BOOK GIVEAWAY: Thin Places

Ok, so I’m looking to give away some copies of Thin Places to those who want to engage its message a bit.  The Celtic idea of a Thin Place is a location (I see this as geographic or experiential) where heaven and earth are only thinly separated; a place where God’s Kingdom is being made real.  From our experience, these places are often found in the mundane and unexpected.

So, here’s how to win a copy (I will give away 1 copy for every 20 comments posted) of Thin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional community:

  1. In the comments section below answer one of these two questions, In what way(s) have you experienced a thin place in your neighborhood/community? What is one way you can best use the message of this book to influence the way you engage in your community/church/neighborhood?  
  2. P.S. For all of you who post this on Twitter and tag me (or hashtag #thinplaces) OR post this on facebook and tag me (so I can track who you are!)  I will be randomly giving away a bonus copy! 
  3. Ready set go!

Video stuff: Remember there is a Small Group Edition for communities/churches that are looking to engage this together!  The second video is a full session from that edition.

Here is what some people are saying about Thin Places who have already read it:

“I thoroughly loved this book and found myself saying ‘Amen’ at every page. A primer in incarnational mission by those who have lived it and taught it for well over a decade.”   ~ Michael Frost, Author of The Shaping of Things to Come and The Road to Missional

“As God continues to call the church to it’s most powerful essence of missional communities, Thin Places offers an inspirational look into practices and postures that forge God’s people together and propel them outward.”  ~ Hugh Halter, Author of The Tangible Kingdom, AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church, and Sacrilege

“Over the past decade interest in community life and neighborhood engagement have emerged as significant themes for a new generation of Christ followers who yearn for embodied and holistic spirituality. To thrive, this world-wild movement needs practical resources, born from historical awareness, thoughtful reflection and most importantly lived experience. Thin Places by Jon Huckins, is precisely this kind of storied resource, a tool that can equip groups to practice the way of Jesus and make a life together in their local contexts for the good of the world.”   ~ Mark Scandrette, Author of Practicing the Way of Jesus and  Executive Director at ReIMAGINE

“The terms ‘missional’ and ‘monastic’ are all too often tossed around by Christians as buzz words, an unfortunate reality given the importance of both terms.  That is why ‘Thin Places’ is such a gift to the church!  Not only do the authors understand and protect the integrity of both concepts, but bring them together in a way that points us towards an exciting future as God’s people actively living into His kingdom”   ~ Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Pastor and Author of The Cost of Community:Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom

“The call of faith has always included living in community. The thing is, it is really hard. And there are not enough places where gritty community meets possibility. But, that is what I found in my time with NieuCommunities. These are people who welcomed me in, as a stranger and not only treated me as an honored guest, they made me part of the family. In short, these are people who know what they are doing in creating Christian community and Thin Places not only chronicles their experiences, but invites other communities to imagine how to do the same.”  ~ Doug Pagitt, Pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, Author of Preaching Re-Imagined and Church Re-Imagined

“In the modern world of exponential speed and individual mobility, there is a growing hunger for a faith that can be lived out together… where we can be present… where there is an embodied practice… where the gospel becomes tangible in a particular place. NieuCommunities extends the rare gift of a transformative discipleship process that is full-bodied and place-based. Their longevity and fixity is in rich contrast to a world of quick-fix and fast-track!  ~ Paul Sparks, Founding Co-Director Parish Collective

There is a “come and see” authenticity about NieuCommunities that is so reminiscent of Jesus calling the disciples out of fishing boats on the shore of Lake Galilee I can almost taste the salt air. At the same time, the “come and see” community is balanced by a “go and do” mission that gives me hope for inside-out change in neighborhoods in the global city. At a time when many are talking about missional communities, NieuCommunities quietly and expertly goes about doing it—forming young men and women and transforming neighborhoods. The vitality of NieuCommunities is less about what is being said than what is being lived. You’ll want to read this book and listen to their story.  ~ John Hayes, founder of innerCHANGE and Author of Submerge and Living Deep in a Shallow World.

32 Responses to BOOK GIVEAWAY: Thin Places
  1. Glen Davidson

    I’m loving this. 2 ways I’ve experienced a thinplace was when friends got together and held a free coffee and snacks morning in a community in Luton England, where we got to know the people who came.
    Again in the same community we did carol singing and handed out wrapped gifts to people passing by and at the local pub.

