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The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities Paperback – August 14, 2016
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"One of the strengths of the book derives from the fact that JR and Dan are reflective practitioners: both have planted churches, are leading a wonderful new movement called V3 and have been training planters all across North America. . . . Furthermore, their understanding of movement is wonderfully minimalist without being reductionist. The result is that it can be practiced by ordinary, everyday Christians. Here they activate the essence of movement―where everyone, regardless of race, gender and class, is an active agent in the game. Jesus movement is people movement!" (Alan Hirsch, founder, 100Movements, Forge Mission Training Network, Future Travelers, coauthor of The Permanent Revolution (from the foreword))
"JR and Dan have produced a simple, intensely practical guide for those of us who want to shift from merely sustaining the 'religious industrial complex' to unleashing a dynamic missional church planting movement. The Church as Movement is full of ideas on missional discipleship, rhythms of life, cultural exegesis, fivefold leadership models and more, all anchored in a beautiful biblical vision of the sent-and-sending God." (Michael Frost, author of The Shaping of Things to Come, Exiles and The Road to Missional)
"The Church as Movement is a book I wish I'd been able to get my hands on twenty years ago. I got into church planting because I wanted to be a disciple and make disciples of Jesus. Instead, I encountered a system that largely measured success in terms of attendance, budgets, and buildings. Woodward and White not only offer an alternate transformational vision, they have created an immensely practical resource. I've seen their work firsthand and am deeply encouraged by their ability to come alongside leaders and equip them to embody the way of Jesus in their local communities." (Mark Scandrette, founder, ReIMAGINE, author of Practicing the Way of Jesus, Free, and Belonging and Becoming)
"In The Church as Movement White and Woodward rewrite what it means to cultivate and grow churches in the mission fields of post-Christendom. Accomplishing the impossible, they provide an exhaustive preparation for those who dare to navigate this terrain. It's a learning experience enormous in its aspirations yet so necessary for the task that lies ahead for the church in mission." (David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary, author of Faithful Presence)
"If you want to see the church through a radically different lens and recover the vision of how ordinary Christians working together in the neighborhood can become the greatest hope for change in these fractured and fragmented times, then this book is your guide." (Tim Soerens, cofounder and director, Parish Collective, coauthor of The New Parish)
"Theologically and theoretically complex and robust, yet practically so transferable in its attentiveness to movement dynamics and awareness of place-based disciple-making. This is a book that will surprise and challenge trained practitioners while offering tools that are adaptable enough for real movement. I believe even the title is a phrase that will become integral to the new vocabulary of church multiplication. I honestly wish I had written it myself!" (Linda Bergquist, church planting catalyst and coach, coauthor of Church Turned Inside Out)
"JR and Dan use their wisdom and experience to help churches plant churches that better reflect the effectiveness of the early church, emphasizing the importance of community and discipleship." (Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College)
"This is a book on Christian movement and church planting that I enjoyed reading and want to commend to many others seeking to discern innovative ways of being God's people in a time of massive change. JR and Dan have written with wisdom. They distill their on-the-ground experience into a book that is practical, instructive, and informed with theological imagination. They offer the reader a direction for this journey toward a movement of God's people in our day. Like any book, one isn't going to agree with everything, but this is one of a few books in this field I want to recommend." (Alan Roxburgh, The Missional Network, author of Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World)
"Practitioner led, biblically based, and theologically sound. In this book, JR and Dan have been able to navigate the line between missiology and strategy by presenting a team guide for discipleship and church planting. So buy this book, gather your friends together, and learn how to start a movement that will change your city!" (Daniel Im, director of church multiplication, NewChurches.com, coauthor of Planting Missional Churches)
"What I love about JR and Dan is that they don't just write about the stuff of missional discipleship, they live it! The Church as Movement is a real gift to the church. It is not only crammed full of practical wisdom, but is written in a way that is accessible to everybody." (Debra Hirsch, author of Untamed and Redeeming Sex)
About the Author
JR Woodward (MA, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a church planter, activist, missiologist and the national director for church planting with V3, a missional church planting movement. He is the author of Creating a Missional Culture and he desires to awaken people to join God in the renewal of all things. JR is founder of New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) and cofounder of Kairos LA, the Solis Foundation, Ecclesia Network and Missio Alliance. He serves locally with the District Church in Washington D.C. and is pursuing a PhD at the University of Manchester (UK). He loves to surf, travel, read, skateboard and meet new people. He enjoys photography and film and tries to attend the Sundance Film Festival whenever he can.
