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  • Daily Office Lectionary: Revised and Updated

    I’m happy to announce the release of my latest writing project—the Daily Office Lectionary: Revised and Updated.

    I came to faith in a Southern Baptist church in the heart of the evangelical tradition. When I was a teenager my Baptist pastors, teachers, and mentors taught me (among other things) to love the Bible. I would spend hours in my teenage bedroom reading the Bible, taking notes, and jotting down my questions. Even after I stepped away from worshiping in a Baptist context, I continued to be devoted to the Scriptures.

    As a young pastor in a non-denominational church, I found my Bible reading waning. I struggled with the motivation to read the Bible devotionally when a lot of my work as a pastor included studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible.

    Nearly every January I’d pick up a new Bible reading plan. I tried reading a chapter a day. I tried two different versions of The One-Year Bible. I tried, and failed to complete, many Bible reading checklists! Nothing seemed to work. I was frustrated.

    I felt a bit embarrassed that I could not find my groove.

    I wanted to be consistent in my Bible reading, but nothing seemed to click until I discovered the Daily Office Lectionary in the back of The Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the prayer book of the Episcopal Church. I didn’t grow up with a prayer book, but I discovered the BCP when I learned to pray written, liturgical prayers. The lectionary invited me into a simple rhythm of Bible reading that has been life-giving!

    For years I have used the 1979 BCP during morning prayer which includes Bible reading following the Daily Office Lectionary.

    “Lectionary” is a traditional word for a collection of Scripture passages to be read at a particular time. The “daily office” refers to fixed times of prayer throughout the day. While the Church of England designed the Daily Office Lectionary for Scripture reading in both the morning and evening, this revised and updated lectionary is for morning Bible reading.

    The primary revision of this lectionary has been the removal of the readings from the Apocryphal or deuterocanonical books. In their place are additional readings from the Old Testament.

    While this two-year Bible reading plan will not take you through the entire Bible, it covers the majority of both the Old and New Testaments. The readings are organized around the liturgical calendar beginning with Advent. So while you can start the Daily Office Lectionary at any time, Advent is the perfect time to begin!

    The best feature of the Daily Office Lectionary is the order of the readings. Every day you will be given a passage from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels—in that order. The last thing you will read every day is something from Jesus or something about Jesus. This lectionary provides the passages to read every day. You are free to read in whatever translation of the Bible you prefer.

    Order your copy of the Daily Office Lectionary on! Paperback and Kindle versions are available.

  • Centering Jesus is now available!

    You can order from, Amazon, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble,

    Centering Jesus is an impassioned call for us to fix our eyes on Jesus as the Lamb of God and to keep the Lamb at the center of our Christian experience. Here are what some friends are saying about the book:

    To be a Christian is, literally, to be of Christ. But as every longtime Christian knows, our lives are not automatically oriented around Jesus, particularly in a culture, like ours, obsessed with self, dismissive of virtue, and liable to forget God entirely. Derek Vreeland’s Centering Jesus is a timely and cogent call to refocus our eyes on Christ as the Lamb of God who calls us to witness to his peaceable Kingdom in faith, hope, and love. “Life is hard and humanity continues to invent new ways to compound the difficulties,” Vreeland writes, “but I remain hopeful.” In Centering Jesus, he ably invites readers to share in that hope.
    Bonnie Kristian, columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy and A Flexible Faith

    Living an authentic Christian life within the milieu of consumerism, militarism, and individualism so characteristic of Western culture is among the greatest spiritual challenges of modernity. It’s not entirely unlike the challenge faced by the first Christians living in the context of the Roman Empire. Though the challenge is real, the Christian life should always be understood as the thrilling alternative to the world that it is. And this is what makes Derek Vreeland’s new book so exciting and timely. Centering Jesus provides a series of trail markers for Christian pilgrims who seek to follow the Lamb in the way of life. This book will be an enormous help to all who are yearning for genuine spiritual transformation.
    Brian Zahnd, author of When Everything’s on Fire

    I’ve seen Jesus paraded through political arenas like a warhorse. I’ve watched his name sparkle and fade on screens when celebrities take center stage and peddle his principles. But I’ve rarely seen Jesus like this―centered, unadorned, except with the glory that is due to the Lamb who sits on the throne. Vreeland cuts through the clutter and helps us catch a glimpse of the Jesus for whom we truly long―the Jesus who can center our lives in grace and peace.
    Tommy Brown, author of The Seven Money Types and The Ache for Meaning

