How the Church Moves from Cynicism to Hope : Todd Hunter

How the Church Moves from Cynicism to Hope - Todd Hunter - 64 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

As pastors and ministry leaders, how can we move through the rubble of bad religion both for ourselves and for a watching world? How can we address the doubts, uncertainties, and even cynicism that revolve around the church today? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Bishop Todd Hunter, Todd leads Churches for the Sake of Others, a Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. Todd has served the church faithfully for decades and has written a number of books, including his latest, What Jesus Intended. Together, Todd and Jason explore some of the frustrations we might have about the effectiveness of our ministries. Todd also shares some shifts that we can make to help our churches become places of hope and healing, just as Jesus intended.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

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Additional Resource Links – Visit Todd’s website, where you can find articles, books, and many more great resources.

What Jesus Intended: Finding True Faith in the Rubble of Bad Religion – After four decades of ministry, Anglican bishop Todd Hunter is no stranger to betrayal and pain in the church. Still, he has hope. He believes more than ever that Jesus is who the world needs and that Jesus has plans for his followers.

In his book, Todd offers a vision for emerging from the rubble of bad religion and rebuilding faith among a community of sincere believers. By unpacking the purposes of Jesus, we can expose twisted, toxic religion for what it is and embrace the true aims of the gospel. – Learn more about Todd’s church-planting initiative.

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • For pastors and ministry leaders especially, it can feel like nothing has changed over the years in the culture, even through various large Christian movements.
  • Christians have not done well in the past in winning culture wars, but that may be because the focus should be shifted from culture wars to living the gospel.
  • Even though the current culture may be difficult to navigate, serving in ministry in this specific time is not accidental; it is a divine appointment orchestrated by God.
  • Partisan politics should never transcend God’s Kingdom. One must be attentive so partisan politics never become a distraction to one’s calling.
  • Culture issues are important to pastors and ministry leaders, but their actions related to them should always arise from a place of centredness and relationship with Jesus.
  • Jesus lived His life on Earth by only engaging in what the Father was doing, and the lives and work of ministry leaders should reflect that as well.
  • Hurt and brokenness exist, and the way of Jesus is for all to be agents of healing and hope.
  • Shifting focus to personal faithfulness to God instead of external metrics can lead to a ministry that naturally flows from creating a relational reliance with Him.
  • Pastors and ministry leaders should cultivate a relational reliance on Jesus not only for themselves but so that they can more effectively serve and care for those around them.
  • Despite the divisive and painful experiences within local communities and relationships, countless acts of Kingdom kindness and power are being carried out globally by followers of Jesus all the time.

Questions for Reflection

  • How have my personal beliefs and perspectives evolved over time, especially in relation to the culture around me? How has this evolution impacted my approach to ministry?
  • Reflecting on the concept of “winning culture wars,” what do I believe should be my primary focus as a Christian? How can I align my ministry efforts with this focus?
  • How do I perceive the challenges and difficulties of navigating the current culture as a pastor or ministry leader? How can I embrace the idea that my presence in this specific time is purposeful and meaningful?
  • In what ways have partisan politics infiltrated and influenced the work of God’s Kingdom? How can I remain steadfast in my true purpose and calling, avoiding distractions that arise from political affiliations?
  • While culture issues should still be important, how can I ensure that my actions and responses to these issues stem from a deep connection and relationship with Jesus? What steps can I take to cultivate and strengthen this relationship?
  • Jesus lived His life on Earth by only engaging in what the Father was doing. How can I align my own life and ministry with this principle? How can I discern the Father’s will and follow His leading more intentionally?
  • Recognizing the existence of hurt and brokenness in the world, how can I stand firm in my ministry endeavors, reflecting the ways in which Jesus brought healing and hope? What specific areas of brokenness do I feel called to address?
  • How is our local church bringing healing and hope to others? What, if any, changes should we consider to better serve those in our community?
  • Shifting my focus from external metrics to personal faithfulness, how can I foster a ministry that naturally flows from my deep reliance on and relationship with God? What changes might this shift bring about in my priorities and actions?
  • How would cultivating a greater reliance on Jesus, both personally and in my ministry, enhance my ability to serve and care for others effectively? In what ways can I deepen my reliance on Him and seek His guidance?
  • In what specific ways can I actively participate in acts of kindness and the demonstration of God’s power? How can I use my unique gifts and resources to make a difference in my ministry context and beyond?
  • Reflecting on the balance between personal faithfulness and engagement with cultural issues, how can I navigate this tension in a way that honors both my relationship with Jesus and my responsibility to address relevant cultural matters?

