Last night I finished The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community after starting it a few months back. There were plenty of things discussed in it that truly resonated with me, especially since we’re working on planting a church here in Phoenix. Rather than give a review of the book, here are some quotes and thoughts, which hopefully are thought provoking or interesting.
“‘If Christianity was only about finding a group of people to live life with, who shared openly their search for God and allowed anyone, regardless of behavior, to seek too, and who collectively lived by faith to make the world a little more like Heaven, would you be interested?’ ‘Hell yes!’ was his reply. He continued, ‘Are there churches like that?‘”
“As I speak for many in the budding new missional church world, I have to share that I no longer judge the faithful, fervent work of so many pastors who have pastored well but who struggle to find their place in this new world. They deserve to be honored instead of belittled. Without their legacy, we would have nothing to build upon.”
“We used to be told that the number one indicator of a new church’s success is how many people they have when they start. Now we say, the number one problem you’ll have will be based on bringing too many people with you. Why? Because a good majority of the Christian world is unconsciously a Milo or a Mitten. They have good hearts, but they hate change, they’ve gotten used to being provided for, and many will take too much of your time and energy to try to keep on the mission with you.”
“Classic Western autonomy can be clearly seen in your typical suburb. Most suburban planners since the 1970’s have built homes based on this value of autonomy. If you bought a home built during this era, you got a long front driveway and a garage door opener with your purchase. As you drove down your street, at the end of a long, hectic day, you pressed the button on the garage door from four houses away, and the gateway to your private world would open up. The goal was to make it inside your house without acknowledging anyone else in your neighborhood.” – How true is this? This sums up my entire suburban neighborhood growing up. Everyone would pull up into their garages, perhaps with a cordial wave to each other, and then hide away in their houses til the morning. How do we break this?
“When you try to do evangelism by yourself, your only option for continued spiritual movement is to get people to church. We find people who have developed great relationships with people at their office, their Starbucks, or wherever, but it always seems to dead-end. ‘I can’t get them to come to church!’ The issue is not you. The issue is that you don’t have a community in which they can find belonging.” – Interesting point. Perhaps, we’ve created churches where people don’t belong or feel like they belong and so the question becomes, how do we change this so they do belong?
“‘What you give leadership to will always grow.’ That is, if I give my time to getting in shape, I’ll get in shape. If I give my time to my business, my business will grow.” – What areas of church and Kingdom life are we spending a disproportionate amount of time on? Does it show? What areas need more of our leadership in order to grow and be more holistic and balanced?
“Pastors should provide only what the followers of Christ can’t get on their own. Said another way, followers can’t expect the pastors to give them what they can provide for themselves. Even more important, followers should expect to give what they can provide to others.” – How would this change “Sunday morning only” churches? How would this change pastoral expectations and responsibility?
“…people who only dream of community usually destroy it, but those who love people without expectation unknowingly create it.” – I like this.
“As Patch (Adams, as played by Robin Williams) explains the pleasure and power of just listening to people, he said, ‘If you want to help people, we have to dive into people, wade into the sea of humanity.'” – We can’t simply, and naively, think people will wander onto our paths. We are to go and be with them. Good ol’ Patch Adams.
“Hear this great prayer of Jesus: ‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.'” (John 17:15) – Interesting that Jesus wants his followers to stay in the world and to be protected. Not flee from it, be scared of it and its wiles, but to stay and bless it.
“It’s (blessing) most often directed to a nation, family, or community, instead of for an individual. Blessing is given to God’s community, for the global community.” – What now Joel Osteen?!
“The more we do ‘together,’ the less individualistic we’ll be. The more we become ‘one’ with Christ, the less comsumer oriented we’ll be. The more we do for ‘others,’ the less materialistic we’ll be.” – These are the three things that have completely infiltrated our culture. They also happen to be the three things dividing and conquering it.
“The worst mistake has been that Christians have tried to make their church programs or worship services their third place (place other than their home or workplace where they can relax and be in good company on a regular basis). The key is that third places need to be in public zones.”- What if more Christians spent their regular “church” time in places where they could meet others and begin relationships with them? What might happen?
“Thus, mission is more than just doing good things for people. It’s a primary means of helping people see what a Christian really is.”