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Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life

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Some pastors preach boring sermons. Some church music is dull. But here’s the thing: If Jesus had been boring, the disciples wouldn’t have followed him and the Pharisees wouldn’t have killed him. So if you’re bored, don’t waste another minute. If your church service feels like a failed pep rally that never leads to the actual game, then it’s time for you to follow Jesus on Some pastors preach boring sermons. Some church music is dull. But here’s the thing: If Jesus had been boring, the disciples wouldn’t have followed him and the Pharisees wouldn’t have killed him. So if you’re bored, don’t waste another minute. If your church service feels like a failed pep rally that never leads to the actual game, then it’s time for you to follow Jesus onto the field where the opposition is real and the stakes are extraordinary. It will get messy. It won’t always be comfortable. But you’ll make a difference. And you’ll discover that nobody’s bored out there. Nobody.


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Some pastors preach boring sermons. Some church music is dull. But here’s the thing: If Jesus had been boring, the disciples wouldn’t have followed him and the Pharisees wouldn’t have killed him. So if you’re bored, don’t waste another minute. If your church service feels like a failed pep rally that never leads to the actual game, then it’s time for you to follow Jesus on Some pastors preach boring sermons. Some church music is dull. But here’s the thing: If Jesus had been boring, the disciples wouldn’t have followed him and the Pharisees wouldn’t have killed him. So if you’re bored, don’t waste another minute. If your church service feels like a failed pep rally that never leads to the actual game, then it’s time for you to follow Jesus onto the field where the opposition is real and the stakes are extraordinary. It will get messy. It won’t always be comfortable. But you’ll make a difference. And you’ll discover that nobody’s bored out there. Nobody.

30 review for Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short Review: The title is the accurate theme of the book. Move toward the mess to keep your christian life from becoming boring. It is also to keep your life from becoming individualistic and focused on 'me and Jesus' instead of understanding the Christian life as a corporate reality. This is a very story filled book. And because John Hambrick is one of the pastors of my church, although not one of the normal teaching pastors, I have heard many of the stories already. That detracts from my read Short Review: The title is the accurate theme of the book. Move toward the mess to keep your christian life from becoming boring. It is also to keep your life from becoming individualistic and focused on 'me and Jesus' instead of understanding the Christian life as a corporate reality. This is a very story filled book. And because John Hambrick is one of the pastors of my church, although not one of the normal teaching pastors, I have heard many of the stories already. That detracts from my reading a bit, but I think the story focus is a good one if you haven't heard the stories before. My slightly longer review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/move-toward-the-mess/

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book looks at why so many people view their Christian lives as boring. What did Jesus do that we fail to do? What would make our Christian life less boring? The answer provided is that we need to move towards the mess, or take our Christianity "out there" to the people rather than wait for people and their messy lives to come to us. This book sets out to show biblical examples of when Jesus went and "embraced the mess" and the principles behind going out there and getting stuck in with peop This book looks at why so many people view their Christian lives as boring. What did Jesus do that we fail to do? What would make our Christian life less boring? The answer provided is that we need to move towards the mess, or take our Christianity "out there" to the people rather than wait for people and their messy lives to come to us. This book sets out to show biblical examples of when Jesus went and "embraced the mess" and the principles behind going out there and getting stuck in with people and their messy lives. Part two of the book shows us organisations which "move towards the mess" Each chapter ends with a series of questions to think about and discuss if reading the book as part of a group. I did find some of the early chapters had rather a lot of questions and I would have maybe preferred it if this number were reduced slightly but all in all a good book and very challenging and thought provoking. I am grateful to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Madeline Osigian

