Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Winfield Bevins, Director of Church Planting at Asbury Seminary, joins me on the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast today. He describes himself as a charismatic, low-church, Wesleyan-evangelical-Anglican with a missional twist. Of course, we talk about his most recent books “Ever Ancient. Ever Newand “Marks of a Movement.But we also talk about how he first fell in love with liturgy and the way it provides both framework and freedom, as it adds depth, dimension and practices that draw us deeper in our Christian faith.

Dr. Winfield Bevins, Director of Church Planting at Asbury Seminary

Winfield Bevins is an author, artist, and speaker whose passion is to help others connect to the roots of the Christian faith for discipleship and mission. He frequently speaks at conferences on a variety of topics and is a regular adjunct professor at several seminaries.  Having grown up in a free-church background, Winfield eventually found his spiritual home in the Anglican tradition, but freely draws wisdom from all church traditions.

As an artist, Winfield is dedicated to connecting the church and the arts community. He is a visual artist who enjoys painting iconography, landscapes, and portraits. Over the past decade, he has helped start numerous arts initiatives, including a non-profit art gallery and studio and an arts program in North Carolina.

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi:  Hey everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary podcast, where every other week, we bring you conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people just like you, to help you connect with where your passion meets the world’s deep need. This week on the podcast, we’re talking with Winfield Bevins, Director of Church Planting at Asbury Seminary. Of course, we talk about his most recent books, “Ever Ancient, Ever New,” and “Marks Of A Movement.” We also talk about how he first fell in love with liturgy, and the way it provides both framework and freedom, as it adds depth, dimension, and practices that draw us deeper into our Christian faith. Let’s listen.

Heidi:  I enjoyed reading your book.

Winfield Bevins: Oh, good. Yeah. Thank you.

Heidi: Yeah. A lot. It made sense, and it was on a level that I was like, “Oh, I understand this.”

Winfield Bevins: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Heidi: And it’s good.

Winfield Bevins: Yep.

Heidi: I’m like, oh, yeah. I … This is … It made me start thinking about my own life, and church, and …

Winfield Bevins: That’s good.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, that’s really the heart behind the book, is it does have research. It does look at this larger movement that’s happening. I really wanted to make liturgy accessible to real people. You know?

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: Which oftentimes the books about liturgy and sacraments can be so theoretical, pie in the sky type of stuff. I wanted to really bring it down in a way that’s not watered down. You know? It still has the depth and research behind it, but again, just making it accessible.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. When you say the word liturgy, I think of something I’m not going to understand.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: You know what I mean?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: What is … Can you define liturgy for us?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. Liturgy … You know, comes from the Greek word, the work of the people.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: And, you know, it’s the work of the people … Literally, it’s what we do in worship. It’s practices, it’s how we embody our faith. Liturgy … Robert Mulholland described liturgy as, and I like this definition, that it’s … It involves the corporate practices of worship, but also individual practices.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: Essentially, liturgy’s kind of like the thoughts, words, the habits that we practice regularly. James K. Smith talks about cultural liturgies, that there’s liturgies all around the world, and we don’t even think about it. Like, the mall. You know? It can be a pseudo-religious experience, and …

Heidi: Definitely. It’s like the outlet mall.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. You go and you buy something, and you pay the person. They’re kind of the like the priest, and you feel better about yourself for a minute, and then you’re like, “Why did I spend all this money here?”

Heidi: Right. It’s like a … Liturgy is a ritual … Can be a ritual that we go through that has meaning, that can bring us outside ourselves.

Winfield Bevins: Correct. In the religious liturgical sense, yeah, these are words … These are thoughtful, you’re saying words. In response, there’s words that we say together, so it has a corporate participatory dimension.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: These prayers are just rich in theology. They’re formative. By saying these prayers over and over, it doesn’t … I describe liturgy as a … It gives a structure, not a straight-jacket.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: And so, it gives us a framework to pray in church, and to worship together, but there’s also freedom in liturgy.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: It’s not just pray these words in a book, and they’re these words that were written a long time ago. Spontaneous prayers go along with that. It doesn’t go against spontaneity, or freedom.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I’ve found a freedom in actually having a framework to pray with.

Heidi: Yeah. How so?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. It gives you a structure. It gives you … There are times … Well, so, the individual practices would be like … I think the most common is the daily office, morning and evening prayer. You can pray those with a group, like here at Asbury, we have morning and evening prayer. You can do this by yourself. Oftentimes, it’s just these … It provides you rhythms.

Heidi: Right.

Winfield Bevins: That you’re joining in the prayers that the church is already praying.

Heidi: Right. I especially like that part in your book, when you were talking about the … I forget now if it’s the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed. It talks about the communion of saints.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Heidi: To me, I grew up in the church. It’s talked about, like … You know, the great cloud of witnesses and the prayers of the saints. When I read it, I was like, “Whoa. My faith is a lot cooler than I thought it was.”

Heidi: You know?

Winfield Bevins:  Yeah.

Heidi: Maybe that sounds kind of dumb, but you know what I mean?

Winfield Bevins: Well, that kind of …

Heidi: There’s a lot more history and nuance.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I think we live in such an individualistic, me-centered society. It’s actually beautiful to realize that embracing … The liturgy, in many ways, you have the creeds that are a part of it, but by affirming these words in the creeds, and by praying these prayers that other Christians are praying, and have prayed for centuries, you’re joining in the prayer and worship of the church.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: I tell people, “Here at Asbury, we love Wesley.”

