Episode 141: The Love That is God – An Interview with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

In this episode we sit down with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt to talk with him about his book The Love That is God: An Invitation to Christian Faith.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

God is love is the radical claim of the Christian faith… but Jesus fills this out by saying that no greater love has a man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends… so the love of God suddenly takes on a hard edge…

My students sometimes really struggle with the idea in Christianity that we might need to undergo a kind of painful loss in order to become truly happy… daily crucifixion is not a mere metaphor… 

We’re called to be countercultural… but if we let that become just another form of tribalism or militancy, we’re not being countercultural… we’re just reproducing the tribalism and militancy of our culture…

I think one of the crosses we run away from is the challenge of listening to the voice of the outsider… in my own tradition (the Roman Catholic Church), it was voices from the outside that finally held us accountable for some of our failures… sometimes the only way we can recognize our own distortions of the gospel is through the voice of the outsider…

I sense a greater openness from my evangelical and charismatic friends to the great tradition of the church… I also think that evangelicals and charismatics are challenging the church to put faith at the center of their lives, and to expect God to show up in ways that are visible…

There are times when I find prayer immensely consoling… you don’t know what to do, and so you lay it at God’s feet… but prayer can also be a kind of therapy… like the physical therapist who stretches you and puts you through pain in order to restore you, prayer can be a stretching of our spirit that heals us… 

I often pray the Psalms… every single human mood is found there… oftentimes the psalm is exactly what I needed, even though I didn’t know I needed it… 

We don’t know where we are in history… we don’t know if we’re at the very beginning of the church’s story or the very end… but we don’t need to… if faith means anything, it means that we’re in a comedy that’s going to end with the marriage of heaven and earth…

Episode 140: Equipping our Youth for the Mission of God

In this episode we chat with Greg Stier, the founder and CEO of Dare to Share, which equips youth leaders and students in relational evangelism. We chat with him about best practices for doing just that. You can learn more about Greg HERE. And also download a free copy of his e-book “Gospelize Your Youth Ministry” for Kindle HERE or iPad HERE.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

What I try to remind everyone of is that everyone’s story is a radical story of salvation… 

We’ve forgotten the power of the gospel to change and decided to focus on politics and culture instead… we’re just hacking at the leaves of evil rather than striking at the root…

Too many people are putting the onus of evangelism on the pastor… it’s a come and see mentality… we need to combine come and see with “go and rescue…”

We read in Acts that the apostle Paul trained and equipped people in the School of Tyrannus so that everyone in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord… we need to start flipping our churches so that they become like little “schools of Tyrannus…” 

We teach youth pastors how to build gospel greenhouses, where evangelism is as normal as breathing and disciples are made and multiplied by the teenagers… 

Intercessory prayer fuels everything… the youth groups that grow the fastest are those that pray for the lost by name…

Relational evangelism drives our efforts… we’re trying to teach kids not only the content of the gospel of giving them strategies for engaging with their unreached friends… 

Leaders have to fully embrace and model this… the youth groups that grew the fastest had leaders who were living out these values of prayer and relational evangelism…

The changing cultural factors make youth ministry more difficult IF we’re stuck in an old approach… we’re stuck in the 80s… 

We need to create gospel-advancing youth groups and make the Great Commission the greatest cause… teenagers have been suffering from depression, anxiety, and isolation and the gospel gives identity, belonging, and purpose… that’s the answer…

Episode 138: The Five Masculine Instincts with Chase Replogle

In this episode we sit down with pastor and author Chase Replogle to talk about his book The Five Masculine Instincts. For more on Chase’s book and extra resources click here.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

First and foremost, I’m a pastor, and I’ve watched over the last few years how the topic of masculinity has become controversial conversation… 

I was seeing the guys in my congregation struggle with this, and I wanted to create a book that offered a path towards a better conversation—a conversation about character…

The cultural ways of having this conversation are that either we need to deconstruct masculinity, or we need to indulge it… but what both of these approaches have in common is that they focus on externals rather than on the internal realities of a man…

I’m always careful to say that these “instincts” are not the five sins of man, nor are they the five expectations… the question is how we become mature men, given these instincts…

God initiated a conversation with Cain… I think that’s really profound… you’d imagine that Cain would ask God why he rejected his sacrifice… but he doesn’t… he acts impulsively and sarcastically…

