Have you ever mapped out your life? Just recently I was thinking about the Ideas that have stayed with me over the years. Some of these are from books, while others are from conversations. Though some ideas are difficult to separate from the experiences that carry them, these are not primarily experiences that have shaped me. That’s a different list. Nor is this a list of my favorite books. Another list. These are ideas that have stuck with me over time. Here are 14 of the most significant ones.

  • 1982 Read Jorgen Moltmann’s Crucified God. Enter the redemptive struggle with the God who identifies with the victims of power. [If I remember correctly, this is the first occurence of the term “postmodern” in my reading. I would not hear the term again for almost ten years].
  • 1987 While driving through Salvador in Bahia, Brasil, Pr. Walter Baptista, the father of my wife to be, Niza, tells me about two kinds of poverty: there is poverty and then there is misery.
  • 1988/89 Read Megatrends by John Naisbitt. One of the trends he describe was a cultural move away from sports and towards the arts. I resonated so profoundly that it shaped my strategic thinking from then until today.
  • 1989/90 Read an article by Walter Brueggeman in which he described the role of Pastor as one who is entrusted with the ministry of life transformation informed by the gospel. That pretty much shaped my thinking about the role of leadership within [and without] the church from then until today.
  • 1990 Met Tom Wolf, Carold Davis and Viv Grigg from the Church on Brady at the Ontario airport. Carol blew me away when she said, The leaders of the future churches aren’t saved yet. I couldn’t have agreed more.
  • 1990 A church staff is a peripatetic seminary -Tom Wolf
  • 1990/91 Carol handed me a copy of Roland Allen’s the Spontaneous Expansion of the Church. This book was published in the 1920’s. But the ideas are from the future. The spirit —not the mission boards, clergy, budgets, education, buildings –drives the gospel forward.
  • 1990/91 Turn to the Great Commission: Luke 4.18-19. –Viv Grigg
  • 1991 Read The Other Path by Peruvian Economist, Hernando de Soto. It is not as well liked as The Magic of Capital, but it reinforced what I intuitively knew: the poor are industrious and entrepreneurial and can earn a living and even enliven an economy when not oppressed and exploited by cumbersome systems that favor the rich.
  • 1991/92 George Hunter was a guest at the Church on Brady’s mission conference, Spare Not. He began his speech with the statement: “We are back in Apostolic times.” Erwin and I were standing together in the back of the building, and though we were startled by the thought that anyone might think we were not in apostolic times, we both knew it was hugely imortant when he said it.
  • 1991/92 At the same conference, Tom began his speech with, “God is urbanizing the world.”
  • 1991/1992 Read the Last of the Giants by George Otis. He identifies three Giants on the horizon that humanity must deal with: Materialistic Capitalism(?), Militant Hinduism and Militant Islam. [This book, Megatrends, and my own experiences in Europe in the early 80’s put the expansion of Islam on my mental map].
  • 1992 Read Power Shift by Alvin Toffler. Everything is changing. Everything.

3 more ideas from before 1980:

  • Star Trek: to boldly go where no man has gone before.
  • My grandfather in El Salvador when I was 5 or 6 told me: “I want to live until the year 2000 because there will be dancing in the streets.” He did and he was right. I’ve been oriented towards the future ever since then.
  • “That, my son, is the Savior of the World.” My grandmother’s words to me, as she pointed to a large statue of Jesus, at The Park of the Savior of the World in the City of the Holy Savior (San Salvador) in the country of the Savior (El Salvador). I was 5.

What are the Ideas that have stayed with you?

See you in the mystic…

Click here: For a Snippet of a presentation from HUMANA 2.0.


7 responses to “16 Ideas that have stayed with me — A List”

  1. Andy Avatar

    About 1988 John Piper’s “Desiring God” and the idea of being motivated by joy changed my thinking from the ground up.

    Around the same time I read my first books by Nouwen (“Compassion”) and Bonhoeffer (Life Together) which changed and expanded my view of Christian community.

    In 1989 a South African leader in Soweto told me that Americans have the luxury of time and space to reflect for a long time before acting, but South Africans live with a great sense of urgency in the moment. Action is underrated (and sometimes held suspect for being “political”) in my culture.

    About 1994 read “Resident Aliens” by Hauerwas. He said Jerry Falwell and Reinhold Niebuhr were “two sides of the same coin” both supporting the status quo. Rather than trying to impress the world and prove our “relevance,” he suggested we authentically live and act as representatives of God’s “polis” (kingdom) here and now.

