This was one of those books that I really wanted to love. As soon as I heard of it, I fell in love with the concept.
The Way of Jesus IS weird. It isn’t “normal.” And, the modern church and modern Christians have jumped through a lot of hoops over the last few decades to normalize the Gospel.
And Groeschel is absolutely correct: it isn’t working.
All we’re left with is a watered down Jesus and a few bland scraps of news that isn’t even all that good. It’s “Eehh News,” but with cool graphic-tees and an iPhone app.
So, I was pretty psyched by the prospect of this book.
And, it started out great-guns.
But, the best way I can describe the book, is that it’s like one of those 8-week sermon-teaching series that sounds great, and starts great, but by the third week you realize that everything that needed to be said in this series has already been said…and what the heck are we going to do in the next five weeks?
So, here’s what I liked about the book:
- “Part One” on “Time” is stellar. Actually, this part alone is worth the price of the book. Buy the book even if you’re just going to read this part. The things mainstream culture normalizes around how we spend our time, and how we schedule our children is killing us. And, it’s not the way of life that God intended. I got a lot out of this section.
- “Part Two” on “Money” is pretty great too. The “money quote” (pardon the really bad pun) is “When you hear regular people in our culture say, “I don’t really have enough to give,” what they’re actually saying is that they don’t feel like they have enough extra, enough left over, that they can give without adjusting their lifestyle.“
- Groeschel’s humanity. He is so open in this book. It made me not only like him, but want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. He makes himself vulnerable in many places in the book, and it becomes a window into his life. He’s not writing a book on being weird for Jesus because he’s got it all figured out, but because he’s made the struggle too. And sometimes he still struggles. It made me want to like the book even more than I did.
What I didn’t like:
- “Part Four” on “Sex.” Too much, too long, and despite being the fourth of five parts in the book, I came away feeling like this was Groeschel’s desired apex in the book. He put a lot of juice in this one, and it came across to me as just another evangelical work where sexual sins are the worst kind of sins out there.
- “Part Five” on “Values.” This part just felt like a publisher was trying to thicken the book up a bit. I think values were implicit in the rest of the book, and therefore it was unnecessary here. Before I even got to this part I was ready for the book to be over.
- When I bought the book, what I really wanted was a serious look into the life and ministry of Jesus, showing the reader that he was anything but normal – that the values of the Kingdom of God aren’t normal, but weird. It wasn’t there, and I missed it.
I’d give the book 2-out-of-5 stars, just for the first two parts of the book. I really do think that those two sections are worth a read.
I also really think the book could have been 100 pages shorter and been better for it.
And, I’d also still like to have that cup of coffee with Pastor Groeschel.