Ever since my 20s, I’ve been a voracious reader of Christian books. The problem I faced, however, is that the authors of those books were either dead or they were completely inaccessible.
There was no way to contact them with a question or a comment. Sure, I could write the publisher, but good luck with that.
So taking my cue from our Lord’s words, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” we’ve created this page.
If your question is about Pagan Christianity or Reimagining Church, check this page first as I’ve answered scores of questions on those titles already.
If your question is about From Eternity to Here, check here first. And be sure to click the link at the bottom of that page also.
What follows are the most frequently asked questions to date along with my answers. If you have a question that isn’t addressed on this page, send an email here with your question.
April 30, 2013: Frank, I can’t believe you’re giving away 25 resources if we buy your book this week. My wife and I have been helped by your ministry so much over the years an we’d like to give back. We’re going to be buying copies of your book tomorrow to share with friends. How else can we help? Do you have a launch team we can join?
It’s really kind of you to write these words. I love your hearts. The answers is, Yes, you and everyone else reading this can be part of the book launch team! There’s not “cut” to try to make. Click here and you’ll see a list of short updates that you can post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, a Blog template for blogs, and some photos for Pinterest. Thanks again.
April 27, 2013: I love the cover of your new book. Is it a picture of Bethany, the town?
Thanks and yes. It’s an image of what first-century Bethany looked like. Glad you like it. I’ve only heard a few people remark about the cover, so I had wondered if people didn’t like it.
April 25, 2013: Hey Frank. I just want to let you know that I really appreciate you defending Rick Warren over the last few weeks. What some Christians are doing to him and spreading about him is just evil. I don’t know Rick and I don’t agree with him on everything but he’s a brother and no one deserves to be treated like that. I’ve also noticed that you never defend yourself against criticism and I’ve never seen you attack a person who said bad things about you. This has been an example to me because I’m quick to get defensive if someone misunderstands me even. So thank you for setting a “high road” example for my wife and I. Can you give me your thoughts on this and how you came to this place in your life?
First, thanks for the wonderful encouragement. It means a lot. Second, I’m impressed that you noticed. As I said in my post, An Audience of One, we don’t follow the Lord’s more difficult teachings so that others will notice and applaud. We do it unto Him. But when someone does notice, it’s always an encouragement because you’re aware that you’re setting an example for other Christians.
I cut my teeth on being mentored by Watchman Nee and T. Austin-Sparks via their writings. These two men were major assets to the kingdom of God, and for that reason, the kingdom of darkness did their best to destroy their ministries and reputations.
I remember when reading Against the Tide (Nee’s biography), I literally wept at what he went through. The lies, the attacks, the slander, the ill-treatment, the betrayal by fellow believers. Nee sacrificed his life for God’s people, laying his life down for the saints again and again and again. And in the end, those who conjured up vicious and scurrilous rumors about him managed to convince some of the gullible people whom Nee loved and served.
The same thing happened with T. Austin-Sparks. I’ve talked to some of his friends (before they passed) and they told me that Sparks was “the most hated Christian” in England during the time in which he lived. Both Nee and Sparks set an example for me as a young man never to defend myself when under personal attack.
Here’s my standard: Answer those who come to you in good faith and think the best of you, but never defend or counter-attack. (Scripture is clear that if we have an issue with a brother or sister, we are to go to them directly. Those who don’t do this typically have an evil agenda operating behind the shadows. Often, it’s rooted in jealousy.)
As I read the stories of Nee and Sparks in my 20s, I instinctively knew what was in store for me if I said “yes” to the unique calling that God had placed on my life. Everyone who is making a dent in the kingdom of darkness is going to draw fire from that realm. And it typically comes in the form of slander and false accusations. (The devil means “slanderer” and he is called “the accuser of the brethren.”)
Like many of my friends who are turning the sod on some important matters in the Christian faith, I’ve got rumors on me that make The Walking Dead seem real! . I’ve been confused with people with the same name, and yes, I also eat babies for breakfast and am a closet serial killer . . . but don’t tell anyone.
All of this is par for the course. In answer to your question, I’ve built certain things into my life and walk with Jesus over the years. One is to repent when I do something wrong immediately and apologize to those who are directly affected. I keep very short accounts for this reason. The second is to never defend myself under false attack. Instead, I’m to be silent just as my Lord was when He was falsely accused. (Take a look at some of the outrageous things that both He and Paul were accused of during their lifetime. It’s strains the bounds of credulity until they break.)
