Beautiful Are The Feet: A Review of “Barefoot Church” by Brandon Hatmaker

The church has a really bad habit that it needs to break immediately! We have, sadly, become an incredibly consumerist culture. That is to say the church takes, consumes, and needs more…and, in turn, it gives less. Brandon Hatmaker believes that many of the reasons we don’t give as we should is that the structure of our churches is not conducive to ministry to the least. In Barefoot Church he argues that the true gospel church must pour itself out in care for others. In fact anything less may be gospel in word only.

It is, of course, all the trend right now in ministry to speak about social justice, missional living, and care for the poor. There are ever-increasing divisions coming into play over whether or not such terms advocate merely a social gospel. Hatmaker is not interested in adding to that debate. He states quite plainly:

Barefoot Church is not about attractional, seeker-sensitive, culturally relevant, or other models. It is not a church growth strategy or new style of church. Contrary to popular belief, serving the least does not make a missional church. It’s about serving the least and your neighbor. It’s about balancing the fasting and the feasting. It’s about making the altar both a place for communion and a place to leave your shoes. (26)

Both gathering as the church for corporate life and community and scattering as the church for mission is important. Hatmaker realizes that this is not the norm, most people pick one or the other, and he realizes too that this can create a tension in our churches. But it is a good tension, indeed, he argues, a necessary one.

He can, of course, speak with some authority on this subject. Prior to the events that lead him to this book, Hatmaker was a mega-church pastor with a multi-million dollar budget. Yet he states that he regularly saw his congregation dwindling. The common theme among those leaving was “something is missing.” As he came to terms with what he saw as the missing piece (ministry to the least) he realized that his church structure was actually prohibiting the church from doing ministry. He clarifies how:

We may say we’re a church on mission, yet we have so many on-campus programs that our people never have time to live on mission in their neighborhoods. We may say we’re more than just a Sunday service, but 90 percent of our resources and efforts are either committed to the Sunday morning experience or events designed to draw people to our buildings. We may think we serve, but if we took an honest look, we’d find only a small percentage of our people actually serving outside the church. What we “do” defines who we really are. (24)

Hatmaker believes the answer to this dilemma is a church where “service” is part of its very DNA. The result is not simply a church engaged on mission outside, but also a church where community thrives inside. Gathering and scattering are both a part of the church. In fact, in Hatmaker’s view the outward looking church will be more attractive to the non-Christian. After all, beautiful are the feet of those who go!

I loved this book. Hatmaker is honest about the weaknesses of the western church. But he never engages in church bashing, nor does he dwell on the negative. He is also honest about his weaknesses and the story behind Austin New Church is encouraging and grants hopes to its readers that there is, in fact, “something more.” Barefoot Church encourages that there can be more than just week-to-week existence, more than just big budgets, big buildings, and full auditoriums. There can be satisfying ministry that makes a difference. There can be church fueled to sharing Christ in both word and deed, there can be Christians living on mission.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Pastor Dave Online reviews a book that released exclusively at the conference, Barefoot Church  […]

  2. […] Pastor Dave Online says: I loved this book. Hatmaker is honest about the weaknesses of the western church. But he never engages in church bashing, nor does he dwell on the negative. He is also honest about his weaknesses and the story behind Austin New Church is encouraging and grants hopes to its readers that there is, in fact, “something more.” Barefoot Church encourages that there can be more than just week-to-week existence, more than just big budgets, big buildings, and full auditoriums. There can be satisfying ministry that makes a difference. There can be church fueled to sharing Christ in both word and deed, there can be Christians living on mission… [more] […]

  3. […] Pastor Dave Online says: I loved this book. Hatmaker is honest about the weaknesses of the western church. But he never engages in church bashing, nor does he dwell on the negative. He is also honest about his weaknesses and the story behind Austin New Church is encouraging and grants hopes to its readers that there is, in fact, “something more.” Barefoot Church encourages that there can be more than just week-to-week existence, more than just big budgets, big buildings, and full auditoriums. There can be satisfying ministry that makes a difference. There can be church fueled to sharing Christ in both word and deed, there can be Christians living on mission… [more] […]

  4. […] Pastor Dave Online says: I loved this book. Hatmaker is honest about the weaknesses of the western church. But he never engages in church bashing, nor does he dwell on the negative. He is also honest about his weaknesses and the story behind Austin New Church is encouraging and grants hopes to its readers that there is, in fact, “something more.” Barefoot Church encourages that there can be more than just week-to-week existence, more than just big budgets, big buildings, and full auditoriums. There can be satisfying ministry that makes a difference. There can be church fueled to sharing Christ in both word and deed, there can be Christians living on mission… [more] […]

  5. […] 5) Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker […]

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