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An interview with Steve Holt: “Intentional: In Jesus’ name we play”

I love stories. It’s often said that the longest journey is the one from mind to heart. But the journey in the opposite direction can be very short. Stories touch the heart and from there it’s a quick journey to the head.

I recently read Intentional: In Jesus’ Name We Play by Steve Holt. It puts many of the principles about simple/organic church into story format. Here’s an interview with Steve:

What is the book about?

Trey Glass is a professional basketball superstar who considers his fame on the court secondary to his life as a light among the people in his depressed neighborhood.  His parents raised him to live intentionally for God, and he takes that role seriously.  For starters, despite his multi-million dollar contract, he chooses to live in a neighborhood most wealthy people would never consider.  He treats street beggars with respect.  He has compassion on the young alcoholic who kills his dad while driving drunk.  He bails out a dozen street gamblers and provides opportunities for them to find meaningful employment.  He falls in love with a Latina medical intern and fights sexual temptations that have plagued him all his life.  Most interesting to friends of House2House, perhaps, is how he deals with obstacles to attending a traditional church and how his little house church becomes a beacon of hope in his racially divided hometown of Memphis, Tenn.

But, of course, living like Jesus brings the reality that many people find his lifestyle objectionable.  He encounters critics from every side—church leaders, team management, friends, sports reporters and more.  And then there are the physical assaults from street gangs who don’t like what he’s doing for the neighborhood….

What inspired you to write the book? 

I remember wondering what it would be like if a famous person, one who was known by many, was ever bold enough to really live like Jesus.  So, that was a large motivation for the book…to create a fictional character who really tried to live like his Lord. I spent nearly thirty years in a variety of positions in the institutional church, so I saw the inner workings of “religion” close up and first hand.  And frankly, early in my career I began to not like what I saw…what God’s church had become. I also came to realize that my own sons were wrestling with the traditions their parents had followed.  When they went off to college, their faith expressions changed, and I was delighted to see what was happening in their lives.  They focused on the right things and gave up the lesser important matters.  They actually had a lot to do with teaching me about the blessings of smaller and simpler faith communities.  I truly believe it was God’s intention all along to gather his family in small, intimate groups.  History shows that when church was taken out of homes and confined to cathedrals, many unfortunate things began to happen. I wanted to capture the benefits of these smaller communities in a form that people would actually read.   

Who did you intend to read this book?  And why fiction?

It’s odd…they say you should have a target audience in mind before you start a book.  I didn’t.  I just started writing, and when it was finished I sent the manuscript to friends of every age.  They all liked it.  In the back of my mind was the idea that if I wanted millennials to read the book, it would have to be fiction since they probably wouldn’t read a non-fiction, “how-to” book about house church.

This is the kind of book that can change people. What kind if transformation took place in your own life as you created the story of Trey Glass?

The thought I had throughout the entire project was “someone is going to ask if I live my life like Trey Glass lived his.”  I found myself confessing time and again that I am not fully living as if Jesus was the number one priority in my life.  That caused me to ask “why not?”  Many of the examples of a true Jesus follower in the book came from points of decision I’ve had in my life, many of which I didn’t make the right decision. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really no excuse. And that is haunting.  The whole project has made me a better person.

What do you hope the book accomplishes in the lives of its readers?

I truly hope that readers will see that living like Jesus really is possible in twenty-first century America…and can be done by every race, every socioeconomic level, every sexual orientation, every person.  We are here to care for one another, and Trey Glass does this as well as anyone I know.  Readers will also face the realities of what such a lifestyle will cost them.  Jesus promised persecution, and Trey found that and more.  We can expect the same if we choose to walk as Jesus walked.

 

(Intentional is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats) 

 

A helper for my husband

For many years I was taught that my purpose as a wife/woman, was to be a helper for my husband. A sort of divinely appointed personal assistant to him. He was the one to take the initiative; I was there to serve him, to help him fulfill God’s vision and call on his life. If I was to have any kind of strategic role, it was to be through my husband.

This teaching mainly came from Genesis 2:18, which in the King James Version of the Bible says this:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 

More modern versions also describe the woman as a helper for man.

It is an enlightening exercise, however, to look at the other occasions on which this word “helper” is used.  Of the 21 times, the Hebrew word “ezer” is used, in 16, it refers to God.  Typical examples include, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2) or “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).  On three occasions, it is used in a decidedly militaristic context (eg Hosea 13:9).

The Hebrew word translated “meet” or “fit” means literally in front of with the understanding of “comparable to.” Someone alongside.

The impression is not that of a “Girl Friday.” It is more of a coach or rescuer, a valued consultant brought in to assist where man is lacking.

Photo Credit: Gerry Balding (Creative Commons)

Primal Fire

Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church with the Five Gifts of Jesus is Neil Cole’s latest book.

Disclosure: Neil is a good friend of Tony’s and mine. We’ve spent many an evening in our hot tub enjoying a glass of wine and discussing theology and church planting and putting the world to rights. I love all his books and read the manuscript of this one some time ago to write an endorsement for it.

I’m also blessed to have met/know all the members of the 5-fold team that works with Neil (all of whom wrote the book with him) and they are the best functioning leadership team  of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher I’m aware of. They are the real deal.

Here’s what I wrote in the endorsement:

Neil Cole is neither traditional nor tame, and he is uniquely positioned to write about the five gifts Jesus gave tot he church. He doesn’t just talk about the principles in this thought-provoking book: he lives them out as a highly effective apostle within a gifted team that has trained tens of thousands of church planters around the world. Neil forces us to think outside our conventional boxes by shedding fresh light on Scriptures we thought we knew well. I highly recommend Primal Fire for anyone who longs to see a multiplying and maturing move of God.

