Question: Boaz and Ruth?

QUESTION: (from an email)

I’m sure sure you have a plethora of emails and blog entries and other things to work on . . . but I wondered if you could elaborate on why the Boaz/Ruth/elders story has meant so much to you. I’m not sure that I fully grasp the gravity of his actions. And has there been times you’ve put it into practice? What has it looked like for you?

Thanks so much for the continuing conversation: I greatly appreciate it, especially as I’m feeling drawn in a specific direction of God’s will as of late – comforting, but terrifying all at the same time.

A. [female]


Glad you asked. I will make a blog entry out of it (without your name – but you are welcome to comment and own up if you like). I see the story of Boaz and Ruth reenacted in many cities and countries when new churches in the emerging culture are birthed in the wider community.

Ruth is the outsider, the alternative, the young, the Other, the foreigner, the woman, the vulnerable and one who sticks to her mother-in-law and adopts her heritage. I encourage emerging leaders to stick to their heritage, rather than kiss it goodbye like Orpah, the other daughter in law. There are lots of angry Orpahs, but sticking close allows for great things to happen together.

Boaz is the bridge person. He protects Ruth, guides her, interprets her to the fellow workers and gets them to leave extras for her to pick up in the field. Much of my work is interpreting what the emerging leaders are doing

and why, in ways that their elders can understand. I want freedom and resources for those leaders.

The neighbour women are the storytellers, the media. They are the ones who hear Naomi and register her change of name. They also name the new baby at the end of the story – Obed – who becomes David’s grandfather.

The closer relative did not want to take a risk with Ruth – yes – he wanted her land and resources, but did not want her name, since it would threaten his own inheritance. I have met ministry leaders who love the life and growth and vitality of their emerging leaders and ministries, but don’t want to risk giving them authority or name because of the risk factor. Boaz wanted Ruth, for who she was, not what she had.

The elders watched over the proceedings, the passing of the sandal, making sure everything was done according to law and tradition. They add stability, continuity, accountability and perspective. I send out reports to my elders and organizations to inform them and invite their perspective.

Back in 2000, when the Boaz Project began, we had a storytelling session in the headquarters of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in Dallas. About 25 people participated – some high level leaders (E.B. Brooks) and some alternative young people. I handed out names and characters and we role played the whole story of Boaz and Ruth. It was quite amazing and thought provoking. Every time I go into a new situation, I see the story played out..

Anyway, that’s why I often refer to the story, and that’s why I named our project “Boaz”

Hope that helps




Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Graham Doel says:

    Thank you. I appriciate that insight. Could I ask a further question which is almost unconnected. I have been reading Ruth and studying it very closely. There is massive ambiguity intended by the author of Ruth at the threshing floor. How are we supposed to understand that, were they acting in an honerable way, or is the author being deliberately vauge in the way it is described to divert peoples attention away from the (err) “feet” to the marriage. How woul you interpret that bit from the “Boaz looks after the emerging” perspective.

  • Aj says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! It’s so wonderful to ask a question on a blog and actually get an answer!
    Your elaborations are really helpful in “filling in the picture.” The Quaker Ranter posted the desire to see emerging church qualities/traits/ideology/etc. emerge within his Quaker distinctive: rather than cutting off all ties, go back to the original documents of the church (as you said in a previous post) and see if it’s possible to work within those directives (just as Ruth didn’t cut off ties, but rather worked within her mother-in-law’s cultural distinctives).
    My calling seems to be working with young adults, with a personal interest in those who have left within my denomination. At first, I didn’t think the Ruth/Boaz illustration worked: many these young adults were born into the church – they shouldn’t be strangers like Ruth. Then I realized they were dragged along into their parents’ faith – they hadn’t come of an age to make the decision to claim their faith. Many are “angry Orpahs” – my hope is that we can open up lines of communication and interpretation leading to some reconcilation (not as attempt to assimilate, but rather support and journey together).
    Again, many dankes for your words and wisdom: they are a blessing.

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