    This week I read Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick. Its two hundred or so engaging pages are written in the vein of Love Does by Bob Goff, Radical by David Platt, and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. (If you've read any or all of those and don't think this one will offer a new perspective, don't worry. It's a new perspective, written in a fresh way, and worth reading.) The title of this book swept me off my feet. "Yes!" my heart cried. I want to move toward messy people. That is my calling and t This week I read Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick. Its two hundred or so engaging pages are written in the vein of Love Does by Bob Goff, Radical by David Platt, and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. (If you've read any or all of those and don't think this one will offer a new perspective, don't worry. It's a new perspective, written in a fresh way, and worth reading.) The title of this book swept me off my feet. "Yes!" my heart cried. I want to move toward messy people. That is my calling and the calling of all the saints. The interesting thing about messes is that we are surrounded by them. We don't have to go hunt them down or travel the world. Messes don't just exist in huts and villages or in war-torn nations. Messes are here and now: up the street, in our church, in our city. John Hambrick does an amazing job focusing on the heart attitude rather than the actions that we are to take on. Jesus moved toward the messes, and we too shouldn't be afraid of them. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of all believers. The people the church marginalizes are the ones we should be reaching. Jesus didn't eat with the church people. He ate with sinners. Move Toward the Mess challenges readers to take action. It reminds us that nothing Jesus did was boring! If he had been boring, he wouldn't have had followers or enemies or have been killed. I give Move Toward the Mess 4/5 stars (I LOVED IT).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joy Stalder

    This was an easy read and a clear call to North American Christians to step out of their comfort zones and do something, rather than waiting to be served by the church. I appreciated that there was no call to go overseas, but to go across the hall, across the street, to another neighbourhood in your city. He made it clear that changing churches and changing careers was not necessary for everyone - in fact, a so-called secular job provides many opportunities to "move toward the mess." This was an easy read and a clear call to North American Christians to step out of their comfort zones and do something, rather than waiting to be served by the church. I appreciated that there was no call to go overseas, but to go across the hall, across the street, to another neighbourhood in your city. He made it clear that changing churches and changing careers was not necessary for everyone - in fact, a so-called secular job provides many opportunities to "move toward the mess."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Mayhew

    Seemed to be another formulaic treatment designed to inspire me to sacrificial entry into areas of need. Somehow I always feel manipulated by books like this. I might take another run at it, but I kind of doubt it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Reenders

    Love the topic- not perfectly written but five stars for content

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mullenjf

    Nice spin on getting involved instead of complaining from the bleachers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Robertson

    I have read several books about "being the church" and "taking the church to the people". This book is one of the better ones I've read. It hits the mark because it encompasses stories from around the globe of everyday people making a difference. Most books tell the story of certain individuals or certain missions and how they become doers of the Word. There is nothing wrong with those books, and I applaud the people they are about. But one size does not fit all in mission work. This book gives I have read several books about "being the church" and "taking the church to the people". This book is one of the better ones I've read. It hits the mark because it encompasses stories from around the globe of everyday people making a difference. Most books tell the story of certain individuals or certain missions and how they become doers of the Word. There is nothing wrong with those books, and I applaud the people they are about. But one size does not fit all in mission work. This book gives you a broader perspective in which to define your own mission work. This book is written to inspire and guide you to live in a way that is engaging, that is memorable, and that makes a difference. The authors says the reason he feels passionately about this lifestyle is because his Christian life used to be boring. The problem he found, which is true for many of us, was that his Christian life was separate from the rest of his life. Our Christian life should be nurtured in church but lived out in the world. I love this anonymous quote from the book: "The church is not a country club for saints. It's a hospital for sinners." In Romans 3:23, Paul says "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We all need the church, we all need Jesus. This book is about taking Jesus and the church to those people who are either neglected or may not know how to find Him. Part one of the book includes stories of individuals and organizations that embrace the mess of life and truly work to make a difference. It starts out with stories of how Jesus specifically ministered to and welcomed those that were normally left out or shunned. Then it continues with stories from the front lines, ranging from a group that ministers to prostitutes, the conversion of a former IRA member, a couple that attempt to spread the Gospel in Pakistan, and the story of Jim Rayburn, who revolutionized the youth ministry model in the 1930s and 1940s. Part two focuses on some actionable ways to put moving toward the mess into practice. It begins with a fascinating story of the CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Then it continues with a practical plan to decide where to get involved and the steps needed to take action, as well as the importance of recruiting others to join you. Next comes a remarkable story about Atlanta Mission (which ministers to the homeless) and the people that run it. The final sections present obstacles you may face, including resistance from your own church, and how to best overcome them, and how to recognize and deal with burnout. Overall this book is well written and it flows well. I would recommend this book to all Christians as a call to expand our ministry beyond the church walls. I wouldn't just say that if you are bored with church as usual then this is the right book for you. I would say that it is right for everyone to learn how we can take Jesus to the people that need Him the most. I received this as a free ARC from David C. Cook Publishing on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jason Reynolds

