Friday, July 16, 2010

‘And: The Gathered and Scattered Church’ by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay – Book Review and Giveaway

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Zondervan has a terrific series pertaining to church growth called the ‘Exponential Series.’ The second book in that series is the latest book I have read, ‘And: The Gathered and Scattered Church’ by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

          It’s Not Either/Or
Hugh Halter and Matt Smay bring fresh encouragement to mega and micro church leaders – and everything in between – by inviting them to move beyond the attractional-missional divide.
Transcending form and models, AND reveals the beautiful balance of a biblical church, one that scatters its people through incarnational communities while providing gathered structures that hold it all together. No matter your present church experience, AND will inspire and equip you to find and create a church you’ve always hoped for and one that the world has been waiting for.
Through stories from practitioner leaders, Hugh and Matt will calm you down, fire you up, and help you make sense of your call to lead God’s missional church wherever you are.

Here are the biographies of the authors:

Hugh Halter is the national director of Missio, serving as a mentor to a global network of missional leaders and church planters. He is lead architect of Adullam, a congregational network of missional communities in Denver, Colorado, and is coauthor of The Tangible Kingdom with Matt Smay.

Matt Smay co-leads Adullam and serves as a director of the Missional Church Apprenticeship Practicum for Missio, where he works directly with church planters and existing church pastors as a mentor, coach, and consultant.




And here is the book trailer explaining the concept of ‘And':





I read this book with the eyes of a lay person whose church is in the process of spearheading – led by the Holy Spirit – a campaign to reach the Metro Detroit area (and beyond, as far as the Lord guides) for Jesus with a campaign called E.A.C.H. – Everyone A Chance to Hear (you can watch, listen, or read our pastor’s notes here). I feel the Lord calling me to assist in this effort, so I am reading these books with that objective in mind.

In the Foreword, Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay Research, discusses the concepts of gathering and scattering in the Christian movement:

Just as love and marriage go together (you really can’t have a good one without the other), gathering and scattering go together. That’s just the way God set things up! He chose to gather a people to himself from among the scattered peoples of the world.
And he is still at work today, scattering his gathered church to the ends of the earth. He scatters us to proclaim his glory and his goodness among those that haven’t yet been gathered. If we want to honor God’s intentions, we must recognize that it’s not really about gathering or scattering. It’s about both. For the most part, the church in North America has the gathering part down pretty good. It’s the scattering we need to work on. (p. 12)

Hugh Halter and Matt Sway, in the Introduction, explain what they mean by AND:

It’s time for us to stop asking the same old questions about how to do church, and instead ask what every church must be doing to honor God’s biblical mandates. We’d like to introduce you to the subtle power of the AND.
The power of the AND is seen in churches of all sizes where:
·      there is a balance between gathering a community together AND scattering them into the world.
·      the right things are centralized AND the right things can be decentralized.
·      resources of people and money find a blessed balance between maintenance AND mission, survival AND sending, tradition AND innovation.
·      fans are turned into followers, disciples are made into apprentices, AND consumers become missionaries.
·      leaders influence according to the design of God instead of the whims of people or the pride associated with production.
·      old skills still matter AND new habits of mission take center stage.
·      you can have huge vision for thousands of people AND live life in deep community and communal witness.
·      your church learns to live a fluid organic Christianity AND has enough structure to provide for any level of growth God wants (remember, it’s  God who builds a church).
·      you’ll have to work hard, give up your life, AND have a blast!

