Just a few weeks ago I received this book in the mail. I was really excited to read it because, along with one of the leading Missional thinkers and practitioners--Micheal Frost, it is co-authored by our dear friend and colleague, Christiana Rice. We have had the privilege to work alongside Christiana and her husband Derek for the last seven years as they lead an intentional community of Jesus followers in the Golden Hill Neighborhood of San Diego. So, admittedly, I may be a little biased as I share with you some of my thoughts from this book. :)
Without giving too much away, the controlling metaphor for this book is that of a midwife. The premise is that God is birthing a new creation. He is birthing his Kingdom and his Church in the world (Isaiah 42:14). We, then are to function as midwives, assisting in the birth of this new thing God is doing. Our role is to partner with God in what he is already birthing in the world.
That sounds a lot easier than it actually is!! Fortunately, Rice and Frost are seasoned practitioners who have plenty to share with us about how we can play this role. They offer five midwifery practices that we can translate into the work of being change agents in the world. They also dig into things like social change theory, rethinking our metrics, the role of discovering and living into vocation, the practice of place crafting, and how we are inevitably changed when we enter into this kind of partnership with God.
And I'll just say it: this is a deeply challenging book--maybe even paradigm altering for some. I found myself saying "YES!" out loud often as I read. But I also found myself feeling confronted by a corrective perspective. There seems to be two main pitfalls that we who want to make a difference in the world find ourselves in: we zealously bulldoze our agenda and bully the gospel on people, or in a conscientious effort to be sensitive to others we divorce the heart altering message of Jesus from our common good and social justice efforts. To Alter Your World exhorts us to remember and embrace the fact that Jesus changes things and this will always find some level of resistance. We are encouraged to step boldly into our call within God's transforming work in the world. But we're also reminded that it is indeed God's work and our agendas are sometimes the greatest obstacle to the gospel taking root. Christiana and Michael teach us about listening, partnering and creating space for the church to be birthed among us.
If you are someone who is cares at any level about how the church can live out God's mission in the world, then I highly recommend this book! You can pick it up on Amazon or wherever books are sold!
As a bonus, I am considering hosting a discussion group on this book sometime in May. Is that something you would be interested in? Let me know in the comments or send me a note.