The new media is a great combination of information and daily relationship and interaction between readers and bloggers and bloggers and fellow bloggers. In this spirit of building community in the blogosphere, someone out there launched “the interview game”. I am fortunate to be interviewed by Gideon Strauss:
Interview Questions for Brad Hightower
1. Why do you blog?
There are really two aspects to blogging for me. I have spent the past 20 years doing hands on discipleship. This process has taught me that people learn by doing and learn by example. I believe the church is experiencing a renewal of praxis. Christianity is more like gymnastics than geometry. So these lessons about discipleship and its relationship to community and knowing God and how these three levels of our spiritual life relate is something I want to write about and get out there so I can maybe do some good for the kingdom.
The other element comes from the fact that I am so not academic. Therefore, I like to write stuff and have smart guys teach me that I am wrong. In other words, I like to blog to learn. I want to gain more precision to my language so that I can explain the nuances of practice better. Neo-Calvinism is a great example. I am just now starting to accept that Christian values might be worked into the structures of secular institutions.
Also, I originally started to blog because a non-believing friend of mine said I had some ideas that he actually thought would be helpful to the church.
2. Why does story/testimony matter?
Christianity offers us a new “life”. This life that God offers us is not some “positional” life or some theoretical life to be experienced in some other dispensation. Our faith is for a new story which is the kingdom life. I like to say that the “kingdom of God is at hand” means that "the heavenly pattern of life is within reach". If our story doesn’t change with respect to the moral attributes of our character, then we have little evidence that the Gospel works. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth but if you lose your saltiness then you are good for nothing”. The point here is that our story is to be a story that proclaims, in the way we live as a community, that the kingdom of God is indeed at hand through the power of the Gospel. We as Christians have access to something that is impossible without grace. we have the invitation to live a life of stunning moral beauty that reflects the moral attributes of God. Therefore, having a life testimony and a new story becomes the evidence of the reality of our confession.
3. What positive memory most strengthens your idea of community?
When I was in my 20’s, I lived in a community of single guys. There was 5-6 of us ,and we ran a discipleship home for the marginally employable. This lasted until I got married (or about 5 years). It was one 24 hour prayer meeting. The fruit of this ministry was really amazing in retrospect. We were very missional and monastic.
I remember one story from back then. I had a friend (my roommate). He was an addict and all his significant adults in his life died on the streets in Wilmington, CA. We spent 10 weeks memorizing grace-based scriptures as a home. We would have times of worship most days, and one day, after he was just filled with scriptures on forgiveness and grace, he was in worship with us. As the music became more spontaneous and inspired, he began to weep. I still can see this man, hardened by the street, with tears in his eyes saying, "I'm in the gates. I'm in the gates". That’s the kingdom. Many people say to me, looking back, that those were the best years of their life.
My whole ministry is to get back to this lifestyle but in the context of raising kids and being more cross generational. I think the great blunder of 20th century Christianity is trying to live the life in isolation. That approach leads to real depression and burden. Sanctification just doesn't happen outside the context of monastic and Missional community.
Today, I live on the campus of the church, and it is really helpful because I am a witness 24/7. We keep a very porous border between church and home. Without such defining values, I think it is very hard to maintain the level of militant attitude toward life that is required to continually grow in grace.
Today, our home group meets a few times a week and Sunday is pretty much an all day affair of community. Our weakness is on the mission side. We are inviting some missionaries out to jump start our mission to the community. I want to launch lots of art driven events too, concerts and movies. We are certainly inching our way back into renewal.
4. Who has taught you most about being a pastor? (Divine persons excluded.)Christianity is more caught than taught and the person who I caught the vision from was a man named Rick Colquhoun. He is a Vineyard pastor. He led a small group (50+ in Anaheim). He invited me to move into his home and gave me a job at the Vineyard to run the “Compassion Ministries” in the mid-‘80’s. We did ministry together.
I was a pretty hard guy when I was young in terms of emotions. I remember one time I got really hurt. He was like a father to me in many ways. He was fantastic at releasing leaders and supporting young radicals like myself. I made a vow to myself when I was a young Christian to never discourage a young visionary. This man really knew how to encourage. Quite the proverbial Barnabas.
Also, John Wimber. WOW. He was so profound. He was this eccentric man who saw the world from a very practical paradigm. He used to say, “when do we get to do the stuff”. Man, this phrase meant that Christianity is about living the story of the book hook line and sinker. He was the first of a movement that has so many tributaries. Great liver of the Kingdom.
5. If there is one book you would want all of your children to read in their twenties, what would it be?
We are starting to read the stories of Narnia at night. I would just love it if we could read biographies together as a family. "Stride Toward Freedom" by MLK. Heroic missionary stories: Hudson Taylor, Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi. I really was influenced by the lives of the Puritans. I love Gandhi too. Steven Biko. I love stories of courage.
Here is a reminder of the rules of this interview meme:Anyone else interested?
Send me a note or leave a comment.
Here are therules:
1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me." The first five commentators will be the participants.
2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someoneelse in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them fivequestions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.)