  2. Nick Waltz

    Kristen and I have long talked about how to intentionally build community with our neighbors/neighborhood. Ideas we’ve thought about include all neighborhood bbq’s, yard sales and big halloween parties. We’ve already started getting to know our next door neighbors, a really sweet older couple who love interacting with our kids. The challenge is how to bring the neighborhood together and share Christ’s love, especially in the heart of the bible belt where churches are on every corner and “Jesus” is common knowledge. We’re hoping Thin Places will help us with a more concrete vision.

  3. Heather B.

    I have been part of leadership at my church in the high school age since I graduated high school myself. Recently we started doing small groups and getting the kids into a more interactive role in their faith. I have seen the space between them and their Savior made thinner and thinner as they desire a deeper knowledge and a more intimate relationship rather than a disconnected one like I have seen many Christians have. These kids are experiencing God in ways they never had before because they are breaking through barriers and over coming obstacles that bring God Almighty into a proximity that permeates into their daily lives.

  4. chad

    it was last call on friday night at a local soccer tavern and a friend of a friend sat down at the stool next to mine and shared about how they were “dipping their toes” into the waters of faith/Jesus/etc by deciding to pilgrimage the camino de santiago de compostela. i’m learning to see the Divine in thin places (even at 1 am).

  5. Andrea

    I am trying to live intentionally where I live by being active in groups that aren’t exclusively Christian. This way I am able to be in real relationships..and be able to share the hope of Christ with those that don’t know him. Listening to people share about struggling marriages, failed friendships, parenting struggles, etc. I would love to see more ways I can live incarnationally right here and now, instead of having to go to other countries.

  6. Meg

    So, I’ve been thinking about your questions all morning. For us, this journey is very personal right now. With a longing to discover, develop, and dive into deeper community, we’re in great need of help and inspiration as to how to do this.
    You think I’d have a better idea of how, considering I’ve been experiencing for several years these thin places more and more through the women I work with. Working with escorts, trafficking survivors, and exotic dancers has revealed a brand new Jesus to me and the incorporation of community and relationship as a core foundational value has allowed that to flow more freely within our little team. We long to see this evolve and grow as we do.
    I’d love some more direction and think your book might be a great place to start :)

  7. Cathy Anderson

    A thin place in my family – sitting next tp the ocean – watching my 12 year old fill sea shells into the lines of the labyrinth we’ve drawn in the san – listen to the surf and the birds – recognizing the nearness of God in the moment.

  8. Karen Wilk

    we met at Inhabit, John. Sounds like you’re doing well. By engaging in postures of among, with and in, we experience ‘thin places’ over and over again in our neighbourhoods.

  9. Jenn

    Our neighborhood values creative expression. The arts are a thin place for us.

  10. Matt Blazer

    In my small group we have a few families in constant struggle. After we had all tried to fix them, we nestled in to absorb the small amount human can absorb of one another’s pain. We have no control and don’t want it anymore. We were out of advice (God’s grace to the hurting ones).

    Sitting on the mourner’s bench with friends is a thin place.

  11. Josh Hopping

    “In what way(s) have you experienced a thin place in your neighborhood/community?”

    I have experienced a thin place in my community in two ways. The first is through an old church building in the mountains above the rural village where I pastor. Each year we hang a sign out at our regular meeting place and take a pilgrimage up into the mountains. We hold Sunday services there and then spend the entire afternoon hanging out and chatting around a potluck lunch and a camp fire. The walls of the people and the barrier between us and ‘heaven’ seem to fade away during this time…

    The other way that I have experienced a thin place probably fall more in line with your book. Namely, there are times when I am volunteering at our village food pantry that the Lord just does something special. It can’t be explained rationally…but something shifts and you can feel Jesus there with you as you love and bless the folks coming in… definitely a thin place.

    “What is one way you can best use the message of this book to influence the way you engage in your community/church/neighborhood?”

    Having not read the book yet, I can’t say for sure how I can use its message…but if I had to guess, I would say that it would be helpful in helping both myself and those in my church to recognize the movement of the Spirit in the streets and byways of our community.

  12. VH

    A thin place for me, both spiritually and tangibly was a few years ago as I was in recovery from being in an abusive situation. I had about two weeks of time left in our studies and then the next chapter was on going out and reaching other people. Being shy, I was apprehensive about what I could possibly do. In the mean time someone gave me a bag of yarn with knitting needles in it and I found an old book with instructions on how to knit. Those two weeks I taught myself how to knit. It was very therapeutic as I would knit and pray, and knit and cry, and knit and laugh! Then a young lady came to our group meeting and told us she was starting a prayer-shawl ministry and would anyone like to volunteer. Just in time, God gave me an avenue to share His love and care with others, yet in a way that still gave me time to heal and recover.

