A Review of: Welcoming the future church Jonathan "JP" Pokluda
Welcoming the Future Church is a book by Jonathan "JP" Pokluda. It is published by Baker Books in 2020. This book was offered to me for review all thoughts are my own.
From the Book:
Tomorrow's church is out there, waiting for you to care, to reach out, to understand their struggles, and to show them why today's church needs, wants, and cherishes them. Yet many churches have no idea how to attract and retain younger generations. In this paradigm-shifting book, Jonathan "JP" Pokluda shows you how, encouraging and equipping you to: be real, teach the whole truth, hold traditions loosely, find young leaders, give the ministry away, and so much more. If you want your church to have a future, you have to be actively reaching the future church.
JP Pokluda has a lot of great insight into early adulthood. He writes with knowledge and experience. Welcoming the Future Church uses that knowledge to discuss how the church can better reach, teach, and keep millennials. The title of the book is used to grab attention. Churches are looking to gain younger ages and a title/premise that gives information on how to do that sells copies. This book, however, has more than just wisdom into a younger demographic. JP speaks to being real as a leader, knowing who you are, not copying other leaders, how to lead other leaders, how to build teams, and cast vision. These themes are simple but profound and they transcend age demographics.
As I write this we are currently in a quarantine. We are told not to congregate in public, limit grocery store trips, no church meeting unless online, no concerts or sports. We are limited in what we can do. This has cause people in Michigan to protest and has caused many people to post their frustrations online. If we read Philippians we see that Paul is in a similar position (I’d argue worse). Paul is writing a letter from prison. These words from Paul and our similar circumstances should teach us something about God, ourselves, and others.
In verse six Paul displays a lot of confidence. This confidence isn’t in the Philippian people or their power but is founded in God. God began a good work and will continue the work he started. This confidence from Paul doesn’t just apply to the Philippian church. We can know that God is in control despite the circumstances. God has never failed to complete his promises and we can be confident he won’t give up now.
How does Paul’s confidence make you feel? How does his positivity, even though he is in prison and may die, strike you?
Paul is in a prison. His rights are stripped from him and he is unable to go to the store or see his friends face to face but Paul has a positive outlook. He is confident in God. He is showing positivity despite his circumstances. The reason for Paul’s positive perspective is because of his knowledge in Jesus. He is able to see his life in a new light. It isn’t found in the understanding of the world but in trusting God.
Is your life showing a positive perspective in your current situation? What ways can you shift your perspective?
As we think about our actions we must also think about how they affect others. In the case of this quarantine staying home increases the odds that someone else may stay safe. If we think about other people, the things we are giving up don’t seem so harsh. A person’s life is more important than buying flowers or riding boats. We should strive to lives Paul’s prayer in verse nine. Let our love abound more and more.
In what ways are you seeking the benefit of others? Why or why not is that difficult for you personally?
Lastly on the issue of quarantine let this time be one of rest. Take a Sabbath that this nation desperately avoids. During this quarantine find your priorities. What is truly important now and what is worth leaving behind when things eventually revert to the “normal” way of life?
This past week I received an email from my seminary. The seminary had to make the choice to cancel all in-person classes and events. For those graduating it means no celebration dinner and, unless rescheduled, no ceremony. The undergrad side of the college was given only days to pack up their entire dorm room and move home. In the past few days, we have seen schools, businesses, restaurants, sporting events, concerts, and general living all brought to a halt. The reason is a virus. We are all asked to take precautions to, hopefully, slow the spread of a disease. This virus has caused people to enter a fearful state. They have begun to panic buy essential items. For some, this virus may feel like not much has changed and for others, life has been completely turned upside down. Whether we are fearful of the virus, have had to readjust to a new lifestyle, or are pretending nothing is wrong there is a question we have to ask. Where is our faith?