    Derek Vreeland has named an important truth: Jesus has not been centered in the church’s witness. Consequently, the credibility of the church has been severely compromised. But Vreeland doesn’t just name this reality. He offers a way forward to help us recapture the beauty of life in Christ. The three-layered framework of spiritual formation, ethics, and our shared life together is a clear and compelling vision to help us recapture our call to center Jesus in all things. I highly recommend this book.
    Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship and author of Good and Beautiful and Kind

    Who would worship a lamb? Understandably, we prefer stronger symbols to represent and shape our destinies: strength, power, and victory, not weakness, vulnerability, and sacrifice. Yet in Centering Jesus, Derek Vreeland reminds us that the Christian faith envisions a lamb at the center of the throne. Will we follow a God who comes to us not as a fighter but as a lamb? Vreeland writes winsomely, drawing from Scripture, theology, and church tradition to show us how we can behold and bow before the Lamb of God.
    Catherine McNiel, author of Fearing Bravely

    When society finally bottoms out on self-defeating polarization and escalating violence, perhaps it will stop dismissing the reign of a lamb enthroned on a cross as naive and impracticable. Derek Vreeland believes some hearts have had enough and been plowed so deeply as to receive at last the one who sows peace for a harvest of justice. Counterintuitive, yes―but we’ve tried every alternative to death (literally). Where donkeys, elephants, and eagles inevitably fail, Derek offers us the Lamb who is the Light and Life of the world.
    Bradley Jersak, author of the More Christlike trilogy and dean of Theology & Culture at St. Stephen’s University

    The world is noisy and chaotic. It provokes competition instead of collaboration and hoarding rather than sharing. We constantly need help so that we can love God and others well. Derek Vreeland offers some assistance for living and loving as he weaves together theological ideas, biblical and historical lessons, and personal experiences, all with an astute awareness of contemporary culture, to put a spotlight on Jesus, the Lamb of God. Vreeland’s wise, accessible, and thoughtful work gives readers practical guidance for living with Jesus as the center of all of life. Centering Jesus decreases the world’s background noise and points out ways that we can establish some order from chaos.
    Dennis R. Edwards, dean of North Park Theological Seminary

    In this politically charged moment marked by hostility, outrage, and division, the church often presents little more than an echo chamber of society. Derek helps the body of Christ retrieve a deeper and more centered allegiance―not in the shape of donkeys or elephants, but with a lamb at the center. He is a guide who has discovered life from the past and is passing it on to better our futures.
    AJ Sherrill, Anglican priest and author of Being with God

    With all the hostility boiling just under the surface of our world, we need a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb of God who can lead us in the peaceable ways of the Kingdom. When we fail to keep Jesus at the center of our lives, we lean into the desires of our hearts more than the desires God has for us. As a result, our entire spirituality becomes driven by the self and for the self. We need renewed practices of centering Jesus in our hearts and minds.

    Order Centering Jesus now!

  • Foreword to Centering Jesus by Sharon Hodde Miller

    Centering Jesus releases into the world in three months on August 22!

    You can pre-order now from Amazon or wherever you buy Christian books. You can still save 20% if you pre-order from NavPress.

    I’m happy to announce that author and pastor Sharon Hodde Miller has written the foreword! Sharon and her husband Ike lead Bright City Church in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. She has a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is the author of numerous books.

    She is a gifted speaker and writer and I was thrilled when she agreed to write the forward. Here is what she had to say.


    Foreword to Centering Jesus
    by Sharon Hodde Miller, Ph.D.

    Early in our marriage, my husband and I lived in a house serving as caretakers for the owners. The home was enormous and beautiful, with soaring glass windows that overlooked a private lake. We often joked that it was the nicest home we would ever live in (it was!), and its crowning jewel, displayed proudly in the center of the downstairs floor, was an antique Steinway grand piano.

