A few months ago I posted a review of Kevin Scott’s absolutely fantastic book ReCreatable (review here). Kevin was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and I want to again encourage you to pick up his book! It’s excellent.
Luke: Kevin, thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions! If you wouldn’t mind, tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do.
Kevin: Thank you for inviting me to share with your readers. There’s not much to tell about me, really. Not without boring your readers. Essentially I’ve been trying to work out what it means to live a sustainable Christian life in community with other believers. And along with that, what it means to be a person who brings more healing than brokenness into the world. I’m not great at either of those things, but that’s what I’m wrestling with and writing about these days.
Luke: So your new book is ReCreatable and it’s fantastic (review here). For our readers who have yet to pick up a copy, how would you describe it and who is your target audience?
Kevin: In a sense, I wrote it for myself. I wanted to put down some markers in my life to say: This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. This is what I aspire to. I’m not there yet, but this is what I perceive and have faith that God is doing and wants to do in my life and faith community. Beyond that personal element, I wrote ReCreatable for the person who feels frustrated in their walk with Christ. They feel like they’re not making progress, caught in a never-ending cycle of sin, brokenness, and repentance, more sin, more brokenness, more repentance. They’re happy to be forgiven, but they want more than that. They want to be a new creation. They want to experience healing and help others find healing as well.
Luke: Here at ThinkTheology.org, we’ve been talking a lot about discipleship lately. How would you define discipleship and what are the top characteristics of a disciple of Jesus?
Kevin: I find that a lot of approaches to discipleship are results-oriented with a set of specific and often culturally conditioned expectations about what it means to be a Christian. I’m suggesting that discipleship is more about the process, and that if you patiently work the process, the results will more or less take care of themselves in surprising, God-honoring ways. ReCreatable is structured around my process-oriented definition of a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is someone who is learning to “reflect his glory by living well in a pocket of the kingdom.” The person who is living well, I’m suggesting, is the person who is actively growing in the three key Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love. It’s a very New Testament kind of thing.
Luke: In ReCreatable you talk about the concept of living in a pocket of the kingdom. Could you explain how you understand the relationship between the kingdom of God and the church? What do you believe are the largest obstacles to this type of community?
Kevin: The church (small “c”) can be a setting for the genuine, local manifestation of God’s kingdom. It can become a microcosm, in a sense, of the kingdom. Where two or three are gathered under his lordship, God’s Spirit is present, God’s power is manifested, and lives are transformed. Not all churches experience this reality or even aspire to it, but I think it’s part of what God had mind when he created the church. As far as challenges, I believe that genuine Christian community is always local, and yet very few of us these days find Christian community with our neighbors or even within walking distance. And that makes it a challenge. We have to seek it out, prioritize it, make time for it—and many fail to make it a priority or even see why it should be. Another significant obstacle is our cultural preference for bigger. Why experience church with forty people in a more intimate gathering when you can worship with 5,000? And these kinds of choices are never neutral. There are unintended consequences to our general preference for larger. And one of those consequences is that it necessarily redefines what we mean when we say the word community.
Luke: So in ReCreatable you talk briefly about Romans 7 being a disputable passage of Scripture amongst Christians and hint at the fact that you disagree with the way it is interpreted by some. Would you care to share your thoughts here?
Kevin: In Romans 5, Paul sets up a contrast between two kingdoms—the kingdom of sin that leads to death and the kingdom of righteousness that leads to life. In Romans 6, Paul emphatically teaches that Christians live not in the realm of sin and death but in the realm of righteousness and life. In Romans 7, he addresses those who trust in the Law and teaches that they are still in slavery to sin and death. That’s an oversimplification, but that’s what seems to be going on there in the heart of Romans. Many take comfort in Paul’s description of the struggle to do what is right depticed in Romans 7, as if Paul were describing the normal Christian life. They may think, “Well, Paul struggled, so I’m not going to do any better than that.” But Paul wasn’t describing his current struggles; he was imagining himself back into the struggles of the person still under the Law. So Romans 7 seems actually to be describing not the average Christian but the person who is still in slavery to sin. This reading, certainly not original with me, emphasizes that the Christian life was never intended to be this ongoing cycle of sin, brokenness, and repentance (although there will certainly be some of that). The redemption Jesus offers includes the hope and expectation of genuine progress in faith and increasing victory over sin, so that you will be more like Christ five years from now than you are today.
Luke: Who are your favorite authors and theologians and why?
Kevin: ReCreatable was deeply influenced by the work of three authors in particular: N.T. Wright has deeply influenced the way I read Scripture; Dallas Willard the way I think about progress in the Christian life; and Wendell Berry the way I think about the significance of bodily life. And of course, I’ve benefitted from so many others too. Beyond that, I really enjoy reading good fiction. In recent months I’ve been moved and enriched by the novels of Wallace Stegner, among others.
Luke: Could you tell us about your future writing plans?
Kevin: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about faith and doubt, and I really expect that my next major writing project will focus there.
Luke: Thanks so much, Kevin! There’s a rumor that your book is on sale and that you have a website. Tell us about those things and how can our readers follow your work?
Kevin: ReCreatable is available through all the major online retailers and in eBook format. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, they should be able to order it for you easily enough. And you can always find me at KevinScottWrites.com. Thanks for the opportunity to chat today.
Luke: Anything else you’d like to share, Kevin?
Kevin: I’ve also just written a set of sermon notes that you can use to build a four-week sermon series on the themes of ReCreatable. Preaching this series and having your small groups use the discussion guide included in the book is a great way to lead your congregation through a major emphasis on sustainable discipleship this fall. The sermon series along with series graphics will be available as a free download at Kregel.com (link here).
Luke: Thanks so much, Kevin, for your time! Great job on the book!