Parsing madness is a fool’s errand. I refuse to get into the pit and touch tar babies. Rolling around with mud-slingers then trying to wipe off the mud only gets it into your clothes. If you leave it alone, the Lord has a way of drying it up until it falls off of you. Jesus and Paul taught us this well. Even Peter exhorts us to walk in the same path saying,
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps . . . when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
The Lord knows how to defend His servants and deal with those who have given themselves over to the profound wickedness of lying about His servants.
As for Rick Warren, I love him. There’s no question that God’s favor is on the man’s life. If anyone doubts that, they aren’t in touch with their spiritual instincts. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he has written. I don’t know any two well-known Christians who agree on everything. Shoot, I don’t agree with some of what I myself believed years ago!
But Rick is my brother and I will go to bat for any brother or sister in Christ who is being unjustly attacked like Rick has been recently.
The governing question in all of these things is very simple, and Jesus said it over and over again as being the greatest of all the commandments. Even fulfilling the Law and the Prophets.
Treat others the same way you want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
So when I see Rick being the subject of mud-slinging and stone-throwing, especially at the time of his greatest pain (losing a son), I go to bat for him. Why? Because I’d want the same treatment if it were me.
Martin Luther King Jr. once wisely said, “In the end, it’s not the words of your enemies that we remember, but the silence of our friends.”
I don’t want to be guilty of being a “silent friend.” I’ve heard so much slander against people I know and respect in ministry that I’ve lost count. The sad thing is, that slander has come at the hands of fellow “Christians.”
In prophecy, Jesus said, “I was wounded in the house of My friends” . . . and “Whatever happened to me will happen to you too.” Paul’s fiercest enemies were professing “Christians” who were driven by envy. Just read 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Acts 13 to the end.
So whenever I hear something negative about another person, my default setting is ”OFF” . . . meaning, I don’t buy one word of it. Why? Because I want to treat that person being attacked just like I would want to be treated if it were me being attacked (Matthew 7:12). If I have a concern, I follow what Jesus taught us to do: Go to them directly and privately and inquire with an open mind.
All human beings, whether Christian or non-Christian, would want the same treatment. If every person who names the name of Christ would treat others the same way they would want to be treated in the same circumstances, “the world would know” that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and the Father sent Him. The reason why the world watches and laughs at believers today, not wanting anything to do with Jesus, is because this rarely happens.
So that’s my 13 cents on the matter. Thanks for asking.
April 12, 2013: I know you’ve not been involved in organic church for a few years now to focus on the poor and write about Jesus studies (see, I pay attention to your blog). But can you share a little about what you do in helping the poor? I’m super interested in this.
Sure. There are four layers to it:
1) There are three adults who I help on a regular basis with financial support, emotional support, and spiritual support. They are all poor and unable to work for various reasons.
2) I volunteer at a nearby ministry regularly that has a soup kitchen, a thrift store, and a food pantry. They also help people apply for jobs and give guidance on how the homeless can find housing. Many of the people who work at this ministry are poor themselves and I’m developing relationships with them.
3) I carry with me an envelope that has money, a short note about Jesus and the gospel, and the phone numbers of two organizations that help the poor and the homeless locally. Whenever I come in contact with people who need help (often in parking lots, etc., asking for money), I give them one of the envelopes. Brennan Manning inspired this idea years ago, but I’ve upgraded it a bit. In line with that, I sometimes will buy a person a meal when they ask me for money on the street.
4) I support two global organizations that I like a lot: Bread for the World and Heifer International. You can look them up online. That’s a quick sketch. See also Blessed Are the Undesirable and Following Your Spiritual Instincts Regarding the Poor.
April 10, 2013: Frank, one of the things I appreciate about you the most is that you don’t make any pretense that you’re better or greater or more spiritual than anyone else and you give all glory to God. It’s refreshing to see authors in the Christian world admit they’ve made mistakes and they are still learning. Your message on Remembering Peter really set me free in this area. How often are you putting up new podcast episodes and what are the ways that I can download them?
Thanks for the kind words and for noticing. Psalm 115:1 is my life’s verse. We are nothing, Christ is Everything. If someone pretends that they are perfect, they’re bluffing. Self-righteousness is one of the things that makes the Lord quite upset. Jesus was the only Person in the universe who has the right to be self-righteous, and He isn’t.
You can get the podcast on iTunes, RSS feed, or from Podbean. Click here for each. Right now we are uploading one or two episodes a month. We are also in the process of putting together a table for all the podcast archives, which will enable people to see all the episodes on a single page.
April 2, 2013: When will you list the 25 free gifts that people will get if they buy your new book between May 1st and May 7th?
I will list them on this blog on May 1st. If you sign up to our Book Update list, you’ll get a special email reminder of the offer so you’re sure not to miss it.
