Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

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People are hungry to make a difference in their community, yet most don't know where to start. In fact, 'serving the least' is often one of the most neglected biblical mandates in the church.Barefoot Church shows readers how today's church can be a catalyst for individual, collective, and social renewal in any context. Whether pastors or laypeople, readers will discover practical ideas that end up being as much about the Gospel and personal transformation as they are about serving the poor. Here they will see how...
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Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

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People are hungry to make a difference in their community, yet most don't know where to start. In fact, 'serving the least' is often one of the most neglected biblical mandates in the church.Barefoot Church shows readers how today's church can be a catalyst for individual, collective, and social renewal in any context. Whether pastors or laypeople, readers will discover practical ideas that end up being as much about the Gospel and personal transformation as they are about serving the poor. Here they will see how the organizational structure of the church can be created or redesigned for mission in any context.Drawing from his own journey, Brandon Hatmaker proves to readers that serving the least is not a trendy act of benevolence but a lifestyle of authentic community and spiritual transformation.As Hatmaker writes, 'My hope is that God would open our eyes more and more to the needs of our community. And that we would see it as the church's responsibility to lead the charge.'
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310492269
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 10/24/2011
  • Series: Exponential Series
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 239,139
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Brandon Hatmaker is pastor of Austin New Church (ANC), co-founder of Restore Austin, and a missional strategist with Missio ( After years of serving in the megachurch, Brandon and his wife, Jen, refocused their ministry on church planting and mobilizing the church to meet the needs of the poor and marginalized. Together, ANC and Restore Austin have developed a unique network of churches and non-profits that serve in a collective effort to impact their city and world.
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Table of Contents

