Archive for the ‘books to buy and read’ Category


The New Conspirators

March 25, 2008

by Tom Sine, Mustard Seed Associates


In the UK, more churches were planted in the last seven years than Starbucks were opened—over 1,000 churches as compared to only 750 Starbucks coffee shops. Interestingly, most of these church plants were ethnic and multi-cultural.

God is doing something new through a new generation, as I report in The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time, which will be published by IVP in 2008. I believe God is working through at least four streams: the emerging church, missional churches, mosaic church plants and the monastic movement. We have received very positive responses to the two most recent Seed Samplers the emerging and missional streams. This issue will attempt to describe what God is doing through those in the mosaic stream, which I define as multi-cultural church plants. While the emerging and missional leadership is overwhelmingly male and white, in this stream, God is doing something new through leaders from a number of different cultures.

In this issue, we have included some voices that are calling us to deal with issues that could enable the church to be more inclusive in terms of race and gender. David Park, of Next Gener.Asian Church, brings a very clear word about his concern with racial division in the church. Julie Clawson who administers the Emerging Women blog raises important questions about gender inclusion in the church, particularly within the new streams.

As I confessed in my book, as an aging author, I may not fully grasp all that God is doing through the young and the risk-taking. As a white author who has always been a part of a culture of privilege, I am certainly not the best one to write about the mosaic or multicultural stream. Eliacín Rosario-Cruz, who is a member of our MSA team and originally from Puerto Rico, holds our feet to the fire on issues of race, power and privilege.

It is past time for those of us who are white to wake up to the reality that we are living in a new majority world. By 2060, the United States will become the first non-European Western nation—a nation of Latinos, African-Americans and Asians. Those of us from European roots will just be another group. All of our churches need to help prepare to not only live in this future but receive and celebrate the gifts from other cultures as well.

In other words, the days of people with European roots running the world and the church are rapidly slipping away. While the churches in Western countries are overwhelmingly in decline, many churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America are growing at an explosive rate. Many of these churches are involved in reverse missions—planting churches in the United States, Canada and Britain. The leadership of the church will also increasingly shift to the majority world.

Clarkston Bible Church in Clarkston, Georgia, has already awakened to the new reality. Older white southern women in their Sunday finery find themselves worshiping with immigrants from the Philippines, Togo, refugees form war-torn Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Slowly, more and more churches are becoming much more like our richly multi-cultural world. But not only traditional churches are beginning to wake to this new reality. Young innovators are as well. Increasingly, multi-cultural leaders are beginning to come to the fore.

Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson’s book The Hip Hop Church and Tommy Kyllonen’s Un.orthodox offer compelling evidence that God is doing something new through young people from a spectrum of diverse cultures. Acknowledging some of the difficult issues associated with hip-hop culture, for example, sex, violence and materialism, both books recognize hip-hop as not just an expression of urban African-American culture, but the language of a new generation all over the planet, connecting young people in Britain, Germany and Japan.

Though most in the mosaic stream have never heard the word “postmodernity,” the urban youth of hip hop culture share a suspicion of modernity, authority and pat answers with the young leaders of the emerging church. Efrem Smith tells me that urban hip-hop culture isn’t just postmodern, but also post-institutional, post-soul and post-civil rights too.

Urban African-American young people are hungry for a spirituality to which they can relate. There are reportedly some 20 hip hop churches in United States and more are coming. Hip-hop churches are only one expression of what God is doing through a growing number of multicultural churches.

Kyllonen reminds us that the times are changing: “The emerging church is also the young black male in the hood. It is the second-generation Mexican in LA and the child of the Chinese immigrant in Houston. The emerging church is the Puerto Rican female on Wall Street.”

A number of second-generation Asian churches in Canada and the United States have chosen to become multicultural congregations. Some multicultural churches in California came together around inter-racial families that didn’t feel completely at home in mono-cultural churches.

There are even a few mono-cultural churches that are beginning to question whether that model is fully biblical. Kingston United Reformed Church in Britain, comprised of Korean, Russian, Nigerian, Chinese and English members, has worked very intentionally to become a multicultural congregation. Pastor Leslie Charlton believes diversity is essential to being church. “You cannot call yourself a church if you are all the same.” She added, “It may be a nice group, but a church, like the kingdom of God, must have room for everybody.”

In Doug Lee’s church plant, called Catalyst in Culver City, California, the multiethnic congregation enjoys the rich gifts of several different cultures. People from the South Pacific Islands bring a spirit of warmth, welcome and generosity. African American members teach others about being fully present to God and highly invested in worship. Latino members remind the congregation of the importance of family and hospitality. And Asian members bring service without the need for recognition. Doug Lee says his church family is richer because of diverse gifts people bring.