I stand by that endorsement. This book contains all kinds of original ideas. It’s well worth the read.

Both men and women

It takes us both.

So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

  • Both men and women are created in the image of God.
  • Both men and women were used by God to save the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.
  • Both men and women followed Jesus in the Gospels.
  • Both men and women represent the body of Christ.
  • Both men and women serve the body of Christ in the 5-fold ministry.
  • Both men and women are described by Paul as fellow-workers (eg. Philippians 4:2-3).
  • Both men and women are described as having leadership roles (for example, the word prostatis used to describe Phoebe is a word used for church leadership).

So what’s the problem?


Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc

Getting to know us…

It is rare that I post anything personal about our family on this blog.

However, I’ve just had 10 days of glorious family fun and chaos with our whole family together for the first time in 18 months. Our four kids are among our best friends, and our daughters-in-law/son-in-law are amazing! Our nine grandkids range in age from 14 to four months. Over the last two weeks we’ve shared our lives together, laughed a lot, eaten way too much, played games, walked, entertained kids, sat in the hot tub…. It’s been a blast. What a blessing and a privilege.

The day after Christmas we had a photography session. As you can see, we’ve done our best to obey the command to “be fruitful and multiply”:

 

 

 

 

Interesting church statistics

According to a good and informative 2013 year-end status report by Leadership Network providing statistics on the state of mega-churches in this country, almost 10 percent of Protestant churchgoers attend a mega-church.

According to a Pew Forum report in December 2009, (if there is a more recent report, I am not aware of it), 9 percent of Protestants “attend religious services in homes.”

Just saying…

The Christian author’s dilemma

A few years back, Paul Young, author of The Shack spoke at one of our House2House conferences. When we first invited him, The Shack was barely known. A few months later, by the time he spoke at our conference, it had sold 7 million copies!   We asked Paul for  the story behind the book.  It went something like this. Paul was working three jobs when he finished writing a book for his children. Somehow he managed to scrape up the money to get 11 copies for his family and a few friends made at Kinkos. Friends sent it on to friends… From there, the rest is history. It was a God thing! No marketing, no publicity campaigns, just the Holy Spirit taking it and changing lives through it.

It was every Christian author’s dream.

But it was a once in a generation thing.

I’ve just finished compiling The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church,  and it’s now with the editors, due out in April 2014. I’d love to send it off to the printers and just have the Holy Spirit do what he wills with it. But the work for most authors when they finish a manuscript is only half done. Which is where the dilemma comes in.  I want to promote the message of the book, but I want to make sure that my motivation is not seeking recognition for myself or any kind of self-promotion.

And so I will do the things that authors need to do in our current climate to bring their books to the attention of others, while asking Jesus to deal with my heart, praying that he gives me wisdom.

It’s only the Holy Spirit who can transform lives and change the church. I pray that The Black Swan Effect will be a tool in his hands.

 

I am thankful

Sometimes Tony and I will look at each other and just say, “We are so blessed.” God has showered us with his grace and favor in many, many ways.

I am so thankful for you, the readers of this blog, who put up with my rants about this and that, my theological musings, my passion for simple/organic church and for women in ministry. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for being my brothers and sisters in Christ.

May you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

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Why you chose option #3

And a hint for bloggers…

Thank you for all of you who responded to my request for help choosing a subtitle for The Black Swan Effect–the book on women I’ve been compiling. With all the numerous possibilities, it’s been a daunting task. You’ll be interested to know that more than 70% of you picked the same subtitle–the third one, “A response to gender hierarchy in the church.” The question is why.

Photo Credit: Frank Peters via Compfight cc

And here’s where it becomes fascinating.  A few days ago, I was introduced to a site that helps analyze the emotional impact of headlines. Type in your headline and  it comes up with a percentage score. A good copywriter averages a score of 30-40%. A gifted copywriter has a score of 50-75%. I checked out my past blog headlines, and sure enough, not exclusively but in general, I would say that the posts that garnered the most interest had also scored well on the site.

I had perhaps 25 to 30 subtitles that had been suggested over the months. I tested all of them with the site. The vast majority were very mediocre, several even scoring 0%.

Back to the drawing board.

As I played around with the subtitles, I began to find words that increased the score. I had decided on the patriarchy headline which scored 63% when several people told me that they weren’t sure that everyone would understand the title.

I was just about to send out the last post when I decided to give the site one more try. Which is when I found that “A response to gender hierarchy in the church” scored 100%! So almost as an afterthought, I added it to the options.

I know that we need the Holy Spirit to breathe life into the title, and that we are totally dependent on the Lord for how he uses the book, but in the face of innumerable choices with no clarity even after prayer, it was invaluable to have some help!

Help us choose a title!

I’ve spent the past two years compiling a book on women. Definitely a labor of love! The book should come out on April 1st next year. But now it’s time to finalize the book title.

The main title is going to be “The Black Swan Effect.” Here’s the rationale behind the title, taken from the introduction to the book.

“The term “black swan” was a common one in sixteenth century London. Everyone knew that swans were white, and black swans presumably did not exist, so the term came to mean something farfetched, not real. However, in 1636, a Dutch explorer discovered nomadic, red-billed black swans in Western Australia. All of a sudden, black swans were no longer an impossibility and the meaning of the term changed. There is now a well-known species of black swans, but at first, all it took was one swan to change people’s minds forever.”

Having talked with a number of people, everyone loves the main title and the obvious analogy to women in the church. The help we need comes with the subtitle. Here are some of the possibilities:

The Black Swan Effect: Men lead; women follow? A response to patriarchy in the church (Do you think people understand the term “patriarchy”? “Men lead women follow” is deliberately a simple definition)

The Black Swan Effect: Men lead, women follow? Responding to gender issues in the church

The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church

Please let me know which one you prefer.

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