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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: "The Faith of Leap"

TITLE: THE FAITH OF LEAP - embracing a theology of risk, adventure and courage.
AUTHORS: Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011, (222 pages).

Frost and Hirsch have done it again! Using a much familiar structure like one of their previous books, The Shape of Things to Come, they have contributed a new book for faith-living. Key to the understanding of the book are the ideas of 'liminality,' 'communitas,' and to 'disturb' the status quo in order to free ourselves toward deeper and positive change to spread the kingdom of God.

The first faith of leap is in terms of 'liminality.' 'Liminality' is defined as a 'threshold experience' that comprises of any kinds of 'danger, marginality, disorientation, or ordeal and tends to create a space that is neither here nor there, a transitional stage between what was and what is to come.' (19)

This 'liminality' is simply understood as the need to live with a 'quest' mode of life, and an ongoing attitude toward a journey of adventure.

The second faith of leap comes across as a kind of 'communitas.'

'Communitas' is seen as something beyond simply sinking roots in a community. It is a sharing of the gospel through one's own lives, and a spreading of the kingdom of God's blessings to all. The authors share a powerful story of a tribal practice whereby young boys are 'abducted' at the age of 13, and forced to fend for themselves in a jungle. Left alone, lost, and lonely, the boys band together through thick and thin, and find ways to survive the ordeal. By doing so, they form a unique kind of community, that bonds. This is 'commuitas' that is established when people go through an adventure TOGETHER.

The third major kind of 'faith of leap' is in getting out of a risk averse culture through disturbing the status quo. One of the most important points the authors make is about the role of leaders. The role of a leader is not to stabilize the establishment, but to de-stabilize the establishment in order to fulfill God's calling in that community.
"It is so counterintuitive for a leader today to push his or her church toward chaos when everything within them tells them to move back to the center, to stability. But this takes us back to Heifetz's understanding about the nature of adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership moves the system to the edge of chaos - not over, but to the edge of it. 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." (131)

My Comments

The authors are generous with examples, clear with their point to point explanations, and very convicted in the need for church to take the leap of faith, by adopting an attitude of a faith that leaps, and leaps, and leaps.

I am so glad to have read this book. The authors are clearly passionate about the Church and the kingdom of God. More importantly, they remind us again that the church does not exist for herself. The message is so good that it must be shared. This book is a much needed insulin to wake up sleepy and lethargic churches. It gives leaders an important shot in the arm to revitalize the need for missional strategies, for discipleship matters, and for a sense of urgency to live in faith by leaping into neighbourhoods, into unknown territories, and toward an exciting adventure in Christ. I am so glad to read this book because it prompts me to reconsider 3 things.

1) Repentance from a risk averse attitude to change, even positive change.
2) Reminder about our Christian Calling toward Adventure.
3) Reinvigorate our innate desire to be courageous enough to take the leap of faith, by adopting an attitude of leaping faith.

I strongly recommends this book for church leaders, and all who are passionate about wanting to see the kingdom of God done in heaven as well as on earth.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

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