The Brook Network is an exchange of ideas and growing set of relationships aimed at helping Christians find God’s wisdom to be people of influence in our needy world. Sponsored by Elmbrook Church, the Brook Network offers events and group experiences, learning opportunities, audio and print resources, and a blog where you can engage with the issues of the day.

MEL LAWRENZ trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large, teaching in North America, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He has a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought (Marquette University) and has been on the adjunct faculty of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Trinity International University. He has authored 18 books with Zondervan, Baker, Jossey-Bass, Leadership Network, Regal, and others. His latest is Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016).

Also: Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement (Leadership Network/Jossey Bass); How to Understand the Bible (WordWay); Patterns: Ways to Develop a God-Filled Life (Zondervan); The Dynamics of Spiritual Formation (Baker); I Want to Believe (Regal); Prayers for Our Lives (WordWay); A Time for Dignity (WordWay). Complete list here.

To get the weekly digest of offerings through The Brook Network, make sure you sign up for The Brook Letter.

A letter from Mel Lawrenz

Dear friend:

We live in amazing times! No one knows when the next catastrophe will be upon us, or the next opportunity for the kingdom message of Jesus to be that clarion call, the singular call, that pushes us to a new level of obedience. We need people of influence today–good, informed, wise believers who occupy every sector of our society. And in that we need each other. The Brook Network (www.thebrooknetwork.org) is a new commitment by Elmbrook Church to be a resource for you, focusing on two things: sharing ideas, pursuing wisdom.

Over the past decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church, and in the years previous in other responsibilities, I’ve witnessed an amazing spreading of creative new forms of ministry. Many leaders have gone from protecting the past to envisioning the amazing opportunities for the future. We have gone from talking about “engagement” to actually engaging. Not a vague engagement that means tasting the soup of our culture, but engagement in the sense of closing the gap between divine resources and human need. Not grinding the gears (the machinery of ministry), or merely revving the engine (all talk, no action), but really getting the clutch engaged. Engagement in transforming worship, in genuine koinonia, in community action, and in global initiatives.

At a practical level, we need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of Christian life and witness today–but if we never get beyond that point we will be creators of machines and not movements. We need good ideas from each other. But we need more than that. Whether the subject is global mission, local outreach, worship, spiritual growth, or evangelism, we need good ideas that are rooted in great ideals. People of influence need more than passion and vision–we need wisdom. The Brook Network is founded on this metaphor from Proverbs 18:4; “the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” We need to drink from that source today!

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47 thoughts on “About

  1. Mr. Mel, can you tell the real origin of christmas?, do you invite christians to celebrate christmas knowing the origins of it?, do you biblically believe that Jesus was born in december 25th?

  2. I am enjoying your insight in “How to Understand the Bible”. Today you discussed the Prophets. I was hoping to find an answer to a question that deeply troubles my husband: He is troubled by the story of the Amalekites and how it shows our God -as he feels -vengeful. Specifically: 1 Samuel 15:3 (NIV) : “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

    Do you have any explanation, words of wisdom, that will help my husband get passed this?
    Thank you!

  3. Hello Mel, In your last “Gateway” you discussed the Book of Acts. In the last few years my son has become a member of the Church of Christ professing Acts 2:38 and the need for full emersion baptism as a necessity for salvation. Please help me to share with love and validation my stance on obedience as a believer for baptism and Gods grace for salvation. Thanks and blessings.

  4. I just finished your article “What is the Most Natural Way to Read the Bible?” and wanted to relate an incident in my own life about a way not to do it.
    I came to Christ (kicking and screaming) during the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s. At the time I got a NAS Bible and started reading it (sorta) by looking at the Scriptures the pastor at the church I attended at the time made mention of in his sermons. But I went no further.

    For about seven years I would have people (in the pulpit and out) could tell me (as an example) “Dave did you know John 3:17 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son?” I would believe them without checking the word for myself. Around that time I bought an TCR NIV because it read easier.

    I became involved with a woman who claimed to be a daughter of a minister and was a graduate of a well-known major Bible University based in Tulsa Okla. The relationship deteriorated and and we never could talk with each other civilly or within the bounds of the Bible’s teachings as I understood them to be to reconcile. It got so bad I once asked her if she could justify her treatment of me scripturally? She said she could and I made a promise to myself that if that is how God’s word says to treat others then I wanted no part of it.
    That lasted about forty-eight hours until the Holy Spirit got hold of me and said I needed to read the Bible for myself and understand what it says about Him, me and our relationship. I didn’t attend a church again for a year and half, but once I started back to it, I had a solid understanding of what the Bible says about Himself, the Triune and my place as a believer.
    The woman was wrong but so was I. In a way I am grateful the relationship ended the way it did because it helped/forced me to a better understanding of what the Word says and how we are to act within it. Ever since then I check what I read in articles or hear in sermons to see how it lines up with the Word.

