gnawing questions about suffering and God’s goodness became too much to handle. My usual spiritual disciplines were no longer helping me to feel connected to God. And honestly, for the first time in 30 years as a Christian I began to wonder if I was praying to the ceiling fan…is God even real? Does God even hear me? I asked the questions we all ask in times of crisis, right?

I know God is not the author of evil but I couldn’t’ make sense of God not stopping evil form hitting my life and the lives of those I loved. My relationship with God—which was at once thriving, and beautiful and lovely, became this small, unrecognizable thing. Ultimately God no longer fit into the box I had designated for him and I had no idea what to do about it. What I didn’t realize is that God was about to blow the box wide open and reveal more of himself to me.

One night, in God’s perfect timing, a friend invited me to a concert—and I needed a night out, so I went with her….to this little theater in the round….we walked in, grabbed our seats, the lights dimmed and a screen descended from the ceiling with a trigger warning—the screen began to show disturbing images of pain, starvation, poverty, oppression. And I was thinking, “What is happening? Why are we here?” Then this choir in dark robes walked on stage and started singing this ancient funeral dirge–low, slow, and depressing. And as you can image, the mood- in the audience shifted. We were initially excited for the concert to start, but this moment kind of took the wind from our sails. I turned to my friend- and was about to suggest we leave–this was just too much emotion for me to handle at the time.

What I didn’t realize was that another choir was actually planted in the audience, surrounding the entire theater, posing as audience members. Suddenly they stood up and started singing over us this hopeful, joyful, triumphant song. It was startling but not scary; they sang over us like they were performing life saving surgery. The dirge was still being sung. The suffering images still being displayed. But the hopeful song was growing louder….and that song began to overpower the dark heavy song in front of us…and suddenly, from within the deep places of my soul that had been so grieving, so hurt, feeling so betrayed by God, avoiding hiding…, I felt God say, “Aubrey, this is what I do. I don’t pretend like evil and pain and suffering don’t exist and you don’t have to either. But I sing a louder song over them – a song of hope and joy and renewal and restoration and healing.”

I sat there and bawled like a baby–finally releasing my fears and worries and sadness to God.What I didn’t realize at the time is that concert was a LAMENT concert and it was the first time I was exposed to the spiritual discipline and biblical language of lament. And from that night on- for the next three years, really, lament became the language, the disciple, the experience that God used to move my heavy heart back to a place of hope.

And now- three years later- I don’t have many clear cut answers- but I understand that there is a mystery to suffering- that if we allow it, can actually draw us deeper into intimacy with our God.

In your book you talk about the tendency we have to act as if everything is OK and hide what is really going on in our hearts. What can churches do to create a safe environment where people know it is OK to admit that they don’t have it all together?

That’s such a great question. I think, especially in the west, we tend to want to see the VICTORY! The MOUNTAIN TOP! The TRIUMPH, The SERMON APPLICATION! We want to get to Easter and skip over Good Friday. And of course, it’s a good instinct to live into our hope in Christ. But sometimes we do this at the expense of acknowledging and honoring our pain and the world’s pain. I’m totally guilty of wanting to slap a Band Aid on and pretending like everything is okay. For real transformation and healing to take place, church leaders need to model vulnerability. We certainly don’t have to share our whole messes with the whole world, but we can practice authentic vulnerability in the midst of struggle, so that our folks can learn what it means to endure in the messy middle—not just on the other side.

I also think it’s important not to try to “balance the scales” for people’s suffering. What I mean by that is, sometimes we want to say to our people, “Yes, you’re suffering this incredible thing, BUT, look at all of the wonderful things that will happen because of it. Look at the testimony it will be! Look at how many people will be encouraged!” I think that is a super kindhearted instinct, but when folks are truly grieving, it’s often more loving to simply sit with them on their mourning benches, or climb down into the pit with them and grieve with them. We have to be less awkward around other people’s pain—we can declare hope without invalidating or “fixing.”

You point out that in the bible there are more lament songs than there are praise songs. Why do you think it is so important that Christians learn the power of lament in everyday life?

When Christians lament, we do so to a God who lets us. Our cries—even our cries of doubt and despair—fall on his loving, listening ears. In fact, what’s remarkable about Christianity is that we have a King who is also a steadfast, loving Husband and Friend. He not only permits lament; he gives us the language of lament. We have a God who desires and deserves our wholehearted praise. But he is also a God who wants an authentic, meaningful, intimate love relationship with us. We have a groom who gives his bride a voice.

