I wouldn’t usually review a book half way through but I was given an advance copy and it sat on my ‘to read’ pile until a couple of days ago – then it grabbed hold of me. I’m definitely going to get lots of copies available for LAUNCH this year as this book is so needed.

Amidst all the books on church techniques, strategies and goals (which I love) comes one which asks so many challenging questions and provides great insight into what the heck it is we are actually even doing.

And why ‘it’ isn’t doing what it’s supposed to.

Reframation – what’s that?

Well Alan likes to make up new words when old ones don’t fit, or add a couple together to make a new one – which I think is cokay. 

The basic idea of the book that is everyone sees through a frame, and we need to reframe our understandings of God, people and the church – which needs to keep on reforming rather than say ‘Oh yeah we did that 500 years ago.’ (See what they did there?).

Alan has become a friend and mentor who oozes great ideas and writes in a way that makes brilliance accessible. He loves to go to the Burning Man festival where he finds people consumed by spiritual fervour but with no concept that church might have anything useful to say about God.

I haven’t met Mark Nelson but he describes a similar longing to connect people on pilgrimage with no idea where it might be heading and point them toward Jesus (he did so on the Camino de Santiago and draws lessons from it for us, firstly that being identified as any kind of professional Christian wrote him off for most fellow travellers as having anything useful to contribute). 

‘Many simply cannot draw a straight line between these spiritual pilgrimages and the church or those who represent this Jesus.’ 

(From the Intro)

Surely this presents us with a problem? Not just an evangelism problem to be solved, but a theological problem to be practically pondered. 

The book is dense with connections and fabulous rabbit trails into insights gleaned far and wide from many other thinkers including so far Blake, CS Lewis, Rumi, NT Wright and the Truman Show. (there are not many books where I have loved the footnotes as much as the main text!).

They go on to help us see that; 

A tragic reduction has taken place– in terms of how we see and talk about the most important things (putting God in a box makes us Bible people less like Stephen and more than those who stoned him)

Everyone still yearns for more– a God given gap, an insatiable desire. Augustine’s restless heart. 

We need to fall in love with our true story again and bring every dimension to bear depending on the context of our mission field. (Various cultures have different frames to look through with regard to Fear, Guilt and Shame and a one size fits all approach doesn’t really fit anyone). We must..

Re/learn rhythms and practices to connect cultures with the Creator. 

I’m exactly halfway through and it’s fabulous. I sat on the train underlining like a crazy man this morning. I don’t know how available it is where you are – I can’t find it on Amazon UK yet – but preorder it somewhere if not.

Buy it. Borrow it. Burgle for it if you have to.

At one point I was frustrated, I felt the best time to learn these lessons would have been when I started out in ministry, or ten or even five years ago I’d have done a lot differently.

Now on reflection writing this perhaps that’s because the reframing is starting to happen in me, so that more than just learning more concepts as I have in many other works there’s actually more of a relearning going on here, wrestling with the One it’s easy to forget it’s meant to be all about in the first place.