Full-Text Transcript

As pastors and ministry leaders, how can we move through the rubble of bad religion both for ourselves and for a watching world? How can we address the doubts, uncertainties, and even cynicism that revolve around the church today?

Jason Daye 
In this episode, I’m joined by Bishop Todd Hunter, Todd leads Churches for the Sake of Others, a Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. Todd has served the church faithfully for decades and has written a number of books, including his latest, What Jesus Intended. Together, Todd and I explore some of the frustrations we might have about the effectiveness of our ministries. Todd also shares some shifts that we can make to help our churches become places of hope and healing, just as Jesus intended. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye 
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and it is my pleasure, my honor, each and every week to sit down with a trusted ministry leader and dive into a conversation on a timely topic all in an effort to help you and pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy rhythm both in life and ministry. We are proud to be a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And each week, not only do we have a conversation, but our team also creates a toolkit that complements the conversation. This can be used by yourself or you can use it with your ministry leaders at your local church. There are some reflection questions, there’s a Ministry Leader’s Growth Guide included there, and gives you an opportunity to really dig more deeply into the topic at hand. So encourage you to check that out at and use that in your local church. And then also our team at Pastor Serve loves to walk alongside of ministry leaders, and we are offering a complimentary coaching session. And you can learn more details about that at, so check that out as well. If you’re joining us on YouTube, give us a thumbs up. And be sure to subscribe. so you don’t miss any of these conversations. Take a moment in the comments below to drop your name and the name of your church. We love getting to know our audience better, we’ll be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re following us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to follow or subscribe because again, you do not want to miss out on any of these great episodes. And as I said, I’m excited about today’s guest and today’s conversation. This time, I would like to welcome Todd Hunter to FrontStage BackStage. Todd, welcome to the show!