    A new author wants your worship life to be the opposite of boring. John Hambrick is part of the leadership team at Buckhead Church, part of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area. He’s also the author of the powerful new book “Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life” by David Cook publisher. The foreword is by Andy Stanley. Hambrick is speaking out against Christians getting stuck in a rut. It doesn’t matter if your pastor gives boring sermons. It doesn’t matter if t A new author wants your worship life to be the opposite of boring. John Hambrick is part of the leadership team at Buckhead Church, part of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area. He’s also the author of the powerful new book “Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life” by David Cook publisher. The foreword is by Andy Stanley. Hambrick is speaking out against Christians getting stuck in a rut. It doesn’t matter if your pastor gives boring sermons. It doesn’t matter if the music is dull. Jesus was always in motion. Hambrick writes that if Jesus were boring, the Pharisees would not have killed Him. Hambrick said, in an interview, he coined the phrase “Move Toward the Mess” at his church. Most of the ministries there were already moving toward the mess. He decided he needed to write about the concept. Most Christians would rather stay in their comfort zone, he said. “We started to realize if you want to follow Jesus out into the world … that’s what you’ve got to do. The first mess that God starts to move toward is mine. I struggle with things. My life is sometimes messy, relationally and spiritually. I think there’s a side to all of us that would prefer to stay in our comfort places.” One of his favorite stories in the book follows the life of a couple named Leroy and Janelle, who are famous in Atlanta for “Hot Dogs and Prayer.” In December 2005 they moved to the Capitol View area of Atlanta. They hoped to flip a house. Then the economy tanked. The neighborhood got worse. The couple decided to do something for God’s Kingdom. They picked the worst area in the neighborhood — a corner with a brothel, crack house and halfway house — and set up a weekly ministry called “Hot Dogs and Prayer.” The couple offered to pray for people who accepted free hot dogs. The drug dealers, prostitutes and other people laughed at them while accepting hot dogs. Then, slowly, some began to ask for a prayer. The stories that really broke the couple’s hearts, Hambrick said, were from the sex workers, who “without exception were mostly girls who had been molested” at age 6 or earlier. Today, Leroy and Janelle have a ministry called Serenity Steps for those sex workers. “They’re having a significant impact,” Hambrick said. You donmove-toward-the-mess’t have to move to the inner-city to make a difference. So Hambrick asks people, “What would it look like to move toward the mess in your context? “Move Toward the Mess” has discussion questions that would make it great for small groups or individual study.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    This inspiring book encourages the reader to step outside their comfort zone and go out into the world, like Jesus did, to meet with people who ordinarily wouldn't show up in their churches--who might not even be welcomed by the members. It's about loving others, showing them that you care and not being critical, because put-downs turn people away from Christianity instead of bringing them closer. The author has included lots of examples which I particularly liked because I want to see how this a This inspiring book encourages the reader to step outside their comfort zone and go out into the world, like Jesus did, to meet with people who ordinarily wouldn't show up in their churches--who might not even be welcomed by the members. It's about loving others, showing them that you care and not being critical, because put-downs turn people away from Christianity instead of bringing them closer. The author has included lots of examples which I particularly liked because I want to see how this actually works for those who do this. He also offers suggestions for how to become involved with and thoroughly check out organizations that are there to help people. I thought that was a nice touch because there are those who try to show themselves to be something they are not. There was one thing in the book that didn't sit very well with me. The author says he was at an evening worship service where the pastor preached on the problem of sexual lust. The pastor gave the people a chance to pray silently about the problem. Then a gentleman in front of the author exclaimed, "I've been healed of the demon of lust." The author went on to say that this person couldn't be healed like that. That he would have to work very hard to free himself from this. That sin isn't so easily let go. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God could have healed this man--instantly. And why not? the Bible is filled with countless instances where people were forgiven and healed at the same time. I personally believe that yes, God's grace can extend as far as instantly freeing people from addictions. Does it always? I think not. God knows best what each person needs. But it could have happened. And that man could have known he'd been freed also. Overall, the book was well worth reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    On a scale of cotton candy to Brussels sprouts, Move Toward The Mess by John Hambrick is a strong cup of coffee. This book adrenalizes (not a word, I know) life. [I received a free copy for review. Opinions are my own.] John Hambrick unpacks the standard Christian life, and how boring doesn't need to be a part of it. After all, Jesus was anything but boring. He caused scandal in all of the civilized parts of society. He moved toward the mess. This book analyzes heart passions, guilt, boundaries, an On a scale of cotton candy to Brussels sprouts, Move Toward The Mess by John Hambrick is a strong cup of coffee. This book adrenalizes (not a word, I know) life. [I received a free copy for review. Opinions are my own.] John Hambrick unpacks the standard Christian life, and how boring doesn't need to be a part of it. After all, Jesus was anything but boring. He caused scandal in all of the civilized parts of society. He moved toward the mess. This book analyzes heart passions, guilt, boundaries, and serving. I think if you've ever struggled with boring or burnout...Move Toward The Mess is for you. I picked up this book because I thought I was the mess, but instead, I've realized that I can move this mess of mine towards others. We need each other.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Duffey

