Book review: “The Faith of Leap”

By taking our eyes off the ball, or anxiously focusing on technique, orderly worship, political correctness, or whatever, we not only lose focus, we also miss the point of what it is all about.
    
~ MICHAEL FROST & ALAN HIRSCH, The Faith of Leap

I really like this book.

The Faith of LeapThere is no doubt that to walk with Jesus means to walk on the wilder side of life. Spirituality and discipleship in the Way of Jesus is demanding, but it is also God’s blueprint for an authentic life of wholesome (holy) humanity.

And because I’ve marked so many pages and paragraphs, I can’t adequately summarize it for you.

So I’ll whet your appetite with a short review and a few quotes below, and then invite you to read it yourself

The subtitle of The Faith of Leap is “Embracing a theology of risk, adventure & courage.” The authors encourage us to let go of our idol of security and live more courageously for the mission God is calling us to. They don’t go into details on what those missions are—it will vary with each of us—but they do dare us to take the plunge and become who we were made to be.

And to do so in community, or as they refer to it, communitas.

The Bible is written to communities, be it Israel or the church, and it is written to foster community, whether it be the national identity of Israel or the faith community of the church.

Just as there is no such thing as an Israel-less Jew, there is no such things as a churchless Christian (1 Cor. 12:13).…We are never going to be the church that Jesus built if we do not take community seriously.

Have you been a part of a short-term trip or a mission-specific group that transformed into a real community? Didn’t it call you to be more bold for Christ than you ordinarily would? We know that kind of togetherness that restructures relationships into a camaraderie—it comes when we’re living for purposes greater than our own. 

But can the church really maintain such a rich sense of do-or-die mission?

Mission is more and different from recruitment to our brand of religion; it is the alerting people to the universal reign of God through Christ.

Mission is the practical demonstration, whether by speech or by action, of the glorious lordship of Jesus.

We better get this right. And get it right together.

We cannot shake the impression that the church Jesus built was meant to experience this form of togetherness…and lots of it. And not just for the sake of love and fellowship, but because we have a mission that requires it!

Mission propels us out of self-concern to other-concern, from holy huddle to venturing out into God’s world. And mission, encapsulating as it does the purpose of the church, has always been vital to the equation of ecclesia that Jesus intended in the first place.

Our adventure in following Christ is an open-ended journey. There’s no way we can predict where He will take us (and I’m not talking about locations).

Will we view this unknown as a threat or as an opportunity?
Will we stay so preoccupied with safety that we miss our mission?
May it never be so.

On leadership:

Followers want comfort, stability, and solutions from their leaders, but that’s babysitting.

Real leaders ask hard questions and knock people out of their comfort zones and then manage the resulting distress.

On risk aversion:

We remind loss-averse church leaders of what could ultimately be lost if the call to missional adventure is finally rejected or ameliorated....Only love can empower us to overcome our loss aversion.

Jesus tackles our [loss aversion] head-on from the very outset: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:25). In fact, he repeats this proverbial statement over and over. If we could be freed from our aversion to loss, our whole outlook on risk would change. We would be free indeed.

On replacing fear:

Church plays a critical role in the liminal process of cultivating an adventurous faith to replace our fears.

But, so often it is otherwise; Robert Capon wittily observes that the church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom.

She has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that she has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our songs, but we never hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some mistake that will get us into trouble.

On purpose:

There are movements that have emphasized the importance of community. Many of the monastic orders fit into this category.…[But] when the most important thing that matters is being together—when community organizes the other functions—then there is likely to be a very rich sense of relationships between brothers and sisters, but such love would always live in the shadow of the ever-present threat of its becoming the cloying, controlling community-for-its-own-sake.

The Christian community is meant to exist for more than itself.

As William Temple once observed, the church is the only society in the world that exists for the benefit of the nonmembers. We forget this to our peril.

On adventure:

The church, the redeemed people who follow Jesus the great Adventurer, archetypal Hero, apocalyptic Rider, and courageous Savior, ought to be a place where there is great adventure and the risk of faith and mission—for to love God is to become like him.

If this is not the case, we have good cause to question whether we have truly encountered Jesus and are worshiping the right God.

Christianity is an adventure of the spirit or it is not Christianity. We must repent of our obsession with safety and security and do the task that only we as Jesus’s people can do.

* * *

“tinuviel” is the winner of the book give-away!
Congratulations!

My thanks to Baker Books for the free copy.

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