  13. christiana rice

    Last week I had a fascinating conversation with a neighbor whom I met by simply commenting on her tatoo. “I’m not religious,” she said, “but I found this in a cathedral in France and it has impacted me deeply.”Her tatoo had a quote from Jesus woven into a beautiful drawing of a stain glass window.
    Our time together was a Thin Place. I sensed the holy spirit with us we talked about Jesus and how his life continues to transform our world.

  14. Stuart Delony

    Lately, I’m finding my thin place in random conversations I’m having with my 6 year old son. The ways he looks at the world transcends so much in my world. It is changing me.

    Also, I would love to use this with a small group of young couples who this subject would be very interesting. Some of them don’t know Christ, but I see this material would be fascinating to them.

  15. Sue H

    Recently, Doug and I were at a Restaurant with another couple. We were enjoying talking and joking with our waitress. When she brought our food, our friend was going to thank God for our food, but before he did he asked our waitress if she had anything we could pray for, for her. She paused for awhile…then said, “just a safe trip home.”. After dinner she brought our check, and a long personal note. The note said, “Thank you for caring enough to pray for me. I have been very depressed lately, have pulled away from everyone this summer, and am contemplating suicide. I really need your prayers…it really feels good to know someone cares.”.
    Our friends went back to see her the next day, and hooked her up with their daughter’s phone number, who is a crisis counselor.
    Thin Places…

  16. Duke Vipperman

    > Thin places?

    in 2008 I explored a number of local thin places: a garden in a former artists colony; a cafe where some of the best conversations kept happening; L’Ache Daybreak. Now I am finding that when neighbours walk by our church’s own new community garden, their walk slows and sometimes stand in awe of what it has become. Is it a thin space for them. Perhaps too much to ask!

    >Best use the message of this book to influence the way you engage in your community/church/neighborhood?

    As pastor I would need to pass it on to many folk in the congregation. Only they can reach missionally into their neighbourhoods. My task is to see that the space is created and kept safe for them to explore relationships unpressed by other agendas. To keep up the messaging that in being in their communities as followers of Jesus, engaging with people they come to know and love, the Kingdom of God is near.

  17. Diane Sekuloff

    My first experience of a thin place was at the age of 19. I was sitting out one night on the mountainside in Chamonix, France, and the dark was like velvet, with the outlines of the mountains across the valley like brushing on the nap, and the stars studding the skies. Suddenly, there was a stilling within that matched the stillness without, and it was as if I could hear the very heartbeat of God.

    Since then, I have found thin places much more frequently, as my years have accumulated – thin places amongst growing things, with children, in my rocking chair (which is usually where I pray), in moments of deep compassion with a hurting soul shared, in silent mountain grandeur, and kayaking upon the sea – and even, occasionally, in a church or two!

  18. Kristin Noel Veteto

    As a young married woman…to a wonderful man, by the way,……we moved to a community where we knew absolutely no one and started a journey that was tough, as many married couples do. Now 2 years in I have found that a community is necessary to growth and relationship with God and in a marriage. A community rich in faith and understanding are thin places. But what to do for those of us that don’t necessarily have a community…….we have technology. I would love to use the ideas in this book to help navigate an online community of faith and understanding for bible study, fellowship, and discussion —– a sort of virtual coffee house idea that provides those of us that are called to travel to remote places to find our source of passion and relationship with God to then take that into our physical communities and make the changes God desires us to do!
    Thank you for this opportunity and for spreading the word of thin spaces to the world!

    Blessings,
    Kristin Noel

  19. Wolt

    I’m interested in this book and checking out your resources to engage groups in this important work.

  20. Brian Gerig

    I’ve been involved in launching several youth centers throughout the U.S. Many eager persons have come into our youth centers and said that they would like to replicate after school programming. However, on one tour, I felt like the group that was touring were not really in a young neighborhood–a youth center is great, but is that really what God wanted. I challenged them…and they changed their mission–the immediate need in the neighborhood was clean, safe, places to do laundry. So, they bought 6 washers and 6 dryers and took time to help persons coming in for free laundry fold clothes and watch their children. It challenged me in many areas, but I saw firsthand “heaven meet earth” in a very “under the radar” and yet “powerful” way!