Cain’s sarcasm is a thin veil for his contempt for God… his immaturity makes him reactive and winds up perpetually immature… he’s the picture of a lost adolescent, perpetually adrift… 

For men—if you find yourself struggling to take things seriously, or find yourself immediately reactionary, God may be using precisely those things to make you a better man… 

Samson has divine experiences in the midst of adventure, but instead of it enlightening him, he just indulges it and becomes less discerning…

This theme becomes larger and larger until he gives away his secret, I think, as a way of just being done with it… he’s sick of it all…

If you’re constantly trying to find meaning in adventure, and it’s weakening your commitments to place and family and vocation, then perhaps you’re putting something on adventure that it’s never going to be able to deliver…

A lot of pastors, in their search for adventure, are disrupting the framework of their congregations… we need to satisfy that thirst for adventure inside the boundaries of our lives…  

Episode 135: Streams in the Wasteland

In this episode Daniel and Andrew sit down to talk about Andrew’s recently released Streams in the Wasteland: Finding Spiritual Renewal with the Desert Fathers and MothersGrab your copy on Amazon!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

We moved here in 2017 after having been a pastor for eight years in Denver… and I was not prepared for the spiritual crisis that would create… it felt like getting put in a witness protection program… I couldn’t find my equilibrium…

In the midst of that, someone told me I needed to read the desert fathers and mothers… when I asked why, he said, “Because the thing that you feel like is being thrust upon you, they sought out, and found it to be a place where God could be found…”

They gave me language to make sense of the desolate space… God’s people find God in the wilderness… my own healing was not complete where I got to the point where I never needed to lead again… I fell in love with “My God and my All…”

It’s easy for us to look at them as socially awkward misanthropes who justified their retreat with spiritual language… but sometimes a situation is so toxic that you have to separate yourself in order to find the love of God and others again…

A mischaracterization of them is that they severed themselves from the truth… even if they create some creative distance, they still live in community and they still go to church…

Thomas Merton said that now, the wasteland is everywhere… which means that the wisdom of the desert is wisdom for our time… what does it look like to cultivate true humanness?

Our speech is one of the most critical issues in our moment… social media invites and even rewards us for adding more heat to the conversation than light, which is why we’re living in an increasingly polarized society…

God’s speech is creative speech that gives life, and he gives that same gift to human beings… fallen man can take the power of the word and warp it and cause reality to fray… it grieves the Spirit when we use our words to tear down…

Maybe the greatest moral achievement of our age is can we sit in a room with people with whom we vehemently disagree and neither feel the need to conquer them or feel the need to bail out and run away… 

Episode 126: All Things Beautiful with Dr. Chris Green

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Chris Green to talk about how Jesus reveals himself to us through the arts. This conversation is an engagement with Chris’s book All Things Beautiful. Grab a copy here.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

My encounter with literature and the arts is what led to my becoming a theologian… I grew up in a Pentecostal church, but didn’t read the Bible with any artfulness… but after my encounter with the arts, the Bible became something entirely different…

Too often, we read the Bible for the way it affirms and confirms our ideas… we need to learn to give it the kind of attention Jesus gives to us… not looking for confirmation of our ideas, but receiving it for what it is, and marveling at it…

Proverbs, for instance, opens with a call to the young to learn wisdom… but to do that, you have to attend to “the dark sayings of the wise”… 

This is striking to me because the churches I grew up in put pressure on the preacher to make the truth plain… we didn’t want to do the difficult work of interpretation… but I think what Israel knew and what Jesus embodies is that we need to do the difficult work of interpretation…

The artfulness of the artist is to make art difficult in all the right ways… 

Artfulness opens us up to the way that God saves us… Emily Dickenson tells us to “tell the truth slant”… which speaks to the way that God saves us… God is sometimes startlingly direct in the Bible… but most of the time is like the road to Emmaus—God is there, but not obvious…

We need to recognize the good of difficulty… when something is demanding, it summons parts of yourself you didn’t know were there… so God is demanding in a way that summons out of us gifts we didn’t know we had…

Another part of this is our brokenness… the universe seems “riddled” to us because we are the ones who are “riddled”… in our brokenness, God teaches how to become truthful… 

