Today I want to introduce you to Linda Bergquist. She will be speaking at the missionSHIFT conference this summer. We are also excited to have her voice as a part of framing the Missional Manifesto.
Linda and her husband Eric live in San Francisco, California. She is a New Church Starting Strategist and the co-author of “Church Turned Inside Out” from Leadership Network (2009).
I have known Linda (Dr. Bergquist ) for many years. When I was a professor (oh so long ago) she took several of us on a tour of the marginalized communities where God was at work in the Bay area. She has a passion for people on the edge of society and the change that the gospel brings. You can find out more about her work in San Francisco at her site Plant Churches with Us.
To introduce her to you, I asked Linda to answer a few questions about herself.
You work as a new church starting strategist in San Francisco. Tell us briefly how you came to do that work in that place. Linda: I’ve been involved in missional activity since the week I became a follower of Christ, and in church planting since a few months after that. Five years and four churches later, with a seminary degree in hand, my home church invited me to join their staff and help them start churches. Ten years later, the senior pastor left for the Bay Area [and I took] the church planting strategist job
in San Francisco. That was fourteen years ago.
What do I see that gives you hope for the church in America?
Linda: I see Dave and Brook Maturo who moved from a 4 bedroom house they owned in Florida to a small rented space in San Francisco, with no guarantee of jobs, to assist our church planting team become more effective. I see a church of poor Mongolian refugees, all new Christians, who sent the school supplies we gave them back to Mongolia where children are glad for even one pencil. I see business entrepreneur Ken McCord intentionally translating kingdom values into the workplace; notifying the utility company that his bill was too low, extending medical benefits to employees at the expense of his own salary, and c
aring enough to utilize more costly earth friendly processes. I see Marian Engelland planting churches, mentoring other women and running a nonprofit that serves the poor, even with twin baby girls and two other preschoolers. I see Jason Williams helping local churches collaborate with Afghan business owners to raise money to repair windows in a girl’s school in Afghnistan. I see really good DNA that’s worth reproducing.
You recently published “Church Turned Inside Out.” Tell us about the book.
Linda: “Church Turned Inside Out” is a design book for churches. My friend, Allan Karr and I wrote it because we wanted to introduce Christian leaders to the world of design thinking. Over the decades, church became algorithmic. We discovered a formula, and a set of rules that helped us find ways to get from here to there more efficiently and more effectively. But the present algorithm is not as reliable as it once was. New information has come into the equation, and it requires a more experimental posture. Some people experiment in ways that improve the results of the present algorithm (refiners and re-aligners), and others step into the mystery and discover new ways of thinking and being in the world. Awareness of both is needed for a good design process, and both are necessary concepts to carry the church into the future.
Obviously, the word “missional” is spoken of, used by, and claimed by many groups. Instead of giving another definition for the word, can you tell the readers an example of where you and your family are seeking to live missionally?
Linda: Sometimes I tell people that in the suburbs it’s easier to be nice, but in cities it’s easier to be good. So many things rub against us in a dense city– crazy driving, difficult parking, close proximity to every kind of noise and smell. It’s a different pace of life. Serenity, patience, and “nice people attitudes” seem distant and even extravagant. But in cities, the decision for goodness is ever-present. Will we waste the food from our large portion meal, or cut some off before we eat, and wrap it to give to that hungry person we will surely encounter on the way home? Do we follow the trail of blood that leads down the street and into a park to see who may need help or do we ignore it? Do we acknowledge the beggar on the sidewalk who is asking for money, or do we look away because seeing is too costly? Do we treat the Russian pizza delivery driver with respect and kindness? In Russia, he was a classical musician, but here, his limited English prevents him from being well employed. Every time I treat him more like a delivery driver than a classical musician, I rob him of his identity.
In terms of missionSHIFT and the Missional Manifesto, what would be a great end-game in your mind for this event and process?
Linda: There have been times and places in history that mobilize great movements. For example, I love the story of the Harlem Renaissance. African American poets and preachers, artists and educators showed up in Harlem at the same time in the 1920s and 30s. Together they imagined what it might be like to be black in America some day. Communication was more difficult then, but what happened in Harlem sparked the Civil Rights Movement. Today I imagine a new, decentralized, and wonderfully diverse movement of God’s people who respond to the urgent call of a missional manifesto and walk together in a revitalized kingdom direction.
Are you registered for the missionSHIFT conference? Head over to the website and sign up. I believe this will be an important and helpful gathering.