Todd Hunter 
Hey, Jason, thank you so much. It’s my privilege. Great to be with your audience.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I’m so excited for this conversation. Really looking at some things that the contemporary church, some things that we’re all really kind of wrestling with, we’re kind of experiencing in some ways, and we’re definitely observing. And even for us, Todd, who have given our lives to serving Christ’s Church, there can be these feelings of apprehension, feelings of disorientation, even cynicism, right? All related to the church. For many of us who are in ministry, we have a sense of certainty about Jesus but maybe an uncertainty about the church and how that is kind of unfolding in our time. The church, as we know, is to be a place of healing and compassion, a place of hope. But it seems increasingly that many people, including pastors, including ministry leaders themselves, are the kind of throwing our hands up and really saying, hey, there’s a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of hypocrisy. There’s a lot of pain. Todd, can you help us better understand, maybe some of these frustrations, some of the heaviness, pastors and ministry leaders are feeling right now?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, I think sometimes it’s worse for us. I mean, you know, we’re sort of the professionals. And so we read Barna, and Gallup and Pew and Lilly, and, you know, the latest studies of the church shrinking and people being upset with the church and de-church, the nuns and duns and skeptics and all that. But as you know, Jason, for those of us who work in the guild, so to speak, who worked with other pastors, which I’ve done my whole life like you, I think, pastors got into this typically really optimistic, you know? Like, we believe things like the story of the Bible, and the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God and the gifts of the Spirit. And, you know, we believe all this stuff that we think should make a difference. And so I think sometimes we bear even a greater burden of this mountain of evidence of people being upset with the church. In my new book, I know we’ll talk about later. But as you were speaking, I had a flashback. There’s a paragraph or two where, I forget what the headline is, but it’s something like Nothing’s Worked. And when I was writing the book and thinking about what you’re saying, I realized I’m an old guy now, I’m 67. So, you know, I’ve lived through the Jesus movement, and the vineyard movement, and church growth movement, and the emerging church movement. And in those two paragraphs, I named like, 20 things. Billy Graham, you know, I forget all that I named. And then I say, but here we are in 2023. And for me, who’s been in the ministry since I was 19, that’s like, 48 years now. And I look back and think, did I make any difference? Didn’t we make any difference? And that’s what I mean when I say sometimes I think it’s harder on us ministers than it is on lay people who are just sort of mad at the church.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s so good. You know, it’s so funny, Todd. I actually had in my notes, that exact paragraph. But no, this is perfect. It’s perfect because it’s so funny, because your book What Jesus Intended, has so much hope in it, right? But yeah, I absolutely love it. But you did bring up the point that we look at what has transpired over the last generation, let’s say, in the church, and we’ve done a lot of stuff. I mean, there’s been a lot that’s been out there, a lot that’s been done, as you kind of just talked through, a lot of great leaders and it’s not that nothing happened. You don’t Yeah, Jesus did his thing, they understand that. But we do look and say, Well, wait a second, it seems we’re in many respects, in a worse place now than we were a generation ago. So it makes us feel like we’ve been trying. One of the things that you say in that same section of the book, is, you said that the church has largely been fighting the wrong battles, right? And so I was wondering if you could unpack that a little bit for us. When we look back at all that’s been done, and again, a lot has been done. And yet, we’re looking at the fruits of that. One of the issues that you pinpointed was that we’ve been engaged in maybe the wrong battles. Can you talk to us a bit about that?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, I think so much of what we hear, especially at the intersection of religious and political rhetoric, so whether that’s sort of the religious right married to the partisan right, or whatever, is you hear a lot of language around winning, and battle, and war. And that sort of thing. And so I think in the book I asked, is winning a Kingdom category? Is that really the way we ought to be thinking about this? And you just gave me another flashback, Jason. I don’t know why talking to you I’m getting all these flashbacks. But several years ago, maybe four years ago, now? I lose track of time. I was doing a clergy conference, or a conference that mostly ministers came to, on cultural engagement. And so I read a big stack of like 20 or 30 books on evangelicalism and culture as I was getting ready to give these talks at this event. And I realized that evangelicals, evangelicals slash fundamentalists, have never won a culture war. The culture has never listened to us. Whether that was gambling, cockfighting, boxing, cigarettes, alcohol, and when Time Square started having Sunday shows Christians went berserk. And said, No, you cannot have shows on Sunday. So if you just go back and actually look at the history over 200 or 300 years of American history, we’ve never won a culture war. And that’s what made me start wondering, Is that even a category? Like did Jesus change culture the way we think of it? You know, did he change the Herodians? Well no, I don’t think he did. Did he change individual Herodians? Yeah. Did he change the Qumran, the quietness, the Pietest, the ones who split and went and lived in caves, and the Qumran? He didn’t change their mind. He didn’t change the mind of zealots who wanted to kill Romans. He did his thing and said, Come follow me. And some people came and followed him. But there was something going on that was different than winning cultural battles. And that’s what I think I’m getting at in that section of the book. I’m just not convinced that’s a Kingdom category.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, and yet we do invest a lot of time and energy on these battles and culture. And some would say that that is our responsibility. Right? That that is part of our responsibility. And when we look at what it means to be the people of Jesus, that means that we have to step up, and we have to stand up to those things. And yet, as you noted, the world carries on, in spite of our protests or the things that we say and things that we do. So then, as you kind of walkthrough in the book, What Jesus Intended you kind of bring us back to this idea of the way of Jesus and looking at Jesus, and really centering in on that. And Todd, is it fair to say that there’s maybe a growing disconnect between the ways of Jesus and the ways of the contemporary church?

Todd Hunter 
Well, I guess in terms of the way you ask the question, I’ll answer it, yes. Meaning, largely, but of course, there are bright lights and exceptions to every rule. But again, if we just think of the intersection of culture, politics, and Christian spirituality, we’ll call it. On the left, you have a certain sort of progressivism, that’s married to a sort of a quasi Christianity. And then on the right, you’ve got the more sort of cultural warrior-ing thing that we’ve been talking about. And I think both of them can be exercises in missing the point, that what we want is something that’s so big, so powerful, that it transcends anything partisan. And then allows us to be like a contrast people who embody and announce and demonstrate the kingdom of God in these contrast communities. So what I’m saying is, if we jump in bed with the sort of political quasi-Christian progressive left, then we’re not doing anything transcendent. If we kind of jump on the team of the more conservative religious right. Again, we’re co-opted by something, rather than finding a way of being that is in something that transcends present American partisan politics on the left and right, as they engage, as they try to get married to religion. And they both do, just in very different ways.

