Christianity beyond belief...

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Elizabeth writes... Today I noticed a local church sign announcing their service times as "Traditional Service - 8:00 am; Contemporary Services - 9 and 10:30 am." I chuckled inside as I contemplated the idea of a traditional service in a church tradition that has only existed since the early 1900s. I'm sure they are referring more to the style of music than anything else in their labeling of services as traditional or contemporary.

But what if someone in the USA wants to connect with a deeper church tradition, where would they go and what would they expect to find?

Well, that is quite a conundrum for us at times - sure, there are Lutheran churches, Catholic churches, and Episcopalian churches to name a few that have deep historical roots. But personally, I am excited about a new, yet old thing that is happening here in the Pacific NW as Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter has become the Director of West Coast Church Planting for The Anglican Mission in the Americas:

"The Anglican Mission in the Americas has unveiled a new initiative designed to plant well over 100 new churches over the next 10 years. Launched in early January, Churches for the Sake of Others is led by the Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter and creates a church planting movement. This movement is designed to develop churches and leaders committed to beginning new congregations located primarily, but not exclusively, on the west coast. These churches will emphasize multiplication as each congregation plants daughter churches at the rate of at least two every five years." (Read more here)

Church planting is not something new for Todd Hunter. Todd was a part of the early movement of Vineyard Churches in the USA and continues to be an influential leader in that realm. One of the things that is exciting for me is Todd's choosing to align himself with an historic expression of church, yet not neglecting the new things God is up to in the world today.

As Deep Church reminds us, remembering our shared christian past is essential for facing the future. Response to this new church planting initiative has been more than positive - the movement is already gaining momentum as we see that God is truly up to something on the west coast in America - and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!

Just as Todd is transitioning into this new role, his first book was released by IVP - Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others .

Christianity Beyond Belief is Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter's seminal work on re-practicing Christianity. In his book, Todd posits that Christianity is more about a way of life than a set of beliefs. His mantra throughout is that we are created to be cooperative friends of Jesus, living lives of creative goodness for the sake of others through the power of the Holy Spirit. Todd's book is a very practical guide to following Jesus for the Sake of Others and will certainly be a guide for those involved in the church planting movement of Churches for the Sake of Others.

Todd concludes his book with a practical guide to a new way to live and offers a pattern for reorienting your lives through 3 is Enough Groups (3isenough.org). 3 is Enough provides an imagination and structure for prayerfully paying attention to the Spirit, the people, and the events of our life and offers a way to practice our sprituality in the midst of our everyday lives. The theology and spirituality of everyday life is nothing new for Deep Church, as Luke Bretherton wrote about it in his article, "Mundane Holiness" in Remembering Our Future. Todd gracefully helps us to remove the separation of the sacred from the secular and draws us into a way of living that weaves our faith into the fabric of our daily lives.

Jason Clark notes that Todd Hunter is one of his oldest friends, mentors, and biggest influences in life. After spending a semester learning from Jason, I can see Todd's influence in his life.

My connection with Todd only goes back a short time - just 9 months prior to my connection with Jason here at Deep Church. I started classes at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland in September of 2007. I was testing the water to see if it was time for me to embark on this journey of further equipping for ministry.

I was enrolled part-time and taking what they call "hybrid" classes. One of the classes that fit with my schedule was Evangelism taught by Todd Hunter. Honestly, I was reluctant to take the class. My faith history goes back to years of Vacation Bible School and undergraduate days with Campus Crusade for Christ. I have seen many people choose to follow Christ in my life. I was even commissioned by my Women's ministry to write an evangelistic pamphlet that was further translated and taken to Afghanistan! What did I need to take an evangelism class for? Well, it fit my schedule and would certainly afford me an easy "A", so I took the class. Little did I know my life would be changed forever.

Since taking Todd's class I have been inspired to work on writing a book about evangelism misconceptions we have developed in the modern era and have recently started working for Todd developing and maintaining his web presence. For a little over a year now, Todd Hunter has been the most influential person in my life and I am honored to be a part of the work God is doing in and through him.