Episode 159: A Conversation with Geoff Holsclaw

Andrew and Geoff Holsclaw sit down to discuss how the field of neuroscience and spiritual formation intersect in the life of faith (3:43). Andrew and Geoff go on to discuss how these new fields of combined study can actually help people who are beginning to wrestle with, or even deconstruct their faith (12:45). A rabbit trail about attachment theory and how it potentially relates to our experience of God, round out the episode (30:10).

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Host: Andrew Arndt 

Guests: Geoff Holsclaw

Producer: Briggs Boyd

Episode 158: A Conversation with Bri Stensrud

Andrew Arndt and Daniel Grothe are joined by a New Life congregation member and author Bri Stensrud to talk about the complexities and challenges of what it looks like to “meet the strangers at our gates.” (01:35) The trio discuss how this issue moves far beyond simply a social or political issue, Bri helps guide a discussion around immigration and caring for the foreigner and its biblical roots. (10:54). The last stretch of this episode includes both the practical and the personal ways we can all get involved in this conversation. (29:45)

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Host: Andrew Arndt
Co-Host: Daniel Grothe
Guests: Bri Stensrud
Producer: Briggs Boyd

For pastors/churches:

Evangelical Immigration Table

World Relief

For laypeople:

Women of Welcome

Books: 

Start with Welcome 

The Bible and Borders 

Welcoming the Stranger

Find Bri: Instagram 

Episode 157: A Conversation with Derek Vreeland

Andrew and special guest, Derek Vreeland have a detailed discussion around Derek’s new book Centering Jesus: How the Lamb of God Transforms Our Communities, Ethics, and Spiritual Lives. One of the core values of Essential Church is that Jesus is at the center, and this is exactly what Derek’s book reveals — from the book of Revelation, the COVID pandemic, and the power of unity (02:22). At the crux of Derek’s book is the metaphor of Jesus as the Lamb of God, and the multitude of ways that metaphor is fleshed out through Jesus’ life (15:34). This conversation lands by discussing how prayer is the ultimate act of seeing Jesus at the center of all things (24:22).

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Host: Andrew Arndt
Guests: Derek Vreeland
Producer: Briggs Boyd
Derek Vreeland’s books — https://derekvreeland.com/books

Episode 156: A Conversation with Dr. Russell Moore

Andrew and Brady take the time in this episode to sit down with author Dr. Russell Moore to discuss his book Losing Our Religion, An Alter Call for Evangelical America. Russell shares the history that created a need for such a book, but also the weight of utilizing his prophetic voice in a time of need (3:36). Dr. Moore goes on to share a few key ideas and principles around how to better discern and live wisely when dealing with the great social challenges of our day (15:53). The trio then round out the conversation contemplating the moral fiber of future leaders as well as pondering what needs to happen in America for true revival to take place (24:06). 

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Host: Andrew Arndt

Co-Host: Brady Boyd

Guests: Dr. Russell Moore

Producer: Briggs Boyd 

Losing Our Religion, An Alter Call for Evangelical America by Russell Moore — https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Our-Religion-Evangelical-America-ebook/dp/B0BPWRF4C5/ref=sr_1_1crid=3I076VEZFKVJK&keywords=losing+our+religion%2C+an+altar+call+for+evangelical+america&qid=1696973367&sprefix=losing+our+religion%2C+an+alter+call+for+evangelical+america%2Caps%2C99&sr=8-1

Episode 155: A Conversation with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

On this episode of the Essential Church podcast Andrew Arndt is joined by Pastor Daniel Grothe for a conversation with special guest Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt. The trio ask the all-important question about the nature of prayer (00:50). Andrew then guides the interview towards a breakdown of the Lord’s Prayer and raises the question: is Jesus teaching us to pray backwards (8:00)? Our hosts and guest spend the remainder of the episode having a truly honest and vulnerable discussion around the struggles and tensions of prayer — the distractions, the theological stumbling blocks, and more (18:40)! 

