“We have come to realize that imperfect churches can still be breathtaking churches, and that imperfect disciples can still turn heads, inspire, and remind everyone they meet of the God-man Jesus” (page 13).
While I still have two chapters left, in light of Different recently being released on Kindle for free (though it appears to no longer be) I wanted to recommend it here. It’s worth noting that the only way this review could be more biased is if I wrote the book myself (and even then I don’t think it would be as favorably partial as this). Not only have I been part of the Underground since 2010, but Brian Sanders is also my hero. I admire him as a follower of Jesus, leader, thinker, father, and so much more; and I’ve been waiting for new book from him since his collaborative volume, In Your Underwear. When I heard that he and Mike Patz were co-writing a book together, I knew we were in for it.
If anyone is familiar with Brian Sanders, it’s no secret that he and Mike Patz have been best friends since high school. They’d get in trouble together and, as Brian tells it, Mike would get away because teachers “liked him” whereas Brian would get punished. These two were tennis doubles and because of their friendship an unspoken chemistry evolved. Brian wouldn’t have to say a thing to Mike and vice versa, they just knew how to play off each other. In the same way this unspoken chemistry allowed them to dominate in tennis, part of what makes Different triumph the way it does is how well they work together.
As you read you get the feeling both voices are essential to this book. Both Mike and Brian bring something to the table that would otherwise be missing. For Mike, it’s his relentless love for Jesus that gives this book heart. It shows in his ability to wordsmith, creating just the right question that penetrates past the surface and etches itself in the soul of the reader. For Brian, it’s his contemplative philosophical musings that give this book a greater sense of structure. As someone relatively familiar with Brian, I do get the sense that all the work he’s done since Life After Church has culminated into this. There are familiar illustrations and stories from past sermons but the points don’t lose their poignancy. They are just as deep and cutting as when I first heard them (the beauty of truth is its timelessness). While both voices are unique in their own right, they blend harmoniously and vice versa.
If you listen to the author interviews on this book, Mike says this book wasn’t written to feed people as much as it was to make people hungry. They wanted to put our feet to the fire and put our feet to the fire they do. Different not only instills hope for what the church can be, it also reignites (to steal from Neil Cole, another great missional thinker, for a moment) a primal fire in your relationship with God. A huge part of that is the passion in which the authors write. They burn on the page and their heart’s cry becomes your heart’s cry. More than just solid writing, these are powerful principles on what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st century in the West where the church is on the decline. This includes an abiding commitment to justice and the poor, a leadership that serves and empowers as well as a wholehearted commitment to Jesus and a longing to be filled with his Spirit. I personally couldn’t have thought of better people to write this book.
These men are more than theologians and missiologists. They’re practitioners, which gives the, unrivaled amount of integrity and authority.
Though Chapter Four alone makes the book worth buying, some of my other favorite chapters so far include one, three, nine, and ten.
Get it on kindle here.