The arts also give us the skills we need to turn to others… when give our attention to the arts and they surprise us, it teaches me that the next time I’m with a person, if I’ll give them my attention, they will surprise us…

Episode 122: An Interview with Dr. Gregg Okesson – Witnessing To A Complex World (Pt. 2)

In this episode we pick up our conversation with Dr. Gregg Okesson to talk with his book A Public Missiology: How Local Churches Witness to a Complex World and what it looks like for local churches to witness to the reign of Jesus Christ in all of life.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

Sending is an important function for the church… but historically one of the most radical things that Christians have done is to gather… we need to think of local congregations as people who gather in ways that are different from the world…

People talk about the problems of people bringing their politics and ideologies to church… but that happens all the time… we need the sacraments, worship, and preaching to challenge those ideologies…

This is where we need to be a people of difference—we worship the King of the universe… all ideologies need to be challenged at the foot of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

One of my heroes is Lesslie Newbigin, who said that the cross is a profound “no” to all ideologies… they all need to come to the foot of the cross and die… just like individuals, even “publics” need to come and die…

But Newbigin also said that the resurrection is a glorious “yes” to God’s creating and reconciling work… we need to go out into the fullness of God’s world saying “yes” to politics and economics… 

If we take public witness seriously, we will discover the gospel of Jesus Christ… there’s a lot of preaching out there that has nothing to do with the gospel, or is so thin that it has no ability to speak to the public realm…

To preachers I would say that while it’s wonderful to get into all kinds of exegesis, we need to tell the full story of the gospel over and over again… the world is “storying” us one way, and we have the greatest story of all… we need to tell it to our people… 

Every congregation is different and pastors need to know their congregations… they need to know where and how to affirm the good… but if we are not regularly calling into question the reigning assumptions of our day, we are not fulfilling our role as preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ… 

Pastors need to spend time with people and live in the “publics” around their congregation… we need to do strong biblical exegesis and strong cultural exegesis at the same time…

Episode 121: An Interview with Dr. Gregg Okesson – Witnessing To A Complex World (Pt. 1)

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Gregg Okesson to talk with his book A Public Missiology: How Local Churches Witness to a Complex World and what it looks like for local churches to witness to the reign of Jesus Christ in all of life. This is the first of two episodes.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

The challenge for me while planting churches in Tanzania was trying to witness not just to individuals but to large, complex social needs…

In the process of allowing my understanding of the gospel to enter into the day-to-day public realities, I actually found the gospel…

Christ is reconciling all things to himself… so the challenge for us is to enter into complex public spaces with a gospel of salvation that is big enough for the whole world… 

The gospel is good news, but we’ve often made it bad news… it’s about the inauguration of Jesus Christ as king and lord of the whole universe… 

Historically, evangelicals have opted for simplicity over complexity… but when you look at the story of God, it is a complex story… across time and space and ethnicity… 

I use the language of “thickness”—God is weaving a “thick” witness in a “thick” world and too often we have tried to witness to the thickness of the world with a too-simple gospel… 

We need to start to practice the discipline of intentional inconvenience in our churches… if we’re not inconvenienced in our churches, the gospel will become captive to our culture… 

The public realm is drastically shaping the way that we live… from cell phones to music to television to streaming video… we are immersed in it…

“Publics” are spaces of togetherness where humans form life and build community that also have “open weave” in them… 

We tend to think of these “publics” or “domains” as discrete, but they are actually overlapping each other every day of our lives… 

The problem that we face is that we don’t realize how all of these overlapping “publics” are impacting us… it is forming us and shaping us… we need to spend more time exegeting the ways that it is forming us… 

Episode 120: A Church Called Tov (Pt. 2)

In this episode we pick up our conversation with Dr. Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer to discuss their book A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

The first thing I would say to young leaders is that every pastor needs to become self-aware through a battery of psychological tests, to try to expose traits of narcissism… 

We also need to restore to the pastoral calling the centrality of character… just like culture eats strategy for breakfast, so character eats culture for breakfast… a bad character will form the culture… 

We have so valued the platform and performance gifts… pastors on the platform exude a persona… people think that is the real person… they are responding to a persona… 

We need to start putting persons of character on the platform more than just persons of gifts… 

TOV is the Hebrew word for good… God created everything good… this word is used in the Old Testament hundreds of times… it is master moral category… God is TOV, everything he makes is TOV, and he wants us to be TOV…

