Book Review - Joining God, Remaking the Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time by Alan Roxburgh

At CLA, we believe that essential to the practices that shape our passion for the mission of God is developing a robust understanding for how to live as Christians in today’s world through reading. Alan Roxburgh has been a friend of CLA from its beginning and we would like to recommend this book, which we have reviewed for your reading pleasure, for you. The book is called, In Joining God, Remaking the Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church In Our Time. If you have been interested in what is making our new churches so successful, this book is a great primer for beginning to understand the theology and practice that makes a difference. 

 

In Joining God, Remaking the Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church In Our Time, the church has a beneficial new resource for reimagining the everyday church in North America. The book is well-suited for introducing people to the larger missional conversation and provides a deep sense of wisdom from a seasoned author, Alan Roxburgh. As with Roxburgh’s previous books, he includes a healthy balance of both theory and practice, as he explains how to think and act as a Christian in today’s world. 

 

Roxburgh does well to pack both Biblical and theological perspectives into his new book. Drawing from the Old and New Testaments, Alan includes various references to scripture and gives thoughtful reflections on those scriptures for people to better understand how they fit into the larger Biblical narrative of God’s mission. Alan also includes a robust historical perspective that helps people understand why the church is finding itself in the place that it is in the 21st century. Beginning with the middle of the 20th century, Roxburgh walks readers through the past seventy five years of what he describes as the “Euro-Tribal Protestant Church”. The Bible and Alan’s theological reflections on the Bible then continue into carving a new path forward for how churches can better participate within neighborhoods today. 

 

Alan does not leave readers with only lenses through which to view the world, but also introduces applicable practices within each of the chapters for how to be and act in the world. He does this in two ways. Firstly, embedded within the book are practical stories from various leaders throughout North America. These stories are pertinent for helping readers to better engage with the theory that Roxburgh discusses. All of the stories are tangible for the common reader. It will help readers that the practical stories are from different cities and consist of various denominations. Secondly, Alan includes numerous questions and exercises at the end of many of the chapters. These questions and exercises will be ideal for small groups of practitioners to better engage with Roxburgh’s work. 

 

In conclusion, Joining God, Remaking the Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time is an accessible book. It is relatively short, which adds to its accessibility. It is one hundred and eleven pages. There are minimal, but important footnotes for readers in case they decide that they’d like to go deeper into the missional conversation. And the language is reachable for anyone connected with the church. Pastors would do well share this book with curious parishioners, parishioners would do well to pass this book to leaders and/or pastors who are looking to have more of an impact on their culture. Overall, CLA works with dozens of people starting churches on the West Coast and we will be encouraging these pastors to include this book in their toolbox of tools that can guide people deeper into the Mission of God. We suspect that Roxburgh’s work with this book will be lasting and find its deepest impact in such groups.

CLA Discerners: Josh Cobia

Tell a bit about yourself.

My name is Josh Cobia. I'm a seminary student at Golden Gate, songwriter, blogger, Pastor of Community and Worship at Resonate Church, and currently discerning church planting with Cyclical LA. So I have tons of free time!

I’ve been married to Chelsea for three years now. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Calvary Christian School and she’s currently pursuing her masters in education. We live in a fun, quirky little apartment in Santa Monica. 

Please share about your discernment and your context.  

I was introduced to the process of starting a church rather young. My father is a church a planter, and I grew up watching him pastor and plant churches in several states and even outside the U.S in the Netherlands when I was around ten years old.   

I was about as nerdy as a pastor's kid could get, and used to beg to go to Willow Creek conferences as early as fourteen years old. I simply loved the church. This tribe had given me an understanding of Jesus and encouraged me to grow in relationship with him. I saw it as a place that the hurt could come and find healing, and where those who felt like outsiders could find acceptance all because what we did as a community of Jesus followers modeled who Jesus is.  Church was the place I felt the most at home, and the most inspired. At a young age I felt a strong call to serve within it.

 When I turned twenty I moved from the Bay Area down to Los Angeles and accepted a role as a youth pastor/worship leader at a church plant in Agoura Hills, CA. A little over a year ago I planted a church with my father in Santa Monica. The new church came under some fire due to an article I wrote on my time at my previous church plant entitled, "I Went to Church With Bruce Jenner, Here's What Caitlyn Taught Me about Jesus." It went viral and eventually made its way to the Washington Post as well as the Huffington Post. 

Since then my life has changed in some pretty amazing ways, and even though some of those reasons are tough, I believe God is leading Chelsea and I in bold new ways. Most recently, a friend introduced me to Cyclical LA and it’s provided a breath of fresh air, as well as a safe space to continue the call to plant. I am forever grateful to be a part of this crew.