I experience something of the rich gifts of the tapestry of God’s new community at the annual conference of the Christian Community Development Association, started by John Perkins. They always have an urban choir in whatever city they are meeting that lifts our souls to the rafters. I also experience rich gifts at the Urbana Missions Conference because those who lead worship represent the many of the wonderful cultures of our world.

Mustard Seed Associates hosted an evening with community activist Rudy Carrasco called “The Color of Love in the City” to start a conversation about what love looks like between communities. After Rudy shared his stories, Eliacín Rosario-Cruz led a discussion on race and culture. To my surprise, people from a range of different racial backgrounds shared very openly about both their pain and their attempts to live faithfully in a multicultural society.

One of the most innovative congregations in the US in the area of ethnic diversity is a church in Southern California actually called Mosaic. It is located in Los Angeles, California, where people from all over the world settle. The church responds to the challenge of a multi-cultural, postmodern, pluralistic and global community. Like the emerging church, they give a major piece of their life and mission to the arts; their group Urban Poets includes artists, dramatists and social innovators.

Most of the pastors of these churches are not content to just create interesting programs to meet the needs of people within the building. Like missional leaders, these church planters are intent on involving their members in word and deed ministries that impact the lives of people in their communities. Eugene Cho created a multicultural church plant in Seattle called Quest. Quest has been devoted to local and global mission from its inception. Their coffee shop, the Q Café, serves as a place to engage their community and a performance space for local artists. They work with the homeless and offer computer education classes for kids struggling in school as well as being involved in global initiatives.

As you can see from this brief overview, multicultural churches—along with the increasing number of immigrant churches—are going to be part of the growing edge of the Church in Western countries. This new mosaic stream is quite diverse, but what they all seem to share in common, like emerging churches, is their desire to a reach out to new generation. Like the missional churches they also see their mission much more focused on the needs of those beyond their congregation. We all need to pay more attention to what God is doing through the mosaic stream and explore new forms of collaboration that enable the church to lead in celebrating the gifts that will be a part of our richly multicultural future.




March 25, 2008

12 Marks of a New Monasticism


Throughout the history of the church, monastic movements have emerged to explore new ways of life in the abandoned places of society. School(s) for Conversion is a communal attempt to discern the marks of a new monasticism in the inner cities and forgotten landscapes of the Empire that is called America. This book invites us into a way of life that is simultaneously ancient and wonderfully new. By combining first-person accounts of the marks of Christ-formed communities with rich historical and biblical reflection, the various writers provide truthful and hope-filled descriptions of contemporary Christian community. First in a series. Paperback, 190 pages.



March 25, 2008

Biblical Wisdom for a New Monasticism


Conversations between contemporary Christian communities and Benedictine monasticism are among the most surprising and promising in the church today. Given that the roots of monasticism and of contemporary Protestantism lie in different parts of the Christian tradition, mutual engagement between contemporary Christians and monastics has been rare. Recently, however, the scene has shifted, and Inhabiting the Church represents the new eagerness to learn the art of living together faithfully from experienced and ancient practitioners.
—Christine D. Pohl, foreword

If the church is more than just a building, what could it mean to live in it — to inhabit it as a way of life? From their location in new monastic communities, the authors ask what the church can learn from St. Benedict’s vows of conversion, obedience, and stability about how to live as the people of God in the world. Second in the series that began with School(s) for Conversion. Paperback, 140 pages



March 25, 2008

The Journey of a New Monastic Community


In the 1930s, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer anticipated the restoration of the church after the coming second world war through a new kind of monasticism, a way of life of uncompromising adherence to the Sermon on the Mount in imitation of Christ. Since then, the renewal of Christian monasticism has become a great spiritual movement. Imbued with a love for God and neighbor, and with a healthy self-love, people are going to monasteries to deepen their relationship with God, to pray, and to find peace. While some monastic institutions are suffering a decline in traditional vocations, many Christians are exploring monastic lifestyles. This book introduces The Community of the Transfiguration in Australia, the story of a new monastic community and an inspiring source of hope for the world at another time of spiritual, social, and ecological crisis. Third in the series that includes School(s) for Conversion and Inhabiting the Church. Paperback, 186 pages

Click here for “Community of the Transformation” on Amazon UK


NEW MONASTICISM:What It Has to Say to Today’s Church

March 25, 2008



“New Monasticism” is the name that a recently formed movement of evangelical Christian communities has given itself. In the last 10 years, more than 100 of these small communities have formed in order to seek a relationship to God through mission work, evangelization and radical poverty.