We found seven elements of TOV that flipped the script: empathy, grace, putting people first, telling the truth, nurturing justice, nurturing service, and nurturing Christlikeness…

We could do ourselves a world of good by giving our budding pastors a test, for instance, on how empathic they are… 

Power physically changes the brain… all of us have power at some level… when we have unbridled and uncensored power, it is damaging to the person who has it along with those who are on the receiving end of it…

The people that have wrecked churches and ministries over the last twenty years had power without boundaries… it never ends well…

Leaders need to learn the habit of being in touch with people in pain, and watching how they are responding to them… 

If power is something that changes the brain, we need to practice the habit of losing power and having people over us who have more power than we do… 

We also need to learn to invite people to the platform who are better than us… the pain of wondering if people like someone else better than you is a good thing… 

Episode 119: A Church Called Tov (Pt. 1)

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer to discuss their book A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing. This is a two part episode.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

It was a disorienting experience to have our church covering up the truth… it launched a series of conversations about how Scripture was not being interpreted the way it should… 

Around the same time, I read a book on the German pastors and how they responded to the Holocaust that shocked me… it showed the power of sinfulness of Christian leaders… when confronted by the truth, they didn’t confess their sins… 

Pastors have an enormous power over people… and have the capacity to assume a platform and narrate a story that trusting people are going to believe… when the narrative is distorting, cynicism arises in the church…

I found the way that Matthew 18 was being used irritating… they were using that text to say that if a woman thinks that a leader abused her, she has a responsibility to tell him… that will protect a pastor every time…

We need to ask, “Who has the advantage?” when Matthew 18 is being used… it is never appropriate to require a victim of abuse to confront their abuser privately…

A sign of institutional narcissism is when you shift from thinking that your church is helpful to thinking that your church is the best church in the world and where you think that all other churches are inferior…

This isn’t just an issues with megachurches… small churches are impacted by it too… thinking that you are the true people of God is insidious and dangerous… 

Since writing this book, we’ve gotten tons of letters from people who have been impacted by power-through-fear cultures…

Power is a very interesting phenomenon that is wielded wisely and recklessly by the same people in the same churches, and we need to be more conscious of it…

There’s such a thrill for people to be in the pastor’s inner circle, that it becomes like a shield of pride… but it’s a double-edged sword—you can both welcome people in and kick them out… it’s like a drug for many people… 

Episode 118: The Power of Place

In this interview we sit down with Daniel Grothe and talk about his new book The Power of Place: Choosing Stability in a Rootless Age. Snag a copy of The Power of Place HERE.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

The question of “what is the good life” has bugged me for a long time… as I pay attention to people who are living good lives, all of them have lived lives of stability in place…

This was actually the first book I wanted to write… I think that wisdom looks like a rooted life in place… 

Summers in my childhood were spent in Idaho with my family… they worked the land hard and were tired at the end of the day… I don’t get to live exactly like that, but as a pastor I’ve tried to live that way…

With the Gerasene demoniac, this is the first time Jesus tells someone, “You can’t follow me…” Jesus sends him home… when Jesus finds him, he is on the fringes, he is place-less… Jesus heals him and sends him back into his life, to live settled… 

When we look at the Bible, see that place helps us find security… place helps us find identity… and place helps us learn skilled mastery… 

God is not the God of abstraction… he doesn’t bless us out in the ether somewhere, but he blesses us in place… the story of God ends with the new Jerusalem descending to earth which gives life and security to the nations… creation itself is re-placed, re-homed…

We need to remember that Jesus is Jesus OF NAZARETH… he comes to us in our particularity… he comes into the story to put together heaven and earth, flesh and spirit… 

Adam and Eve started wondering what they were missing out on, and it led to their looking outside of the limitations of the good life that God had given them… when we live at the edges, we miss out on the gift at the center…

When people leave our churches for silly reasons, I always think to myself, “You’re going to have a stranger bury you? I should be burying you… or if I go first, you should be at my funeral… you’re going to throw that away?”

Sometimes you can’t stay in a place… even then you can live by certain principles… Jeremiah 29:1-10 helps us… wherever you are, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which you’ve been sent into exile… God will bless you there… 

Online church is a great tool, but it’s not a congregation… it will never replace the body of Christ, the local congregation of the saints…