    The piano was a classic black with real ivory keys. Whenever I slid onto the bench, I half expected Frank Sinatra to materialize beside me and croon. The piano was like a time capsule and a work of art all bound up in one, save for one notable exception: the sound. Although this piano was capable of producing transcendent notes, it had not been tuned in years. In its neglected state, the sound came out tinny, dissonant, and harsh. That is the problem with musical instruments. No matter the quality of their materials, no matter the genius of the master who crafted them, no matter how conscientiously they are stored, instruments drift. Without regular attention and care, their sound wanders, which is why they require constant retuning.

    I occasionally think back on that piano, because the human soul is so much the same. The early theologian St. Augustine once explained that every one of us is born incurvatus se—”curved in on ourselves”—until Jesus intervenes in our lives and unbends us, pointing our souls back towards our created end in him. Unfortunately, this is not a one-time fix. If left to ourselves, our souls will inevitably drift back to this inward facing position. That is why we—like a fine musical instrument—must constantly by re-tuned to, and by, Christ.

    However it’s not just our souls that need re-tuning. When I survey the state of the church right now—the division in our communities, the corruption in our leadership, the individualism in our theology, and the gleeful indulgence of outrage—there is a jarring dissonance. It is clear to me that our discipleship needs re-tuning. Christ-likeness is not, after all, the sort of thing one stumbles into. Without intentionality, without consistency, and without eyes fixed squarely on the Lamb of God, our souls, our methods, and our institutions will all naturally…drift.

    That is why this book is so important. The message of Centering Jesus is a clarion call to radically and dramatically re-center our lives—and our churches—around Jesus, not because we have abandoned him, but because we have crowded him. We cannot possibly tune our souls to Christ amidst a cacophony of competing allegiances.

    When we fail to center Jesus, we will center something else, and I have lived the anxiety and insecurity of that misplaced focus. But, I have also experienced the chain-breaking freedom of centering my gaze on Christ alone, which is why I was so eager to write this foreword. Both I, and Derek, desperately want the same freedom for you.


    Sharon is exactly right!

    We need to re-center our lives and churches around Jesus not because we have abandoned Jesus altogether “but because we have crowded him.” Isn’t this true? How many times do our hearts and churches get cluttered up with so much activity and business that Jesus gets pushed to the periphery?

    This is why I wrote Centering Jesus.

    It is a book that can help declutter our spiritual, moral, and community lives so that Jesus, the reigning Lamb of God, may once again take center stage.

    You can pre-order Centering Jesus now from Amazon or wherever you buy Christian books. And remember you can save 20% if you pre-order from NavPress.

  • Pre-Order Centering Jesus!

    Centering Jesus is currently set to release August 22, 2023!

    You can pre-order now at, Amazon, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble,

    Centering Jesus is an impassioned call for us to fix our eyes on Jesus as the Lamb of God and to keep the Lamb at the center of our Christian experience. Here is what my publisher has to say about the book:

    With all the hostility boiling just under the surface of our world, we need a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb of God who can lead us in the peaceable ways of the Kingdom. When we fail to keep Jesus at the center of our lives, we lean into the desires of our hearts more than the desires God has for us. As a result, our entire spirituality becomes driven by the self and for the self. We need renewed practices of centering Jesus in our hearts and minds.

    In Centering Jesus, Derek Vreeland invites you to imagine what it looks like to keep Jesus as the Lamb of God at the center of three key areas of our lives—our spiritual formation, our moral lives, and our common life together. With the deep divide in American culture and the polarization that continues to grow, we need a renewed focus on the Lamb so that we might blaze a path forward into civility and kindness.

    Learn how to:
    + identify the problems that occur when Jesus is obscured from our view;
    + walk through some of the key biblical descriptions of the Lamb;
    + describe a Lamb-shaped and Jesus-centered approach to the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love, the foundation of our moral lives; and
    + experience the Lamb at the center of common life together, specifically worship life, participation in acts of justice, and political life.

    Pre-order now!

  • Book Update

    Yesterday I wrapped up a round of edits on the new book, which has a new title: Centering Jesus: How the Lamb of God Transforms our Communities, Ethics, and Spiritual Lives. I finished the first draft on Good Friday this year. It went through a round of content editing which I worked through and I finished up the second draft yesterday. I have enjoyed working with the team at NavPress! We are still looking at a Summer 2023 release date.


    The book’s primary concept remains the same—centering Jesus as the Lamb of God in our Christian experience.

