A REVIEW OF MOVE–THE SECOND PART

Monday my intrepid ministry staff met again to pick up where we left off in our close reading of the book Move.  They had beverages, I however had not eaten all day and had a tasty tuna fish sandwich.  I wish I had specified that the bread be toasted because it was soggy.  Other than that, the sandwich was fine.  It was not worth $9 though.

Part two of Move:  What 1000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth is the section which gives the book its name.  These five chapters detail the twenty-five catalysts that help people move from one level of spiritual growth to another.  For example, it details what happens in a persons life to move them from being a person who is Exploring Christ to a person who is Close to Christ.  Since there are four categories of spiritual health (details in my earlier blog) there are three movements.

The first movement indicates several trends which are not easily explainable.  The book details that church activities and theological affirmation are the key catalysts that help people along.  In other words, the beliefs people adopt are what move them–not their relationships.  These beliefs are a salvation by grace and in the Trinity.

The second movement is all about how people view God in their lives.  The writers of the book use the nomenclature of “personal God” for this concept which hinges on the border between belief and practice.  When people begin to believe that God is personal to them and that he cares for their lives, then their involvement in daily prayer for guidance and reading and reflecting on the Scripture is more frequent and more meaningful.

While the first and second movements are hard to explain, the third is near impossible to put into words.  This last and critical maturing move is highlighted by such attitudes as “giving my life away” and “Christ is first”.  These individuals are highly motivated and the survey findings reveal that the catalyst for movement to this level is not found inside church activities.  Instead it is nurtured by personal or independent activities rather than organized worship, studies, or service.

This section has one chapter for each of these movements as well as an opening chapter on overall implications and insights.  The section finishes with what I thought was a clumsy non sequitur about people who stall or are dissatisfied.

In Part 2 I found the following observations interesting and instructional:

  • The church as an organization is irreplaceable in helping people making the first movement, but then is actually a barrier to making the third movement.
  • Belief–and the acceptance of cornerstone beliefs–are more important than experiences such as trauma or disaster in people making these spiritual steps toward maturing.
  • Time and again it was revealed that he most important catalytic activity is for people to read the Bible and reflect on it.  Nothing else is as significant for spiritual growth.

This was the most wonkish of the sections and not as informative as the first section.  I am, however, looking forward to the third section.  Time and again the authors keep promising how great the third section is for helping church leaders do better.  I can’t wait.  I promise to share my results in a follow up blog sometime next week.

CATALYST WEST AND THE ZEN OF ANDY STANLEY

I spent all day today—from about 8:30am until 9:00pm tonight—at Mariner’s Church here in California.  I skipped the labs yesterday because, well, I don’t do labs.  I’m sure they were wonderful, but, no.  It has been a great day.  Here are some highlights.

  1. Andy Stanley—Andy kicked off the conference with a wonderful sermon.  To be honest he started off a little shaky with some questionable historical references, but I’ll forgive that easily for what might be one of the most inspiring messages I’ve heard in a while.  He displayed some sweet Stanley Zen and said that there are three aspects of being courageous (the theme of the conference).  Number one is staying when it would be easier to leave.  Number two is leaving when it would be easier to stay.  Number three was about the need to bravely face your secrets and get help with them.  All three spoke to me.
  2. Dave Ramsey—Dave was good, but following Zen Meister Andy must have been tough.  Ramsey’s presentation was heavy on cliché’s and low on actual stuff that might help.  He told the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and reminded us that the Tortoise—slow and steady, always wins.  I did appreciate that reminder.
  3. Soledad O’Brien—She had a good batch of stories.  Honestly, the best part of her presentation was her just being there.  It was nice to hear stories about life and our world, a world in need, that were not from a heavily Christianized perspective. 
  4. John Perkins—The Civil Rights activist and author was highlighted in an ‘interview’ format.  I found myself enraptured by his testimony of fighting racial injustice and his hope in this current generation.  I believe he is onto something when he says this current generation—and he is not talking about my age but the 20 somethings—might be the first generation to fulfill the great American creed. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal.”  I hope he is right.
  5. Eugene Peterson—this may have been the professional high for me.  Peterson was formatted in the same interview style as Perkins and it was fantastic.  Peterson talked about his life as pastor and how he once exclaimed in a leadership meeting at his church that he didn’t have time to be a pastor because he was too busy “running the damn church.”  That made me laugh.  I bought his new book.  I wish he’d been signing today.  That is one signature I would have wanted.
  6. Judah Smith—I had never really heard of him before; which is odd because he ministers in Seattle.  I can only say that he brought it.  Judah’s sermon was a sermon—in the classic style of actually using the Bible as a text.  He was the only preacher who asked us to read the Bible and then deliver solid exegesis.  His message was accurate and moving.  He spoke eloquently about disappointment in God’s apparent unfulfilled promises from 2 Kings 4.  It was something every pastor in that audience of 3,500 people could identify with.  I hope to hear him again.

 

The music was really good as well, but I don’t come for the music.  The facilities were nice.  Mariner’s church has a beautiful campus.  The food was kind of lousy, I must say, but all the free coffee was nice.

I am looking forward to tomorrow and the flight home.