Monthly Archives: February 2012

Verge 2012: 7 Steps to Moving beyond the Event of Serving

There is certainly is an uptick in the social activity of the church today. This is a good thing. But when serving remains simply an event that we do once a quarter or year, it often falls short of having gospel implications. So how do we move beyond serving as just an event? How do we create structures to ensure that we engage need on a personal level and as a part of missional community?

Before I offer some thoughts on those questions, here are two things I want to clarify about serving the least:

  1. Serving the Least does not make you Missional: Missional recognizes that you are, where you have been sent.  Serving the least is a critical part of a missional posture, but serving alone for the sake of serving is not enough. You can go serve the least and still be a jerk to your neighbor. Not very missional.
  2. Serving the Least is critical for the church to regain her voice: Serving the poor transcends culture and context because being good news always transcend culture and context. In a post-modern and post-Christian world, it’s both biblical and contextual. Our skeptics demand that our deed match our creed.

Okay… now that I got that off my chest… here’s a few thoughts I shared at today’s Verge Conference on the topic.

Serving Through Missional Community: 7 steps to moving beyond the event.

  1. Teach Serving as a part of gospel-centered discipleship effort: Too often we fail to connect the dots between serving, becoming good news, and the Gospel.
  2. Plan Events & Projects that serve a redemptive purpose and present opportunities to do more: When we do so, the “Event” can serve as a spring board or “gateway” to more engagement and relationships.
  3. Create structures that clearly communicate  a plan for next steps to engaging need: Serving cannot be just an “add on” event. It must be a clear part of the discipleship process. Communicating this reality is a critical step of the equipping process.
  4. Create a Place to Engage Culture:  Missional Communities must be postured to engage real needs. We cannot engage culture without engaging the needs of culture. We can often utilize existing structures for this function (Re-purposed small groups, etc…). Often these must be decentralized in order to be both contextual as well as reproducible.
  5. Create the Space for Mission: Service will be the first thing that goes when people get busy. Most of our churches are already incredibly busy even without serving outside the church. So we must “add by subtraction” to create space to add service as a priority without simply adding another thing to do.
  6. Staff the Legwork of Serving: Instead of planning the entire event, recruiting leaders, and begging people to come… if our efforts are truly decentralized… we can do the front end legwork of working with non-profits, building the relationships, and providing a handful of service options (often the hard part), taking a “help me help you” posture with your group leaders. This helps enable and empower leaders to own a project without being bogged down with the red tape of initiation.
  7. Change the Way you Measure Success: This is the hardest thing to do but the most necessary. Serving the least is often messy, slow, seemingly ineffective, costly, and doesn’t necessarily result in church growth. We must begin to measure success in different ways:
  • Kingdom impact over attendance impact.
  • Percent of people from your church serving outside of your church.
  • Number of non-Christians, seekers, & de-churched joining you to serve.
  • Personal Transformation in your people.
  • Number of those going on to the “next level” of engaging need as an intuitive part of life.
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BFC Primer: The Images that Tell the Story

One of my favorite parts about the Barefoot Church Primer is its design. It’s packed with images taken by my friend Peter Schrock during one of our Serve Austin Sunday’s. So the people, the projects, and the images captured are a genuine word picture of what you’re learning. I thought I’d take just a moment and give an insiders look. Enjoy.

"Where the rubber meets the road." Here's an image of shoes lined up from one of our giveaways to the homeless and working poor of Austin

Here's a shot of the capital building as seen from South Congress just south of the River.

Hard at work during our Downtown Grillout for the Homeless on the corner of Neches and 7th Street.

Here's a look at the weekly flow. My favorite week is the fourth where we spend some time digging in to a biblical understanding of justice. It's also the week we start engaging simple need in your immediate community.

Here's a burger plate from our homeless grillout in downtown Austin as seen in week 3's chapter on developing a heart of Mercy.


Barefoot Church Primer Giveaway

The Barefoot Church Primer is an eight-week guide to serving through community and is based on the book “Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture”. It’s designed for any small group, community group, or bible study group to build a stronger biblical foundation for serving the poor, gain a greater understanding of biblical mercy and justice, and learn how to engage need as an intuitive part of life.  Next week at The Verge Conference in Austin, I’ll be giving away a few pre-release copies of the Barefoot Church Primer.

Just for fun, I thought I’d pull a 25 copies from the pile and give away to those of you who have read Barefoot Church (the book) here on my blog.