As any church develops these ANDs, you’ll be better positioned to influence those inside ranks AND those outside; your church will make sense in the burbs AND in the city, during financial recession AND in bull markets. You’ll be able to start and steward a church if well resourced AND you’ll be able to lead and live well without much help.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to sleep at night, knowing that you are participating in God’s church, which aligns with the greater call to make real disciples.
So if you are tired of judging, justifying, critiquing, and deconstructing; if you are unwilling to live with the stench of isolation, fear, and myopic vision; if you are ready to join the growing band of servants who love the church and who are working together to create a new waft of kingdom collaboration, then we invite you to come with us. Welcome to the opportunities of the AND. (pp. 26-27)  

God sends His people throughout the Bible (examples include Abraham, Isaiah, and John the Baptist), culminating in Jesus, the ultimate missionary:

Jesus continues the “sent” ways of God. He goes to a well in Samaria to give hope to a half-breed, a spiritually illegitimate woman like Rahab, who would have never thought access to God a possibility again. He visits wedding parties, hangs out with tax collectors, ministers to a centurion’s family, plays with children in the streets, and spends time on mountaintops, in caves, and in city centers where the people will listen to his teaching.
After Jesus lives and works for thirty-three years, he says to his followers in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Hear it another way. “As the Creator of all humanity gave you a perfect world and kept giving his best, he again has sent Jesus, his very best to you. You must follow suit and continue to give your lives away.” (p. 43)

Hugh and Matt determine that the Church needs to make some decisions before the Kingdom will grow:

…the things we all want to see happen will never happen until we first settle this issue of why the church exists. God’s church is a missional church, a community that is sent and given away for God’s purposes. While I believe the unsent church is still God’s church, she is a bride that has lost most of her intrigue and beauty. For God’s church to reemerge in your local church, you must be willing to let the bride become beautifully sent. You must allow God to send you, to send your people, and you must begin to see yourself as a part of a larger story of God’s mission, which began with Abram and continues today through leaders who desire to see God’s marvelous ways change the course of history. (p. 48)

We also need to decide to be incarnational, and follow the example of Jesus:

…being missional is about our sentness – it represents the directional impulse of every church and every Christian into the world. Being incarnational is not so much about our direction; it’s more about how we go, what we do as we go, and how we are postured in the culture God calls us to engage. Incarnation is the personality of our proclamation.
One of the most profound things about Jesus (which is often overlooked) is that he hung around he hung around for thirty years without planting a church or starting a small group. He was just there living a regular life. Through he was labeled a friend of sinners during his formal period of ministry for hanging out with certain groups of people, the truth is that Jesus spent his entire life becoming friends with sinners. He knew his context by name and face. (p. 56)

One of the most interesting points in ‘And’ for me is the idea that churchgoers are consumers. That is one of the main stumbling blocks for the leaders of a church to overcome:

Consumerism is the self-focused drive to get as much as I can get with the least amount of effort. It coercively shifts the church away from its true call, from valuing giving to getting. It compels us to protect what we already have and only to give away what has become useless to us. It erodes our sense of duty, honor, loyalty, and chivalry to live for the right things and the best things. It gets in the way of leaving a legacy for those behind us because it waters down our present understanding of what it means to follow Christ today. It pushes responsibility and expectations onto others instead of self and exchanges true spiritual growth for ankle-deep personal devotionals and self-help measures.  (p. 74)

Churches need to stop catering to this consumer mentality, and get back to what God expects:

It’s time for us to stop spinning plates to keep people happy and entertained. As leaders, we must clarify what we’re called to do and how we’re called to lead, and get back to the Main Thing! Each church has a unique thumbprint given specifically by God, but every church must also answer the larger call from which we will all someday have to give an account.
I realize that you may have spent thousands of dollars hiring consultants to help your church determine its focus, purpose, mission statement, and all that. But here’s some good news for you. God has already given you his mission’s statement – and it’s the same for every church. It’s the Main Thing: “Go and make a disciple.”

