Jon Anderson is the community development pastor at Door Creek Church on Madison’s far east side. He started working there in 2013 after working at Blackhawk Church on the west side for 14 years. He and his wife and their three children live in Monona. Of his interests, he says, “I enjoy just about anything outdoors, eating out at local restaurants, gardening and traveling to just about anywhere new. I do not like creamy white sauces or clowns.” His most immediate project is the Kingdom Justice Summit that will be at Upper House March 2 and 3. Details are here.
What does Jesus mean for you?
To me, Jesus means the way to being fully human.
I believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human and through his death and resurrection all people can find new life and new hope that satisfies a longing at the core of every person. I also believe that Jesus invites us into an upside-down way of living where the first are last, blessed are the poor, and greatness is measured by sacrificial service towards others.
I am moved most by the stories where Jesus touches the untouchable, invites cultural outcasts to come close and shatters social norms so as to communicate that no one is too broken, too dirty, or too sick to experience his love.
Name your favorite 3 Christian music artists?
Honestly this is not a genre of music I listen to all that much but I do have a long history with the band Over the Rhine. I don’t think they would self-identify as Christian music artists but based on their lyrics they are pretty clearly influenced by Christianity and the church. I also love spoken word as an art form and I have been listening to a lot of Propaganda lately. Josh Garrels would have to be my third artist. His album “Love & War & The Sea in Between” is still my go to.
What is the church body doing well and what could we improve on?
From my limited perspective, the local church appears to be doing a good job building a desire to do good in the world compelled by our understand of who God is and what scripture teaches. I think our strength also exposes our weakness in that overall I think the church is not great when it comes to collaboration – both between local churches and with the city as whole. I think there would be a felt difference for good if we did a better job avoiding redundancy of services to those in need and sharing best practices.
What scripture really defines where you are today in life and why?
I have reflected a lot on Philippians chapter 2, especially verses 1-5. I love Paul’s challenge to me and all followers of Christ to be united as a community. And not only that but that we would strive to consider those around us as better than ourselves. To really drive his point home, he then tells us to have the same attitude of Christ who had all power and gave it all up. I can’t help but think, what a compelling reality this would be for those who either don’t know Christ or – for whatever reason – dislike Christianity. What would it look like if Christians all over our city were united and that unity was expressed by corporately putting others first?
You are a co-founder of Selfless Ambition and you are also one of the founders of the Kingdom Justice event. There seems to be a theme. Why is church unity important to you?
My passion is helping the church to engage with Biblical justice and then encouraging a conversation about how we can collaborate with one another for the good of our city. Both Selfless Ambition and Kingdom Justice Summit exist to support that reality.
This is important to me because first of all I see city movements taking place around our country where numerous local churches are coming together for the good of the city and making a felt difference. So I know it is possible.
It is important because I believe that unity within the greater church for the good of the city is what happens when we are obedient to the command to be unified.
And finally it is important because we live in an area that is resource rich, full of good will and yet home to some of the greatest disparities in the nation. There is an ongoing disconnect happening and yet I have hope that if the church were really to unite for the good of the city we would make more of a difference.
The heart behind this year’s Kingdom Justice Summit on March 2-3rd is to bring together the local church to engage with Biblical or Kingdom Justice and then dream together about what it might look like lived out in our city. And our hope is that this event will foster greater collaboration between churches for the good of the city. I am so encouraged that at the time I write this there are people from 50+ churches participating.
Who are the three people in Madison who inspire you and why?
I had the chance to get to know Roberto Rivera a little bit last year as he was preparing to be a keynote for the Kingdom Justice Summit. I was first impressed by his warm and outgoing personality and his heart for empowering today’s youth. He is a natural speaker and I love how he keeps the conversation so positive. Positive community transformation starts with a clear vision for something better and Roberto communicates that clearly.
I also respect Karen Menendez Coller, the Executive Director at Centro Hispano. I have witnessed a desire in her to foster collaboration within non-profits for the good of those in need. Karen leads in a complex context and I am so thankful for organizations like Centro Hispano in times like this.
Finally I will always feel indebted to Parker Palmer who was a keynote speaker during the first Kingdom Justice Summit. We had no idea what we were doing and had hardly any budget. I had read a couple of his books and once had met him in a book club context. I naively reached out to ask him to speak at our new event and was told by his staff that is was highly unlikely since he didn’t do that sort of thing anymore and it was his birthday. Then a few days later I got a call and it was Parker on the line saying he would be honored to be part of our event. I was humbled by his grace and humility. And beyond that, I believe his work is encouraging a better conversation related to education, political differences and faith.
If you could change one perception of the church what would that be?
I don’t have a sense of how pervasive this perception is but I will sometimes hear that the church is irrelevant to the greater community. Sadly that may be true at times but I believe that the transformed community that Jesus invites us to be a part of does make a difference in the community. The church is invited to be like Jesus and welcome the outcast, heal the sick, care for the orphan, love the widow with grace because we ourselves are recipients of grace beyond comprehension.