The Jesus journey is not a boring drive on a predictable, straight-away highway. It’s a mountain hike. A winding trail. With dips and rises, twists and turns. Formidable challenges. Unexpected surprises.
And course shifts.
Something like three years ago, Carrie and I began to sense a significant shift was coming up around the bend for our family. Perhaps the most significant shift of our lives.
During the summer of 2019 the picture became more clear. It was time to begin preparing ourselves to leave the only church my wife and kids have ever known. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not it would happen. It was now simply a matter of when?how? and what next?
As a general life principle, we’re not fond of the idea of wandering from place to place like nomads every few years. It seems to me that pastors who constantly look for greener grass are usually perpetually disappointed, missing out on some of the deepest lessons and richest rewards that ministry can bring. Carrie and I both believe in being planted in one community over a long period of time, setting deep roots. But there are those rare occasions when the Gardener may have another plan. And it is unmistakably clear to us that this is one of those rare times.
So after seventeen years serving at Northside in Crowley, Louisiana in a variety of capacities, yesterday we announced that this summer the Post family will be making the biggest move of our lives.
It’s going to be hard to say goodbye. I’ll never forget the wonderful men and women I get to serve with on our pastoral staff. Randy. Michelle. Gerard. Heather. Mary A. Brook. Kevin. I’m going to miss each of them and their families terribly.
Our church board is also filled with fantastic people who are ready, willing, and capable of helping the church navigate through this (hopefully short) season of transition. They are not only great board members. They are my friends. And a couple of them are my weekly tennis opponents.
Northside has been the best church family anyone can expect or ask for. Over the last eight years I have served as Lead Pastor, I am deeply grateful for the consistent encouragement and prayerful support our church has given my wife, my children, and myself.
We’re excited for the future of Northside. Even after the challenges that COVID-19 and two hurricanes have presented to us in 2020, The Way Training Center is thriving. Northside Christian School is bursting at the seams. And I believe Northside Assembly is primed for one of the greatest seasons of fruitfulness in its entire 70 year history.
Over the next couple months we will remain here in Crowley. I will continue to lead, teach, and preach. We’ll have plenty of time to visit, laugh, reminisce, encourage, and pray together.
But at some point this summer, the Post family will be embarking on a new journey. Literally and figuratively. We’ll be leaving the only town we’ve ever known as home and moving over 1,700 miles to Los Angeles, California.
As difficult as it will be to leave, we can’t wait to begin this new adventure with our new church in L.A. I’m sure I’ll post more about the church when the time comes. But we’ve been welcomed with open arms. For so many reasons, we feel so good about the “fit.” Since January, I’ve had numerous Zoom interviews and phone conversations with the church leadership. Two weeks ago we were able to fly to Burbank and spend an entire week with the elders. All along the way there have been several “God moments” that have given us extra assurance that we are, indeed, discerning correctly.
As most of our Northside family and our future church family already knows, the church is much, much bigger than one personality. Jesus is the one who is building his Church. In Crowley, Louisiana. In Burbank, California. And in every corner of the earth.
And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
If you’re reading this, you may be aware that I’ve been working on a new book: Jesus People: Communities Formed by the Beatitudes. Within the next few days, the final stages will be complete (cover art and interior formatting). From there, the rest of the work will be promotional as we prepare for the book’s official release on September 18, 2021.
I’m so honored to have a wonderful slate of people who have graciously given Jesus People their endorsement. I have such a high respect for each of these people and consider them to be among the most important voices right now in the 21st century church in America. You’ll find their endorsements below:
“Living the Sermon on The Mount by the empowering presence of the indwelling Spirit requires the willingness to endure hardship and embrace adversity in order to experience enlargement. As Rowan Williams said, ‘Discipleship is a state of being.’ In other words it is ontological. It is far more about who we are than it is about some technique. In a technocratic culture, where how-to’s are in vogue, Ryan Post offers us a return to the profound and simple formational call of Jesus, which is ‘Follow Me,’ and invites us to take one step at a time in doing so. The most pressing questions we can ask as followers of Jesus are, Where is Jesus going? and Are we going with Him? Ryan offers us wisdom for both answering these questions and responding to the summons of Jesus and then taking the necessary steps.”
