While Jen Hatmaker stays busy traveling with the BELONG Tour, her hubs has been busy, too. Along with helping to care for their kids, church, and non-profit organization—not to mention appearances on a handful of HGTV shows—Brandon found time to write a new book titled “A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith.” We caught up with Brandon between activities for a quick convo about BELONG, the book, and more.
BELONG: Thanks for sharing Jen with us for the BELONG Tour! How’s it going at your place when she’s out of town at BELONG events?
BRANDON: I love having Jen as a part of the BELONG Tour probably as much as she loves being a part of the tour. Honestly, when we’re doing what we’re called to do it makes us all better… so I think it makes Jen a better person, wife, and mom. The whole Hatmaker family gets to benefit from it. Plus, I get a chance to turn into “Super Dad” by always ordering pizza and taking the kids bowling or to movies!
BELONG: Just between us: Do you ever worry about what stories she might be telling on you?
BRANDON: Not until now! Why? What is she saying?
BELONG: Our lips are sealed; you’ll just have to ask Jen. Not everyone knows this—they will now!—but you’re also part of the BELONG Tour through BELONG Collective. Can you tell us a little about that?
BRANDON: Jen and I started the Legacy Collective last year where we seek out and partner with some of the best non-profits in the world. We joined with BELONG to bring our model of partnership to the cities where BELONG events are held. From the very beginning of BELONG we’ve discussed how important it is to us that we help others connect with their communities and we want those cities to know how much BELONG loves them! So in each city we select a local non-profit, highlight what they do at the conference, introduce opportunities to volunteer locally, and raise a little money to help them out.
BELONG: Tell us about your book: what prompted you to write A Mile Wide?
BRANDON: I think as Christians we do “church” pretty well. What we don’t do well is the other stuff. So many people struggle with finding their true identity in Christ, finding authentic community, and figuring out their place in this world. I wrote A MILE WIDE to help people dig a little deeper into seeing how we can find depth and fullness and joy when the Gospel works IN US and the Gospel works THROUGH US. My hope is that people don’t see digging into faith as a chore, but instead find how real depth results in freedom.
BELONG: What do you think the future of the faith community looks like?
BRANDON: I think faith community will continue to be more and more vulnerable, honest, pure, and less pretentious. And that’s a good thing. Our form of church always tends to reinvent itself to speak the language of culture. Just look at how church has changed the last 100 years. It looks entirely different today than it did in 1955. But while the methods change, the message stays the same. One thing we know about the Gospel is that is transcends culture. This generation is pressing into a true gospel more than ever so I’m incredibly hopeful for the future of the church!
Offering fresh perspective on eight essentials of Christianity—the gospel, identity, scripture, discipleship, kingdom, mission, community, and justice—Brandon’s book provides biblical insight and practical applications. For just one example, read the excerpt below for . . .
A New Way to Belong
by Brandon Hatmaker
We don’t have members at my church. Instead, we have partners. While the label pretty much means the same thing as what we might traditionally think, we’re intentional about the name change because it also comes with a bit of a paradigm shift.
When I think about being a member, it makes me think about joining a country club. Membership comes with privileges and rights, because you paid for them and the club exists to serve you. You’re either in or you’re out. It’s the same at Sam’s Club or Costco. If you’re not a member, you’re not welcome; if you are a member, you get special discounts for stuff you need (and want).
You might belong in that place, but it’s not because of who you are. It’s because of what you’ve done. You paid your dues, and now you’re entitled.
I’ve never had a membership at a country club, but I’ve had friends who do. The first time I visited a country club as a guest I felt incredibly uncomfortable. While no one really knew who I was, it felt like everyone knew I didn’t belong. My friend was running late, and I kept waiting for someone to ask me who I was and why I was there. Although my friend was the president of a local bank and a lifetime member of the club, I feared I was going to be escorted off the property if caught before he got there.
Partners, on the other hand, make me think of a law firm. If you are a partner, you have a personal interest in the company. It’s more personal than having a membership and is more about who you are. You’re vested. And if the company goes down, you go down. When you are a partner, you don’t work for the company; in many ways you are the company. At the partner level you have agreed upon a certain direction for the organization, and everyone is in it together. You’ve considered the costs, the risks, and the rewards in advance.
Partners have ownership. They get a key to the building and the code to the alarm system. They get access at all times, because they belong at all times. Loyalty to the success of the organization and the mission is prioritized over personal agendas, because as partners whatever is best for the company is best for us. In order to become a partner it requires a shift in thinking and a shift in priorities.
As believers, we can’t just sign up and pay our dues for gospel community. We can’t simply attend, skeptically waiting to see if the group is going to meet our needs, with one finger on the ejector seat button. We need to take ownership. We need to see ourselves belonging in community. It should be a place where our unbelieving friends can see themselves belonging as well. It should be a space that energizes and refreshes us. It should be an environment where we not only feel accepted, we are accepted, and because of that, the table is set for true spiritual depth and searching. Because of that, we can be honest about personal struggles and professional mishaps. Because of that, we might even get a little glimpse of the kingdom right in the middle of our living room or around our table on a normal Wednesday night.