Jason Daye 
Right, that’s helpful. Now, Todd, we see pastors walking away from the pulpit at higher levels, and we see fewer people stepping into the vocation of Pastor. So we have pastors leaving and fewer pastors coming in. And yet, Todd, population continues to grow. There are more people who need the healing hope of Jesus, more people to disciple, more people to shepherd, right? We need more pastors, not fewer. But we find ourselves at this place where we’re having fewer stepping into vocational ministry. How can the hearts of pastors or future pastors even be ignited specifically around what you write about? These feelings and concerns about bad religion versus the way of Jesus?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, again, for me, I have to find a way to still myself, center myself, ground myself in a way that the noise goes away. Now the noise is real. It’s important. Our current cultural conversations, I don’t mean to say they’re unimportant and we should bury our head in the sand. That’s not what I mean. I mean, picture yourself at a particular noisy time on a noisy street in New York City or something. And you just have that thing that says, Wow, I just need a little bit of quiet. So it doesn’t mean the noise is going to go away. But we find a quiet. And for me, what gives me that quiet, confident, I would hope humble, but activistic place to stand is the knowledge of really big things. Like the world really does have a one true Creator God. And that creation has intentionality behind it. Personal intentionality of a personal God. And that our whole biblical story tells us that someday that’s going to come to this lovely Greek term “telos”. It’s going to find its fulfillment, it’s completion. And so see, that’s what gives me a place to stand. Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer and other Christians had to find a place to stand in the 40s. And none of us at this point can understand the upset of World War I, no way. I mean, that was so destructive to the human psyche, because we had assumed all this progress with machines and early technology, and then when humanity turned the industrial revolution on itself and started killing each other by the millions, we can’t even imagine what it was like to be a pastor then. And I often say, Jason, this is just the time that God chose us to be alive. And it’s not an accident. So whether you’re listening today, and you’re 22 or 23, and thinking about getting into ministry, or you’re my age, and you’re spending your last five or 10 years in ministry, or anything in between, I think we have to find a way back to like I said, a gentle, humble confidence that says, No, God chose me to be alive at this very difficult time. And God chose me to be a pastor at a time when lots of the sheep are confused and hurt and feel misled. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve done any work on your show with Kristin Du Mez, her book, Jesus and John Wayne. But man, when I read that book a couple of years ago, I think it was on Christmas holiday. I was so depressed. I don’t think I’d ever done this in my whole life. But I literally reached out to her and said, Can we talk, like your book just destroyed me? Because like, that’s why the story she tells in that book is my life story. I knew most of those people. Like I was on the board and the Executive Committee of where Ted Haggard was Chairman, the… I can’t believe I’m forgetting what we called ourselves.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, the National Association of Evangelicals.