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: Wesley’s kind of our patron saint.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: Wesley was an Anglican and he loved the liturgy. That’s what formed the faith of the Wesleys. I tell a lot of my Methodist friends that in the liturgy, these … Wesley prayed some of these exact same prayers.

Heidi: Interesting.

Winfield Bevins: The Collect For Purity, he prayed that prayer.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: One of the things that people don’t realize, is the Methodist Pentecost, they had gathered together in this all night prayer meeting at Federlane, and it’s in Wesley’s journals. He says, “We were there with Whitfield and Charles.”

Winfield Bevins: He mentions several others. At 3:00 in the morning, the Holy Spirit falls on them.

Heidi: Wow, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: And it says everyone was struck by the power, that they fell on the floor.

Heidi: Wow.

Winfield Bevins: Guess what they do when they come to their senses?

Heidi: What do they do?

Winfield Bevins: They all arise, and it says, “We said in one voice, we praise thee, oh God. We acknowledge thee to be the creator.”

Winfield Bevins: It’s the same day. They pray from heart, in unison, spontaneously, a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.

Heidi: Oh, wow. Oh, how beautiful.

Winfield Bevins: That’s in the liturgy. They knew the liturgy that much. Here, they had this charismatic experience, and they followed it up with a liturgical prayer immediately. I think that’s a great example of embracing the liturgy isn’t anti-charismatic. I tell people I’m a charismatic with a seatbelt. I say I’m a charismatic, low-church, Wesleyan, Evangelical Anglican, with a missional twist. And so, I think it allows me to … This is kind of diverting a little bit, but this might resonate for some people.

Winfield Bevins: It’s kind of like charismatic experience. We’ve got a strong emphasis on spirit-filled life right now, and I totally appreciate that.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: You know, I can experience God in the happy-clappy stuff. I can go there, and … You know.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: However, one of the things that was missing for me in Pentecostal charismatic styles of worship was the contemplative dimension of the Holy Spirit. God has introduced me to a deeper, fuller-embodied encounter of the Holy Spirit …

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: That isn’t just in how you feel, and your emotions, and goosebumps. Praise God for those mountaintop experiences.

Heidi: Yes, absolutely.

Winfield Bevins: But there’s a depth and there’s a contemplative dimension that the Holy Spirit wants us to go to these deep places that move beyond emotionalism.

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins: Does that make sense?

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins: The liturgy, actually, it’s kind of like it provides the tracks that the train can run on to take you to those deeper wells.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: Again, I say we can embrace all of the church. You know?

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: And so …

Heidi: Yeah. When did you first fall in love with liturgy?

Winfield Bevins: You know, I tell people I was … There’s two kind of … There are two ways that people encounter liturgy and move toward a more liturgical faith. One is by experiencing it, like showing up at a liturgical church.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: The other is reading your way into it. The book you just read probably sparked some, huh, maybe I should check out the liturgy. This is interesting.

Heidi: It totally … Yeah, it totally did. And why I like having communion every …

Winfield Bevins: Yes.

Heidi: You know, because some places don’t have it every Sunday, which is totally fine. It’s … You know, your preference.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: You know. I’m not condemning any way of doing it here. That, and it gave it some new importance too, because I started thinking about, oh yeah, this is what that means.

Winfield Bevins: This is why it matters. Yeah.

Heidi: When we say the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, just all … Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I forgot what the question was.

Heidi: You’re good. How did you fall …

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, that’s right.

Heidi: How did you fall in love with liturgy.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, again, some people show up and experience a liturgical service, and I tell some of those stories in the book there.

Heidi:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: There are others that read their way into.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: They discover it by reading and realize that their experience of Christianity is somewhat deficient.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: And maybe I’m missing some vital aspects of the faith that … You know … And so, a lot of times … You know, I came to faith at the age of 19, got involved with missional church planting, was doing … Again, I’ve worked with all different types of church planters, and I love it, and the global context.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: For me, there was just this longing that there was something that was missing. I was just increasingly drawn to historical studies, and my M.Div. focus was on historical theology. I was always looking back to draw inspiration from mission and ministry.

Heidi: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: Finally, I discovered the Book of Common Prayer. I tell people the Book of Common Prayer’s like … This is a bad analogy, but it’s the gateway drug to liturgy, because it’s accessible, it’s …

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: You know? People access it. I began using it, and was like, “Man, these prayers are awesome. This is rich.”

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I tell people the Book Of Common Prayer sometimes is like cracking the Da Vinci Code. It took me a while to really figure out, what is this thing?

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: And then I began to just practice morning and evening prayer, and just dissecting it, and using it, and then was drawn to the liturgical resources, and realized the church we had planted, we moved toward a more regular practice of the Lord’s supper. As I began to study and see … It was interesting, because I was in a plant that became liturgical.

Heidi: Interesting.

Winfield Bevins: The church took the journey with me, if that makes sense.