In Luke 8:22-25 there is a story of Jesus and his disciples on a boat. Some of the disciples had been professional fishermen so a boat was nothing new for them. They could handle rough waters, know how to plan for the weather, and find the best spots for fishing. On this trip, they were just planning to go across the lake. While they were on the trip Jesus fell asleep. During his nap, a storm arose on the lake. The wind had come and the boat began to fill with water. These pro fishermen ran to wake Jesus up. They were panicking. In their fear, they began telling Jesus that they were perishing. Jesus woke up spoke to the wind and the waves and the waters were immediately calmed. Jesus looked to his disciples and asked them, “where is your faith?”
The disciples had training on the water and they had Jesus on the boat with them and they still were afraid. We don’t have the training to deal with this virus, but we do know that God is close. In this time of unknowns and fear, we can take comfort knowing that God is in control. Our God is the God of the storm. He is the God of peace and not of fear. When our lives are filled with panic and fear we can lose sight of God. We must choose to have faith in God or trust in our own fear. The question Jesus gave his disciples is the same question we must answer today. Where is your faith?
If you don’t follow along through social media you might have missed the announcement of reading through the Bible together. The goal is to read through the entire Bible together in one year. The reading takes place through the Bible app. It is a free app that you can download today. It’s not too late to start reading together. You can join along and read the story here.
If we haven’t met I’m Brandyn Jaymes. I’m a husband, a seminary student, a youth pastor, and I have an awesome beard. This page is dedicated to sharing the story of God through teaching, conversation, and authenticity. Since we will be reading through the Bible this year this post is going to be looking at what the full story of the Bible is. It is not just words on a page but the very word of God and these words tell a story.
What is the story of the Bible?
If you didn’t grow up in church or didn’t have a religious family, then the Bible may seem like just a book. Maybe your only reference to the Bible is through music, movies, or the random book you find in the drawer at hotels. The Bible though is more than that. It is a book that tells a story. A story that we are a part of.
The story has four main parts. There is the creation of the world. God, who is eternal, spoke the world into being. This can be seen in the first few pages of the Bible in a book called Genesis. One of the created things was humankind. God created humanity and gave humanity free will. God spoke to the humans and said that they had one rule and if broken death would ensue. Well if you know how stories go then you probably guessed that conflict is the next piece of the story. Mankind did the exact thing God said not to do. Through this disobedience, humanity fell.
Humanity’s fall left then entire world broken. There was a separation between God and his creation. You may think it’s not fair that God would punish all people for the mistakes of a few, but this fall doesn’t end. We see the fall intensify in the children of the first humans. A set of brothers, Cain and Abel, fight and Cain murders his brother able. As you read through the Bible you will continue to see examples of humanity continuing to fall. You can even see the fall in your own life. Selfishness, greed, hatred, gossip, and so many other everyday actions are ways we participate in the fall. Though we all fall God refuses to let separation be the final outcome. God has a plan.
Through, what is known as, the Old Testament we read of God choosing a nation to call his own. This nation would be the people who he used and worked through to end the separation. He was going to save humanity from the repercussions of the fall. He promises a family that they will have an heir and that one day their family will be so large that it will outnumber the stars. That family ends up being the nation of Israel. Israel ends up in slavery but God leads them out. He gives them instructions on how to live and survive as a people. He provides everything for them, but the people want their own way.
Israel constantly falls into worshiping fake gods. They make statues and worship those instead of the God who protects them and promised to bless them. God honors his commitment though. He sends prophets who speak to the people. The prophets confront the people of their continuation in the fallen ways and tell them to turn back to God. Through the prophets, we also get the promise that God is going to send salvation to the world. That salvation comes through a person. That person is Jesus.
Jesus’ birth meant God’s promise was true. Salvation had come to the world. Salvation had come through God himself. Jesus was both fully God and fully man. The Bible tells of the life of Jesus in the Gospels. We see Jesus perform miracles, he heals the blind, raises the dead, and lives a life completely free from the fall. Jesus leads for a short time and eventually is put to death. He committed no crimes but his death was part of the plan. Jesus took the punishment from the fall on himself. He truly brought salvation. Three days after his death Jesus rose from the dead. Salvation now is believing the message of Jesus, accepting his death as salvation, and attempting to follow his example and live free from the fall. This part of the story is known as redemption.