Todd Hunter 
So I was on the board and executive committee, I knew Ted, and we were all shocked and devastated. Like, I’m not mad at Ted, I’m not putting Ted down. I’m just saying those things genuinely hurt your soul. And if they become the sole or the main focus of our engagement with God’s people, then yeah, like you said, ministers by the millions want to quit, and people by the millions are leaving the church. So then in my book, I try to ask the question, well, then where do we go to find something that would help me make sense of fallen leaders or the dynamic that Kristin talks about in her book? Well, again, I go to this big story. And this big story tells us that the fullness of God was in Christ. Think of Hebrews. That Jesus is the spitting image of his father, that he did not come to set aside the law, but to fulfill it. He’s the fulfillment of this story. And that’s how this big overarching story, to me, finds its way down like a funnel into the person and work of Jesus. And I’m not being trite or religious when I say that is the only place where I find an imagination to stand. So there’s some sense in which this book is autobiographical.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, no, I can sense that. And you talk about some of these basics of good religion, right? Some of the healthy holistic Christianity, what is kind of underpinning? Because we get caught up in some peripheral things, right? And then we have to come back to the core. So for pastors and ministry leaders, what are those core elements that we need to kind of dig into, revisit, focus on and recenter ourselves in?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, a really big one for me, is what I call relational reliance. And what I mean by that, is the way my imagination is shaped for this is Jesus saying things like, I only do what I see My Father doing. Like when he was challenged about healing on the Sabbath or something, you know, being a bad boy, in religious terms he’s been a bad boy. I can just kind of see him shrugging his shoulders and going well, I don’t know, I just do what I see My Father doing. Or I only say, you know, who are you to say that you can forgive sins? Well, I just, I only say what I hear my father saying, The Son of Man has not come to do his own will, but the will of the Father, the Son can do nothing on his own except for what the Father does through him. So that kind of relational reliance that the Son had on the Father, I’m trying to live in that same sort of relational reliance through the Spirit of God that lives in the church through the Holy Spirit, then connecting me to the Trinitarian God. So that I would say to the ministers listening to us today, what if you went to work tomorrow saying, I’m just going to practice doing what the Father is doing through me in any present moment? So literally, Jason, my sense of like, work-a-day spirituality is very much like de Caussade. I literally just tried to practice being present to the moment? So, I feel like the apostle Paul, you’re making me say crazy things. So what do I mean by that? Well, before I got on this podcast for two or three minutes, I just sat and I breathed deeply. And I pray things like, Father make me a gracious, generous, generative presence on this podcast. And I literally just go through my day like that, in quiet little prayers that no one ever knows I’m praying. Going into a meeting, you know that the words in my mouth and meditations in my heart or having a hard conversation on the phone or something, you know, may Your Kingdom come. So I literally go through my day, grounding myself. And these ancient practices, you know, that de Caussade and others said about practicing the present. And you see that grounds me so that then I can be present to brokenhearted ministers or people who are genuinely hurt by the church. And so I can be in their angst, but I’m in their angst, I’m not in my angst, because I previously grounded myself in something. So think of Peter, I’m sorry, think of Jesus in the garden at a rest. Again, I’m paraphrasing. But when he tells Peter to put away his sword, I can hear Jesus saying something like Peter, can’t you see that I’m safe here? Like, I know this is chaos. And I know it’s scary. No, Jesus wasn’t in denial, right? He wasn’t denying that that was a scary moment. He was simply saying, Peter, you’re anxiousness, that grab that sword that is going to fix this moment through misuse of power, because of your anxiety actually doesn’t do any good here. And so we can’t be present to our brokenness as ministers together, and we can’t really be, functionally, as you said, agents of healing, in the brokenness in the church unless we first ground ourselves in this thing that I call relational reliance.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s powerful, Todd. And that kind of helps us relate to what ministry at the local church level looks like, you know, what it looks like to shepherd, right? Because it’s in our relationships as pastor, leader, mentor, shepherd, that we can embody and lean upon the Spirit to help us navigate those. And it seems, obviously that if we neglect that, then we just get caught up in our own busy, I mean, we just get caught up in our own stuff, we are making decisions, we’re saying things that we probably go back and say, Man, I shouldn’t have said it that way, or whatever. So as we’re looking at this idea of Jesus at work in the heart of his church. And then we contrast that with Well, there are some challenges within the church. And there are some experiences that people have had in the church that have been very, very painful. How do we reconcile the hope of Christ and that this is the body of Christ, the local expression, body of Christ, the local church with a lot of the pain that people have experienced?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, I feel like that provokes the teacher me and it provokes the pastor me. So here’s what I mean, the teacher me wants to remind us all that Jesus said that wheat and tares, were going to grow together. And that’s just the way it is. And light and dark are going to be together. And sheep and goats are going to be together until a certain day. So to me, that helps me channel what I jokingly call my inner Eugene Peterson. And that is that it’s not my job to get up every morning and fix the church. I actually can’t. And Eugene would say, and when you try, you’re probably going to actually make things worse, long term, not better, that we can’t actually get up and fix the church in that sense. But that’s the teacher me that reminds me of those concepts. The pastor me says, How do I enter into the true sense of brokenness, the true sense of “the church betrayed me”. To just use an easy example, when a church leader abuses a child or something, and the church covers it up and blah, blah, blah. We can’t, most of us cannot understand the pain of that. We really can’t. We cannot understand the deep betrayal. So the pastor me wants to get in that with them. And for instance, what I do in this book, I think there’s a chapter on Jesus the healer, like what was Jesus conscious of when he was in one of those healing moments in his life? And so I tried to use the person and work of Jesus to give me an imagination for being able to stand as a pastor or you might think of almost like a chaplain or a healer in the midst of people’s real pain. Because I don’t say to people in pain, oh, don’t worry about it. Jesus said wheat and tares would grow together, like pastoral malpractice, right? But I hold that in my own head because it helps me feel safe and secure that this is okay. But then I take that security and try to enter into other people’s world. I love the way Jean Peterson gets that famous passage and 1 Corinthians 9, where Paul says, I became all things to all men. In the message it says, I entered their world and I tried to experience things from their point of view. But I didn’t take on their way of life. I didn’t lose my bearings in Christ. So the teacher me who loves the Bible and scripture in the Bible stories and theology and church history. I use that to ground myself. Know, I also teach, you know, whether I’m teaching at a seminary or writing or whatever. But what I’m saying is that Paulian imaginations, how do I keep my bearings in Christ so that I can enter their work and talk to them on their terms, their brokenness, their betrayal? And so you see what I’m saying? So I’m grounded in knowing this is just the way it is. I mean, I don’t know of anything that’s happened in my lifetime worse than James and John wanting to call down fire from heaven on cities who they thought didn’t welcome Jesus enough. That’s about as bad as it gets, right? Or Peter denying Jesus or Judas betraying Him. So there’s a sense in which this has always happened. And again, that’s not the kind of thing we say to brokenhearted people. But we say it to ourselves. So that we can say, okay, I can stand here, in the model of Jesus through the power of the Spirit, I can stand here. And like in an athletic analogy, think of somebody returning serve in tennis, or a linebacker ready for a play, or a dancer just standing with that physical poise, so that they can do something. So I’m always striving for how do I find spiritual poise in Christ, for the sake of others, not just for myself, but so that that inner stance could help me be ready as a servant to others?