Heidi: Yeah. Tell me about that. I know from just being friends with you, that your church, it was kind of … I’m thinking it was on the beach, it was a surfer church. Not what you think of when you think liturgical, so tell me about that journey.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. We started as a really uber-low church, kind of surfer church, if you will, and reaching a lot of young people. Again, my experience is, I was … We had planted the church. All these people came to faith, and it became an issue of discipleship. What am I going to teach these people who are new to the faith? One of my first books was Creed, which looks at the Apostle’s Creed, Lord’s Prayer, 10 Commandments. I had discovered catechesis.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It was just like …

Heidi: Yeah. Tell me what catechesis is.

Winfield Bevins: Catechesis is basically just an ancient way of discipleship of teaching new believers and Christians the basic essentials of the Christian faith of using just questions and answers.

Heidi: Okay.

Winfield Bevins: Through this, we discovered the creeds. Rather than coming up with a new statement of faith, as a lot of new churches do, we’re like, hey, why don’t we adopt the Apostle’s Creed. This is what Christians have always believed and affirmed.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s short, one paragraph.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: These were some entry ways, and it was so … Kind of discovering the liturgy, these historic resources, was really enriching for me, but for our young believers.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins:  And they saw the relevance. We had surfers, like, man … You know, one guy came to me, read this thing on Saint Patrick. It just really touched him, as a surfer. I remember him being like, “Man, I never understood the Trinity, but Patrick’s use of the clover leaf, man. It all makes sense.”

Heidi: I love that.

Winfield Bevins: That narrative of the historical narratives really resonated. The Lord sent us a couple of retired priests, who had joined the church. I was like, “Man, you guys have got all these robes and stuff. Why don’t we start a high church service?”

Winfield Bevins: Here we were, this surfer church that was moving in this direction, and we started two services. One of them was full vestments and robes, and weekly communion.

Heidi: Cool.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, it was really cool. The church still does that now.

Heidi: That’s awesome.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, it’s kind of …

Heidi: Was that when you realize the appeal of liturgy to other people? When that started developing in you?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. Well, yeah. It’s really been the last 10 years. At first, when I started discovering liturgy, it was kind of like I’d be hiding out in Barnes and Nobles, in the liturgical or sacramental book section. Hopefully no one would see me there. Oh my gosh, I’m reading Henry Nouwen, and …

Heidi: Oh, I love Henry Nouwen.

Winfield Bevins: And so, what I began to realize over the last 10 years is, there’s a significant movement of younger Christians in the United States that are really hungry to recover historic roots.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: I think it’s a spiritual … I think it’s a renewal movement. A lot of these young people are coming out of, or are Evangelical, coming from low church backgrounds. A lot of them charismatic, Pentecostal, Methodist. I mean, just all across the spectrum. Baptist, Assembly of God. It’s just cross-denominational. The narrative is very similar. It starts with a dissatisfaction with the current state of the church in North America.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins:  Something’s wrong with the church. Is it me? Am I crazy? Am I … It’s a refusal to … The other thing that I think’s driving it is a dissatisfaction with the options that the church has provided.

Heidi:Oh, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I’m not a progressive liberal and I’m not a crazy fundamentalist, hyper-conservative.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Both of those are bad options.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Maybe the church of the past has something to speak to the future of the church.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: This is a common narrative. It starts with one, a dissatisfaction with the current state of the church. And two … I’m actually looking at this right now, as a pattern of renewal. The second is a … It leads toward looking back to church history.

Heidi: Interesting, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Some people start with looking at the revivals. Some people look at the great awakenings. They’re looking for resources. They’re like, “Maybe the historic church can tell me something.”

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Then they rediscover practices and liturgy, and they’re like, “There’s actually stuff in …”

Winfield Bevins: I call it the treasure chest of church history.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s like, they open the treasure chest of church history, and say, “There’s actually some stuff in here we can use.”

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: The third aspect is a retrieval. They’re actually taking those practices and incorporating them, living them out. The result of that is a spiritual renewal.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: It’s not a denial of the spirit or Jesus, it’s actually saying, “We want to embrace all of it, and embody the expression of the faith.”

Heidi: Yes. It gives you something to touch, and taste, and say, and …

Winfield Bevins: Yes. Absolutely,

Heidi: All of it.

Winfield Bevins: It’s very tactile. It’s very tangible-lived. It gives you tools. A lot of young people who are churches that just heard sermons that were just like, just live a good life. Just live a good life. Go read your Bible. It’s like …

Heidi: But how do you do that?

Winfield Bevins: How do I do that? You tell me to pray and read my Bible. Well, guess what? Christians throughout the ages have followed a lectionary reading.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: They’ve followed morning and evening … Here are actual days, or hours of the day that you can pray, that millions of Christians around the world are praying those same hours. They’re praying these similar, if not same, prayers as you.

Heidi: Wow.

Winfield Bevins: And so, all of a sudden, you’re not alone.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s not just you, just trying to do your faith, and just you and Jesus. You’re actually joining …

Heidi: A community.

Winfield Bevins: A community and the communion of saints.

Heidi: Yes. That’s beautiful.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: Ever Ancient, Ever New came out a few months ago. Tell us about it, and why you wrote it, and …

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. Ever Ancient, Ever New … Yeah, started as a result of just observing that this is happening everywhere.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: And so, I did … I spent I think about two years interviewing young adults across the US. I interviewed some young adults in Canada and England, as well, but primarily in the United States. Cross-denominational, looking at … Again, almost weekly I’ll get … Sometimes daily, I’ll get students, Facebook messages, social media, some young person saying, “Hey, can you tell me about … I’m drawn to liturgy. I’m drawn to traditional faith.”

