Monday, April 7, 2008

Three Is Enough Groups – Spirituality For the Sake of Others


Here's an exciting piece of news I just received April 3rd.

Todd Hunter - former President of the National Association of Vineyard Churches and former CEO of Alpha USA - is launching a new ministry to focus on spiritual transformation and evangelism.

The details are still pretty sketchy at this point so It's not yet clear what his "Three Is Enough" groups will look like. It may be a reference to the idea that three people is enough for a powerful spiritual community, or that having three things to focus on in a small group is enough.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the e-mail I received announcing this. (The whole message is pasted below.)


  • Hunter has a passion for evangelism but is convinced that Christianity in America has a massive image problem that stymies most attempts at evangelism.

  • Christianity needs to be re-practiced in order to help make followers of Jesus in this generation.

  • Three Is Enough Groups..... are designed to show people how to undo un-Christian faith by showing them that heaven is not the goal of Christianity - it is simply the destination. Being the servant - otherly people of God - is the goal.

  • Hunter will encourage churches and lay leaders to begin forming Three Is Enough Groups to help individuals pray, grow and serve.

Apparently, this is going to be rolled out at the Conversational Evangelism Conference coming up May 16-17 in Lakeville, MN. I happen to be going to that so I'll be able to report back on it here.

This new endeavor is being launched through Off The Map, an excellent group led by Jim Henderson that has done some pretty innovative things around evangelism, notably the E-bay Atheist and Jim and Casper Go to Church. I've been very impressed by these folks!

You heard it first here! Stay tuned.



(Full content of original e-mail, sent from Jim Henderson at Off the Map:)

Todd Hunter Transitions

Many of you are Todd Hunter fans and have been following his progress since his leadership of The Vineyard. Todd has been actively seeking to support organizations that are missional and evangelistic. His passion is spiritual formation for everyday people. He has been a leader in rescuing evangelism out of the program category and re locating it inside spiritual formation.

Todd has recently decided to launch his own movement called Three is Enough. You will be hearing much more about this over the next couple of years. Off The Map is proud to have the opportunity to support Todd’s new vision and partner with him to communicate it through writings, media and events.



Three Is Enough Groups – Spirituality For the Sake of Others
Todd Hunter, former CEO of Alpha USA, launches new ministry to focus on spiritual transformation

Boise, ID, April 2, 2008

Effective April 1, Todd Hunter (51) transitioned from his role of National Director at Alpha USA to launch a new ministry focused on helping pastors and lay leaders reach a generation that has become disenfranchised from the church.

Under the new non-profit, Society for Kingdom Living, Hunter will develop his writing, speaking and professional activities in the areas of conversational evangelism and the 21st century church. Hunter has a passion for evangelism but is convinced that Christianity in America has a massive image problem that stymies most attempts at evangelism. With the basic premise that Christianity needs to be re-practiced in order to help make followers of Jesus in this generation, he is developing resources and events that include writing a series of three books, the first to be published by InterVarsity Press, developing conferences, and teaching at key seminaries.

His first major conference to be held in Minneapolis on May 16-17 features conversational evangelism pioneers Mark Mittleberg, Becky Pippert, Dan Kimball and Garry Poole and Rick Richardson. Hunter has asked Jim Henderson and Off The Map to produce these conferences.

Hunter will begin this ministry by teaching and consulting on Three Is Enough Groups. These groups are designed to show people how to undo un-Christian faith by showing them that heaven is not the goal of Christianity - it is simply the destination. Being the servant - otherly people of God - is the goal.

Through his writing and teaching, Hunter will encourage churches and lay leaders to begin forming Three Is Enough Groups to help individuals pray, grow and serve. Keeping the groups small and focused insures that evangelism can happen anywhere, in the midst of people’s busy lives. Meeting in their most natural places of community – the workplace, school, or at the local coffee shop - Three Is Enough Groups will go on the Journey Inward of spiritual transformation and the Journey Outward of serving others. This will be done through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of others - the least, the last and the missing.