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that posture, Todd, because it does two things. One, it grounds us, as you said, so for us, personally, it’s grounding us so that as we look around the world around us, and we see scandal, or we see division, or we see things done, supposedly in Jesus’ name, and we’re like, Wait, we’re trying to do things in Jesus name. And that’s not me and so we wrestle with that. So it grounds us in the midst of some of that chaos. But as you said, it’s also a posture of this isn’t just for me, this is preparing me to minister into the lives of those around me, those people that God has brought into my life. And I want to go back to something you said earlier in this conversation, which is that it’s no mistake that any of us are alive right now that we’re serving in these times. This was the time that was ordained for us by God. That’s why we’re here. And so if we can hold those things together in the midst of the pain, and the midst of the cynicism and the kind of throwing our hands up and being like, Oh, my goodness, there are times when it almost feels like because of certain things that have happened in the church and conversations that the culture is having about the church. It’s almost like we are not ashamed of the gospel, but sometimes we’re embarrassed by some of the actions of our brothers and sisters, right? I mean, just like it’s our family, right? You know, it’s embarrassing whenever our brother does something ridiculous, right? But it gives us that grounding, it gives us that hope, really, in the midst of it, that reminder that we are here. And we’re here not just for ourselves, although our relationship with God through Christ is incredibly important. But we’re here for others, for the sake of others, as you’ve shared. Help us understand, maybe there’s some examples that you could give, maybe you can share some examples of hope that you have seen. Local expressions in churches or ministries that are bubbling up as a way of aligning ourselves to the heart of Jesus. You know, not getting caught up in all the extras, but the heart of Jesus, and what is that looking like? How are we manifesting the hope and the healing of Jesus?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah. I think the first thing I want to say, Jason, is I want to affirm I’m picturing I mind, just kind of an icon of a 38 or 45-year-old minister, male or female, who really is just done, burned out, toast, brokenhearted, don’t know what to do, feel impotent, or feel misjudged. So here’s the first thing I want to say. You’re not wrong. I mean, I started in ministry in 1976, That’s a long time. And I want to say to your listeners who fit that iconic mold, that what you’ve just lived through in the last seven or eight years is harder than anything I’ve seen in my whole 50 years of being a minister. So you’re not wrong. You’re not stupid. You’re not dumb. You’re not unspiritual. You have been uncommonly challenged. Okay, now what? Well, what if we made some moves? What if we change the metrics? So that finding a way of being personally faithful to God, and that ministry was an overflow of that. And that ministry then was no longer measured by, Is the staff mad at me? Are half the people leaving, or half the people hate each other? All those things that drive us crazy. They do, they have driven people crazy the last seven or eight years. So I guess maybe, unfortunately, I’m back to my kind of thing about grounding. I just think we have to find a way to ground ourselves in this very challenging reality. And then I think we can get on with it. But to answer your question, in my book, I pretty much every chapter begins with an anecdote of bad religion, as I call it. And then every chapter ends with something that’s really real, like a church that’s doing well or a person who is doing well. And the truth of it is, I mean, your listeners may not know that I’m an Anglican bishop. And it means that I oversee about 60 churches all over America, and I’ve been overseeing churches my whole life since I was in my late 20s. So 40 years I’ve been overseeing churches. And so I know that there’s a beauty in lots of local churches, like one of the stories I tell in my book, when I was a young boy, we went to First United Methodist Church in Santa Ana, California. And I would say that our family was kind of culturally religious, I think my mom had a real faith, but basically, we were just kind of a culturally religious, sort of liberal United Methodist Church. But my dad, rest his soul, was, unfortunately, a compulsive gambler, which meant we often didn’t have money. And I remember people putting bags of groceries on our front porch and thinking as a little boy, like elementary school, like we’re normal, we’re not poor, like why are people doing that? And then I remember these, quote, old ladies that used to sit in my mom’s living room and talk to her, I had no idea when I was 8 or 10 years old what they’re talking to her about. But I know now, they were saints from this First United Methodist Church, who were caring for my family, and caring for my mom and her pain, my brother was killed in Vietnam, her husband was a compulsive gambler, my mom had a hard life. And they were caring for her. And nobody knows that story, except for God and my mom. And I’m telling you right now, where I’m sitting, it’s 11-12 central time. And so just look at your clock, wherever you are, and then picture the whole world clock, and billions of Christians across the globe right now. And I can guarantee you that right this second, there are millions of acts of Kingdom kindness, generosity, and power being done right this second by followers of Jesus and in the name of Jesus. But again, that disappears from our radar screen, when we just know, my staff hates each other, my board divided over Trump, or my church split over mass, and that’s all real stuff. Like I’m not saying that like it’s nothing. It’s been deeply painful in the last seven or eight years. And so what I tried to do in this book is say, how can we gain a fresh hearing from Jesus such that we could be grounded in him, so that we could then be Kingdom Jesus agents of healing in the world?