Heidi: Interesting.

Winfield Bevins: “Am I crazy?”

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I have an ongoing database of young people that are reaching out to me. I began to observe that this is actually a significant movement that needs to be documented.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: The book looks at … It’s Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation. It’s exactly that. It looks at what is the allure of liturgy? I tell a lot of stories, there’s a lot of narrative interviews.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: It’s basically ethnographic research, to use a fancy term.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: You know, of just young people, and trying to tell their stories, and why it matters. Section one looks at what is the liturgy? What’s the foundations of the liturgy? What’s the appeal? There’s several chapters there. Section two looks at journeys, and I look at different ways that young people are embracing liturgy. I look at the high church, some young people that are embracing the high church stuff. And then, I look at the draw of Neo-Monasticism. There’s a chapter on what I call Neo-Liturgical churches. These are new churches that are embracing old practices, church plants, and …

Heidi: Yeah, that’s cool.

Winfield Bevins: And then, what was fascinating was, the number of charismatics that were embracers. There’s a chapter on … A lot of times, charismatics will use the term three strings to refer to evangelical, sacramental, and spirit-filled, or charismatic dimensions. When they come together, it really provides a beautiful balance. I’ve just been blown away at how significant that movement is.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: The last section of the book looks at practices. It looks at the real rediscovery of practices. Missional practices, daily practices, and then liturgy in the home.

Heidi:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: An interesting observation was, as I visited these churches, they’re just packed with young people and young families.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: A lot of the young families I interviewed are drawn to liturgical churches because they’re providing a holistic embodied expression of church that doesn’t segregate the family. They’re encouraged to learn and study together, and grow together in their faith.

Heidi: Yeah, I like … You talked about that, where the children may go out for their service, but come back in to take communion as a whole community.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi:  I thought that was a beautiful image.

Winfield Bevins: It is. One of the things we love is, we go to a church, in downtown Lexington, and it’s got kneelers, and everything. We go up for communion together. We take communion together as a family, and it’s cool.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: The minister there’s like, “Man, one of our favorite things is when your family comes up, and your girls, ya’ll are all together, and it’s just a beautiful moment.”

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: We really feel it. It’s a real spirit-filled moment, where we’re taking communion together, and we’ve prayed these prayers in the service, and … There’s these liturgical prayers leading up to the communion that really is preparing your hearts to these words. It becomes a real beautiful experience. Yeah, I think that’s the beauty of the liturgy. It’s good for everybody.

Heidi: Yeah. How do your kids like it?

Winfield Bevins: They love it.

Heidi: Really?

Winfield Bevins: It’s really … Yeah. It’s really neat, because especially for my wife, Kay, she headed up the children’s ministry in the church we had planted, and our earlier service was the high church service.

Heidi: Okay.

Winfield Bevins: They had never really experienced a full liturgical service until we moved here.

Heidi: Oh, wow. Oh, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Now, I’m not up on the platform. I’m still a minister, but you know, I’m doing all this …

Heidi:  Yeah, but you’re not preaching every Sunday.

Winfield Bevins: I’m not preaching every Sunday, I’m not celebrating a … So, we actually sit in a pew, and worship together. It’s been pretty beautiful to experience the liturgy together, if that makes sense. It’s not just my faith. It’s a time where we all embrace this together. That’s the beauty of the Lord’s supper. It’s embodied … You hear the gospel, you hear a sermon. The church we’re at has contemporary worship music.

Heidi: That’s interesting.

Winfield Bevins: Good preaching.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: But you’re invited to a table, it has the liturgy, and so it’s a beautiful balance of contemporary, old and new tradition and innovation.

Heidi: Yeah, yeah. How does liturgy connect us to mission? We talked about, a little bit, about how liturgy and a redemptive story, and our personal growth.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, absolutely.

Heidi: How does liturgy connect this to moving out and helping others?

Winfield Bevins: Yes. I think, in a number of ways, but the historic liturgy comes from … The Catholic mass comes from the word missa, which means … Missio. It comes from missio. Basically, the last … You’ve received the benediction at the end, and so the priest would, in the Anglican liturgy, it’s still in Book of Common Prayers. It’s still the same way. After you’ve come to the table, and then you are sent out on mission. That’s what the priest would say in the Latin mass. They would say, “Go. You are sent.”

Winfield Bevins: That’s what the end … The liturgy brings you in, the structure is you gather for worship, you hear the word of God, then you come and feed at the table, and then you are sent out on mission. Every week, you are reminded to go, you are sent. I describe it as you’re fed spiritually, intellectually, and then missionally. You’re sent out on mission.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins:  And so, the liturgy has some of those components to it. We’re reminded to join in the mission of God every week through the liturgy.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I read this, but not everybody’s read your book. What are some ways that you found that people are connecting liturgy with their mission? Or maybe you want to talk about how you’re connecting liturgy with your mission?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I think one of the biggest things is a missional thought person. Again, what’s interesting is, I speak in two different worlds.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I speak at a lot of church planting events, and do missiology stuff. And then, increasingly, I’m asked to speak, and write, and talk about liturgy.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: I don’t see those as two … I see those as actually enhancing one another as we look at the history of the church. The vast majority of Christians throughout the history of Christianity have been sacramental, liturgical Christians.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: If you think of the great missionary movements that have shaped the world, like Saint Patrick, Saint Francis. The Wesleys was an evangelical sacramental revival. I think one of the biggest needs of the day, in terms of mission, church planting, ministry, is those that are going into ministry are not adequately prepared, formationally, to do the work. There’s not the soul care work that is needed, and so the rise of burn out … Time Magazine did a thing here recently on how ministry professionals is one of the most dangerous professions, in terms of …

