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Our Favorite Things! 2020 Edition

At the end of 2019 we asked our Fresh Expressions Staff and Contributors about their favorite things- books, movies, podcasts, that they interacted with during 2019.

Here are their responses! We hope this list provides some new resources for you, and some good fodder for learning and reflection over the next months. Enjoy!

Michael Beck – Director of Remissioning

Reframation, Alan Hirsch
Rings of Fire, Len Sweet
Quietly Courageous, Gil Rendle


Kris Beckert- FXUS Mission Strategist and Trainer

Book: Entrepreneurial Church Planting by Long and Moon
A great book that focuses on the merging of the marketplace and what we think of as church. I appreciate the authors take a deep theological approach to this too, as well as give some examples of development and ideas of approach. Both reflective AND practical!

TV Show:  The Good Place.
For those of us who have been in the church world a while and need to begin to “think” like the majority of people in our community, The Good Place is not only funny but reflects where most secular people are when it comes to faith, heaven, God, and religion. In the series, people reach the “Good Place” by doing enough good things, being better people, but there is a mix-up where a woman who doesn’t “deserve it” ends up there. If you listen to the dialogue, the way the storyline is set up, it really reveals a lot about our culture.

Resource:  GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance  by Angela Duckworth
Usually we think of people with lots of talent, intelligence, position, and/or money as being the ones who are the most successful, especially when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. But this book turns all of that on its head– looking at how “grit” is a greater influence and predictor of making a difference, regardless of whether somebody is the best of the best. This stuck out to me as I coach fresh expressions of church, asking “why are some leaders primely positioned but never seem to get off the ground, while others seemingly have few resources and even lots of opposition, yet are able to launch new and creative forms of church?” I think grit is an essential part of FX.

Anne Marie Carley- Pioneer and Contributing Writer 

Books: Barna Trends by the Barna Group. My church is very much swayed by research and data. They still lead more with their mind than hearts.

Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger. This helped us see things we’ve never seen before and allowed us to go places we’ve never gone before.

Movies and TV Shows:

Single Parents– shows how community is formed in different places

Modern Family– gives a picture of what families look like today

Star Wars– good vs evil is timeless

Verlon Fosner- Director of Dinner Church

Two classic books about mission: The Continuing Conversion of the Church by Darrel Guder, and The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle.

I like the movie “MoneyBall”, to remind us of the failure & cost of innovation. Also, Bob Hearts Abishola helps us look at our American values through different eyes.

Heather Jallad- FXUS Trainer and Mission Strategist

Podcast: The Bible Binge– hosts take stories from the Bible and share them as if they were a movie, novel or tv show. They cast modern day actors in the roles of bible figures and do a great job connecting the original context and culture to today.

Books: The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosario Butterfield – how radical hospitality and being a good neighbor can bring the gospel to our neighborhoods

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell- How we interact with people we don’t know

Practical Evangelism by Jay Moon

Educated by Tara Westover- a remarkable autobiography about resilience, breaking down and overcoming all sorts of social, educational, and economic barriers and obstacles in a very broken family system.

Sarah Keasler- FXUS Director of Innovation & Ministry Effectiveness

This Cultural Moment – podcast by John Mark Comer & Mark Sayers
This podcast is about dissecting our cultural moment from a spiritual point of view. It takes a deep dive exploring how and why we got here, and how can we faithfully follow Jesus in the post-Christian context in which live.

The Ten Faces of Innovation – book by Tom Kelley of IDEO
The role of the devil’s advocate is nearly universal in business today. It allows individuals to step outside themselves and raise questions and concerns that effectively kill new projects and ideas, while claiming no personal responsibility. Nothing is more potent in stifling innovation as Tom Kelley points out in The Ten Faces of Innovation.

Over the years, Tom has observed a number of roles that people can play in an organization to foster innovation and new ideas while offering an effective counter to naysayers. Among these approaches are the Anthropologist, the person who goes into the field to see how customers use and respond to products, to come up with new innovations; the Cross-Pollinator, who mixes and matches ideas, widely disparate people, and technologies to create new ideas that can drive growth; and the Hurdler, who instantly looks for ways to overcome the limits and challenges to any situation.

