Kathy Escobar, co-pastor of The Refuge, a missional church community in the Denver area offers here a primer (I know, it’s an old fashioned word) about how communities of faith can engage in practices that replicate the “downward mobility” that Jesus modeled in his life and ministry. This volume is part spiritual autobiography, part journal of a real community of faith and part clarion call to individuals and communities that are trying to really follow Jesus. The author cut her pastoral teeth as a woman in the decidedly male world of an evangelical megachurch, but as many of us do after a time in ministry, she struggled with the disconnect between God’s work in the world, the cost of discipleship and the structures and organizational policies and politics that seem sometimes to be in opposition to one another.
The main strength of the book is Escobar’s clear and very readable writing style combined with easily digested chapters that include reflection and discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The writing is an accessible combination of scripture, personal reflection and real-life examples of what downward mobility is and how it is consistent with Jesus’ call upon us as disciples.
Part I of the book describes her call to a life of downward mobility that reflects the way Jesus lived his earthly life and places Escobar and her journey in that context. Part II is about the eight practices that she says characterize this ‘downwardly mobile Jesus’ kind of life and community. They are:
- Extending Love, Mercy and Compassion
- Welcoming Pain
- Honoring Doubt
- Diffusing Power
- Practicing Equality
- Pursuing Justice
- Cultivating Creativity
- Celebrating Freedom
“Staying the Course,” the third part of the book, gives practical examples of what she calls a “Beautiful and Hazardous” way of life. I think this book is a natural read for pastoral leaders and congregations to read together to get areal-world idea of what being missional is all about as the Church continues to pursue God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation in the world.