I actually believe lament is a powerful evangelistic tool- because even if our lament is impolite, raw, or bitter, even if we express sorrow or verbalize anger, even if we make demands, as we lament, we actually preach to the world (and to ourselves) that it is possible to have a fearless, deeply intimate relationship with God. A God who not only is worthy of our thanksgiving and our joyful worship but also wants every part of us—not just our “pretty” selves, but our sharp edges, our sin struggles, our suffering, and our sadness.

On top of that, if we never acknowledge our pain to God, we will never truly know what it means to praise him on the other side of suffering. It is in our honest crying out to God about our pain that our worship of God grows more authentic. It is in this kind of relationship, this kind of honesty with God that our walks with him become real. Lament is part of the rhythm of a deepening relationship with him.

Lastly, lament, especially communal lament, helps open our eyes to the sufferers around the world. We have brothers and sisters experiencing persecution and oppression everyday. We can and should be lamenting with and for them.

In chapter 11 you talk about “the end of all laments.” Can you explain what you mean by this?

For this question, I’ll leave you with a direct quote from the book, if you don’t mind:

“Here’s the hope of all laments: Generations after the events of Lamentations, Jesus left the comfort of heaven and entered Jerusalem’s long years of suffering. He willingly, voluntarily became both the object and subject of lament. In taking upon himself the consequences for all of our sin, the penalty for the world’s idolatry, the power of death—and in taking on the principalities and forces of darkness—Jesus didn’t hesitate to expose himself to the worst any person could face. Instead, he willingly bore the full weight of it all on the cross. After years of longing, after generations of lament—through the suffering of their very own King—the Israelites were, as we are, healed.

Why are kids leaving home (and the church) without being captured by the gospel?

show them jesusA couple years ago our Children’s Ministry Director (Janet Stee) and I read through “Show Them Jesus” by Jack Klumpenhower. I think it is safe to say that we both felt it was one of the better books we had read when it comes to thinking through how to keep the gospel central in all that we do in Children’s Ministry. Jack graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me. I pray that this encourages and inspires you.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids. We just sent the oldest kid off to college, so we’ve gone from parenting little ones to parenting teens, and now we’re figuring out how to be parents to an adult child. I’m grateful to God that both kids profess to be believers at this point in their lives, but each stage has had its challenges. We’re well aware that many Christian parents struggle with kids who grow up and leave the church, so we pray hard that God will keep our children close to him. That’s his work of grace, not ours.

Meanwhile, I keep teaching younger kids in Sunday school, and at Bible camps during the summer. In that role, I’m just one of the many volunteers who work with kids in churches everywhere and want to get better at it. Job-wise, I’ve done several interesting things in my life, mostly in journalism and marketing. Currently, this includes writing and editing for Christian publications.

The Children’s Ministry Director at our church and I read and discussed your book “Show Them Jesus.” We both were greatly challenged and encouraged by your book. Tell us what your primary motivation was in writing this book.

A few decades ago, I was part of a church that was “gospel-centered” before that became a catchphrase. We tried to remember, in all we did, that the good news Jesus and what he’s done for us is the engine of the Christian life. I was volunteering in children’s ministry, and I noticed that we weren’t very good at applying that truth to our work with kids. In our culture, we’re used to telling kids what to do, or entertaining them, or telling them to believe in themselves. But the gospel is different from all of this and it doesn’t come naturally to us, especially with kids.

So, I started working on ways to teach the gospel to kids. It took much thought and help from others, but after years of practice I felt I had something important and useful to share with the wider church. I also heard a few prominent pastors mention that they saw a need for gospel-centeredness in children’s ministry. That’s when I decided to write Show Them Jesus.

You explain in your book on page 3 that “a frightening number of kids are growing up in churches and Christian homes without ever being captured by the gospel of Jesus.” Explain how this happens and what we can do to avoid it.

We want our kids to have true faith, believing and trusting Jesus both for salvation and in daily life choices. There’s no sure formula we can follow to make this happen, because such faith is given by God. This means parents who’ve taught their kids about Jesus and still find those kids rejecting the gospel should not blame themselves; they should be pleading with God to bring their children to faith.