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s one of the top 10 most hazardous professions to your health.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Winfield Bevins: Be warned if you’re wanting to go into ministry. Ministers are obese. Ministers have divorce rates as high as, if not higher.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins:  Burnout, depression, all of these metrics. I think there’s something about the liturgy and more historic traditions that anchor us in spiritual practices.

Heidi: Okay.

Winfield Bevins: And these are historic rhythms of the church that say your soul matters.

Heidi: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I think that is a part of my own journey. I was doing all this cool missional stuff, and we were planting all these churches, but yet there was this void in my soul that was longing for a deeper embodied … Again, I had charismatic experiences. I was evangelical, missional, but I didn’t have the spiritual practices to undergird the mission.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: We have to take care of our souls, and our families.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: We have to have a balance. That’s where I think, in the liturgy, in many ways, is counter-cultural to, one, the culture. It’s not faddish, it’s not … There’s not a lot of smoke machines, laser light shows.

Heidi:  Yeah. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: This is the liturgy.

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: The other thing is, I think the liturgical tradition is counter-cultural to this work-hard, burn-out approach to mission and ministry, and it’s not antithetical to mission. I think it’s for … I see it as formation for mission.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: For my own life, it has grounded me in the last decade to be able to be, I think, be even more productive in the mission, and the work that I do for God, rather than less productive.

Heidi: Yeah. I like what you said, how it’s counter-cultural. In your book, you talked about how liturgy is counter-cultural to consumerism, so the example you gave at the beginning about we go to the mall, and we feel better about ourselves, but it’s not a lasting feel.

Winfield Bevins: Yes.

Heidi: I like that, because for me, I don’t even realize. Sometimes I’m caught up in consumerism, and wanting the next thing, you know? Being grounded in something really appeals.

Winfield Bevins: It makes the … I think in terms of the worship experience, so much of contemporary Christianity is consumer-driven, if we’re really honest.

Heidi: Yeah. Oh, it totally is.

Winfield Bevins: It’s like …

Heidi: I come to make me feel good every Sunday.

Winfield Bevins: Entertainment evangelist. Yeah, the words to songs are all about how I feel. God, I feel like worshipping you. Really?

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: No, we worship God because He is sovereign and beautiful.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: The liturgy is … It’s God-centered, not human-centered. It points us to God, rather than ourselves. In that sense, it helps deliver us from ourselves.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins:  And we need that. That’s what the church service should do. It should be the one hour of the week where we get our attention off of ourselves, and our social media followers, and …

Heidi: Yeah. How many likes we have, and …

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, all that stuff, to really just say, you know what? What I love is, there’s this whole move. I’ve seen articles here recently on megachurches that are embracing liturgy, which is really fascinating.

Heidi:  Really? That is fascinating.

Winfield Bevins: And large churches that are moving away from screens.

Heidi:  Oh, I like that.

Winfield Bevins: And going back to just print and prayer books. Like our church, they stopped using screens a year or so ago. First, it was just like, what happened to the screens?

Heidi:  Yeah, it’s weird. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins:  You know? It’s like, how beautiful is all that? One hour a week you’re not watching a screen.

Heidi: Bring it on.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. It could be deliverance for some people. You know?

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: I like how you talk about rhythm, having a rhythm of life. Why is that so important to … I was thinking about your soul care practices. Why is a rhythm of life, and having that, so important?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. Again, I think so many of us are just swept into the current of culture. We live in a rootless, rhythmless world. You know? If you don’t have a rule of life, and rhythms, and practices to follow, you’ll just be swept along the current.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: I have to constantly … Because I am engaged on social media, and I travel, and speak, and write, and …

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: One of the practices I put into place, about two years ago, is I leave my computer at the office when I go home at 5:00. You can look on here at my phone, I had, about a year or two ago, when I was still working with Ross, I had email taken off of my phone, and Safari taken off of my phone.

Heidi: Yes. Yeah. It frees you up.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, because what I noticed is, even though I didn’t have the computer at the house, what that allows me to do is, one, is when I’m home with my family, I’m present.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: There’s a difference in being present and being present. You know?

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: And so, by … These are things that I’ve done to help me really be there, and to be present to the work that I’m doing, and in no way am I perfect at it. I’m still constantly struggling to keep rhythms and patterns.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s almost like you have to fight for your soul. We need as much advocacy and we need as much support as we can get.

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins: These ancient rhythms give us that. These are rhythms, and these are patterns and practices that Christians have followed throughout the ages. It’s reaching back in order to be anchored in the present.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: We live in such uncertain, really crazy, schizophrenic times.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I think we’ve got to anchor our faith somewhere, and I don’t think there’s any better place than to anchor it in here’s what the church has always believed, here are practices that have upheld the church throughout the centuries. Of course, there’s good, bad, and ugly in church history. I’m not advocating the Crusades, or anything like that.

