Tag Archives: AMiA

“Giving Church Another Chance” by Todd Hunter

“There is a counterintuitive aspect of engaging with the spiritual practices of church. Though spiritual formation is chiefly an inward reality, we often work on our heart, mind and soul through bodily or external practices. This is true of all the spiritual practices of church. But we need to keep in mind that it is the inward part of our life from which outward action flow.”

All too often followers of Jesus get caught up in what is new, different, and/or exciting. We want to be on the forefront of what God is doing so we forget the practices of the past.

Sadly enough this ‘new’ equal ‘better’ mentality has cast believers into the sea without an anchor or a compass.  In order to know where one is going, one has to understand and know where you have been. In his book “Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices,” Todd Hunter seeks to bring back an understanding of nine practices of the church:

  1. Going to Church: Being Sent as Ambassadors of the Kingdom
  2. Quiet Prelude: A life of Centered Peace
  3. Singing the Doxology: Radiating the Glory of God
  4. Scripture Reading: Embodying the Story
  5. Hearing Sermons: An Easy-Yoke Life of Obedience
  6. Following Liturgy: A Lifestyle of the Work of the People
  7. Giving an Offering: Simplicity of Life
  8. Taking Communion: A Life of Thankfulness
  9. Receiving the Benediction: Blessing Others

The awesome thing about this book is that Todd walks the reader through each of these nine practices while using his own life as a backdrop. Starting with his choice to follow Jesus as a nineteen year old college student amidst the 1970’s Southern California Jesus Movement through his time in the Vineyard to his current adventure with the Anglican Church, Todd beautifully and masterfully brings a new passion to these ancient practices.

“This book is written for everyone who has tried church and found it wanting, but somewhere deep within they still desire a spiritual life in the way of Jesus. I understand; it happened to me.”

Confusing the Meetings with the Real Task

“Sitting around the living room having coffee and cold drinks with Christian friends, the conversation turned to a favorite topic: church bashing. Almost all criticism of church – “All I do is look at the back of other people’s heads”; “The music is out of date”; “The preaching is boring”; The pastors are selfish and manipulative”; “The staff is clueless or hypocritical” – assume that church means what happens on Sunday morning. Think about it: when have you ever heard criticisms of how the dispersed church practices its faith – expect when there is a major moral scandal of a famous Christian? It seems to me that 98 percent of church criticism has to do with one hour of the weekend.

“What if we could shift from seeing church as doing our weekend duty to seeing the historic elements of church as spiritual practices – as a springboard for a way, an order, a practice or a structure for spiritual life?”

So begins the introduction for the newest book I’m reading, “Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices” by Todd Hunter.

Wow, such a powerful statement – that that should remind us that the hour or two when folks get together on Sunday morning is NOT the end all. Todd describes it this way in chapter one,

“Most every human activity has meetings associated with it. Corporate marketing teams meets, sports team meet, surgical teams meet, teachers meet – but none of them confuse the meetings with the real task. Meetings exist to facilitate the actual work.

“…Like most human endeavors, the church has meetings associated with it. Unfortunately, while most people do not confuse meeting with their work (the game or show), churchgoers often do.”

We need to “rethink the purpose of the meetings” – we need to change the reason we meet together as a corporate body. Instead of coming together to GET something OUT of the meetings, I believe we should come together for two main purposes:

Continue reading Confusing the Meetings with the Real Task

“Christianity Beyond Belief” by Todd Hunter

A lot of our preaching and teaching focuses on how to get saved – or, if you prefer different words, about the rescuing hand of Jesus who has come to deliver us from sin and death.

When we do talk about life in the Kingdom of God it is usually with the goal of getting something through applying biblical principles that are suppose to produce certain results. Or, in some streams, we talk about maintaining a ‘holy’ life full of rules designed to keep us from being polluted by the sins of the world.

It seems that very little time is given to walking with Jesus and doing what He is doing.

In his book “Christianity Beyond Belief” Todd Hunter seeks to teach us how to walk with Jesus beyond our time of rescue. It is a book that looks at the gospel of Jesus, the role of the church and our own lives with new eyes – trying to see what life would be like if we knew that we would be living tomorrow.

In one of his best quotes, Todd describes the life of a Christian accordingly:

“The Christian life is life in the kingdom, living as ambassadors of the kingdom. It is being the cooperate friends of Jesus, living in creative goodness for the sake of others through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Followers of Jesus are both friends with Jesus and ambassadors of Jesus, joining with Him to tell the world about Him through His power.

Continue reading “Christianity Beyond Belief” by Todd Hunter

Conversation with Todd Hunter: Part Two

I have one last jewel to pass on from my conversation with Todd Hunter on Monday.

Heaven is not the goal; it’s the destination.

The goal is to become the People of God who join with Him as He works within the world.

Did you catch that?

It made me stop and think for a monument as well…

A lot of the time, we – the church – talk about heaven as that is the goal of Christianity. Let us accept Jesus and have our sins forgiven so that we can go to heaven and not hell.

Yet, if we read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, we see that Jesus spend more time training his followers to join him in loving the world then he did “forgiving” their sins. [@more@]

Here another example: If I (by some miracle) got drafted by the New York Yankees, I wouldn’t go around telling everyone that I’m going to New York. I would tell them that I was part to the Yankees.

Our goal as followers of Christ it to join Him as He spreads His grace, love, justice and mercy through out the world. Heaven is just a destination that we will get too one day after our work is complete.

Conversation with Todd Hunter

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Todd Hunter over a cup of coffee. Todd is the former leader of the Vineyard Movement and is now part of an Anglican church planting order from Rwanda – he has quite an interesting path. =)

The main reason for our meeting was to talk about the new emerging movement among Christianity. In addition to starting new churches, Todd teaches a few classes about postmodernism and evangelism at George Fox and Fuller Theological Seminary. Seeing that he lives close by, I dropped him an email….

I don’t have time to recount everything that happened at our meeting, but I will toss out a few “jewels”.

  • Concerning Postmodernism

A lot of folks within the Faith are scared about the postmodern shift. They see people talking about “relative truth” vs “absolute truth” and get all mad – or they just close their eyes and whistle. [@more@]

However I think there is a better way to look at the shift. Instead of being “scarred” or “mad”, we should be looking at it like we would look at the culture in Latin America or Asia. The Postmodern worldview is just that – a new culture that is blooming right before our noses.

Are they “issues” with this new culture? Yes – but there are also “issues” with our old modern culture. Instead of focusing on the negative, we should be figuring out how to reach people living in this culture with the Gospel.

  • Who are affected by this culture shift?

At first, I thought the postmodern shift only affected folks in Generation X and above… yet, Todd pointed out that the main avenue of postmodernism is the media and arts. These avenues have help to spread the culture shift far and wide.

We now have Baby Boomers how are living their lives and making decisions based upon the worldview of this culture. As such, we need to learn how to identify this culture and act accordingly.

  • The Right Tool for the Job

I reading various books about the emerging church, I heard a lot about candles, crosses and paintings. It seemed that church was going from being a theater to an amusement park.

Todd brought out an interesting and very good point. When you have a job, you go into your workshop and grab the tool for that job. You don’t start with the tool and then create a job for it (unless it’s a new tool and you want to try it out…).

In the same way, we need not be tied down do one way of “doing church”.  I.E. A church in rural Idaho would look different then a church in intercity Seattle due to the different cultures therein.

As we hear about the emerging church, we need to remember that there are many different variations within that movement just as the “emerging movement” is one of several movements.