There’s this saying among musicians that goes “If you're the worst musician in the room, chances are you’ve found the right room”–the thought being that we should always be in a place where we can be stretched and learn from those around us. Cyclical LA is a community in which I get to sit at a table with some of the most incredible leaders I’ve met. Learning from these talented leaders has served as a wonderful affirmation of my heart for church and for planting.  

Getting to discern is a rare space for most church planting organizations, and I take it as a great opportunity. Discernment is a chance to prayerfully understand what it means to plant a healthy church. This is information and wisdom I wish I had absorbed much sooner in life. 

Share a story of transformation within your discernment. 

During my time discerning, I’ve had the chance to take a good hard look at what church means to a community. In other words, if the gospel is the good news, and our mission is sharing that good news, what makes a church Good News? What makes a new church, in a specific context, good news to that community? 

Good news in LA looks a whole lot different from neighborhood to neighborhood. Whatever neighborhood God calls me to plant in, my prayer is that the church’s mission statement would really be more of a question that’s asked over and over again: 

"How can we serve this community?"  

In other church planting communities and trainings I have been a part of, it can sometimes feel as though there is a one size fits all approach to church planting. As a discerner with Cyclical LA, I’m learning that we need to listen to the community around us, to create community in which Jesus can be shared in the most beautiful way. That realization has been healing and transformative for me.

What are your next steps? 

Next steps for me include a lot of listening. Moving forward, it's important that I take the time to meet with people and ask them some of the following questions: 

What does church mean to you? 
What would you want a church to look like? 
What do you think good news looks like where you live? 

The Plant vs. The Garden

Our region has been on the front edge of the PCUSA with regard to starting new churches. For this, I am grateful and feel proud to be a part of such a community. The various “plants” that we have accomplished have been changing the landscape of Los Angeles into a place ever becoming like that of heaven. Again, very important work. To encourage our tribe to the next level, I would like to introduce the metaphor of a garden vs. a plant into our narrative. The work that we have been doing over the past five years has come from the perspective of creating a plant. An individual organism. Individual plants are good. They produce fruit and sometimes even multiply. (Which has happened in the case of our various efforts.) Our region has discerned that the next step in our process of starting new churches is not only to continue to support our various “plants”, but also to build a garden. A place where various plants can serve one another, can share common soil, and can more easily get the next seedling on the move toward bearing fruit. This is the work of Cyclical LA. We have created a garden where church starting discerners, church starters, and churches interested in starting new churches can all work together to accomplish our call as a church of being God’s salt and light to the places that we find ourselves. Our garden is just beginning and we are learning more than we could have imagined about the best way to start sustainable churches in Los Angeles. We have dozens of leaders already involved, a robust framework, and we have secured lots of resources to create thoughtful expressions of faith across numerous contexts. If you are interested in becoming a part of our garden, please contact Nick Warnes at nick@cyclicalLA.com to being to discern where your seeds might enter the larger ecosystem of starting new churches in Los Angeles. We would be honored to include you!

Cyclical LA Launches

EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THIS MORNING

Cyclical:LA has officially launched! Over the past five months we have worked through beta testing to unfold a process by which we might thoughtfully start innumerable new churches in Los Angeles and we marked our official beginning last Thursday with a party!

Our mission is to further the ongoing lifecycle of starting new churches. We are providing training, coaching and resources for all three stages of the lifecycle of new churches. For discerning church starters, for church starters, and for churches. We have noticed that discerning church starters often become church starters and that church starters quickly shape into entire churches. Unfortunately, the cycle often stops there. We believe that the cycle shouldn't stop there and that all churches ought to prioritize inviting new people into the process of discerning the start of a new church, this continuing the cycle. Cyclical:LA joins people and churches in all stages of this cycle.

The question is, who would you like to invite into the discernment process of starting a new church?

Please contact Nick Warnes at nick@cyclicalLA.com with any questions or interest.

Below is the overarching flow chart that explains our process and picture from our launch party. 

 

 

CLA Discerners: Tina Hamous

Please share about yourself.

Tina has a little over 20 years of experience in both business and ministry, is an ordained minister in the PCUSA and the founder of Heart Key Ministries, a 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation.  Prior to her full time commitment in ministry Tina founded and owned Hamous Investments Financial Division, a California Company established in 1989, and served the community as a Banker and Financial Advisor.     

