Practicing the Way of Jesus – by Mark Scandrette #3

This is the third and final post in a series from an interview with Mark Scandrette on his book Practicing the Way of Jesus.  Mark is the founding director of ReIMAGINE, a collective that invites people into integrative spiritual experiments and practices, (with an emphasis on creativity, community building and social action). Each year he hosts a series of projects, retreats and workshops that explore and inhabit various core themes in the way of Jesus. He lives with his wife and three high school aged children in an old Victorian in San Francisco’s Mission District.

A new way is possible

A new way is possible

In the second part of your book you talk about specific areas of experimenting – identity, purpose, security, community and freedom and peace.  This is pretty radical experimentation.  Can you share a few stories of how people have lived out experiments in these areas.

 

Asking the what if questions

Asking the what if questions

This book is full of stories and examples of what groups of people have actually done to take steps to practice the Way of Jesus. Our original group started out by imaginatively asking “what if questions.” What if instead of just talking about prayer we actually prayed?” This led to our first group silent prayer retreat. “What if instead of just learning about God’s heart for justice we take tangible steps to help affected people?” This led to intentional friendships with homeless friends, a neighborhood safety campaign and initiatives to address local human trafficking.

Or, “What if instead of just confessing our areas of brokenness we took steps to support each other in making positive changes?” This question led us to a shared practice called “Experiments in truth” in which we each commit to a radical life change over 40 days. Through this many of us discovered the power of taking vows and applying disciplines of abstinence and engagement to our persistent issues.  We discovered that in the solidarity of a group we could make life changes that we hadn’t been able to on our own.

Our neighbourhood matters - lets keep it clean

Our neighbourhood matters - lets keep it clean

In the opening chapter of the book I describe one of the most memorable experiments we’ve done. In response to Jesus instruction, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor,” a group of us decided to sell or give away half of our possessions and donate the proceeds to global poverty relief. That provocative step opened up deeper questions of heart motivation, spending patterns and the accumulation of debt. As a result we saw people in our group pay down their debts, learn to practice contentment and gratitude, live more simply and sustainably and experience great freedom and simplicity in their lives.

 

Our neighbourhood - what we do matters

Our neighbourhood - what we do matters

My challenge to readers is to think about a change you want to make in response to the vision of life Jesus offers and then ban together with others to take a practical step. Although some of the stories I share in the book might seem radical, the deeper point I’m trying to make is that we can each take a next step, even if its a baby step,  to practice the way of Jesus.

Say no to violence

Say no to violence

Advertisements

Practicing the Way of Jesus – An Interview with Mark Scandrette #1

Over the next few days I will post several parts of an interview with Mark Scandrette on his book Practicing the Way of Jesus.  Mark is the founding director of ReIMAGINE, a collective that invites people into integrative spiritual experiments and practices, (with an emphasis on creativity, community building and social action). Each year he hosts a series of projects, retreats and workshops that explore and inhabit various core themes in the way of Jesus. He lives with his wife and three high school aged children in an old Victorian in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Practicing Way of Jesus

Practicing Way of Jesus - by Mark Scandrette

“One experience of embodied intentional practice can teach more than a year’s worth of Sunday School…. Wherever possible we need to create environments that include both good instruction and opportunities for shared action.”  What exactly do you mean by that and what are a couple of practical examples of how churches could live that out?

There was a time when most people lived and worked and worshipped in closer proximity to a particular place people. Due to mobility and meta economic forces, most of us today live in one place, work in another and worship or create community elsewhere. Our lives are increasingly fragmented. Because of this we have to become more intentional to close the gap between how we want to live and how we actually live. In this day and age I don’t think its enough to talk about living out God’s shalom. As one of friend so poignantly put it, “A lot of us are talking smack about the kingdom of God, but not doing jack.” To address the “disembodiment” of the modern age, we can invite one another into shared actions in response to gospel vision.  We need spaces and contexts where we can live out the teachings of Jesus together in the messy details of life– spaces more akin to a karate studio than a college lecture hall. I I think this is why we are seeing a renewed interest in a theology of place and the pursuit of neighborhood-based Christian community.

Once when I was a child, I watched my dad bring home a man who he found passed out in a snowy ditch. I saw my parents welcome him into our home and into our church community. He became my “uncle” Leroy and spent Sundays and holidays with our family. I saw the story of the good Samaritan lived out in front of me and I was invited to participate. I think that experience opened my expectations for what it might mean for me to embody the compassion of Christ. To caring on that legacy, we’ve taken our children along to feast with our homeless friends and they have helped us welcome vulnerable people into our home. This week my daughter is throwing a birthday party for one of her friends who is without parents– and I’d like to think that she does this quite naturally because of the way she has seen hospitality modeled and practiced in our family.