    In about 1996, I read “The Church Multiplication Guide” by George Patterson and recognized the virtues of doing church in ways that are simple, effective, and movement oriented. I began to question my allegiance to church institutions and yearn to be part of a church alive and moving.

    In about 2003, I read, “Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore” and “Why House Church Isn’t the Answer” by Wayne Jacobsen. I began to see greater possibilities if I would trust Jesus and stop trying to stay in control of life, church, strategy, ministry, etc.

  2. Alex Avatar

    thanks, andy. nice. really liked resident aliens and totally appreciated george patterson’s, obedience oriented discipleship, as a leadership development tool. so different than our big celebration, big program, high budget approach to getting things rolling. loved bonhoeffer’s life together and have thought about using it as raw material for posting down the road. highly appreciated piper’s let the nations be glad. that’s where my own heart is at, though i come down on a different foot theologically about the personality of God. appreciate the input. best to you.

  3. Andy Avatar

    One more thing: My junior year in college my roommate (who was discipling me at the time) taught me how to appreciate good beer, Brie, and art; and gave me full access to his punk rock music collection — undoing years of Southern Baptist upbringing and providing the backdrop for new discoveries about following Jesus. I also learned that I’m an artist at heart (see Photosensibility.com for possible evidence…). 🙂

  4. Barry Odom Avatar

    Some ideas that have shaped me…
    1973, in the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Billy Graham said, “Won’t you come?” I did.

    An older woman in our neighborhood, said God was going to do some amazing things in my life… I thought she was a nut job… but I believed her.

    On a warm, early summer night in Georgia, I walk forward in a church and the pastor, a guy in a powder blue sport coat named Ike Reighard, is the first man I can remember physically hugging me.

    In 1986, I met my father for the first time. I was 26 and leaving the next day to be a missionary in SE Asia. He was a highly decorated special forces hero-type… and a hard core atheist. He had never laid eyes on me before, he tells me he loves me. Strangely, I believe he does and in that instant, I understand the father heart of God.

    Later that year, a missional leader with YWAM, tells me he thinks I am a leader and asks me to lead an evangelism team through several countries in Asia. First time I ever choose to step into that role and I knew the rest of my life would not be the same. I tried to remember the name of that old lady in our neighborhood.

    In a seminary class ( are you getting sleepy?) some young, up and coming denonmiantional preacher boys were trying to hone their skills and asked a professor, which they did not respect, “How many points should a good sermon have?” He looked into their hearts, and mine and said, “At least one.” They didn’t get it.

    As a leader in a church, I was trying to understand why that many seemed to just not care about lost people… an older, wiser man told me, “If you want them to bleed, then you must hemorrhage.”

    Having sushi, on a Sunday afternoon with Alex McManus, somewhere in LA, we have a life altering conversation about transformation… the first of several.

    In 2003, I leave the ATL to drive, by myself, to Seattle to begin a faith community that would be a catalyst for transformation in lives and in culture. On the way, I get this strange feeling that I will one day have a conversation with Bill Gates.

  5. Richie Merritt Avatar

    16 Ideas that have stayed with me by Richie

    #1 – 1963 or 64? – Entered a Catholic Children’s Home (Sacred Heart Home for Children) for 2 years and then another year in foster homes. The home was not necessarily an orphanage, but it was for kid whose parents were unable to take care of them. There were about 250 children from the around the age of 3 to 14 or 15 there. My brother and I returned to live home again at the age of 5 or so.

    #2 – 1966-72 – Returned to the Children’s Home. Was abused while there both physically and mentally in different ways; not by the staff however. I had my first meaningful dialog with GOD there when I was around 8, I yelled at Him for an hour or so on a sub-zero wind chilled day in a cornfield. I think he heard me.  We left the home and the day I left I announced to my Dad I was going back, but I wanted to be a priest. He and my new step mom admonished me; so…., I went home to a big party they had for us; and at the age of 12 I got drunk for the very first time. Kinda odd based on my previous announcement just prior to that. The enemy then sent me spiraling down another road of substance abuse and various addictions for the next 17 years – what a punk he is!

    #3 -1976 – Met my future wife; it was Love at first sight. I was 15 and she was 16.

    #4 -1978 – Joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17; left home and never looked back with the exception of my girl.

    #5 – 1980 – Married my high school sweetheart, and later that year we had a son and named him Chad Ryan. Over the next 4 years we had two more children – Sean W. and Megan Elaine.

