Interview with Mark Sayers, Author of The Road Trip that Changed the World – Part 1
My friend Mark Sayer’s book The Road Trip that Changed the World: The Unlikely Theory that will Change How you View Culture, the Church, and, Most Important, Yourself was just released recently, so I thought it would be great to interview him about his book. Before I start the interview, I wanted to share with you my endorsement of the book.
“As a keen student of culture, Mark Sayers unpacks how the primary narrative we inhabit will either lead us on the road, trying to capture as many “woosh” experiences as we can, or enable us to take the road less traveled. Mark unmasks the road trip marked by radical individualism, “friends with benefits” and pop spirituality, and calls us to quench our thirst through the transcendent God and follow the way of the cross, covenantal community and self-sacrifice. If the church is going to answer her sacred calling and not allow the culture of the road to squeeze the life out of her, this book is a must read!” With that said, let’s get into the interview.
JR: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write this book?
Mark: I live in Melbourne Australia with my wife Trudi and three children. I am the senior leader of Red Church which came out of Alan and Deb Hirsch’s Church. I am also the co-founder of Uber ministries which focuses on the intersection between faith and culture. Plus I have written three books all dealing with the Christian faith and culture in the West.
The missional conversation is encouraging people to ‘go’ but what on earth do you do when you ‘get there’? To put it in classical missionary terms it is one thing to decided to move to India, to raise support and get on a plane, but it is another thing to minister on the ground wrestling with the complexity of the culture, the language, and the history of the culture that you have thrown yourself into. This book is an attempt to do the part ‘b’ of being missional, that is to truly wrestle with the culture of the West in which we find ourselves ministering in, to develop not just an ecclesiology but a prophetic expression and proclamation of the gospel to the context that God has sent us to.
JR: What stirred your interest in pop culture and culture in general?
Mark: I love living in Melbourne because it is a challenge. It is such a secular environment, especially in contrast to the United States. My church is mostly comprised of 13-35’s, in that age group in my city only two percent are actively engaged in Christian faith. We are in real trouble. Thus my desire to understand popular culture and culture in general is not a hobby or a fun diversion, it is essential to mission and ministry in this place. I have noticed too that the trends that occur in places like Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe eventually reach the United States, so there is a burden to communicate what I am learning here. I think cities like Melbourne, Wellington, Berlin and Copenhagen are the cultural research laboratories of what will be the future of the American Church.
I also think that so much of the discussion around culture and faith has been subverted, just as classical missionaries discover in a new culture that they bring not only the gospel but their own cultural expectations and agendas, so do we to the current missional conversation. My friend a Christian leader who lives in Europe told me the story of how they brought a very hip American young minister over to speak to a group of young adult Christians. He told his story of moving out of the evangelical subculture and becoming missional, of how he went out into the culture, he encouraged the group to do the same, to become incarnational. Normally his talk creates a sensation in the States but once he left the group they were confused. Their country has such a small percentage of Christian believers there was no evangelical subculture to hide in, they were already in the culture, many were shaping the culture, not because they were trying to be missional or incarnational but because that is all they could do. Their question was not ‘How do I leave the Christian subculture and get out into the culture and be missional?’ their question was ‘How does my faith survive in such a harsh secular environment?’ I believe that many are asking that question, and not only in Europe and Australasia but America as well. My study of culture is driven to help people who are asking those questions. This book is written for them.
The book is now available on Amazon for 49% off, so it a good time to but it. Join us for Part 2 tomorrow.