 

See you next month

See you next month

Congregations can encourage embodied faith by creating the expectation and opportunities for shared action and practices. A small group can be transformed into a place of practice by simply seeding the question, “What is one thing we can each do between now and the next time we meet to practice what we have explored together?” I know of congregations who, in response to global poverty, invited one another to eat on $2 a day for for a time, collecting the savings to give to organizations that address hunger or clean water. A church can invite its members into shared times of contemplative prayer or service at a local shelter or into a shared spiritual discipline. As a way to address the addictive tendencies of electronic media, many communities have done experiments with limiting or fasting from facebook or internet use for a period of time. I think the simplest way to get started with experiments like this is considering one step you would personally like to take to live in the Jesus way and invite one other person to take on that action or practice with you.

A community effort

A community effort

 

 

Recession II Ready or Not

Recession II- Ready or Not! 

Join us in creating new ways to reach out to those that will be hammered by the coming wave of state cut backs, the ongoing federal cutbacks and increasing global economic volatility at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E. Seattle, 98102

 9:00 to 12:00 Saturday July 23, 2011

Please register now:

Recession II- Ready or Not!

  • We will have church leaders share what they are already doing to reach out to those hammered by the recession
  • We will identify some of the new  impacts of the state cutbacks on the poor and middle class
  • We will brainstorm new ways churches can reach out to those that will be impacted by these cutbacks
  • We will also identify creative new ways to help our people to reduce their own economic vulnerability to increase their availability to their neighbors
  • We will offer a process to track how successfully people implement their new  ideas

After Katrina numbers of churches created disaster response capabilities in conjunction with local governments. Thankfully a number of those churches were ready to respond to the horrific tornadoes and floods as a result of that preparation. We want to enable churches to also prepare for economic crises.

This is the third event we have sponsored to enable churches in our region to prepare for waves of economic distress impacting our neighbors.  In prior sessions people came up with ideas like starting a church “craigslist” posting available vehicles or rooms in their homes.  Saint Margaret’s Episcopal asked attorneys, counselors and spiritual directors to offer their services pro-bono to those in need.  Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood offered classes in financial management and food processing and a number of churches have started community gardens.

This ecumenical event is co-sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of OlympiaThe Washington Association of Churches , The Lutheran Public Policy Office , The Parish Collective and Mustard Seed Associates

Bishop Greg Rickel, from the Diocese of Olympia will welcome participants. Alice Woldt from WAC and Paul Benz from LPPO will describe the specific ways the new state cutbacks will likely impact our neighbors.  Younger church planters from the Parish Collective and leaders from other churches will describe creative ways they are already reaching out to those impacted by the first waves of the recession.  Tom & Christine Sine from Mustard Seed Associates will lead the brainstorming process.

We are counting on you to share ways your congregation is already responding and to imagine new ways we can reach out to those that will be impacted by the new waves of state cutbacks.

From Anywhere to Everywhere – The Future of Missions is Global

The January 2011 MSA Seed Sampler is out.

The future of missions is global! Not global in the sense of the old bastions of Christian power and missionary efforts from the Western Church, but rather global in the sense that it is now “from anywhere, to everywhere”. In 2010 the Seed Sampler explored several global trends providing the church with “New Challenges and New Opportunities 2010-2020”. All of these global trends impact the future of missions. Whether we’re talking about global power and economic shifts from the North and West to the South and East, the ever-growing global youth culture, turbulent economic times and issues swirling around food and water security and an environment in crisis, or ethnic shifts to a new majority future which, in turn, propels us deeper into issues of pluralism and multiculturalism, there is one clear fact: the mission of God through the church cannot go on as if nothing has changed.

In this edition we look at just a few of these areas and what they mean for missions into the future.

Andy Wade
Seed Sampler editor


January Articles

Poem | Neon Nights – Andy Wade
Reflection| We Have Come, We Have Seen, Now We Must Follow – Christine Sine
Lead Seed | The Changing Paradigm of Missions – Eldon Porter
Seed Share | Still Waiting – Global Disciples
Seed Share | Globalization: The Challenge – Os Guinness
Seed Share | Media’s Influence – Joseph Vijayam
Resources | Resources

 

Eve of Epiphany – We have Come, We Have Seen Now We Must Follow

It is the Eve of Epiphany, and we are entering the season during which we celebrate the many ways in which Jesus both was and is still revealed in our world.  This season brings with it an important challenge – our need to consider what it really means to be not just followers of Jesus but revealers of Jesus in our world.

Church attendance in most of our Western nations has fallen dramatically over the last 20 – 30 years and it is easy for us to blame the culture around us which pulls people in so many different directions.  But are we to blame too?  Can the people who live and work around us see Jesus revealed through our words and actions?  Are we more loving, more compassionate more generous because of our faith?  Are our lives really committed to God’s mission of transforming a broken world?  These are good questions for all of us to ponder during this season of Epiphany.

