by Ron Bennett ( http://www.rbennett.net/ ) All communication is based on shared meanings not shared words. Words are only the container into which meaning is added. For example, the word “agua” is a random arrangement of letters unless you are familiar with Spanish. When Spanish speaking people see the letters “agua”, they share a common meaning. If we are to understand their meaning, we must look at it through the lens of their culture. Another example of the problem of meaning is found in the biblical term “eternal life”: a very common concept in our religious culture. Jesus told Nicodemus… Read moreThe Anatomy of Discipleship
by Ron Bennett Success in baseball is simple to explain but much harder to achieve. The number of hits, errors, base runners, or any other of the myriad stats that go into making baseball interesting, do not count in the end. All that really matters is the number of players who touch all four bases in a counter clockwise sequence in a particular inning. Spiritual coaching/mentoring, like baseball, has 4 bases which need to be touched each time you meet. The bases are the same regardless of the level of maturity or the type of coaching that is taking place. … Read moreThe Relational Diamond
by Tricia McCary Rhodes The ancient Celts used to say that there are only a few feet between heaven and earth and at times, that distance can be even smaller. When this happened, they called it a “thin place.” A thin place is that Kairos moment, that holy instance where God breaks in and we experience him in ways that are precious and transformative and impossible to describe. Thin places can be our experience during majestic moments of communal worship, or in the sleepy solitude of morning prayer. Thin places often emerge through our encounters with nature; The roar of the ocean… Read moreCultivating Quietness in a VERY LOUD WORLD
by Bill Mowry (alongsider.com) I marvel at how God mysteriously and paradoxically ties His will to our prayer lives. Our Lord is fully sovereign, able to accomplish His purposes without us, yet our prayers play a role in moving His hand. Consider the example of Samuel. As a Judge and Prophet for Israel, it’s recorded that, “Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:13). Why was God’s hand so evident during Samuel’s lifetime? I believe it was more than his prowess as a leader. Samuel’s farewell speech provides a clue: “As for me,… Read moreThe Alongsider’s Partnership
By Bill Mowry (www.alongsider.com) I’ve always assumed that mature disciplemakers needed additional layers of sophistication, technique, and professionalism. I’m now discarding some of these layers and returning to simpler approaches. One simple approach is ministering from a life thesaurus. What is a life thesaurus? Ministry in the kingdom happens when, “Every teacher of the Law who has been instructed about the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old“ (Matt 13:52). The “storeroom” is from the Greek word thesauros, from which we have our word, thesaurus…. Read moreThe Alongsider’s Thesaurus
by Bill Mowry (www.alongsiders.com) “My business is circumference” wrote the poet Emily Dickinson. Dickinson’s poetry flowed from her private world, the circumference of her life. Like the poet, advancing the gospel is about the business of circumference. Alongsiders live on mission in the circumference of relationships. All of us have a life circumference, a circle loosely drawn around a diversity of relationships. Family and friends, coworkers and contractors, barbers and beauticians all live in our circumference. We are insiders, planted in this circle of relationships to naturally advance the gospel. The early church understood the power of circumference. We mistakenly… Read moreAlongsiders Know the Power of Circumference
by Bill Mowry www.alongsider.com The adventure of the alongsider begins with a good question. Have you ever noticed how God consistently engages His creation through questions? “Where are you Adam?” “Have you considered my servant Job?” “Whom shall I send?” When God asks questions, He’s not simply collecting information (after all, He is omniscient). I believe His questions are intended to draw His creation into a relationship where reflection and discovery takes place. Jesus understood the power of a good question. Our Lord exasperated his followers and critics by refusing to give packaged answers to their challenges. Instead, He would respond… Read moreStart with a Question
by Bill Mowry Can you picture Jesus having a water fight with the disciples as they traveled the Sea of Galilee? Do you feel theologically safe imagining the Son of God hanging out with his friends and having fun? Elton Trueblood, in his book The Humor of Christ, writes: “Anyone who reads the Gospels with a relative freedom from presuppositions [would] expect to see that Christ laughed, and that He expected others to laugh . . . . A misguided piety has made us fear that the acceptance of His obvious wit and humor would somehow be mildly blasphemous and… Read moreWho are you hanging out with?
By Bill Mowry All of us have a favorite Old Testament personality. One of my favorites is the leader and nation-builder, Joshua. Joshua’s impact was so significant that the author of Judges wrote, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua.” (Judges 1:7) But then comes one of the saddest verses in the Bible. When Joshua and his contemporaries passed away, “another generation grew up , who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). What a sad commentary on a group of leaders. How did this happen? A clue is found in… Read moreWhat’s Missing?
by Bill Mowry In his presentation on disciple-making, Pastor Paul was challenged by a friend in the audience. “I could never make disciples,” the friend said. “I’m not a good public teacher like you.” Paul turned the question back to the audience, “How many of you are good at public speaking?” About four people raised their hands. Then he asked,“How many of you could befriend someone and then come alongside and read the Bible with them?” Nearly all the hands went up. What made the difference? The second question painted a picture of disciple-making that many in the audience felt… Read moreAlongsiders Hang New Pictures