Filled with engaging stories of how companies such as Kraft, Samsung, and Procter & Gamble have incorporated IDEO’s thinking to transform the customer experience, The Ten Faces of Innovation is an extraordinary guide to nurturing and sustaining a culture of continuous innovation and renewal.

Shannon Kiser- FXUS Director of Training 

Books: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler. Strategies and skills for having difficult conversations–helpful leadership skills for dealing with teams, challenging situations, and difficult people.

Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger. For leaders trying to navigate a shift to being church in a changing world.
Reframation by Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson. An invitation to break out of narrow ways of understanding God and explore the ever-deeper, full of mystery, life of discovery that God invites us into. As our perception of God and the gospel are enlarged, so is our passion for joining in the mission of God in the world.
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. A deep dive into hospitality and how to shape meetings and gatherings that are meaningful and purposeful.

TV Show: The Good Placeentertaining, as well as great fodder for conversation about ethics, the complexity of the human condition, the power of community, the afterlife, and grace as God’s invitation to freedom from endless striving for perfection.

Pray as You Go
my devotional go-to daily

Also, like to listen to The Moth to hone my storytelling skills. But I also experience connection with the shared joys and struggles of being human.

Cheryl McCarthy- Director of The Ananias Project and FXUS Coordinator of Prayer Mobilization

Movie: The Perks of a Wallflower.  One thing I have become deeply aware of is the human being’s need to belong. This movie reveals the coming together of young people who have been violated in one way or another, who have hidden pain, who feel they do not fit in and how, when they find each other, they experience safety and acceptance and love. Now, imagine, infusing the saving love of Christ into these communities.

Book: Reframation by Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson. This book moves the believer into a deeper, richer, view of what Jesus intended for the abundant life He died to give His sons and daughters.

Chris Morton- FXUS Director of Strategic Initiatives

Favorite Show: Watchmen
The premise of Watchmen was audacious: a continuation of the subversive and iconic graphic novel. Instead of simply rehashing the same themes, show runner David Lindelof subverted the original material by using it to provide an unflinching take on the brutality of anti-black racism in the United States. The show is a masterclass in how to discuss the most painful issues of our day without downplaying them or losing hope.

Favorite Podcast: The Bible Project
The Bible Project continues to create unparalleled resources for teaching the Christian Scriptures in the 21st century. While the videos are fantastic, the podcast is quite unlike anything else. Tim Mackie, (Hebrew Bible scholar) & Jon Collins (script writer) spending hours tracing key themes through Scripture and finding clear explain ancient and complex ideas. Use

Favorite Book: Managing Leadership Anxiety: Yours and Theirs by Steve Cuss
Starting something new like a fresh expression of Church can be exciting. But the pressure of the constant unknown can create anxiety. Many churches and denominations are anxious about the future. This book will give you tools to keep the voice of anxiety from shouting down the voice of God.

Isaac Olivarez- Founder, Urban Outreach Denver, Dinner Church Trainer

Two books that impacted me in a huge way this year: With by Skye Jethani, and The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. With deals with our posture towards God and is an awesome exploration of how, instead of living for, from, under, or above God, we should strive to live with God. House Key is one of the best explorations of Christian hospitality I’ve ever read.

TV show: Blackish. Honestly I just find it hilarious, and insightful as well, about Black culture in a White world.

Resources I lean on are podcasts such as Theology on Mission, Unbelievable, and Holy Post Podcast.

Gannon Sims- Director of Ministry Formation

This year, I’ve benefitted from Fitch’s book Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission

I’ve also benefited from Pete Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Leader podcast.

The rule of life chapter in Scazzero’s book among other things, led me to a more in-depth study of monastic movements particularly the Benedictines. I believe that some fresh expressions of Church can mature into robust communities living under a rule. To that end Joan Chittister’s book The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century was immensely helpful.

In terms of television and movies— I’m a historian at heart so The movie Green Book along with Henry Louis Gates Reconstruction: America After the Civil War has been interesting as we better understand America’s racial past. Our cultural moment calls for historical exegetes because most of us don’t really understand why we’ve gotten to where we‘ve got.

Dr. Dee Stokes- FXUS Trainer

Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson. The four types of human behavior and how to effectively communicate with each in business and in life.

The Multiplying Church by Bob Roberts, Jr. The new math for starting new churches.

The Search to Belong Rethinking intimacy, community, and small groups.

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