But we also should do our job when it comes to training our kids. The Bible says faith comes by hearing the good news about Jesus (Romans 10:17, John 20:31). So we must make sure our children regularly hear gospel preaching, and we must tell them daily about Jesus. Merely telling them to be good is not the same as telling them about the Savior who loves them, died for them, rose in victory, and calls them to repent and find their joy in him. Many kids who decide to walk away from the church and from Jesus don’t really know who they are rejecting. They’ve had a bellyful of moralizing, sentimentality, stirring music, and pop religion, but they’ve seldom been fed large helpings of Jesus.

Not all parents feel qualified to lead their children in family worship. What are some basic steps that parents can take to teach their kids the Word of God?

One thing is simply to read to Bible to your kids. Pick an easy translation and one of the narrative books, and start reading a section a day. Bedtime or after a meal usually works well and can become an enjoyable habit. I think the book of Luke is a great place to start, since it tells about the life of Jesus and doesn’t require much background knowledge. Don’t put pressure on yourself to add any profound teaching or questions. Just read. And if your kids want to talk about it, talk.

Families that want a bit of structured teaching and discussion can also use a family devotional guide. I recommend any of the guides by Marty Machowski for parents who have never led family worship before. Those guides take only about ten minutes a day, which is a good goal if you’re just getting started.

Finally, faith is learned by practice, so we all need encouragement to pray with our kids—often, and about everything. Prayer feels uncomfortable when you don’t do much of it, so we have to just start the habit of saying many quick prayers many times a day, as opportunities arise, to get over that hump. If we do, and prayer starts to feel normal, we will give our kids an invaluable start on a life of faith.

Why is it so important for those who are teaching children in the church (or at home for that matter) to weave the gospel into every lesson?

The good news that Jesus died and rose again, and is bringing us home to God, is the central message of the Bible. This means we will misread and misapply any part of the Bible if we divorce it from that core message. For example, the Bible teaches that due to Jesus’s saving death and resurrection for us, we are made able to do good works that please God, out of gratitude for what he’s done and in the joyful hope of heaven, with his daily help. Now, there are many connections to the gospel in that statement. If we ignore those connections, and teach good works without showing those connections, we’re liable to end up with the wrong kind of “holy living.” We might try to do good works in our own strength, or as a scheme to earn salvation, which is not at all what the Bible teaches about good works.

Can you make some recommendations when it comes to gospel-centered curriculum for Children’s Ministry?

I’m happy to say that this is becoming a difficult question to answer because more and more publishers are making a strong effort to create curricula that constantly points kids to Jesus. I almost hate to start naming specific resources because I know I’m leaving out some that deserve a mention. But I’ll name a few anyway.

First, the big ones: Presbyterians certainly should consider the excellent curricula published by Great Commission Publications, especially the Show Me Jesus series. Likewise, Baptists ought to look at The Gospel Project for Kids from Lifeway. These are examples of a concerted effort from big players to publish lessons that keep Jesus central. In both cases, though, I find some of their publications to be more gospel-focused than others, so it pays to look carefully.

I’m also a big fan of Treasuring Christ and of The Gospel Story for Kids. Both deserve a close look from anyone picking curricula for their church. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the What’s Up? series of lessons, which I have had a hand in.

Can you make some recommendations that would help parents raise up their kids to be amazed by Jesus? (books, articles, blogs, etc.)

There are several good books and websites, but I think what’s most helpful is for parents themselves to be amazed by Jesus. When parents know and love Jesus, and grow strong in faith, it rubs off on their kids. This usually happens through regular Bible reading and prayer, and faithful attendance at a church that preaches the gospel. I realize it sounds old-fashioned for me to say you need to read the Bible, pray, and go to church—but you really do.

NEW Interview with Amy Simpson, author of “Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World”

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

amy simpsonI’ve been married to Trevor, a counselor, for nearly 25 years. We have two daughters, one in high school and one who will be starting college this fall. We also have two dogs, Rosie Cotton and Samwise Gamgee. Our home is in the suburbs of Chicago.

Professionally, I’ve been involved in publishing and media for nearly 25 years. I currently work as an acquisitions editor for Moody Publishers. I’m also an author and a speaker. On the side, I’m a leadership coach, and I love to come alongside people to help them live with purpose and intention and to move forward.

