A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
The Christian community must undoubtedly realise that there is a desperate need for Christ in our world today. Yet we ourselves have our own needs and situations, and can seem as aimlessly trapped as the world around us. Freestyle is an attempt by evangelists Andy Frost and Jo Wells to show how we can rediscover freedom in Christ, and help others to do so. Although the book is pitched primarily at young people, it is comprehensive and well thought-out in what it covers, and so will enrich any reader.
The book covers six important areas, and the structure is well-judged. It begins with close focus on the radical call to follow Jesus, and does not skip over the reality of bearing the cost. Next comes appreciating the Bible (without boredom), followed by how to put the joy back in Christian life through genuine worship, inside and outside church. Our prayer lives do not escape scrutiny either, and there is an especially helpful section on how to listen to God speaking to us today.
For me, the book really shines in the last two chapters, where it covers what we may find ourselves avoiding - putting everything into action. The first (of two) ways to do this is evangelism, or bringing Christ to people. The urgency of this task is clearly explained, and is well supported by many empowering evangelism strategies. Everyone, from faith-sharing beginners to the most seasoned evangelists, will no doubt be able to benefit from these. We are also given a rich variety of anecdotes, which break things up a little and jolly us along.
The second way of putting faith into action is by bringing Christ to the society around us – i.e. by living for social justice. The point is well made that we all have gripes about the state of the world, and yet may not be fully honouring God’s call to change things. Andy and Jo are again rightly placed to help us understand how to go about this seemingly huge task, as their organisation Share Jesus International has rich experiences in both the little and the large and can offer guidance in everything from whether or not to vote, right up to transforming a wasteland into a city park. The book successfully gets the reader thinking, and so it is great to find that each chapter has a well researched further reading list for exploration.
As the introductory section says, we live in a world ‘trapped in materialism, threatened by apathy … searching for reality … the cry is for freedom’ - in other words, a world in desperate need of Christ. Freestyle is a book underpinned by Christ and balanced with practical tips, lively anecdotes and clear quotations from every useful source. It is an essential response for our times, with the potential to free Christians to free the world. In the words of the book’s closing challenge, ‘If not you, who? If not now, when?’