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Even better, Church as Movement is the rare book that inspires both the dreamers and the doers. JR and Dan have done more than dream of a fresh way forward for the church--they have lived it. They pour their dreams and passion into every chapter; but they also punctuate their pages with charts, graphs, and other resources. While many missional church books are heavy on vision but light on details, this is a gift to all missional planters: a vision of how to use the details to grow our dreams instead of drown them.
Church as Movement builds to and flows from the central concept that “the church is not a building, a weekly gathering, or a program, but a people God has called out of the world and sent back into the world to redeem and renew it.” The trouble is, this is an easier sentence to tweet than to live. (Ok,you can’t tweet it either, because it has over 140 characters, but you get the idea!) This book was borne from JR and Dan’s failures and breakthroughs. Then, after they started and led communities, they began to coach others how to do it too. In fact, this book was initially compiled as a coaching curriculum for church planters. This is perhaps its greatest strength: each chapter has undergone countless edits stemming from rich conversations with on--the-ground planters.
The final product is a must-have for anyone interested in missional communities. Among other things, JR and Dan present how to lead a community with movement in mind, the importance of scalable tools, an understanding of mission and incarnation, and how to structure leadership. They walk through discipleship as an essential catalyst of movement--first for who the leader is, then how to lead others who lead others who lead others. Community is explored as a recurring theme--from the shared table, to a collective rule, and more. They also emphasize the neighborhood over the sanctuary stage as where God is moving, and offer clear steps shifting both paradigm and practice. Plus, every chapter includes questions for reflecting and notes with further resources. Anyone would benefit from reading it on their own, it is really designed to be used by group.
Church as Movement paints a refreshing vision for church as it could be and should be. I can’t express how much I’ve benefited from its wisdom, practical instruction, and clear message of hope. I’m confident it will influence the missional church movement for years to come.
I’m profoundly grateful that I’ve finally found my tribe.
This isn’t trying to be another theological tome or a sustained argument about where the church has gone wrong. Instead, pastors JR Woodward and Dan White, Jr become relatable coaches—walking us through the essentials of the missional-incarnational approach penned for a gathering of practical doers.
Along the way they provide the best-of summaries of key concepts from theological sources like Dallas Willard, NT Wright, Roland Allen and Stanley Haurwaas, plus current practical approaches from Alan Hirsch, Tim Soerens and especially from their own 20 years of lived church-planting experience.
It’s not just the content that’s practical—so is the book itself. Divided into blog-like bite-sized chunks, each section is ideal for assigning to a group of leaders preparing for a real-life discussion about how church works. Sections include: The Stages of Discipleship, Four Spaces of Belonging, and Developing a Scattered Rule and Rhythm.
Tips are consistently theological and actionable at the same time:
* Don’t call people volunteers. It undermines the reality of the body of christ.
* The church is not formed around a stage, but a table. Church planters can start by hosting a weekly community meal.
* Train yourself and your core in active listening. Group listen to the Holy Spirit together and discern the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16)
The apparent simplicity may hide how this approach is perhaps more often talked than walked. The movement mindset—building new churches less through big worship band budgets and more through dinner tables in the heart of the city—has a slowness and vulnerable involvement to it that requires more than seminary class or church planter job placements. Head-nodders for the theoretical calls to put the church back into the heart of mission may think twice when engaging the personal challenges that cap each book section like:
* Make a list of people to invite to join you for a shared table.
* What methods of sharing the good news lead to a reductionistic gospel?
* Develop a scattered rule and rhythm of life with at least one concrete practice within the framework of communion, community and co-mission.
Church as Movement comes as a welcome edition to the missional church literature—not as a casual read for practical ecclesiology but as a practical coaching challenge to introduce a real, lived missional communities in the neighborhood.