Sunday, June 22, 2014

Interview with Spence Shelton, Author of #PeopleofGod

The People of GodI had the awesome opportunity to ask Spence Shelton, author and Spiritual Formation Pastor at The Summit Church, a few questions about his new book with Trevor Joy, The People of God: Empowering the Church to Make Disciples.  Below are his reflections on the importance of this book and the growing movement to plant churches around the country and world.

What is your primary responsibility as Spiritual Formation Pastor at The Summit Church?

We joke that my title is nice and vague so that I can do anything I want and call it "spiritual formation." Kind of like the utility infielder of the pastoral team.  In reality though, I give my time to developing and maintaining the discipleship of our adults here at the Summit Church.

What prompted you to work on The People of God with Trevor Joy?

The book was the product of a friendship that started a few years ago over a cup of coffee and commiseration about how in the world to faithfully make disciples in two very similar church contexts.  The more we talked the more we found we had in agreement.  But on top of that, Trevor is an incredible leader who I've learned a lot from.  God has gifted him with an incredible ability to raise up other leaders and through that build a faithful and effective discipleship ministry.  For me, writing with a friend who had such a great gift was like a win-win.  It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot from him in the process.

The Summit Church and other churches have very active church-planting ministries.  Why is that important at this time?

An emphasis on church planting stems out of a belief that the healthiest thing for a community is a thriving local church.  On top of that, history shows us new churches are more likely to reach and engage non-Christians than established ones.  So I'd say it's important for every generation.  When you think about it, many of the churches we all look to as experts today were young anonymous church planters just trying to figure things out as they went.  I believe the best thing we can do for advancing the gospel around the world is investing our resources and energy into this generation's church planting endeavors.

Is there a connection between this book and the movement to plant more churches?

Absolutely!!  If we are going to see a serious awakening in the west, and see unreached peoples engaged with the gospel around the world, we need to have that in mind when we build small groups.  We call our new leaders "small group planters" because we want them to begin to see the connection between this step they are taking and the step to take that around the world. Just in the past three years we've had hundreds of small group members leave our church to be a part of church planting teams around the world.  Unless we build it into the fabric of our discipleship, it will remain a little more than a sermon point.

What do you hope people with take away from The People of God?

What you believe always drives what you do.  So I've got two hopes:
  1. I hope this book helps people love the church God loves so much.
  2. I hope it empowers small group leaders and church leaders to make disciples in their local contexts.

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