How often in the last year has someone asked you about your lifestyle and why you live differently from those around you?  When I worked in Africa and the refugee camps of Asia people often asked “Why are you doing this?”  They knew that we could have been at home in comfortable houses and comfortable lives and yet we had chosen to live differently because of our faith and it impressed them.  They saw something of Jesus revealed in our lives and it opened many doors to witness to the love of a God who cares for all the lost and broken people of our world.

Today I am not sure how often that is true.  Yes we live more simply than many of our neighbours and we live as a community that seeks to love and care for each other. We grow as much of our own produce as possible and try to live sustainably.  We also practice a daily spiritual rhythm of prayer and mediation and reach out to others with generous hospitality.  But how different are we really from the people around us?

It is easy for us to become complacent about our faith and not consider the true challenges that becoming a disciple places on us.  The wise men came to see Jesus and they returned home “by another way”.  Their lives had been changed and the old ways no longer worked for them.  Of course we do not know what those changes were but they must have been life transforming.  For us too the events of Christmas should be life transforming.  Following Jesus is not meant to be some cursory assent to the question “Do you believe in Jesus?”  Following Jesus is meant to turn our lives around so that we go out and live differently in a way that draws others to the God in whom we live and move and have our being.

Doing mission is not for the few who choose to serve in distant countries.  The mission of God calls all of us to step out of our comfort zones into another way of being and another way of doing.  It calls all of us to accept the challenge of Epiphany to live and serve joyfully in a way that reveals Jesus to others so that they too hunger for the One who has transformed us.

Church of the Beloved Needs Our Help

Our good friends at Church of the Beloved in Edmonds need our help.  They are working hard to raise the down payment for the Rosewood Manor in Edmonds.  The deadline is October 5th and they still need to raise $17,000 .  They have raised almost $4,000 in the last 4 days so it is a doable goal.

This is a ministry that I heartily endorse.  We have worked with the community many times in the past and collaborated in a number of events.  Most recently Ryan Marsh and Tara Ward provided worship for our Celtic retreat.

Church of the Beloved has finally found a home and hub for this adventurous mission that God has been leading us into… where? Rosewood Manor! A 105 year old historic landmark in Edmonds. After only renting for less than a year, Rosewood was forced into a short sale, giving us the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase this amazing place of outreach and hospitality. Already we’ve hosted concerts, classes, workshops, meals, films and a community garden, along with our weekly worship and service to the neighborhood. And, as part of our ministry, the rent from the intentional Christian Community that resides in and care-takes for the Manor means that, with the mortgage covered each month, all of our community’s offerings go directly in the work of the mission rather than the building! Talk about sustainable!

Currently we have raised over $17k! Now we only need to raise another $18k for the down payment, BUT we only have 20 more days to do it! Will you mindfully consider helping us meet this goal and sharing this dream by clicking the link below and donating through PayPal? Every size of gift will help us big time!

More information and to donate to this great cause here

Blog with Me – An Invitation to Participate

Over the next few months I will be hosting two very important blog series.  On this blog the series The Kingdom is Here Where do You See it, will begin next week.  I already have 15 – 20 people signed up and am excited at the wonderful seeds of hope that will be shared.  God is at work, God is moving in our world transforming renewing and restoring and we want everyone to know how and where we see that happening.  There is still time to participate.  What seeds of hope do you see as you look out onto God’s world – it may be through the work of small seemingly insignificant ministries that are quietly changing your neighbourhood.  Or it might be through movements that highlight concerns about child slavery, environmental degradation or poverty.

This week I am reading Tim Morey’s new book Embodying our Faith, in which he reminds us that people today don’t just want to hear about the good news of God they want to see the ways in which it is being lived out authentically in our world today.  So here is your chance to share what you are aware of that bears the fingerprints of God

As well as that, on the Mustard Seed blog I am hosting a series entitled Sustaining Small Not For Profits – How Do We Move Forward? At our Mustard Seed Team retreat a couple of weeks ago we spent a lot of time talking about how to sustain small ministries like ours.  Every week I hear from people who run small ministries that are struggling with these same issues of sustainability.  Some have gone bankrupt because of their financial struggles.  Others have burnt out because they are trying to juggle full time jobs and ministry.  Yet it is my strong conviction that most of the work of God is done through these very same mustard seed ministries.  God always delights in working through the small and the insignificant.  So how do we help each other not just survive but blossom into the vibrant sustainable examples of God’s kingdom we are meant to be?

Again this is your opportunity to participate.  Read the details here and comment on the blog post if you are interested or email us at mail@msainfo.org  We are called to announce and build God’s kingdom – not alone in isolation but together as a community that in its unity and mutual concern radiates the presence of God.