As a trained dancer, classical clarinetist and saxophonist, Tina understood from an early age that it is her faith in Jesus and passion for worship that has formed who she is. She and her husband Bruce have been married for 23 years and enjoy working out, biking, Art & History Museums, Theatre, and spending weekends in the wine country.  A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Tina holds a Masters of Divinity degree. 

 Please share about your church and your context.

 The Artists Outlet (TAO) is a newly created worshipping community intentionally designed for artists gifted in performing and fine arts, and for those who want to be part of a creative and artistic worshipping community.  With an ecumenical mission mind, The Artists Outlet also serves as a resource for churches of other denominations that seek creative ways to offer inspired and artistic elements to their worship services.  With a mission mind to serve the community, The Artists Outlet works in collaboration with local communities to offer music mentorships, lessons, conferences, and training seminars in an effort to reach those who do not attend church yet have a desire to learn artistic expression through performing or fine arts.

 Please share a story of transformation from your church. 

As part of its mission mind, The Artists Outlet offers artistic dance lessons as one part of its many services to the local community.  One evening a woman named June came who heard about the classes in the local paper.  She listened quietly to the teaching, she was reticent to introduce herself to the others and said she really could not dance. I told her it had more to do with listening and allowing her heart and soul to respond to the words than it was having her body keeping perfect rhythm. With that said, June jumped up with the other attendees and began to experience the dance class.  We listened to Christ centered music that night, and June came to me later with tears in her eyes, saying “something is happening.”  I gently responded, “I believe the Lord is speaking to your heart through the dance.”  June, came the next week, and the next, and the next, and I invited her to coffee and began meeting with her weekly.  Soon, I invited her to church and she began attending on a regular basis, and joined the dance team.

You see what makes June extraordinary is that she never thought she could ever dance because as a child she suffered a terrible brain trauma. She had always been in the shadows, in the margins, in the fringes of society and had never been invited into a community.  Until that day at the studio…when the Lord invited her to dance.

 Please share about your next steps. 

Since The Artists Outlet is a ministry that goes to the people, it seems fitting that it would not have any one stationary building or meeting site. Instead the vision for this outreach ministry is to have between two and four spaces that it meets in that may be accessed by its members and participants through social media, advertising and word of mouth. (Similar to how the Food Truck phenomena has compelled itself into a regularly attended social community). Our next steps then are to continue to build relationships, secure resources and locate venues that would be conducive for this type of artistic worship.

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclical LA Starters: Cory Marquez

Please share about yourself.
Moved to California in 2003 so I think it's safe to call myself an Angelino. Married for 9 years to Karissa and we have two little boys Cayden (2) and Bryce (5 months). We enjoy lots of time playing in the park together, making dinner together, story time, and we have lots of dance parties. And apparently my sons are Packers fans due to the propaganda of my wife. Pick your battles. 

Over the last 8 years I've been a pastor of some sort and now find myself as a church planter as well. Starting things gets me excited. Personally I love to see people and communities empowered to become their best and healthiest self. I enjoy seeing networks, communities, tribes, and individuals connect together in fresh ways. And maybe my greatest passion is taking complexity and finding ways to make it simple. 

Please share about your church and your context.
New Abbey began in January of 2013 with 10 people sitting around the living room of my apartment. Our hope was to learn to ask better questions, talk about the Jesus story that's meant so much to us in fresh ways, and find opportunities to practice our hopes in the communities we find ourselves in. We all desired more integrated lives that could handle grappling with the socio-economic discrepancies we saw in Pasadena and the giant chasm of how our faith tradition has engaged the culture of a city like Los Angeles. Currently we meet in a great local coffee shop that reflects well our desire to be in the heart of Pasadena, engaged in dialogue, plugged into our culture, while finding space to remember Christ. 

Please share a story of transformation.
It was about six months into the genesis of New Abbey and we had been talking about seeing God in everything and not just in the church, the bible, and spiritual practices. One of the original people in our community had joined a classical literature book club where they were reading Russian Literature. Clearly I had your attention at Russian Literature. It was in the context of our church community opening the boundaries of where we engage with God and in the middle of this book club that this person genuinely encountered God for the first time. He found God in the heart of "The Brothers Karamasov" and it was there that an even larger realization occurred, God had always been present and in the whole of his life, the entire time. 

Please share what is next for you.
New Abbey and myself are in the first stages of exploring a Parish model community. We hope for a highly unified family of local neighborhood churches, called parishes, who are connected through leadership, resources, and relationships. For us this means we are following the relationships we already have and we are starting another church in Azusa. This is hopefully the beginning of lots of communities connected together for larger purposes of reconciliation in LA.