Item description for Growing Spiritual Redwoods by Bill Easum & Thomas G. Bandy...
Overview "Growing Spiritual Redwoods" is an effort to help church leaders answer the kinds of questions that confront congregations and Christians in this era of rapid and uncertain change. William M. Easum and Thomas Bandy argue that the congregations to whom the term "spiritual redwoods" can be applied are grown slowly, becoming vigorous centers of witness and mission.
Growing Spiritual Redwoods is an effort to help church leaders answer the kinds of questions that confront congregations and Christians in this era of rapid and uncertain change in the church. These questions include: Are you committed to Jesus Christ, or to a particular doctrine, denomination, or church? Do you speak of faith as an experience of Christ, or as a heritage that you protect? Do you believe that ministry is to make disciples or members?
William Easum and Thomas Bandy believe that deep spiritual vitality and an openness to the new thing that God is doing will characterize the "spiritual redwoods" that emerge from this time of change. Congregations to whom this term can be applied do not spring spontaneously into existence, nor are they built in a mechanical, by-the-numbers fashion. Instead, they are grown, and providing the environment that will grow these vigorous centers of witness and mission is the crucial task of church leadership in our time.
Some of the components of this task include: cultivating the passion for the transforming experience of Jesus in individuals and in church communities; enabling worship that feeds new life in multiple ways and which is indigenous to the forest from which spiritual redwoods grow; nurturing organisms designed to release mission, make disciples, deepen faith, and proclaim God.
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Studio: Abingdon Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.49" Width: 5.51" Height: 0.63" Weight: 0.67 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 1997
Publisher Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN 0687336007 ISBN13 9780687336005
Availability 0 units.
More About Bill Easum & Thomas G. Bandy
Bill Easum has served for the past 25 years as a consultant to congregations and denominations through his firm, 21st Century Strategies, Inc. He is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books and has personally worked to grow more than 700 congregations. Bill Tenny-Brittian is a partner in 21st Century Strategies, Inc., and is the managing editor and publisher of Net Results, North America's most experienced church growth and evangelism magazine. He is the author or coauthor of seven books.
Reviews - What do customers think about Growing Spiritual Redwoods?
Are You Experienced? Jan 13, 2007
North Americans do not understand Christian doctrine and they do not want to understand it. So say authors Easum and Bandy who then continue: "but most important - and this is the key discovery at the end of the 20th Century - they do not need to understand it!" (p. 41). What they need, instead of doctrine, is a life-transforming "experience with Jesus" and "relationship with Jesus". (pp. 49, 52, 53, 55, et seq.).
Who is this Relationship Jesus? The authors are not sure who he is, but they know who he is not. He is not Lord, or Messiah, or King, or Son of God, or even Savior because such titles "have become so laden with underlying nuances that seekers are too nervous to consider them." (p. 39.) And what of "Christ"? Easum and Bandy say that term "carries an enormous weight of complex dogma, and invites seekers into an arena of religious disagreement ... that is (to them) frightening in its irrelevance." (p. 39.) Under no circumstances must doctrine be allowed to frighten or unnerve the seekers as they experience Relationship Jesus. Seekers must be free to imagine this Jesus in any way they wish. The authors tell us that no less an authority than the Council of Chalcedon "resolved conflict about the person and work of Jesus by declaring that every perspective was both right and wrong." (p. 52.) Relationship Jesus is everything you want him to be and, apparently, he is also not everything you want him to be. Go figure.
There is one point of doctrine the authors tolerate and that is the Incarnation. But dogma-fearing North Americans need not fret, as the authors quickly assure them that: "Only the mysterious paradox of the incarnation is essential to Christian faith. All else is metaphor." (p.54.) That "all else" of non-essential metaphor would include, by the way, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
This book thrives on the false dichotomy of "either doctrine or experience." Time and again the authors dismiss doctrine as an impediment to experience as shown in such statements as "Are you committed to Jesus Christ ... or to a particular doctrine" and "Do you speak of faith as an experience with Christ or as a heritage to protect" and "Understanding the saving grace of God in a rationally consistent, historically grounded way is not important to most Americans; Experiencing that saving grace ... is everything." (pp. 14, 41.)
Could it be that one can hold fast to that doctrine first delivered by the Apostles and still experience the Lord Jesus Christ? And by the "Lord Jesus Christ" I do not mean the amorphous, metaphorical, mystical Jesus of Easum and Bandy who is all things to all men, be they right or wrong. I mean the man who was born of a virgin, crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried, rose again in accordance with the Scriptures and ascended into heaven. That Jesus! The same Apostles who delivered the doctrine also experienced that Jesus. Paul, who warned the Galatians to not receive any other gospel than the one he preached, also prayed that the Ephesians would be inwardly enlightened so as to comprehend "what is the breadth and width and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up with all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:18-19.) Now that is an experience!
