Following is the Introduction to my latest book, enjoy! —
When I first did the series this book is based on for my church back in 2014, I struggled a bit with whether or not I should. I had contemplated it for a few years actually, ever since the earliest days of our church plant in Red Lodge, Montana, because I just felt like a barbarian; charging forth with little finesse and even less real direction, at least from man, when we started Hope Chapel. I knew in my spirit what I was supposed to do and, as those few who came with me know, we just made it happen—they even jokingly referred to us as the barbarian church. Fighting, it seemed, against even our own denomination who seemed intent at the time to make things as difficult as possible for us.
“Maybe we should just break free and be an independent ‘barbarian church’. . .” Was the sentiment that the handful of brave souls that helped me plant the church only half-jokingly sometimes expressed in frustration. I knew I did not want to be out there without any covering or accountability so we stuck it out and kept paying our tribute to the ruling council in the motherland out west (to put it in barbarian terms)—and I’m glad we did. Our denomination has since gone through some major, God-ordained changes and things have gotten better, and much simpler, which was all I really wanted and what we all needed.
So anyway, the barbarian thing had been on my mind for some time but I just wasn’t sure it was biblical. I mean, barbarians aren’t usually thought of as exemplary citizens worthy of anything but disdain. What redeeming quality does a barbarian have that would make him a worthy topic for a sermon, let alone a series of sermons? Will people think I’ve lost it? Well, a couple of years ago, this son of the frozen barbarian north was fasting and praying about where I was to go next in my teaching and the Lord spoke to my heart, assuring me it was time to tackle the barbarian thing. As I prayed and sought the Lord further on this—“Really, how does that preach?” I wondered—he explained to me why it was important and showed me that it would preach.
The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to how it really does speak to who we are, why my own ministry exists, and where I believe the Spirit is directing his church. In a nutshell, back to the basics, to what’s important. The Lord impressed on me three things—barbarian qualities—that exemplify why the kingdom needs barbarians to rise up and be heard in the church if it hopes to survive till the end.
The barbarian exemplifies:
Simplicity of purpose
Singularity of mission
Determination of spirit
It was this that convinced me that the church needed to hear this barbarian’s message. I am glad I followed the Spirit’s lead because this turned out to be one of the most empowering things we have done in our church as far as advancing the kingdom of God goes; lives were changed and hearts set free. So here we go again—this time with you along—storming the gates.
“Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight” (2 Sam. 10:12).
(From Barbarians in the Kingdom to be released this fall)