Saturday, February 11, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture
By Brandon Hatmaker

Barefoot Church is an excellent complimentary book to the missional church movement literature, taking a hard look at the responsibility and power of the sent church to be the hands and feet of Jesus, contributing to individual, collective and social renewal. One of Hatmaker’s themes is that serving the least is not a trendy act of benevolence but a lifestyle of authentic community and even spiritual transformation.

Mother Teresa lived by a belief that there is physical, emotional, and spiritual need in every community. Need is everywhere, yet we too often fail to see it. If we don’t see it, we won’t be bothered by it. If we’re not bothered by it, we won’t engage it. By our neglect, we become the oppressor. 22

Some of us need an organizational tweak, some a structural overhaul, but there’s one hard truth we all have to hear: all movement toward mission requires sacrifice. Nothing of great value comes without great cost. That said, there’s hope for the church. There always is. 24

Let’s stop complaining about the church we see and start becoming the church we dream of. 25

We feel bad. We recognize need. WE talk about it with others, buy the T-shirt, and even read the books. But so often we fall short of doing anything. We often confuse the heart of compassion that requires a response with the feeling of sympathy that remains idle. Most of us hear about need and sympathize. But that’s not compassion. It’s not justice. It’s not mercy. Sympathy remains only sympathy until we do something about it. Then it becomes an act of compassion: an appropriate response to the call of need. 34

Jesus did not define “neighbor” by proximity. He defined it by mercy. The whole world is our neighbor. Only after we move past the argument of who our neighbors are and what Jesus meant by loving them will we be moved to accomplish anything of significance. Until then, our questions remain excuses. 37

The purpose of missional communities is to be a source of radical hope, to witness to the new identity and vision, the new way of life that has become a social reality in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The persistent problem is not how to keep the church from withdrawing from the world, but how to keep the world from withdrawing from the church…The forming of Christian community is therefore not an option but the very lifestyle and vocation of the church. 69

The wrong kind of tension occurs when we protect what we do. The right kind of tension occurs when we proclaim what God does. The wrong kind of tension comes when we make it about us and our kingdom. The right kind of tension comes when we make it about God and his kingdom. The wrong kind of tension comes from using Scripture to defend our lives. The right kind of tension comes from letting Scripture define our lives. 126

God’s movement will never be safe, predictable, and clean. God’s movement will never be about your ministry. God’s movement will always be about his kingdom. God’s movement cannot be based on the old measurements of success. 160

We have to cultivate a healing culture—where it’s okay to be imperfect. We have to become a forgiving culture—where grace is expected and extended. We have to create a culture of acceptance—where love is unconditional. We have to offer a culture of permission—where we can wait to move until we hear God’s voice. 191