Dr. Mark J. Chironna
Lead Pastor, Church on the Living Edge, Longwood, Florida
Author of The Dead Prophets Society: The Significance of Prophetic Function in the 21st Century
“History shows how surpassingly difficult it is for Christians not to forget Christ. All too often, in the name of Christianity or the truth, and in defense of our way of life, we Christians prove false to Jesus. So we need constant reminding that we are called by the Spirit to live the same cross-bearing, enemy-loving, God-fearing life that he lived. Thankfully, Ryan Post’s book does precisely that, directing our attention not to Jesus as we imagine him but to Jesus as the Gospels present him to us.”
Dr. Chris E. W. Green
Professor of Public Theology, Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida
Author of Surprised by God: How and Why What We Think about the Divine Matters
“To believe in Jesus is to believe the words of Jesus in such a way that God’s people embody God’s radiant light in a weary world. With robust Biblical scholarship and a loving pastoral heart, Ryan Post unpacks Jesus’ call to a ‘holy we’ instead of a ‘holy me.’ When we live in communities that are formed by the Beatitudes the world will look and see Jesus People.”
Tara Beth Leach
Pastor and Author of Radiant Church and Emboldened
“Jesus People is a book for God’s people. Ryan Post carefully and pastorally leads us through the prophetic blessings bestowed upon the people of the kingdom of God. Taking us deep into the language of the Beatitudes, Post draws out deep truths illustrated by his own experience as a Jesus person and as a pastor. This book is what we need today to grow as followers of Jesus and engage God’s good but broken world as the people of Jesus.”
Discipleship Pastor, Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri
Author of By the Way: Getting Serious About Following Jesus
“It’s easy to despair about the state of Christianity. Just look at what scrolls across your news feed, but maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. Jesus People gives us a glimpse into God’s new world already emerging. This is a sweeping and thorough narrative of what breaks in when real people decide to follow the way of Jesus, together. It will move you from despair to dreaming about the Kingdom possibilities. Ryan Post has given us something of a manifesto for being the broken but beautiful community we know can exist. This is the pathway forward for our times!”
Dan White Jr
Author of Love Over Fear and Co-Author of The Church as Movement
Below is a small selection of some of my favorite books that I read throughout the year. I’ll include a link to each book (there are nine of them), a short explanation for why I enjoyed the book so much, as well as a select quote or two.
(Disclaimer: My inclusion of any author on a list like this shouldn’t be taken as my tacit endorsement of everything this person may have ever said or written in their life. Got it? Good…)
Why I enjoyed it: Nouwen’s writing is simple and accessible, and yet so deep and rich. This is a very short and readable book ideal especially for leaders who have a tendency to be driven by unrestrained ambition.
Select quote: “We will never come to know our true vocation in life unless we are willing to grapple with the radical claim the gospel places on us.”
Why I enjoyed it: Among other things, 2020 has been a year of intense sorrow and grief. I have several close friends and members of my church family who have experienced the pain of loss in various forms. Even though our final destiny is one of eternal celebration, the Christian life is not just about smiles, cheerfulness, and good feelings. Each of us will experience seasons throughout our lives in which we will bear excruciating sorrow, and it will seem as though God is totally absent. But it is only through Good Friday and Holy Saturday that we can access Easter Sunday. And that requires that we know how to lament. Michael Card’s book is an excellent introduction to the biblical language of lamentation.
Select quote: “Until we learn to lament, we have nothing to say to most of the world.”
Why I enjoyed it: American evangelicalism desperately needs to recover a New Testament perspective on the matter of salvation and what it means to “believe” in Jesus Christ. New Testament scholar Matthew Bates has provided us with an important (and accessible) exploration into the meaning of the Greek word pistis (often translated “believe” in the New Testament). In short, it doesn’t mean what we think it means…
Select quote: “With regard to eternal salvation, rather than speaking of belief, trust, or faith in Jesus, we should speak instead of fidelity to Jesus as cosmic Lord or allegiance to Jesus the king. This, of course, is not to say that the best way to translate every occurrence of pistis (and related terms) is always or even usually ‘allegiance.’ Rather it is to say that allegiance is the best macro-term available to us that can describe what God requires from us for eternal salvation.”
