There's got to be more to church than this. Barefoot Church shows us how today's church can be a catalyst for individual, collective and social renewal in any context. Author, Brandon Hatmaker, is pastor of Austin New Church, co-founder of Restore Austin and a missional strategist with Missio. Take a look behind the curtain with Brandon's thoughts on reading and writing.
1. Why is reading important to you, and how do you find or make time to read books and blogs?
I know it’s probably not the norm for an author, but I’m not a natural reader. In fact, it’s more of a discipline for me than it is a pleasure. But my mind is wired in such a way that I love to learn, especially as a problem solver. So as a practitioner, reading to learn has always been my greatest motivation. Early in my ministry career I was challenged to not limit my exposure to people from my own “tribe”. When all we do is hang out with people like us, listen to people like us, and get advice from people like us, and who think like us… we never get outside the box, and never learn anything new. As a church leader and pastor, reading became increasingly important as I felt challenged to expand my thinking in response to our constantly changing context and culture.
As far as the time for reading goes… honestly, I’ve come to the place where I can’t afford not to make time to read books and blogs. I learn so much from them it actually saves time.
2. What books are you currently reading that you would recommend to our readers?
I typically don’t read one book straight through… instead I float between books depending on my mood or what’s on my mind. I have a pretty random list at the top of my Kindle right now. Here’s the top 5: Generous Justice by Tim Keller, Faith of Leap by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, Leadership is Dead by Jeremie Kubicek, AND by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
3. How do you make time to write books or blog?
I don’t force myself to write. I write when I feel I have something to say. I’m a verbal processor so when I don’t have someone to process something with out loud, I write it down or type it out. Usually by the end I have even more clarity than when I started. When something pops into my mind I need to write about, it takes me over. So it’s less about making time to write and more about expressing my thoughts tangibly so I can process them (or even move on from them). Most of my blogs are written late at night or right before I go to bed.
4. What is the “big idea” of your latest book in a Leadership Network book series?
For a season in my life it seemed like everyone I ran into wanted to do something of significance with their faith outside the church walls but didn’t know where to start. Likewise, many pastors seemed to really struggle with the concept of sending or equipping their people to live on mission without it seemingly becoming a threat to their existing structures. This creates a massive tension within the church on a topic that Scripture is anything but silent about. Barefoot Church emerged out of a heart to see both the seeker and the leader find balance, gain permission, and make a priority out of serving the least as an essential part of living on mission. It does so through providing simple and reproducible practices that could be integrated into any church structure. It’s not about modifying our behavior it’s about learning to live out the gospel as a part of our new identity in Christ.
5. If leaders only had time right now to read one chapter of your book, which one would your recommend... and why?
This is a tough question since the book builds on itself throughout each chapter. But if I had to choose I’d suggest the Chapter entitled “Good news for the Un-churched and De-churched”. In this chapter we address most of the issues and concerns that typically come up when it comes to serving the least. We deal with the idea of a holistic Gospel, address the doctrinal issues on how serving today is different than yesteryears “social gospel”, and we connect the dots to a changing posture of the church that is necessary to reach the increasing demographic of the de-churched and un-churched America.