“We’re a church – just not quite like you’re used to” – Sophie Callahan

While Josiah may have dubbed me the “Queen of Avocados” I’m not sure I eat more avocados than a typical Californian. However, I’m sure I fit a handful of millennial stereotypes while simultaneously breaking the norms. I do hope that I embody the stereotype of millennial idealism – but backed up with action.

I currently pastor a faith community called The Possibility Project. We’re a church – just not quite like you’re used to. We think all of life can be worshipful and we want to help the Church receive the gifts of young people. Backstory, my co-pastor Jeff Purganan came to pastor a dying church in the Silicon Valley and shepherd the faithful community into a new season. Upon selling the old church building, the church re-launched as a discipleship community for young adults. Residential members commit to a two year internship, where they live in intentional Christian community, find employment in the Bay Area, participate in communal rhythms of life, and serve the Church and neighborhood according to their gifts and passions. We live in 4 community homes (two with residents and two with pastoral families) and gather regularly. We engage in worship by gathering for a weekly “Supper Church”, we learn and grow through our weekly discipleship group, and we put our faith into practice through a variety of projects and community engagement opportunities.

One gift of our communal living is the way it calls us out of our individualism and typical consumer habits. Submitting to a shared life means that my desires and patterns cannot be as important as the communal life. When I broaden that view to include the global Body of Christ, I have to reckon with the impact of my actions on my neighbors worldwide.

It grieves me that the church reflects many of our culture’s worst habits, including poor treatment of workers and the environment, a seemingly unending gluttony and lust and envy of material goods, and a priority on personal achievement. In many ways, Christians reflect the American Dream more than the gospel message of love, justice, and concern for the poor and marginalized.

I’m passionate about rethinking consumerism from a Christian narrative. I appreciate Laura Hartford’s work in The Christian Consumer, where she outlines four elements to a Christian ethic of consumption: avoid sin, embrace creation, love one’s neighbor, and envision the future.

It’s tempting to fall into a mindset that resetting all our consumer habits is painful and impossible. I would rather emphasize progress over perfection, as I’ve found that small changes encourage us to continue on the journey.

For example, for Lent last year I gave up waste. I posted regularly about my experience on social media (see, I am a millennial!). I shared the good and the bad, the progress I was making and the items I struggled to acquire without packaging. This experience was a prayer practice for myself, a worshipful way of living. By reflecting on my waste patterns throughout Lent, I was lamenting and grieving the ways we harm God’s creation in service of our own convenience. And I was cultivating a mindset of gratitude and enough – to reorient my desires in light of God’s desires for me, my community, and our environment. I emerged from this season more eager than ever to continue on this path toward living out a holistic Christian ethic. I fail – regularly. But I often receive encouraging messages from friends sharing how they’ve started carrying reusable grocery bags and coffee mugs or how they helped switch their office away from styrofoam. These small changes, especially when made within the context of community, move all of us toward faithful living.

This is hard work, but good work. When we consider all of life as worship (including our consumer habits), we are invited into a much broader and richer experience of the gospel than merely personal salvation. As I continue in this ministry work, I am grateful for partners like Just Threads, The Millennial Pastor, and the Center for Pastoral Leadership’s Mentoring for Ministry program. The work of addressing communal sin and brokenness requires the imagination and support of a faith community. I’ve often felt alone as I pursue my ministry passions, but finding a cohort like the CPL’s Mentoring for Ministry program connects me to people like Josiah and other guests on this blog/podcast – reminding all of us that we don’t minister in isolation. Our work, our ministry, and our participation in the Kingdom is all connected. Together, we get to participate in God’s work of redeeming relationships between Godself, ourselves, others, and creation.


Sophie Callahan is part of the Mentoring for Ministry Cohort which was created by our Denominations Seminary.

Perhaps you have heard it by listening to our podcast, or maybe you have read some of the stories shared on this blog. We are proud to say that our denomination, the Church of the Nazarene is investing in pastors like us. They are spending time, energy and money on assuring we are equipped to not only lead the church of today, but also the church of tomorrow. You can help too! Share our stories, and celebrate with us, or even consider donating to the Mentoring for Ministry initiative by clicking the Nazarene Theological Seminary logo. Invest in the future of the church and help its leaders get the training and mentoring they need to take on the task at hand!

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