  21. Linda Holland

    In planting a new church as a parachute drop, there were tons of thin places, but my favorite ones were interactions with folks where I never mentioned what we were doing. Inevitably, it came up in conversation at some point, but the relationship was well on its way before our mission was ever mentioned.

  22. Elaine Todd

    I grew up in Canterbury and one of the little chapels in the cathedral had been prayed in daily for centuries. You could sense God’s presence as soon as you walked in and had a sense of joining with the “saints in glory ” in your prayer.
    The other thin place I know is the mother house of the Northumbria community, a place where I can be totally myself within God’s love, a place of safety and peace. Even in my dreams I dream about this place and feel “oh its alright now, I’m here “

  23. Tonya Riggs

    Normally, I experience “thin places” in Nature. During hikes, there would be some places where I felt “swallowed up”. God would seem to be everywhere and in everything.

    However, I am intrigued by the notion of having such an experience within a human community and setting. I have felt what some describe as “the spirit moving” in worship gatherings, but not of the intensity I feel in Nature. I look forward to reading your book and culling its insights : ))

  24. Tim

    “In what way(s) have you experienced a thin place in your neighborhood/community?”

    My wife and I are discipling a young couple, new Christians. When I read the question, I thought of all those late nights in our living room, just the four of us, working through what it means to follow Jesus.

  25. Jon Huckins

    Thanks for sharing and living out the message of Jesus in tangible ways in your community, Glen. You’re one of the winners, so reply to this or send me a message through my contact page with your address and a copy of Thin Places will be on its way!

  26. Jon Huckins

    Wow, sacred experience of radical presence, Matt. Beautiful. As one that has experienced significant loss, I deeply resonate with the “mourners bench” being a thin place. You’re one of the winners, so reply to this or send me a message through my contact page with your address and a copy of Thin Places will be on its way!

  27. Jon Huckins

    Hmm…for some reason my replies went in as general comments rather than direct replies to the winners. To be clear, Glen (comment #1) and Matt (comment #10) are the winners! Thanks to all for your brilliant stories that embody God’s Story through your presence and engagement in your neighborhoods, community and world.

  28. Glen Davidson

    Hi Jon
    Thank you so much for the prize. I really look forward to reading Thin Places. I sent a message through your contact page with my address included.
    Glen

  29. Pamela Cutrone

    Hi Jon, I don’t twitter and when you say tag, do you mean running on grass… “tag your it?” I’m in the fading “thin place”
    generation of writing long hand notes and letters to those I love! LOL With that said, my older heart pitter patters when I read and here of Max and Molly’s fellowship down in SD. I’ve belonged to Jesus for 40 years now and I love how He whispers to your NC family. It stirs my desire to learn from you youngins’! Jesus is the greatest love in my life, and I would so enjoy seeing Him in “Thin Places”more and more each day! Max’s Momma Pam (Tag your it!) : D

  30. Jon Huckins

    Max and I just read your comment together…Love it! Thanks for the laugh and encouraging word.

  31. Drew Ward

    So, let me practice a little storytelling . . .

