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It was so refreshing to read the new book by Dan White Jr and JR Woodward The Church as Movement. I’m part of a blog tour where we share our reflections on various thoughts and chapters in the book.

I found the book refreshing because so often we see resources emerging these days around the pragmatics of turning a church around which have little understanding of what it really means to be planted in the local community. However, this book teaches us what it means to unlearn our current ways of doing church and then relearn another way which makes us think more about God’s mission.  It’s a great book for anyone thinking about church planting and wants to get the DNA right from the start or for established churches that want to start up missional communities.

The book centres around starting churches from a discipler mentality. As we move along the journey of following in the footsteps of Jesus, we invite others to join us, forming a community of Christ which lives out and shares the story of the reign of God.

Many books skim past the importance of discipleship and especially leaders in the faith community focusing on their own walk with Jesus as his disciples. However, the authors have spent a chapter in the book focusing on this very thing- the importance of looking after our own journey of discipleship.

Chapter Three on being a disciple is a soul-searching look at what it means to place ourselves under the loving gaze of a God who shows immeasurable grace towards us in order that our relationship with God is the foundation of all our work in God’s reign. We often hear the phrase “Who you are is more important than what you do”. The authors take this seriously, which is needed, because within ministry there is such a temptation to receive our affirmation from our success and base our worth on whether we are performing according to the expectations that are placed on us.  If we don’t pay attention to who we are and who we are becoming then what we do will be skewed according to our selfish ambitions and petty desires. How many leaders have we heard about over the last couple of years that have had to leave the ministry because their attention was primarily on the success of the church rather than paying close attention to their own journey of discipleship?

This means adopting a spirituality of imperfection rather than a relationship with God which focuses on our own capabilities and accomplishments. It means “understanding that our upward journey toward God, our inward journey to self-understanding and living in community, and outward journey of mission to love our neighbor, are filled with a sense of inadequacy and weakness.”(p75)

In order for ministry to not become our idol we need to understand that “powerful and fruitful ministry is unlocked through powerlessness and weakness” (p77) What I love about this book is that the authors have obviously struggled through the temptations that we all have experienced as leaders and have come out the other end holding on more tightly to God as disciples. This is a book birthed out of a personal journey where the authors have gone deep inwardly, extended their arms wide to their neighborhoods and revealed God’s love.

Here’s my favorite quote from this chapter by Henri Nouwen

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from power, control and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruitfulness, however, comes from weakness, faithfulness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. Community is the fruit born through shared weakness, meaningful presence in the neighbourhood comes through a long faithfulness and experiencing the surprise of the Spirit comes through our vulnerability. Let’s remind one another what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.

Here is where you can get the book and also a link to more resources