The first chapter of your new book, “Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World” is “Jesus Doesn’t Want You To be Satisfied…Yet.” Explain what you mean by this and why it is so important that we understand it and apply it to our lives.

This is a direct challenge to a message I frequently hear from Christian teachers and leaders: “This world won’t satisfy you, but Jesus will.” This is a true statement, but it needs qualification and explanation. When we don’t talk about this in the context of the limitations we live with here and now, we seem to be pointing people toward Jesus with a false promise that claims if we will only follow Christ, we will be completely satisfied—maybe instantly. And sometimes people do come right out and claim that every follower of Christ should be experiencing a deeply satisfying life—without longing or emotional needs—here and now. This extends to sometimes communicating (intentionally or not) that if a Christian doesn’t feel completely satisfied or still feels unsettled in this life, something is wrong and he or she needs to try harder. I want to encourage people to rethink this message, to find freedom in embracing unsatisfaction, and to discover the blessings that come with being unsatisfied.

The fact is, Jesus never promised us a fully satisfied life this side of heaven. He promised us trouble. He also promises his presence, his peace, hope, and the comfort and help of the Holy Spirit. But when we follow Christ, our sinful tendencies are not magically taken away. Our needs are not neutralized. God doesn’t insulate us in some kind of spiritual bubble that cancels all of the effects of living in a world that is in active rebellion against God. We still live with a powerful distance between us and God, without the kind of intimacy we were created to enjoy.

But while our lack of satisfaction might come as a result of sin’s curse, God knows how to turn curses into blessings. The most fundamental way we are blessed is in what Jesus described in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” We are blessed, whether or not we feel like it, because satisfaction is coming. Our name is written on it. And for those of us who are willing to acknowledge and live peacefully in our lack of satisfaction, Christ’s redemption and renewal of creation will be very sweet. Living in the presence of God will be spectacular.

When we buy into the idea that satisfaction is for here and now, we lower our standards below what God wants us to long for. To think this life is as good as it gets is not good news. On the other hand, it is encouraging to remember this is not all there is. This is not the world we were made for, and this is not as good as it gets. That’s good news. That’s blessing.

You also mention in your book that we have the tendency to make happiness our god, or into an idol. Can you explain to us what that looks like in everyday life and how we can avoid it?

In one sense, this is the American (or perhaps Western) way. For most people in our society, the basic needs of survival are met. So we reach beyond them and engage in what we’re all entitled to: the pursuit of happiness. Yet it’s also human nature. We are built to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It’s actually part of what helped our ancestors survive.

The problem is, whenever we encounter something we enjoy, like happiness, we want to make that our sole experience. But a life full of happiness—and nothing but happiness—is impossible on this earth. And because happiness is merely one element of the human experience, it can’t bear the weight of our expectation. It will never be enough. Plus, happiness is powerful partly as a contrast to sadness, disappointment, anger, even mediocrity. So when we try to rid our lives of those more difficult experiences, happiness loses its luster and isn’t fulfilling anymore.

In everyday life, the idolization of happiness takes the form of giving space only for the expression of positive emotions, moving from one party to the next, doing only what we feel will make us happy in the moment without considering broader consequences. It looks like running away from the deep work we need to do in order to grow or perhaps heal, because we fear the experience of feeling unhappy or uncomfortable. Sometimes it means we miss opportunities to lament, to mourn with those who mourn, or to grieve what grieves the heart of God.

We can avoid it by being self-honest, acknowledging the truth—that we are and will be unsatisfied people—and learning how to live in the “now and not yet,” the dual reality that the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 8. We can learn to enjoy happiness when we experience it and to acknowledge it’s not the only thing we will experience—and that’s OK.

It’s important to be honest and authentic about our lack of satisfaction because, for one thing, we have to live with it. We live in a world that lies under a curse, and every single one of us feels the distance between us and God and the life we were originally made for. Ignoring that gap won’t make it go away. Building our lives around happiness will mean we try to avoid a lot of reality. And if we’re trying to avoid the truth of it, chances are, it’s dictating the way live, to some degree, because we’re always stepping around it. When we face into it, we can find freedom, live with greater integrity, and stop distracting ourselves with the effort to find something we won’t find.

What are some blessings that we experience when we admit that we are not as satisfied as we would like to be?