1. WHY A BAREFOOTED CHURCH:In Chapter one we will summarize the stories and calling of Brandon and Jen Hatmaker that led to the Barefooted Church journey. In it we will discuss the commonality of frustration with so many believers who feel that there's 'got to be more'. We'll also begin to shape a framework through stories of 'just as frustrated' pastors and their struggle to shape their church to be more mission minded.* Doing More* The Barefooted Story* Making it Personal* Foundations for Structure.2. BEYOND the SOCIAL GOSPEL:In this chapter, we'll deal up front with key objections to serving the poor, starting with debunking the viewpoint that today's mission minded church is similar to historical social gospel. To do so, we'll build a biblical case for service and take a look at how serving has never been so relevant a tool for reaching our culture. We'll spend some time observing social trends and contrast today's movement with the unbiblical form of past social gospel (specifically in the areas of eschatology and doctrine of salvation). We'll also discuss personal responsibility by unpacking the temptation to use the label of 'social gospel' as an excuse to deflect social responsibility, and expose how we often reduce the gospel to being just spiritual good news while ignoring the emotional, relational, and physical needs of our world.* 'The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a remind-er of nothing.' — John Berger (Why? There is no reason for poverty today. We literally have every re-source to abolish it. Our only need is the people willing to give it.) binding and lossening.* The Church of tomorrow (what are we leaving our kids)* Hollywood and Justice: Where's the Church?* Never been more culturally relevant. (Church Growth)* A discussion of changing the posture of church to the unbelieving world through observing the natural 'Missional Flow' as discussed by Hugh Halter's 'Tangible Kingdom'3. THE DANGER with MISSIONAL without MISSION-MINDED:Chapter three will defend and celebrate fully the missional movement in the American church (as more than a fad) as the rediscovered biblical posture of Jesus, the Apostles, and the early church into the world. We'll discuss briefly through stories some major victories that have been experienced in the missional church, we'll discuss some of the new revelations of missional leaders, and we'll discuss some of the upcoming challenges of missional: Specifically the upcoming battle to not allow our 'missional communities' to become prideful, self-serving 'micro-consumer churches'. We'll propose the scriptural mandate to serve selflessly as a key component of keeping our posture 'outward'.* MISSIONAL JARGIN (defining missional, mission, and compassion).* Missional is not a Fad. It's Biblical. Service is the key to keeping it outward.* Observing what's next on the missional landscape: Serving's impact on missional/incarnational communi-ty.* Why the mission to engage need is critical (a) biblical (b) continuous.4. BALANCING GATHERING and SENDING of the Church (finding the crisis)The focus of this chapter will be to discuss through story and structure how (1) exposing, (2) experiencing, and (3) engaging need (crisis) creates a natural intersection between the sending and gathering components of church. At this place is created a spiritual 'Sweet Spot' for any faith community. We'll discuss the design and purpose of tension between the attractional and missional components of church, and give examples of how SERVING THE LEAST can be the catalyst for how the two can ultimately and uniquely work together. This chapter will offer a hopeful future for believers and leaders who feel they have to choose one emphasis over the other but want to do both.* Both/And: Key to our strategy (Hugh Halter)* Our Nature to gather. Our gathering Culture.* Need: Spiritual, Emotional (relational), and Physical — Mother Teresa.* Strategy of Exposing, Experiencing, and Engaging needs in community.5. TENSION and STRUCTURING FOR SERVING (Compassion Ministry)This chapter will dig deeper into the built in 'tension' of mission. We'll discuss the personal, spiritual, and corpo-rate impact of giving away, offer a framework to build upon, and help the reader process the journey. We'll share stories of tension and celebrate the breakthroughs that resulted from addressing the tension in community. A helpful element of this chapter will be found in highlighting the reality of dealing with where we really are in our organizational structure and offering some sensible next steps.* Structure of staff meetings* Personnel and Salaries.* Structuring through tension.* The sacrifice of tension.* The difference between self-less service and self-service.* Evaluating our motives.6. SERVICE-MINDED COMMUNITY.The key to effective missional/incarnational community is found in maintaining our missional posture. We also need to understand the difference between being mission minded and being missional. This requires not only an individual understanding of our 'sentness' but also a collective structure (as discussed in the intro) that provides (1) margin to live a 'sent' life and (2) the permission to make doing so in community a priority. Since one of the goals of the Barefooted Church is to move away from service events to service as a lifestyle, this chapter will provide a very simple and specific list of essentials for serving in community that helps catalyze that change in perspective. (and the stories that go with them).* Mission and staying 'sent'* Decentralized leadership* Illustrating the 'love your neighbor, serve your city' model.* Balancing Incarnational Community with Missional Community7. EVANGELISM AND SERVING (Compassion Ministry)The common belief is that serving never leads to conversion. Untrue. Alan Graham once said, 'There are two in-extricable links to the Gospel: Evangelism and Serving the Poor'. This chapter will tell story after story of how people have earned the trust of the lost through serving resulting in them coming to faith. Powerful stories. We will focus on how serving without motive literally creates a bridge to sharing faith, how it often leads to earning the right to be heard, how it often restores broken faith, and the impact of the reality that when 'it's the Gospel you receive, it's the Gospel you intuitively life.'* Two Inextricable Links: Gospel and Serving the Poor* Posture of Service and the walls it breaks down* Stories of those coming to faith through service* Stories of those returning to faith through relationship/service8. DISCIPLESHIP AND SERVING (Compassion Ministry)One of the most surprising fruits of serving the least is heart transformation. For years as a Pastor of Spiritual development, I did everything I could to help people grow. We had program after program and bible study after bible study. Each time resulting in people feeling like they just needed to be fed more. This chapter will discuss the personal journey of transformation, how serving the least is a huge part of discipleship, and will offer some amazing stories of life-long believers who experienced the nourishment of the Spirit for what some consider the 'first time in their lives' through serving the poor. To quote one such person, 'I found Jesus at the bottom. It's a wonder I ever had any real fellowship with Him at any other place.'* Go and make disciples. What does that mean?* Selfless Service of a Disciple: Serving with a REAL heart to gain nothing.* Obedience, Self-Sacrifice, and Sacrificial giving.* 'Nothing of great significance comes without great sacrifice'* The strategy of doing what you least want to do.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 13, 2012

    What the church should look like.

