Friday, January 12, 2007

Book Review: Off-Road Disciplines by Earl Creps

Off-Road Disciplines by Earl Creps is both a personal and deeply invitational book that is intensely practical.

It is clear from the first chapter that Creps is bringing the reader on a life-long journey that he himself is on. He encourages pastors, lay ministers and the "average joe" Christian to look at ministry and the disciplines of ministry in a way likely not previously thought of.

If you're looking for a church growth manual or a step by step guide on how to be a better leader, this is not going to be the book for you. Off-Road Disciplines explores where the Church is headed in relation to the surrounding culture and challenges missional leaders in churches and para-church ministries of all traditions to stop and take a look at where they fit into the grand scheme.

The book is divided into 2 sections: Personal Disciplines and Organizational Disciplines. Creps speaks both to the "modern" leader and the "post modern" leader and everyone along the spectrum. He encourages, critiques and challenges both systems.

Creps talks about personal disciplines such as personal transformation, point of view and my personal favorite, reverse mentoring. In the chapter on reverse mentoring, he observes how our culture is more adequately represented by the 9-year-old teaching an adult how to play an X-box game she mastered in a day than it is by the mentoring relationship of a Mr. Miyagi and Daniel or Yoda and Luke Skywalker. Age-based or time-based seniority no longer carries as much weight in the post modern context and is in fact possibly disappearing altogether. The Off-Road Discipline Creps challenges in this chapter is that of reverse mentoring. People intentionally seeking out the wisdom of the young, "not as a replacement for other forms of mentoring but as an essential complement to them."

In the section on organizational disciplines, Creps delves deeper into the world of the "leader", discussing disciplines such as missional efficiency, discernment, surrendering preferences and passing the baton. I found his section on the discipline of blending differences particularly insightful and challenging. For the sake of simplicity, he boils down the "factions" to those demanding preservation and those calling for innovation, stating, "At least some of Church history, and much of our current crisis, results from the tension between the two poles." I specifically enjoyed his encouragement to not let the moderates get lost in the fog of war in order to reach places of harmony for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom together, using our own strengths and drawing from the strengths of the "other guy".

Another element I particularly appreciate from Crep's book is the attention he gives to a "larger than life", supernatural, living, moving God. Without this "life-blood" infusing our churches from within and spreading outside our walls, the mission is doomed from the start. Which brings us back where we started, this is all about Him in the first place.

This book was very timely for me to read and I have a feeling now is the time for you to read it...especially if you think you already have it all figured out ;)


Quentin Mullinix said...

Wow! That book sounds fantastic. I'll definitely check it out.

John Lynch said...

Sweet. I'm buying it now. Thanks!