April 1, 2013: I just found your blog and subscribed to it. How long will it take for me to get your free revised ebook, Rethinking the Will of God and the Next Reformation seminar?
It typically takes two to three weeks after subscribing. And they will come via Email. That window gives readers time to explore the blog and get the flavor of it.
March 2, 2013: A reader of your blog told me that you are now carrying DeVern Fromke’s books. Is this true? If so where can I find them?
Yes. Click here to find DeVern’s books. I recommend them all.
February 20, 2013: I’m doing a study on tithing in the New Testament. I was told that you wrote something about this. Where can I find it?
In our book Pagan Christianity, George Barna and I dedicate an entire chapter on the subject from the Old Testament, New Testament, and church history.
December 2, 2012: Where can I find your books in other languages (other than English)?
Click this link and you will be taken to our translations page. The page is being updated constantly as other titles are being translated each year.
November 13, 2012: Do you have a statement of faith?
My statement of faith is found in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. I explain my thoughts on the “essential doctrines” of the Christian faith in this post on the creeds. I also share my views on the Bible in this post.
October 5, 2012: Do you have any discounts for people who want to buy any of your books in bulk?
Yes, click this link for bulk discounts.
August 2, 2012: I’ve been reading your blog for a year now and I’m really inspired by it. I’d like to begin writing. What tips can you give me about blogging and about writing and publishing books?
Over the years, I’ve created several blog posts answering these questions as they are quite common. Here’s where I’d start.
July 30, 2012: Frank, I’ve been a subscriber of your blog since January and I’ve also read your last four books: Jesus Manifesto, Revise Us Again, Epic Jesus and Beyond Evangelical. It seems to me that your ministry has changed somewhat from your earlier books (I’m thinking Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church, and Finding Organic Church). Do you still agree with those books?
Yes, absolutely. Your observation is correct in that the focus of my ministry has moved from organic missional church to the deeper Christian life and Jesus studies. I wrote about this shift here in some detail. Please read it.
Interestingly, N.T. Wright was asked this same question in a recent interview. And here was his response:
“Everything that I’ve said before I still want to endorse, but I now see certain themes more clearly — they stand out perhaps more sharply . . .”
I would say with Wright that I still endorse all that I’ve written about organic missional church in the past. In fact, as I said in a recent interview with George Barna, I am more convinced today about the things I’ve written in Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church, and Finding Organic Church than when I originally wrote them.
However, since those books are readily available, there’s no reason to rehash the subjects again and again. I’ve moved on to exploring other areas that are on my heart and which “stand out more sharply.”
Epic Jesus summarizes everything I’ve ever written or spoken, tying it all together in one cohesive story.
June 27, 2012: I read your books Pagan Christianity and Reimagining Church. These books gave me words to describe how I’ve felt for a long time and they answered many questions I’ve had. I’ve been looking for an organic church but I cannot find any like what you describe in your books anywhere near me. When I bring the subject up to some of my friends, they have no idea what I’m talking about. I was able to find a few house churches in the area but they aren’t anything like what you talk about. They’re a lot like the weekly cell groups from one of the churches I used to attend. They’re just bible studies really. Where can I find an organic church?
Your question is extremely common. “Where do I find this?”
In the past, I used to refer people to the churches I’ve planted or am in a working relationship with. But I stopped doing that (except on rare occasions) because people had to relocate to be part of them (something I generally discourage).
Sometimes people would be so overwhelmed by the glory they found in these churches that they would quit their jobs and moved without first finding work in the city where the church was located. This brought a great strain on their families as well as the church. In most cases of that sort, those same people ended up moving back to where their parents lived (to receive financial help).
In other cases, the churches were receiving so many visitors that they became overwhelmed and couldn’t move forward. Sometimes people moved to be in the church who shouldn’t have. It clearly wasn’t the Lord’s will and the church suffered as a result. So I stopped referring people to such churches except on rare occasions when the Lord clearly showed me that it was His desire for someone to visit and/or relocate to a particular fellowship. I don’t encourage people to relocate to be part of a church except in extremely rare situations and they feel that God is leading them that way already.
The fact is, authentic organic expressions of the church do exist (I know about a dozen of them — Christ-centered, experiencing community, and reaching out to the world around them — having worked with some of them firsthand). But they are rare in my experience and observation. The same can be said about any kind of church — institutional, denominational, etc. Excellent churches are a rare find in our day, period.
There are thousands of “house churches.” But that which I speak about in my books is something that is costly to birth, survive and thrive. So for those living in the West at least, it’s neither popular nor common. This has always been the case when it comes to authentic Christ-centered communities. History bears this out.
