My final post on Jen Hatmaker's comfort-shaking little book, 'Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity,' will cover the last and final Phase (Five) of the book. This has been a good book. She has a very readable style, and I really like how she chopped it up into 'phases' with short 3-4 page chapters. That's just how I like to read. I will have to admit, though, that the material especially towards the end seemed a little dated (in fairness, it's not a new book). It's a lot of the same things I've been reading for the last 10 years or so, so it didn't hold my interest as much at the end. It's still a good book though.
Phase Five is about the aspect of being SENT, as the church. She talks about the mission of the church, and being mission-al, and then some specifics about their new church in Austin. Again, I wasn't all that interested in this personally, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good stuff.
I really like her discussion of 'mission' and 'missional' on p. 198-200. I think many of us get confused over 'doing good deeds' and really being incarnationally mission-al in our everyday ordinary lives. She says,
...While we were saying "missional," most people thought that meant "mission," and I think we transposed the two for a while as well. *Mission* encompassed our work with the homeless community, disadvantaged schools, an orphanage in Mexico, a reforestation project in Africa. When we engaged some aspect of human suffering or care for the earth, it fell under the mission banner.
But even though all our mission work is sustainable and long term, we spend the majority of our lives in our homes, our neighborhoods, at work, in school. It was essential to incorporate the 'spirit of mission' into our natural habitats, where the brunt of our influence exists (being mission-al).
Are you a teacher? Your school is a mission field, plain and simple. Business leader, the principles of cultural immersion are absolutely the front door to reaching your colleagues. Stay-at-home mom, the community of mothers raising littles is special -- connect with other women intentionally during what can be a lonely and isolating season. Students, you are surrounded by peers hungry for salvation and purpose but deeply cynical about the church; developing language to introduce them to Jesus is noble and urgent. Recovering legalist... we must replace some entrenched perceptions about culture in order to become missionaries to our neighborhoods. An accurate understanding of grace will wreck the tidy categories we've assigned people and allow us to open our arms wide. Taking Jesus seriously goes well beyond a church service or mission project; He becomes the substance of our whole lives.
'Missional' at its core means "sent." It is the opposite of "come to us." (and on and on...)
On p.212 she shares how they launched their new church. She's talking about the idea that "Theology very naturally follows belief, but belief very rarely follows judgment," and then...
This position has driven ANC (Austin New Church) since its conception. As we moved toward the official launch of our church, we reimagined its public birth scheduled for Easter 2008, exactly one year after our profound experience the Easter before. We could have revealed our church to the south Austin community via bullhorns and billboards, but that wasn't consistent with our mission. As slaves to our city, our first Sunday service was a massive food drive benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank; it encompassed twenty neighborhoods, and we collected more than one ton of food. The messaged we wanted to communicate was: "Nice to meet you, south Austin. Austin New Church is here to be your servant.
The last item I highlighted from the book is some specifics about how their church meets. I thought this kind of interesting so I wanted to copy it down:
Our community groups meet two weeks a month for traditional fellowship and discussion (this is deliberately inclusive and the front door into our church family); they meet one week for mission work with our nonprofit partners in the city; and they spend the last week apart to intentionally live on mission: inviting neighbors over for dinner, going out for coffee with a coworker, hosting poker night at the Hatmakers.
Instead of decidedly weird labels of "mission" and "missional" work, we call the whole effort: Love Your Neighbor, Serve Your City.
So, there ya go. Again, there was much about this book I liked. It was easy to read, yet it packed a regular punch of conviction as well. I'm not sure that's exactly where I'm at at the moment (as far as the specifics of their church), but I certainly don't have any issues with it. A really good and worthwhile read.