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that. I love that. That’s a sweet and perfect reminder for us whenever we’re wandering, we’re like, trying to look around just to pause and just look at the clock and say, right now, Jesus stuff is happening. You know what I mean? There’s healing and hope happening all around the world. I love that.

Todd Hunter 
Christians are visiting people in prison. They’re feeding the hungry. They’re praying for sick people. Oh, yeah, right this second millions of them are doing it.

Jason Daye 
That’s awesome. I love that, Todd. So Todd, talk to us a little bit about What Jesus Intended. How can people, if they want to connect with the book, learn a little more about the heart behind the book, what’s the best way for them to figure all that out?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, I think it’s actually on Amazon now. I don’t think it officially comes out until about the middle of July. But you can pre-order it on Amazon. You can also it’s on IVP, InterVarsity Press’s website with some background about it. Essentially, Jason, what I tried to do in this book is I take the work of Tom Wright, who wrote about the aims of Jesus, and Ben Meyer, who wrote a book called The Aims of Jesus. And I tried to just gain a fresh hearing for Jesus based on this notion of what did he intend? What did he think was important? To what was he conscious? What did he think the Father was doing in and through him? So I’m trying to give the nuns, the duns, the skeptics, the de-churched, the ticked-off, I’m just trying to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus with the hope that that would then bring people back into being human, as God intended. Like being who they are, in terms of like Psalm 139, who God intended them to be and their gift mixes and that kind of stuff. So I hope it’s an optimistic book that gives people a fresh hearing for Jesus.

Jason Daye 
It is. It was very, very optimistic, very hopeful. And as I read through it, Todd, I was encouraged very much so. And so to close down our conversation here, I would love to give you the opportunity just to share some words of encouragement with brothers and sisters who are serving on the frontlines of the church right now. What words of encouragement would you have for them?

Todd Hunter 
Yeah, I would say, first of all, that you are seen and that you are known. And that you are being held. And that it’s not just true that the cosmos is going to come to God’s fulfilled intention. But you are going to find God’s intention for you fulfilled. And no matter what low point it may feel like you’re in right now. Even wanting to quit does not surprise God. It actually probably says something really good about you, that you really care. And so just trust that God will meet you where you are, and your current pain, your current confusion. And go there, but go there with God. And I’m pretty sure you’ll find yourself climbing out of that hole.

Jason Daye 
Man, I love that. So appreciate it. Brother, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. And I really want to encourage people to check out What Jesus Intended, incredible book. And we’ll have links like I said, we’ll have our Ministry Leader’s Growth Guide, all of those fun things at for this episode, so you can dig in more deeply to this conversation. And Todd, I appreciate your heart and your ministry. Thank you for being with us.

Todd Hunter 
Thank you, I appreciate Pastor Serve.

Jason Daye 
Thank you, brother. God bless you.

Jason Daye
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at That’s And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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