In “Didn’t See it Coming” Carey Nieuwhof outlines seven challenges that can catch a pastor or leader by surprise even though they are ubiquitous. The seven challenges are Cynicism, Compromise, Disconnection, Irrelevance, Pride, Burnout, and Emptiness. Carey calls these seven challenges “epidemics of our age.” While these things have a tendency to catch us off guard, they don’t need to if we see the warning signs.
I received an advance reader’s edition uncorrected proof in advance of publication in exchange for an honest review.
Most people have the desire to be known and be somebody. Our society celebrates those who are able to produce an audience. The holy grail of our culture is to be known. This desire gets played out in the social media scene with the fixation on collecting friends and followers. We act like being known, or being “somebody,” will give us the significance we desire.
A couple of months ago I saw Becky Garrison offer her new book (Jesus Died for This?: A Satirist's Search for the Risen Christ )to anyone who was willing to blog about it. I try to get a free book anytime I can. That's how I roll. Anyway, I didn't know much about Becky Garrison other than for some reason I had friended her on Facebook. She was friends of some of my friends (mostly authors I like) and I figured I might as well add her to the mix. At the time I didn't know that she was a writer for the The Wittenburg D
oor (or simply, The Door) or a religious satirist.
Since I didn't know much about Becky, I knew she knew absolutely nothing about me. So I sent her a message on Facebook along with my address, she responded, and graciously sent me a book a few weeks later. What I didn't
know was how chaotic my life would become. What I had hoped would be a couple week turnaround to read the book and blog about it has taken me a couple of months. Nevertheless, here is the review.
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading the book. To be honest, I didn't like it at first. I guess it was the satire that was rubbing me the wrong way. Garrison says what she thinks and sometimes it isn't inline with cultural Christianity sensitivities. Now, I have no trouble with satire and I expected it based on the front cover (it is also what caused me to want to read the book). But sometimes I had to pause wondering if she didn't take things a bit too far. At times it seemed like she had a chip on her shoulder or was a bit angry…but who isn't a bit angry when it comes to how we, as Christians, sometimes live out out faith.
Another issue for me was the chapters didn't seem to be leading me anywhere. I kept thinking it was some type of travel log. I tend to read non-fiction books and I think I simply wasn't use to the genre being used. A couple of times, because of my schedule, I didn't want to continue reading it.
That being said, I'm glad I stuck with it. The issues I had with the book were my own issues. As I continued reading the book I realized this book was different from most of the ones I usually read. She was leading me somewhere, but I couldn't see it. As I continued traveling with her my heart started being touched. By the end of the book my heart was burning with the desire to discover the journey God calls me to. The book, it seems, is an attempt to paint a picture of what it looks to authentically follow Jesus.
Throughout the book Becky introduces to various aspects of living the Christian life. She does this through the story of her travels. In the book she recounts individuals she meets on her journey. Some of these are well known individuals, but the power of this book is in the unknown individuals. People who are living expressions of the love of God. They do what they do not for glory or notoriety, but because the love of God is burning within them and has to be made incarnate in some way.
I highly recommend this book, however, it could challenge you and the way you live your Christian life. Garrison says what she thinks and sometimes it can have a bite to it…although you might be chuckling as you get bit! In the end, if you have ears to hear what she is saying, you might just discover the heart of God for the least and the lost.