It is important that Christians become disciples of Christ:

No matter how people communicate or define spiritual formation, most would agree that the final goal is that people become like Jesus. Of course, what it means to be like Jesus gives us wiggle room, but this angle may help us get some clarity or the definition of a disciple. A disciple is not someone who stays the same. The disciple is someone struggling to live a life of heartfelt love and obedience to the Father, living and dying for the higher purposes of God’s kingdom. Disciples are called out of their selfish ambitions, and they understand that the longer they follow Jesus, the more uncomfortable they will be and the more sacrifice and effort it will require. (p. 94)

Hugh made an important revelation in his own life/personality, when a personal coach made the assessment that Hugh connects most strongly with God in a natural setting:

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I said, “Yes! I really do connect best with God when I’m with people, engaged in activities outside or after a good sweaty workout. It’s like God turns on ideas and thoughts, Scriptures come to mind, and my prayers are the most fervent.” That was truly the most freeing revelation I’d had in my entire adult life. I could actually grow closer to God outside of a church or devotional setting. I was given freedom to turn the concept of following Christ into an actual part of my normal life. My spiritual formation could now be “along the way.” (p. 122)

Most pastors are geared toward the modalic arm of the church, which is the local/gathered church; most missionaries are geared toward the sodalic arm of the church, which focuses on those on the outside of the church.  Pastors who have the modalic mindset are not inclined to want to ‘send out.’ Matt and Hugh point out that God works on both ends of that circle:

…the bigger reality is that God is the head of the church AND the Lord of the harvest. It’s a known statistic that the churches that give away, that take risks, that send out, and that sacrificially push their people out, create vacuums that God fills with even more. (p. 141)

Hugh has this final thought:

Here’s a final thought that I live with daily. The very moment I stop breathing, I will see the face of Jesus. It could be forty years from now, or it could be today at 7:42 p.m. At that moment, all impure motives, self-oriented exploits, and fleshly ventures will be burned away like chaff. I’m bit sure if he will show a movie reel or just let me see my life as a reflection in his eyes, but what I hope to see are the things I did that represent him well, made him proud, and legitimately served his kingdom cause. I’ve settled the issue that success is not what I’ll be worried about in that moment. The real question will be my faithfulness to do what he has called me to do and how closely I followed his lead.
The essence of the Christian faith is that our God intentionally came to lay down his life as a ransom for all. It was a necessary tragedy that brought life. And his kamikaze mission had a clear target: you and me. His teaching and way of life and his call to the church speaks as a clarion call to each of us to give our lives away. (p. 204)

I thought this book was very thought-provoking and compelling, as was the first book in the ‘Exponential’ series, called ‘Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement’ by Dave and Jon Ferguson (you can read my review here).  Mr. Halter and Mr. Smay brought forth a compelling argument to meld the attractional and missional models to most effectively build the Kingdom of God. It was also obvious from their writing that Jesus is their passion, and the things that mean the most to Him – other people. I plan to recommend ‘And’ to the leaders at my church in order to provide some further guidance for the E.A.C.H. outreach and to continue to spread the Gospel to all creatures.

You can order this book here.

Two copies of this book were provided by Zondervan Publishers for review and giveaway purposes.
______________________________________________

I have a copy of this book that I would love to send along to one of you! 

There are several ways to gain entry:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, telling me how you would practically use this book, or if you plan to give the book to someone else - who would that be?  Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back!  If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

3) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

4) Become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are five chances to enter!  Please limit one entry per option.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only.  The deadline for entry is Friday, July 30, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Saturday, July 31, 2010 and will be contacted via email.  The best to all of you!


4 comments:

karenk said...

i'm interested in reading this book...thanks for the chance :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Joe said...

I follow on Twitter @joec0321

LaTawnia said...

Andrea one day I am going to grow up and write reviews like you do! Well, never like you do because your reviews are always awesome!

The first thing I want to do is read the book for myself! Then I want to pass it on to my dearest friend who is a pastor so she can read it.

I follow you everywhere! Here, Twitter, FB, everywhere you are! (Ok maybe not everywhere... that would be too spooky... :-) )

Have a blessed day!

latawniakintz[at]gmail[dot]com

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Friends -

Thanks for the entries.

LaTawnia -

Thanks for the kind words; you've made my day, you know!

It would be weird if you followed me everywhere?! : )

Blessings -

Andrea

 
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