Into the Briar-patch…
Shayne Wheeler’s book – The Briarpatch Gospel had this reader at full interest based on the title and subtitle (fearlessly following Jesus into the thorny places) alone.
This book mirrors many other similar books such as Blue Like Jazz. Wheeler evidently does not serve in a traditional church setting, nor does he think or live inside the box. However, the context of his congregation is a sort of briar-patch. It seems from the text that his congregation is multi-ethnic and very diverse in other ways. Such as backgrounds, family-life, personal struggles, etc.
The book is a good read if you’re ready to be made uncomfortable and you need something to disagree with. This book is going to ruffle the feathers or many conservative Christians. I’m not stating that the book isn’t biblical, it’s just that the book is not a typical Lifeway or Family Christian Store shelf-keeper.
It is evident that Wheeler wants to reach the “least of these” within his context and he goes to just about any cultural length to do just that. For example, he welcomed a non-believer into his worship team to play each week. This person, eventually came to know Christ, and is now serving wholeheartedly, his local church. This sort of thing does not happen EVER in traditional congregational settings. This is just one example of thinking outside the box. Many would argue that theological borders were crossed by Wheeler for allowing a non-believer to be part of a lead team, but that is for another post at another time.
The book is littered with church-planterish anecdotes that will cause traditionalists to grumble. The illustrations are both humorous and clear, but not for the faint of traditional heart.
The book is quite similar to many others like it & to read this title would challenge the comfortable and ruffle the feathers as well. But if you’ve read anything from Donald Miller or Rob Bell, this might be a title you would not NEED to read.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the Tyndale House Bloggers Review Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive view.