Archives For Sean Benesh

Many Bikes“The way we move largely determines the way we live.” (Speck, Walkable City, 55)

That quote stopped me in my tracks. I circled it, added a bunch of stars around the quote, dog-eared the page … and then double-dog-eared the page. It was a Eureka! moment for me and continued to confirm different ideas and concepts that I’ve been wrestling with over the last few years. Transportation and walkability (and bikeability) are truly important topics for me and this quote nailed it on the head.

But the connection we fail to make is in relation to church life. Think about the quote … the way we move (car, foot, bike, bus, light rail, etc) determines the way we live. Most often lives are frantic, scattered, and out of sorts and statistically one of the reasonings behind that, believe it or not, revolves around commuting. “In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard professor Robert Putnam documents a marked decline in American social capital, and notes that commute time is more predictive than almost any other variable he measured in determining civic engagement.” (Ibid., 49) So why are most of our churches and their growth…

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Bikeable ChurchPortland, Oregon is a city known for its hipsters, coffee shops, swank bohemian urban neighborhoods, craft breweries, burgeoning artisan economy, and bicycles. Call it the Amsterdam of the United States … Portland has been dubbed “America’s Bicycle Capital.” The city certainly lives up to this title and wears it proudly. Every city has some kind of bicycling scene whether tattooed skinny jeans wearing singlespeed fixie riders in San Francisco or middle-aged me in lycra in Phoenix. However, Portland is a unique city among all others. While we certainly have our hipsters riding singlespeed fixies and our middle-aged men in lycra, what makes Portland stand out is that more than any other city, Portlanders use their bicycles as their “MoDo” (mode of transportation).

I live on the fourth floor of a mixed-use apartment building and right below me is a main bicycle thoroughfare. I see groups of cycling children commuting to school. There are scores of cyclists who cruise by on their way downtown or back the other way after work. Oftentimes, throughout the day and evening, I can be sitting in my living room or out on the patio,…

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The Bikeable ChurchThe Bikeable Church: A Bicyclist’s Guide to Church Planting is an off-the-cuff look and exploration into the bicycling world in Portland. More than that, it pokes and prods church planting in the urban petri dish to discover what it’d be like to plant pedal-powered churches. Chalked full of stories, antics, and slightly questionable research, The Bikeable Church spins forward the church planting revolution in light of the changing transportation infrastructure in cities like Portland, and asks whether we can truly start churches where the primary vehicle of use is the bicycle. This book is for the everyday bicyclist and ordinary church planter. You’ll be happy to hear that no spandex was worn for the writing of this book.

1. Journey Into Singlespeed Biking
2. Submerging Into Portlandia
3. How We Get Around Matters
4. Commuting Patterns and Churches
5. The Intersection of Missiology and Transportation Design
6. Why Grown Men Shave Their Legs
7. Reengagement
8. The DIY Bikeable Church
9. A Return To Simplicity

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UrbanAs the world hurtles towards urbanization at an ever-increasing pace, there arises the need for further theological reflection on the city. Globalization, international immigration, and densification in cities are having a transformative impact on the urban landscape. Urban mission is at the forefront of many denominations, church planting networks, ministries, and mission organizations yearning for citywide transformation. How are we to think biblically and theologically about the city? View from the Urban Loft will take readers through the development of cities throughout history, act as a guide to navigating the current forces shaping urban environments, and seek to uncover a theology of the city that gives Christians a rationale and a biblical understanding of the meaning and purposes of the city and then how to live in it for the glory of God.

Just this morning I had a meeting with two transportation architects and we were talking about the city and a theology of the city. Most of the time in our approach to cities we look at them through only one or two lenses, mainly surrounding the topics of demographics and ethnography. We understand people and as pastors, church…

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CityIn church planting circles we are more apt to look backwards rather than forward when talking about models, methods, forms, and expressions. Besides, it is this concept of reverse-engineering which is the topic of many books on church planting as leaders reflect on what worked, and worked wildly well. To propose a theoretical framework is taking the reverse approach, a forward trajectory at that. Also, to float out ideas, concepts, and a way of church planting not predicated on the luxury of reverse-engineering is counter-intuitive, yet normative in society as a whole. It is akin to an architect conceptualizing, drawing, and then creating a 3D model of what is yet to come. The architect takes into account the prevalent dynamics before the conceptualizing and building phase. Is this a new build? Reclaiming on old historic building in a downtown district? Context begins to determine the framework for what the architect has to work with.

This is what I aim to do with The Multi-Nucleated Church. Context begins to determine the framework for what the church planter has to work with. The subtitle clarifies my intentions as well: Towards a…

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