Frustrated with the increasing commercialization and social isolation of mainstream religion, New Monastics endeavor to live and interact with others as Christ would. Often from Protestant backgrounds, they seek to serve the wider church. Many are inspired by, and seek guidance from, traditional monasticism.



What It Has to Say to Today’s Church

“It’s hard to be a Christian in America,” writes Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a leader in the New Monasticism movement in America, a growing group of committed Christians who are living lives of radical discipleship. However, the movement doesn’t mirror traditional monasteries — many members are married with children and have careers, yet they live differently, often in community in once-abandoned sections of society.
Wilson-Hartgrove founded a New Monastic community and works with an alternative theological collaborative. In this book, he takes readers inside New Monasticism, tracing its roots throughout Scripture and history and illuminating its impact on the contemporary church. He identifies the key tenets of New Monasticism, including:

How monasticism is the oldest form of counter-culture in the West

God’s alternative economy and financial practices for church

Hospitality and active peacemaking

A model for grassroots ecumenism

What the church offers New Monasticism: stability, diversity, and structure

“Monasticism isn’t about achieving some sort of individual or communal piety. It’s about helping the church be the church,” Wilson-Hartgrove writes. A must-read for New Monastics or those considering joining the movement, this book will also appeal to 20- and 30-somethings, pastors, leaders, and those interested in the emerging church. Paperback, 160 pages

Click here for “New Monasticism” on Amazon UK



“Finding Sanctuary”

December 18, 2007



Abbot Christopher Jamison has achieved his aim of writing an accessible and extremely useful book for those who want to develop spiritually. This is a relatively easy read and, at 180 pages, can be finished in quite a short space of time. It took me only two days in total.

Drawing extensively upon the Rule of St Benedict, Abbot Christopher promotes spiritual disciplines which offer an attractive and practical antidote to the unrelenting busy-ness of everyday life in the western world. His chapter on “Busy”ness was wonderful and searching with it’s challenges. Chapter by chapter, he extols the benefits of silence, contemplation, obedience, humility, community, spirituality and hope and does so in ways which are informative, stimulating and helpful to those of us who want to grow continually closer to God. He expands all of this as an interpretation of the “Rule of St Benedict” Abbot Christopher occasionally refers back to ‘The Monastery’ TV series for was to describe what he is talking about, but such references are relatively few and anyone who missed the programmes will still be able to engage fully with the book as a whole.

I really enjoyed the book, It has challenged me to a further detailed study of “Benedictine Spirituality” and the theology that lies behind it. I’m looking forward to this book shaping me in the days head. I would also be committed to working on some kind of guided response to “Finding Sanctuary” chapter by chapter.

I am recommending all my friends to take a look at For their own enjoyment and spiritual development.


Listening with the heart

December 17, 2007

For some 10 years now the monastic tradition has influenced and shaped my life and ministry. I have been so thankful for the journey of transformation that I have been on. So much so that I have decided over the next short while to concentrate upon a theological journey of sorts through some of the the main streams of monastic tradition. I’m starting with “Benedictine Spirituality” that spirituality which is found in the rule of Benedict and the many theological books that are available on the subject. Some of the books will require a detailed reading while others will be read in a few hours.The following books I have selected for a reading retreat that I intend to have sometime after Easter.

The Way of St.Benedict  

Seeking God: The Way of St.Benedict by Esther De Waal

The Benedictine Handbook  

The Benedictine Handbook by Anthony Marett-Crosby

St. Benedict's Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living  

St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine

Benedict's Way of Love  

Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love by Daniel Homan and Pratt Lonni Collins

Spiritual Direction and the Benedictine Tradition (Spiritual Directors International): Spiritual Direction and the Benedictine Tradition (Spiritual ... (Spiritual Directors International)  

Hospitality: Spiritual Direction and the Benedictine Tradition by Leslie A. Hay

The Benedictine Tradition (Traditions of Christian Spirituality)  

Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition (Traditions of Christian Spirituality) by Columba Stewart

The Rule of St. Benedict for Everyday Life  

Wisdom from the Monastery: The Rule of St. Benedict for Everyday Life by Patrick Barry, Richard Yeo, and Kathleen Norris

I’m hoping that the time spent on these books will educate and inspire me. I’m looking forward to 5 days away to contemplate and to create some listening space, in reading, so that I can hear God speak to me.

I’ll be keeping a journal and will blog it upon my return.