As National Director of Forge America (and soon to be International Director), Kim Hammond trains, equips and cares for missional people in the various Forge tribes. Kim is also Director of Missional Imagination at Community Christian Church in Chicago. I talked with Kim to better understand the missional conversation he champions throughout the world and what church planters can learn from him.
Tell us about your family. How are they involved in what you do?
My wife Maria and I are partners in mission and ministry. Ria is involved in caring for people and hospitality. She is as much involved as I am in founding Forge and the rest of the mission in our lives. We have three boys, Lachlan, Carter, and Jordan. We travel a lot with our children so that they experience and serve alongside us in the hubs and local contexts. Mission and family—it all flows together.
When did Jesus become real for you?
Probably as a teenager. I was discipled by my youth pastor Steve Swaine. He still leads the church that we planted together in Australia. He discipled me since 13, and he gave me a job at 18 as his assistant youth pastor. We worked together at that church until I was 25, and then we started a new church together. He made me cry a lot. He walked Ria down the aisle. I still call him when something great happens or when I need advice. No one had ever invested in me that way. That is the kind of discipleship that makes Jesus real to people.
What do you like best about what you do? Why?
I love—it sounds corny—but I love mentoring, motivating, and mobilizing the missional church. I love missional leaders and their movements. I love helping others, I love leading and caring for our team. Anything I can do to help movements grow.
What is the difference between “church plant” and ‘missional community?’
A missional community is a small group of people on mission together and being accountable to one another, whereas a church plant is the full ecclesia which includes gathering and worshiping. A missional community isn’t about the gathering so much as it is about discipling and mission. Shared life. Often, the church is a gathering of the ecclesia, which then breaks into missional communities. We try to make it all too complicated, for Sunday to do everything and it doesn’t.
What do church planters need to know about missional imagination?
Church leaders need to stop limiting their vision of church to their bible school training or previous experiences, but to dream big, look where God is at work in the world and join him. Leaders need to be less prescriptive and more intuitive.
How are you reaching out to people far from God in your community? What advice would you give to planters trying to do the same?
I think you have to be involved with personal missional practices. Practice BLESS—pray, listen, eat with people (on their ground, in their home), you have to serve them. And you have to take your time. What are the natural rhythms for mission in your life? So many planters start with a duality—here’s the church plant and here’s life. We need to see life as mission. And learn to listen. We aren’t taught how to listen in seminaries; we are taught how to act and do and start. Practice how to submerge.
What is the role of leadership in the missional world? How are you developing people for leadership?
Leadership is about modeling and serving and empowering. It’s about giving people a chance to develop, so for me it’s about giving those in their 20s an opportunity to lead and grow. I want Forge to be building up the next generation of leaders. How diverse are we? How inclusive? How much are we pushing power and leadership to the margins? Leaders create environment and guard DNA. Forge is a great place to lead, because if you have apostolic gifting, you can start something on your own and be supported in it.
What is/was the greatest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I’d say when I had my first big failure in ministry. I didn’t raise the money I needed, and had my first big slump and burnout. I’d experienced early success in my 20s, then hit the slump around 28 and had to learn how to walk through that. I rested. I reflected. I was mentored. I refocused on what I was good at—I had started to have a desire to be something I’m not, I had lost some of my ambition. And I refocused on Jesus.
In your work you often talk about collaboration and partnership. How do you build these?
It’s about getting the right people at the table, coming with an open posture and trying to listen. You get a lot of different perspectives and that makes your organization stronger. Creating seats at the table. I always notice it when other leaders who are more assertive make decisions that piss everyone off. People say, “Oh they’re not like you.” I don’t even think about it—collaborating is just part of who I am.
Who inspires you and why?
Michael Frost inspires me to be a better communicator and to follow Jesus more. The way he communicates who Jesus is and why and how. Alan and Deb Hirsch, who are humble and accessible and live out the things they teach. Certain leaders who have started movements and served them humbly—Rick Warren, Mike Pilavachi from Soul Survivor, Andy Hawthorne, Dave Ferguson. I’m inspired by people who start movements that people want to follow. But I’m also inspired by the grassroots people whose little acts of the extra-ordinary help make a difference. People like Laura Hairston who spends time every week with a group of middle school girls. Brad Brisco who takes in emergency foster care kids. Scott Nelson who is committed to community in his little apartment building. And there’s Caesar Kalinowski who has been in New York for four weeks and has already thrown 4 parties. He knows every neighbor.
How are you caring for yourself spiritually? What do your personal spiritual rhythms with God look like?
I try to create space every day for prayer and reflection, whether it’s first thing in the morning or on the way home, to have some good communion with God. At least once a week I block out time for reading and reflection, and ask God to speak to me.
What is one thing you would tell church planters to STOP doing?
Stop assuming what the neighborhoods needs and stop thinking that it’s all about Sunday. Too many churches come in with too many preconceived notions—they’ve got a service planned and a website and they’ve got it all figured out before they even hit the ground or listen to one person. Church planters need to network better—not to steal people but to be influence by other people’s imagination.
What is ONE THING every church planter ought to do?
Find a local hangout and don’t move from there—not just while you’re planting but for years to come. Invest in the people there.
What is the one thing you would like to see happen in the church in your lifetime?
Stop fighting about theology and just love people more. Especially the church in America—it just fights so much.
What’s the number one thing people can do to support Forge?
Forge America is raising money in order to fund our national movement. In just three years, we’ve got 15 Forge Hubs running or launching missionary formation residencies, and six more hubs are in the works. We need systems. We need to cover business expenses as we grow. Right now, we pay our staff with hugs and tickles. We need some $$$$ man!
To learn more about Forge and ways your can support their mission visit them at www.forgeamerica.com