Influential or Inspirational or Both?Dan Kimball has both influenced me and inspired me in many ways over the 22 years I have known him. When I was in my early twenties, Dan and I both attended Santa Cruz Bible Church and were leaders for our College Career Group. I confess, I had a crush on Dan at first. While my young adult crush has passed, my affection and admiration for Dan remain. One of the ways that Dan influenced and inspired me back in those early days before he went off to Multnomah to study the Bible, is how he used to take time to be alone with God instead of participating in all the sometimes purely social activities of our group. His passion to know God intimately was reflected in how he interacted with others as well. He not only spent time getting to know God in secret, he desired to know God through others experience of God as well. He was always genuinely interested in how God was speaking to me, what I thought about God, the Bible, etc. He was and is a keen listener and it’s not a skill he practices in order to accomplish some goal, he is seriously interested in what others think and feel. This is still a hallmark characteristic of Dan, as Frank Viola experienced when they spent time together at the Recalibrating Concepts of Church event. I could go on about Dan, but then you might think I still have a crush on him 😉 Even though I moved away from Santa Cruz in 1992, Dan and I have kept in touch and as his influence has grown outside of Santa Cruz, he has not neglected to inspire and influence those who knew him when he was just a boy. OK, it appears he is still just a boy 😉
Speaking of Frank Viola, Frank was one of the first people to follow me on twitter whom I didn’t know personally. I had heard of Frank from Len Sweet, but other than that I had no idea who he was or what he was all about. Twitter is this wonderful micro-blogging tool where you follow people who are of interest to you and people can follow you. I still haven’t figured out why Frank decided to follow me, but that was just the beginning of our online friendship. I visited Frank’s blog, commented and won a free copy of his book Reimagining Church which I blogged briefly about recently. We became friends on Facebook and dialoged back and forth about his book and George Fox. I used his book for part of my research for a paper I was writing for my Missional Ecclesiology class and asked him some questions via email. He was very gracious in his response. One thing I enjoy is meeting people I have read – it adds depth to their message. If I can’t meet them personally, I like to at least hear them speak. I am an auditory learner, so if I know their voice I can hear it in my head when I read their books. Weird, I know. Well, I finally got to meet Frank even though it was ever so briefly at the Recalibrating Concepts of Church event. Of all the speakers, Frank was the only one I had not yet met, so I was looking forward to meeting him. I didn’t get much of a chance to talk with Frank, but from Frank’s book, his public speaking and his presence it is apparent that he is passionate about Jesus and the Church and he has inspired me to think more deeply about organic Christianity. I hope to meet Frank again and get more time to hear his heart and be inspired.
One of my professors this semester is MaryKate Morse. I have only heard great things from people about MaryKate as a professor and influential leader. It is no surprise to me that she has written a book on leadership, Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence. One of the reasons I chose George Fox Evangelical Seminary, besides Dan Kimball’s recommendation, is their egalitarian culture with the opportunity to learn from influential women of faith. Of all those featured at the Recalibrating event, MaryKate was the only one I had not had the privelege of reading. So, I bought her book. I can’t wait to read it. I’ll surely blog about it. I appreciated how she interacted with the others at the event with pointed questions, gracious responses and influential ideas. I consider it an honor to learn from her and hope to get to know her better through class as well as reading her book.
A few years ago I ventured into the realm of church planting in my city of Kenmore, WA. The pastor leading the adventure, Pat Taylor, recommended I read The Shaping of Things to Come. I bought the book but it sat on my “books to read” shelf until just last spring. After reading it, I quickly bought The Forgotten Ways and added it to my reading list for my Missional Ecclesiology class. While I was attending the face to face time for Missional Ecclesiology class with Jason Clark at George Fox, Alan Hirsch was teaching second year MAML students in the next room. During one of our breaks, I got to meet Alan in the hall and we had an interesting conversation about missional and evangelism. I told him about the book I am working on and he not only expressed interest but offered to read the proposal and forward on to his publisher. WOW! It’s amazing what can happen in ten minutes in a hallway! Well, his publisher turned down the book proposal, but when I saw Alan again at the Recalibrating event he offered to help me again with getting my ideas published. Alan’s teaching has definitely influenced my writing, and his gracious offer to help with my book has inspired me to not give up on writing. I’ve blogged about his books here and here.
Nearly ten years ago, amidst the talk of Y2K and worries of all the 18-20somethings that were missing from the church, I heard of Len Sweet. His book Soul Tsunami was all the rage for those thinking about cultural shift and the new millenium. GenX was the focus of new expressions of chruch popping up all over the place, and Len was their hero. But I was busy at home with my fourth daughter coming into the world and watched much of this “emerging” church stuff happening from afar. I kept up with what Dan Kimball was doing with Graceland in Santa Cruz and prayed for him often as I also prayed our church would get out of our comfort zone and find a way to make a difference in the midst of cultural change – but I was too busy changing diapers and serving in children’s ministry to read Len’s books. Then I met him. My first class in seminary was Global Mission of the Church with Len Sweet. Even though I had never read any of his books, I was tracking with him in the class and laughing at his jokes, while some of the younger students sat there and scratched their heads. I enjoyed learning from Len and signed up for an advance at his house on Orcas Island the next spring. I still enjoy learning from Len, especially in the classroom and out on Orcas Island. When I am around him I realize that I have so much to learn, so much to learn.
If you want to read more about the Recalibrating Concepts of Church event, check out these blogs:
Janet Ferrin Fraser http://janetfraser.blogspot.com/2009/02/recalibrating-conference.html
Rick Meigs: http://blindbeggar.org/?p=690
I attended the event because I had hoped to hear these influential and inspirational people interact with each others ideas, but I was a bit disappointed with the event. It was billed to be a panel discussion moderated by Lance Ford, but it was not at all what I expected. Each person spoke for about 20 minutes about their book and then panelists questioned them. I was a bit disappointed because to me “panel” does not mean “presentation.” Far too much time was taken for the individual presentations and far too little time allowed for meaningful dialog and interaction.
Finally, the most influential person in my life this past year is Todd Hunter. I was in my second semester at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland and 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 once commissioned by our Women’s ministry to write an evangelistic pamphlet for emerging women 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. When I signed up to take a class, I had never heard of Todd Hunter. After I signed up, I had the opportunity to hear him speak at an Off the Map event. Honestly, I was not impressed. Sure, I’d heard that he was the former National Director of VineyardUSA and President of Alpha USA – still, I was not impressed. Little did I know that taking his class would change the course of my life. 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 infleuntial person in my life and I am honored to be a part of the work God is doing in and through him.