Learning to be a church in the world for the world is the subtitle of Laurie Beshore’s book, Love without Walls. The new move in Christianity is the old move of living out the faith in the world around us. Such a life is not only motivated by love, but demonstrates that love in practical ways. And in Laurie Beshore’s case, those practical ways come with a strong dose of humility and a large dose of seeking to launch a transformational movement.
Most how to books simply tell you how they did it, and because it worked for them in their context, it should work for you in yours. If there are any mistakes along the way, they are usually early and they are often few. The emphasis is on successes not failures.
That’s why I loved, Love without Walls. Laurie Beshore does more then write a how to move your church into the community. She writes of stories and transformation, mistakes and missteps. She doesn’t come off with having all the answers, just a simple plan follow where God guides, bring His love and keep at it, no matter how many missteps along the way.
Her honesty in telling the story of Mariners Church’s movement into community ministry is not only an inspiration, but a path to follow towards transformation. Love without Walls begins with how Mariner’s journey led them to outreach in their community. Their 25 years of community compassion ministry are covered with every misstep and growth step along the way. Best intentions sometimes get misplaced when we don’t listen to those we seek to help, or when we come as the one with the answers instead of recognizing there are lessons we can learn from each other.
One of my favorite stories of the book is about Don who invented wheel chairs for 3rd world countries. I have seen them used before, and to hear the back story amazed me how God is at work. Or the story of the Minnie Street Learning Center, as Mariners came in with a desire to transform a Santa Ana community, and found themselves transformed in the process.
Though Love without Walls is filled with stories, it is also filled with principles that can be applied across congregational sizes and contexts. The Funnel principle which highlights exposing people to safe first step ministry until the funnel is narrowed as people are enfolded in ministry then even narrowed even more to engage and equip, and finally empowered to lead in the ministry.
I give the book 5 stars out of 5. It was not only a great read nor just a great inspiration, it helped me to see a path of service and engage in our community for our church in La Mesa. We have begun to take some first steps and Laurie’s stories pointed out some potential potholes in the road ahead as well as launching pads for leveraging ministry.
I was able to review the book thanks to Zondervan and netgalley.com as I received a galley to read on my Kindle. I was not required to write a positive review. The one down side of the book is it does not come out until June 1, 2012, and when it does pick up a copy, it is a great read for churches and Christians who want to make a difference in their community. As part of the Leadership Network Innovation Series it joins a long line of books that I have read over the years that lay out innovative ministry in ways that can become everyday life changing ministry in congregations.
Where is God stretching you to reach out to your community? What missteps and inspirational stories is He teaching you along the way?