    The seed for this book came in the form of a phrase in Revelation 7:17: “…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd….” I’m convinced that a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb is what we need in these unsettled days. We need the Lamb at the center of our faith and spirituality.

    With all the hostility boiling just under the surface of our world we need a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb of God who can shepherd us in the peaceable ways of the kingdom. We need renewed practices of centering Jesus in our hearts and minds. With the deep divide in American culture and the polarization that continues to grow, we need a renewed focus on the Lamb that we might blaze a path forward into civility and kindness.


    Centering Jesus imagines keeping Jesus as the Lamb of God at the center of three key areas of our lives—our spiritual formation, our moral lives, and our common life together.

    Spiritual formation is the work the Holy Spirit to form us into the image of Jesus. We participate with the Spirit by walking down certain spiritual pathways, particularly for Evangelical Christians those pathways have been Scripture reading and prayer. Centering Jesus in our reading of Scripture and in our life of prayer have become indispensable to healthy Christian spirituality and growth.

    Our moral lives form the foundation from which we make ethical decisions. We choose what we do and what we say (both in conversation and on social media) based on who we are. If we are to be Christlike people then we need a moral center endowed by the virtues of faith, hope, and love. While much of modern evangelicalism structures moral authority around divine command theory and consequentialism, I offer virtue ethics as a healthy alternative.

    Our common life together underscores God’s design for us to live in community—both Christian community and in civic society. We need Jesus at the center of our life of congregational worship together if church is to be an alternative society distinct from the division we see in the world. Finally, if we are to advocate for justice and participate in the topsy-turvy world of political discourse when need a perspective grounded and centered on King Jesus.

    Chapter 1 describes the problems we experience when the Lamb is obscured from our view.

    Chapter 2 walks us through some of the key biblical descriptions of the Lamb. From there we walk through the Lamb at the center of those three key areas.

    Chapters 3-5 walk us through imagining the Lamb at the center of our life of spiritual formation whereby we discover the Lamb at the center of our prayer life, our lives devoted to Scripture, and our lived spirituality.

    Chapters 6-8 describe a Lamb-shaped and Jesus-centered approach to the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love, the foundation of our moral lives.

    Chapters 9-11 lead us through an exploration of the Lamb at the center of our common life together, specifically our worship life, our participation in acts of justice, and our political life.

    Chapter 12 returns to where we started by envisioning the reigning Lamb in John’s revelation.

    Next steps include copy editing, cover design, and then hopefully, by the beginning of 2023, the preordering process! I will be forming a launch team next year ahead of the books release. Follow me on social media. I will announce the launch of the launch team Spring 2023!

    In the meantime, check out this new book from NavPress: Kingdom and Country: Following Jesus in the Land that You Love. This book is a collaborative project discussing topics like patriotism, nationalism, and Christian identity. I wrote Chapter 4, “Under the Authority of Another.”

    Two other contributors and I are chatting on a live webinar next week on themes from the book. This free event will be Thursday, August 25, 2022 @ 3:30PM ET. Details are registration information is

  • New Book Coming Soon!

    BIG NEWS: I’m happy to announce that I’m signing a book contract with NavPress for my next book tentatively titled Peace and Purpose: Living the Christian Life with the Lamb at the Center. It has a tentative release date of June 2023. Thanks to David Zimmerman and the team at NavPress for believing in this project!

    Authors write books because it’s a calling, an arduous, time-consuming, and often lonely calling. At least that has been my experience. I write because I cannot not write. It has been a calling that I have wrestled with for most of my life as a pastor. My primary spiritual gift, as I have come to understand it, is one of a teacher. Writing has become an extension of my life’s work as a pastor-teacher.

    Securing a publisher is an equally difficult process! I have developed thick skin over the years, because looking for a publisher requires the fortitude to keep at the task of writing and seeking publication in the face of closed doors. Pitching your book idea and being told “no” time and time again can challenge one’s self-confidence. But after a handful of “nos” from other publishers, NavPress said, “Yes.”

    I’m contributing a chapter to a NavPress book that comes out July 2022, Kingdom and Country: Following Jesus in the Land that You Love. Through that project I got to know David Zimmerman, the new publisher at NavPress, and felt a sense of synergy in the direction Dave is wanting to take NavPress. I pitched him the book I have been working on for nearly a year now and after a couple of months of emails, zoom calls, and waiting, he made a contract offer for this new book.