    Today that NIV is very heavily highlighted and has numerous handwritten notes notes in the margins and front and back end covers and is in need of being rebound from use. And I loved every minute exploring its revealed wisdom.

    Again, thanks for a great article.

    In Christ;

  5. I can hardly wait till all God’s people come together (all the churches) and stand firm against the decision about this ungodly, unconstitutional ruling by 5 ungodly men of our government. Whom will the Church obey? God or Government. Maybe this will trigger the great breakaway. I have been praying for some years now, for our leaders to make decisions according to God’s will. Now I believe this is God’s will, for punishment for disobedience of His people.

  6. Mel,

    Thanks. The Brooks Network is like that fountain of clarity I crave daily. It gets so confusing out here. I try to drink daily. I am a lay minister in my church, a sacred dancer , storyteller and speaker. My congregation praises God in many ways- through song, prayer, petitions, poetry, written word and dance or movement. In the last twenty years I have seen a growth in interest in new ways to worship. I also have seen that worshiping God with our whole selves can help us walk confidently in the world that does not welcome or support us.

    My main focus, for now, rests in the images women are sold about how to be beautiful, what that means and how to achieve it. From early on women buy into the false images of beauty and purpose. I speak and teach other women that our image is in what God tells us. I tell them that we must never forget who we are and whose we are. This world must not have a purchase on our self images and our souls. I try to convince them that at every age and every stage we are loved, valuable and necessary to God’s plan – no matter what the press and movies are saying.

    I also wrote a book about the most beautiful woman I ever knew. Her name was Dolores. She was my mentor, friend and spiritual example for thirty five years. I still call upon my memories of her as God and I forge a path together that flies in the face of a modern culture telling women that youth is their value and their bodies are their worth ticket.

    I read you posts when they appear in my email and I wanted to thank you for that drink of water on this long race to spread truth in a world that trades in untruth. It does get thirsty out here.

    All my best and many blessings to you

    Laura L. Padgett, Author
    Dolores, Like the River – Westbow Press 2013

    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Laura. The creativity in worship you describe is wonderful. Sometimes believers hold back on creativity, which is a shame. Thanks for committing yourself to the hard and rewarding work of writing, also. ML

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  8. Question for Mel Lawrenz.

    I found the email series ‘How to understand the Bible’ very useful and kept copies of all the emails. I have in mind to forward the emails at intervals (much as they were originally sent) to several people in our Church and Local Preachers’ Study Group. I have a copy of the book based on the emails.

    Do I need specific permission to do this? If so, may I have such permission?

  9. I thought you were going to have an online Bible Study on Bible Gateway. I signed up for it, but haven’t seen anything?

  10. Thank you Mel. I have enjoyed reading some of your works and found them very helpful. I look forward to drinking from the “fountain of wisdom” in the days ahead through this opportunity. God bless as you lead us.

    Jay Smith,

  11. Trying to contact Mel!
    Mel, a few weeks ago I spoke to you after your sermon at Elmbrook. I shared my concern about the lack of addressing the issues facing our culture by our Church. You stated that you had conversations with the leaders at Elmbrook regarding similar sentiments, and that something was forthcoming on Sunday evenings regarding this. I have not heard anything related to this as of yet. Please respond.
    Greg Marris

  12. Are your articles and/or books anti-Catholic? Asking because a minister of a Church of Christ tried to convert me to his religion by attacking the Catholic Church. I have no idea how someone would think this method would work, especially to a former South Side Chicago Irish women (meant jokingly but partly seriously). I have read your “How to Understand the Bible series which is very interesting and unbiased.

  13. Hello, I am in England and I would like to get hold of the book How to Understand the Bible, can you advise me please? I am about to start reading the online course how to study the bible, its hard for someone who isn’t a full time student to get a structure/teachine on the Bible here in the UK.

  14. Mr Lawrenz
    I listen to some of your audio prayers daily, they help me stay focused on Christian values.
    As a Black woman suffering 400 years of police brutality and murder I need a prayer to address this. Yes I pray daily but I don’t feel ministers are doing their part in addressing this issue…even police chaplains are silent about the murder of innocents! I wrote a blog post about this…
    Thank you.

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