This is the third book I have reviewed for a Zondervan Blog Tour and I was thankful to be a part of this one because I truly enjoyed this book. I found in this book everything that I felt was lacking from the first book I read for the Zondervan Blog Tour: Multi-Site Church Road Trip.
Some background: I am working on starting a missional community within the life of Central United Methodist Church where I serve. This book was one of those God-convergence moments where I was thankful that it was given to me because the Ferguson brothers have some very good practical and motivational advice that will help me frame the strategic steps forward.
Let me start by saying that this book is a great read for any leader within the church (I think an argument could be made for it being a good read for any leader of a movement, but if you don't like Christ-centered philosophy then it might not be a good read if one is outside the church). It is one of those often hard to come by books that is both practically and theologically grounded at the same time (it is sad that often books are either very "theologically grounded" but lacking some practical advice or the inverse). Many of the theology behind their "practices" of leadership development, church development, and network development are based on stories from Scripture (see Acts 8...it is a favorite reference of Dave).
One of the best parts about this book is that their advice and thoughts are not only theologically grounded, they also are grounded within the narrative of their own experiences at Community Christian Church and the NewThing Network. I often find it valuable if I can join a narrative journey with someone to see how their practices took root (both struggles and victories).
So what can you expect to find inside the pages that will help you? A very strong guide to leadership development which helps make a vision given by God into an incarnate reality. What it isn't is actually what is the best about it: it isn't a carbon-copy formula. The principles, in my opinion, lend themselves to the context one might find themselves in and can be adapted as such. It really isn't communicated as do X then X and get Y. Rather it is more: here are some principles to guide your decisions and to help you turn the vision into a movement. I particularly enjoyed their chapter "Reproducing Artists" because it took seriously the importance of the artistic and creative community in the life of the overall church and took seriously giving advice on how to connect with this community which in places has disconnected with the church.
One of the other benefits is that while the book progresses towards reproduction all the way from leaders to movements, those who may be parts of denominations still can benefit from the parts leading up to the "networks" and "movements" (for instance as a Methodist there might be ways to follow the network creation reproduction but I am not sure how and the movement part could be a movement of renewal within Methodism but the philosophies of the networks and movements by the Ferguson brothers would definitely push against the denomination in many ways). The strong principles of how to take seriously reproducing leaders is one thing that I think the Methodist denomination could benefit from.
Now one thing some people might find annoying is the * within the text that links to a comment box that has a comment from Jon Ferguson. Now, I say "some" people because some might find it distracting and others might be put off by Jon's sarcasm. I, however, am not one of those people. I found the addition of Jon's sarcasm and the break it brought into the reading helped transform the reading of a book into the feel of a conversation. It kept the mood of the reading light and for me added some great laughs in the midst of the reading.
Overall, I think this is a great book that will be a great asset to God's movement in the world. Thanks to both of them for sharing their insights.