    Peace and Purpose is a fresh look at Christian discipleship with Jesus, as the Lamb of God, at the center of our spiritual formation, our moral life, and our common life together. When I was 17 years-old I completed my first 2:7 small group, a discipleship course published by NavPress. Now 30 years later, I’m signing a contract to write a new discipleship book with them.

    I’m both humbled and honored for this opportunity. Pray for me because I still have a lot of work to do to get this manuscript ready!

    #PeaceandPurpose #book #newbook

  • Jesus is King: The Gospel We Preach

    Those who know me well know that I am a bridge-builder and peacemaker. I love the entire body of Christ which includes our Reformed brothers and sisters, but I find myself needing to give voice to this current debate between Greg Gilbert and Matthew Bates/Scot McKnight on the issue of the nature of the gospel.

    Here are all the articles if you want context for what I have to say below.

    Read the transcript of Gilbert’s lecture here.

    Read Bates’ article here. McKnight’s article here.

    Gilbert’s response here. And Bates rebuttle here.

    These articles document the back-and-forth between these three with Gilbert reflecting a neo-reformed view that justificaiton by faith is at the center of the gospel.

    Bates and McKnight represent those post-evangelicals who are more in line with the gospel vision of Tom Wright and others who view the gospel from the perspective of the kingdom of God, noting that at the heart of the Gospel is the announcement that Jesus came as the embodiment of Israel God to reign as king.

    I strongly side with Bates and McKnight on their interpretation of the gospel. To claim that the gospel is justification by faith or to claim that justification is somehow at the center of the gospel is an exegetical and historical mistake, assuming the effect of the gospel is the same thing as the message of the gospel itself.

    Jesus is King is what the gospel writers reveal in their gospel accounts. As King Jesus is protecting, provided for, rescuing, and justifying God’s people. In this way justificaiton by faith has a place in gospel proclaimation but it is not at the center of the gospel.

    In my discipleship book, By the Way: Getting Serious About Jesus, I write:

    The gospel is the big news that Jesus is Lord. Bruxy Cavey calls this short statement “the gospel in three words,” a simple but life-changing phrase. We do not confess “Jesus is Lord” in order to acquire something from Jesus and then move on with our lives. According to Bruxy, “Jesus is not just a means to an end, a ticket to get into heaven, or a way to ‘get saved;’ rather, Jesus is our Leader, our Lover, our Lord here and now. And that is life changing while we live, not just life prolonging when we die.”

    The gospel message that Jesus is Lord is the big news that something has happened, something will happen, and now everything is new and different. To confess Jesus is Lord implies that the one confessing has submitted to Jesus’ leadership.

    Unfortunately much of the talk about Jesus as Lord reduces Jesus to a religious category, where we assume Jesus is Lord of our “beliefs,” or our religious lives, but certainly not our real lives. Everything becomes new and different when we declare Jesus is Lord, because in doing so we are giving up the rights we have to our lives. We are saying that our lives no longer belong to us; now they belong to Jesus, our landlord. Another word for lord is king, still an archaic word, but one that captures our imagination.

    Lord Jesus is King Jesus. This is the gospel.

    God’s kingdom has come through King Jesus. “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name, but a title meaning “king,” specifically the Jewish king. The Hebrew word for king is anointed one or messiah, because Jewish people did not coronate their kings—they anointed them with oil. Jesus came in fulfillment of all of Israel’s prophets to be Israel’s king. The God of Israel had always desired to be king of his people. God accommodated himself to the wishes of his people by giving Israel a king even though up to that point he had been their king (1 Samuel 12:12-13).

    The psalmists declared with all boldness that God was not only king over Israel, but over all nations. Imagine that daring claim. Israel was just one small, seemingly insignificant people group. Countless other tribes, ethnic groups, and nations surrounded them, each worshiping the deity over their geographic region of the earth, and yet the children of Abraham had the audacity to proclaim that their God was the king of all other gods and earthly kings. In King Jesus, the God of Israel came to rule and reign not just over one strip of land adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

    King Jesus rules over all nations as Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true Lord.

    This is big news.

    This is the gospel.