God has us right where he wants us when we are unsatisfied, longing for the better world he has planned. God does not want us to be satisfied in this life, but to experience the blessings that come with intentionally living an unsatisfied life.

Embracing our lack of satisfaction also puts us in good company. As we get real with other people, they will be more real with us. And we can discover that we all have this in common. We can find support and encouragement, and we can help each other come to God on God’s terms rather than with satisfaction of our desires in mind. We can help one another stay focused on the full and complete satisfaction to come.

Living unsatisfied means living with anticipation. People who are truly satisfied don’t look forward to what is to come. And God wants us to live in the hope of what he promises us. Anticipation produces a wonderful mindset that can get us out of bed in the morning.

There’s also a lot of good news here! Acknowledging that we are unsatisfied puts us in position to enjoy the blessings that come with unsatisfaction. My book mentions several others, and it’s encouraging to think about the many good things that come with embracing the unsatisfied life. In general, embracing our lack of satisfaction puts us in a position to receive some of the best gifts God has to offer us. In his grace and goodness, God has taken a symptom of curse and made blessings from it. So while our lack of satisfaction ultimately comes down to a consequence of human rebellion, God still allows us to experience good things in it. When we stop denying unsatisfaction, and embrace it, we can experience these good things.

What are some practical things we can do to deepen our satisfaction and joy in Christ?

There’s no substitute for knowing Christ through prayer and through his Word. The more we spend time reading the Bible, studying it, and considering what it says, the more we will experience joy and fulfillment in our relationship with him. The more we communicate with him, and listen to him, the more we tend to trust him, to go to him with our needs, and to experience his peace. It’s also really helpful to engage in long-term relationships with other people who are seeking to follow Christ, to know him, and to live his way.

At the same time, I feel like these recommendations should come with a disclaimer! The more we get to know Jesus and develop a closeness with him, the less comfortable we tend to feel in this world we live in. It’s only natural—the more closely we align ourselves with our Creator, the less we feel at home in a world that is in rebellion against him. So while these activities can deepen our joy and move us toward greater satisfaction in Christ, they can also sharpen our sense of longing and our feelings of discomfort in the world. But our longings for him are good, wholesome, and sweet. And they will be fulfilled. God will never disappoint us.

Amy’s website

Amy’s Twitter

Interview with Jaquelle Crowe (This Changes Everything)

One of the things that I like to do on my blog is talk about how the gospel relates to everyday life. So when I learned that there was a new book coming out that is gospel-centered and relates to teens I was immediately interested. Jaquelle Crowe recently published a book entitled, “This Changes Everything: How The Gospel Transforms The Teen Years”. I have already started reading and discussing the book with two of my kids. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for teens or parents with teenagers. Jaquelle has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Family, what you are doing now, aspirations for the future, hobbies, etc…

Jaquelle CroweI’m 19, and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia — which is in eastern Canada. I still live at home with my parents (my dad’s a pastor, my mom’s a homemaker), younger brother, and two adorable cats. Right now I’m writing full time, hosting a podcast for youth (Age of Minority), and running an online membership site for young writers called The Young Writers Workshop. My future is an open slate — I’m currently pursuing the opportunities the Lord has put in my path (writing, mentoring, speaking, traveling) and am completely open to wherever he leads next. I would like to go to grad school, seminary probably, and one day earn my Ph.D. As far as hobbies, I love to read, exercise, listen to music and podcasts, and eat/cook. I’m an aspiring foodie and enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants and coffee shops. I’m also a health nut so I love experimenting with healthy baking.

2. What motivated you to write “This Changes Everything”?

I wanted to write This Changes Everything for two reasons. First, because it was the book I wanted to read as a younger teen but could never find. I wanted a book that didn’t sell me short as a Christian teen, that didn’t dumb anything down for me, that taught me solid theology but was also practical and fun. But secondly, I wrote it because I met more and more teens like me who wanted this kind of resource. Someone recently called it, “The Pursuit of Holiness for teenagers,” and that’s exactly what I wanted to capture — how do you pursue holiness as a teenager? I realized if there was only one book I wrote in my entire life, this was the book I needed to write.

