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)