Heidi: Yeah, yeah. Of course.

Winfield Bevins: If there are best practices that we can learn for how Christians have been made and formed for decades and centuries, bring it on. Yes, we need that for today.

Heidi: What are some practices that I can start implementing? Liturgical practices in everyday life?

Winfield Bevins: Absolutely. I think the easiest is … Our publisher, Seedbed, I’ve published a number of simple resources.

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins:  I’ve got a … It’s called The Field Guide For Daily Prayer. It’s a little red prayer book, and a lot of people … It has sold thousands of copies. Churches hand them out to newcomers, church plants hand them out to visitors.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s really neat to see where it’s ended up. It’s a simple morning and evening prayer, in contemporary English. It’s a little scout book size, so you can put it in your back pocket. It has morning and evening prayer, which is kind of a personal liturgy, if you will. It’s just simple prayers that can be prayed in the morning and at the close of the day.

Heidi: I love that.

Winfield Bevins: And then in the end of it, there are really some of my favorite prayers of the saints, and the church. It’s just a neat little very accessible … A lot of people have told me that really has helped give them some just simple … I think that’s the best place to start.

Heidi: Yeah, and it helps you focus, too. That’s something I really struggle with.

Winfield Bevins: Yes.

Heidi: I sometimes pray for this, or that, or whatever. You know, how we all do. I try to do it in the morning. Don’t always make it, but I try to. I think that would be super helpful to be like, “I have words to say that get me to the throne of God.”

Winfield Bevins: Yes. There are times … This is the other reality. There are times when you don’t feel like praying, or there’s times when you …

Heidi: Right, or you don’t know what to say.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. These prayers give … There’s a richness, there’s a theology, and there are many times where the words of those prayers have given me a language that I’ve needed.

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I advocate in there, toward the end, you follow these prayers and this format, but then I say, “Take a few minutes and let the spirit lead you.”

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Pray for the world, pray for your family, pray for … You know?

Heidi: Yeah, totally.

Winfield Bevins: There’s a newer version that’s a little bit larger, that actually has a little prayer journal in the back of it. You can write down prayer needs, and … I just came out with a family prayer book that matches it, but it’s more designed for …

Heidi: Oh, I love this. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. It’s a little bit simpler of a language, to where you could pray it as a couple, you could pray with kids. Again, it has prayers for different seasons, like prayer when you get a new pet, or there are prayers in there like, pray for a new home, and … You know.

Heidi: Oh, yes. I love that.

Winfield Bevins: Little things like that.

Heidi: Okay, so everybody listening, we are going to link this in the show notes, so that you can find …

Winfield Bevins: Okay, yeah.

Heidi: We’ll link it to this, and then Winfield has some other books that I know about that he’s published, like Creed, and different other ones. We’ll link all of that in the show notes too, so you can find them and maybe get a copy for yourself. My next question is, we have these words that people have prayed for years, but I know for me, they can just become words.

Winfield Bevins: Yep.

Heidi: You know? They can, in themselves, become just something that I’m going through the motions. How can we keep that from happening?

Winfield Bevins: Yes. Again, it’s kind of like … It’s what you bring to it. If you bring a lively faith, those words … Scott McKnight wrote the foreword to the book, and his experience with the liturgy, he said, “When my born again faith …”

Winfield Bevins: I’m paraphrasing him, but he said, “When my born again faith met the words of the liturgy, the result was dynamite.”

Winfield Bevins: You know?

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: That’s kind of how it is. I tell people … I actually just spoke at a conference on this, where I just encourage people that … Kind of a similar thing, don’t … I’m not advocating for a liturgical idolatry.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: What I am saying is, bring your evangelical or charismatic faith to the liturgy, and it just enhances the lively faith that’s already there.

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins:  Again, they’re telling bring it back to born again or charismatic Holy Spirit experience. There are times when the feelings wear off.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: You don’t always feel it.

Heidi: That used to be a huge struggle. I was like, “I don’t feel like a Christian today.”

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I’ve heard people say fake it until you make it.

Heidi: I don’t like faking it. I’m like, “Oh, is something wrong with me today?”

Winfield Bevins: The liturgy has given me the support when I don’t feel it and I’m not feeling it.

Heidi:  Yes. Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Again, the liturgy’s not a substitute for spirit-filled or spontaneous prayer, but together, it just creates this richness, this fuller embodied prayer life.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: One of the things you said toward the end of your book, in the chapter Bringing Liturgy Home-

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: You quoted … You were talking about how a bowl of soup, or a grilled cheese sandwich can become sacramental, if it’s made and received with love. You quoted Andre Dubois … Am I saying that right?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: Do you remember this part?

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. He was, I believe, a paraplegic.

Heidi: Okay.

Winfield Bevins: And had a daughter, and was a Catholic writer, but basically, for him to even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich took so much effort.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: The experience of that for him was, I can see this as a struggle, or I can see this as a beautiful expression of God is with me in the moment in what I’m doing.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Finding God in the ordinary moments and the ordinary things of life, I think, is a beautiful concept.

