One thing that I have learned in the last five years of traveling the country speaking is that pastors like to hear from pastors when it comes to pastoral matters. Of course, pastors want to hear from experts on biblical exegesis and on history and social trends, but when it comes to running the church and creating sermons and church growth, they prefer to hear from those who have done it and not just from those who are on the ground level doing the work. And I have to tell you that I rely constantly on pastors to hear what is going on at the ground level, and I like to hear pastors respond to my theories. That is why I want to recommend Dave Gibbons’ new book The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series).

Dave Gibbons, pastor at NewSong in Irvine California, wrote this book. (And I’m irritated right now because I couldn’t find a picture of Dave on the church’s website, which says something about him and the church that I like, but I’d like to have found a picture brother.)
One word puts this whole book together: liquid. We live in a different world — and Gibbons knows the realities of cultural shifts at work in the world, and this is a pastor who is working hard with others to empower Christians to speak the gospel in our day in our way. Which varies from culture to culture — and this book speaks about how NewSong church has worked at bringing the gospel to Thailand and London and the inner city of Los Angeles. Liquid is about adaptability; another expression for Gibbons’ view of “liquid” is “courageous, risky missional living.”

First, third culture. First culture is the dominant homogenous culture we live in. Second culture how folks live who are not comfortable with the first culture. But third culture is “the mindset and will to live, learn, ad serve in any culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort.”

Second, the three questions that liquid, third culture Christians can be asking: (1) where is Nazareth [or the other side of the tracks for you]?, (2) what is my pain [and a theology of suffering]?, and (3) what is in my hand [what has God given you to contribute]?

And third, the major currents of third culture Christianity: liquid, wardrobe, neighbor, liquid Bruce Lee (water takes on the shape of the container — and speaks of consumerism to cause-ism, a shift from pastor/teacher to pastor/social entrepeneur, and from linear pathways to third-culture rhythms), the three questions from above, craving ways to make a difference, and ripples … these are images of how third culture Christianity works.

There is so much here for pastors … a pastor talking to pastors and leaders about how NewSong has learned to become a third culture, missional, liquid church.

Here is a video of Dave talking about the book and his view of Third Culture.


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