Chris Yaw Interviews Jason Byassee: My First Hire was a Missions Coordinator

Taken with permission from

Author, journalist, and pastor Jason Byassee says it was the natural move at his rather large, well-established Boone United Methodist Church in North Carolina: that his first hire would be someone charged to coordinate care of those who were not already members.

Jason, an author who writes for the Christian Century and is a popular conference speaker, says churches do well to tap into the natural urge people have to give.

Hear the words of this energetic, and hopeful voice for established churches.


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Jason Byassee brings deep enthusiasm and a seasoned intellect to the job of keeping vibrancy in established churches. Here are my notes from the interview:

Be Attentive to Your Neighborhood

It's a recurring theme for Jason, as he speaks and reports on other congregations, to see that the vibrant congregations are ones who are getting out, meeting their neighbors, and trying to discern what God's ongoing work in the community looks like.

Real Mission

'What are we asking of people that will change their lives?' It's an important question to put forward as we design mission work that goes beyond feel-good activities, and into deeply sacrificial work that changes everybody's world.

Without the Church, Who Do You Praise?

Yep, worshipping something is ingrained in us all. Are we offering the kind of worship that really helps people connect with their deep longing to worship?

About Jason Byassee

Jason Byassee became senior pastor of Boone United Methodist Church in Boone, North Carolina in July, 2011. There he directs four other pastoral staff members and pastors a congregation of nearly 1400. He also serves on the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Western North Carolina Conference of the UMC. He studied at Davidson College and Duke University, where he earned a PhD in systematic theology in 2005. He is also a contributing editor to Christian Century magazine, where he served as an assistant editor from 2004-2008, a Fellow in Theology and Leadership at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, and a Research Fellow in the New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

He is the author of four books: Reading Augustine: A Guide to Confessions (Cascade, 2006), An Introduction to the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Cascade, 2007), Praise Seeking Understanding: Reading the Psalms with Augustine (Eerdmans, 2007), and The Gifts of the Small Church (Abingdon). He is presently working on a volume with Westminster's new Interpretation series on the history of biblical exegesis. His work has also appeared in Christianity Today, Theology Today, Books & Culture, Sojourners, United Methodist Reporter, and First Things. He serves on boards for The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning, the School for Conversion, and The Other Journal. His work has been recognized with several awards from the Associated Church Press and in 2007 with the American Academy of Religion's first place award for newswriting for outlets with circulations under 100,000. He is married to Jaylynn Warren Byassee, pastor of Bethelview and Valle Crucis UMC's, and together they have three boys, ages 8, 7, and 4.

Books Jason Recommends

New Seeds of Contemplation

The Attentive Life: Discerning God's Presence in All Things

When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God (Vintage)