Practicing Jesus: Interview with Mark Scandrette

Mark Scandrette“The tendency of modern Christianity is to ‘know’ a lot. Sometimes we think, ‘if I get it all figured out, knowing things will shape me into who God wants me to be,’ but you have to ask yourself, “Am I becoming a person who is more ready to share and express and live out Christ’s love and grace to others?’ We can’t think ourselves into a way of being.” Mark Scandrette

An interesting thought: is it possible for us to focus so much on spiritual knowledge that we forget why we are learning it?

Mark Scandrette, author of the book Practicing the Way of Jesus, and our first speaker for this school year’s Emphasis on Spiritual Formation Week, believes so. As a husband, father of three, and resident of San Francisco since 1998, Scandrette has been had the chance to practice the way of Jesus to a very broad variety of people.  In addition to authoring several books, Scandrette also is the founder of ReIMAGINE, an organization dedicated to integrating life with the teachings of Jesus.Practicing the Way of Jesus (book cover)

This Sunday, Mark came to LeTourneau and spoke to IMPACT leaders about using radical actions to become more like Jesus and to engage our faith; on Monday he gave two special chapel presentations of the same flavor.  “It’s just like anything,” Mark said. “Carpentry, engineering, music—you’re not going be good at something or know what you’re doing if you don’t put it into practice.” Scandrette’s mission is fairly open-ended, as one might imagine. “We look at what Jesus said and did and try to get people to take action on those things.”

“We also do a series for churches and members of the community each year called ‘Learning Labs.’ Each focuses on different ways we can bring Jesus into our daily lives,” Mark explained. “Jesus said, ‘everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice,’ so we try to come alongside people and help them learn to put his teachings into practice.” Participants in the series have decided to do radical things like selling half of their possessions, serving patients in mental hospitals, and making lasting friendships with hostile, homeless drug-addicts.

Mark first moved to a San Francisco neighborhood with about seven of his friends, bent on the idea of an “intentional community.”  “Jesus never sent people out into the world alone,” Mark noted. “The thought was rather than just being a group who meets once a week, we wanted to be a group who would figure out, ‘what would it be like to have a way of life together?’  We’ve wanted to be the church moving together.”

Scandrette is both eloquent and passionate in his vision for the church: “I want the church to be people willing to take risks to follow the way of Jesus together. Most of us learn to be fans of Jesus. The next step is to move from being fans to followers. Sometimes even when we serve, we bring a lot of ego along. We need to become like Jesus at the well—if we associate primarily with people who look like us, we don’t have to wonder what life is like for others.” Mark added, “Take the next step to live like Jesus, and invite someone else to take a step with you.”

If you’re interested in what Mark had to say, you can check out his website.

Written by Nathan Brazil.

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