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Host: Andrew Arndt

Co-Host: Daniel Grothe

Producer: Briggs Boyd 

Episode 154: Five Key Elements of Successful Preaching

Essential Church’s Andrew Arndt is joined by Rory Green, Associate Lead Pastor at New Life East to talk all things preaching and teaching ahead of the Essential Church Learning Community on September 19th. (9:49) The duo goes on to discuss the “Five key elements of successful preaching” — Preparation, Presence, Authority, Content, and Creativity. (20:05) Along with conversations around preaching as “show-and-tell”, (29:15) how to move from writing a sermon, to mind mapping one, (43:26) as well as an announcement of a brand new podcast called Preaching Lab. 

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Host: Andrew Arndt

Guests: Rory Green

Producer: Briggs Boyd 

Episode 153: The Ache for Meaning – An Interview with Tommy Brown

In this episode we sit down with pastor and author Tommy Brown to talk about his new book The Ache for Meaningand how the temptations of Christ reveal who we are and what we are seeking. 

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I was more depressed than I realized and was at a near crisis in ministry… I had lost touch with what it meant to be a pastor…

Reading through the temptations of Christ one day, I knew I was on the scent of the trail that I needed to be on… it really started a seven-year journey for me of learning to name my ache and my questions as a pastor…

The temptations are symbolic… the devil didn’t make them up on the spot… they’re each an echo from Israel’s wilderness wanderings… and they speak to our perennial needs for security, significance, and control… 

You can boil them down into questions: Will I have enough? Am I enough? And do I matter? In any given situation, we can ask ourselves those questions to see what’s driving our anxiety…

For pastors, it’s a deep seduction to get the deepest needs of our lives met by the church… which means that when things aren’t going well at the church, it strikes at our identity… our identity can’t be based in externals but in sonship…

Jesus is the already the Son of God by nature as the second person of the Trinity and by gift as the Spirit descends upon him… and so the devil is trying to get Jesus to do something that doesn’t need to be done… 

The enemy plays with our minds trying to convince us that there’s something to be done to achieve something that’s already been given… and that’s where we get screwy…

There’s an over-functioning in ministry that comes from the fact that we haven’t settled ourselves into our “aready-ness” as sons and daughters of God… 

As you grow in your faith, the tests don’t stop… what I’ve learned is to spot them and respond to them earlier… the space between stimulus and response is the place where our freedom lies… 

The higher you go in leadership, the more sophisticated and nuanced the temptations become… in every moment there’s an opportunity to respond in one way or another… 

Episode 152: Neuroscience and Spiritual Formation – A Conversation with Michael Hendricks

In this episode we sit down with Michel Hendricks to talk with him about his book The Other Half of Church: Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation.

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This book was written out of frustration and confusion… some pastors and I were talking about our frustrations with discipleship, and one of the pastors said, “Michel, I think we’re ignoring the neuroscience angle,” and I had no idea what he was talking about…

The left side of the brain is what in popular culture we think of AS the brain… it’s the problem-solving side… but the deeper, relational questions are handled in the right brain—it’s the more powerful side of the brain… 

Before the left brain even kicks in, the right brain is asking, “Who are these people? Are these my people? Am I safe here?” Most of our discipleship is left-brain oriented and doesn’t take the right brain into account at all…

Our brains are designed to change us through love… our attachments and bonds with others are the strongest force in the brain for the formation of our character… 

I’m not saying that we should drop left-brained discipleship skills, but that we ADD the right-brain relational skills… e.g., joy—are we creating environments where people are happy to see one another…? Joy is fuel for transformation… and when our joy is low, nothing really works…

For the Hebrew mind, the face and presence of God were inseparable… the face WAS the presence, like a baby looking into its mother’s face… that’s how a baby grows… and how we grow with God…

Our churches need to function much more like families than they do like religious organizations… families are primarily and fundamentally about creating bonds…

If our relational skills are right, we can do church discipline in a way that’s healthy… it’s about flipping on the self-regulating principle in the body of Christ… 