    Brandon challenges believers to take serious what Christ takes serious... serving the least. This book isn't about 10 easy steps to church growth and it's not a "recipe for success" in getting people through your doors. Rather, it is a challenge to substantiate the claims that we make as Christ-followers by living them. He shows us, through his own church's story (ANC), what community looks like when people are the biggest priority, not the offering plate or size of your lobby. My hope is that church leaders all over will read this book and implement it's principles. Brandon doesn't claim to have all the answers and his humble approach in challenging us to live differently is what gives this book it's appeal. Instead of another overly calculated strategic "catch-all" for ministry implementation we get a "barefoot" version of what Christ's church could and should look like in America. Buy this book, read it, and do it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Our religious culture is a consumer culture. Whether through wor

    Our religious culture is a consumer culture. Whether through worship services or other church activities, most Christians are spectators rather than an integral part of the action. Brandon Hatmaker, senior pastor of the Austin New Church and co-founder of Missio, wants to change all that. In Barefoot Church: Servicing the Least in a Consumer Culture (Zondervan, 2011), he reminds us that, in the words of James, pure religion requires serving the poor and oppressed, not sitting on the sidelines a few times a week expecting to be entertained. Hatmaker wants to get every member of every church involved in community service projects, which unfortunately have taken a backseat to evangelism.

    There’s a backlash against this view primarily because church leaders tend to fear “social gospel,” the preaching and teaching that society can be saved through prohibition, soup kitchens, and improved sanitation, rather than through Jesus Christ. This isn’t what Hatmaker’s promoting. He’s calling Christians to return service to its rightful place beside the proclamation of the Gospel. He’s looking for barefoot Christians, those willing to give up their shoes for the homeless on the spot, regardless of whether or not there’s an opportunity to convert them.

    Right now, churches direct most of their resources to “getting people in the door.” This method has failed to produce the kind of growth expected. The “unchurched” don’t have their material needs met, and the “dechurched” have left because church, as church is usually done, appears irrelevant to the real world. The solution? Hatmaker advocates a major structural overhaul. His most controversial suggestion? Canceling morning worship service once a month so that the congregation can go out and actually meet the needs of the community.

    When a church’s priorities change, Hatmaker foresees real progress being made. Why obsess over attendance counts when there are orphans to adopt and sex trafficking victims to rehabilitate? And what about partnering with other organizations to give Christians an opportunity to connect with those demographics underrepresented in church, like college professors? The refusal to do so, he points out, is often connected with an unwillingness to set aside some church agenda to get a service job done. In addition, churches crave public recognition for their work, pitting them against nonprofit organizations as competition instead of allies with common goals.

    I enjoyed Barefoot Church largely because it got straight to the point. Yes, there were plenty of stories to illustrate the problem at hand along with Bible verses to convince the reader of the necessity of service, but Hatmaker focuses on the logistics of getting a program set up without burning out leaders or guilt tripping members who don’t have time. One area he doesn’t touch upon nearly enough is conflict within a congregation. Breaking away from the norm will likely cause division. Hatmaker sort of assumes that his readers are working within an autocratic system in which a senior pastor can create new projects and change church structure at whim. However, those coming from situations tightly controlled by the congregation, a team of elders, or a denominational authority need more advice on how to win over others. Yes, the church should make service a priority, but for small congregations especially, everyone needs to be on board with the idea.

    P.S. Hatmaker also has written the Barefoot Church Primer: An 8-week Guide to Serving through Community to help churches get started.

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  • Posted September 8, 2012

    A challenging read. The author reminds us as followers of Jesus

    A challenging read. The author reminds us as followers of Jesus to DO, to ACT. Take your faith and be a light to the world around you. Show love and benevolence. This book gives some ideas and suggestions on how to do that in church as a group and individually.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    Great Book on How the Church will be revelant in the future

    Honest look at what it means to be a church today. Not preachy. Understands how hard it is for an established church to move from tradition to meeting people where they are and helping in our communities. Lots of good ideas. So good, we bought extra copies for key people in our church.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    Sample is not a sample.

    Seven page sample gets you partway thru the table of contents. Not too helpful in getting a taste of the book!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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