An increasing number of Jesus followers are feeling compelled to join God’s renewal in the neighborhood. Many of us are landing in the neighborhood because we are captivated by Jeremiah’s prophetic call for God’s people to “build houses and settle down; plant gardens… and seek the peace and prosperity” of the neighborhood, guided by the localized nature of Jesus’ life and ministry, and inspired by the stories of neighborhood church expressions embedded in paticular places in the United States and beyond.
But we aren’t all arriving into the neighborhood via inspiration.
Many of us are falling into place.
We fall into place out of desperation.
We fall into place out of dis-integration.
We fall into place and put down roots because we have been living uprooted lives. Our roots have dried up below and our branches have withered above.
In Episode 17 of the RePLACING CHURCH Podcast, Dan White, Jr., co-leader of Axiom in Syracuse, NY; coach and consultant with the V3 Movement; and author of Subterranean: Why the Future of the Church is Rootedness shares his powerful story of falling into place, of moving from uprootedness to rootedness, after 15 years as a full-time pastor in a megachurch context:
“I don’t think there is any part of God calling us, inviting us, pulling is back into the neighborhood that isn’t going to require some turmoil in our own souls, and some self emptying, and some coming to terms with our own power and status and ego and want and desire and idealism. So my journey has always been mixed up with that. It’s not just about the vision and the compelling nature of being in the neighborhood again. It’s also what this is going to do to me.”
Dan also shared about tangible practices of presence in the neighborhood, the healing power of hospitality, and how the church needs to recover a healthy, proper understanding and practice of discipleship:
“[We need to relearn] how to say what Paul said with humility and with weakness, ‘Come follow me as I follow Christ. I’m going on a journey, do you want to come join me?’ And ‘follow me as I follow Christ’ is not a statement of ‘I’ve arrived.’ It’s not a statement of attainment. It’s a statement of direction and journey.”
“This is exactly what Jesus did with his disciples. Rather than coming and launching the kingdom of God from a Roman colosseum, he did it with a band of people in close space and he said, ‘Watch me live out the kingdom of God,’ and then he would explain it to them… and then there was the handoff and the release… I think that’s the core of the church.”
Check out Episode 17 of the RePLACING CHURCH Podcast for these and so many more hard-earned insights from Dan White, Jr.
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