So doctrine and experience are not mutually exclusive. The real question is whether they are mutually dependent. That is, can someone experience Jesus, the real and true Jesus, without embracing sound Christian doctrine. Just as there is true doctrine and a true Jesus who can be experienced, there is also false doctrine and, the Lord warned, a false Jesus that can be experienced. Because Easum and Bandy reject sound doctrine and even reason itself, they have no ability to discern the true from the false.
Now, I know the postmoderns out there will shake their heads and say, "The poor boy just doesn't get it. Hasn't he heard? There are no absolutes, there are no meta-narratives, there are no universal truths. There is no true Jesus, there is no false Jesus. There is just 'Jesus', and those Chalcedons had it right, all perceptions of Jesus (and of everything else) are both right and wrong." Well, if the postmoderns are right, then their "Jesus" is nothing more than a contentless banner, to use Francis Schaeffer's phrase. It is just a label used to generate interest in an undefinable "experience." They could call it anything: Jesus or Buddha or Krishna or Mithra or Mothra or whatever. It doesn't matter. And they may actually have an experience, but ultimately their experience will not matter either because it is just as contentless as the label they put on it. The secular philosophers came to this dead-end conclusion long ago. The church philosophers like Easum and Bandy are lagging behind. But they will get there eventually. Its just a matter of time.
There is no meaning and there is no hope in Relationship Jesus, or in the experiences he might bestow. But there is meaning and hope in the true Jesus, a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Pet. 1:3.) May you experience this Jesus soon.
Lost in the Forest Jan 4, 2007
Bandy's work is always thought provoking, and this book is, too. He offers a pretty accurate assessment of the problems of current church "life." However, I am not as certain that his answers are the "answer." But worth reading and pondering. His vision of the future church is certainly radically different than most of us envision.
Challenge without answers Dec 12, 2002
Easum and Bandy make excellent points regarding the difficulties of traditional churches. Who can argue with the reality of decline; the substitution for institutional maintenance for evangelism? Unfortunately their response to the challenge is gimmicky and shallow. For example, they envision "worship" consisting of chats with a holographic Jesus and Mary on the challenges of family life. Is such a retreat into entertainment the only way to reach today's generation? Is it even possible for such entertainment to be authentic worship, or have we settled for a Disneyland version of reality? The authors don't consider such questions, nor do they address the question of resources, envisioning the megachurch, with its wealth, to be the only option for the future. Current trends indicate the future is not quite so monolithic. There are other books tackling these issues with far more practical advice.
"Redwoods" is a little scary but very thought provoking! Dec 16, 2000
I picked up "Growing Spiritual Redwoods" not long after reading Bill Easum's "...Gourmet Burgers". Bandy and Easum continue his analysis of the problems dragging down "traditional" churches as they encounter the new century. Bandy adds a "nuts and bolts" element that was missing in "Burgers". Traditional churches have let spirituality slip while they pursue better ways of doing church work on a corporate model. The authors want us to return the focus of the church to worship and specifically "indigenous worship"... matching worship style to the community-especially the unchurched community. Many churches are surrounded by spiritual searchers who feel alienated by the "old-fashioned" music and liturgies of traditional worship. Some of their suggestions for styles and environments are hard for me to swallow, but they do encourage thoughtful consideration of how our worship styles have become as dated as knickers. I am not sure that the overwhelming sensual assault of much of modern culture is absolutely necessary to relate to the Under-30 crowd, but I can see where it could provide a way to communicate the transformative power of Jesus to the MTV generation. Beyond worship, they advocate building strong, spiritual individuals to replace the ineffective and energy wasting committee structures of the past. Church leaders become coachs, inspiring rather than directing each individual's ministry. Teams of desciples coalescing around natural leaders who share their vision will do the work of Jesus, rather than the work of the church. This is not a book of instructions, but it does point out the elements necessary to make the kind of transformation they feel is required for the survival of the larger church in the post-Christendom, pre-Christian era. Even if you disagree with the methods that Bandy and Easum suggest, this book will stimulate serious thought and conversation with others in your church community about how we do the work of our Lord.
Inspiring, despite minor problems Dec 4, 1998
Authors Easum and Bandy suggest methods and concepts for the growth of churches of the future using the organic metaphor of the redwood tree. The contemporary language used is user-friendly and potentially mentally stimulating. It reflects the author's in-depth knowledge of the most recent cultural changes affecting, to varying degrees, each church. The approach is outreach oriented while suggesting that spiritual redwoods are not born or built but grown. Far and away the best, and longest, chapter of the book is the author's discussion of indigenous worship and the role such worship plays in church growth. I suggest purchasing the book because of this chapter. Unfortunately the authors' suggestions and analysis are often simplistic. While they say they value diversity and a multiplicity of options for growing churches, apparently not included in either are the practices and conceptuality of what they label "declining" (read "traditional") churches. They also pit spirituality, experience, and communities as the positive polar opposites of that which they label as negative: dogma, understanding, and institutions. Do these have to be opposites? Are the latter negative? A wise philosopher once said, "It is more important that a proposition be interesting than it be true....but truth adds interest." The insights which emerge out of this interesting book may allow the reader to discover truths the authors have either overlooked or dismissed in addition to those that have been plainly presented.