That said, I encourage people to begin the process of gathering under Christ where they live instead of trying to find a group to attach themselves to. The great need today is for more expressions of the body of Christ living in Christian community under the headship of Jesus. It is for this very reason that I wrote Finding Organic Church. In Part 3 of that book, I give step-by-step instructions on how to plant the seed for an organic expression of the church to take root right where you live.
Many churches have been spawned by the book. I’ve not planted most of them and have no relationship with them at all, they just carried out the principles in the book.
All of the suggestions in the book have come out of my experience of over 20 years of gathering with, planting, working with, and observing organic expressions of the church, including mistakes and successful discoveries from the journey. So the content isn’t theoretical; it was hammered out on the anvil of real life. I trust you will find it of help.
In the meantime, ask God to bring you into a relationship with people who love Jesus where you live. If you can find some, you’ve found a precious thing, regardless of the form it may take or the kind of church to which they might belong. Don’t make the mistake of getting hung up on insisting on finding the perfect organic church before you decline fellowship with other Christians. It may take years for the kind of church experience you’re seeking to come into existence, and God may want you to first develop friendships with the believers in your area, even though they may be in structures that are not according to your ideal.
June 12, 2012: My wife and I are planning on leaving our church. Do you have any suggestions on how best to do it?
I’ve received this question often over the years. So much so that I wrote an entire post answering it. You can find my 13 cents at How (Not) to Leave a Church.
June 4, 2012: I’ve read your books Reimagining Church and Finding Organic Church and it’s obvious to me that you have a lot of experience in organic church. You even mention that you were a non leader in an organic church before you started to plant organic churches. Can you briefly share a little about your experience?”
Sure. I’ve spoken about it in other places, but in brief, my first experience of organic church life was when I was in college. I was part of an informal community of believers who had a vibrant shared life in Christ. We had no “leaders” and didn’t call ourselves a church. But we touched the experience of body life and there was a lot of ministry (including the casting out of demons). I didn’t know it at the time of course, for I had no language or understanding for it. But it was a real, powerful, and healthy expression of organic church life. And it wrecked me for life.
Following that experience, I was part of a spontaneous burst of body life for 8 long years. The experience was so intense that we crammed 16 years into 8 in that church. That experience was the initial basis of my books and ministry to organic churches. It served as a seedbed of many experiences and lessons from which to draw — many from mistakes, failed experiments, and wonderful discoveries by God’s grace.
It was a healthy expression, glorious at times, but also filled with bouts of gore and crisis as is the case with all authentic organic churches (the NT is the summary witness of this, once you get past the honeymoon period). We had no pastor and no religious building, only Christ, and we survived for many years.
That 8-year experience of authentic Christian community is where I learned many of the lessons I’ve since written about, all borne from real-life experience. An oft-quoted statement of mine, “organic church life is a wedding of glory and gore” isn’t a bloodless platitude; it’s been my experience and observation for many years. In November of 1995, that church laid hands on me and sent me out to the work of church planting. I spoke about many of the lessons I learned during that experience of body life in the 2005 Portland Conference.
Following that experience, I was part of another expression where I was again a non-leader, but a brother among other brothers and sisters. It was an “Antioch” of sorts for me; someone else had planted the church. I would travel and report back to the fellowship upon my return. The years in that fellowship were intense, and the group was pretty strong on the Christian community side while I was there (before I relocated to another city).
Since then, I’ve been part of several organic churches in the capacity of a brother as well as someone who laid the foundation with other coworking. Several years ago I was part of a church after the “Jerusalem” model where I and other coworkers lived among the saints while laying the foundation to a beautiful expression of the ekklesia.
Today, I’m in a new season where I’m not focused on organic church at all, but am building relationships with non-Christians and the poor. (See my post Blessed Are the Undesirable.) I am also traveling a lot and developing relationships with Christians and leaders who are part of institutional churches. But as you rightly pointed out, my books aren’t a study in arm-chair philosophy, but represent over 20 years of on-the-ground experience in authentic organic expressions of the church. I’ve never returned to the institutional church since I left 24 years ago (to date).
And as I’ve repeated elsewhere, much of what I’ve learned about the church comes from the body of Christ in the trenches. I consider myself to be an observing botanist, watching the life of the ekklesia in different forms and cultures and the various seasons through which she passes. I’ve often said that there are no experts in the business of the ekklesia, but experience is an invaluable teacher. And sometimes a painful one. Nonetheless, I’m still in school, and as my Twitter profile puts it: I’m “always learning, never arriving.”