Why I enjoyed it: Peterson looks back on his life of pastoring, telling stories and sharing the lessons he learned along the way. If you are a pastor or church leader, this is an easy and entertaining read chock-full of some amazing, thought-provoking nuggets that will challenge how you approach your vocation.
Select quote: “I don’t love the rampant consumerism that treats God as a product to be marketed. I don’t love the dehumanizing ways that turn men, women, and children into impersonal roles and causes and statistics. I don’t love the competitive spirit that treats others as rivals and even as enemies. The cultural conditions in which I am immersed require, at least for me, a kind of fierce vigilance to guard my vocation from these cultural pollutants so dangerously toxic to persons who want to follow Jesus in the way that he is Jesus.”
Why I enjoyed it: Last year I read Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer while I was doing some research on the Sermon on the Mount. Strange Glory is a well-written, fairly comprehensive account of the life of the man himself. Bonhoeffer’s story is a fascinating example of the reality that people are not static. We are all on the journey of becoming. In Bonhoeffer’s case, he would eventually walk away from a kind of sterilized theology that has no relevance for the real world and embrace the radical claims of the Christian gospel in a way that would eventually lead to his own martyrdom.
Select quote: [Bonhoeffer] “Christians in Germany will face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive, or willing the victory of the nation and thereby destroying our civilization,” he had finally explained in a letter to Niebuhr. “I know which of these alternatives I must choose, but I cannot make that choice in security. …I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America.”
Why I enjoyed it: This is the most honest, compassionate, and truthful resource I have ever come across on this topic. New Testament scholar Preston Sprinkle does a more than skillful job wading through the various biblical texts. He gives a clear perspective on various questions that are part of this discussion, and yet he does so with amazing sensitivity and compassion. This is one you’ll need to read all the way through (don’t stop after the first chapter or two).
Select quote: “If the church is ever going to solve this issue, it needs to stop seeing it as an ‘issue.’ Homosexuality is not an issue to be solved; it’s about people who need to love and be loved.”
Why I enjoyed it: This one is especially written for pastors. Peterson relates the pastoral vocation to each of the components of the biblical story of Jonah. Deeply convicting, encouraging, and challenging.
Select quote: “Somehow we American pastors, without really noticing what was happening, got our vocations redefined in the terms of American careerism. We quit thinking of the parish as a location for pastoral spirituality and started thinking of it as an opportunity for advancement. Tarshish, not Nineveh, was the destination. The moment we did that, we started thinking wrongly, for the vocation of pastor has to do with living out the implications of the word of God in community, not sailing off into the exotic seas of religion in search of fame and fortune.”
Why I enjoyed it: An astounding work that may not be for the casual reader (nearly 700 pages). But Fleming Rutledge does an outstanding job of helping readers understand the nature of the atonement. She brings out each of the major motifs that connect to the crucifixion of Christ, helping the reader to realize just how incredible the Cross actually is. Rather than emphasizing one “atonement theory” over others, she demonstrates how each of the major atonement theories have something indispensable to contribute to how we understand Christ’s death.
Select quote: “From beginning to end, the Holy Scriptures testify that the predicament of fallen humanity is so serious, so grave, so irremediable from within, that nothing short of divine intervention can rectify it.”
Why I enjoyed it: This is a collection of sermons given by German pastors that served as prophetic critiques against the nationalistic, militaristic, and racist policies of Nazi-ism during Hitler’s reign of terror. I was greatly inspired to read these courageous sermons from pastors who risked their lives (and in some cases gave their lives) by upholding their supreme allegiance to Christ in the midst of the scandalous compromise of the “German Christian” movement in the mid-to-late 1930s.
Select quotes: [Helmit Gollwitzer] “Whoever considers himself a Christian and yet shares the outrage over this call to repentance should at least know that he has exchanged God’s standard for the standard of the current political propaganda and has replaced the altar of divine justice with the altar of his own nation’s self-justification.”
[Paul Schneider] “I would rather die for my faith than live a cowardly and cultured life with the rest of the world. For nowhere is it said that God will allow us in all circumstances here to live the little span of earthly life without going through loss of money, property, honor, life and limb, wife and child. Even more, such sorrows must come upon the Christian at times; but the Lord brings the little boat of the church through the stormy seas of human events, which must grow calm at his word.”