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July 14, 2016

Hybrids and the Habits of Holiness

By Daniel Im

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Hybrid Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines

It seems that we live in a culture that is increasingly drawn to hybrids. Now the definition of a hybrid is, “a thing made by combining two (or more) different elements.” For instance, over the past few years, hybrid vehicles—vehicles that use two forms of power—have grown in popularity. A technological hybrid can be seen in some of the new phones such as the iPhone 6s plus or the Samsung Galaxy S7. Such gadgets are a hybrid of a phone and a tablet—a “phonelet” or a “phablet.” And then there seems to have been a rise of hybrid dog breeds. A popular hybrid breed is a Goldendoodle (a Golden Retriever mixed with a Poodle) and a Labradoodle (Labradore Retriever mixed with a Poodle).

In any case, the notion of a hybrid is combining the best of two worlds to form one world. And hybrid was the term that came to mind as I recently talked with good friend, colleague, and co-pastor Philip Nation about spiritual disciplines and discipleship.

Hybrid Spiritual Disciplines

There are many good books on spiritual disciplines like Dallas Willard’s, The Spirit of the Disciplines, or Donald Whitney’s, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. However, while Philip holds such men and their books in high regard, he believes that such books (as well as other books on spiritual disciplines) take more of an isolated and individualistic position to spiritual disciplines. Philip perceives this as a weakness.

In his latest book, Habits of Holiness, Philip addresses this perceived weakness on spiritual disciplines and attempts to connect spiritual disciplines with the mission of God. In his book, he discusses how the practice of spiritual disciplines are activities that [should] drive us to participate in the mission of God—to participate in God’s redemptive activity by sharing and showing the gospel of King Jesus Christ with and to all peoples.

While worship, bible study, and prayer are foundational disciplines, they aren’t disciplines solely for individualistic sanctification, but are spiritual activities that [should] drive believers towards participation in the mission of God. Think of it this way. Spiritual disciplines are practices that the Spirit of God uses to conform us into the image of King Jesus. As they help shape and mold us into His image, our lives, more naturally, embody and enact a missional posture and awareness.

For instance, Philip suggests that the discipline of rest shouldn’t be seen as a discipline solely for individualistic spiritual health, but a discipline whereby we can intentionally reach out to our next door neighbor. Or the discipline of prayer shouldn’t be solely seen as a spiritual discipline for individualistic consumption, but seen more as what John Piper refers to as a war-time “walkie-talkie” to communicate with God (the commander) about the resources we need to accomplish the mission. Therefore, the combination of spiritual disciplines and missiology (the theology of the mission of God) form a hybrid of missional holiness.

To read the rest of the article and to listen to the entire Webinar with Philip Nation, click here. This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • The notion of a hybrid—combining the best of two worlds to form one world—can be beneficial for churches.
  • Many churches are creating hybrid models of discipleship by taking elements of two different models & combining them to form one model.
  • @philipnation discusses how the practice of spiritual disciplines are activities that (should) drive us to participate in the mission of God.
  • While worship, bible study, & prayer are foundational disciplines, they aren’t solely for individualistic sanctification, but for missional advancement.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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