Book Review: Company of the Committed – Elton Trueblood

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This is an amazing book published in 1961 that predicted what has happen to the church. Trueblood calls for things that many Christians and churches today are just waking up to.

Summary:  The Church is a company of soldiers, metaphorically speaking, who live with Jesus and go forward on his mission in the world. The Church is loving communities established not for themselves, but in order to help and bless everyone else.

Good Stuff:  

Preaching may not in some instances be helpful to those who listen, but it is almost always helpful to those who speak.

“I just let my life speak.”  What one of among us is so good that he can let his life speak and leave it at that?

Sometimes the best witness if that of the church as a whole.

The vital idea is that the pastor is the helper of the ordinary lay members in the performance of their daily ministry in the midst of secular life.

The concept of a churchgoer is inept. Christians may indeed come in but they do so only that they may go out.

In many churches the entire church operation points to a climax on Sunday morning.

The church building [should be like] a drill hall for the Christian task force

Great discipline in regard to style as well as content must be learned if we really seek to reach contemporary minds.

We ask what Presbyterians believe but we seldom ask how Presbyterians love.

In all periods of great vitality the church has been deeply concerned for the welfare of those who are not adherents at all.

If God, as we believe, is truly revealed in the life of Christ the most important thing to Him is the creation of centers of loving fellowship which in turn infect the world.

Complaints:  ??  None really. I love this book.

Also, this book is available for FREE online!

Book Review: Crazy Love by Francis Chan

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I am disappointed by this book and confused by its popularity.

The book boils down to “love God with your whole life”. But it is delivered in a boring, frustrating way.

Good Stuff:  This book is clearly popular and lots of people online say it changed their life or their thinking.

Complaints: I agree with all of Chan’s main points. It is the message of the New Testament and the most important message in the world. But hundreds of others have written on the same subject and done a better job.

Much of the book is Chan quoting the bible and saying, “I know you’ve heard this before, but have you really THOUGHT about it. Stop reading right now and think about it.” Come on.

A book on the primary message of the bible should do the work of bringing this message to life for me in a new way. This book did NOT do that.

Bottom Line:

I have heard a lot about Francis Chan and was excited to read his most popular book. I can’t think of when I have been so disappointed. I cannot understand why so many people have reviewed it so positively. Are we all just writing nice Christian reviews?

Book Review: Huckleberry Finn Audio by Elijah Wood

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This book is one of the funniest and best I have ever read and I cannot say enough about the performance.

I had tried to read this book before and honestly could never get into it. The performance brings it to life.

Good Stuff:  Extremely funny. This book is deep and surprising.  It is both series of funny stories with no real point and a treatise on race relations in the United States.

Complaints:  I have none.  Be warned that the N-word is all over this book. It is also edgy about religion sometimes.  At a critical point Huck decides he will try to free a slave even though he knows it is wrong and will go to Hell for it.

Conclusion: I laughed out loud for a third of the book. At the end I clapped even though I was alone in my living room. I am astonished at both Mark Twain and Elijah Wood. You have to listen to this book. Seriously.

Introverts: You Are Not Defective!

Book Review: Quiet  by Susan CainImage

Summary:  Western culture thinks extroverts are better than introverts.  The truth is that both types are necessary and complement each other. Our extrovert bias causes lots of problems.  These two personality types have a physiological basis and can be identified even in infants. We need to realize how introverted or extroverted we are and plan our time and energy around this.  Asian cultures value introversion the way we do extroversion.  Introverts can learn to ‘fake’ extroversion.  This is useful but unhealthy if done too often. We should teach children who are introverts how to be themselves.

Good Stuff:

Huge boost to anyone who is an introvert in North America. You will suddenly see all the potential in your personality type.  Your personality is not defective.  Your strengths may be undervalued, but they are powerful.

Section entitled, “Does God Love Introverts?  An Evangelical’s Dilemma.”  Highlights the sometimes extreme bias towards extroversion in evangelical churches. The good people are always happy, talkative, friendly and talking about Jesus to everyone they meet.  Was Jesus an extrovert?

Advice on how to fake extroversion is brilliant. This is necessary in western culture at times.  Also good advice on how to do it without burning yourself out.

Chapter on Asian culture gives great insight into cross cultural communication.  My favorite quote from this chapter from an Asian woman in a university class in the US, “Ahh, I see.  In America as soon as you start talking you are okay.”

The end of the book is a good warning for extroverted parents of introverts.  Try to help them but don’t try to fix them.  They aren’t broken.

Complaints:  Not many.  This book is awesome.

Conclusion:  I highly recommend this book to those who are quieter or like to be alone.  Introvert/Extrovert is a powerful lens to view the world through.  Introverts are devalued in western society and Susan Cain strikes a powerful blow at that kind of thinking. Quiet is balanced and very well researched.  We really need extroverts to read this book as well.  Probably knowing that many of them won’t Cain kindly made a TED talk video on the same subject.   Although, to be honest, the book is much better than the TED talk.  http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

by Isaac Whiting

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Book Review – Everyday Church

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 by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Summary:  The church is at the edge of society. We need to accept it and redefine church as small groups of people living life deeply together with a purpose to spread the gospel.  Our main thing needs to be small groups sharing life and mission together instead of Sunday morning.

Good Stuff:

“We have a loose connection with Christians on Sunday but then largely we go back to living our everyday lives on our own.”

True Biblical rebuke and correction can only happen when people share everyday life together.

“The church leader is someone who is sacrificed from the front life to equip everyone else for the front line. “

Law says “You Should…”  Gospel says “You need not…”

“We need truths we already know pushed down into the everyday realities of our lives.”

“Many Christians function as if the church is a meeting…an entity with structures such as constitutions, ministers, elders, committees and so on.”

Ministry is something done by ordinary Christians with the support of pastors.

An interesting section on how to speak gospel ideas into everyday conversations.

“A good church is a church in which the believers share their lives together as an alternative and authentic society.”

“This is what we are all about: just hanging out, doing nothing spectacular, but with gospel intentionality.”

“If the bulk of a church’s time and energy goes into the Sunday meeting, then everyday church will not happen.”

Complaints:

Some of their suggestions for how to do everyday mission sound like it is only for super social outgoing people. They say you should eat meals with other people as much as possible, walk places and be a regular at certain stores so you can strike up conversations with strangers and you should be exciting not boring.  “You will never attract people to Jesus if you are not excited about Jesus.”  “Our job is to have fun to the glory of God!”

In their conclusion they say groups of believers living together on mission must be more important than Sunday mornings for it to work.  But then they suggest you could keep the current model of church and just add some small gospel community groups to it. Which one is it?

Conclusion:

Overall a good book. They ran out of steam a couple of places, but most of it is useful.  It goes over the standard missional church story but doesn’t spend too long on it. There is lots of practical advice and examples.  If you have no idea what missional church is or are confused by it like most people, this is a good book to read.