I was sent a free copy of this book a while back, though there were no strings attached (just a ‘with compliments’ slip! ho ho ho). I’ve been reading through it and I think it’s a fab book, so I figured I’d go ahead and do a review on it.
Called ‘Stumbling Blocks’, the book’s strap line is, ‘Conquering the stuff that holds you back.’ Gavin (National Director of Youth for Christ) and his wife Anne (a writer and editor) have written together and draw on personal experience to recognise and address some of the difficulties people have with and in Christianity. There are eleven chapters, each covering an issue that causes struggle.
The eleven issues seem to have been identified as areas of struggle simply because either Gavin and Anne have found them to be so, or because they have seen others struggle with them. I’m sure there are others that people could raise, but the breadth in the book seemed good to me, and addressing everything that causes difficulty for people in the church would probably require a few more volumes… 🙂
I found the chapter on ‘I hate church’ (ahem) particularly helpful. The problem is presented, and then solutions are suggested. But the solutions are not simply, ‘if you’re not happy with church then you need to…’ they also address how we as the church need to ‘do family’. “We mustn’t keep claiming to be a family if we don’t behave like one.” The challenge is not simply for those who are stumbling, but for those who need to help. This chapter in particular brings out the importance of the community that church is.
Other chapters cover things like cynicism, doubt, broken dreams and fallen idols. Eleven stumbling blocks, and a whole lot of wisdom about how to deal with them.
I suspect that many in the church are struggling more than they let on. Indeed, even the church itself and the Christians in it can cause a lot of heartache. But books like this can really help to address some of that struggle and heartache. I’d really recommend it, not just if you are struggling with a stumbling block, but if you’re ever likely to (!) or if you’re ever likely to be trying to help someone else who is. I figure that’s pretty much all of us…
I’ve still got a couple of chapters left to read, but if anyone wants to borrow it when I’ve finished, let me know.