We recently took some time with innovative author Rohadi to explore more about his recent book: Thrive. Ideas to lead the church in post-Christendom . “Thrive” is a guide to help unlock features in you, and your church, to emerge as leaders and co-creators in our cities, neighborhoods, and beyond.
What is the central message of the book?
America has changed and most churches and church leaders want to thrive and grow. Yet most churches don’t. Thrive is a guide to address decline by building more practitioners who will turn new ideas real in a new cultural climate.
Why do you sense our cultural moment needs the message of this book?
It’s no surprise that culture is shifting. Urban centres are becoming less religious. The country as a whole no longer thinks of the church when they search for answers to life’s questions. Yet we haven’t done very much to change how we live out the Gospel in the neighborhood and city. Most of the thinking in mission and leadership tries to retain the privilege the church enjoyed in the past. But we’re not the center of attention anymore. The church is on the margins and we need new pathways to join the already unfolding kingdom in new ways.
What books or authors have most influenced you and your writing?
It depends on the season. Right now I’m reading a significant amount on race and diversity. I’m picking up a lot of titles written by authors of color.I think the future of the church, and the country, looks a lot different than the dominant voices we hear today.
The bibliography for Thrive, however, is pretty much the opposite. Most of the conversation in mission and missional thinking comes from a Euro-centric worldview. There are few missional thinkers of color to read. That’s not necessarily bad, but it is incomplete. It shows the formation of the missional movement has been devoid of wider thinking. Nonetheless, heavy influences for the book include NT Wright, Alan Hirsch, Guder, Newbigin, and a bunch of authors on business theory.
In what ways do live into this message in your local context?
The book is really just a mimic of my own life. I’ve approached business and ministry in tandem. Although some pieces are separate, turning ideas real, rather than just daydreaming, is something I do every day.
I’ve planted two churches but this book came out before my second one started. I share a lot of my process influenced by both the business world and ministry. There’s a lot of connection between starting new ventures and planting new churches. There’s also a lot of similarities on the mechanics of starting movements. You don’t wake up one day and discover a movement. It takes careful design to put the right pieces in play. One thing I don’t know is how it all ends. Most of my insight on trying new ideas in new cultures relies on extending expectations. Timeframes to see results are much longer. If the majority of people no longer hold a religious memory, the church can no longer operate under the assumption we can “remind” people about their faith with a service or two. Rather, putting down roots over decades or generations is the new reality. The question is, do we have the patience for this?
How does the message of your book impact discipleship?
Discipleship is foundation. Turning ideas real requires a critical mass of people who believe in the cause. That means discipleship is the key to starting and prolonging movements. Ministry simply doesn’t work without it. Furthermore, in a culture where the Sunday service is no longer the central gathering point, we need different ways to connect. Discipleship has never left. It remains the lynchpin to building the body. Life on life formation is the core of the church that we need to continuously return to and build upon.
How might church planters integrate some of what you have written in this book?
Although it’s not explicit in the book, I initially wrote this for church planters. Although anybody, or any leader, can start new ideas, I have the innovator in mind throughout. It takes a certain kind of bravery to take ideas out of thin air and make them real. It’s hard work, risky, and not for the faint of heart. So the entire book is an important read for church planters, particularly those who are doing something outside of the norm. It can seem like a lonely wilderness out there when you’re pioneering, so it helps to know you’re not alone. Like I started with, most materials on planting or innovation rely on returning the church back to a privileged place in society. But the reality is we’re never going back. Life is moving forward with or without a participating church. We need more insight on what ministry in a new world can look like, and how we can make that happen. Thrive fills part of this gap.
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