  • A Satanic Doctrine? A Quick Response to Jared Wilson

    Today I read Jared C. Wilson’s article The Satanic Doctrine of a Wrathless Cross and I let out an audible sigh about halfway through. While I am unable to offer a thorough review, I would like to offer a quick response, much like Derek Rishway did for me in response to my Missio Alliance article on penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) back in 2017. I found Derek’s comments to be helpful and clarrifying and I particularly enjoyed our interaction on atonement.

    The tone I took in my 2017 piece “Is Penal Substituionary Atonement Necessary?” was intended to cut through caricature and rhetorical appeals and enter into the theological discussion of atonement without resuming the theological war that has gone on for far too long in the Church regarding the meaning of the death of Jesus.

    Wilson sadly drums up a caricature of his own while critiquing Paul Young’s critique of PSA in his book Lies We Believe About God, which Wilson ironicly describes as a caricture.

    That really does sound like a lot of critiques and carictures, doesn’t it? Let me get to the point.

    Wilson draws upon the devil and the demonic to critique those of us who hold to a view of the atonement that is without propitiation and satisfaction. This kind of rhetorical appeal is what makes me sigh, because it is unhelpful, untrue, and lacks the kind of irenic diologue that can bridge the gaps between our churches and theological traditions.

    Wilson writes, “The Devil loves this development [of a “wrathless” atonement]…. “The Devil loves a bloodless cross”… “Satan is afraid of blood.” And he concludes with “Satan would love for you to keep your gospel nice and respectable.” And perhaps I am reading Wilson wrong here, but he seems to associate those of us who do not hold to PSA to be somehow pleasing to the devil. (?) Perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions, so correct me if I am wrong, but I finished the article asking myself, “So am I teaching a satanic docrine?”

    My conscience is clear. I’m confident in the gospel I preach and the doctrines I teach, but I’m far from certainty or certitude. I’m open to theological diaglogue that is respectful which means we have to throw the devil out our conversations about the atonement. I’m open to discussion about atonement but not when the devil is evoked.

    I do not hold to PSA as taught in most reformed circles, but I’m not pursuing a view of the atonement that is less bloody or offensive. I preach the cross as “a stumbling block to the Jews” and most modern Americans. It is not the violent nature of the death of Jesus that is offensive, but rather the view that the death of Jesus was necessary to turn, in Wilson’s words, “God’s disposition towards those who believe in him would be not condemnation but everlasting life.”

    I find this view theological offensive, but I would never say that my Reformed brothers were preaching a demonic doctrine. I reject satisfication theories of the atonement in part because I believe God is pure love and God sent Jesus not to turn God’s disposition towards us, because God’s disposition has always been towards us! In fact God’s holy disposition towards us is why the Father sent the Son.

    I disagree with Wilson’s view of the atonement but agree with him that Jesus did die a bloody death on a Roman cross and that we do not need to make Jesus’ death somehow respectable for a modern audience. Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that it is a necessary part of our salvation.

    What is not necessary for our salvation is that we believe in PSA. Wilson cites Romans 3:23 and 1 John 4:10 parenthetically following the line, “the blood of Christ pays the wrath owed sinners.” Again I sigh here, because neither Romans 3 or 1 John 4 say “the blood of Christ pays the wrath owed sinners.” Rather this is Wilson’s interpretation of the text and particularly the interpretation of one Greek word: hilasterion.

    Wilson has a Reformed theological perspective that provides ample backing for translating hilasterion as “propitiation,” but there are other Christians of other theological traditions who hold fast to the ancient, historic, orthodox, scriptural faith who translate this one Greek word differently. And I am one, as I have written in other places.

    I’d prefer that we all be honest with the text and be respectful of brothers and sisters who choose a different exegetical path. I disagree with Wilson’s view not because I am trying to tidy up the cross or please the devil. I disagree with Wilson’s view, because I am trying to be faithful to the text and the faith “once entrusted to the saints.”

    I extend to my Reformed brothers and sisters the respect that allows them to interpret the atonement one way and I would ask for that kind of respect in return. We live in a polarized culture and those outside the Christian faith are watching us. We need to model theological dialogue that is much more understanding of one another’s differences.

  • By the Way Small Groups

    Photo by Tara Beth Leach

    When I wrote my discipleship book By the Way: Getting Serious About Following Jesus, I envisioned people reading and discussing it in small groups. I do hope people read the book, but more so, I hope people read this book together, hammering out the details in community. Jesus and the early church leaders designed disciple-making and disciple-practicing to be done in community.