    #6 – 1989 – 3 significant events happened this year. Promoted to Chief Petty Officer in the Navy; and later that year was commissioned as a Naval Officer. Both of these were professional achievements that I am still quite very proud of; I was a driven man those first 10 years in the Navy. However, in August of 1989 – I was re-introduced to the man named Jesus; and this time I fell in Love and from that day forward my life has never been the same. Thank you Miguel Gallegos for taking the time to share Him with me; I am forever grateful!

    # 7 – 1992 – Moved into our first purchased (brand new) home and we have lived her in Virginia Beach in that home since July of 1992.

    # 8 – 1989 -1996 – Tumultuous years in my life. I had carried a ton of baggage into my marriage and even into my relationship with Jesus; and I had never dealt with those issues. This season of my life was very, very tough. I went through ups and downs in both relationships until I started to do the dirty work of facing my past and how it was affecting me as a man, a believer, a husband, and a father. This was a time of pain but also tremendous growth. My recommendation to anyone – Face the Pain – in the long run it is worth it; and He who heals will be there right with you the entire time.

    # 9 – 1993 – My first glimpse of serving the King. Taught various levels of children at church, and was then taken on as the Youth Pastor for a local church until l997. This was during a tough time in my life – but serving helped me to stay focused on the finish line. Had a blast with the youth – we were the first church in the area to put on concerts with a mosh pit; this was also my first experience ever preaching the word – very humbling time in my life; but very, very rewarding.

    #10 – 1998 – Present – I met Vince Antonucci and caught the Vision of Forefront Church. Sent me in a complete tailspin with respect to evaluating church and how it is done. Being raised Catholic and then being in a church previously that was fairly conservative – this was a breath of fresh air for me! I immediately became immersed in the Ethos/Culture of Forefront and have been serving there in a myriad of capacities: small groups; small groups leaders; small groups leader coach/mentor; men’s ministry leader/coach; children’s ministry teacher on Sunday’s (currently 1st/Kind.); Set up and Tear down (we’re mobile in school); and getting ready to eliminate some duties and take on Global Outreach and Church Planting coach. I began reading books on a much more regular basis during this time; at one point, I was shooting for one a month. Have slowed a bit now with school, but will get back to that mode eventually.

    #11 – 2001 – Our daughter Megan was killed in a single car crash on Easter Sunday morning (15 Apr 01). That morning I read the book of Job – but the two things that really caught my attention in the entire book were: #1 – When the going gets rough – Worship; #2 – I can yell and debate with God and he will listen. So…, I did both – the worship got me through, and the dialog with Him helped me to vent. I did not receive answers right away – however, the last 6 years have been amazing with respect to growth and maturation. Additionally, the outpouring of Love from so many that still happens even to this day – has been truly overwhelming. Would I ever want to go through that again – NO WAY!! However, it has been a mixed bag of blessings and many of those, I would never, ever give back either.

    #12 – 2002 – ORIGINS Conference in Los Angeles – this was when I caught my real first glimpse of the Post-modern discussion and kingdom living here on earth. Met both Alex and Erwin at Dinner one night –and have conversed occasionally or bumped into Alex at conferences over the last few years. The idea of using more creativity and the arts in how we reach out was firmly planted in my heart; but God was also doing something in my heart with respect to looking more at the Globe versus my own little area of the world. Couple years later I also attended a Catalyst conference in which I sat in on 2 Brian McClaren labs that were absolutely mind-blowing – but helpful. Brian two years earlier had actually taught a small groups conference for Forefront Church, I thought that kinda funny. You may not totally agree with the guy, but he is stinkin brilliant! His book “New Kind of Christian” was a bit of an eye-opener for me too.

    #12 – 2003 – My father died after a long bought of emphysema. My dad had a huge impact on my life, both good and bad; and I Loved him dearly. I was able to intro him to Jesus and see his acceptance; so, I get to hang with him for eternity and a day. I do miss our every Sunday conversations though. This very same year in the fall – God spoke clearly into my heart about Orphans of Aids. Given my childhood and a myriad of other things – He was giving me clear understanding that I had been groomed along the way to be involved in this horrible world-wide problem in some form or fashion.

    #13 – 2004/2005 – Both of my sons graduated from James Madison University; and I started to work on my first degree at the age of 44. Our family is the first in the entire Merritt bloodline to have anyone attend or graduate from an institute of higher learning. Our marriage is also the only one not destroyed by divorce in our entire bloodline. So.., not sure what that all means – but I think it significant and it made for a good year.

