No matter what size church you belong to or how long it's been in existence, in Church Turned Inside Out, Bergquist and Karr offer sound, helpful advice on how to realistically understand who you are as a congregation and what you can hope to accomplish. I love the sub-title of their book – A Guide for Designers, Refiners, and Re-aligners. A few weeks back we had the opportunity to hear from Alan Karr and today, check out the thoughts of co-author Linda Bergquist.
Why is reading important to you, and how do you find or make time to read books and blogs?
I was a shy, lonely kid who turned to books for friendship. It used to feel like characters in books understood my thoughts better than almost anyone did. Even though I grew out of the shyness, I still regard some authors, even ones I will never meet, as my good friends. I love ideas, and if a book offers even one good, new idea, it seems worth reading. Our home is absolutely filled with good books. One good way for me to find time to read is while taking public transportation instead of driving. It’s good for me, and good for the environment. I rarely watch television, choosing to read instead.
What books are you currently reading that you would recommend to our readers?
I recently read the manuscript for an upcoming book by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson called On the Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church. In some ways the two men represent very diverse conversations happening in the church world today, yet they are brothers in Christ who seek the kingdom with open hearts. The book helped me imagine a truly hopeful future in which all kinds of authentic missional communities will be spontaneously released. I am also reading Amy Hanson’s Baby Boomers and Beyond, a big help in thinking through how older adults can engage new life in the ministry scene. While I rarely read fiction, I am engaged by Abraham Verghese’s stunning novel, Cutting for Stone.
How do you make time to write books or blog?
During the night my brain exercises overtime. Often, just before I go to sleep, I practice flinging my mind out as far as it will reach, and then I bring it back in with new questions and ideas that I encountered that day. Sometimes I wake up in the morning with just one or two words on my mind, or maybe a brand new idea. Other times my waking moments hold whole books, strategies, a poem, or even a children’s story. Before everyone else is up and about, I grab my computer and start to write. My brain feels so much more agile in the mornings. It also helps to have a co-author to whom I am accountable for my sustained progress.
What is the “big idea” of your latest book in a Leadership Network book series?
Church Turned Inside Out is a design-thinking book that actually pulls ideas from multiple disciplines. Instead of anchoring our ideas around congregational models or paradigms, we offer a way of thinking about church that is exploratory and uniquely observant of leaders, their teams, specific contexts and even their own God-given practical situations. We hope our readers feel called to invent new ways to help their churches design, refine or realign their way into the future instead of just “franchising” other people’s church models. We also hope that church leaders who are experimenting with their ways forward will sense our affirmation and our admiration for their courage.
If leaders only had time right now to read one chapter of your book, which one would your recommend… and why?
The first half of Church Turned Inside Out is imaginative and artistic, while the last half is much more hands on. Many people gravitate more towards one than the other. I most enjoyed writing Chapter 4, called “Patterns That Honor God,” and naturally hope that our readers will understand the ideas that are important to me. This chapter offers a systemic, as opposed to a systematic, approach to the meaning and mission of the church. We develop a metaphor in this chapter that we call a “fractal missiology” and we use it to illustrate how every aspect of a church’s life is a reflection on the person and character of God.
Stay tuned for a conversation next week with our long time friend, Brian McLaren.