Heidi: Well, it was a big encouragement to me, because when he was talking about even if making the sandwich “is harried, or tired, or impatient love, but with love’s direction and concern, love’s again and again wavering and distorted focus on goodness, then God’s love, too, is in the sandwich.” I just thought, wow. It was an encouragement for me, because … Sometimes I make our lunch for work, sometimes Wes makes our lunch for work. Last night, I was making it. I was like, “Why do I have to do this tonight?”

Heidi: You know? It was an encouragement to me that love was still in that sacrament, in that making of it. Is that right? Is that …

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, I think that’s a great … Again, the whole idea of …

Heidi: Because it was still there, I just didn’t feel it as much.

Winfield Bevins: All of life is liturgical, if you think about it.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: You know? It’s like … Every church has a liturgy. Is a good or a bad liturgy?

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Where, you know … I know some bad liturgies I’ve seen.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Again, if you apply this to your … We’re creatures of habit. Are we doing what we’re doing and loving attention?

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: It’s a call to intentionality, to an incarnational view of everything we do is unto the Lord, as the scriptures say.

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins:If you think of those little rituals that we do, day in and day out, they have liturgical value to them.

Heidi:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Even if you don’t always have the feelings, you’re still doing it.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah, exactly. Yes. You still do that. It’s like you get up, and brush your teeth, go to work. There are these little things, but how we do it, the intention with it, and all of that matters. God uses those little things of life. One of the things I’m exploring, I did a webinar for Fresh Expressions on liturgy that inspires mission.

Heidi: Oh, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: One of the things I’m thinking through is, the structure of the liturgy, how can that inspire and actually give us a framework for how we live the rest of our lives?

Heidi: Oh, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: You know?

Heidi: Yeah. What are you finding out?

Winfield Bevins: Well, even like gathering neighbors. The liturgy, you gather … There’s a four-fold structure in the liturgy. You gather, then you hear stories, you hear the reading of scripture, you hear a sermon. There’s a sharing of stories. You think of in the Road to Emmaus, the disciples didn’t know … Jesus came and walked with them. That’s another analogy. Before Jesus preached to them, he just listened to them. They’re like, “Haven’t you heard? We’ve lost our Lord.”

Winfield Bevins: They share their brokenness, and then Jesus opens the word to them.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: He takes them to the house, and he breaks the bread, and it says their eyes were opened, and then he disappears. He said, “Did not our hearts burn with us as he spoke the word to us on the road?”

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: I think these things give us a framework for even opening up our home, and inviting others in, sharing stories, sharing a meal. The meal is sacramental and not like … Not an official sacramental, but …

Heidi: Right, right, right.

Winfield Bevins: Sharing the dinner table is a profound … We need to recover the sacramentality of the dinner table.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins: There’s no more missional place than the home. You know?

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: And so in that, we bless people around the table. I think the structure of the liturgy can inform how we can invite our un-churched neighbors into our homes and love them, and share our faith with them in a way that’s just normal. We’re sitting around a table.

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins: We’re sharing stories. You know?

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins:That’s one example of my thoughts.

Heidi: Yeah. What else is next for you?

Winfield Bevins:  I’ve got another book coming out with Zondervan, in this fall, in September, which I don’t know when the podcast will be coming out.

Heidi: Okay.

Winfield Bevins: It’s called “Marks of a Movement: What The Church Can Move from the Wesleyan Revival.” It looks at recovering the movemental dynamics of early Methodism.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: Again, similarly, is one the greatest movements the world, the western world has ever known.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Winfield Bevins: Those outside of Wesleyanism don’t even know about it. Yet, so much of modern Christianity in the west that is missional actually draws from that heritage, whether they’re reformed, or whatever the background, they don’t even realize …

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: The emergence of small group ministry, lay ministry, women in leadership. Wesley was kind of the innovative thinker that opened these pathways.

Heidi: A groundbreaker, yeah.

Winfield Bevins: And just was a trailblazer, in so many ways. The argument of the book is, we need another movement in the west. We hear about what’s happening globally, and there’s … God is moving in unbelievable ways throughout the global church. So much of that is non-translatable, because crossing cultures and boundaries, like … I think one of the great examples for us, if we wanted to see a movement, would be looking at the Wesleyan revival through those lenses.

Heidi:  Cool.

Winfield Bevins: That’s what the book does.

Heidi: Oh, I’m excited about that.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I’m excited about it, too. It’s funny, because in some ways, it’s really different than this book on liturgy, but what I would say is thematically, they’re both calling the contemporary church to look to the past for the future, which is kind of a Robert Webber quote.

Heidi: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Winfield Bevins:  If the road to the future runs through the past, and that’s my total philosophy and thought around this, I think there are these riches and wisdom that we can rediscover.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: That’s the next book that I’m coming out with.

Heidi: Well, I’m excited about that. I’ll look forward to it. Maybe we’ll have to have you back on to talk about that.

Winfield Bevins: We’ll do another podcast.

Heidi: Yeah, we will.

Winfield Bevins: That’d be good.

Heidi: Thanks for coming by, Winfield. As we wrap up the podcast, we have three questions that we like to ask everybody.

Winfield Bevins: Okay.

Heidi:  They can be as serious or as fun as you want them to be.

Winfield Bevins: All right.

Heidi:  What is one practice, it can be spiritual or otherwise, that is helping you thrive right now?