3. What would you say to the teen that is involved in the church but is just coasting spiritually?

I think every “church kid” needs to come to the point where they realize that church attendance, tradition, or niceness doesn’t save us. I know I did. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can give us spiritual life. I would say to this coasting teen, “Examine your heart and ask yourself whether this faith is yours or merely your parents’ faith.” Jesus has no half-hearted followers. He demands everything. And if we’re saved, we’re required to pour out our whole lives in passionate, devoted obedience to him.

4. Describe a few ways that parents can get involved in the life of their teens to encourage their spiritual growth.

Regularly read and discuss God’s Word with them (my family has a time of worship each evening where we do just this and then pray together). Carve out weekly one-on-one time with your teens to talk about their spiritual life and struggles, temptations, and joys. Read a spiritual book together.

5. Christians understand that the gospel is what saves them. But the gospel is also key for our sanctification. What are some practical ways that teens can deepen their understanding and appreciation of the gospel so that it continually transforms their lives?

Read God’s Word every day — even if it’s just a chapter or a few verses. This daily discipline will do more for your spiritual life than you can possibly imagine. Pray every day. I find it helpful to set a timer to keep me focused and on track. Also, read prayers from godly saints, like the prayers in The Valley of Vision. Finally, pay attention to and invest in the teaching of God’s Word from your church — sermons, Sunday School, youth group, every time the Word is opened.

6. Can you name 3 or 4 books that you would recommend to teens to read?

Absolutely! Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle (applicable to both young men and women), Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.

Interview with Karina Kreminski (Loving Our City, Too Busy to be Salt and Light)

During the past couple years I have developed an appreciation and respect for Karina Kreminski and her writing. Her blog tells you what she is currently doing as a profession, “I am a Lecturer of Missional Studies and a part of the Tinsley Institute team at Morling College in Sydney. It is a centre for missions and missional studies helping to equip leaders to be on God’s mission in our world.”

Karina was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. My prayer is that her answers inspire and challenge you to join God in what he is doing in everyday life!

Question: What do you think are the key reasons so many churches have lost sight of the fact that they have been sent (John 17:18) into our culture instead of merely waiting for people to show up on Sunday morning?

Answer: I think that we live in a culture that fosters a consumerist worldview. This is a false narrative that we have believed as Christians which competes with the narrative of the kingdom of God. The fact is we can’t live out both stories and be faithful to the gospel. I also think that some of the leadership philosophy coming through in the 1980s for example encouraged a very pragmatic and corporate way of doing leadership in the church. We have not theologically critiqued some of these values very well in my opinion. I feel moreover that we have highlighted methodology over a focus on discipleship and embodied practice in our teaching and preaching as leaders. We need to understand the identity of the church which is that it is a body of people sent into the world by God on his mission. It is not a vendor of religious good and services as George Hunsberger has said.

Question: What motivates, inspires and empowers a person (or a church) to sacrificially love their neighborhood and their city?

Answer: I think we need to understand that the church is a part of the ‘ecology of relationships’ that exist in the broader neighbourhood. This is something that Paul Sparks is helping us to understand in his book The New Parish. Once we realise that “God with us” means that the image of God is found in everyone and also that God is active in our community, it should influence us to take action beyond the confines of the four walls of the church. So we need to get our thinking right but not just leave it there. Instead, we then take action and connect with what God is doing in our community.

Question: What are some practical ways that Christians can get out of their comfort zones and begin to live as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in their neighborhoods?

Answer: Get to know your neighbours- literally! Who are the people that live right next door to you but you don’t even know their names? The Art of Neighbouring is a great book that can encourage us as the authors tell us to know our neighbours names and then practice hospitality towards them. Another thing we can do is volunteer at the local community centre. What are the programs that are already happening that Christians can get involved with? This is a great way to build friendships. We need to focus on making friends rather than simply ‘connecting’ or ‘networking’ with people. Engage in missional habits like prayer walking so that God shows you his heart for the community in which you live. You will be surprised at what God reveals to you as you walk around you neighbourhood.

Question: How would you encourage a person who says they are simply too busy to get to know and love their neighbors?

Answer: Yes this is really an issue. The fact is that there is no way around this one really other than to make time for building relationships with people. Think of one activity you could stop doing or limit such as watching TV and then give more time to connecting with people. It shovel come naturally rather than forced. Be intentional as you step outside your home and God gives you an opportunity as you bump into your neighbour who you haven’t seen for some time. Sometimes it’s simply about being intentional in the everyday moments rather than carving out more time to build relationships.

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…