Book Review “Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil” Introduction

I saw Christopher B. James one night on my local news station. At the time our church, VCC (now The Practicing Church) was in the process of discerning how we were to move forward. We were in a discernment process, sensing the Spirit initiating a new way to “be” the church in our post-Christian culture. Christopher was discussing completing his research of “new churches” in Seattle, a city he states in the Introduction is branded “the None Zone” because of its high percentages of the religiously nonaffiliated.

Watching Christopher on my local nightly news was just one more signpost leading our faith community toward a new birth the Spirit was brooding over. I have been waiting for this book for many reasons. First, I love the Pacific Northwest. I was born and raised in Seattle, I have raised my children here and it’s where I have been a part of the Church since birth. I care about how the message of Jesus is lived out in my city. I care because people from every walk of life are longing for meaning, how to live life to the fullest with purpose here and now not just in the afterlife. I believe there is no better path of faith than to follow Jesus.

My husband, Rich and I led a local church up until I had a serious health crisis 2 years ago this month. I have recovered beyond what the doctors told me possible. I am the Regional Leader for Vineyard USA Northwest Region and I am passionate about joining with what God is doing in our region and how churches in my care are reproducing.

My review of this book will be chapter by chapter over the next few months. As stated in the Introduction, “As a work of practical theology, this book is interdisciplinary…” This book is for researchers in congregational studies, sociologists, theologians, missiologists, practitioners on the ground, pastors and leaders, and as the Introduction reads, “to an emerging network of theologians and social scientists working in the area of “practical theology.” I hope you will follow along and a dialogue ensues regarding church planting in a post-Christian culture.

Next up: A few thoughts from the Introduction and review of Chapter 1.

VCC Summer Book Study

book study This Summer we (VCC) are reading through Mark Scandrette’s book, “Practicing The Way of Jesus” in order to guide our faith community into imagining more and more ways in which we can live into our faith.

We want to provide a space here for discussion around the book’s ideas. So, with that in mind let’s begin with thoughts, inspiration, questions about Chapter 1, “An Invitation to Experiment.”

Some of my thoughts:

1. I love the language of “experiment.” A friend of mine once said that when he meets Jesus he hopes Jesus will say, “Good try!” It suggests that formation happens both in the wins, the losses and the simple attempts we make.

2. I was inspired by the Have2Give1 experiment. I actually could see Leslie leading some folks from VCC in this type of experiment! I liked that it was time-bound (8 weeks) and I really liked how it led those that participated into asking deeper questions about their heart posture toward money, possessions, and consumption (pg 12). The idea being as we participate in these practices it leads us to the heart of the formation questions. I also love that they gave thousands of dollars to benefit others out of what was clutter in their lives. Beautiful!

3. The idea of doing tangible experiments taking us out our heads and into our bodies with a group of others wanting to change and grow by exploring how to integrate the teachings of Jesus into our everyday lives is very, very appealing to me. How about you?

4. “Through surrender and practice, Jesus expected his apprentices to be like him.” (pg 16) – I want VCC to be a community of practice that can experiment, will be inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus, that will commit time and energy to practices that can form us in this way of life, and will have the courge to reflect on what it means to be a counterculture community that is finding a new way to be human – together.

5. We are invited to live into the Kingdom of Love, a kingdom characterized by love that is both present and progressing. I like the idea of our church community gathering in small groups to imagine how they are being invited to experiment together practices that could actually make a positive difference in bringing a holistic view of what it means to be truly human.

What are your thoughts, questions, inspirations?

Here’s What I am Reading

It has been just over a year since I finished my degree and went on sabbatical. The challenges of the last ten months have been legion but that is for another day:-) All that to say other than what I have had to read for classes and study I haven’t felt the creative energy to read or write. Well something shifted this past two weeks and I have read several books that I am quite enjoying. Books that challenge, stretch my thinking and help me to look at things through the eyes of the other. So, here is my list from the last couple of weeks reading:

God at War by Gregory Boyd (I am rereading this, so much to catch)

Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis (Love this book!)

A Time to Embrace by William Stacy Johnson (super challenging and interesting)

The Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne (only 2.99 on Kindle)

Here is an example of today’s reading from The Book of Common Prayer: “How long? Not long! Because the arc of the mortal universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Claiborne, Shane (2010). Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 376). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry (Love this man’s writings).
That’s it!