    #14 – 2005-2007 – Have attended Londen Institute School of Evangelism at the prompting of Vince my pastor. From an educational standpoint, it has been 2 of the most fruitful years of my life. I have met some fantastic people; and have had the opportunity to sit under some of the finest teachers and pastors in order to prepare me for the next step in this journey. In the Fall of 2006, God again spoke clearly into my heart about being a Church Planter, while also showing me how this would fit into my work with Orphans of Aids. This in turn has sent me on another adventure all together. So.., it has been an impacting and interesting couple of years.

    #15 – 2006 – Karen and I attended Church Planting Assessment in Chicago, IL. These 3 days or so, reaffirmed what God had clearly laid in my heart the October before; and it also was a turning point I think for my wife, who quite honestly was very reluctant to the entire idea in the beginning. That was for several reasons; one being my previous impetuous mannerisms in the past; but much of it was fear of the unknown. This and prayer by her, others, and me have been instrumental in quelling some of that fear.  We have decided on going back to the place we left almost 30 years ago; and start a community that will rock that place, and begin a new revolution of Love in the Lehigh Valley of Penna, the State of Penna, the Nation, the World (Acts 1:8).

    #16 – The Present – I am impacted and shaped by the future that awaits me. Chomping at the bit, hands tight on the wheel – I am ready to run! Aaaaahh, but the greatest shaping I’ve received in the recent past and present is – Patience. I must wait, each step is guided, and I am now careful not to run ahead too far – lest I get lost in myself and wander from the path.

    So.., the Vision of the Future is now impacting who I am today! And…, man am I stoked!!

  6. John Avatar

    I’ll give the first five that come to mind:
    1994 – Stood in the hallway, as a graduating divinity student, while trustees and others changed the locks on the seminary president’s door and informed the student body that he was being replaced. Huge power coup thing in southern baptist life. Observed the fangs of fundamentalism. Nasty stuff.

    1995 – after graduation, I was accepted into the Clinical Pastoral Education program at a large, downtown hospital in Dallas, TX. Had a mentor walk across and room and stick out his hand to me and say, “I always wanted to meet Jesus.” Kind of a Zen-grandmotherly wisdom moment; completely humiliated me and returned an ascender back to the humus. Eternally thankful for his courage. This man also introduced me to Nouwen’s writings and the poetry of James Kavanaugh.

    1996 – Read The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry. That book altered my thinking immensely; it’s incredibly pastoral. Very important document on the importance of “place.” Also read E. Peterson’s pastoral triliogy – it should be in every pastor’s library.

    2003 – Four day trip in the Grand Canyon with two soul-friends. Experienced the infinitely tender hand of God throughout the entire time. As I climbed back over the rim at the trip’s end, the voice of God said, “John, don’t ever be afraid. It’s all love.” Went home, resigned my pastorate, and moved to CO.

    2005 – Confirmed in the Anglican tradition. I celebrate communion weekly now and the stuff in the chalice is the real deal. If for no other reason, I go for communion. Something happens in those communion moments that defies definition.

  7. Crystal Avatar

    Growing up, one thought linked with spirituality has stuck with me. Sorry I wont list 16 different ones. This is the most important one. It resounds much louder than all the others. It may seem silly when written and if you didn’t know the parties involved but who cares. It has shaped me.

    From a very early age my first memories are from the churches my father pastored. He was an Assemblies of God minister for thirty-five years. He falls into the category some would call old fashioned, but he has an unmatched heart for people and compassion at his core. Some of my earliest encounters with God happened in the altars of southern churches in the eighties. In the background twangy southern gospel rolled out of the organ like a sweet smell from the kitchen. While I no longer share my father’s affinity for this type of music, it is still dear to me because of moments like these.

    Any time I would go to recieve prayer on any matter I can remember my father’s voice in my ear before he began his prayer saying, “I love you. You have a destiny.” This continued throughout my rebellious teen years and still occurs now in the quiet of his home during holidays before his prayer for safety in travel as my husband and I leave to go back home to our own ministry.

    I believe much of the world is crying out for that very statement to resound in their memory as well. They just want to hear they are loved and that someone believes they have a destiny. I have heard it for years and was just crazy enough to believe it. As a result, I have gone around the world not only living out my destiny, but hopefully in some way imparting this message to others and impacting theirs.

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