So here’s what I need you to do. The first 25 people who respond to this blog with (1) a favorite quote from the book with your name and address in the comments, (2) rate and review the Barefoot Church book at Amazon.com by clicking HERE, and (3) tweet something about the primer including a link to http://www.missiopublishing.com… I will send you one of the first 25 copies available.

If you haven’t read the book yet but are still interested in the primer: Do the same as above only just promise me you’ll read and review the book soon, throw me out a tweet, and I’ll send you a copy of the primer anyway (if you’re one of the first 25).

The BFC Primer will be available for pre-order on February 24th and will be shipped March 14th.

Here’s a quick chapter preview on what you can expect:

  • Week One: The Journey
  • Week Two: Becoming Good News
  • Week Three: Mercy
  • Week Four: Justice
  • Week Five: Expose
  • Week Six: Experience
  • Week Seven: Engage
  • Week Eight: The Intuitive Life

Why I’m attending Verge 2012

Recently I was asked by the Editor of the ABBA Connect and the Austin Bridge Builders Alliance to answer a few questions about Verge Conference. While at first it seemed like just another task to get done during a busy week, in answering them I was reminded how significant an event I really believe Verge to be. That said, I thought I’d share my thoughts here as well:

ABBA: What is Verge and how will it impact Austin?

Brandon: Verge is a Missional Community Conference. What does that mean? It means that as Church leaders we believe the greatest way to impact a city or community is through empowering, equipping, and releasing, missionary people with a heart for the Gospel back into their context. It means that we believe in making disciples marked by lives who are radically changed by the gospel, who literally become Good News wherever they’ve been sent (home, work & play) and where they are being sent (across the tracks, rivers, and highways).

I think the impact of Verge can be vast if we are willing to respond. There’s a huge amount of momentum behind the heart of Verge… but it comes with a radical shift in thinking… too often we settle with the heart of the idea instead of strategically considering how it could really play out in a city of over a million people. The questions remain: Are we willing to listen? Are we willing to use our influence, relationships, and resources for the greater good? Are we wiling to lay down our plan for His plan?

ABBA: Why should we attend?

Brandon: Leaders at Verge are going to put words to the thoughts people are having.  They are going to bring experiences, stories, connect it with Gospel, and challenge us to make it real in our context. As church leaders a better question is, “Why wouldn’t we attend?”

ABBA: How will Verge help churches connect with each other and our community?

Brandon: The greatest way to connect churches and community is through a unified mission. Jesus taught that when we focus on Kingdom, that HE would build His church. That doesn’t mean our individual churches… that means THE Church in Austin will be built up. What each of us pray for in Austin cannot happen through one expression of the local church, so the bottom line is not just connecting, but praying for a movement in our city. I think Verge will lay a foundation that each of us can build upon.

ABBA: Why are YOU passionate about this event?

Brandon: Two reasons: (1) I’m always excited about an opportunity to gather with like-minded thinkers and leaders with an opportunity to learn. This conference is filled with practitioners, not just theorists, so we’ll also come away with some strategy. And, (2) at the last Verge Conference… the Spirit simply showed up. Some would argue the Spirit literally fell on the room at one point. I don’t know about you… but I think if we need more of anything, it’s the Holy Spirit. I want to be a part of something where God’s movement is obvious, His leading is convincing, and his presence is undeniable.


An Odd Request

I got this email the other day. I found it to be quite an odd approach to requesting a book. While it wasn’t offering any criticism, it certainly seems like it’s waiting in the wings. Even so, I’m not that concerned about a critique, but more so, just curious about the odd form in which this request has come. I would love your thoughts. In all seriousness, how would you handle this?:

I came across an excerpt from your book Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture and was impressed by what little I read.  Could it be that in this commerce driven, fame orientated, country club christian culture, there is someone who is attempting to embrace the response to the question, asked so long ago, ”What do I still lack?” (Matt 19:20).  I have been praying and searching ardently to know God and his path for me.  I would like to read your book.  Would you please send me a copy?

I am asking you to send it to me w/o charge.  I am not asking for a free book, after reading it, I will pay you what I think it is worth.  In my search to understand the bible and contemporary christian life I have quickly exhausted current christian literature.  For the most part it is poorly written, repetitive, poorly researched and parochial.

I warn you that my library consists of books by men like St Augustine, Blaise Pascal, John Donne, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton, C. S. Lewis.  If it cannot sit with these other books and be a source of continued inspiration, I will return it.  If it is not worth the postage to return it, I will throw it in the trash.  If, however, on the other hand — Matt 13:45

As an author, you have to come to grips that not everyone will like your work. That’s just part of the game. But, what do you think is going on in the brain of this person? How would you respond? Or would you?