Winfield Bevins:  One practice? I think … You know, I mentioned the computer. I think I’m trying to find ways to really, when I’m at home, to just be at home.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I think peoples’ souls depend on that.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins:I’m just thankful that I get to … I’ve got three young daughters, and I just … My youngest, man, we build fairy cafes.

Heidi: Oh, that …

Winfield Bevins: You know, we just have so much fun, and that’s good for my soul.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I would say unplug from technology regularly, and just spend time with those that you love. Make sure that you’re giving significant time to those relationships that matter most.

Heidi:  So important and so easy not to do. We’re fighting against it to cut it … Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: We’re swimming against the current.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah.

Heidi: Yeah. What are you reading right now?

Winfield Bevins: Wow, what am I reading?

Heidi: You might be reading lots of things.

Winfield Bevins: I’m reading a ton of stuff. I’m also in the middle of a Ph.D. At Aberdeen University.

Heidi: Oh, okay. You’re reading a lot for school, too.

Winfield Bevins: Yeah. I got Matthew Sleeth’s latest book. I’m excited to dig into it. It’s called “Reforesting Faith.”

Heidi: Oh, yes.

Winfield Bevins: On a personal level, I’m really engaging, like what am I doing to take care of the environment?

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins:  I really have been burdened over the last few years about environmental stewardship and creation care. That’s an area that Christians are sadly, poorly oblivious to.

Heidi:  Yes.

Winfield Bevins: I think Christians, more than anyone on the planet, should care about God’s creation.

Heidi: Yes.

Winfield Bevins:  This is God’s masterpiece and we’re destroying it at an unbelievable rate. Some British researchers just came out with the research that shows within, I think, the next 10, 20 years, nearly a million species are on the brink of extinction.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s crazy.

Winfield Bevins: We’re destroying the planet, and it’s happening at just such a … I’m reading … There’s several books that I’m reading that are connecting with that. I’m trying to just be an informed Christian about the environment and my responsibility.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. This is not one of the three questions, but what are you getting your Ph.D. In?

Winfield Bevins: Kind of a similar thing. I’m looking at the recovery of church tradition among evangelicals as a spiritual renewal movement.

Heidi: Okay.

Winfield Bevins: Basically, my thesis is, I think it’s a revival that’s happening that follows similar patterns. The dissatisfaction, the rediscovery of history, retrieval, and renewal is a part of that process.

Heidi:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love that. We’re definitely going to have to get you back on here to talk about this.

Winfield Bevins:  Yes. It’s fascinating. I’m studying with one of the UK’s leading renewal revival scholars on this area. It’s really … Yeah. I’m really excited, on a practical level.

Heidi:  Yeah.

Winfield Bevins:  It’s verifying at a deeper level some of the stuff I wrote in that book.

Heidi:Yes. Yes. What’s something that’s still on your bucket list to do?

Winfield Bevins: Wow. That’s a good question. You know, I … What is on my bucket list to do? That’s … You should have emailed me.

Heidi: Sorry. I should have emailed you the three questions.

Winfield Bevins: You should have emailed me in advance. You know, I …

Heidi:  I like the surprise factor.

Winfield Bevins:  Yeah, I’m totally … Yeah. There is bucket list stuff. You know, I really have been blessed. A lot of the … Every goal that I set out, coming out of college, I have accomplished.

Heidi: That’s cool.

Winfield Bevins: And so, there are places in the world. I love global travel. I love just interacting with others from the global church. I’ll be going to Thailand for the first time next year.

Heidi:  Oh, how fun is that?

Winfield Bevins:  There are places that I really would like to be. Well, here’s a bucket list, and this is something I’m really working toward.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins:  I go to England every year. I do a lot of work with leaders in England. I have a goal in the next couple of years to take my entire family with me.

Heidi: Oh, they will love that.

Winfield Bevins: I feel like I’m always coming home from these great trips, and being like, “Oh, I went to this cathedral, or I went here, and I ate this food.”

Winfield Bevins: And I show them pictures, but they never get to experience that with me. I would love, and have as a bucket list … Actually, that it is my number one goal, is I’m building all my points toward my flights to really try to get my family over there in the next two to three years.

Heidi: Yeah.

Winfield Bevins: I’m almost there. I’ve got enough miles for two free flights. If I tie it to an event that I’m doing some training at, maybe … You know. Anyway, that’s what I’m working toward.

Heidi: Yeah. That’s awesome. Thanks for coming by, Winfield. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Winfield Bevins: Yes. Thanks so much for having me.

Heidi: I enjoyed reading your books.

Winfield Bevins: All right. Thank you so much.

Heidi:  Thanks.

Heidi: Hey, ya’ll. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Winfield Bevins. Just so grateful for Winfield, his leadership, and his vision for the church. I love learning more about the liturgy and look forward to implementing some new practices in my own life. I hope you enjoyed it, as well. In our next episode, Reverend Carolyn Moore, church planter and lead pastor of Mosaic UMC in Georgia, joins us to talk about the intricacies of faith, calling, and how she became secure in her identity in Christ as a woman, pastor, and artist.

Heidi:   New podcast episodes release every other week, and you won’t want to miss out. Subscribe in iTunes or your favorite podcast player. You can also follow us in all the places, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, at @asburyseminary. Have a great day, yall, and go do something that helps you thrive!