Hunter will continue to be a consultant to Alpha USA and will remain on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. He will have an active role in promoting Alpha, teaching on Alpha’s practices, building relationships and advising the organization on strategy.

9 comments:

Steve said...

The off-the-map guys are pushing beyond conventional thinking...exploring how believers relate and have conversation with people about faith...

Steve Gartland said...

Hey Tim,

This is good news all around: Todd's real passion is more focused on the broader themes of evangelism than on Alpha, as a particular tool for evangelism. His new ministry will allow him to devote more focused attention in this (much needed) area.

I agree with Todd that evangelism needs to live within the kitchen of spiritual formation rather than the living room of "programmed outreach." We welcome people into our homes often through our living rooms, but often get to KNOW them in a meaningful way in the kitchen over coffee.

The more authentic face of evangelism is much more comfortable with "being" rather than doing. Our programming models of evangelism are rooted in our American culture of productivity, rather than in a culture of relationships that are valued for simply what they "are." Real conversations on Saturday afternoons in your front yards while your neighbors walk by, or over your backyard fences, aren't really rooted in producing something. They just happen in the natural course of life. Oonversations in this context tend to be more authentic and genuine. And what we value and believe most are revealed in these conversations without any "programmed intentionality" (including our relationship with Jesus, which grounds us).

It's also good news for Alpha USA because it allows this organization to focus with razor-like attention to the development of more and better Alpha Courses, which is the most effective evangelism tool that I have ever experienced, and the cultivation of key Alpha churches in the USA, that can act as regional resource centers for the development of, training in, and resourcing of more and better Alpha courses.

Feral Pastor said...

Another thing that I think moves evangelism away from program/technique and towards relationship is revisiting what we think "witnessing" means. Lots of people in the pews (and no doubt folks on the living room couches as well) think witnessing has to do with making a "Case for Christ" so to speak. Facts, evidence, logic, truth claims etc. are big pieces there and it tends to be a primarily rational or intellectual conversation. But a whole different kind of conversation takes place when witnessing is about reporting your own experience of and with Jesus. Most people don't feel qualified as "experts" on theology, but each of us is the expert on our own experience. So this kind of witnessing evokes less debate and more sharing.

That's where I see the connection to spirituality: in order to articulate your own experience you need to be familiar with it, and that means spending some time really reflecting on it. I'll be very interested to see if that's the direction Todd is going.

Helen said...

Feral Pastor, there's a bit more information here about what 'three is enough' refers to.

That link goes to an explainer on the site for the Conversational Evangelism Conference May 16-17. Todd is going to talk about Three is Enough groups there. Might you be able to attend (and bring some friends)? It's right in your area, I think - Minneapolis-St. Paul? (It's being held at Hosanna! in Lakeville)

Jim Henderson said...

You guys need to be part of the conversatoin at Conversational Evangelism Conference.

Hope to see you there

Todd Hunter said...

Thanks for thinking of me , I really appreciate it.



Here’s how you can help me



Let your friends know about my Conversational Evangelism Conference in Minneapolis on May 16-17



If you have the space post one of our Banner Ads on your blog or website



I’ll have my new site and blog coming soon so let’s stay connected

Feral Pastor said...

Wow! Thanks, Helen, Jim and Todd for stopping by! As it turns out, I just put up a quick little post about the TiEs and CEC before I even noticed I had your comments here. (I'm on the mailing list for Off the Map and got the news that way.)

My wife and I will be at the conference and I've been getting the word out at the church I'm serving as an interim, hoping to bring some of those folks as well. Also, I'm networked in a fair bit with folks in the House Church/Organic movement out here (as well as the local Emergent Village Cohort) so I'm alerting those folks to it as well. I was out in Seattle for the OtM event in '06 and was really impressed, so I'm glad to vouch for the excellent work I think you all are doing.

Looking forward to meeting you there!

Jim Henderson said...

Thank you

make sure and intro yourself to us at the event

Jeff Greathouse said...

Thanks for the heads up. I will need to look into it.