Origin Stories Series (4/5): Why Bob?

I’m a sucker for movies that being with credits saying something like: “The following is based on actual events.” I end up spending quite a bit of mental energy trying to figure out what part of the story was “actual” and what part was due to artistic license. But the stories that capture my imagination the most, are the ones that are both so inspiring and realistic as to cause the two ideas to merge as one new, fantastic reality.

Not so fantastical though, in our book, Slow Down, we discuss the challenges and ways forward for a based-on-actual-events character named Bob. (And just so I’m clear here, Bob could easily be Bonnie.) Bob is passionate about Jesus, his family, his church, and his friends outside of the faith. He is a faithful servant/volunteer, giver, and desires to see his friends come to follow Jesus. The biggest challenge Bob finds with this last desire is that no matter how hard he works to help his church gathering become excellent and interesting, his friends who don’t follow Jesus are not interested in attending the church events. None at all. But these same friends are willing to have spiritual conversations with people they trust.

What’s a Bob or Bonnie to do?

Consider these questions:

“Who equips Bob to slow down with his not yet believing friends?”

“With his limited margin, who frees Bob up to slow down and disciple his not yet believing friends?”

“Who empowers Bob to see new church families form out of the harvest when his not yet believing friends come to faith?”

They are challenging questions that deserve meaningful answers (which we believe we have) but the title of this blog is “Why Bob?” not how does Bob disciple people as he goes. Everything I’ve written above is to set the context for my simple answer.

Why Bob? If we are serious about extending the freedom and family found at the table Jesus prepares to all people, it’s going to take all kinds of people to reach all people! Bobs (and Bonnies) are the most misunderstood and under-utilized resource (I mean that in the most honoring way I can) to see any form of movement occur.

I’m not great with math (or geography but that’s a story for another day), but if the average church attendance in an American church is less than 100 people [1], wouldn’t we have a much greater opportunity for extending freedom and family to all if all in attendance were equipped and empowered to go? What if the one or two pastors in this average sized church were only a fraction of the total population being sent on mission throughout their weeks? What if all the Bobs and Bonnies were going to their not yet believing friends and meeting them where they are, rather than devoting their limited time and energy trying to convince their friends to meet them in the church gathering?

Why Bob? Because we long to see a new reality emerge through the Church in the West. One which may, today, seem only based in reality and far too fantastical for us to believe or imagine. This new reality (actually, it’s an ancient reality rediscovered for today -- just read Acts again!) is one where the Bob’s are no longer marginalized or frustrated with their failure to “get people to church,” but instead are equipped to be the church that forms around those they love and long to reach. For this to be a reality, we believe that every Bob needs to be empowered to to slow down with those he loves, share the message of freedom in the gospel, and walk with a family who does the same. The imagined result? New church families forming and multiplying in different contexts and in creative ways we don’t yet know until the Spirit of God leads and reveals who, how, where, and when.

The freedom and family of Jesus extended to all, by all the church. Is that a reality too fantastic for us to pursue?

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1. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong