2011 has been a very full year for me. I haven’t blogged much. Mostly due to the fact my week is pretty full. But I have read alot this year. Re-leearned alot. Questioned alot. All in all. I have to say that 2011 was a landmark and formative year for me personally. I know that normally we will begin to see alot of list for 2011 in the coming weeks. Top books, movies, moments, songs, etc.. I thought I’d come up with my own list: books the discipled me in 2011. Here it goes:
1. Mark as Story by David Rhoads
This book brought it home to me the understanding of the gospels as narrative or story. Dr. Rhoads gives a very informative and engaging tour of the gospel of Mark as a formative narrative for the early Christian communities. I read this book as a way to supplement my own personal readings of the Gospel of Mark. Coupled with my own personal pracitices of lectio divina, conversation with friends, and this book; my understanding of the relationship of being discipled and learning how to indwell the narrative of Jesus’s story has ‘torn the heavens’ (Mark 1) of my imagination.
2. Preaching the Gospel Matthew by Stanley Saunders
In my home church, New Harvest Ministries, I’ve been teaching a Wednesday night bible study series on the gospel of Matthew. This has supplemented my own personal practice of cycling through the gospels once a year. Dr. Saunders book has reminded me the importance of re-preaching the gospel to myself from time to time. Many Christians think they ‘know’ the gospel. Reading this book reinforces the importance of the age-old practice of re-gospeling one’s own self. The gospel is never completely nailed down by us humans. Its more like the gospel gets us rather than us getting the gospel.
I started this book late in the year. Like last month. In three weeks I’m now on my third reading of it. I even bought the audiobook on audible. What can I say about Scot McKnight’s latest book? Man…its a possible gamechanger. Especially here in the bible belt where I do missional work. As I’m writing this I’m just realizing that 2011 was a year of the Gospel for me. Scot’s book is an excellent biblical study into the term ‘gospel’ used in the New Testament. Christians generally recognize that they disagree on a whole range of issues political, social, cultural, some theological, etc.. But the gospel, we believe, is something we have nailed down. “No!”, says McKnight. McKnight takes to task the many assumptions we see in Evangelical-ish circles regarding the ‘gospel’. What I’ve had to learn and re-learn: you cannot separate mission and discipleship from the story of Israel and Jesus. Jesus’s and Israel’s story gives shape and impetus for mission. Another way of saying this: gospel is catalyst to mission.
I’ve recently embarked upon a journey with friends in my community. We have started a network of missional communities called CityHub. Breen’s and Absalom’s book has been a major conversation partner as we’ve navigated the waters of missional community formation. What I’ve learned from this: wisdom and patience I hope. Forming missional community is alot different than traditional forms of church planting. This is slow-church. It requires great patience and wisdom to learn the rhythms of one’s community, develop friendships with neighbors, listen to the cry of the community, etc.. And forming community in response and challenge to this reality is no easy thing.
5. The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block
This book is an invitation and a challenge to step outside the box as it relates to community-building. Block’s and McKnight’s wisdom has helped me learn alot as it relates to journeying with my friends as we dream of ways to love and live in our community for the goodness of God. As a disciple I’ve learned this powerful truth: the wisdom for the mission is always in the room.
6. Political Revelation by Walter Mosley
Combining the 12-steps of AA and stimulating political writing Mr. Mosley reminded me that another world is possible. As a disciple of Jesus I live from another place. A place not determined by the political and social configurations that privilege the elite. A place called ‘kingdom’. Mosley’s book is an apocalyptic 12-steps to learn how to live with another kind of imagination (one that is less addicted to current political arrangements) than the one offered in our current social and economic environment.