    We were created in the image of God who is a holy community of persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We bear God’s image when we intentionally follow Jesus in community with other Jesus-followers. Through our mutual sharing and learning, we can encourage one another and learn from one another.

    While it would be best to read the book as a part of this small group discussion, it isn’t necessary. You can download a free study guide that has all the discussion questions for each chapter. These questions are also at the end of each chapter in the book. You don’t need to have read the book to participate in the discussion.

    Download the free By the Way Study Guide with discussion questions for each chapter

    Small Group Details

    By the Way Small Groups work best in a 10 to 12-week format. There are 10 chapters in the book, so at a minimum it would be good for the group to meet at least 10 weeks. If your group meets for 12 weeks you could begin with an introductory session where there group gets to know one another and gets oriented with the book. Then take a week per chapter, concluding with a group meal on the last week.

    Small group discussions can be powerfully transformative if the group can agree upon some basic ground rules.

    To get the most out of this study guide and small group experience, adhere to the following five ground rules:

    1. Speak only from your own experiences and feelings.
    2. Create space for everyone to share by keeping your comments brief.
    3. Preserve confidentiality: what is said in the group stays in the group.
    4. Find ways to encourage one another and avoid trying to fix one another.
    5. Press into moments of silence with personal reflection.

    At the beginning of each session, groups or leaders can:

    1. Select a leader to facilitate the discussion for the next session.
    2. If the people in the group do not know each other well, invite everyone to share their name and something interesting about themselves.
    3. Ask one person to offer an opening prayer.
    4. Ask one person to read the five ground rules.
    5. Ask one person to summarize the chapter.

    The questions associated with each chapter appear both in the book itself and in this free study guide. They serve as a guide to get your group talking and reflecting on the material in each chapter.

    Feel free to follow the conversation wherever it may lead. Some people may want to discuss parts of the book that are not represented in the questions. That’s okay.

    Follow the relational flow of the conversation. The best small groups prioritize “people study” over Bible study.

    Each chapter’s set of questions begin with icebreaker questions that get everyone talking. Then the bulk of the questions invite participants to reflect on key concepts in the book. The last question for each chapter invites people to consider how to put into practice what they are learning.

    My Prayers

    When I pray in the morning, I pray that God would take my book and multiple it that churches may be equipped to make disciples of the Jesus way.

    I pray your By the Way Small Group experiences the grace of God and that together we all grow in the ways of Jesus. I pray that you meet some new people and that existing friendship grow, because we all need friends in our journey of following Jesus.

    Download a free copy of the By the Way Study Guide with discussion questions for each chapter.

  • Come Learn with Me

    Hey friends! I have two unique opportunities coming up this year for those who want to continue to grow as followers of Jesus. Both of these opportunities are connected to my discipleship book, By the Way.

    Come learn with me!

    Creating Pathways for Discipleship
    (Webinar: August 15)

    Missio Alliance is hosting a webinar that Sean Palmer and I are leading. This is free one-time event. Sean and I will be discussing the shape of discipleship in the church today.

    In particular, I want to describe the three shifts that need to be made in the church in North America to increase our capacity to make disciples of the Jesus way.

    1. Shifting from thinking of discipleship as a ministry of the church to thinking of discipleship as the task of the church

    2. Shifting from treating evangelism and discipleship as separate activities to integrating evangelism and discipleship into a single action

    3. Shifting from viewing salvation and discipleship as separate categories to combining our experience of God’s salvation and our intentionality to follow Jesus

    The webinar is free. Register here:

    M3 Ministries School of Formation: The Jesus Cohort (Beginning September 2019)

    I’m excited to partner with veteran pastor and Bible college professor Doug Main in launching a new school of formation. Doug and I will be leading a cohort of 12-15 people through four courses during the first year focused on a Jesus-centered life and understanding of the story of God. I’m looking forward to teaching the course, “Jesus and the Christian Life.”

    Each of our courses will be shaped by:
    + Conversational Theology
    + Contemplative Spirituality
    + Communal Learning
    + Cultural Engagement

    This cohort is for leaders and learners who want to grow and expand their vision of the kingdom of God on earth through the church.

    For more information go to