I’m going to jump around in time a bit. We could start with Bishop Pike, the REC, the Continuum, or any number of avenues, but I will start in Idaho in 2003. I was part of an independent Reformed church that was trending towards Sovereign Grace Ministries as a place to land. The church was split between former OPC members, former Calvary Chapel members, with some Doug Wilson followers thrown in for good measure. Intellectually, this was the time of the New Perspective gaining steam, while the Federal Vision was the current Reformed controversy, and the Emergent Church movement was in full flower.
I was dissatisfied with Reformed theology and was reading New Perspective authors heavily. Dunn’s commentary on Galatians meant a lot to me, as well as N.T. Wright’s vast and ever-expanding corpus. I was in on the first wave of blogging, and through that had connected with James B. Jordan, Peter Leithart, and many others. I went and saw Wright present when his book on the resurrection came out and was able to talk to him. At this Wright conference I sat with a man named Eric Keck and his wife. They had been part of something called Allelon, which I think was an online community that contained people who met in homes, outside of the institutional church. There was a ferment of people attracted to liturgy, into “ancient practices” and people like Wright. It spilled over into sectors of the Reformed world, and I suppose Mark Driscoll tapped into that, although I paid no attention to him. The reason I mention Keck and Allelon is because when we talked at the Wright conference, he mentioned his friend Todd Hunter, who was unaffiliated at the time, having resigned as the leader of the Vineyard where he had succeeded John Wimber. Keck had been in the Vineyard with Hunter in California, I believe, and they had all moved to Idaho recently. They were doing some kind of meeting in their homes. I think I remember discussions about playing poker with neighbors in the garage and trying to evangelize by simply befriending neighbors. The focus on meeting people in your neighborhood, liturgy, and being into some of the best modern scholars seemed refreshing to me given how much Reformed people were beating each other up, and the Reformed authors I liked best shared a focus on liturgy, history, and the New Perspective.
Keck said, “…we chose to gather a small group of believers, which continues to meet…we have recently been involved with another one that just sort of accidently happened with the Hunters and it has been really rewarding.” He told me that Hunter was friends with Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Eugene Peterson and that he was advising Alpha on what direction to take over the next ten years. He suggested I talk to Hunter.
I recall calling Hunter and talking about church stuff, but I have no idea what we specifically discussed. Either way, my head was not in the place to do house church with people who were on a bit of a different trajectory. I wasn’t into the Emergent Church, Willard, Peterson, or any of that. We intersected on Wright and the New Perspective, but that’s where it stopped.
About this same time my wife gave me a 1979 BCP from a used store and I started praying it on a regular basis. I loved its liturgy but could never become Episcopalian. In the meantime, most of our friends at the Reformed church were infatuated with C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll. Suffice it to say, we were not on the same page. Then, our church imploded and the pastor resigned due to an anger problem. The church split almost cleanly in two and then people scattered to the wind. I read something in the newspaper at the breakroom at work about churches in Colorado leaving the Episcopal Church for something called the Anglican Mission In America and I was intrigued.
Background information and sources
A blog post from Eric Keck:
in the last couple years, i have gotten to hangout with todd more than i ever could have imagined. from the great time we had sharing an allelon office together, to seeing him interact with my neighbors on a weekly basis, to seeing him teach a catechism class for our kids to now doing church with him. beth asked me this sunday…”5 years ago would have believed it if somebody told you you would hang out with todd this much and do church with him?” i was like no way!! it was sort of a surreal moment.
we have certainly come to understand what it is about the hunters so many people love… moments of vulnerability like this picture are a daily occuranceand that is why it is especially meaningful to me that todd asked me to give a bloggers update as to his latest job. as most of you may or may not know todd took over the helm of Alpha. all that know todd knows he has several passions… one of them is seeing practical ways to do church. in the last couple years its become painfully obvious that alt-church is struggling over a few issues: leadership, kingdom and evangelism. todds heart is in all these and through a lot of dialouge with some true smarties, good theology and 25+ years of praxis he has remarkable insight, that can awestruck people.
with a lot of thought and humility in the last couple of years he has really struggled to find the most appropriate way’s to address some of the afforementioned passions. as most of you know, he truley is a servant. for the last couple of months and even last night at a local coffee shop, with a lot of humility he said “you know i still just want the young gals/guys planters to know that im there for them and im going to continue in the conversation…” i know he means it. he still continues to get a lot of calls, questions, emails and “coaching” type questions on a daily basis and wanted all of you to know that he in no way plans on giving this up… in fact he considers this job more of an oppourtunity to continue on in this sort of apostolic encouragement…. the man is a resource… use him.
those of you who are familiar with alpha know how uncharted the territory is in the alt-church scene. for the last year + as part of a project we have been working on there has been alot of thought around pneumatology and evangelism…in looking at alpha, they have taken remarkable steps at advancing a kingdom mindset. from my understanding, todds passion is to see the alt-church begin to shape and model this same sort of mindset into their church’s so to do this he will really want to talk with you and find out whats working and whats not working, where your issues with praxis are and where they are not. so relay this to people who are curious. if you get a chance shoot him an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a shout out/comment and he’ll see it here… lol, chances are he still is trying to access his email acount. for a much better article and interview of his new role go here (off the map)
++thanks for this kool time in todd’s life
allow him to focus on his passions
free up his time, and allow him to hugely impact
others for your kingdom++