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Meet the New Missional Monk

I am beyond excited to announce that Missional Monks once again refers to two people

…instead of one guy using the Royal “We.”

Dr. Wes Magruder is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, is the Director of Missional Community Development for the Missional Wisdom Foundation, and is the founder and director of Daraja, a ministry which works to build bridges with refugees in the Dallas area. Wes and his family served for several years as missionaries in Africa. Since returning, he has worked to cultivate missional renewal in a large congregation as the Associate Pastor, he has helped launch missional communities, teaches a course on “Reading Scripture with Missional Eyes” in The Academy, and has developed incredible relationships with refugees from multiple countries. So, since he isn’t busy, I asked him to partner with me as a Missional Monk.

 Wes and Bret serving Communion during worship with The Gathering

Wes and Bret serving Communion during worship with The Gathering

In addition to working together on the blog, Wes and I are relaunching the Missional Monks Podcast (hooray!) – with the addition of monthly videocasts. We already have several fantastic interviews lined up where we’ll be talking about the collision of the missional and the monastic with people in a variety of different contexts.

Through our work together in the Missional Wisdom Foundation, Wes and I have had multiple opportunities to speak and teach together. The “Bret and Wes Show” as it is often called within the Foundation, seems to work pretty well. Specifically, we have had a number of opportunities to work with individual churches and groups that are interested in cultivating the missional imagination. Missional Monks is the perfect context to continue developing and improving that aspect of our ministry.

As this marks an exciting transition for Missional Monks, you can expect a number of changes coming to the website in the near future.

Please join me in welcoming Wes, because I’m contractually obligated to limit the nice things I say to him personally…and I think I’m already over my quota.

But for now it is time to unveil the first ever Missional Monks Videocast…complete with too many closeups of someone who needs to shave.

For this inaugural episode we visited the Seattle’s Best Coffee in Burleson to tell ’em…”Hi, I’m Bret.”

Check it out.


A Little Help, Please?


“We were saying Gig ‘Em long before there was a Johnny Football.”

Some groups are meticulous and thorough in creating a certain culture. For instance, growing up just outside of College Station, TX had such a strong cultural impact on me that, though I no longer live in Aggieland, it’s influence has been passed on to the next generation. Fan or not, just about anyone who follows college athletics can attest to the depth of tradition attached to Texas A&M University. The culture is so ubiquitous that my children disapprove of all burnt orange clothing, are suspicious of any emblem which resembles a longhorn, and refer to their Aunt Tiffany (A&M grad) as “Aggie.”

But there is a lot more to creating culture than just branding. The difficulty is enhanced when the “new” culture is perceived to be replacing/challenging/augmenting another which is already established…even if the old culture is falling / has fallen out of prominence.

When Chris Chappotin and I started the Missional Monks podcast we were just trying to sort through what we called the “what now?” questions in regards to missional church planting. Everywhere we looked there were books, podcasts, articles, conferences and webinars focused on teaching the basics of missional faith and why people should care. But there was so little available for those who had taken the plunge and were looking around – disoriented, alone and slightly terrified. “What do we do now?”

There was so much we didn’t understand (and plenty that still escapes us). How do we balance the value of discipleship and spiritual formation with busy schedules and deeply ingrained cultural expectations regarding information based education? What does it look like to have mission as an organizing principle? It’s one thing to SAY we’re missional…it’s another thing to cultivate a community ethos that actually lives that way.

Why does it seem that so many people, even those who were not raised in a Christian faith tradition, have such deeply ingrained expectations about what church “looks like?”

We would sit for hours at Denny’s – splitting time between talking to the servers and wrestling through these questions. Eventually it occurred to us that a) other people might benefit from listening in and b) there were undoubtedly others having similar discussions…and we needed their wisdom.

One of the fantastic byproducts of the decision to start the podcast was that we “met” lots of new people. Several of these folks – though we’re spread out geographically – have become good friends and vital conversation partners.

That is certainly true of JR Woodward, aka the Dream Awakener. You can check out our conversation with JR on the podcast page or just listen here.


If you haven’t ever spent time on JR’s website, I recommend doing so…though not until you’ve finished carefully perusing!

Fair warning, JR might give you a case of whiplash. He can go from incredibly goofy to profound more quickly than just about anyone I know. JR has experienced the struggles and pain associated with missional church planting. Rather than cover up these blemishes, he is willing to speak honestly and vulnerably about these matters. And yet his demeanor exudes an incredibly authentic joy. I was excited to finally get the chance to meet him in person this fall at the Sentralized Conference in Kansas City… and as my grandfather would say, he’s good people.

JR’s latest book, Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World, is packed with biblical and cultural insight as well as practical tools for engagement. He looks beyond branding and marketing to consider the myriad of aspects which create, sustain and perpetuate culture. This is exactly the kind of resource we were searching for in our early days of church planting – and it is just as helpful now. His publisher, InterVarsity Press was kind enough to send me a free copy to review…which I will do in my next post.

Stay tuned…

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