unLearing: A New Mind-Set for Reimagineers

by Phil Miglioratti


Michael Slaughter's book, "unLearning Church," gave me language

for a mind-set I had been carrying throughout my entire ministry:


  • Turned a junior high youth group into the JC Powerline (attendance exploded)
  • Created Promiseland children's ministry in a movie theater lobby for the then upstart Willow Creek Community Church
  • Pastored a new church plant; the "unchurch" that became the "Love One Another Church" focused on "dechurched" people
  • Launched the first national network that tracked and equipped pastors' prayer groups
  • Facilitated citywide roundtables of ministry leaders who knew the Church could do some things "better together"
  • Taught at churches and conferences on how to reimagine prayer, in your closet, with cohorts, throughout congregations, across my city/community, penetrating culture, for other countries


Our journey to reimagine ministry requires a mind-set that dares to ask"What interpretation or application, principle or practice, tradition or training, needs to be reassessed & recalibrated, reviewed & revised, or retired & replaced?"

A refusal to unLearn, to turn-off or set-aside or let-go, inhibits our attempts to "be renewed in our thinking" (a corporate application of Romans 12:2) Rearranging or redecorating may appease those comfortable with the present but will never capture the hearts and minds of people in our culture who are searching for what we have discovered in the Gospel.

It is time we learn how to unLearn; a worship-bred, Spirit-led, Scripture-fed conversation fueled by Romans 12:2; not conformed, transformed."


unLearning is Not

     … rejecting our belief in the One who is the way, he truth, and the life 

     … doubt-driven, nor intended to be doubt-producing, as to the inspiration of Holy Scripture

     … change for the sake of change

     … a fear-prompted attempt to make the church relevant 


unLearning is

     … confessing we are not infallible and realizing we are influenced (even infected) by culture, history, our own personality/predispositions 

     … recognizing our interpretations, explanations and applications of inspired Scripture are not inerrant

     … a Spirit-led review of theological dogma and the systems that preserve and promote those tenants of faith

     … a Scripture-fed review of ministry, disciplemaking, evangelism, prayer, so that we renew our systems and structures, principles and practices that  encapsulate our faith 



To unLearn Leaders Must…


Approach unLearning Worshipfully


Give praise to God as a sign your driving purpose is to honor and glory the message and mission of our Lord Jesus Christ.


“Has anyone known the thoughts of the Lord  or given God advice?  Everything comes from the Lord.

All things were made because of him and will return to him. Praise the Lord forever! Amen." Romans 11:33-36



Resubmit to Your Calling Unreservedly


Offer your complete self: body-soul-spirit; work-home-play.


"I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. This is your true worship."  Romans 12:1



Pursue a New Mindset Carefully 


Change is a command; not an option


"Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think.

Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him."  Romans 12:2


"Everyone is enfolded into Christ has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished.

Behold, everything is fresh and new ...look, what has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17



Begin Prayerfully. Continue Prayerfully


Praying is an invitation to know the mind of Christ by asking-seeking-knocking


"I urge you, first of all, to pray..." 1 Timothy 2:1 

>Think Responsively 

Begin by asking questions, not giving suggestions, making requests or placing an order. Yield. Listen.

"All of you, keep on being filled with the Spirit."  Ephesians 5:18 • "Never stop praying." 1 Thessalonians 5:1`7

>Proceed Purposefully

Our prayers, our process... plans... projects...must always point toward our purpose

"Epaphras...always prays for you - so that - you will grow to be spiritually mature and have everything God wants for you." Colossians 4:12

>Pray Continually

Often, our best praying is in the midst of thinking; a sign of the prompting and leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit

"Pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord."  Isaiah 62:6



Ask Questions Honestly


Questions are essential to review progress, redirect toward purpose, reapply a principle ... even retire a program

"Jesus gave good answers to their questions..."  Mark 12:28



Read Scripture Fearlessly


If you read-review-research Scripture without a personal agenda, do not hesitate to ask "why?" or wonder, ponder. 

"Make every effort to give yourself to God as...a worker who uses the true teaching in the right way."  2 Timothy 2:15



Resist Fear Courageously


Obedience usually requires change, and that always demands courage. "Do not be afraid of anyone!" (Matthew 10:26)

"The Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should.

But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain."   Romans 8:26



Review Your Presuppositions Objectively


Everyone has a worldview that encapsulates their own theology. Few realize. Less do anything to distinguish it from biblical truth.

“Don’t let your theology trump the Bible.” Adrian Warnock

"New wine calls for new wineskins.” Mark 2:22



Listen to Other Perspectives With Humility


Humility gives the Spirit access to your heart to give new, different, tradition threatening thoughts to your mind. Do not attempt to squeeze the mind of Christ into your fine-tuned, fine-print systematic theology. (dogma: "a set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.")

"Incredible as it may sound, we who have the Spirit have the mind of Christ!"  1 Corinthians 2:1



Proclaim New Directions Kindly, Clearly, Timely


Jesus was a servant leader. He spoke truth that was timely to the situation. He was kind to those who had difficulty hearing and immediately responding with obedience, following.

"Whoever is your servant is the greatest among you. Whoever makes himself great will be made humble.

Whoever makes himself humble will be made great."  Matthew 23:11-12 

unLearning Takes You From Status Quo, to Status GO!





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    a Guide to


    Your Ministry Mindset



    #1 Pray ~ for Spirit-led, Scripture-fed discernment and direction as you

    Ask - Seek - Knock *  Before / During / After 


    #2 unLearn ~ detach your Cultural Preferences from Biblical Imperatives


    #3 #ReimagineFutureChurch ~ with Life-Changing, Paradigm-Shifting, Ministry-Transforming ideas


    #4 Become a Reimagineer ~ explore and execute Thought-Provoking content 


    #5 Pursue Your Path ~ as you design your journey with these assessment tools


    #6 √Coaching Sessions ~ ponder Thought-Leaders' Unconventional Responses to our Uncommon Questions interviews


    #7 Ongoing ReSEARCH ~


    • Big Picture Topics √ Navigation menu @ #ReimagineTOPICS


    • Forum: Featured Guest-Posts, Author Chats, Pray.Network and Discipleship.Network Archives




    For One Week:

    Read 1 selection sequentially each day for a week,




    For One Month:


    Two-three times a week

    select 1 entry from any section that relates to your ministry focus.


    As you research:


    Postpone practical or programatic changes until you have taken sufficient time to yield to the Spirit's work of “changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2)


    Resist conformity.


    Breath new life into traditions or rituals that cannot be set aside


    Do not fear taking counter intuitive steps that prompt you to reconsider presuppositions or reevaluate to:


    Reformat? or Reboot? or Reset?

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