October 6, 2011: I’ve been talking to a friend and want your feedback on something. My friend has never read any of your books, but he’s heard about Pagan Christianity and says that there is no difference between a pastor receiving a salary for his ministry and an author who receives money for books, a music artist who receives money for a CD, and a film producer who receives money for a film. I can think of a few differences between these and a pastor who gets paid to give sermons, but what is your response to this? Can you also talk about your own practice when it comes to book sales and receiving honorariums when you speak?
Great questions, Jeff. I’ve already addressed this a few years ago elsewhere, but I’ll address it again here.
You are right. There are major differences. So the comparison is not valid. It’s like comparing bananas with lemons. Let me explain.
An author who writes a printed book – whether a Christian or not – is creating a tangible product that costs money to produce. The same with a music artist who puts out a CD or a film producer who creates a film or DVD. These are tangible products that cost money to produce. They don’t appear out of thin air.
I don’t personally know anyone who has a problem with a person – even a pastor – who produces a book and allows a publisher to charge for it. Or a person – even a pastor – who produces a music CD and recoups the cost by selling it. The same with a film-maker. It would be different if these items cost nothing to produce. But they cost a lot of money, actually.
As to your other question, over 97% of my material is free of charge (see the Mediography, Blog Archives, and Podcast). While I have no problem with a pastor (or any other author or artist) who profits personally from their book sales, music sales, or film sales, I have chosen not to.
I don’t profit personally from my book sales. That money is designated to help the poor and to pay for ministry expenses.
A clergy salary is a totally different animal from producing a tangible product like a printed book, CD, or DVD. Those like John Howard Yoder, Watchman Nee, Roland Allen, Jon Zens, and many others who have objected to clergy salaries on the basis of the New Testament and church history point out that salaried pastors are being paid to be a “professional religious specialist” and to regularly preach sermons to a congregation.
They are being paid to be “the minister” for a group of God’s people, when in fact the New Testament calls every believer to be a minister, a priest, and a functioning part of the body of Christ. In a church that’s operating according to New Testament principles, every member functions, ministers, serves, shares, contributes, etc.
(To such churches, paying a “minister” would be unthinkable. They would respond by saying, “Excuse me, but we are all carrying a piece of the ark. We all function, we all take care of the church, we all minister, we all serve, etc. Does that mean we all should get paid?”).
More and more scholars today are pointing out that the modern institutional church has separated God’s people into clergy and laity (a separation that both Karl Barth and James D.G. Dunn decried as being heretical).
And there is no biblical basis for this separation. Yet it is the major justification for modern clergy salaries. The clergy are the producers of spiritual commodities; the laity are the consumers. The clergy are the entertainers; the laity are the spectators.
Many of the 1,700 pastors who leave the clergy system in the USA per month have left because they’ve come to the conviction that the pastorate in its modern form is unbiblical and their conscience doesn’t square with playing the role of a professional minister.
Be sure to read the first testimonial.
I happen to agree. And for that reason (here’s the answer to your last question), I’ve never charged for my ministry of shepherding God’s people, instructing them, encouraging them, taking care of them, and navigating them through problems.
Nor do I charge an honorarium when I speak in a church or at a conference. If people wish to give a gift out of love or appreciation, that’s fine and perfectly scriptural (Galatians 6:6). But I don’t require or ask for it.
While I have no problem with authors who charge honorariums, I’ve chosen not to require this when I’m invited to speak somewhere. (This has raised a few eye-brows from conference hosts. They are not accustomed to it. Especially when some authors I know charge $10,000 a day for one talk.)
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul tells us that apostolic workers (who are itinerant and not local like elders/overseers are) have a spiritual right to receive financial support. However, Paul chose not to exercise this right, so as not to be a burden on God’s people. He also instructed the local elders to follow his example and not take from God’s people, but rather to give to them (Acts 20).
While I have no problem with genuine apostolic workers receiving financial support today (just as Peter did, for example), I’ve chosen to raise the same standard that Paul did. And I’d personally like to see more servants of the Lord do the same.
However, Peter’s receiving financial support from God’s people is very different from a set clergy salary. (Watchman Nee’s argument differentiating the two in his book, The Normal Christian Church Life, is brilliant.)
I deal with the historical data for when the Christian clergy emerged and started to receive a salary in Pagan Christianity And in Reimagining Church, I deal with the biblical data regarding ministry support in the New Testament, including the oft-quoted passage in 1 Timothy 5 that deals with granting “double-honor” to some of the elders.
Note that I have good friends who are salaried pastors and this issue doesn’t hinder our fellowship. As Christians, we can agree to disagree on various points of Scripture and still stand together with respect to the Lordship of Jesus. It’s not an issue.
Here are three other places where I’ve discussed this question. So you may want to check them out as well: