Scott Bessenecker - The New Friars

November 17, 2006

Scott Bessenecker is the director of InterVarsity’s Global Projects and Global Urban Treks. He grew up in Iowa and attended Iowa State University. He has been involved with InterVarsity’s overseas mission projects since 1986 when he started with the organization. He became the director of Overseas Training Camps in 1990 and changed the name of the program to the current Global Projects. He and his family spent summer 2002 with students in Cairo’s garbage village of Mokattam.

The New Friars
Scott Bessenecker, InterVarsity Press, 2006
Paper back, 199 pages, $15.00

Tell us, Scott, why did you choose The New Friars as the title of your book?

I wanted to represent the commitment to live in poverty for the sake of the gospel. I chose the term friar rather than another term, monk for instance, because the friars were noted not only for their strong sense of mission but also for their mobility. They were willing to travel anywhere that God might call them.

What do you say about the new friars?

Through a number of stories drawn from historical and contemporary examples, I present several elements that describe the life of those who follow the path God has called them to in serving the poor. They are incarnational, pursuing Jesus’ descent into humanity; devotional, pursuing intimacy with Jesus; communal, pursuing relational wealth; missional, pursuing the kingdom of God; and marginal, living on the edges of social acceptance.

What do you hope your readers will learn and do as a result of reading your book?

I wrote this book to honor those who have made the choice to live a radical mission ideal—to honor them by telling their stories. These men and women are serving as a leavening force for the church. As church historian Adolf Harnack says, “It was always the monks who saved the Church when sinking, emancipated her when becoming enslaved to the world, defended her when assailed. These it was that kindled hearts that were growing cold, bridled refractory spirits, recovered for the Church alienated nations.” I predict that today’s emerging movement to the world’s poor, powered by the new friars, will also bring renewal to the global church of the twenty-first century. I trust that this book will play a small part in that renewal.

Scott Bessenecker is leading the Urbana 06 track, Slum Communities of the Developing World.

Mission Network News report on “The New Friars.

Christianity Today review