There is a form of healthy shame and toxic shame… toxic shame is what most of us have experienced… healthy shame is deeply relational and helps remind us of who we are… it reinforces our good group identity…

Forming community this way makes us virtually immune to narcissism… if we are a deeply bonded family which self-corrects, we are creating a soil that narcissism can’t thrive in… 

Episode 151: Good News for Anxious Christians – An Interview with Philip Cary

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Philip Cary to talk about unbiblical and unhelpful stuff that evangelicals believe and how the gospel liberates us. Grab his book Good News for Anxious Christians here.

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Good News for Anxious Christians came from my conversations with Christians who were anxious because of the ‘practical advice’ they’d been given about how to improve their lives… 

When the Gospel is replaced by practical advice, before long you’ll get anxious about whether the practical advice is actually working…

Part of the reason that people are anxious is that pastors are anxious… the odd mistake that we make is by thinking that the way to change someone’s life is to tell them to change their life… but that’s the law… it’s the gospel that really changes us…

Consumerism has a lot to do with this… we’re competing in a spiritual marketplace, and the church feels pressure to say, “We have a better lifestyle/product than everyone else…” that’s the wrong incentive… 

When I say, “You don’t need to hear God’s voice ‘in your heart’”, I mean that we need to listen to the words of God that come to us from OUTSIDE our hearts: e.g., the Bible, the words of the gospel when it’s preached, etc. …  

What God commands us to do is to seek wisdom… that means that our hearts should be shaped by wisdom… when that happens, your heart will have some good voices in it—they’ll still be your voices, and they’ll be worth listening to, because they’ve been formed by God’s wisdom…

As the Word of God comes to dwell in us, the voice will be our own, but the word will be God’s… the Word of God shapes our hearts… when we hear the story of Christ and receive it by faith, our hearts get reshaped into the image of Jesus Christ… 

‘Conscience’ is a word that has dropped out of our vocabulary… God doesn’t decide for us, but he has told us how he’d like to behave in his Word… as we take that Word into our hearts, our conscience will come to nag us when we don’t treat people properly… 

We don’t have to find God’s will for our lives because God has told us what his will is… The Ten Commandments are God’s will… The Two Great Commandments are God’s will… God wants us to learn to make wise decisions ourselves as responsible adults…

When the Gospel is properly preached, it’s not about our feelings, it’s about Jesus… and precisely that is what builds up our Christian feelings… our job is to give people Jesus Christ… 

Episode 150: The Rule of Life Part 2: Perils and Pitfalls

In this episode (part 2 of 2) we continue our conversation with Pastors Brad Baker and Sarah Jackson to talk about some of the perils and pitfalls of working with a Rule of Life. 

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RESOURCES: 

  • Seeking God (Esther de Waal)
  • The Rule of St. Benedict

The rule of life goes back to the fifth century… a monk named Benedict put together a kind of code for himself and his followers… it helped them live out the gospel together…

It was developed in a time of great social and political upheaval and chaos… the rule was about arranging one’s life in ongoing transformation… it can provide structure to help us abide in God…

Behind Benedict stood the desert fathers and mothers… for them, the kingdom had a logic, a pattern, an order to it… the rule was an attempt to articulate the order of the kingdom and help people live into it…

For me, there was a split between my intentions and the direction my life was actually taking… the rule helped me acknowledge that and integrate the pieces of my life…

There’s no one right rule of life… each person’s rule of life ought to take into account things like life stage, age, etc… you need to find the rhythms that work for you…

For instance, I had a day getaway recently with a good friend that was full of spiritual conversation… I came back thinking, “I need to do this regularly…” That now is part of my rule of life… 

The rule is about taking our place in the community of God… when you’re crafting a rule, you need to ask how it is serving your life with God and others… it’s very relational…

The rule of life is about managing myself in such a way that I’m showing up in my life in the spaces I need to be in in the WAY I need to be in them…