After Jesus rose from the dead the church started. The early church sought to proclaim God to all people. The church started with the people who followed Jesus while he walked the earth and it continues with each person who follows Jesus as their restoration today. The church has hope just as the nation of Israel did. The world may seem bleak and the effects of the fall may seem to be overpowering but our God is still the one with a plan. Jesus will return to establish his unending kingdom. A kingdom where we are fully connected with God again.
A story of Hope
This is a brief overview of the story. It is a story that offers hope to every person who puts their trust in the God who is able to save. It is a story that shows a God who refuses to let his creation perish. It is a story of hope for life, hope for others, and hope for the future. To share the story is to embrace this hope in our own lives and offer this hope to others. #sharethestory
This past year I have been posting (almost) every Monday at noon. Making and scheduling a new post has taught me a few things. Below are just a few.
1. Don’t request to review every book you think looks good. You might just be approved and be required to read seven books in a few short weeks all during a heavy class schedule. Going forward there may be book reviews but I will plan it better both topic and schedule wise.
2. Posting on a blog works but what works better is the social media and email updates. It is hard to bring traffic to stand alone website. So, if you want to know when a new blog is posted follow the Facebook page and sign up for the Email Subscription list. These are the only guaranteed way to read every post.
3. I don’t have to post every week. There are times when I have posted just to hit the deadline and going forward I will only post to further the goals of this site. Which is why the Facebook page and Email list are so important going forward.
The Next Year
Some of the goals for this site are ambitious and take time to plan out, but there are some highlights that will affect those who want to participate in the community.
1. This year we will be reading through the Bible together. More about this will be posted next Monday, but the reading plan does start before that. If you want to join the plan now you can do so through this link to the bible app. January Reading Plan.
2. We will have some challenges throughout this year. Each challenge will be a spiritual practice that is designed to grow not just our knowledge of God but our connection with God. The first one will start at the end of February!
3. To keep the site funded we currently sell candles, soaps, beard oils, and bath fizzies. The hope is to expand the product line and to set up a designated online store for these products. Being a part of this group means you might have ideas for products and we would love to hear those ideas. You can email ideas here!
4. The plan is to continue creating story guides. These take time to research and create. We want to keep them free and easy to use as well as create full guides that can be bought as physical copies. This takes time to get approved and published but the goal is to have at least one full physical guide available by the end of the year.
As we enter the new year I pray that our goals both individually and as a community seek to grow closer with God and with others.
Christmas is this week. Maybe you have a tradition of opening presents, going to a church service, or reading the Christmas story. This Christmas I encourage you to at least think about the birth of Jesus and to do that I thought I would share this video from The Bible Project. This video shares the story of Luke 1-2 which depicts the birth of Jesus. Whether you want to learn about the birth story, need a refresher, or want to dig in deeper this video is for you.
Next week is the last post of the year. I’ll be posting what I learned from blogging this year and what you can expect as we head into 2020. Until then Merry Christmas and remember to #sharethestory.
If you don’t know I am currently working towards my Master’s Degree. One of my requirements is to take classes in the biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew). This past semester was my final language course ever. After struggling for the past five semesters I completed my Hebrew sequence with a 93%. Today’s post is my final paper for the class. If you choose to read it thank you and if not the message of the Psalm can be understood as: God is the one who reigns in creation, in chaos, and if you let him your life.
This review is for Narrative Apologetics by Alister McGrath. It is published by Baker Books and was just released on October 15th. This book was offered to me for review and all thoughts are honest and my own. You can purchase this book by following this link: https://amzn.to/2OFKubR.
This week is a special. In America we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, for a lot of people, means family, friends, community, and a time to remember what we are thankful for. We can be caught up in the prep and planning for the dinner or in the tradition of football and parades that we forget why we celebrate at all. I was in class this past week and our guest lecturer ended our meeting with prayer. It was in this prayer that I was reminded of what Thanksgiving should really be about.