    This delicately hidden thing was just an arm’s length away. Our stair landing had become the observation deck. Tucked into the forked branches of the Silver Dollar trees just beyond the window a hummingbird had built her nest. And we got to watch.
    This perfectly camouflaged little bird was no bigger than a leaf and was the same color—a leaf with wings that kept falling horizontally from the branch and reattaching itself to it. Rachel and Erik would sit there and watch, and Jill. Nancy and I took turns, as did our girls. It was a marvel. This wild little mother-to-be was feathering her nest for us to see. The nest was the size of an egg coddler, made of pine needles, leaf mould, plant down and spider’s web. But it wasn’t built to coddle eggs, it was meant to hatch them.
    The two eggs were the size of sweet English peas. And for the next three weeks she sat there watching us watch her. The glistening little creatures that hatched from the shells took more than a week before they even began to look like birds. And more than three weeks longer before they flew away. It turns out that we got to witness this whole thing because of only one reason—we happened to have planted Silver Dollar trees just outside the stairway window.
    Our original thought was to dapple the hot morning sun in the front rooms to help keep the place cooler naturally, but something more happened—a beautiful and unanticipated ecological event. Hummingbirds became our neighbors. In looking for natural ways to create our own habitat, we had inadvertently created another one. In ways that we hadn’t fully considered at the time, our lives made others’ lives possible.
    This idea began to inform so much of what we did. In this suburban experiment in intentional Christian that we were calling Riverbend Commons, we talked about what we wanted to see happening around here and then set about creating habitats where those things could take hold and flourish.
    Hospitality, for instance. Since we knew that welcoming the stranger was the way of Jesus, and was among our gifts, we had made it part of our mission statement. So, we figured that to make people feel welcome we needed to make them feel comfortable, safe, and wanted. Comfort came from having ample places to sit and to sleep, and came from an aesthetic that is beautiful, warm, natural, and not too personal. Safety came from keeping the common spaces clean and from providing all manner of private spaces for retreat. And feeling wanted, like you belonged, came from all these physical things, and from being able to walk through the front door without knocking after your first visit, and being met with interested smiles and warm embraces when you did, and being given space and time share stories.
    These conditions simply make for a wonderful place to be. Who couldn’t like this? Maintaining them took some effort, of course, and some willingness, and a whole lot of trust. But with many hands and many hearts we find it utterly doable. So, we dust, vacuum, wipe down counters, put dishes away, keep sinks and toilets clean, tend the yard—pretty standard household stuff. Monastics would call them “the daily offices.” Our parents called them “chores.” We call them “ministry opportunities” (almost as a joke). Because whatever you call it, cleaning a toilet and pulling a weed, “by any other name would smell . . . ” you get my meaning.
    The result of this, however, is difficult to describe and the stories too numerous to keep. Take one single mom, for example, a friend caught in the rocky terrain on the backside of marriage. She would come to just sit. While she was on her own, trying to make a new way for herself and her three boys and the inevitable blows of her new reality would hit hardest, she told us that sometimes, when she was out driving, she would be overwhelmed with the urge to go to Riverbend to just rest in the peace of the place. She said it felt as if her car would find its way to Riverbend Circle and deposit her at the curb. She wasn’t needing company. She was needing peace. And she claims that this peace began to play an important role in her healing.
    I’m not saying that any of us ever thought to ourselves while we were approaching a bathroom with rubber gloves or a table with a feather duster, that I’m going to scrub that sink to heal people. But I’m also not going to deny that some holy thing happened here beyond our efforts that these conditions helped make possible.
    This is no experiment in cause-and-effect any more than planting a tomato seed and watering it is. Despite what some may feel in unguarded moments, no farmer will claim, in good conscience, that they make tomatoes grow. At best, they create the conditions, do what they know to do—preparing soil, planting seeds, watering the ground, and keeping vigilant throughout the season to maintain these conditions and respond quickly to threats. But this is where their agency ends. They do not animate the processes in the stem or leaf or flower to fruit. The plant itself must do that. And the plant has not designed the process within itself, but merely is what it is, and does what it does. The farmer merely partners in this process, partners to an extent with the plant, and partners with the plant’s designer. Though it’s easy to see that much of this process is predictable, at the end of the day, a farmer puts a seed in the ground and waters it and hopes.
    To emphasize the explainable processes, as if they can be fully explained, in an effort to silence the doubts we carry about God or about our own effectiveness in the world is to rob ourselves of the thrill in the possibility that we live in service to a mystery and are daily invited to bear witness to it.
    Hospitality, comfort, safety, belonging, peace, healing. I can’t explain how it works, but it seems to be part of a beautiful mechanism in a kingdom designed by our loving creator who promises wholeness and hope. Our friend’s story has become one in a growing catalog of similar stories around here, of blessings that spring up in the place and cling to it.
    In 2005 Riverbend Commons became certified as a National Wildlife Habitat—just another curious piece of this ongoing experiment in reimaging life in the suburbs. We suspect that stuff like this is just the beginning, though. Like the Silver Dollar trees planted outside our window, we wonder what other habitats are being created around here: Creativity, Remembrance, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Humility, Holiness? We desire to be agents of these things, and look for them with great expectancy, not certain how it all works, exactly, but certain in the goodness of the God who works through all of them. Hummingbird nests are within reach sometimes, and ripe tomatoes, too, in season, but we’re learning more and more, everyday we do this, that a hidden Kingdom always is.

  32. Drew Ward

    Oh, no. I’m afraid I missed the contest? I so wanted to win a copy of Thin Places. Now, I’m off to buy one . . .

    Blessings!

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