Going Local: Part II & Chapter 5 Book Summary

Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World

By Alan Roxburgh

Part II

  • Congregations are traveling together into a new land, …chapters explore a set of practices for how to journey
  • …Learning new practices (from doing for to being with) is a disorienting journey that takes courage, persistence, and hard work
  • We need basic convictions of:
  1. God is ahead of us in our neighborhoods, calling us to join.
  2. God is present in people– our congregations– and the Spirit is present and active in their lives
  3. People can listen to and hear God through one another as they dwell in the Word of God.
  4. Leaders cultivate spaces for listening to the Spirit…
  5. The ordained should cultivate a people of prayer, who collectively discern the Spirit and stop attempting to fix the church.
  6. An ordained leader cannot lead without doing…what the baptized are called to do.


Chapter 5: Practicing the Journey

  • Practices are shared actions that, when taken together, weave a way of life (ex: reciting Lord’s Prayer, which for one Christian, came to dispel angering frustrations and help with forgiveness)
  • Practices aren’t just feelings or caring thoughts. They are routine actions that shape our lives… (Ex: several generations of a family gathering for dinner each weeknight)
  • Weekly worship is a transformative social practice … coming together to practice being followers of Jesus; if practicing alone, it is with the awareness that others share the practice elsewhere but in the same Spirit.
  • Practices are patterns of communal action that open up the presence of God and make God known among us.
  • Practices allow us to craft together a common life fitting with what we desire as God’s people. In the context of this book, we desire:
    • to be released from our obsession with fixing the church and the focus on    ourselves as the main actors to shift to God as the chief actor
    • to be a people shaped by the way of Jesus who go into our neighborhoods to discern and join with what God is already doing ahead of us.
  • Best to start with the gospel for practice, beginning with Luke 10:1-12 (appointing of the 70); it is not about fixing people’s needs. The 70 are sent to embody and announce God’s reconciling, healing future in neighborhoods… and are sent to practice dependence on the hospitality of the neighbor, discern what the Spirit is doing, and practice dwelling, working, eating, listening, and healing with and among the people.
  • These practices do not make the church irrelevant, but it is a different way for churches to exist. We cannot first fix ourselves and then create plans to engage our communities. It is in the reflecting together on what we are discerning that will shape our parishes.


Proposal of 3 Practices for Congregations to join God:

  • Follow Jesus together– discern the shape of the Way and practice together
  • Into the neighborhood– testify God’s reign and restore community by sharing in God’s peacemaking and healing. Listen and witness.
  • Travel lightly– discern what of our traditions is life-giving and what weighs us down. Be vulnerable and risk being changed by God and our neighbors.


Five Practices for the Journey

  1. Listening: Attending to God, one another, and our neighborhoods
  2. Discerning: Discovering where the Spirit is inviting us to join with God in our neighborhoods
  3. Testing: Engaging simple actions to join with God
  4. Reflection: Gathering to ask, What did we do? What are we learning? Where did we see God at work?
  5. Deciding: Determining what are the new ways we will now join with God in the neighborhood


Remember that the journey:

  • begins small so that people can practice without being in the spotlight; ok for members to observe and not participate
  • should occur parallel to the normal programs and events of congregational life
  • practices 1-4 should take 18 to 24 months and then congregation decides whether to repeat the cycle. As the cycle repeats, more people get involved in joining the way of Jesus in their neighborhoods.
  • is a way of introducing new practices, not creating a program
  • is long and difficult, but worth it, because the place where God transforms the world is in our neighborhoods, in the way of Jesus, the Luke 10 way


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