    Why is church boring? John Hambrick examines the question in a simple readable style. Jesus was not boring so why are we settling for less? This powerful message is punctuated with stories of people living out their faith in a way that is anything but boring. With practical steps provided in the book the reader can begin to activate and energize their own faith. Move toward the Mess moves the reader out of apathy and staleness to the messiness of life where we find ourselves engaged and energize Why is church boring? John Hambrick examines the question in a simple readable style. Jesus was not boring so why are we settling for less? This powerful message is punctuated with stories of people living out their faith in a way that is anything but boring. With practical steps provided in the book the reader can begin to activate and energize their own faith. Move toward the Mess moves the reader out of apathy and staleness to the messiness of life where we find ourselves engaged and energized by our faith. Discussion question at the end of each chapter make this book a great choice for group studies or individual reflection. You will want to reread this book and to share it with others.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Russell Threet

    Move Toward the Mess is one in a long line of many books that seeks to shift the paradigm of how we understand the church, ministry, missions, and Christianity. The title itself speaks to the fact that this book urges Christians to stop trying to make everything shiny, polished, and perfect all the time. The conviction of this book and its author is that if we are to engage a messy world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we are going to have to stop running from the mess and embrace the chao Move Toward the Mess is one in a long line of many books that seeks to shift the paradigm of how we understand the church, ministry, missions, and Christianity. The title itself speaks to the fact that this book urges Christians to stop trying to make everything shiny, polished, and perfect all the time. The conviction of this book and its author is that if we are to engage a messy world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we are going to have to stop running from the mess and embrace the chaos of this world.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Carr

    This book is a 10! It is life-changing, thought provoking and mind-changing!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather Mikolajczak

  16. 5 out of 5

    Erin Stanland

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lew Button

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Adams

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim Savant

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Mowatt

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tifainé Hedgecock

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megan DeLong

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily Schaffer

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Yawn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura Druey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Carson

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