"missional" – a roundtable podcast

as most of you know if you’ve been reading the carnival for long, i am passionate about the wild & beautiful body of Christ.  and even though i have personally lost a lot of hope in many aspects of the “institution”, i firmly believe that God is alive-and-well through pockets of people & that his mission is being carried out in all kinds of amazing ways throughout the world.

i am privileged to be part of a gathering in the DC area hosted by the transFORM network april 30-may 2nd in a that focuses on cultivating missional communities across a wide variety of contexts.

what i love about the conversation is that it is about practice.  i don’t think the world needs a bunch more people sitting around talking about theology. i do think the world needs a bunch more people courageously engaging in experiencing & spreading Jesus’ love in really tangible ways.

i recently was part of a roundtable discussion hosted by my friend jonathan brink.  it was so encouraging to me on so many levels because the other participants (don & pam heatley from vision community church and phil & stephanie shepherd from the eucatastrophe and jonathan from thrive) are in the trenches trying to live out what they deeply believe about what it means to follow Christ and cultivate authentic commmunity that extends the hands and feet and heart of Jesus beyond just words.  the questions centered on the idea of what drew us to the missional conversation (i tend to prefer the word “incarnational”), what it looks like in our context, and how do we respond to the idea that “missional” is only focused on social justice.  of course for me it’s always fun to listen to other practitioners & dreamers and to get to share what i am learning through the refuge community, too.

it’s kind of long, but i hope you’ll listen to it.  these are stories of people not just talking about it but actually doing it.


  • or if you prefer, free download from itunes

as always, i’d love to hear some of your thoughts. 

ps:  if you can pull off DC, let me know so we can hang out.  it’s free & you can RSVP & get more info here.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Wonderful conversation!! I’d love to be a part of and/or hear more conversations like this. SO many wonderful things said.
    One that stands out the most was statement about encountering people who are in real pain and can’t see how God could be in that and attempting as an incarnational person to bring God with you into/alongside that person in that pain.
    With the people you had gathered for this, I bet the conversation could have gone on for days.
    I don’t think both Joy and I could make it to this conference, but hopefully we’ll find a way to get her there.

  • Hi Kathy… I was excited when I read last week about this conference, and that you are one of the featured speakers. Some of the EmDes folk plan to watch the live feed of the main sessions.

    Denver would be a good place for TransformWest this coming fall, dontyathink?

  • Off topic–sorry but just tried the link to The Refuge and couldn’t go there. Then tried to e-mail an it returned undeliverable. You probably already know but just in case you don’t…

  • My struggle, recently, is with the idea that we still always seem to start with “gathering.” I do see that gathering is important, absolutely essential…but what would it look like to start with *working* together (whatever that might mean), and *gathering* only as a way to facilitate that? We always seem to get stuck at gathering and to camp there.

  • A good conversation. Is there some place that gives us a bunch of examples of missional groups and exactly what it is that makes them missional/incarnational?

    I have seen many church web sites/advertising that say the churches are missional, but they don’t explain what they mean by that. In 2007, when we were looking for such a group in our city, I e-mailed the local groups that said they were missional and asked them what they meant by that. The question seemed to unhinge the people who answered it. The only positive response I received was “if you want to know, come and see.”

    Then again, that question did not upset them nearly as much as the follow-up questions, which I considered sincere and innocent: “What % of the money spent there in the past twelve months has gone directly into the community? What % to buildings, staff & programs? Is what you do tied to your building and worship service? If not, then to what? What are you doing in the community?”

    You’re doing an excellent job of helping us understand the meaning of missional/incarnational.

  • Don’t you need your assistant to travel with you to this? I would love to come!!!

  • jim – glad you listened & yes, to me, that is incarnational. in the joys & in the sorrows, in the good & in the bad, in the darkness & in the light. i hung up the phone from that conversation very hopeful because it reminded me that there are some amazing practitioners out there who really aren’t just talking about it but actually doing it. it is a sign of life for me. lmk what you guys decide and i think a west coast gathering might be in the works. oh it would be so great if you could be part!

    debbie – oh how i love emdes! i hope something out west comes together.

    minnow – my email’s back. our site was down. i’d love to hear from you…

    lori – you are an incredible truth teller. i think what you are highlighting is so important to this conversation. yes, those of us who were on this call are all somehow part of communities that have a “gathering”, ranging from 12 to hundreds. i think you are so right, though, that the main model is that we need to gather first, then somehow “do mission.” i don’t see it like that at all, because i don’t separate out gathering from mission but i know why it is perceived that way because we have separated out “serving” (i cannot stand that word) from “church.” and somehow that is flawed in that it should all be so much more integrated & free-flowing & creative than that & there are so many options for “missional community” that don’t look anything like a weekly gathering. thanks as always for provoking good thought.

    sam – i love your spirit & passion. i wish i could have listened in on those phone calls.

    patty – you are so funny, i can’t pack you in my suitcase but you are sure are invited 🙂


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